How Have I Been Loved? (A Guiding Question for Practice)

A&P_webbannerAt Sunday's Gathering, we finished our Anchors & Propellers Series with a teaching on John 13:34-35. In John 13, Jesus invites his disciples to follow a new command to love each other. What's new about this is that nowhere does Jesus connect this command to the obligatory fulfillment of Jewish legal tradition or the sense that faithfulness to God is about checking off items on a divine to-do list. Jesus' command is rooted not as an obligation but as a response.

As I have loved you, love one another.

Jesus tells his disciples that he'll be leaving them soon - predicting again his quickly-approaching arrest and crucifixion. No longer will they be identified as followers of Jesus simply by walking around and sharing a table with him. Instead, they'll be identified as living life in the Way of Jesus because of the similar love that's shared within the family that's been crafted through following Jesus together.

If we are to live life in the Way of Jesus, this new command is for us as much as it was for the disciples Jesus spoke these words to.

As I have loved you, love one another.

Our first step, then, is to be clear on this question:

How Have I Been Loved?

How have you experienced the love of Jesus? What has it felt like? How has it reached your heart and your hands? How has it entered into your story and shaped your life trajectory?

This is a question worth asking, and a question that's worth asking through a variety of practices. This week, consider asking How Have I Been Loved? in a few active and intentional ways.

Contemplate the words of Scripture:

Read John 13. Read 1 John 4. Read 1 Corinthians 13.

How is the Spirit getting your attention through these passages? What will you do about it?

Practice Listening Prayer:

In a space of stillness and silence, ask God to bring to mind different ways you've experienced the love of God, the closeness of the Spirit, the intrigue of Jesus.

And then wait. And listen. Trust that God will speak.


Meditate on the ways you see the extravagant love of God when you look back on your story and look out to the world.

And then write. Draw. Paint. Photograph. Design. Carve. Script. Weave. Plant.

Consider how your creative act is a response to the creativity of our loving God.

Jesus invites us into the beautiful rhythm of a rooted, woven, extending and cultivating life. His invitation is rooted in a response to the love we've experienced, which is the source of the love we're called to extend into the world.

Thoughts? Stories? Questions? Ideas?

Brian Jones on Why Selah Matters

As our annual Selah retreat draws near, I am reminded of how essential extended time in community with others is to our Oneness.  It's as though the Spirit does something profound in us as we simply unplug from the pace of our everyday lives and retreat together in an incredible place.  Selah is our annual community-wide retreat that takes place in the scenic Marin Headlands.  It's a weekend filled with friend-making, delicious food, playfully competitive games, breathtaking hikes, and much more.  It's an experience carefully designed with just the right amount of structure that is fit for the entire family.  Click here to read more about Selah and/or to register. Brian Jones is one of the biggest, most outspoken ambassadors for Selah.  For him, this is a weekend intentionally set aside to encounter God and each other.  He wouldn't miss it and he doesn't want you to either.  Take a read of his impassioned plea:

Let me read your mind…

It’s too expensive – I can’t afford it.  It’s too long.  I’m really busy right now.  The weekend is my only chance to catch up on stuff around the house.  I can’t stand “bunking” with a bunch of other people in a large room on a small bed.  I’m introverted – being around a bunch of people I don’t know makes me uncomfortable.  I don’t really know people at Open Door, I’d be by myself – who would I talk to for two days …  I’ll go next time.  I’ll go when I have more money.  I’ll go once I know people better.

These are myths, deceptions deliberately put in your mind by the Enemy.  Not outright lies, mind you.  He knows those would be readily identifiable and overcome.  But these myths have seeds of rationality behind them, are thus believable, and therefore become “truths” to us.

For example, “It’s too expensive.” or “I don’t have the money for it.”  Myths.  We all have money for things that we prioritize.  I see and hear it every day.  And so do you.  If it’s a priority, if it’s emotionally important or significant to us, we find the money for it.

Selah matters because it is a declaration that our lives and choices will not be dictated by the concerns of this world or by the myths and deceptions of the Enemy, but by the Values of the Kingdom of God. 

Selah is a necessity because it is in this brief weekend that we get to experience the blessing and privilege of living in community as illustrated in Acts 2 & 4.  As Jer might say, “we flourish because we are dedicated to the flourishing of others.”

If nothing else, Selah is a choice to sacrifice what I want, what I think is best for me, or what is comfortable for me, and to focus on benefiting others.  It’s a tangible, actionable way to walk in the way of being a disciple of Jesus by laying myself and  my personal concerns down.

Selah is a non-negotiable for me.  It’s a unique opportunity to build life-sustaining friendships, to get to know others on a deeper level, to step away from the noise of everyday life and hear what God is saying – and in so doing, to refocus, get recharged, encouraged, and re-energized. 

***My hope is that you will go.  If you’re on the fence, my hope is you will choose to go – or at least find me at the next gathering and talk to me about your hesitation.  If you’ve already chosen not to go, my hope is that you will reconsider – prayerfully ask yourself why you’re choosing not to go…and if it’s based on your wants and needs over the needs of others who just might need you to be there that weekend.***

I know one thing for certain.  If we’re serious about being disciples of Jesus it means we must be a community that is united and considers the needs of one another above our own needs.  Selah is a perfect springboard for making what we’ve been dreaming, visioning, and talking about a reality.


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.

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 coregroups@abluedoor.com 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.

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?