Elder Transition

Next Sunday, we'll officially kick off our annual Steward Team transition process. Steward Team is a community of elders that is made up of men & women who steward the holistic cultivation of The Open Door Community by listening for God’s dream for us and our context and mobilizing us to participate in His dream coming true (Acts 20:17-38; 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1).

Our elders serve for a three-year term and then cycle off.  This process is intentionally regenerative as it reminds us of our work to continue cultivating followers of Jesus.  Kara Lynch and Charlene O'Brien (2 of our original elders) will be cycling off the team in August.

Here's the road ahead:

  1. Next Sunday, June 1, we'll explore the role of eldership at our gathering and officially launch the process.
  2. On Tuesday, June 10, we'll do a communal day of fasting & prayer that will conclude at Brendan & Emily's home for prayer, silent nominations, and dinner.
  3. Nominations can be emailed to Emily anytime between June 1 and June 15.  Nominations conclude @ 6:30pm on June 15.  Please include your nomination's name and 3 reasons why you feel he or she is a viable candidate for Steward Team.
  4. On Wednesday, June 18, a team of leaders will process Open Door's nominations and make a recommendation to Steward Team.
  5. Our current Steward Team will begin conversations with candidates in July.
  6. 2 new elders will be commissioned in August.

The beauty of this process is that it creates a communal space for us to listen and be formed together.  I greatly encourage you to participate in it.

I pray a blessing on you and on us as we continue to become a worshiping family on mission.

Yours, Jer

Eldership & Open Door

As we understand it, the church is a community of people, led by Jesus, that embodies the Reconciling Mission of God here and now.  When we talk about the Church, we do so within at least three spheres: Universal (all followers of Jesus that span place and time); Regional (the localized Church represented in myriad expressions); and Local (the particular expression of the Church that is your "home" church). Since the inception of the Church, we have been a communally led organism.  Jesus is the Head and Chief Architect (Colossians 1:18) who leads through a community of elders: men and women who steward the holistic cultivation of a regional and/or local expression of the Church (Acts 20:17-38; 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1).

Elders lead in three ways. First, they Follow in the Way of Jesus (Acts 20:18-19).  They are men and women who are not not perfect but are Rooted in Christ, Woven together as family, Extend Sacrificial Love, and Cultivate others to be & do the same.  Second, they Oversee the Body (Acts 20:28).  They carefully consider the overall health of the church and champion the mission by listening well and guiding the community to live out what we hear Jesus saying to us.  Third, they Cultivate others  (Acts 20:24, 27).  They have the Gospel burning in them; they know the Scriptures; they share freely in word and in life what Jesus is saying to them; and they experientially train others to be & do the same.

Due to the influence that this community has within the larger community, the qualifications for elder-ship are stringent (1 Timothy offers sixteen qualifications in seven verses!).

  • Above reproach: they have wrestled blatant, overt, public, sinful behavior.  They have authentically acknowledged their own sin with others and are no longer captive.
  • Not a polygamist: Marriage doesn't seem to be a requirement of elder-ship.  However, if married, they are living in covenant commitment with their spouse.  if not married.
  • Sober Minded, Self-Controlled: they have control of their appetites.
  • Respectable: they demonstrate a keen awareness of their strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and belovedness by God.
  • Hospitable: they consistently open themselves and their homes to strangers (lost, different, least of these)
  • Not violent or quarrelsome, but gentle: they can graciously disagree.
  • Free from love of money: they are courageously generous.
  • Manage household well: they prioritize the cultivation of their family.
  • Not new converts: they are seasoned followers of Jesus.
  • Good reputation: they are in good standing with those outside of the community (friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc.)

Every year, we go through a process of elder transition for two reasons: First, we want to be regenerative in our leadership process.  If we are serious about cultivating followers of Jesus, we should always have a growing number of people who can serve in the capacity of elder.  Second, we want new perspectives on our Steward Team.  This is helpful in keeping our posture humble and our ears open to what Jesus is saying to us.

