Roots & Branches: The Story of Oak Life at year 1.

A little over a 12 months ago, a seedling emerged from the ground: a community called Oak Life Church. From the beginning, Oak Life's story could not be told by just one person, but rather has always been a harmony of lives coming together around the way and the work of a radical first century teacher from an obscure outpost of the Roman Empire, who impossibly changed our world.

A few weeks ago we celebrated our first birthday as a church by remembering where we've come from and dreaming again about what's next.  Our hope has been pretty simple: to follow Jesus and try our best to not get in his way as we grow deeper roots and wider branches together. 

There have been so many stories written in and through Oak Life in the last year and this highlight list cannot possible contain them all- but here is a brief snapshot: 
-We provided a Thanksgiving meal for 400-500 people last fall
-Served a monthly meal at YEAH! homeless shelter
-Got inspired by various forms of art in our Sunday gatherings
-Sent a team overseas to do ministry in Myanmar
-Hosted a Burmese orphan in our homes and lives
-Engaged in numerous tough conversations around race, justice, doubt, faith, and grace, and more. 
-Participated in at least 7 neighborhood cleanups and many community festivals/events
-Grew from a core team of 25 to a community where 40-70 folks gather each Sunday and around 100 folks regularly participate in community life, most of whom didn't know each other year ago
-Started an internship program
-Became a diverse and inclusive community for folks from many different walks of life and religious backgrounds
-Began a deep and meaningful friendship with folks in a local homeless camp
-provided emergency shelter and medicine for some homeless friends
-Way more to capture in this blog.  Check out our instagram to see the pics!
-Weekly invited folks to receive the grace of God through Christ, and to live into that grace.

Looking back on the year is overwhelming. 

How could we have known the ways in which God would move in and through our community? 
The people we would meet, the friendships that would start, the needs that were met, or the prayers that were answered?

One thing is for sure- Oak Life could not be the community it is becoming had it not been for the participation, prayers, passions, and perspectives of the people involved.  We are a beautiful mess- and each of our messes has a part in the story God is writing. 

Last year on our sprout day, we invited people to share their hopes, dreams, and prayers for what Oak Life could be and looking back on it, it's incredible to see the ways God has answered our prayers by growing us into the church we are now.  Click here to read the prayers from last year. 

So as we move forward into whatever God has next for Oak Life, we continued the tradition by having folks write down more hopes, dreams, and prayers for our community, hoping to always be a church where we're on mission together

We don't know what's next, but if the past year is any indication of what might lay ahead- we should be really stoked.

Here are the hopes, dreams, and prayers written by folks at our Sunday gathering where we celebrated our first birthday:

-"To keep sight of all those who need our help."
-"To keep Jesus as the reason for our church"
-"That we would continue to be a diverse and inclusive community."
-"For more transformative, life changing music!"
-"That we would offer relief to people."
-"That the good news of Jesus is at the center of all we do."
-"My hope is that Oak Life would connect with people who have given up on God.  People who have been pushed away, i.e. homeless youth, adults, dicorced, prostitutes, addicts, disabled, socially awkward, and others."
-"I hope that Oak Life will keep the faith in God and continue giving love to everyone.  Thank you for your love for me."
-"That Oak Life would connect with young people in the community."
-"I pray that we would be a community of prayer and quick to offer support for each other in prayer."
-"That we would draw more people in"
-"That we would enter into other peoples lives"
-"To stay cool"
-"A place to explore our gifts in the Body"
-"I pray that at Oak Life we are not afraid to challenge the injustice in the Bay Area."
-"I pray that Oak Life continues to have as large and unique of an impact as it did on me the irst day I walked in- for everyone else :)"
-"I pray for maturity and growth"
-"To be an open and loving community"
-"My hope for Oak Life is that will be a light in the city of Oakland and beyond by demonstrating the love, joy, service, mercy, and peace that Jesus gave to us!"
-"That we would grow in our love, faith, quality, peace, hope in God"
-"That we would fund raise for other non-profits"
-"For increased diversity, increased community, increased collaboration with the secular world sharing the goodness of God with those who don't get the chance to encounter God, for the need for a bigger space :)"
-"My hope is to see healing and restoration to those in our community that need it.  And we can be God's and and feet in making that happen."
-"To Keep God first"
-That God's truth would be sought and spoken here- God's love will be shown."
-"That the Gospel influences everything.
-"That Oak Life community members would regularly be engaged in God's word- recognizeing that is our anchor. To grasp how powerful and life giving it is- to be in it daily."
-"I hope worship evolves into a unique Oak Life experience."
-"For honest, openness, and love"
-"My prayer is that Oak Life continues to encourage genuine faith that builds a community on Sundays, but that also lives beyond the church experience."
-"I hope that everyone finds love and peace within themselves, the world, and God."
-"We pray that God would continue to increasegrace in his community and that this community would respond by having the hard and difficult quesetions/discussions."
-"That Oak Life could be a safe space for difficult discussions and a sanctuary for the lost and troubled."
-"I hope that Oak Life will be a prime example to other churches on how to have loving, healthy, christ centered community.
-"That God's love and mercy shows itself in the actions of this community."
-"To be a place where art is fostered."
-"That we would exemplify Jesus so well that those who interact with us could do nothing but see him."
-"For continued community involvement."
-"That the gifts of the spirit would present in unexpected ways."
-"That we would be a place of healing for people who have been hurt by the church."
-"That we could find a community within the Oak Life community"
-"For Growth"
-"To bring our worship outside into the community."
-"That the resurrection of Christ would fuel all we do.