Archives For Open Church

Open Church is Hiring a Program Director

Kent Shaffer —  November 5, 2014

Open Church helps Christians collaborate, learn from each other, and share resources. We accomplish this in 2 ways:

  1. Manage a database directory of people, resources, & research.
  2. Increase access to the database with standardized approaches to cataloging, licensing, archiving, distributing, & technology.

The Program Director’s Role

Program Director is a full-time, telecommuting position responsible for the early stage implementation of Open Church’s ecosystem. Core responsibilities include:

  • In-depth research of global Christianity.
  • Nurture relationships with strategic partners.
  • Facilitate acquisition of data & resources.
  • Train & manage volunteers and interns.
  • Assist in adding content to the Open Church database.
  • Oversee quality control and project management of all programs.

This is a versatile role that will grow and evolve as Open Church grows. You are a jack of all trades, master of some. You thrive with both people and spreadsheets. And you have a deep love for both culture and God’s Kingdom.

To learn more about Open Church, read our 2014 Vision Blueprint.

To apply, email a resume to apply [AT] openchurch.com

Open Church Update: 2013 Year in Review

Kent Shaffer —  January 27, 2014

Last year was an extraordinary year for Open Church but almost all in unconventional ways.

January 2013 – Resources Launched & Financial Breakthrough

After two years of struggle, refinement, obstacles, and providence, we launched Open Church’s resource sharing in January 2013. It has been more of a beta test featuring only 16 resources, but those few resources have accounted for an astounding 5,081 downloads worth a combined $54,382!

Craig Van Korlaar worked pro bono in 2011 to lay the foundation for Open Church but transitioned to an advisory role in 2012 and became a board member in 2013. As for my journey, finances stabilized in 2012 as I worked several consulting jobs and sold ads on my blog, but it left very little time to work on Open Church. So in December 2012, I prayed asking God, “If you want me to work on Open Church full-time, you either need to bring in more donors or boost my blog’s ad revenue.” The next month the ad revenue grew tremendously! It has been enough to provide for my family’s monthly living expenses and basic Open Church expenses.

Spring & Summer 2013 – Beginning a New Season

By March, I sensed I should begin traveling later that year to develop key relationships. After much prayer, it was clear my family needed to make a lifestyle of it. So we bought a small RV in June.

As someone who loves to plan, I was going to schedule 4 months of meetings and then leave a few buffer days for the Holy Spirit to move in different cities. But the planning time was lost helping an extended family member through some unexpected challenges.

Then a wise friend gave me good counsel about how I was going about it all wrong. Rather than planning my meetings around who I think I should be meeting with, I should simply pray and go wherever I sense the Holy Spirit’s peace. So I did, and it was good.

Fall 2013 – 90 Days of RVing

As we left Oklahoma City for Dallas on the first day of our travels, I sensed that God was about to shift my plans, strategies, and blueprints for Open Church. And He did. Every few weeks has brought a new piece of the puzzle – one that radically reshapes what came before it. I would begin rewriting Open Church’s vision blueprint and then stop because a new piece would be revealed and throw a monkey wrench in the equation.

In these months, the more spiritual clarity I gained, the less logistical clarity I had and the more difficult it became to even describe what Open Church is.

What is Next?

I have much to share with you. In the coming months, I will write about where I think God is leading Open Church.

To see a map of where we’ve been, visit: bit.ly/shafferRV

Please Help Open Church Launch!

Kent Shaffer —  November 22, 2011

I’ve discussed the backstory and fringe opportunities of Open Church. Now we need your help to launch Open Church in January 2012!

  • We have had tremendously enthusiastic feedback but few actual donations yet.
  • We have over a hundred volunteers and potentially 10-20 terrabytes of free resources.
  • It takes an initial investment to make it happen and save the global Church millions of dollars.

2 Ways to Meet Our Launch Goal

  1. CHURCHES – $500 monthly from 31 churches for a 6 month commitment (PDF)
  2. INDIVIDUALS – $31 monthly from 500 individuals

Your support guarantees hosting for 3.5 terrabytes of free resources, on-going web development, and a team to manage hundreds of volunteers.

Download a 1 page PDF to give your church’s senior leadership.

Disclaimers

  • I will not get rich off Open Church.
  • I have committed to not take a salary from Open Church until October 2012 or later.
  • My wife and I have liquidated assets and made lifestyle adjustments to fund Open Church.
  • I have funded 80% of Open Church’s costs thus far since February 2011.
  • And Open Church’s team has collectively funded over 90% of the costs thus far.

