As I mentioned in Open Church’s 2013 Recap, the direction of Open Church took several dramatic turns this past fall. Originally, Open Church was intended to be a platform that aggregates and distributes free resources. Now after much prayer and traveling to listen to needs around the world, Open Church has identified 9 needs that would change how resources are created, distributed, and accessed.
Moving forward requires better relationships with each other. Open Church is not so much its own platform but rather 9 collaborative initiatives working behind-the-scenes to empower other causes and help Christians work together more easily.
It is just enough infrastructure to build momentum and remove historic inefficiencies while not having so much structure that it quenches the Holy Spirit or hinders scalability. So let us work together to help true disciples of Jesus collaborate, learn from each other, and share resources for the good of God’s Kingdom.
1 :: A Collaborative Ecosystem
A network for resource creators and distributors that (1) creates awareness for each other’s initiatives, (2) connects participants that might work well together, and (3) offers support in the collaboration process.
2 :: Standardized Licenses
A common approach to resource licensing that (1) eases legal understanding through standardization, (2) streamlines logistics by removing unnecessary legal restrictions, and (3) accommodates opposing theological convictions by offering multiple licenses.
3 :: Crowdsourced Sharing Platform
A low-overhead resource sharing platform that is crowd moderated and not hindered by censorship and curation limitations. With the right standardized licensing the best resources can be easily added to archival libraries for preservation and increased distribution.
4 :: Archival Libraries
Archives of curated resources preserved and standardized for future generations. Multiple libraries are needed to accommodate theological differences. These archives will seek to digitize public domain works, acquire copyrighted works, and support indigenous in creating resources for their culture by their culture.
5 :: Distribution Channels
Distribution engines that tap into archival libraries and distribute resources to end users or to other distributors. Many platforms already exist that can be retrofitted to become distribution channels, particularly with the right resource licensing.
6 :: Discipleship Platforms
Christian training ranging from Western culture’s academic approach to Eastern culture’s apprenticeship approach. Free resources are good, but discipleship platforms cultivate much deeper potential.
7 :: Open Field Research
Combined research efforts that report the spiritual, physical, emotional, economic, and educational needs of the globe. By combining data from thousands of ministries in the trenches, a better global pulse can be taken.
8 :: Open ID & User Data
Shared databases that excel digital platforms’ ability to provide convenience, tailor content experiences, and offer new features to users.
9 :: Development Standards
Standardizing the creation ministry technology allows for greater compatibility and digital collaboration.
These concepts aren’t new ideas. In fact, pockets of Christianity have been discussing them for about a decade, but the concepts often stall due to a lack of bandwidth, lack of trust, or preferential treatment. These concepts need an umbrella organization that is a safe, neutral, and unaffiliated guardian of the initiatives. It must accommodate a broad scope of unique needs from collaborators while simultaneously serving all contributing individuals, cultures, and groups equally.
This is Holy Spirit dependent. We plan deeply within the parameters set by Scripture and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but we will eagerly narrow the scope, tweak details, or even overhaul the core of this blueprint as He leads. Kingdom fruit is accomplished not by our own strength and wisdom but by obedience to God and a right heart attitude.
Christians have become fragmented and territorial. We’ve greatly departed from the Acts 4 lifestyle of sharing all things in common. If we have the means to share resources, then let’s share with the rest of the Body of Christ. In John 17, Christ prayed that we might be unified in one heart and mind by His words, God’s Word. This isn’t a haphazard acceptance of all things claiming to be Christian or all things branded with the labels of denominations, theologies, and ministry models. Rather Christ appealed that we individually be one with the Father as Christ modeled for us, and I believe that generosity with each other is a natural byproduct of uniting around the heart of His words, the heart of the Father.
Thus far, Open Church has acquired 501c3 status, trademarked branding, launched a beta testing website, scouted content creators, researched necessary global logistics and challenges, sought overlapping initiatives for learning and collaborative talks, begun initial stages on several of the 9 focuses, and most importantly, learned to humbled ourselves, pray, and seek God’s face.
Ideally, Open Church will be 100% funded by donations. Revenue-generating models can hinder collaboration by giving preferential treatment to specific groups or by limiting access to only those who can afford it.
In order to reach the next stages, partnership is needed. Infrastructure for the 9 initiatives needs developed, and manpower needs added for administration and volunteer training and management.