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.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


The Open Door has these things called tribes. We try our hardest not to call them small groups because we don't want people to think of them as the small groups they've been a part of in the past. Many O.D. people have been a part of small group in their prior church experience, but most of their memories bring nightmares and horror stories! The Open Door tribes are not about a single meeting time once a month or once a week, but they are about smaller groups of people learning to live the "missional lifestyle" together. The theme of living missionally in community with one another is a major part of the tribes and what we dream the tribes will become.

I, and the Spiritual Formation Taskforce, have been working on formulating a description of the tribes. It's been difficult, here's what we have so far, we'll be editing it and eventually putting it on the Open Door website and printing material. Please tell me what you think, I'll post the final draft later too.
The Open Door
Tribes – “Communal Reorientation Toward a Missional Lifestyle”

The Open Door tribes help followers of Jesus know God more deeply through community, friendship and mission. As a God of relationship and mission, God desires that we be a people in relationship and mission. Being “missional” is easy for Christians to talk about and agree on as important, but it’s not always easy to live out. We believe being missional takes a change in lifestyle. The tribes help us reorient our lives toward a missional lifestyle. We believe the missional lifestyle is lived in community; smaller groups of people who encourage, teach, pray, welcome, play, and live in the way of Jesus together. Most Open Door tribes meet in people’s homes during the week over a meal or common activity. These common activities may include interests like ultimate Frisbee, classical literature, or local rock music for the purpose of commonality and fun. The primary meetings of the tribes are called “house gatherings.” This language supports our belief that we are always the church, whether gathered for large group worship, smaller group fellowship, one-on-one discipleship, or mission in the community. While the tribes are very different from one another, most have three aspects to them:

House Gatherings:
Tribes are about community. Like traditional small groups, tribes stress spiritual formation, discipleship, and fellowship for those who follow in the way of Jesus. Most often our tribes meet in peoples homes where they can eat together, read and discuss scripture and pray. These house gatherings are usually focused on fellowship, scripture, and spiritual formation of Christians. But they are always open and inviting toward our not-yet-Christian friends. Therefore most home church gatherings are a combination of spiritual formation and mission.

Micro Groups:
The “tribal lifestyle” also leads us to meet in even smaller groups out in the community. We encourage each individual to pair up with another person or two at some point during the week for the sake of encouragement and spiritual growth. Most of these meetings happen in local caf├ęs, restaurants, or bars during the week.

Justice and Evangelism:
Each tribe is encouraged to think missisionally about God’s call in their lives as individuals and as a group. Some tribes find a central missional focus to be involved with in the community. These missional focuses can be justice oriented, evangelism oriented, or a combination of both. Tribes may plan events and outings together for the sake of mission and friendship. Other tribes may encourage the missional lifestyle by regularly encouraging mission and hearing testimony of God’s work through individuals. The theme of mission is woven throughout all we do as tribes and as the Open Door. We seek a new understanding of what it is to be a missional church and what it is to live out the mission of God.


Sarah Louise said...

I'm sorry John, but I just hear the "Survivor" theme in the background as I read your post. It cracks me up how we try so hard to be "hip" at the OD. I think some of our neighborhood folks are going to be asking for "Bible Studies" which is what they were called in my day...let us not innovate too much that people think we're from Mars. (or Venus.) Otherwise, great post! I am looking forward to being tribal!

John said...

I hear a call to simplifiy. We're thinking of dropping the term "tribe", a lot of people just don't like it.