Gavin Farley, ACTS Community Consulting, was invited in March to help the Open Door Community, located about an hour from Birmingham, UK.

The Community is housed in a number of Cotswold stone buildings, one of which has been beautifully converted into a prayer chapel and adjacent kitchen and dining room. They run the main house (Childswickham House) and a cottage as retreat accommodation. They have really done a remarkable job in keeping the property in excellent condition. The community has now existed for 40 years and over the last ten years, following a time of crisis, they have been going through many changes and very difficult adjustments regarding their leadership and their structure, as well as trying to define the relationships between different parts of the community.

The “Open Door Community” consists of people of all ages, single people, couples and families, some of whom live on the property, others in their own homes nearby. Among them are work full time workers for the Community, others are in paid employment as they have families to support. At this stage in their journey they wanted help to move forward and renew their vision. Last September they started an 8 month sabbatical and asked Gavin to come at this point and facilitate them in drawing out their vision and the direction of the community ministries.

The first day of the time together concentrated on how to unravel the vision that God has for the community. Although many members had a sense of their communal vision, this had not been sufficiently articulated in the past and five goals could be defined to be pursued over the next few years.

Day 2 had the focus on structure. As the communnity is a charitable organisation it was needed to sort out how the „Charity“ part of the community functioned together with the „Private Trust“ that owns the property. John Proctor was able to give good advice, based on lots of experience in this area. Together a structure for the „outer life“ and the „inner life“ of the community could be developed.

On day 3 the leadership topics were covered and Gavin was able to give advice in building a leadership team and how this team can relate to the members of the community and how to include input from the community members as well. This is based on the „Bottom up” principle practiced in ENC. One comment was especially encouraging: „In 40 years I have not experienced coming to decisions together so quickly and in such unity, thank you so much for coming.“

The final open meeting on Friday evening – some guests were present – was about the „Fathers Blessing“ which really touched hearts.

Getting back to Austria proved difficult for Gavin. Airlines had just begun cancelling flights due to the coronavirus outbreak. He made it home before the borders were closed.

Final remark: Our brothers and sisters of the „House of the Open Door“ would love to invite people to come and visit them and they would even invite young people to come for a year, where they can work with them on their property, and take part in their evangelistic and discipleship programmes.

With reporting by Gavin Farley