Many have dreamed about better global Church collaboration, but it will never happen unless people are willing to prayerfully sacrifice the time, money, and egos to make it happen. If you are passionate about Open Church, please join me in sacrifice.

A 3rd Way to Meet Our Goal

Hire us to do consulting, branding, graphic design, or web development. Buy an ad on Church Relevance. Ask us to speak at your event.

We’d prefer to spend our time focusing on Open Church but are willing to take on some side projects to make it a reality.

How to Donate

We accept donations via credit cards at https://secure.openchurch.com/donate
For questions, please email info @openchurch.com

Donate to Open Church

7 Fringe Opportunities with Open Church

Kent Shaffer —  November 18, 2011

I have already discussed the vision and backstory behind Open Church. Now I’d like to share some of the fringe opportunities that future phases of Open Church may have as long as God wills.

Open Church intends to be much more than a hub for ministry articles and free downloadable resources. Phase 1 will focus on these basics, but we are structuring the organization and the web platform to quickly adjust according to God’s leading.

Over the past year as we have laid the groundwork for Open Church, we have had hundreds of ideas of what could be accomplished if enough people sacrifice the time and money to make Open Church a reality. We pray about these ideas. Many of them are good concepts but not the right fit with Open Church’s mission. However, some of the ideas resonate deeply with God’s leading and open our eyes to exciting new possibilities. Here are some of the ideas that we are most excited about:

7 FRINGE OPPORTUNITIES WITH OPEN CHURCH

  1. Scripture Engagement
    In his works of 1539, Martin Luther warns of the danger in collecting great libraries outside and alongside of the Holy Scriptures lest we waste good time and neglect studying Scripture. We are excited about the free church resources and ministry articles that Open Church will offer, yet we recognize the Bible as the greatest resource of all. To ensure that Scripture is a priority both online and offline, Open Church is exploring how to best partner with and serve organizations that do Scripture advancement well, such as Biblica and American Bible Society.
  2. Volunteers for Global Church Projects
    We are currently organizing teams of volunteer graphic designers, editors, web developers, translators, and many more skills that can help create in-demand resources and help people package resources for their culture by their culture.  While it will take hundreds of volunteers to run Open Church well, we expect the global scope to actually attract more volunteers than needed for operations. The overflow of volunteers can be assembled into fluid teams that can ebb and flow to projects outside of Open Church that offer the greatest potential to impact the global Church.
  3. Offline Resources
    The Internet is an incredibly efficient way to spread ideas and resources. The overhead costs are minimal. However, only 30% of the world’s 7 billion people have access to the Internet. We are excited about the ability of Open Church phase 1 to rapidly equip ministers globally, but we realize that long term goals must address how to get offline resources to the other 70% of the globe. These resources are mainly printed word and pictures but could also be audio on electronic devices as well as much more. It will take collaborating with locals and already established organizations and experts. We do not have all the answers for how yet, but we are already forming relationships with organizations and experts who can help. An example is Antoine RJ Wright of Mobile Ministry Magazine who specializes in mobile Internet but also works with ministries to get resources to remote areas with wireless devices but no Internet by attaching Wi-Fi hubs to 2 terrabyte hard drives.
  4. Reaching Microlanguages
    There are about 6,900 languages spoken globally. And the top 100 languages account for 90% of the world’s population. More than half of the world’s languages (3,524) have fewer than 10,000 speakers each. I call these microlanguages, and together they account for 8 million people globally. Open Church wants to be able to equip people regardless of what language they speak, simultaneously reaching the top 90% and bottom 0.1% of the world’s speakers. Again we do not have all the answers yet, but we are prayerful exploring ideas and collaboration opportunities with experts like Tim Jore of Door43 and Distant Shores Media. Tim is a former Wycliffe Bible translator pioneering new ways to empower microlanguages to translate and equip themselves with ministry resources.
  5. Acquisition of Licensed Content
    Sometimes the best resources are stuck behind rigid paid license models. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be. Open Church is designed to keep overhead costs low. We would love to raise funds over and above these costs to acquire previously licensed content. For example, the Bible was translated into a more obscure African dialect whose speakers want to create free audio Bibles to reach their storyteller culture, but the local copyright holder will only allow it if money is charged and royalties given. Money is a barrier that is keeping some of the most effective resources from reaching people and changing lives. What if together we can acquire high impact resources and give them away for free?
  6. Insights into the Behavioral Science of the Global Church
    Lifeway Research and the Barna Group offer outstanding insights for the Church. However, there are limitations to polls and surveys. In the age of supercomputers and the Internet, we now have opportunities to process complex relationships with millions of variables and discover the science behind humanity such as, Twitter users are happier in California than New York, happiness and sadness spread just like disease, and time availability determines Good Samaritans. Because Open Church categorizes its content by the creator’s age, gender, ethnicity, geography, role, ministry model, denomination, and theology, we can evaluate user trends to analyze the relationships between content, much like how Netflix’s algorithm can tell why someone will like one movie but not another. In other words, what are the dynamics between a Reformed Southern Baptist millennial from Texas and an Emergent Anglican Baby Boomer from the United Kingdom? With time, we hope that Open Church can better understand the complex dynamics across the 39,000+ denominations of the global Church.
  7. Read, Consume, & Stream Resources Online (no download required)
    Particularly in emerging economies, it is not always feasible to have the means to download a resource and then print it or burn it to a DVD. In some contexts, it makes much more sense to be able to stream and instantly consume content. Whether curriculum, a video, or some other resource, Open Church would like Christians to be able to use resources on demand straight from the website. So rather than downloading, a small group leader can just pull up individual curriculum lessons on his smartphone. During bedtime stories, parents can pull up video shorts to teach their kids spiritual truths. And a children’s minister in India can teach from the Bible and then show a 5 minute Bible story video translated into Hindi-Urdu.

