All Saints

1716 2ND AVE. N.
Senior Pastor: 
Bill Berger
Assemblies of God
A church in and of Seattle for all those who believe, doubt and seek

 All Saints is unique in a lot of ways.  It openly and readily embraces the tension of doubting and seeking along with believing as all healthy components of a faith walk.  It doesn't attempt to be very apologetical but rather tries to be polemical, centered on the person of Jesus.

It's also a pretty human church.  Sometimes there's no TP in the stalls or someone who NEEDED to know something didn't get the message.  So, being human, I feel pretty comfortable there.


 Hey Barf_Maverick,

Now I just spent the last 4 year in Seattle and I've been to All Saint's and I know Bill. But what do you think is unique about what is going on at All Saint's?

I'm a Roman Catholic and I loved their slogan "believe, doubt, seek" that resonated with me cross denominationally. 

I'm really impressed with any community of faith that can embrace the tension discussed above. I think it would help people if you expanded the idea of being polemical, centered on the person of Jesus, rather then be apologetic.


 1st, I'm sorry about the late response.  I just received the email notification from Churchrater.  So, I apologize for not responding sooner.

What I mean about being polemical about the person of Jesus instead of apologetical is a different understanding of approaching faith in Christ.  It means not trying to defend creeds, organizations nor polities but in everything asking essential questions that make the issues "Jesus issues."   Instead of offering traditional, categorical, theological "sound bites" as answers, this reframes things more as, "How does the person of Jesus understand this?" and "So, then, what does that mean for us today?"

Using a linguistic metaphor, it's the difference between the imperative mood (command) and the subjunctive mood (wishes and possibilities).  It's a matter of strengthening magnets (around the person of Jesus) rather than raising fences.  It's an andragogical approach to information and formation rather than a pedagogical one.  It's an open embrace of tension as natural and necessary for true faith to flourish.  

In practice, when this is embraced, it changes the questions from fence-based [e.g.  "What is our stance on...?] to magnet focused, [e.g. "How does Jesus manage the tension of people and issues here?"

 Hey Maverick,  I like your terms "magnet focused" over "fence based" a lot. 

Have you ever looked into bounded set vs. centered set thinking when discussing evangelism or denominationalism?

This little clip does a great job explaining the basics.

You may already know what I'm talking about though as you are using similar and more creative language.

"Bounded set' thinking is a problem I'm seeing a lot in the Catholic Church, especially the younger Pope John Paul II Catholics, (i.e. between the ages of 16-34). Younger folks who are practicing Catholics are starting to move to pre-Vatican II traditionalism and it's having regressive results. One the other hand, baby boomer Catholic are very involved in the outside world. So we have this weird generational traditionalism going on, and I think it's a wrong turn. Whereas evangelical Christians speak a lot of "christianese," I'm seeing more and more "churchianese" around Catholics my age.   

How have you seen center-set (or magnet focused) thinking take root at All Saints? Was it all leadership? Simply gathering the right people? Or were people simply fed up with the fences? 

 I am familiar w/ bounded set vs. centered set thinking and that's what "magnets" & "fences" tries to express in more common terms.

We are working on minimizing bounded set thinking at All Saints.  For instance, we have banned the use of the word "condone" as in "Does All Saints condone...X?"  "Condone" is essentially saying, "where is the fence line on this issue at All Saints?"  We insist that the center/magnet is Christ "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Col 2:3).  

Honestly, I think we are observing typically 3 kinds of people/responses: 1) for people coming from no church understanding/background/culture, they "get it" fairly easily; 2) for people who have been previously burned on church involvement, they are cautious and initially want it to be true but distrust that it can be true; 3) for those who transfer in from another church situation understanding (but w/o much "baggage," they are initially bewildered.  They just want to know where the fences are here b/c they are convinced there are always fences.

Interesting conversation you guys - really gives people a pictue of what All Saints is like