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

The Core Experiment

You are invited into The Core Relationships Experiment.

This is a 12-week Woven experiment designed to guide us into mutually reciprocal core relationships.  Core Groups are made up of 3-4 people who commit to growing in their understanding and experience of Loving God by Loving Others through communal Rooting practices, authentic storytelling, gracious support, prayer, and accountability.  The experiment begins on March 3rd and concludes on May 19th with an evening of storytelling at our Sunday gathering.

Here are the five-steps into and thru The Core Experiment. Step 1 :: Ask Jesus, "Who are my 2 or 3?" Step 2 ::  Invite your 2 or 3 into the Experiment for the next 12 weeks (March 3-May 19). Step 3 :: Access the 12-Week Suggested Template Step 4 :: Determine time/place/frequency of connection points for the next 12 weeks. Step 5 :: Join us on May 19th for an evening of Storytelling.

If you're new or would like assistance into The Core Experiment:

If you are new or would like assistance entering into the Core Experiment, email and share the following by THIS MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25: 1.  A brief and specific paragraph describing who you are. 2.  Your cell phone number. 3.  Where you currently live. (i.e. Central Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Berkeley, North Concord, etc.)

Here's a suggested 12-week template for the Experiment:

Weeks 1-3: Hot Seat. Take one gathering per participant to hear the stories of one another and to ask good questions. Some Guiding Questions for Storytelling include:

  • What have been some of the most life-defining moments of my life?
  • Who have been/are the 2-3 most influential people in my life?  Why?
  • How did my family of origin contribute positively and negatively to who I am?
  • For those following Jesus: When and why did you say “Yes” to following Jesus?
  • For those not following Jesus: What has shaped your perspective of Jesus and where would you place yourself on the following spectrum: disinterested – intrigued – compelled – following.
  • Why did you say “Yes” to the Woven Experiment?

Week 4: Learn of how each other meets with Jesus.  You could also co-create a set of Rooted Practices that you would commit to living out for the remainder of the Woven Experiment. Here’s a potential template for studying the Scriptures, reflecting on our gathering, and paying attention to the content of everyday life:

Observe: What experience, word, phrase, verse, or image stands out to me?

Reflect:  Why this experience, word, phrase, verse, or image?  Why this more than others?

Consider:  What does this experience, word, phrase, verse or image say about:

  • My life? My relationship with God?  My spouse? The way I live out my family life, my recreation, my vocation?
  • What truth does this speak into my life?
  • What am I to stop?  To start?
  • What is God saying to me?

Plan: Today, how am I going to l live in light of this?  What’s the plan?

Account:  Ask God to hold you accountable and His Spirit to empower you to live the plan.

Act: Go and do what you’ve told God you’re going to do.

Weeks 5-12: Utilize the tool from Week 4 for your conversation.  Allow each person from the Core Group time to work through this process.

Observe: What are the realistic observations I’m making of Scripture & everyday life?

Reflect & Discuss: Out loud, reflect honestly, deeply, and intelligently about what God is trying to teach us.

Plan:  Get feedback on the action that I’m sensing I’m supposed to take.

Account & Act: Check in with each other about how you’re living out the action plans each person has developed.  This is the space of communal accountability, encouragement, support, and learning.  Through storytelling, help one another see how Jesus is forming you as you live out what Jesus is telling us to do.

Sunday, May 19: Join us at our Sunday Gathering equipped with stories to tell of how God used this Experiment to form you & to deepen your experience of being a healthy family on mission.

Living Room Sessions

Our Living Room Sessions are moments of communal listening & discernment in which we will explore, in depth, and pray through our 3 Mission Critical Hunches for 2013.  Each Living Room Session will be hosted by Jer & The Steward Team. Mission Critical Hunch #1 :: Participating with God in what He's doing in the East Bay & Beyond, means that we must expand from a Gathering-Centric Program to Holistic Cultivation.  While our gathering has been, is, and will be an important practice of our community, we must invest our resources and best energy in the tangible equipping, resourcing, and releasing of 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 as people who don't currently know and follow Jesus will meet and begin following the Jesus that we follow.  Click Here for an expanded description of Mission Critical Hunch #1.

