March 17, 2007 marked the beginning of a long journey that would eventually lead to the planting of Sideris Church in Seattle. While working as a CPA for Deloitte and Touche in Dallas, David Evanger received the worst phone call of his life while attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade. On the other end of the line was David’s father. Struggling for words, all he could manage was, “Kim is Dead.”
Kim Evanger, David’s older sister – the most amazing, energetic, magnetic, and talented person he had ever known – had been hit by a passing semi-truck while cycling with her husband Patrick in Palm Springs. She was killed instantly.
The moments that followed this realization can only be described as a miracle. Instantly, the hysteria and confusion were wiped away and replaced by a clarity and peace David had never experienced before. Then God delivered to him a message, and he heard Kim urging him to deliver this message to her friends: “Consider” the condition of their hearts, what they believed about God, and most importantly, to really, truly, deeply CONSIDER JESUS.
In the years since first sharing this message at Kim’s memorial in 2007, God asked David to keep sharing, keep asking others to consider Jesus.
The Latin roots which form the English word “consider” are COM and SIDERIS. This literally means “with heavenly body.” Most people have never even said the word “sideris” and even fewer know what it means. But for us, this word is loaded with meaning. We have been given a very special message: “Ask them to consider.” It is our mission to share this message with the world.
OUR VISION UNPACKED
- Theological vision begins with doctrinal foundation: everything we do should be rooted in the Bible – the divine Word of God – because our own human reason is fallible. From there, we are to work out how the Gospel functions in our context, which will lead to unique ministry opportunities specific to our context.
- We tend to think of life in two tiers (black and white, life and death), but there are really three.: the Past, the Present (The Forgotten Middle), and the Future (See image).
- Past – The Already: death
- Present – The Already-But-Not-Yet: life and death cohabitating
- Future – The Not Yet: life to the full
- The Forgotten Middle is this world of paradox in which we live.
- We have a tendency to shrink down the Middle and say “you’re either in or you’re out,” but that’s not God’s plan.
- The Glory of God, in and of itself, desires to crush anything that is imperfect. God cannot coexist with imperfection, so the weight of Heaven presses down on us in the Middle. The only thing keeping God’s glory from crushing the Middle and the darkness that is the evil of this world from overpowering the Middle is the Cross of Christ.
- The Cross is the only thing that brings us from death to life, giving us the opportunity to consider what is true. So we don’t dumb it down, we don’t dilute it: the Cross is the only way.
- The Problem: This in-between becomes the place where considering happens. It’s where people pursue truth, but a majority of people are in a place where they are not pursuing truth. They are an apathetic community. So few people are living in the Middle realm. They choose not to live the considered life.
- The Middle is full of people who are already Christians and people who are not yet Christians. We are, together, a considering community committed to pursuing truth.
- Three Questions: For almost the entirety of human history, people have asked three questions that they are no longer really asking. They recognize their existence, they nod at them, they see where Christianity cannot satisfactorily answer them, but they don’t ask them.
- 1) What is the purpose of life?
- 2) What is the meaning of suffering
- 3) What happens to me when I die?
- Our job is to enlarge the territory of the Middle by making it as easy as possible to enter into it, by encouraging people to ask these questions again.
- We, as a community of believers, must….
- Remain open: we can’t raise the bars to entry into our community. Our job is not to take people from here to eternity; that’s God’s job. Fight against our tendency to exclude others.
- Advertise well: make sure that people know that the Middle is not for the religious, but is a place for considerers, and it’s easy to enter. Make it an attractive place to be by letting others see that transformation, healing, and growth are real. It’s not just a “thing we do,” but that this is an actual family. Let them see that asking these ultimate questions is a fun thing, not depressing.
- Celebrate: when someone moves from someone apathetic to truth to someone who wants to consider – even before they choose to follow Jesus – we should celebrate!
- In 2016:
- We trained 20 Emerging Leaders.
- We held a Collaborative Hackathon where we gathered to hack out how best to help people get into the Middle?
- Fellowship Groups thrived.
- We’re doing ALPHA.
- We’re training more Emerging Leaders.
- We’ll host another Hackathon.
- We will start something called The Bear and the Butterfly: we will gather together to talk about big questions in a public open forum.
- We will relaunch the Consider Project: if you find yourself somewhere where you just experience God or you see God and experience his glory in some way, take a video of yourself talking about the things you’ve considered and hashtag #considerproject.
- We will emphasize how we look out into our community, being Christ’s hands and feet.
- If you’re not yet a Christian, maybe God is drawing you into a considering community. You are welcome.
- If you’re a visitor here, and already a Christian, maybe find a place to settle into a considering community. You are welcome.
- If you’re already a member of the Sideris community, and God is reminding you why you’re here, maybe you need to cultivate how well you consider and how well you urge others to consider. You are still welcome.
- Pose questions, consider them, listen to God’s response.
- Be lit like a city on a hill.
- Pick up your cross daily: this is not an easy task, but we are a crucifixion community in which we give up temporal elements of this life for the ultimate purposes of God, which includes helping others into a place of considering Christ.
- Remember to both challenge and support.
- Ask people to consider, challenge them.
- Stand beside them, supporting them as they consider.
- Be a homesteader, a pioneer for Christ.