If we want to participate with God's Dream for the East Bay & Beyond, we must expand from a Gathering-Centric Program to Holistic Cultivation. Currently, The ODC cultivates primarily through our Sunday gathering. Our gatherings are upward and inwardly focused moments that have been, are, and will continue to be important moments of communal rooting. But focusing all of our energy on the gathering as the primary place of cultivation is limiting.
(1) It limits our responsiveness to God and His mission of reconciliation & restoration. When our church is a gathering-centric program, our imaginations become calcified into believing that "being" the Church means showing up at a thing on Sunday. In reality, "being" the Church means following Jesus, on mission, together into the places we live, work, & play. While our gathering is an important practice in the becoming the Church, the days of investing our primary energy into our gatherings and hoping that people are becoming holistically cultivated are coming to a close.
(2) It limits our growth as a community: we grow not because we gather, but because we who are rooted & woven extend to cultivate others. We live in one of Top 3 most un-Churched regions in the continental United States. Pre-Jesus Bay Areans don't care what's happening in our gathering. They don't care how cool the lighting is, how comfortable the seating is, how great the music is, or how eloquent the speaker is. In the Bay Area, church growth in terms of impact on people who don't currently know & follow Jesus doesn't happen because of a gathering: the gathering is not a viable church growth strategy where we live. Growth by gathering by gathering means little more than Christian displacement from one church to another. Growth by holistic cultivation means new people are coming to know and follow Jesus. This is the very growth we're want to be apart of.
(3) It limits His dream for the East Bay & Beyond. His dream is that Heaven & Earth are woven together again in the East Bay through men and women who are Rooted in Christ, Woven Together as Family, Extending Sacrificial Love, and Cultivating Others to Be & Do the Same. People in gathering-centric communities impact each other, and there are literally hundreds of these gathering-centric communities spread throughout the East Bay. However, gathering-centric communities are NOT causing heaven & earth to be woven together again. His dream for the East Bay comes true just like its come true in the past: when men and women follow Jesus, on mission into the places where we live, work, & play. Its through gathering AND scattering communities that God changes the world.
Our hunch is that if we want to participate with God who transforms lives, weaves heaven & earth together, & will be famous in the East Bay & beyond, then me must expand from a Gathering-Centric Program to Holistic Cultivation.
Here's what we mean when we say "Holistic Cultivation": We must tangibly equip, resource, and release men & women to follow Jesus on mission into the places where we live, work, & play.
We imagine that expanding to Holistic Cultivation will deepen, enlarge, & expand our participation in what God is doing. Holistic cultivation will produce growth and it will be growth through cultivation. That is, as we participate with the Spirit in reproducing the life of Jesus in others, people who don't currently know & follow Jesus will know & begin following Jesus on mission, together with others in the places where they live, work, & play.
Someone asked me a few weeks back, "Jer, do you want to see Open Door grow?"
My answer was an emphatic "Yes! But not necessarily because of what happens within our gathering. I want to grow because people are meeting the Jesus that we follow."
I dream of a day when every person connected with The ODC is being cultivated & is cultivating others to cultivate others. I dream of a day when our gathering space can no longer contain all those who are being cultivated as we participate with the Spirit in the cultivation of others. I dream of the day when we begin meeting friends of friends who are flourishing now not because they met Jesus here, but because they met the Jesus that you and I follow.
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