There's a new community of pastors, innovators, artists and pioneers forming.
They're calling their network "Origins" and they have three core passions: Jesus, humanity and innovation.
Their mission is to bring together passionate Jesus followers from diverse backgrounds to dream and work together so that more people would experience the transforming love of God.
Dave Gibbons, lead pastor at Newsong Church in Irvine, Calif., describes the group as "a community of friends" who are figuring out together what God is doing.
Those involved, including Gibbons, say the relatively-new network has grown organically. Many, such as Mosaic Church's Erwin McManus, Vintage Faith's Dan Kimball and National Community Church's Mark Batterson, were already friends and they decided to make their exchanges a bit more formal yet still dynamic.
"I think it's a group of people coming together who are saying 'we don't have all the answers. We really need each other," Batterson said this past weekend in Washington, D.C.
"I need Dave [Gibbons]. I need the way he thinks. I need the way that they are expressing the Gospel through missions," the NCC pastor noted. "Together the synergy that happens when we come as believers and put some of our assumptions on the table and begin to dream about what the Kingdom could look like, some amazing things begin to happen.
Batterson made clear the Origins Project is not about everybody being a part of the same thing. It's essentially a collection of individuals who are doing what they're doing in the context of their respective ministries. And Origins provides a platform from which they can share their ideas, support one another and innovate together.
"It's just about challenging all of us to rethink what it means, in biblical terms, Jesus, humanity, [and] innovation," Batterson added.
Gibbons explained that they're not seeking to reinvent anything. They're simply going back to the roots of church and maybe reinterpreting it. When asked if the network was similar to the conversations going on in the emergent movement, Gibbons said he never felt a part of nor did he ever understand "emergent."
While Origins' core team includes some well-known names such as McManus, the network is open to anyone around the world who "desires to join in on the hopeful mission of people experiencing and knowing the love, and saving grace of Jesus, [a]nd using our God-given creativity and innovative thinking in this mission," according to Kimball of Vintage Faith Church.
On a practical level, Origins is developing a 2009-2010 "Listening" tour where network members will travel to various cities to listen to people who have ideas and on how they envision Origins to be. Some from the group have already made "Listening" stops in Houston and Washington, D.C.
"We're actually here to serve and maybe be catalytic for you because you're the movement of God," Gibbons of Newsong church told ministry leaders and Christians from various churches during the Washington stop. "We're actually here to also listen because as we listen ... we're trying to gather information on how to formulate a support structure so that the freedom of the Holy Spirit can be let loose."
During the "Listening" tour, Origins participants will also be establishing point leaders for regional groups where people can connect and learn from one another.
Also, the Origins team is planning to hold a Woodstock-like "festival" in July 2010 that will include opportunities to not only connect but also to serve the local community. Money charged for the event will go right back into the needs of the city, according to Gibbons.
"We're planning an experiential journey that will have content, instruction but also a lot of creativity and action," Gibbons explained.
Others who are part of the Origins Project Creative Team include, among others, Scot McKnight, religious studies professor at North Park University in Chicago and a New Testament scholar; Amena Brown, poet and spoken word performer; Rick McKinley of Imago Dei Community Church; and Eric Bryant of Mosaic Church and author of Peppermint-Filled Pinatas.
According to the Origins website, the network commits to the gospel of Jesus' life, death, resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit, to the Scriptures as God's inspired Word, to the truths of the historical, orthodox creeds (e.g., The Nicene Creed, The Apostles' Creed), to the missional vision of the Lausanne Covenant and as we serve on this mission to see others understand God's dream for them as they follow Jesus.