(2013) Mission Critical Hunch #1

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.

Click Here for Mission Critical Hunch #2

(2013) Mission Critical Hunch #2

If we want to expand from a Gathering-Centric Program to Holistic Cultivation, we must strengthen & diversify our leadership staff to include a Pastor/Shepherd.

As Steward Team has explored options for expanding The ODC Staff, two options have surfaced as the most viable roles.

First we could expand to include an Administrator to sustain or even enhance what is.  The problem is that "what is" doesn't seem to be leading us in the direction of holistic cultivation and is extending us beyond our capacities.

Our second option is to expand to include a Pastor/Shepherd to support us as we take new steps into our future.

"But wait...isn't Jer our Pastor?!"

Absolutely.  Yes.  But I am a certain kind of pastor.

In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul offers a picture of the servant leadership of a local church for the sake of its unity, maturity, & mission-living.  The great surprise is that, rather than describing the characteristics and qualifications for one person, he offers a constellation of five different kinds of leaders.

The Apostle: Pioneer, Innovator, Activator, Vision-Caster, Direction, Mission                   The Prophet: Truth Teller, Growth, Transformation, Faithfulness                                        The Evangelist: Inspirer, Networker, Host, Recruiter                                                               The Teacher: Integrates Word & Life, Wisdom, Systemizer, Instructor                                The Pastor/Shepherd: Nurturer, Soul-Care, People-Developer, Unifier, Community Developer

According the leadership constellation that Paul offers, I am an apostolic leader that teaches.  This doesn't mean that I'm not pastoral.  What it means is that I am a Kingdom-entrepreneur who gives my life to imagining a better, flourishing future & equipping and mobilizing men and women into God's mission for the sake of the watching world.  I'm someone who pushes the envelope on where & how the lived & narrated Gospel could go.  It also means that I don't spend my life investing in the soul-care & belonging of the people on the mission.

A Pastor/Shepherd is one who focuses on the mission by attending to the soul-care & development of the people who are on the mission. This is someone uniquely gifted to help us draw on God’s strength to live out what He’s calling us to. This person helps us pay attention to moments of dissonance, transition, & burn out, and celebrates victories with us. A Pastor/Shepherd helps to cultivate our rootedness as we weave together to extend further.

After exploring both options, our hunch is 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 to for Mission Critical Hunch #3

(2013) 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. To bring in the new person who will help us grow, who will grow with us, and who will invest in our cultivation, soul care, & community development we will need to pay another salary.  Giving more right now is an investment, not just in the mission of The ODC, but also in the lives of those who are leading The ODC, who live & work in the East Bay & beyond, and in the many more who will become apart of our community.


To explore these 3 Mission Critical Hunches in more detail and to discern God's direction for Open Door's future, please join us at one of our four Living Room Sessions to be hosted by our community of elders called The Steward Team.  Please choose a date or location that is most convenient for you, consider fasting for the day in preparation, and prayerfully consider how God is inviting you to invest in heaven & earth being woven together in the East Bay & Beyond through Holistic Cultivation.