Success in ministry is a loaded term. At the risk of stating the obvious, whether or not a church's work is "successful" depends entirely on what one defines as success. Today we're awash with conflicting definitions. Success for some is growth. For others, the depth of spiritual formation and the persistence of a congregation. For still others, the degree to which a church engages in community partnerships, justice efforts, and more. For many struggling churches, success is measured by whether their doors are open next year, or next month, or next week. How we define success depends on our interpretation of the Bible, our training, and the company we keep. It depends largely on values, some of which we all share, and others that seem diametrically opposed.

By many of these measures of success, Seattle's Soma community scores high. Soma's founder, Jeff Vanderstelt, is in demand as a speaker and writer. They're locally involved. They're growing through conversion in the largely post-churched ...

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