Life, Faith and Urban Farming

The life and happenings of an unconventional pastor and urban farmer living in the city with a family of five.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Acts 11 - Antioch and the East End


Last night I spoke about diversity and the diverse neighborhood that The Open Door will be moving into this fall. Acts 11 and the church in Antioch provided inspiration to us as we thought about what it might look like for a church in a diverse city to allow individuals the right to shape who we are as a church. The Open Door must allow for new leadership and we must allow those new leaders the right to shape who we are as a community. We are moving from Oakland to the East End, that move represents a great shift in diversity. We’ve seen some of our best leaders and servants be sent out from our community to new communities of faith and new opportunities for mission. Just as we’ve seen great leaders in our community leave we are also leaving our geographical center. The Open Door will be moving from a busy college campus to a very different neighborhood. A neighborhood with diverse kinds of people. There are lots of artists living around our new neighborhood, participating in things like the Penn Ave. Arts Initiative. There are many people in our new neighborhood who struggle economically, both Caucasian and African American. There are middle class folks who live right up the street in Highland Park and there are struggling families right across the street from our new geographical center. I believe God is getting our community ready for this move to the diverse East End sending some of our best leaders and servants away. It would be easy for us to move into the Union Project as an existing church that does not need much of anything from the neighborhood, but we’re not. Some of our best people have been called to leave.

We should look at our move as a new beginning, a beginning in which the leadership of the people in our new neighborhood will be greatly needed. The Jewish people in Antioch did not try to hold on to their leadership roles, they allowed the Greek people of the city to shape who they were as a church. They allowed gentiles into leadership roles and they allowed new converts the right to shape who they were as a community. The Open Door must allow for new leadership and we must allow those new leaders the right to shape who we are as a community of faith.

Last night I said I was both excited and scared to be moving with the anticipation for change. I love the Open Door, I love what God has been doing in our community. Be I expect he has greater plans for the future. God's plans usually involve change that is not always easy. But we are ready and willing to go! We are excited to become the missional church God has called us to be!

2 comments:

Terry L. Mann said...

These are indeed exciting days for The Open Door. I pray regularly for all of you, but especially for the leaders.

Terry / Matrixminister

Sarah Louise said...

John, I read your sermon while I did the slides and I think it was awesome, right on there with what we hashed through at Tri. See you tonight! Suzi aka S.L.