Hello Open Door!
My name is Jonathan Woolner, and I will be starting a new season as your Pastor of Formation and Worship beginning the week of September the 12th. My wife (Shannon) and I are thrilled to be joining you on this journey of walking in the way of Jesus for the good of the world.
For the past 15 years I have been serving as a church planter / lead pastor for two different communities. We planted a church in Manhattan Beach, CA in 2001 and have recently been serving at a church in Pittsburg, CA for the last year and a half. Looking back at this season of my life, I can see how God has been forming and shaping me to fit into this role at Open Door.
I’ve had lots of questions about my vocation over the last several years:
Is the role of lead pastor a fit for me at this stage of my life?
Where does my desire for worship through the expression of music and art fit into the picture? Is it time for a change?
The answer? Yes!...which led to more some questions:
Is there a place in the world of full time ministry that I could slide into?
Is there a community of Jesus followers out there that would hire someone with my gift mix and experience?
Along came you.....
As I explored stepping into this next season of life I came upon the Open Door job description. I couldn’t believe that such a role existed - Pastor of Worship (Yes!) and Formation (could such a job truly exist?). It seemed too good to be true. I had this sense as I moved through the list that it was describing me. I then read through your aspirations, identity, method and mission and my heart resonated with every word. It was weird!
It seemed like God had been forming and shaping me all along to fit into this role. This led me to step into this process with an open and hopeful heart.
Stepping into the dance.....
One of my favorite authors is Richard Rohr. He describes the trinity as a cosmic dance. The Father gives to the Son, The Son gives to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit gives to the Father. It’s the art of giving and receiving. As you look at this dynamic you have no idea who is giving and who is receiving. It’s a cycle; a dance; a circle of constant movement. A picture of complete union and connection.
As a fellow follower of Jesus this has become a daily practice for me. Will I step into the dance today? Am I ready to step into this trinitarian way of life today?
[side note.....I would love to explore this with you. What does it look like to step into this dance on a daily basis? I am excited to practice this with you all.]
The job description seemed like the perfect fit. Your aspirations, identity, method and mission rang true to my inner being. And of course, this raised up some more questions:
Are these just words on a page or did the words match the community? Is this place for real?
Before we began the interview process we wanted to come to one of your Gatherings and see if the words on your website actually matched who you were as a people. We also wanted to see if we were a fit. Could we see ourselves dancing with this community?
We came to a couple of your Sunday night gatherings months ago and behold; the words became flesh. You truly embodied the life giving presence of Jesus.
We connected to several of you that night. It was natural, easy, and life giving. As we drove home we both said; 'I think we have found our people.' And, when can we go back? Even if we didn't receive the invitation to this position we would have chosen to be a part of what God is doing in your midst.
You’re the real deal, Open Door.
You embody the written words on your website.
As I connected to your search team and steward team I could feel God’s Spirit moving in my heart. I kept hearing the words ‘Trust’ and ‘Lean into this, Jonathan.’ I felt invited to reveal my whole self which was a liberating experience. And to my surprise I was accepted. I was met with openness and wonder by each member of your team.
This process has been healing for my soul. It has been so good for me to be able to bring my whole self to the table and to be met with such grace.
It just feels so good to step into a position that feels like a true expression of what I am becoming in Christ. And like I said earlier; it seems like God has been forming me all along to fit into this very role.
As your Pastor of Worship and Formation I am committed to walking and putting into practice the teachings of Jesus for the good of our beautiful world. I am ready to come alongside you and help you discover what God is creating in and through you. I will be for you, with you, and open to explore whatever is next.
I’m ready to dance!
If you would like to contact us, get together with us, share a meal with us, we are ready to roll. Let's do this!
Grace and Peace,