Everyday Stories

Open Door's Next Horizon Line (and an Invitation into Next Steps)

Each autumn, our Steward Team takes a weekend away together to pray, listen, storytell, and dream about our next steps as a family of sojourners learning to walk in the way of Jesus for the good of the world.

Our time is spent creating space where we can listen to each other, the voices of our community, and the promptings of the Spirit to come to a shared sense of the direction into which we must push forward during the year ahead. 

This year, we've framed this focus as our horizon line.

The horizon is our continual guide as we press into the future. We constantly look to the horizon for guidance, clarity, and next steps. It shapes our conversations, meetings, rhythms, and pace.

We sought a horizon that neither aims too high (trying to accomplish in a year what could take a lifetime) nor too low (setting out to accomplish in a year what might take a week or a month).

A horizon line is not static but dynamic. While we believe we can reach the horizon we've defined for the coming year, once we arrive at that point, we'll seek to discern and set out toward a new horizon that comes into focus as we step into our next season of continued faithfulness in the trajectory God's set forth for us.

As we look ahead to Spring and Summer 2016, our horizon line is as follows:

To further clarify and define how we intend to move toward this horizon line, we've outlined several signposts - defining objectives - that will help move us closer to the horizon.

This horizon's signposts are:

  1. To reimagine our Gathering as a propelling/sending place.

  2. To focus creative connections and storytelling around the extending and cultivating life.

  3. To equip and activate everyday influencers.

  4. To leverage The Global Immersion Project as a continued opportunity for cultivation.

  5. To seed collaboration in neighborhood centers.

  6. To clarify our staff structure and initiate the processed to fill that structure.

We'll continue to clarify, communicate, invite, and co-create the specific next steps in each of these areas we push forward toward the horizon.

We want this to be an initiative of the Open Door family, not just Steward Team! As a first invitation into more conversation and action around our horizon, Steward Team will gather after this Sunday's Gathering at Extreme Pizza to talk more about questions or thoughts you might have about our next steps forward.

If you have any questions, please speak with a member of Steward Team or email Rebecca, our Steward Team Chair.

The Rare Gift of Being a Kid Again (An Everyday Story by Krissy Kludt)

On Sunday, Krissy Kludt shared an Everyday Story about learning to become a kid again.

Going to the cabin is like being transported back in time. My grandparents bought the little red house in 1972 and have come up every summer since.  I haven’t been here in six years, and yet everything is the same – the same games, the same 1969 rambler speed boat, the same shelf full of expired sunscreen. Even the same menu: fried fish, Cole slaw, and grandma’s cornbread casserole for dinner; root beer floats for dessert.  Walking in the door four days ago, I was transported back twenty years.
Even I am the same here. Suddenly I’m a girl again, despite my two-and-a–half-year-old son and the baby in my belly. Last night I caught five rock bass on a kiddie pole because there weren’t enough grown-up poles to go around, and this week I’m the youngest grown up. I still sit in the middle of the boat, still fish over Grandpa’s right shoulder.
But there is one difference that has hit me this week: it is a rare gift for my soul to be a kid again.

Listen to the full audio above or read the rest here at Krissy's blog!

Everyday Story: A Sweet Journey (Brook Dalrymple)

It has been a sweet journey and a highlight of our 4 month marriage so far joining Open Door. I really feel that the journey God has us on during this season aligns with what the Open Door community is about. everyday_storiesIt was a week before our wedding in July and we had just started moving boxes into our new place in Pleasant Hill. I emailed a family friend who lives in Martinez about what churches Justin and I should check out. She told me that I had to check out Open Door. So we went! We were warmly welcomed and had several people come up to us asking if we were new. However, what stood out the most for me though was right before Jer started teaching, he was expressing the grief he had in his heart over what was going on around the world at the time...the airplane that was mistakenly shot down that was caring the top AIDS researchers in the world, and Syria and Gaza were erupting...and we all prayed together for God's mercy. I turned to Justin and said, "is this for real?"

