New pastor sparks growth at Timberlake
By MARY STEVENS DECKER
Redmond Reporter Reporter
January 30, 2009 · Updated 12:25 PM
Since Pastor Ben Sigman came to Timberlake Christian Fellowship Church, attendance has grown by 40 percent.
That’s no small feat in this region, which has the lowest church attendance of anywhere in the U.S.
New Saturday evening and online services are a couple of ways that Sigman, who joined Timberlake five months ago, hopes to engage folks who don’t or can’t come to church.
A total of approximately 1,400 people routinely come to Timberlake’s Sunday services at 9 and 10:45 a.m. The first Saturday service, at 5:30 p.m., was rolled out on Jan. 10 and drew 300 people.
A recent memorial service for Marin Morrison, an 18-year-old Sammamish girl who competed in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and died of brain cancer, was a trial run of the online broadcasts from Timberlake. Nearly 400 people were able to log on and view the service live. The online services should become a regular fixture soon.
In this hectic day and age, pastors must offer multiple ways to “reconnect with God,” Sigman explained.
“We don’t believe it’s only spiritual on Sunday morning. We recognize life and schedules and how that works out. There shouldn’t be a barrier for those who want to sleep late on weekends or come to church in their jeans. The only thing the Bible says about dress is, ‘Don’t judge people how they dress.’”
Many people are skittish about visiting a new church if they don’t know what to expect. No one likes to be put on the spot.
Sigman said he tries to provide “an encouraging environment, practical teaching and no weird stuff. We won’t embarrass or draw attention to you, but try to live authentically, model and teach. Everyone wants to connect with God in some way — even some people who are really resistant. We find literally hundreds who weren’t attending (church) anywhere but are seeking and searching.”
What he frequently hears is that they’re uncomfortable with formal services, language they don’t understand and messages they don’t find relevant.
“For some, it seems too foreign. Some will take cultural trappings and mistake them for Biblical teachings,” he noted. “We’re not in competition with other churches, that’s not our deal, but hopefully, we’re here to give an option to those who are burned out.”
As for going online with services, he believes it’s something Jesus would do.
“Jesus spoke in the common language of the culture,” he pointed out. “And the media is gonna stick around. The tools we have today are helpful. I believe God gives them to us with a purpose. We have business people who travel all over the world, the homebound, the sick. We’re not out to replace the connectedness of going to church but this is a way we can serve them.”
Sigman also is proud of youth programs at Timberlake, now available both Saturdays and Sundays. By offering a laid-back atompshere, “We try to make it less of a push and more of a pull, to do something they really like,” he said.
Timberlake Christian Fellowship Church is located at 4505 236th Ave. NE in Redmond. For more information, call (425) 869-4400 or visit www.tlcf.org.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Mary Stevens Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 867-0353, ext. 5052.