Hiring Now: Pastor of Community Formation

now_hiring_banner We're pleased to announce that Steward Team has officially launched the hiring process for our Pastor of Community Formation.

Click Here to listen to Brendan's 12 minute explanation at last night's Gathering.

All information on what the role of Pastor of Community Formation will entail, as well as who we're looking for, can be found HERE. Please feel free to pass this information along to others whom you would consider viable candidates for this role.

In addition to describing who we're looking for and how he or she will enhance our team and mission, Brendan offered the following invitations: 1.  Pray for our Steward Team, Staff, and Hiring Team as we follow Jesus into this process together. 2.  Pray for the person who will serve as our Pastor of Community Formation. 3.  Invest in our mission through a monthly tithe.  Online giving can be set up HERE. 4.  Join members from Open Door's Staff, Steward Team, & Hiring Team for an evening of wine, cheese, and conversation HERE immediately following our gathering on Sunday, February 9th at 7:30pm.

Friends, this is an incredible moment in the life of our community. Let's join together in praying over and resourcing our mission.

With hope and anticipation, Jer

Guest Blogger :: Brooke Arnett on Prioritizing the Flourishing of Others

In the post below, Brooke offers us another look at the remarkable evening that was "The Light in the Grove" at the National AIDS Memorial Grove.  Pay special attention to her reflections on how the cost of causing the flourishing of others is trumped the experience of actually getting to participate in the adventure of human flourishing. As my fellow Open Door peers and I arrived at the AIDS Memorial Grove on Saturday night, we entered into an evening together as servants to the HIV/AIDS impacted community in San Francisco. The setting was stunning and elaborate, with no detail overlooked. I could describe all the particulars and preparation from the huge tent the event was in, the lighting set-ups, catering, floral arrangements, and so forth, but it would never convey what the night was really like.

As guests arrived at this peaceful and sacred space inside of Golden Gate Park, I witnessed a unique and loving community come together for the sake of humanity. My role that night was to serve appetizers, and as I walked around offering delicious finger foods, I watched people leave their differences at the door, and gather together to support one another and to remember loved ones that have been lost to HIV/AIDS. The night was filled with passion, it echoed their pain, but most of all, it was fueled by hope.

Many of the guests that were there have been largely affected by HIV/AIDS and have suffered more loss than some of us will ever face. Over the years, the HIV/AIDS community has been ostracized, overlooked, misunderstood and disregarded. It's hard to contemplate that a few short decades ago this pandemic wasn't even a reality in America. Since then, their community has turned a story of tragedy into a reason to hope for a better tomorrow.

I didn't say yes to volunteering that night because I thought serving small bites to strangers sounded fun. I didn't say yes so I could get a free meal, or because I had no other plans that night. Quite the opposite in fact: I turned down plans that day and even had to buy a new outfit and pair of shoes for the occasion. Not to mention that new and unknown situations give me a lot of anxiety. Does any of that matter? Certainly not.

I said yes because I want to be a the kind of person who is part of making wrong things right. I said yes because I have hope that those who have been broken will one day feel whole again. I said yes because I desire for people who have been marginalized to feel acceptance. I believe that love and kindness heal, and this world doesn't have enough of it. Being a servant is not a role I have lived into my entire life or even do very well today. But I know that every time I say yes to an opportunity to put the needs of someone else before mine, I find Jesus there.

God has been working in a big way to teach me how to count others more significant than myself as Philippians 2:3 calls us to do. Serving at the Grove was a reminder that this life is not about me. I am learning that I am equipped with everything I need because I know Jesus and that my role in life is not about serving appetizers, but His love.

Maybe saying 'yes' that night cost me financially, cut into my free time, and forced me to face some anxieties, but there is no price you can put on prioritizing the flourishing of others. When you say yes to serving others, you're allowing an opportunity for God to work in ways beyond what we can fathom.

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

Our Next Season: Migration & Expansion

We are a family of sojourners, learning to walk in the Way of Jesus for the good of the world.  That means that we're a community of wanderers united under the authority of Jesus and empowered by His Spirit to be agents of restoration and reconciliation in the spaces we find ourselves in. Our work is to cultivate followers of Jesus who are Rooted in Christ, Woven together as Family, Extenders of Sacrificial Love, and Cultivators of others to be & do the same.

We affirm the value of intellectual instruction in the Way of Jesus while recognizing that to truly become men and women who are Rooted, Woven, Extending, & Cultivating, we must migrate beyond intellectual instruction to experiential training in community with others.

Our model for this is Jesus who invited a community of people to apprentice Him.  He instructed and then demonstrated what he just got done teaching. He released His 'in-process' community to go and imitate what they'd seen and heard, and then brought them back together for evaluation and coaching.  Eventually, after the resurrection, He commissioned and released them to go live and narrate the Gospel in the spaces they lived, worked, played, and beyond.

It was slow, earthy, and organic.  It was inefficient by our standards, but wildly effective.  Over time, God began flipping the world right-side-up, one life at a time and thru those changed lives, heaven & earth began to be woven together again.

Our dream is to participate with God in the weaving of heaven & earth together again in the East Bay and beyond.  Fueled by this dream & His Spirit, our next season of ministry will include a MIGRATION and an EXPANSION.

Our MIGRATION is beyond cultivation primarily through our worship gathering to include cultivation through experiential training in community with others.  We want to see every man, woman, & family connected to Open Door engaging in life on mission in the Way of Jesus with others.

For some, this might look like inviting 2-3 core friends (gender-specific, mixed-gender, multi-generational, or life-stage) to co-create & commit to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, & Cultivating practices.

For some, this might look like discovering & turning toward those whom we live in neighborhood & proximity with and co-creating & committing to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

For some, this might look like discovering & turning toward those whom we share vocational space with (i.e. downtown SF, downtown Oakland, etc.) and co-creating & committing to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

For some, this might look like discovering & turning toward those whom we share play space with (i.e. parks, gyms, arts, running/cycling/swimming, etc.) and co-creating & committing to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

For some, this might look like discovering & turning toward those whom we share a similar passion with (i.e. local injustice, global injustice, fair-trade, sustainable living, urban farming, etc.) and co-creating & committing to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

For some, this might look like participating in a mentor-guided core group who, together, co-create & commit to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

For young families, this might look like turning toward other young families and co-creating & committing to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

Our MIGRATION from cultivation primarily through our gathering to include cultivation through experiential training in community with others is the richest, most transformational environment there is to be found by The Father, to be formed into the image of Jesus, and to practically join His Spirit in what He's already doing in the East Bay & beyond.

Our EXPANSION is in regards to our paid staff.  We are seeking to build a lean, diverse, focused staff of coaches & equippers who resource and guide the holistic cultivation of our community.  Currently our staff is made up of Jer (Full-Time Directional Leader) & Elizabeth (Half-Time Worship Leader).  Our hope is that by January, 2014, we would be able to expand our team to include an additional staff person who will bring perspective, experience, & diverse gifting into our migration.

Don't let this MIGRATION & EXPANSION happen to you.  Join in the process through prayerful presence & courageous generosity.  Please join us at our gatherings over the next couple of weeks (7/21 & 7/28) to pray with & over The Open Door Community and the East Bay & Beyond.

"Awakening" :: A Theme for 2012

Awakening. Looking back on our life together in 2012, its the word I would use to describe God's activity within and among us.  We woke up to things that matter most this year.

In 2012, we Woke Up to God's Mission.  In Acts 1 we watch & listen as the Resurrected Jesus connected with His community of imperfect doubting worshipers one last time.  Redemption was at hand.  Restoration was here.  Shalom was now a reality.

"Mission accomplished, right Jesus?" they asked.

"Yes and no." He said.  "Mission will be accomplished because I'm going to give you My Spirit which will enable you to embody My mission here, near, & far."

In that moment, Jesus gave voice to what the Mission of God has been ever since we picked the fruit in the Garden: Global Redemption, Global Restoration, Global Reconciliation, Global Flourishing.