Both Justin and I have spent a lot of time overseas in Asia and the Middle East and God has really cultivated in us a heart for the world yet we came from a church that was nervous about making mention to anything outside the church walls. It was thrilling to have someone mention from the pulpit realities of what was going on in the world and then responding in prayer for God's mercy.

The one comical piece to this was that during this particular service, the sermon was more of a time of story and application from a previous series and we just so happened to not have opened the Bible. And so, I remember telling Justin that if they just open the Bible, I'm totally in. We have to go back. So, about month later, now married and settled into our place, we came back and we're welcomed again and people remembered us. And then... we opened our Bibles and I took this sigh of relief and said to Justin, "ok, I'm good." During that same service, we heard about the Orientation to ODC circle and agreed that this was are best next step in this process because we still knew very little about Open Door and wanted to get plugged in as soon as we could.

Taking a step back, a theme of the last 4-5 years of my life, and Justin's as well, has been understanding the Gospel in a deeper capacity that goes beyond my individual salvation. The greater picture has been the greater story of God restoring and redeeming creation and Jesus bringing the Kingdom of God on earth. So right now, we are in process of that restoration. I am being renewed and made more like-Christ, but so is the rest of the world. And I must be attentive to how God is allowing me to be apart of bringing that renewal to the world. So, what solidified things for Justin and I in the Orientation Circle was that Open Door is SO about this....this bigger picture of heaven being ushered in on earth. To us, that was extremely refreshing and authentic to here and matched what God has been sanctifying in us. This is a church that is attune to where there is brokenness happening and aware of posturing themselves to how God is restoring and building his Kingdom here on earth. The Orientation Circle also gave us an opportunity to get to know Jer and Dave better. When we were first looking at churches in the area, Justin kept saying that whoever the pastor is, he has to be someone that he would want to follow in how he imitates Christ...which is discipleship in it's simplest form. What's so cool is that already, we have literally followed Jer and Dave and walked alongside them, learning with them and practicing being peacemakers.

We are now finishing up the Black/White Race divide Circle. It's really difficult to try and formulate how meaningful and transformative this Circle has been and I am (and will continue to be) in process with it for a very long time. And it's pretty insane to think about how timely this Circle is to what is going on in America currently. And what's crazy, yet again, is how the Circle is aligned with understanding the position that the Gospel is about God's story of redeeming the world and slowly restoring creation, which is made possible through Jesus. If I am viewing the Gospel in this way, then racial divide in the East Bay matters. Ferguson matters. Eric Garner matters. Hearing the pain of people among the black community matters. One of the pastors who spoke in our circle said that we have to be about addressing the broken systems that are breaking people. I've learned to a greater degree about walking humbly...listening to pain that I won't ever fully understand, and asking hard, awkward, tense, uncomfortable questions that force me to confront how I look at the world around me. And not coming up with answers or rebuttals or defensiveness, but just humbly listening. And being in situations were I feel unsafe. And I realize how little I cared about justice before, because I never experienced injustice in the way I personally looked at the world. But God is a just God and so his restoration of the world involves justice...making the world right.

That's why on hard days, or really any day you read or watch the news, you sense this tension. The tension of what is and what should be. And that's where we are. Envisioning and moving toward what should be amongst what is. There are still so many other thoughts that are still being formulated, but I am very grateful to be processing all of this within a community of people who love Jesus and are learning with me about how we actually mourn and weep and bring peace in a way that is reflection of who Jesus is.

Everyday Story: Practicing Sabbath


As part of our Tune series, Elizabeth taught on rest as a practice of our worshiping family (listen here).

Rest challenges the common notion that our value is linked to our productivity.

Rest - sabbath - is a rhythm we're invited into and a good gift offered to us by God.

At the Open Door Gathering a few weeks ago, Chris and Kate Schwass shared an Everyday Story about their family's journey with sabbath as a sacred and weekly practice of worship. Here's the audio of their story:

[audio mp3="http://www.abluedoor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Everyday-Story-Sabbath-with-Chris-and-Kate-Schwass.mp3"][/audio]


Listen in.

Consider the beauty and possibility of sabbath as a good gift offered to you by God.

Share your own story, thoughts, or questions below.

Sending the Parrs: A Last Word

I remember with fondness the day that Scott Parr flew into SFO to interview for a student ministry role at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church.  As we drove across the Bay Bridge, I can remember thinking that big things were ahead of him and in store for students and families because of presence with us.  Simultaneously, I remember meeting Becki Porter, the new Young Life leader from Texas, and immediately being struck by her pastor's heart and her infectious personality.  I remember when these two found each other, fell in love, got married, and then started a family together.  I've been impacted by our friendship and have been influenced by the way they follow Jesus.  In this guest post, Scott reflects on his time with The Open Door Community, encourages us forward, and says "See you soon!" Parrs

Becki and I moved to Walnut Creek in 2005.  She moved from Texas, I moved from Colorado, and we met for the first time outside the laundry room in our apartment building near Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church.  I had heard about Open Door from my good friend Mark Stover, one of ODC’s founders, a colleague in ministry at WCPC, and a guy who was instrumental in my following God’s lead to move to Walnut Creek.

I was excited to become part of Open Door, because I had been doing some dreaming of my own about what it would look like to start a church from scratch.  Some of the things that most churches seemed to be all about seemed far from God’s original intent.  Foremost on my mind was that church was something we are part of, not something we go to.  That is, I had become convinced that it was a problem that most Christians though of church as something they attended for an hour on Sunday morning.  Jesus intended so much more. 

I invited my neighbor/crush/not wife til a few years later to come with me to Open Door.  There, we both found community, friendship, a place to worship, and a place to give and receive as part of the family of God. 

Give.  In Open Door, we, as well as so many people, have had a chance to give of ourselves to God’s kingdom work and to the building up of the life of the community.  Becki and I both have had chances to teach.  We’ve been able to pray for people.  We’ve helped lead circles. We’ve loved little ones with Open Door kids.  Becki led prayer walks at Selah – and she will always miss the beauty and time with God at Marin Headlands.  We shared our stories – a story of a trip to care for abandoned, disabled orphans in China; a story of heartache, fear, hope, and answered prayers as our firstborn, Isaac, spent his first two weeks of life in intensive care with frightening and uncertain complications; a story of how the Holy Spirit has shown himself to be real and powerful  in our lives. 

Receive.  In Open Door, we have received so much from the family of God.  We’ve received strength, hope, and joy in listening to great teaching and powerful worship.  We’ve received support as so many people have walked with us.  Our modest wedding budget turned into a spectacular, worshipful, fine dining experience, thanks to dozens of ODC friends sharing their gifts of music, cooking, serving, and decorating.  We were well fed and cared for when both of our sons were born and we needed help.  Our kids were blessed to be dedicated in front of the ODC, and have felt like cherished members of the family.  We’ve been prayed for in the back of the gathering and prayed for up in front.  We’ve experienced the tremendous blessing of being neighbors to “The Six,” where the likes of JD, Brad, Ryan, and Risa have extended truly unusual hospitality and generosity with their space, their food, and their availability.  Their “open door policy” has blessed me with everything from the egg I needed to a place to hang for two hours while I was locked outside in the cold with two small children.  We’ve received encouragement and direction from God’s Spirit speaking through people of Open Door who are listening for His voice.

So, Open Door, thank you.  Keep welcoming people.  Keep nourishing peoples’ gifts and offering them the chance to share them.  Keep loving and showing hospitality.  Keep listening and obeying God’s voice.  May God bless you until we meet again!

Scott, Becki, Isaac, & Asher Parr