Our Story

Blue Ocean Faith began in Cambridge, MA as Dave and Grace Schmelzer, Charles Park and other Blue Ocean leaders started a church in 1998 (now called Reservoir Church) which quickly became the largest in town. It got attention for things like being quite diverse (both racially and socioeconomically) and for being a faith-filled church that welcomed LGBTQ people at all levels. But it drew the most attention for combining two things that usually don’t go together—being richly spiritual and supernaturally-focused even as it drew a remarkably high number of congregants who previously hadn’t gone to church.

Many churches in very nonchurchgoing parts of the U.S. (and some in Europe) started talking together about this. What did it look like for vibrant, Jesus-focused churches to thrive in very secular cities? (Cambridge at the time was 2% churchgoing.) And might that have something to offer in a western world that was very quickly secularizing?

The conversation quickly became quite robust, involving hundreds of churches. In 2015, those conversations birthed a small new network of churches, each of which is often the only church in their town that combines five noteworthy traits. Blue Ocean Churches look to be:

  1. alive in Jesus,
  2. diverse,
  3. inclusive,
  4. politically nuanced, and
  5. attractive and comprehensible to outsiders.

All the thought and prayer and conversation around these things has yielded one key insight: that what we’re up to is all about connection–to God and ourselves and others and our cities. With support and resource-sharing and training along these lines, these churches are excited to dream for a new wave of faith in Jesus in the America that exists today, a wave both in and outside of Blue Ocean.

Enjoy exploring this site! The Blue Ocean conversation has led to some really helpful, unique resources. Check out things like the six distinctives–I think you’ll find them provocative. And drop by other resources, like the weekly Blue Ocean World podcast that discusses issues of the day with a Blue Ocean spin. Or pop over to our sister online magazine, Horatio, that thinks about where contemporary people find meaning. Explore the “resources” menu a bit. You’ll find things like the Blue Ocean Churches book–a manual about getting started with a Blue Ocean church that hundreds of church leaders have read and many churches have taken their staffs through. Or you can take a look at the Seek program, a 10-week experience-based class on exploring faith in Jesus that’s been run all over the country. Or take a glance at the Leap of Faith prayer experience that churches all over the country run each year during Lent as a means of raising faith. And please be in touch if there’s any way we can help you or if there’s a conversation you’d enjoy having.

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