Redemption, Restoration, Reconciliation, Flourishing.  These things were finally a possibility because of the work of Jesus on the Cross, but the great surprise is that they would be made reality as The Spirit-Inhabited Community faithfully embodied the Mission of God.  Heaven and Earth would be woven together again as Holy Spirit fueled men and women followed Jesus on mission together into places here, near, & far.

We are the contemporary embodiment of the Mission of God.

In 2012, we Woke Up to God's Fame.  In Malachi 1:11 God says, "One day, I will be made famous among the nations again."  We have a God who is consumed with His own fame and that's right and good: He's God.  However, His own statement suggests that at the time of Malachi, God was not famous among the nations, and He still isn't.

Question: So how is God going to become famous?  Answer: By attaching His reputation to the very part of creation that caused it to become marred: humanity.

Here's how it works: In John 15:8, Jesus paints a beautiful word picture in which God the Father is the Gardner, God the Son is the Vine, and we are but mere branches.  Left unnamed in John 15 is God the Holy Spirit, but if we were to consider botany, we could imagine the Holy Spirit as the Sap that carries the life of the Vine into and causes fruit to emerge on each branch.

When we remain rooted in the Vine, fruit emerges that we bear the burden of.

But who is the fruit for?  Certainly not the branches!  We have everything that we need because the Sap carries the life of the Vine into us.  So if the fruit isn't for the branches, then who is it for?  Answer: those not yet connected to the Vine.

When they taste the delicious juice from the fruit that emerged in our lives as we remained rooted in the Vine, they don't laud the branches...the celebrate the brilliance of the Winemaker.  That is, when others taste the fruit that is the byproduct of our Rooting in Christ, God (not "we") becomes famous.  When we remain Rooted in Christ, we get His Power and Presence and He gets His fame.

In 2012, we Woke Up to God's Metric.  As we journeyed through Acts this year, we stumbled into a village called Antioch (Acts 11) where people whose lives looked like the Crucified One were insulted with the name "Christian".  What was meant as an insult, these followers of Jesus who were Rooted in Christ, Woven Together as Family, Extending Sacrificial Love, and Cultivating Others to Be & Do the Same wore like a badge of honor.

In contrast, we woke up to our contemporary metric for being "Christian" and called it "Golden Ticket Christianity."  This brand of Christianity means that we go to church (on the national average of 3 times out of 8); we read our Bibles (but not really); we pray (but we're not certain it changes anything); we're in a small group (whatever good its really doing); and we serve (but only when the church organizes a "project" for me).  In short, we discovered that "Christian" today means that we give intellectual assent to Jesus but we don't really follow Him.  We don't have time to, nor do we want to because if we really followed Jesus, He would totally mess with 'my' life, 'my' dreams, & 'my' hopes for 'my' future.

The great awakening in 2012 for us, therefore, was that if this contemporary metric is the one we're living by, then we have no right referring to ourselves as "Christian" because life defined by this metric looks nothing the Crucified One.

On the other hand, the life that is Rooted in Christ (Jesus is our Source of Life!), Woven Together as Family (We flourish in a submitted relationship with God and mutually submitted relationships with one another), Extending Sacrificial Love (Jesus living love in and through us), and Cultivating Others to Be & Do the Same (Participating with the Spirit in reproducing the life of Jesus in the lives of others) is the life that looks like the Cross.

In 2012, we Woke Up to God's Dream: That heaven and earth would be woven together again in the East Bay & Beyond.  That He would be made famous in the East Bay & Beyond as communities of men and women Root in Christ, are Woven together as Family, Extend Sacrificial Love, and Cultivate others to Be & Do the Same.

In 2012, we Woke Up to the things that matter most (God's Mission, Fame, Metric, & Dream).  In 2013, we waking up to 'why' and 'for whom' we've been awakening.  While our awakening has been occurring, our Steward Team has been praying for more of God's Power and Presence in 2013.  As we've listened, 3 Mission Critical Hunches have emerged.

Click Here for Mission Critical Hunch #1