Blue Ocean Faith

Blue Ocean Faith

The River Church is part of an association of churches known as Blue Ocean Faith.  Below you’ll find a little more information about how Blue Ocean got its start and what our goals are.  More information is available on the Blue Ocean website, and our National Director, Dave Schmelzer, has also written a book that expands on all of the ideas below. That book is available for purchase here.


Whereas faith has often been seen as something that divides people, we believe that faith can unite people.  We believe that Jesus broke down a lot of barriers, and we’ve paid attention to that.

Five noteworthy traits of Blue Ocean churches:

  1. Alive in Jesus
  2. Diverse
  3. Inclusive
  4. Politically Nuanced
  5. Attractive and Comprehensible to Outsiders.

Six Theological Distinctives:

  1. Solus Jesus: Keeping our eyes on Jesus and following where Jesus leads is the heart of faith.
  2. Centered Set is our Primary Metaphor: Rather than asking people to join in on and adhere to a complex list of culturally bound rules and systems, our primary aim is to respond to and move towards the alive and interactive Jesus.
  3. Child-like faith is our path to Spiritual Development: Taking our cues from Genesis 3, rather than trying to play the judge (eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,) we choose to give our burdens to Jesus, trusting in the guidance and care of the good and living God.
  4. Third Way is our Approach to Controversial Issues: In Romans 14, Paul encouraged the people of his time to bear with one another in love as they navigated controversial topics. Our aim is to give every person space to wrestle with the issues of our day while intentionally including anyone who truly wants to worship with us, regardless of whether or not we agree on every point.
  5. Ecumenical is our Connection to other Faith Communities: There are many churches in the world all serving some particular function in the body of Christ. As we all function, we acknowledge that Christ is the head of us all.
  6. Joyful Engagement is our Interaction with Culture: Where there are people, there is the image of God. Jesus encourages us to be salt and light among the nations. We acknowledge that good things happen when we love, talk with, learn from, and experience life among our friends and neighbors in the larger culture.

Nine Blue Ocean Perspectives:

  1. We Need Connection More than We Need Answers: Though we all have a tendency to ask “why,” like the final chapters of Job demonstrate, when we connect with the living God, our perspective starts to shift.
  2. Everyone is Us: Though we are often tempted to divide ourselves into people we think are like us and people we think are not, maybe the most powerful opportunities exist when we say “yes” to engaging with all people.
  3. There Really is Something Going on Out There: We have learned over the years that the universe is relational. We believe that God truly wants to talk to us, guide us, encourage us, and motivate us.
  4. By and Large, We Flow Easily Within Secular Culture: Everyone can be a catalyst for growth in our lives. When we see a good movie not made by a “Christian,” or benefit from a discovery by a  “non-Christian” scientist, we can only conclude that we are meant to be relational and be mutually helpful to one another.
  5. There’s No Bad News in Connecting with God: What we find is that moving towards God produces only good news for us. For example, the fruits of the Spirit manifesting in our lives.
  6. Jesus Has Proven to Be a Particularly Helpful North Star: We find we are helped by repeatedly returning to Jesus.
  7. We Grow by Taking our Own Unique High-Risk Journey: Like Abraham, we believe there is something to allowing God to be our supernatural guide into unchartered territory. We find that our faith grows as we take those risks that we feel Jesus has blessed us to take.
  8. My Drive to Judge Others Is a Big Problem: The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds tells us that we are not meant to judge but that we are meant to live among each other.
  9. Everything Is Shot Through with Meaning: God’s reality is large. The possibilities for growth and insight are immense.

Blue Ocean faith is about the idea that a different sort of conversation is possible: a conversation about life, faith, and God that avoids well-worn debates and divisions, and instead brings the churched and the non-churched together, as we all experience an ever more vibrant relationship with a living God.

The goal of Blue Ocean Inc. is to foster a spiritual awakening. We believe that anyone can connect with God from wherever they’re at—within their own culture, race, and religion (or lack thereof)—and that this is best done in community through genuine give-and-take dialogues about faith.