church

Practices of an Abundant, Sharing Economy

Our word economy comes from two Greek roots: household and management. So 'economy' is rooted in the practices and ideas that help a household (a family) flourish. It involves money, but it's also bigger than money. Economy is about money, relationships, possessions, and more. 20150104_coin_banner The last two weeks at Open Door we've talked about the idea of an economic imagination - the realization that the 'economy' we exist in has a particular vision or imagination for 'the good life' or life's ultimate goals or purpose. That imagination will inevitably form and shape our everyday economic practices - how we buy and sell, where we choose to live, how we relate to those around us, etc.

Capitalism has a particular imagination (involving retirement, self-sufficiency, upward mobility) which lends itself to particular practices (investing, consumption, seeking promotions, etc.).

In the same way, Jesus invites us into a particular economic imagination. The 'good life' that Jesus invites us into (life 'to the full') is marked by a pervasive and holistic shalom, love of neighbor, faithful stewardship of what we've been given, trust and reliance on God's abundance, and a family formed around Jesus. 

This Jesus-looking economic imagination invites us to consider certain economic practices that move us deeper into this kingdom imagination.

This past weekend, we continued our conversations about money, economy, and following Jesus with a focus on naming some of these specific practices and action steps we can take as a family - particularly those centered around Abundance and Sharing/Community.

Here are a few of the practices we named to help us live deeper into a Jesus-looking economic imagination.

Practices of Abundance (Luke 12:22-34)

  • Meditating on Scriptural passages of abundance
  • Journaling a daily gratitude/thankful list.
  • Dwelling in our identity as God's beloved child.
  • Immersions into nature, recognizing that the God who holds together the world cares also for us
  • Picking up pennies and seeing them as symbols and reminders of God's abundance
  • Developing a baseline for what is actually 'enough' (based on global averages, actual needs, etc.) and taking an inventory of possessions and actions to simplify.

Practices of Community (Luke 9:10-17)

  • Trusting you have something to offer to others (financial, relational, skills to share, etc.)
  • Offering an area of your abundance to the community (produce or flowers from your garden, time, skills)
  • Developing an infrastructure of sharing ("You need a power tool? I have a power tool you can borrow!")
  • Willingness to name what you need and what you have
  • Bringing meals to those with new babies, in transition or in crisis.
  • Believing God can do more with what you're willing to offer than you can imagination.

Taking steps of practice in these areas, I believe, will move us deeper toward the life that Jesus invites us into. These simple steps are the stuff of faithfulness in God's kingdom economy!

What other practices would you add to the list? How have you experienced growing depth towards a new economic imagination as you take steps of faith with our money, possessions, and resources?

Everyday Story: A Sweet Journey (Brook Dalrymple)

It has been a sweet journey and a highlight of our 4 month marriage so far joining Open Door. I really feel that the journey God has us on during this season aligns with what the Open Door community is about. everyday_storiesIt was a week before our wedding in July and we had just started moving boxes into our new place in Pleasant Hill. I emailed a family friend who lives in Martinez about what churches Justin and I should check out. She told me that I had to check out Open Door. So we went! We were warmly welcomed and had several people come up to us asking if we were new. However, what stood out the most for me though was right before Jer started teaching, he was expressing the grief he had in his heart over what was going on around the world at the time...the airplane that was mistakenly shot down that was caring the top AIDS researchers in the world, and Syria and Gaza were erupting...and we all prayed together for God's mercy. I turned to Justin and said, "is this for real?"

Both Justin and I have spent a lot of time overseas in Asia and the Middle East and God has really cultivated in us a heart for the world yet we came from a church that was nervous about making mention to anything outside the church walls. It was thrilling to have someone mention from the pulpit realities of what was going on in the world and then responding in prayer for God's mercy.

The one comical piece to this was that during this particular service, the sermon was more of a time of story and application from a previous series and we just so happened to not have opened the Bible. And so, I remember telling Justin that if they just open the Bible, I'm totally in. We have to go back. So, about month later, now married and settled into our place, we came back and we're welcomed again and people remembered us. And then... we opened our Bibles and I took this sigh of relief and said to Justin, "ok, I'm good." During that same service, we heard about the Orientation to ODC circle and agreed that this was are best next step in this process because we still knew very little about Open Door and wanted to get plugged in as soon as we could.

Taking a step back, a theme of the last 4-5 years of my life, and Justin's as well, has been understanding the Gospel in a deeper capacity that goes beyond my individual salvation. The greater picture has been the greater story of God restoring and redeeming creation and Jesus bringing the Kingdom of God on earth. So right now, we are in process of that restoration. I am being renewed and made more like-Christ, but so is the rest of the world. And I must be attentive to how God is allowing me to be apart of bringing that renewal to the world. So, what solidified things for Justin and I in the Orientation Circle was that Open Door is SO about this....this bigger picture of heaven being ushered in on earth. To us, that was extremely refreshing and authentic to here and matched what God has been sanctifying in us. This is a church that is attune to where there is brokenness happening and aware of posturing themselves to how God is restoring and building his Kingdom here on earth. The Orientation Circle also gave us an opportunity to get to know Jer and Dave better. When we were first looking at churches in the area, Justin kept saying that whoever the pastor is, he has to be someone that he would want to follow in how he imitates Christ...which is discipleship in it's simplest form. What's so cool is that already, we have literally followed Jer and Dave and walked alongside them, learning with them and practicing being peacemakers.

We are now finishing up the Black/White Race divide Circle. It's really difficult to try and formulate how meaningful and transformative this Circle has been and I am (and will continue to be) in process with it for a very long time. And it's pretty insane to think about how timely this Circle is to what is going on in America currently. And what's crazy, yet again, is how the Circle is aligned with understanding the position that the Gospel is about God's story of redeeming the world and slowly restoring creation, which is made possible through Jesus. If I am viewing the Gospel in this way, then racial divide in the East Bay matters. Ferguson matters. Eric Garner matters. Hearing the pain of people among the black community matters. One of the pastors who spoke in our circle said that we have to be about addressing the broken systems that are breaking people. I've learned to a greater degree about walking humbly...listening to pain that I won't ever fully understand, and asking hard, awkward, tense, uncomfortable questions that force me to confront how I look at the world around me. And not coming up with answers or rebuttals or defensiveness, but just humbly listening. And being in situations were I feel unsafe. And I realize how little I cared about justice before, because I never experienced injustice in the way I personally looked at the world. But God is a just God and so his restoration of the world involves justice...making the world right.

That's why on hard days, or really any day you read or watch the news, you sense this tension. The tension of what is and what should be. And that's where we are. Envisioning and moving toward what should be amongst what is. There are still so many other thoughts that are still being formulated, but I am very grateful to be processing all of this within a community of people who love Jesus and are learning with me about how we actually mourn and weep and bring peace in a way that is reflection of who Jesus is.

Engage in the Life of the Open Door Family

Yesterday, we posted an update from our Steward Team and at our Gathering, Steward Team shared their thematic goal for the upcoming year: to develop clear on-roads into the life of the Open Door family. Steward Team's focus throughout the year will be to develop and catalyze the resources of Open Door to support this thematic goal, but as was shared last night, it's not possible to "program family!" We will grow together as a family through a combination of (a) Open Door's resourcing (leadership/staff, environments, teaching content, Circle guidance, etc.), (b) each of our personal initiative, and (c) the Holy Spirit's weaving and cultivation. In light of this, will you take some time to reflect on three key areas of engagement in Open Door's life with the following questions:

Engaged Presence

  • How do I prioritize gathering with the family on Sunday evenings?
  • Am I aware of the needs of those in the Open Door family and how do I respond?

Intelligent, Courageous Contribution

  • Am I courageously generous with my resources (i.e. time, finances, talents, ideas)?
  • Do I initiate giving of myself and my resources, or do I wait to be asked?

Movement toward Authentic Relationship

  • How have I recently engaged with someone outside the Gathering? Do we share about how God is moving in our lives?
  • Am I comfortable being my true self with the Open Door family, or do I tend to put up a front?

On January 11, Steward Team will host a wine and cheese night after the Gathering to dialogue and converse about this year's thematic goal and Open Door's movement in these areas.

In the meantime, feel free to reach out to any member of Steward Team or email ben@abluedoor.com to reach Steward Team's chair, Ben Johanson.

Steward Team Update - December 2014

Note: See this related post for an invitation to reflection on your engagement in Open Door's family life. Friends,

ODC.Logo_2Every fall, Steward Team gathers for a retreat to reflect on Open Door's previous year and to discern direction for the next twelve months. Out of this time together we develop a Thematic Goal that focuses our work moving forward. Our Thematic Goal for 2014 was “To refine current organizational structure and expand paid staff." Key initiatives that emerged included the development of the Circles environment and the hiring of our Pastor of Community Formation, Dave Kludt.

At our retreat this September we celebrated the stories emerging from the integration of Circles and Gatherings and the addition of the Kludt family to our community. As we reflected on our focus for this coming year, the word that rose to the surface was "Family." We've always identified ourselves as "a family of sojourners learning to walk in the way of Jesus for the good of the world" (our identity statement), but we began asking questions like:

  • How does the Holy Spirit weave us together as a family?
  • What are signs of health and areas of growth for our family?
  • How must Open Door’s staff & structure resource the cultivation of our family?
  • What kind of personal initiative is necessary to grow within our family?

With these questions in mind, Steward Team developed this year’s Thematic Goal:To develop clear on-roads into the life of the Open Door family." Already this Thematic Goal is shaping our life together in Circles, our recent teaching series, and the ODC Orientation Circle and Square One initiative, both designed to help us understand who we are and how we can become engaged contributors to the Open Door family. In 2015, watch for an updated website, Winter and Spring Circles, the Discover Retreat (March 13-15), the Selah Retreat (May 29-31), and other exposure points designed to resource our cultivation as a family.

This year, let’s deepen our engaged presence with one another as we join God in what He’s doing all around us. Let’s also commit to intelligent and courageous contributions to what God is doing in and through Open Door. If one of your contributions is financial, please consider a year-end gift and/or commit to consistent giving throughout the coming year. Finally, let’s proactively move toward authentic relationship with one another as we listen for the voice of the Spirit and live what we hear.

We are thrilled and humbled at God's ongoing faithfulness and are excited to move forward together as God's Spirit continues to cultivate us into a Jesus-following family.

With gratitude and anticipation,

The Open Door Steward Team

Ben Johanson, Rebecca Olson, Tony Collins, Alison Knox, Brendan Cheney, Heidi Brandow, Dave Kludt, & Jer Swigart

Note: See this related post for an invitation to reflection on your engagement in Open Door's family life.

Why Tune? Why Worship?

A few weeks ago, we started a conversation about what it means for Open Door to be a family that worships together and we'll be on this journey through the end of September.

TUNE web banner

We care deeply and are shaped by a desire to be a place of formation (rooted in Christ, woven together, cultivating others and extending love to others) but recognize that in order to faithfully live as a formative community, we must deeply embrace our identity and vocation to grow as a worshiping family.

Words shape reality and the way we talk about worship and family informs and shapes the way we actually live out our calling together. Here are some working definitions we’re exploring through Tune: The Sound and Soul of a Worshiping Family.

Soul (Identity) :: Individually, we are all beloved children created in God’s image. Together, we are a family gathered to follow in the way of Jesus.

Sound (Vocation) :: We are called to extend the reign of God here in the East Bay and beyond so that heaven and earth are woven together.

Worship :: Our lives lived in response to God’s extravagant love made real in Jesus

Family :: To be family is to receive our identity as God’s beloved child and to believe that what God has done through Jesus worked, shaping and forming us together for participation in extending God’s reign.

Elizabeth broke down worship into three steps, using definitions above to frame worship in the context of identity and vocation:

Revelation :: The God of extravagant love is revealed to us and continually draws closer to us.

Relationship :: As God draws closer, we're invited into a dynamic and unmediated relationship with him. Through the work of Jesus and empowered by God’s Spirit, we’re called together in relationship with others as a worshipping family.

Response :: In response to the God who's revealed and pursues relationship with us, we worship. Our lives are lived in such a way that reflects and extends God’s love. Worship is holistic - spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental.

Worship is individual as well as communal.

Worship shapes our identity and vocation.

Worship involves creativity and practice, our bodies as well as our minds.

Worship is key to our formation and our participation in the extension of God’s kingdom in the East Bay and beyond.

This holistic vision of worship is what Paul writes about in Romans 12 as he encourages the community of Jesus followers (us!) to offer our bodies - our full selves with nothing withheld - as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the God who’s revealed himself to us.

This is the true and proper worship we want to tune into during this season and beyond!