Again please keep in mind that these are fringe opportunities for Open Church that we are prayerfully considering. The ultimate roadmap is up to God’s daily direction.

WANT TO MAKE OPEN CHURCH POSSIBLE?

We still have a long way to go to find 500 partners willing to contribute $31 per month. Or if you are a church, consider supporting our digital missions with a commitment of $500 per month for 6 months.

You can donate at https://secure.openchurch.com/donate

Donate to Open Church

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.

Global Church Influencer Infographic by Open Church

Kent Shaffer —  August 23, 2011

Open Church has put together an infographic to raise awareness for the huge race, gender, and geography gap among global Church influencers. It is a compelling visual that shows how unbalanced the global Church is by who influences it.

For example, 80% of global Church influencers are Americans, but Americans account for only 10% of the world’s Christians.

Only 1 in 20 global Church influencers are women.

3 in 4 are white. (73.5%)

Open Church Infographic of Global Church Influencers

To see the infographic enlarged, visit OpenChurch.com.
And to learn more about Open Church’s purpose, be sure to read their vision brochure.

The infographic features 545 names of global Church influencers chosen by:

  • pastors of US churches who have made 2+ of the 18 top US churches lists,
  • pastors who have a relatively well known platform globally,
  • non-US pastors with churches of weekly attendance of 15,000+,
  • key leaders of niche church movements,
  • prominent bloggers,
  • prominent authors,
  • prominent event speakers,
  • a number of broadcast media personalities,
  • and more.

While fairly accurate, keep in mind this infographic is an imperfect list because it requires some subjective opinions rather than just scientific measuring.

The criteria of who is an “influencer” can certainly be widened. However, at this sample size increasing the number of names isn’t likely to skew the percentages but just grow the numbers.

Do you have thoughts or questions about the infographic?
Please voice them on Facebook at:  facebook.com/1openchurch

Open Church 2011 Vision Blueprint

A month ago I blogged about Open Church, a new nonprofit I am helping launch that equips global Church leaders with free ministry resources to download and ideas from all cultures.

The response thus far is exciting.

  • Volunteers are signing up.
  • The site is being developed (launch date TBD).
  • And we have free downloadable resources from numerous organizations ranging from a large publisher to an influential megachurch to a young church plant.

It is clear that the challenge for Open Church is not finding ministers willing to contribute ideas and free church resources. The challenge is having the manpower and finances needed to scale the operations and site infrastructure to accommodate the high volume of opportunities we’re receiving to equip the global Church.

Currently, Open Church is supported by Church Relevance advertisements and Create Etc client work. This covers the basics. It allows me to focus on Open Church full-time and have the development team necessary to create and maintain the Open Church site. It also covers minimal operational costs such as government fees for establishing a nonprofit and some server costs.

Through Church Relevance’s relationships, Open Church is fortunate enough to receive thousands of dollars of professional services at no charge. Overhead is low, and volunteers will help keep it that way.

That alone is enough to make Open Church work well. Yet with more support, Open Church may very well become the world’s largest repository of free church resources.

Outside of Church Relevance and Create Etc, Open Church will only be funded by donations. We will not offer advertisements or try to sell products through Open Church because we believe those money-centered activities can at times hinder global collaboration or unintentionally steer an organization in the wrong direction.

4 Ways to Make Open Church Possible

  1. Donations
    Your generous one time or monthly gift will help put resources and ideas in the hands of ministers around the world. You can donate online at openchurch.donortools.com or email info [AT] openchurch.es for details on mailing a donation.
  2. Buy an Ad on Church Relevance
    I would love to help get the word out about what you do! When you advertise on Church Relevance, your money goes to basic operational costs for Open Church and to put food on the table for myself and Open Church’s site development team. For more information, please email kent [AT] churchrelevance.com.
  3. Hire Create Etc
    Need a website or a logo design? Create Etc can do that. We have been creating websites, social networks, blogs, and marketing strategy for ministries and businesses since 2004. Like Church Relevance ads, hiring Create Etc helps cover the basics for Open Church. The challenge with this is it pays the bills but also takes us away from working on Open Church. For more information, please email info [AT] createetc.com.
  4. Book Kent Shaffer to speak at your event for “free” or consult your church for “free”
    I will speak at your event for “free” or consult your church for “free” provided that you cover travel expenses and make a donation to Open Church. Of course, this is subject to availability. For more information, please email kent [AT] churchrelevance.com.

Your donations help make it possible to have servers to host terabytes of free downloadable resources, forge relationships with ministries worldwide, organize hundreds of volunteers, and make big-impact ministry ideas a reality.

Donate to Open Church

If you know churches, organizations, or individuals that may be interested in supporting Open Church, please send them the Open Church 2011 Vision brochure.

If you have questions about Open Church, please ask them in the comments section of this post.

Open Church – Free Ministry Resources and Ideas

Kent Shaffer —  May 10, 2011

Open Church - Free Ministry Resources and Ideas

This year I restructured my life and business endeavors, so that I can start Open Church, an independent nonprofit focused on equipping global Church leaders with free ministry resources to download and ideas from all cultures.

Bits of Open Church’s vision have been stirring in my heart for years, connecting, and building upon each other. The Open Church website is anticipated to launch in early 3rd quarter 2011. I want to see more churches collaborate.

Free Ministry Resources

If the churches of one city pooled together their different resources – financial and human, they would have more literal and figurative money than they know what to do with.
- Dallas Willard

I find great truth in Willard’s words, but I dream about what it would be like to have thousands of churches globally aggressively sharing their resources with each other. Think of the time saved from not trying to reinvent the wheel. Think of the money saved. With that volume of collaboration, you can still have plenty of variations and choices among similar resources. Rather than 100 churches all doing the same thing, let 5-10 churches create that resource and give it away. Let the remaining 90-95 churches used those saved resources to impact the Kingdom of God in a new way.

By providing the technology platform and manpower to make sharing resources easy, Open Church turns the desire to share into a reality for those interested in equipping the global Church. Open Church’s central hub format simplifies user access, synergizes reach, and reduces costs for contributors.

Global Ministry Ideas

Generally speaking, the majority of ministry thought leadership influencing the global Church comes from white, upper middle class, American men. While their thoughts are good, they are naturally limited by culture and best suited for reaching people like themselves.

Open Church’s idea platform features these mainstream perspectives but also intentionally seeks out expert voices from underplatformed niches, such as G12 Africa, Europe, Chinese house church, Latino Americans, Black Americans, Indian Americans, college ministry, etc.

The goal is to present a holistic scope of ministry perspectives not only to cater to each niche but also help readers become more well-rounded and balanced. By mashing up ministry ideas from all geographies and cultures, it becomes much easier to recognize what are timeless Biblical principles and what are cultural best practices.

How You Can Help

At the moment, Open Church is 100% volunteers. The cost savings and extra manpower allows Open Church to do more, offer more, and reach more. If you feel passionate about Open Church’s vision, you can help the following ways:

  1. Pray for Open Church — its mission and leadership.
  2. Prayerfully consider contributing your time or resources.
    Open Church is currently lining up volunteer editors, writers, translators, resource managers, and resource contributors (particularly curriculum and administrative tools not just graphics). For more information about serving in these roles, please complete the volunteer signup form.

If you are interested, I’d love to explore ways for you to be involved.

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