Mission Critical Hunch

Why We're Mixing Up our Summer Rhythm

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If you've peeked at our calendar or popped in to a Gathering this summer, you've noticed that we're mixing up our rhythm this summer! From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we're experimenting with three different types of Gathering: Eucharist, Collective, and PLAY.

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EUCHARIST Gatherings are filled with songs, scripture, teaching, prayer, and Eucharist. These nights will feel like our regular rhythm of Gathering throughout the year.

COLLECTIVE Gatherings take the same general shape as our Eucharist Gatherings (~75 minutes at St. Paul's in the Sanctuary) but the evenings are each designed to bring us together in different ways - through intentional conversation, dreaming and brainstorming, praying together, wine and hors d'oeuvres, etc. 

PLAY Gatherings take us out of our normal space and invite us to enjoy the relational life we share together. Whether at a backyard BBQ or a Beach Day, PLAY Gatherings invite us to celebrate the Jesus-following family of Open Door through laughter, play, hospitality, and adventure. 

Open Door Kids is happening each week throughout the summer except for our PLAY Gatherings.

We've got this rhythm mapped out on our calendar so you always know what to expect (though, as always, there's almost always a few surprises any time Open Door gathers together!). 

We've had a few questions about the summer rhythm, so here are some answers!

Why are we doing this?

Several reasons. Summer at Open Door is always a bit "liquid" - people travel, kids are out of school, and everyone's rhythm and schedule of life shifts a bit. We wanted to provide consistency in the midst of summer while also adapting to the realities of summer's inconsistencies. So we've scheduled PLAY gatherings on long/holiday weekends and are experimenting to see how the balance between Collective and Eucharist Gatherings push us into faithful presence in new ways  (and with different size crowds Gathering Sunday to Sunday). 

Another big reason is our spring learning journey around Sabbath. We committed early this year, as part of our Horizon, to rhythms of formation that are shaped by rest and Sabbath rather than busyness and noise. Rotating between Eucharist, Collective, and PLAY Gatherings gives all of our volunteer teams (kids, tech, music, etc.) some extra breathing room and a season of Sabbath during the summer months.

A third reason would be the hope that experimenting with our Gatherings would allow us to faithfully move in sync with God's invitation on our community. We don't simply Gather as a break from our regular routine or as another segment of a compartmentalized life; we Gather because God is inviting us on mission for the sake of the East Bay and our Summer Gatherings will press in to that invitation. 

Is this a permanent thing or just for summer?

We'll resume our rhythm of weekly Eucharist Gatherings after Labor Day (though we'll likely continue to experiment with Collective and PLAY Gatherings at strategic times throughout the year). 

What about Open Door Kids?

While we're switching up the rhythm for adults, we wanted to ensure a consistent learning environment for our Open Door Kids. Developmentally and holistically, we believe a stable rhythm and consistent presence is critical for the faith formation of the kids in our community.

The only exception is our PLAY Gatherings where we invite the entire family of Open Door - kids, adults, and families alike - to play together!

We're a worshipping community; how are Collective and PLAY Gatherings worshipful? 

Worship is the fullness of our lives lived in response to God's extravagant love made real in Jesus. Singing and teaching are certainly a part of what it means to be a worshipping community, but we also find intentional conversation, shared meals, serving, and dreaming together to be a beautiful and necessary expression of worship. 

We don't want to just be great worshippers through music but through our relationships, our insights, and our everyday lives lived both when we're scattered around the East Bay and when we gather together.

Any other questions? Please let us know!

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.

Engage in the Life of the Open Door Family

Yesterday, we posted an update from our Steward Team and at our Gathering, Steward Team shared their thematic goal for the upcoming year: to develop clear on-roads into the life of the Open Door family. Steward Team's focus throughout the year will be to develop and catalyze the resources of Open Door to support this thematic goal, but as was shared last night, it's not possible to "program family!" We will grow together as a family through a combination of (a) Open Door's resourcing (leadership/staff, environments, teaching content, Circle guidance, etc.), (b) each of our personal initiative, and (c) the Holy Spirit's weaving and cultivation. In light of this, will you take some time to reflect on three key areas of engagement in Open Door's life with the following questions:

Engaged Presence

  • How do I prioritize gathering with the family on Sunday evenings?
  • Am I aware of the needs of those in the Open Door family and how do I respond?

Intelligent, Courageous Contribution

  • Am I courageously generous with my resources (i.e. time, finances, talents, ideas)?
  • Do I initiate giving of myself and my resources, or do I wait to be asked?

Movement toward Authentic Relationship

  • How have I recently engaged with someone outside the Gathering? Do we share about how God is moving in our lives?
  • Am I comfortable being my true self with the Open Door family, or do I tend to put up a front?

On January 11, Steward Team will host a wine and cheese night after the Gathering to dialogue and converse about this year's thematic goal and Open Door's movement in these areas.

