Why did you used to meet in a pub??
Well, it was pretty cheap 🙂 Honestly, our desire was to do our worship gatherings in a place that was both affordable and that fit with our philosophy of involvement in the life of the city of Portland. Also, being accessible to those we are trying to integrate into our community was pretty high on the list… And the Pub did all that. It really broke down barriers for people who wouldn’t think about walking into a more traditional church building.
Now that we’re in a more traditional space (read: church building), we’re still working hard to be exactly the same kind of community. In fact, we’re finding people that normally don’t or haven’t come to church in a long time still connect- the building may not be as big a barrier as it used to be.
What do you do on Sundays? Why discussion? Don’t most churches just have “preaching?”
The Word of God is central to what we do on Sundays. It’s in and through and over the whole thing. But we make every effort to talk about it/communicate in such a way as to make sense to everyone- those with or without church backgrounds…
A typical morning goes like this:
A welcome by someone wherein we talk about an aspect of the community- one of our core values or something we are trying to do or be.
We’ll have a few moments of quiet, centering prayer… often accompanied by a reading (usually the whole group, in unison) of a Psalm.
After that, the fun begins…
We generally work through books of the Bible, but occasionally spend some time focusing on different topics. But even when we’re covering a topic, we tend to base it on a section of Scripture- we tend to work verse by verse through the whole passage.
And we talk a lot. For us, the sermon is (at least this is the ideal) the work of the community. We are teaching each other. Whoever is leading that morning still has a role in keeping things on track, doing the majority of the talking, but we do our darndest to get others talking to each other as well. In this way, as a community, we wrestle with the Scriptures.
We prefer this dialogical approach over the more traditional monologue of one person speaking sermons and feel it helps people learn and stay involved better.
The highlight of the morning is responding to what we have heard God say to us in worship, by coming to the Table for communion, and verbally, afterwards, in the wrap up.
What do kids do during the Sunday gathering?
We have a great kid’s ministry led by people who are committed to the children of Evergreen. They meet in 3 side rooms, in age appropriate groups (for those under 12). Kids this age or older than this are welcome to join us in the main gathering- look in the back- we have clipboards with activities related to what we’re doing that morning.
We’d love to see people without kids take on the role of asking parents if kids can sit with them, either in the main group or in the back of the room, and helping those kids through the things we do in our gatherings- speaking, singing, praying, listening… and coloring too.
Do you have a youth group?
Yes! Currently we’re focused on Middle School students but want to see that expand over the next few years.
Why don’t you pass the offering plate?
We don’t need to. We put a box in the back of the room, and ask people to get up and put any offering they might have to support the work of the community in the box sometime during the worship gathering, as an act of worship. We feel like passing a plate conveys to some a message we really don’t want to give about our desire for their money. We want people to give, but to give for the right reasons- as worship, not out of a sense that people may be looking as the plate gets passed.
How come you guys still use the Bible?
Because there are many people at different places spiritually who are part of Evergreen, there are probably a lot of views about Scripture represented in our community. But in general, our practice is to see Scripture as the inspired Word of God and we center our community around it. Our gatherings generally consist of a discussion/teaching centered around a biblical text. There’s plenty of room for us to discuss what we think about God… we just want to make sure that we’re listening intently to what God is telling us about Himself.
Do you have some kind of statement about what Evergreen believes?
What we as a community teach can best be summed up by the following ancient statements of the Church, The Apostle’s Creed & Nicene Creed. They are specific enough to be distinctively Christian, but generous enough to allow us to have a diversity of theological thought amongst us while living in unity with one another and not getting caught up on the minors.
The Apostle’s Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Do you have to be a Christian to be a part of Evergreen?
While Evergreen is a distinctly Christian community, one does not need to be committed to Christ to participate in it. This community as a whole is committed to seeking God through the person of Jesus and we welcome those with honest questions as well as those who know nothing about Jesus to seek with us. We commit to time spent listening to God individually and as a community and to living out life in the way of Jesus for the glory of God, and the good of the city of Portland and no matter where you are on your faith journey, we invite you to participate with us.
Many churches don’t seem to have many women in leadership? What is Evergreen’s beliefs/practices about that and about leadership in general?
The position of the Evergreen Community’s leadership is that throughout Scripture, God led women (Deborah, Huldah, Priscilla, Phoebe, etc) into positions of leadership and into teaching both men and women. Not wanting to prevent God doing the same in our community, we are open to women who meet all the qualifications of elder filling the role. If you have further questions, specifically about how we handle Scripture as it relates to this topic, please speak to one of our elders.
As we grow, the elders will continue to watch our community closely for those who are already exhibiting the characteristics of an elder and fulfilling the role of caring for and teaching others. When someone who meets these qualifications comes to our attention, we may ask that person to consider the role of elder. If they agree, they will then complete a self-evaluation based on the above qualifications, followed by an informal interview with the elders to process the result. The elders may choose to question the candidate on life issues, doctrinal issues, relational issues and may also choose to speak with the candidate’s spouse (if applicable) and friends. Should no red flags be raised, and if the elders and candidate are willing to proceed, the last step will be to bring that person’s name before the entire community and ask for private feedback as to whether anyone knows of any reason the candidate should not become an elder. After an appropriate time (2-3 weeks), if no irresolvable issues surface, that person will be confirmed as an elder.
Is Evergreen a part of a denomination? Evergreen is not a part of a specific denomination and we welcome those with different denominational or non-denominational backgrounds. We see the denominational diversity within the body of Christ as a reflection of God’s unifying presence in Jesus Christ. While we may not agree on everything (and usually do not), we are unified as a community through Christ. While we appreciate the rich histories and contributions of denominations, we also dream of a day where our similarities (Jesus Christ) outweigh our denominational differences. We do, however, belong to a relational network of churches called the Ecclesia network. You can check them out here.
Will you become a mega church and possibly lose what makes Evergreen special?
Our vision from the beginning has been to remain small as a community but grow through multiplication. Our goal is not to build one large church dynasty because it becomes impossible to remain personal and non-programmatic. Therefore, we seek to remain small enough as a community to where we can know and take care of one another, but at the same time we seek to grow through continually starting new communities where more people can gather and seek to love and serve each other and the neighborhood in which we meet and live.