Open Church Update via the Techology Show

Kent Shaffer —  November 10, 2011

Two weeks ago I had the privilege to spend the morning with the team at the Techology Show discussing the story behind Open Church. You can watch the video here.

And here are some highlights:

Open Church helps Christians globally equip each other with ministry ideas and free downloadable resources.

HOW OPEN CHURCH BEGAN

  • Prior to Open Church, whenever I’d work with different groups on global Church collaboration projects, a question that we would wrestle with is how can we go further than what has been done before? How can we get past dogmatic differences. How can we get past politics and red tape?
  • I also saw the importance to have an unaffiliated, independent entity that doesn’t have an agenda other than to collaborate and resource the global Church. This way people do not have the excuse of not participating because they do not like the megaorganization or church celebrity behind it.
  • How can we take this even further? Let’s put barriers and parameters on leadership to limit egos and greed and strings attached. Let’s keep things impartial among contributors.
  • I wanted to help other ministries do this, but I couldn’t find a group that had the right corporate culture, bandwidth, and desire to pursue it.
  • So in fall 2010, I was working with tech startups, and I felt clear direction from the Holy Spirit that I needed to start Open Church because: (1) it is the right timing and (2) by doing it now before any tech startups were profitable, people would say, “Look what God did!” rather than “Look what Kent did with his money.”
  • I spent the next 6 months phasing out of the tech startups getting LifeChurch.tv’s blessing since I spent the previous couple of years helping them with various initiatives.

THE DNA OF OPEN CHURCH

  • We have a big core value of impartiality which has changed everything. Most best practices in marketing, fundraising, and website user interfaces are highly based on partiality. We want to be sure that we are not being partial and unintentionally pushing away some subculture of the global Church.
  • However, in some ways we are partial. We do have high benchmarks of quality acceptance. We evaluate content for quality, theology (gospel, Great Commission, & 2 love commandments), no bipartisan politics, no slander, and no self promotion.
  • The impartiality comes among contributors. Open Church is a place where the village pastor in Malawi is treated the same as Billy Graham.
  • On a base level, we want to reduce inefficiency. If we provide a $300 resource to 10,000 users, the global Church just saved $3 million which can be used for orphans, widows, or creating more resources to give away.
  • We also want to increase access to quality resources. This will raise the quality benchmark for future resource creators.
  • Ultimately, the vision for Open Church is much bigger than just distributing free resources and articles. Long term, we want to come alongside and not strip cultural strengths from a people group but help them create resources for their culture by their culture in whatever medium works best.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

  • It is no longer just the big megaorganizations that can give away stuff for free. Some of the best church graphic design is coming from church plants. So you can have a 1 month old church plant that can impact the global Church. Churches no longer have to wait 20 years to be influential. They can start resourcing and influencing the global Church in their first week.
  • My prayer for the 3rd generation of megachurches is that they are focused on collaboration without credit. It takes letting ego go, but it also takes letting control go and trusting in God to take care of things.
  • Sometimes our systems are holding us back from being the best that we could be because we are too focused on avoiding embarrassments or avoiding mistakes or doing things to a certain level of excellence. But the Bible is pretty messy and sloppy. You need to find the tension between stability and scalability. You can’t be so rigid that you hold yourself back.

For more discussions that intersect technology and theology, be sure to check out the Techology Show.
For more on Open Church, visit OpenChurch.com.

Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

4 responses to Open Church Update via the Techology Show

  1. This is so refreshing to hear about. I am seeing more and more denominational walls break down as Christ starts to truly unite his church! Keep pressing for the kingdom!!

  2. Your mission idea is waaaaay to broad and unclear. This is the primary reason why others have failed with projects like this. I also don’t see designers giving up time freely for this especially in these economic times. It’s a good idea on paper but not reality.

  3. @Scott Thanks!

    @Josh I agree that the vision is broad. However, our experience and research hasn’t stumbled across broad scope and lack of clarity being the reason most similar projects fail. Perhaps you know of case studies that we don’t. Please share some examples.

  4. I’m impressed. I’d never heard nor even thought about something like Open Church, but I can definitely see how it could pull together talents and resources from around the world to bring the gospel to the lost. How brilliant it is to use technology to bring people together for the benefit of God’s kingdom. Keep up the good work.