In the meantime, feel free to reach out to any member of Steward Team or email ben@abluedoor.com to reach Steward Team's chair, Ben Johanson.

Steward Team Update - December 2014

Note: See this related post for an invitation to reflection on your engagement in Open Door's family life. Friends,

ODC.Logo_2Every fall, Steward Team gathers for a retreat to reflect on Open Door's previous year and to discern direction for the next twelve months. Out of this time together we develop a Thematic Goal that focuses our work moving forward. Our Thematic Goal for 2014 was “To refine current organizational structure and expand paid staff." Key initiatives that emerged included the development of the Circles environment and the hiring of our Pastor of Community Formation, Dave Kludt.

At our retreat this September we celebrated the stories emerging from the integration of Circles and Gatherings and the addition of the Kludt family to our community. As we reflected on our focus for this coming year, the word that rose to the surface was "Family." We've always identified ourselves as "a family of sojourners learning to walk in the way of Jesus for the good of the world" (our identity statement), but we began asking questions like:

  • How does the Holy Spirit weave us together as a family?
  • What are signs of health and areas of growth for our family?
  • How must Open Door’s staff & structure resource the cultivation of our family?
  • What kind of personal initiative is necessary to grow within our family?

With these questions in mind, Steward Team developed this year’s Thematic Goal:To develop clear on-roads into the life of the Open Door family." Already this Thematic Goal is shaping our life together in Circles, our recent teaching series, and the ODC Orientation Circle and Square One initiative, both designed to help us understand who we are and how we can become engaged contributors to the Open Door family. In 2015, watch for an updated website, Winter and Spring Circles, the Discover Retreat (March 13-15), the Selah Retreat (May 29-31), and other exposure points designed to resource our cultivation as a family.

This year, let’s deepen our engaged presence with one another as we join God in what He’s doing all around us. Let’s also commit to intelligent and courageous contributions to what God is doing in and through Open Door. If one of your contributions is financial, please consider a year-end gift and/or commit to consistent giving throughout the coming year. Finally, let’s proactively move toward authentic relationship with one another as we listen for the voice of the Spirit and live what we hear.

We are thrilled and humbled at God's ongoing faithfulness and are excited to move forward together as God's Spirit continues to cultivate us into a Jesus-following family.

With gratitude and anticipation,

The Open Door Steward Team

Ben Johanson, Rebecca Olson, Tony Collins, Alison Knox, Brendan Cheney, Heidi Brandow, Dave Kludt, & Jer Swigart

Note: See this related post for an invitation to reflection on your engagement in Open Door's family life.

New Hire Communication & Next Steps

Friends: 11 months ago (January, 2013), Steward Team had determined that it was mission critical for us to expand our staff and that our next hire would be a Pastor/Shepherd. As the year progressed, our mission of cultivating Jesus followers expanded beyond our Gathering to include Circles.  Our Gathering is designed to help us become a Worshipping Family while Circles are designed to help us become a Family on Mission.  We are watching as the fusion of these two expressions along with the mobilizing of Pastor/Shepherds within our community is contributing to the care & holistic cultivation of Jesus Followers who are Rooted, Woven, Extending, & Cultivating. The growth & fruit is obvious as is the impact beyond the immediate Open Door Community, but so much more is possible.

As Steward Team explored the Pastor/Shepherd hire with Open Door through four Living Room Sessions in January and one Round Table Conversation in April, two things became clear:

  1. Expanding & diversifying our staff to equip & mobilize Open Door into our mission of cultivating Jesus Followers is essential.
  2. The hunch that the new staff member needed to be a Pastor/Shepherd came more from a desire to compensate for where we felt deficient than forming a staff that mobilizes and equips the community for mission.

In October, Steward Team dedicated its entire weekend-long retreat to clarifying how our mission is lived out and determining how that mission is best supported with staff. After consulting with a team of non-profit organizational experts (Dave & Maya Smith, Kate Schwass) and past elders (Tim Halls, Kerry O'Brien), Steward Team has concluded that we are moving forward to expand our paid staff from 1.5 to 2.5 people.  Our paid staff will include Jer, Elizabeth, and our New Hire.

  • 1.5 staff will be dedicated to helping us become a Worshipping Family and will focus on equipping and mobilizing people for ministry in and through our Gatherings.
  • 1 staff will be dedicated to helping us become a Family on Mission and will focus on equipping and mobilizing people into mission within the spaces we live/work/play through Circles.

Here are the immediate next steps:

  1. Job Descriptions will be finalized by Steward Team.  Our goal is to have this completed by the end of the year.
  2. Kate Schwass has been invited to and has accepted the role of co-leading our Hiring Team.  The Hiring Team will be in place by mid-January and will begin their work of developing our hiring process and casting the net internally and externally for the appropriate candidates.
  3. Our desire is to have our new hire in place by the end of April, 2014.

