February 10, 2019
Evergreen just passed the 30-year mark. Early on, our church experienced rapid growth that resulted in our “One Church, Many Locations” model of church growth and Kingdom expansion. However, for more than 15 years, we have been slowly decreasing in attendance. We have been stuck! In 2017, several pastors and office staff began discussing the challenges of our current multi-site strategy and what changes could help us be more effective and fruitful in the future.
Proverbs 19:20 (NLT) says “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.” The team decided it would be wise to seek the outside input of some fresh eyes. Several consultants were considered and vetted, eventually the Unstuck Group was selected based on their experience with over 350 multi-site churches.
The process began in November where a multi-location team of volunteers, staff, and pastors went through an assessment to understand where we were at currently. In January, a full two-day planning retreat occurred to help us begin to move forward and set the course for the future. The key question being considered was this: Should we continue as a multi-site church or become autonomous church plants?
We had some very healthy conversation about our strengths and weaknesses and objectively examined the challenges and opportunities of both multi-site and autonomous church plant models. Our heart’s intent was to seek the Lord and be willing to follow the Spirit’s leading and we are grateful to have sensed God’s grace amongst us during our time together. Through discussion, prayer, and the consultant’s counsel, we concluded the two-day retreat very excited and completely unified about the direction that God revealed to us for our churches.
Here is what was decided:
The three Evergreen locations will pursue a more comprehensive approach to multi-site church ministry. All three locations chose to pursue this path and are eager to see how God leads them into the future. They will participate in additional planning meetings in March and April with the consultant to work on more specific details as to the structure and vision for their multi-site church ministry.
The Urban Refuge will become an autonomous church plant, continuing to operate as one of our locations through 2019 and launching in 2020. This will free them up to more expansively pursue the vision of building urban churches that God has laid on their heart without losing focus or hindering the alignment needed for effective multi-site ministry. Unity has been and remains a core value of the church and the leaders. This Urban Refuge church plant is an expression of that unity and an affirmation of their calling, not an expression of division or disagreement. A strong relationship with the Evergreen churches and opportunities for collaboration will continue.
At the Rock, the pastors and leaders have worked diligently and humbly with the congregation to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their location. Through the findings of this process, the pastors and leaders have decided to join the Urban Refuge in March. They believe this is the best decision for the Rock congregation and will help address their weaknesses while retaining and building on valuable strengths. The Rock has shared the facility with the Urban Refuge for many years but began partnering more together last fall. The leadership teams at both the Rock and the Urban Refuge are eager for the congregations to be and work together.
There are many things we don’t know yet, but there is a lot of work in front of all of us and we appreciate your prayers, patience and feedback. We know there will be many questions; we welcome them, and we will provide more information as decisions are made at evergreenchurch.com/unstuck. Finally, we know that even good change can be hard. Jesus provided us some wonderful insight into the difficulty of change.
Luke 5:36–39 (NLT) says “Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. 37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. 38 New wine must be stored in new wineskins. 39 But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.””
We believe the Lord is pouring new wine into our churches. We rejoice and give thanks for how God has led us over the last 30 years. We embrace the blessings and the trials. We give God the glory for the successes and take ownership of our failures. In what has been and what will be, all glory belongs to God. With willing hearts and minds, may we let go of the old so that we can take hold of the new. We are grateful for God’s generous kindness and unfailing faithfulness to lead us into this new future together. He is our guide and we are his followers.
United for His glory, Your Pastors, Staff, and Leadership Teams