Open source churching for the common good

By James D. Sanderson
PREVIEW Columnist

The first time I heard the term “open source” it had to do with software. Open source software could be modified, expanded, shared or discarded as the user might choose. What resulted was an explosion of creative energy as regarded the software. By sharing the original platform with others, all could benefit.

In the same way, the One Church in Pagosa Springs — the One Body of Christ — is passing along insights, thoughts, ideas and experiments that others are free to use in any way they see fit. They are free to modify it, use it, pass it along, slap a logo on it, or reject it and toss it away.

This is important not so much for the ideas or thoughts themselves, but for the platform that is created in sharing them. A “commons” is created which gives us the ability to make common cause with others for the greater benefit of all. When we connect and find common ground, our community is a better place for everyone. Such common ground builds win-win situations, rather than the same old win-lose situations.

Creating common ground sets up the possibility that comes next: genuine community. As we move beyond our own interests and concerns, we can create a new environment. An environment where collaboration and unity leads us to the future God desires for us. New structures can be discovered that better serve the common good. We have the opportunity to reframe and broaden the purpose that believers live in. The opportunity to address not only salvation and worship, but social justice, racism, poverty, slavery, environment/creation, violence and other vital issues. We are given, by this means, a way of designing a different future.

What if, for one instance, instead of waiting for people to come to us — to our church — we went to them. Not that we go to them and invite them to come to church, but that we go to them and bring the love of Jesus Christ and the goodness of the Church to reside with them, where they are. That would require us to turn the Church inside out.

What if we met people right where they are — where they hurt, where they struggle, where they face the chaos of the world — and joined with them instead of expecting them to join with us. What if we sold our buildings, our chairs and pews, our sound systems, our pulpits and altars and gave the proceeds to the poor? What if we then picked up our cross and followed Jesus Christ? It’s an absurd concept, I know. It’s so absurd, in fact, it just might work.

Our first attempt at open source churching has worked very well. We have created prayer lists (a prayer commons) for each neighborhood that remind us to pray for one another — for those closest to us. Now we are putting discipleship lessons into the hands of anyone who would like to learn and grow in their faith. Further, these lessons can be used by disciples of Christ to disciple others. We’re starting with the basics, of course, and will progress into more advanced teachings later. With enough disciples, everyone in our community can benefit as the love of Christ reaches even the darkest of places.

One church, right from the start. For more about the One Church Movement in Pagosa Springs, please go to

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This story was posted on January 23, 2014.