And You Thought Presbyterian Polity Is Onerous

So many alliances and networks, so little church discipline:

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.

This may be the most challenging paragraph:

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.

What is an affiliated network as opposed to an allied network?

What is an infinity network as opposed to a finite network?

What is wrong with Redeemer NYC that it has not solved the “extreme diversity consisting of multi-city and multi-campus churches to conservative Presbyterian churches”?

Acts 29?

6 thoughts on “And You Thought Presbyterian Polity Is Onerous

  1. What problems do these big networks solve that denominations do not solve? Why is bigger better? These networks seem to be an emulation of secular corporate structures that are always trying to grow revenues to grow stock price. Even in this case, they can’t explain why growth is good for the customer. What usually ends up happening is that the pursuit of new customers leads to the neglect of old customers and the rot of the internal corporate culture that incubated the products and services that the old customers liked. This inevitably begins the decline of the company and shrinking of revenues. As this worsens, assets and divisions are sold off and finally corporate officers are asked by the board to leave (with golden parachutes). So, the end result of a “growth is good” mentality is growth with a negative sign.

    I feel like ministers and evangelical thought leaders would benefit from more real world job experience working with their hands. If it was good enough for our Lord and Savior to work as a carpenter for 15-18 years, it should be good enough for His undershepherds. The church would benefit from ministers with more blue collar logic. It is definitely suffering from too many of its ministers and thought leaders trying to emulate corporate structures they don’t understand. Even in the corporate world, most successful startups are launched by guys in their mid-40s who’ve been around the block a few times.

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  2. In a post way back in August, 2013, our wise Zrim made the following comment (presumably rhetorically): “Curious how cultural transformation and humility never seem to coincide.” I made a record of that because of its profound nature and I refer to it frequently. It always seems to be about the big swinging cahunas and their boastful announcements that they’re going to build a bigger and better [fill in the blank] instead of the local congregations moving along quietly, adhering to the word of God, sticking to proper church piety and discipline. IIRC, Horton wrote a book about these things a few years ago in which he referred to them as launching “the Next Big Thing.”

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  3. I seem to be missing some history. Do Sojourn and Sojourn Network relate at all to the Sojourn Magazine first published in 1971? I am not finding any “good” and concise explanation on the net. I’ve seen an issue or two of Sojourn magazine from a few years back . . .
    Thanks in advance.

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