Janet and I were co-pastors and founders of 360church in Berkeley, California. The call to Berkeley was about helping creative people explore the potential of connecting with their Creator through faith in Jesus Christ.
Here’s part of our story:
In 2007, we were minding our own business in Springfield, Missouri where I was teaching at the AG seminary and Jan was completing her doctorate.
We visited Berkeley at the request of a friend and were immediately captivated by the city. Berkeley, we concluded, is the most creative city in the world. From this premise, we began to ask a question: what would happen if the people who create the future did so out of a relationship with their Creator?
We felt God leading us to start a new church for creatives in Berkeley. So we quit our careers, sold our dream house, and moved into a basement from which we traveled to raise the funds needed to live in the East Bay.
Arriving alone in December 2008, we moved into an abandoned, foreclosed pink stucco house in the South Berkeley neighborhood.
Immediately we started working on cleaning up the appearance of our 90-year old home, with the help of several teams who visited from other churches.
Before the church even had a name, the first prayer meeting was held in the our living room in January 2009 with two friends visiting from Arizona. Easter of 2009 was celebrated in an outdoor service on the Cal campus with an attendance of 3: Janet, me and one visitor: a finch.
Dinner meetings began at our home later that year, first on Friday then on Thursday nights. These events featured a huge comfort food meal (e.g., chicken and dumplings), followed by singing, Bible teaching, prayer, and dessert.
We are asked often about the name of the church. Friends visiting from Ireland suggested “360church.” We had no idea what it meant, but we liked the name and it stuck. Being a Church in a house for a while afforded a chance to evaluate whether a new congregation would actually function in Berkeley. When it did, we were ready for the next step.
On Easter 2010 360church started Sunday morning services at Berkeley’s Hotel Durant. Subsequent locations included an office building, the Shattuck Cinemas movie theater and the East Bay Media Center.
Regardless of location, 360 was always about connecting creatives with Christ. Today those creative people are serving Jesus around the world.