Here are the financial implications:

  1. We will need to bring in $15,700 monthly in order to successfully & adequately staff our mission.  This will require a monthly increase of $4,700.
  2. In the meantime, we have a runway to help us fund this increase due to the Reserve Account that has been building for more than two years. While this is helpful, when we deplete the Reserve Account, it's gone, making this a significant risk that we're willing to take.

Here is our invitation of you:

  1. Would you consider seeding this next step with a significant year-end gift?  Gifts can be given at our gathering and online anytime between now and December 31.
  2. If you are not currently contributing financially to what God is doing in & through Open Door would you please begin through a monthly gift?  Start with a day's wages every month or commit a set percentage of your annual income.  You can set up your account and begin giving online on Dwolla. ("The Open Door Community" ID 812-632-9836)
  3. If you are giving, would you consider increasing your monthly giving by a set percentage or by a day's wages? Adjustments to your current giving are easy to do on Dwolla.("The Open Door Community" ID 812-632-9836)
  4. Please pray over Steward Team, the Hiring Team, and the individual that God is in store to serve with us.
  5. Please feel free to respond directly to Ben Johanson from Steward Team with any questions that you have.

We've never been more excited about how God is weaving heaven & earth together again in and through The Open Door Community.  Greater things are yet to come!

With you, Open Door's Steward Team

What are Circles?

Over the past couple of years, we’ve gotten clear on the work of The Open Door Community: to resource the cultivation of Jesus Followers (Matthew 28). We’ve spent the last year discovering that a Jesus Follower is someone who is Rooted in Christ (John 15), Woven together as family (John 17), Extending sacrificial love (John 13), and Cultivating others to be & do the same (Matthew 28). We affirm that for the past 2 millenia, heaven & earth are being woven together again through Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating Followers of Jesus.

The BIG Question is: “How will The Open Door Community resource the cultivation of Jesus Followers in 2013-2014 such that heaven & earth continue to be woven together in the East Bay & beyond?”

The Answer: 2 ways. (1) Through our ongoing weekly Gathering (5pm on Sundays) and (2) through Circles.


What is a Circle? A Circle is a community of people (1) oriented around the life & teachings of Jesus; (2) living out shared practices; (3) and guided from within. A Circle is a community of people who are intentionally seeking to integrate the Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating Way of Jesus into their everyday lives. A Circle is a community of people who grow in trust & intimacy as they take risks together in the Way of Jesus.

Who Guides a Circle? Ultimately, the Spirit is our Lead Cultivator & Guide. But we also acknowledge that its the Spirit who inhabits & empowers humans to serve as guides for others. Thus, Guides are: Men/Women who are living out the Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating Way of Jesus. Men/Women who walk slowly, with wisdom, & toward relationship. Men/Women who are in process, teachable, & committed to the flourishing of others. Men/Women who are empowering coaches.

How do I get into a Circle? Simply take a look at the list below and send an email to one of the Guides who will personally follow up with you. All Circles are open-invitation and all Guides are committed to your finding the Circle that will best resource your cultivation.

Circles begin the week of September 15th and vary in duration.

Clint & Heidi Brandow Type: Mixed (Life Stage & Gender) Focus: Following Jesus into Injustice When: Weekends (Day & Time TBD by the Circle) Where: 47 Dublin Dr., Pleasant Hill

Darrell Olson Type: Mixed (Life Stage & Gender) Focus: The Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating Life When: Thursday evenings, Where: 630 Curtis St., Albany

Sandra & Kevin Ernst Type: Mixed (Life Stage & Gender) Focus: Sacred Space…Encountering God Together When: Thursday evenings, 7-9pm Where: 2986 Putnam Blvd., Walnut Creek

Jac & Jer Swigart Type: Mixed (Life Stage & Gender) Focus: Following Jesus in Neighborhood When: Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9pm Where: 2347 Pepper Dr., Concord

Rachel Powers Type: Women Focus: Listening for God’s Voice through Scripture & Living out what we hear. When: Thursday evenings, 7-9pm (Through October 10) Wednesday evenings, 7-9pm (October 16 & forward) Where: 1340 Springbrook Rd., Walnut Creek

Anthony Machi Type: Berkeley College, Grad, Young Professional Men Focus: The Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating Life When: Friday mornings @ 6:30am Where: 2467 Warring Ave., Berkeley

Paulina Inzerillo Type: Berkeley College, Grad, Young Professional Women Focus: The Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating Life When: Sunday evenings @ 8pm Where: 2430 Fulton St., Berkeley

Chris Schwass & Scott Parr Type: Men Focus: The Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating Life When: Friday mornings, 6:30-7:30am Where: Scott's office @ 1801 Lacassie Ave., Walnut Creek

Tony Collins Type: Men Focus: The Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating Life When: Tuesday evenings, 6:30-9:00pm Where: The Pool House @ 1755 Trinity Ave., Walnut Creek