Mission Critical Hunch #2 :: Expanding from a Gathering Centric Program to Holistic Cultivation will require that we strengthen & diversify our leadership staff to include a Pastor/Shepherd who will focus on the mission by attending to the soul-care & community development of the people who do the mission. The Pastor/Shepherd is one who helps to cultivate our rootedness as we weave together and extend further.  We imagine that by adding the leadership of a Pastor/Shepherd to our staff, we will become more complete as a community and, as a result, more and more people will become cultivated to follow Jesus into the lives of more people in the East Bay & Beyond.  Click Here for an expanded description of Mission Critical Hunch #2.

Mission Critical Hunch #3 :: If we invest in Holistic Cultivation now, we will soon be able to afford the staff that we need but can't currently support. If we invest in Holistic Cultivation now, we will soon be able to afford the staff that we need but can’t currently support. To bring in the new person who will help us grow, and who will grow with us, we will need to pay another salary.  Giving more right now is an investment, not just in the mission of ODC, but also in the lives of those who are leading The ODC, who live, work, & play in the East Bay & Beyond, and in the many more who will become apart of our community.  Click Here for an expanded description of Mission Critical Hunch #3.


Each Living Room Session will begin promptly at 7:00pm and will conclude with a soup & bread dinner.

January 15 :: 1849 Lacassie Ave. #6, Walnut Creek

January 16 :: 4027 Poplar Ave., Concord

January 17 :: 237 Trinity Ave., Berkeley

January 21 :: 41 Mayo Ave., Walnut Creek

The work before us...

Over the past five weeks, we've gotten exceedingly clear on the work of the Jesus Community and, therefore, the work of The Open Door Community. In Matthew 28, Jesus says this:

Because I've beat sin and death, I am The Authority!   With authority I send you to make disciples...I send you to reproduce My life in the lives of others...I send you to cultivate followers of Me here, near, and far.  Here's what that discipleship/reproduction/cultivation will look like: full immersion into the God-Life in community with others; teaching, instruction, & demonstration; and accountability.  And don't worry, while my physical presence will be no more, I'll be with you in Spirit as I dwell within and among.

In Matthew 28, Jesus, the One Whose idea is the Church (Acts 1:8), who gave Himself up for Her (Ephesians 5:25), and who promises to build Her (Matthew 16:18), identifies our work this way:

"Participate with My Spirit in Cultivating Followers of Jesus."

Put another way, Jesus tells us to join with Him in the holistic development of men and women who are immersed in the God-Life through becoming Rooted in Christ, Woven Together as Family, Extenders of Sacrificial Love, and Cultivators of Others who be and do the same.

Read on to discover the language around each of these four elements:

Rooted in Christ :: Jesus is our source of life.  Abiding in Him, we flourish; Apart from Him, we fail to thrive.  Rooting in Christ is OUR START POINT. (Genesis 1-2; John 15)

When & How have you consistently experienced the Power and Presence of God in the everyday?

Woven Together as Family :: We were created in Community, by Community, for community.  We flourish when we exist in a submitted relationship with God and in mutually submissive relationships with each other.  Being Woven Together as Family is OUR CONTEXT. (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 6:9; John 1:11-12; John 17:20-23; Ephesians 4:1-6)

How is Jesus inviting you to eagerly pursue unity?

 Extending Sacrificial Love ::  Jesus lives His life in and through us.  His life, and, therefore, our lives are defined by the posture of the cross and has the flourishing of others as its end.  Extending Sacrificial Love is OUR WAY of LIFE. (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 John 3:16-18)

In whose power & in what posture are you living?

Cultivating Others To Be & Do the Same :: Our work is to participate with the Holy Spirit in reproducing the life of Jesus in the lives of others.  Cultivating others is OUR MISSION. (Matthew 4-10; Luke 10; Matthew 28:16-20; 1 Corinthians 11:1)

Who is Jesus inviting you to be cultivated by, to cultivate with, to cultivate?