Ultimately, our dream is to see heaven and earth woven together again in the East Bay and Beyond.  We believe that this dream comes true as we become communities of people who embody the Reconciling Mission of God from within the spaces we live, work, and play.  Our elders are men and women who lead by living out this kind of life.

 You are invited into our process of Elder Transition.

  1. Nominate someone for our Steward Team by emailing Faye.  All nominations will be kept anonymous.  Nominations should include the person's name and 2-3 bullet points that clearly demonstrate why this person should be considered as a candidate for Steward Team.  Nominations are due by 12:00pm on Tuesday, June 18th.
  2. Join us on Monday, June 17th for a communal fast.  Throughout the day, please pray over our Steward Team (Kara, Tim, Ben, Tony, Charlene, Jer), our Staff (Jer & Elizabeth), our Leaders (Lead Team, Resource Team, Teaching Team), our Community, and our Context.
  3. Join us on Monday evening @ 7pm for a time of Listening & Prayer that will conclude with Silent Nominations and a delicious soup & bread dinner at the Hasegawa's home.
  4.  Nominations are due by 12pm (Noon!) on Tuesday, June 18th.

From there, the list of nominations will be considered by our Lead Team who will make a recommendation to Steward Team about how they should proceed.  Steward Team will consider the recommendation and begin a process with potential candidates.  Our desire is that our two new elders will be in place by the end of August.

ODC Elder Candidates & Our Final Step...

A few months back (Seismic :: Elders; May 20, 2012), we explored the biblical concept (roles & qualifications) of eldership and told the story of the formation of our original community of elders: the Steward Team.  In short, the role of our Steward Team is to steward the holistic formation of The Open Door Community.  Their job is to proactively abide in a listening posture with the Spirit of Jesus and to courageously lead our community into God's dream for us.  Kara Lynch, Tim Halls, Charlene O'Brien, Kerry O'Brien, and Jer Swigart have served faithfully as our initial Steward Team.  The time to expand our community of elders has come. Following our teaching, we invited you into a day of communal fasting that concluded with an evening of listening, prayer, and nominations.  A list of over thirty names were received for consideration.  That list was passed along to Open Door's Lead Team who entered into a process of discernment and listening on behalf of our community.  By the end of their process, Lead Team presented a recommendation to the Steward Team that included a focused list of candidates to be considered.  At that time, Steward Team entered into conversation with four individuals, two men and two women.  On their own initiative, two of those candidates opted to remove themselves from consideration for this year.  The other two have continued through our process of conversation, prayer, and discernment and are, at this time, being strongly considered for inclusion on Steward Team.

We are pleased to announce that those two candidates are Ben Johanson and Tony Collins.

One final step of communal discernment remains...a step that we invite all of The Open Door Community into: Psalm 133 says, "How good it is when family lives together in unity." In John 17, Jesus prays that we would be ONE, not just for our own sake, but for the sake of the watching world.  Jesus knew that the watching world will discover the truth about who God is and experience His tangible love because of our unity. Paul writes, in Ephesians 4, that we are to eagerly maintain the unity of the Spirit.

Unity is a big deal to our God and is, therefore, a big deal to us.  Thus, we invite you to join us in pursuing and preserving the Unity that is ours in a very specific way: In Matthew 5, Jesus teaches that if you are at the altar of worship and remember that your friend has something against you, stop everything that you're doing and proactively pursue reconciliation with your brother or sister. In Matthew 18, Jesus expands this teaching to include the work of reconciliation with with anyone who has hurt/offended/or sinned against you in any way.

This is the work that we are invited you into with Tony and with Ben.

If you recognize that there is anything (big or small) that has interrupted your relationship with either of these two men, then we ask you to pursue unity by engaging in the work of reconciliation with them.  They have been invited into the same work with you.  If you feel as though mediation is necessary, then anyone from our current Steward Team will be happy to enter into that work with you.  Additionally, if you feel strongly that one or both of these men are not qualified to lead The ODC in the capacity of eldership, then we invite you to contact Kara Lynch before this Sunday, September 16th.

Thank you for joining us in this essential work.  Please pray over Steward Team, Tony, Ben, and our Community as we seek to listen well for and faithfully live into God's future for us.