Dave Owens and Mike Cosper
Today, the Sojourn Network is home to many enthusiastic, creative and passion-driven pastors and church planters. But it took long road filled with many questions and lots of change to get to where the network is now. Mike Cosper, Interim President, and Dave Owens, Interim Director, shared the story of how the network began, the principles behind the network, and what all of this means for the future.
How it all started
The roots of the Sojourn Network go back to the early 2000s, where Sojourn was invited to join Acts 29, a diverse global family of church-planting churches. Mike Cosper and other members of Sojourn participated in boot camps and events, using this experience of brotherhood and curiosity to influence the development of the Sojourn Network.
With extreme diversity consisting of multi-city and multi-campus churches to conservative Presbyterian churches, Acts 29 was dealing with a lot of tension due to the different views on what it means to be a church and a real community. In efforts to relieve the tension, Acts 29 began the transition from regional affiliated networks to infinity affiliated networks.
Soon realizing that Sojourn was the only network who chose to make the change to an infinity network, Acts 29 inspired them to go out and start something new. It was an exciting time for everyone to see new networks growing and moving forward in new directions.
Wanting to put more resources to the church planting mission, Mike Cosper and Daniel Montgomery set out to find a leader with a passion to coach and mentor church planters. The ideal candidate had to be devoted to the local ministry while pioneering the network simultaneously. Finally, they discovered Brian Howard, a member of Acts 29 and a church planter in Southern California looking spend more time on church planting and working with planters.
After joining Sojourn, Brian not only served as a pastor, but he helped launch the East campus and the J Town campus, evolving the network’s vision. Dave Owens first joined the Sojourn Network in 2011 as Brian’s administrative assistant. Though his experience as an assistant was humbling and transforming, Dave knew his passion lied with planting churches and helping other planters.
Defining the vision
With several leadership transitions redefining the network’s mission, the Sojourn board of directors wanted to focus on crafting lasting values and a vision for the future.
Many church planters believe a network can only be a head or hands network, meaning the focus is either to take time to ensure beliefs are lined up or to just get it done. The Sojourn Network questioned this status quo and wanted to bring both soul and a healthy posture back to ministry. With this value, Sojourn became known as the place where church planters came to be healthy, quickly shifting the network’s grand visions of planting thousands of churches to simply helping church planters recover from spiritual warfare and disillusionment. Mike recognized many church planters were burnt out, working as both a pastor and a planter. Sojourn realized this was not a sustainable or healthy path. Knowing Sojourn would take a few years to take off, the members focused on holistic renewal to prepare church planters for multiplication, growth and outward energy, driving passion for church planting.
At this time, Sojourn started to look inward for inspiration to develop the vision and values. Sojourn ran the 930 art center, a diverse, artistic place from wood carving to videography to skateboarding. This culture around art, music and literature helped the network realize the ultimate goal is transforming communities and lives.
As God continued to send creative and artistic people to Sojourn, the network understood their culture flows from creative contextualization coupled with health and wholeness. Praying for the lord to lead the way, Sojourn found themselves defining a vision based on sustainable, healthy growth.
Sojourn Network’s Exciting Future
Sojourn has continued to grow and evolve, bring many exciting changes to look forward to. The network is forming teams and committees to drive the journey forward. One team of pastors and their wives are working on reshaping the values and mission statement with the goal to develop a uniting theme for the whole network. The board is creating a concreate, earthy and practical vision statement that will inform the decision on how many churches to plant and adopt in the next several years. This clarity and definition will lead to a long and fruitful season of growth.
Many committees have been built as well. One committee is working on determining the next president with the hope to decide by the end of this summer. To access untapped resources, a financial committee of experts in donor development are building a new financial model for the network. This model will help Sojourn get money directly to the field faster than ever.
Soon, Sojourn will be hosting the annual retreat. This year’s retreat is about rest, allowing people to rest in God’s grace and rest in the privilege of having this time. Additionally, Sojourn is hosting an exciting summit, featuring authors James K.A. Smith and Hannah Anderson who will be delivering intellectually challenging content.
Sojourn is full of organic, creative energy, driving men and women to dive in and help instead of just donate. New ideas for ministries and refining current ministries help drive sustainable growth. With this growth, God works to narrow the Sojourn Network to places that are specific to it, allowing the network to focus on what they do best. This provides the opportunity to collaborate and partner with other organizations to make everyone stronger and healthier.
This is Sojourn Network is a production of the Narrativo Group
Produced by Mike Cosper
Edited by TJ Hester
Mixed by Mark Owens
Graphic Design by Casey Smith
Website Design by Brannon McAllister
Our Music is by Sojourn Music and Dan Phelps