Open Church’s vision is much bigger than free resources and a directory of causes. We want to help Christians around the world collaborate and share. This will take time to build.
We dream of Christians sharing millions of free resources through Open Church’s database. We dream of thousands of websites freely distributing these resources via an API. We dream of missionaries discovering that the vaccines and malaria nets needed are available in a nearby village via another cause. We dream of churches working together to serve their cities.
By working together and pooling our resources, the gospel can reach further. More wells can be built. More churches can be planted. And orphans, widows, and refugees can be served better. Together perhaps one day a person’s access to Scripture and discipleship materials will only be limited by their hunger for God rather than their income, language, or location.
Of course, Open Church isn’t the one who will be doing all this work. We simply create an ecosystem that makes it easier to discover like-minded collaborators and easier to create a resource and share it everywhere. Behind the scenes, we curate the diverse flavors of Christianity and build tech infrastructure around them in a way that make collaboration and sharing easier and more probable. It is just enough infrastructure to build momentum and overcome historic obstacles without being so much structure that it quenches the Holy Spirit or hinders scalability.
For now we start simple.
For causes, many of the initial causes are larger, well-known organizations, and the information gathered is quite basic. A big next step is to conduct research focusing on major cities and global regions that empowers locals to identify which churches, ministries, and NGOs are key to their community. With time individual cause descriptions will improve to feature a robust overview of a cause’s history, current projects, and future goals.
For resources, we start by focusing on the resources that are easiest to create and acquire – stock photos, artwork, and other raw creative files. Gradually, we will build a library of ebooks, worship music, curriculum, and training materials.
We started with prayer, research, concept testing, and relationship building to develop the plan for Open Church. That season was an idea maze that analyzed the success and failures of similar initiatives and vetted fringe possibilities of what could be.
After traveling 45 states in an RV to listen to leaders from the many flavors of Christianity, we discovered the following 3 insights to helping Christians work together.
- Prayer & Practicality
It takes prayer and a move of God to create the change we want to see, but there are also practical steps that we can take to prepare the way.
- Unity Needs Awareness
Plenty of Christians want unity, but most of us are only aware of just a sliver of what’s going on in our cities. If you don’t know someone exists, it is hard to collaborate with them.
- Resources Need Harvested
More and more Christians are creating great content like curriculum, artwork, music, and training materials. Many of them want to give it away for free, but they don’t have the extra bandwidth to do so. And instead these resources end up gathering dust on hard drives.
Those initial years taught us to rely on God and abide in Christ. It detoxed Open Church from copying the approach of previous models and taught us to (1) identify deep-rooted challenges behind collaboration and resourcing, (2) listen to the needs and cultures of those in the trenches, and (3) then prayerfully strategize of how to weave together a new approach for collaboration.
Relationships + Technology
At first glance, Open Church looks like a technology project, but the real challenge is in relationships. Open Church is a relationship network that uses technology and systems to make sharing and collaboration easier.
Too many Christians become hermits in their own private silos. We break down those silo walls by nurturing relationships and encouraging them to participate in Open Church’s directory and ecosystem.
What we’ve found is Christians are often reinventing the wheel. A resource creator wants to do X. A denomination wants to do Y. And countless websites want to do Z. But they’re all doing XY&Z and repeating the same efforts. As a centralized hub, we orchestrate these efforts so a creator simply does X and others in the ecosystem will happily take care of Y&Z.
We Value Diversity
Open Church intentionally seeks out and supports a diverse scope of theologies, methodologies, and cultures. And for those people groups who do not have resources tailored to their culture, let us support them in creating resources for their culture by their culture.
Open Church is designed to serve village churches and mega-ministries, bishops and everyday Christians, young and old, rich and poor, Charismatic and Orthodox. We hope to accommodate almost every form, function, and flavor of Christianity. Diverse perspectives help you see God at new angles and help you discern biblical truth from cultural theology.
We Value Quality + Impartiality
We must be concerned about quality. Quality is more important that quantity. Not all resources are accepted. They must meet a quality benchmark. And Open Church prioritizes resources that have a high impact for the Great Commission.
However, beyond this benchmark of quality we must be impartial. Open Church intentionally gives equal honor to contributors, and God receives the glory. The village pastor from Malawi is treated the same as Billy Graham. The only one on a pedestal is God.
Just 1 sub par resource can prove costly over time. If 300 users waste 5 minutes browsing resources that no one will download, then they’ve collectively wasted 25 hours. Spend that time on Kingdom work not junk resources.
We Value Efficiency
When you look at the economies of scale of 2.2 billion Christians, a small tweak can make a big impact.
That’s why we spent several years in prayer, research, and conversations learning how Christians around the world are collaborating and equipping each other with resources OR why they’re not. And along the way, we pinpointed how Christians are falling short of their potential and identified ways to help them reach further, faster, and even for free.
If we provide $300 worth of free resources to 10,000 users, the global Church saves $3,000,000. Those savings may be used for things like orphans, widows, church planting, or water wells. If we save 1,000 churches an hour because they don’t need to create content, that’s 1,000 Kingdom hours gained and tens of thousands in wages saved.