Why Edgewater Collective Isn’t Faith Based

Over the past couple of months, I have been investing a good amount of time in launching our grassroots community development organization, Edgewater Collective. Thankfully, the mistakes and lessons learned from starting, maintaining and closing a coffee bar has helped me in starting this new venture. This time around I am seeking advice from those who have gone before me and done the same type of community development organization.

One of the big questions from the start has been, “Are we a faith based organization?”

I sought advice from others, talked with our board and came to the conclusion that some of our board members might be “faith-motivated” but our organization will not be faith based.

Wait! What?! Why would a seminary trained pastor with over ten years of experience in the church not start a faith based organization?

Bounded Set vs. Centered Set

Vision San Diego was a city transformation focused organization that developed a philosophy and strategy that has informed what we are doing in Edgewater. And they’ve made some great visuals of their strategy which you will see below.

In faith based organizations, the question asked is, “Do you believe like I believe?” This would be described as a “bounded set” organization. Faith based organizations seek the common good but more than likely their boards are made up of people that believe the same ideas about faith as they do. There are some organizations that they won’t partner with because their beliefs are different.

The other way of looking at who an organization partners with is called a “centered set.” In a centered set organization, the question becomes, “Do you care about what I care about?” People from different faith backgrounds or none at all, to focus on a shared passion or cause.


In Edgewater we firmly believe that each person, whether they are from a faith background or not, needs to be involved in providing hope for children and youth. The important thing is that they are seeking the common good of all in Edgewater. So our board is made up of great people from a number of different belief backgrounds and that is the way I like it. Our desire is to engage all sectors of our city to invest in this next generation starting in our neighborhood schools.


Honestly I love interacting in our community in this type of organization. I love talking with those who don’t believe like I do and hearing their hearts and passion for our city. Don’t get me wrong; there isn’t anything inherently wrong with faith based organizations. Our country desperately needs them. But in Edgewater as we engage our community in the process of neighborhood renewal and seeking the common good of all, we need everyone engaged.

And that means that we aren’t a faith based organization.


About joelnewton

I am a husband to Hillary, a father to Anna and Norah

Posted on April 28, 2013, in Church and Culture, Personal and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: