There are certain questions that people often ask about Bridge City.
Worship and what to expect.
When does Bridge City gather for worship?
10:45 AM on Saturdays. Classes generally start at 9:30 AM. Check the calendar for current details. We meet at the Bridge House. 2816 SE Harrison Street, Milwaukie, OR 972672.
What can I expect at a Bridge City worship service?
You’re welcome to come just as you are. We dress casually and comfortably. Our old worship center is hot in the summer, so you are welcome to wear shorts and bring a water bottle. You’re also welcome to bring coffee in covered cups.
Our worship services include worship singing including modern worship, praise classics, and old hymns. Children under 6th grade are dismissed part way through the service to an age-appropriate gathering called Kid’s Action Church. Our teaching is rooted in the Bible, presented in ways that connect with important and relevant issues of life. You can expect our service to be about 90 minutes long.
If you don’t have a pastor, who preaches?
We have a group of elders who lead and shepherd our community. All of them teach in one way or another from time to time. Presently Marc Schelske is our primary teaching elder. He preaches about 80% of the time. You can learn more about Marc at his website.
I missed a sermon. Where can I catch up?
What are Home Groups?
We believe that the church is at it’s core a community. Our relationships are a vital part of our spiritual growth. Gathering once a week to sing, pray and learn is not sufficient for us to know each other well. For that reason, we organize Home Groups.
These are groups that meet in people’s homes. (Thus the incredibly creative name!) Participants commit to a group for a quarter (10-12 meetings.) During the meeting, the group catches up over dinner, and then has the opportunity to discuss the teaching from the previous week and how it might be relevant and applicable to their lives. The group closes with an opportunity to pray for each other.
How can I join a Home Group?
Home groups are organized every quarter except summer. Sign ups for home groups happen in the month before the quarter starts. Signups for fall quarter are in August, for winter quarter in December, and for spring quarter in March.
Check the event calendar and church Facebook page for information about signing up for the next quarter. You can also call the church office at 503-794-1696 and let us know you’d like to join a home group near you.
Are children invited to Home Groups?
Each home group is different. Teen-agers who can participate in the conversation are always welcome. Some groups work together to provide baby sitting for younger children. Each group makes that determination on their own. During Home Group sign-ups you will be able to see which groups have child care and which do not.
Our common beliefs.
Where is Bridge City’s official statement of belief?
You can find a very simple statement of common beliefs on our Common Beliefs page. This statement is intentionally minimal. We have chosen to not make official statements of belief or doctrine on many points. We encourage each individual to study scripture for themselves, and invite the Holy Spirit to guide them as they come to understand their own beliefs.
Why doesn’t Bridge City have an official position on ___________ ?
As a community of Jesus’ followers, we accept that Jesus is the source of our life and salvation, and that through Jesus’ life and death humanity was reconciled to God. This is the center point of our community. We consider all other questions of doctrine and practice to be secondary to this, and have decided that in every possible case we will not let differences of belief on these secondary matters to divide us as a community.
For that reason, we’ve chosen not to make public statements about many matters of doctrine and practice. Many of these things are discussed in sermons and classes, but in most cases we are comfortable with participants in the community holding a range of views about almost every topic.
Is Bridge City a Sabbatarian church?
No. The families who founded Bridge City in 1997 were all from the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. At that time, those people were all Sabbatarian, and Bridge City was founded with worship services on Saturday. Over time our DNA expanded considerably. While we’ve remained friendly to people from the Adventist culture, we do not hold Sabbath-keeping as a central doctrinal issue. Some in our community are sabbatarian by belief. Others worship with us on Saturday because of their schedule or their choice to be a part of our community. When we teach about the Sabbath, we talk about it from the perspective of a spiritual discipline that allows us to grow closer in relationship to God.
Our organization and leadership.
How does Bridge City practice membership?
Because we want the label of member to have meaning, Membership at Bridge City is self-selecting. We don’t decide if you are a member or not. You tell us. Members at Bridge City are participants whose relationship with Bridge City is marked by for flags.
1. Spiritual Home. Members consider Bridge City to be their primary spiritual home, where they connect for community, spiritual growth, and worship.
2. Following Jesus. Members are follower of Jesus, having accepted Jesus Christ as the guide of their life and the means of their reconciliation with God, and who have marked that decision through water baptism.
3. The Membership Conversation. Members have had a conversation with an elder (or participated in a membership class) where they indicated their understanding of the core mission and ethos of the church, and their desire to participate in the life of the church with commitment, initiative, and service.
4. Annual Certification. Members have certified that they understand and support the mission, core values, and ministry strategy of the church with their time, effort and resources.
Acknowledging that lives and seasons change, members have the opportunity to certify their status annually. Identifying oneself as a Family Member of Bridge City indicates a desire to be encouraged in spiritual growth, and to pitch in with the life and ministry of the church.
If you are interested in becoming a member, please speak to any elder.
What kind of leadership structure does Bridge City have?
Bridge city is led by a plurality of elders.
We transitioned to this mode of leadership in 2013 after an extensive evaluation of our governance and a study of leadership in the New Testament. At this time we discontinued our Board of Trustees and retired use of the title “pastor.”
Elders are the governing team of the church. They serve to lead, shepherd and teach. They do not do all the work of ministry, but equip members to do ministry as a part of maturing in Christ.
In certain situations, the Elders appoint certain leaders as Deacons. The Deacons are church members who have shown a level of spiritual maturity and leadership, and who are asked to head up a specific ministry area. The Deacons are accountable to the Elders.
What is the Elder role at Bridge City?
Elders are members of the church tasked with the responsibility to lead, shepherd, teach and equip, while offering a Godly example to the church. Within the confines of accountability to the congregation, the elders have the authority in all decision-making regarding the church. Our team of elders functions as a plurality, co-equal in authority, making decisions together, yet each elder is able to use their unique gifts to the greatest effect. Each elder has a portfolio of areas in the church that they directly oversee on behalf of the full team of elders.
Bridge City holds that it is in keeping with both the teaching of the New Testament and the clear trajectory of God’s work in the body, that the role of eldership is not limited to a single gender.
The details of the elder role, the qualifications for eldership, and the means by which elders are selected and affirmed can be had in the Eldership document.
What is the Deacon role at Bridge City?
Deacons at Bridge City are members who have been asked by the Elders to serve in hands-on leadership roles, focusing on a particular ministry need.
The New Testament identifies only two roles in the leadership and service of the local church congregation: elders and deacons. Deacon (from the Greek word diaconos) means “servant.” The first Deacons were appointed in Acts 6 in response to a specific ministry need in the church, as well as the need to keep the elders focused on their primary roles. When Deacons serve they extend the service and ministry of the church, while allowing the elders to stay focused on their calling to lead, teach and equip. Biblically, Deacons are selected by the church in much the same way as elders, and are held to a similar standard, without the requirement to be able to teach.
The office of Deacon is a ministry leadership role, in a ministry that serves the needs of the church or community.
- Deacons serve at the invitation of the elders, and are accountable to the elder team, although they may be asked to work with one elder specifically.
- Deacons are ministry leaders working in a specific area. This is not a “standing designation” or a status in the church, but describes the specific leadership role of a specific ministry need.
- A Deacon’s term of service is based on the needs of their ministry area and the continued invitation of the elders to serve in that area.
- All deacons have the general responsibility to serve by extending the church’s ability to meet needs in the church fellowship or community, while freeing the elders to focus on their primary roles.
- Each deacon will have a specific ministry responsibilities based on the ministry need and their ability, determined by the elders.
- Deacons will meet once monthly with the Elders.
- Deacons are ministry leaders who have demonstrated care for the health and growth of Bridge City as a whole.
Church members will be invited to the role of deacon as a response to seeing their effective service and ministry in the church. As ministry needs arise, the elders will invite capable, growth-minded, maturing people (male or female) to serve in the role of deacon.
Deacons are held to the same standards as elders Biblically, except for the ability to teach. The comprehensive list of qualifications in scripture leads us to believe that the character of the person serving is more important than their skills or experience. These qualifications are listed in 1st Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and are summarized with Bridge City’s particular understanding in the Eldership Governance document.
Our position on these requirements is not that they are a bullet point list standing as a roadblock to ministry, but a description of the ideal person who is trustworthy to hold leadership in the church. Someone aspiring to these ideals and who has demonstrated character and trust-worthiness in the body is qualified.
Once invited to serve and examined by the elders, a new Deacon’s official ministry begins with an Affirmation by the Body, where the gathered church has the opportunity to hear the specific ministry role a Deacon is serving in, and to pray for them with laying on of hands.
Is Bridge City a Seventh-Day Adventist church?
No. Although, it’s not surprising that you might ask. The circle of families who founded Bridge City in 1997 were all from that denomination. Over the years our community DNA has expanded considerably. While we are friendly to people with an Adventist heritage and understand some of the unique cultural strengths and challenges of that community, we are a non-denominational community church.