All of what we do as a faith community is designed to take everyone, from the postmodern/irreligious person to the radical, irreligious follower of Jesus, to the next step on their journey towards embodying the neighbour-love ethic of Jesus within their faith, local and global communities. Everything we do is designed to be low-key, easily replicable, organic and relational.
House churches are the heart and soul of the Open House community. It is in these communities that we share, discuss, question and explore ideas relating to living the way of Jesus. It is in these networks of relationships that we support each other, share our lives, serve our communities and practice loving and serving each other.
On the first Sunday of the month we meet to share stories, start a conversation, listen to each others’ updates and best of all to eat and drink together. We get together at around 4pm before diving into a meal around 6pm noon. There is a kids learning program that happens during the adult conversation starter.
At our dinner gatherings we start a conversation on a particular topic, theme or idea. These conversations are then continued in our House Churches. Our community participate in the conversation starter, then read the summary online and watch a video or listen to a podcast, before having a conversation in their house church and looking to take their next step in getting their life in rhythm.
The collective rhythms of our community are designed such that people can still have space within their weeks to serve their local and global neighbours. As such, throughout the year, we have a range of service projects popping up, like: community BBQs, backyard blitzes, aged-care visits, freezer meal cook-offs etc. There are also a range of more structured initiatives, like: Finglish to English – a fortnightly meal and conversational english program for Persian asylum seekers, Upwey Community meal Night – a weekly community meal in Upwey, and Mainly Music – a music program for pre-schoolers on Wednesdays at Belgrave Heights Christian School.
We also have a range of ‘huddles’ happening across the course of a year where different people from the community get together to reflect, explore and plan various Open House initiatives. Everyone is invited to participate in these huddles and specific people who play different functions within our community will appear at ones that relate to them.
The collective rhythms of Open House are designed to encourage, motivate and inspire all of us within the community to be building and cultivating our own rhythms of life to align us in increasing measure with the way of Jesus. They are to be as minimal as possible, such that our collective systems and processes cannot be seen as an end in and of themselves, but as a means to an end. Our true end is real people, having real convictions, and living out real relationships based on the way of Jesus, towards their faith, local and global neighbours.
It is hoped that every Tribe person will have their own set of individual rhythms that correspond with their unique context. These rhythms are to be in constant flux, both as the individual’s circumstances change over time and as individuals get better and better at aligning their lives and choices with the way of Jesus. Each year individuals within the Tribe community work collaboratively together to diagnose where they are at, reflect on where they want to be and to define some practices and some goals that they will seek to embody based on Tribe’s big ideas. They also have periodic check-ins within their house-church communities to keep them on track. This puts the onus and responsibility for one’s spirituality and life where it should be – on the individual, yet collectively we all support, inspire and learn from each other about how to be more authentic in our lives.
Everything about Tribe is designed to be relational, and is done through our house-church communities. All of our ‘collective rhythms’ are organised and coordinated relationally through our house churches. We don’t have hierarchical positions, but rather have functions that people play for a specific time to serve the faith community based on the individual’s unique strengths and context, along with the needs of the faith community.
In our contemporary society our ‘local’ can be defined by our ‘networks’ and our ‘neighbourhood’. Our relational networks are ones that we might commute to catch up with, see regularly in social media space and perhaps work with everyday. Our local neighbourhood community are the families that live in houses within close proximity to where we live. We want to find ways for the Tribe community to support each other to love and to serve our local neighbours in both our networks and neighbourhood in increasing measure.
Today’s world is interconnected like no other point in human history. Today we have global neighbours, in the sense that we can be aware of what is happening on the other side of the world in real time and our choices that we are making, day in and day out, have very real implications on others across the world. In light of this, we want to be relationally loving and serving our global neighbours. Whilst this is fundamentally about doing something to help meet the interests of others, it also helps us to battle the temptations of greed, power and upwardly mobile lifestyles so prevalent in our culture.