Home > Uncategorized > A view of the FOG…

A view of the FOG…

I’ve asked a friend to write a post about his experience as part of 5 o’clock gathering at Newberg Friends Church. Below is his post – thanks, Rick!


When Jamie asked me why I connect with Five O’clock Gathering (FOG), an alternative worship
gathering based out of Newberg Friends Church, I was more than happy to provide him an answer.

My wife and I first started attending FOG about two years ago because it offered something that other
worship gatherings lacked. Take its name, for starters.

Five O’clock. That’s 5 p.m. on Sunday evenings. I mean, who really wants to get up early on a Sunday
morning anyway? I work three jobs and love NFL football, so not me.

Gathering. FOG isn’t a “service” in which I can mindlessly sit back and receive every week; rather, it
encourages me to be an active participant in what is taking place week in and week out. FOG also isn’t
a “meeting” in which I’m subject to the authority of agendas, PowerPoint slides, and unspoken codes of
conduct. It is a “gathering” in the truest sense of the word.

Here are a few more things that make FOG refreshingly different from other churches.

FOG is a great environment for kids. As new parents, we weren’t coerced to deposit our baby in the
nursery, and whenever he let out the occasionally cry or delighted shout during a gathering, we weren’t
met with disapproving glances or glares. Even when he transitioned into toddlerhood and began running
recklessly down the aisles and loudly throwing his toys about, the warm and understanding smiles we
received made us feel welcomed and accepted.

Above all, the intentional use and support of the creative and unexpected is what I value
most. “Normal” church services are hopelessly predictable. They open with 15-20 minutes of upbeat
music followed by a 30-45 minute sermon that, if you’re lucky, gets introduced with the occasional
drama or—Heaven forbid!—a video clip from a secular movie. Sprinkle in a prayer or two, some ancient
tradition, the offering (can’t forget that!), and—despite someone’s best efforts to make them exciting—
a spattering of tremendously boring announcements. Sound familiar?

Thankfully, FOG doesn’t look, feel, or sound like that. It doesn’t even smell like that (though, that’s
usually because the aromas of our shared meals waft up from the kitchen as they’re being prepared
during the gatherings). Instead, FOG opens itself up to a range of creative arts as well as unorthodox
methods of teaching and preaching. At any given FOG, you literally have no idea what might happen
next. To borrow an observation from one of the great philosophers of our time, “FOG is like a box of
chocolates—you never know what you’re gonna get.” Consequently, FOG is a welcomed deviation from
the monotony of the traditional church gathering.

Unanswered Questions
One of FOG’s more challenging aspects I value is their commitment to unanswered questions. Where it’s
typical for a preacher to dissect a passage of Scripture by asking a few less-than-challenging questions
and then fill in the blanks for you (sometimes quite literally), FOG just leaves the blanks, well, blank.
In other words, they don’t spoon-feed the answers to you; rather, they provide the space for you to
discover them for yourself.

While there is usually time to search for the answers to these aforementioned questions during the

course of the gathering, it’s the shared meal after every gathering that’s the better space. It fosters real
community. Don’t get me wrong, I can do the whole “greet your neighbor” act on Sunday mornings—
introducing myself and making small talk for a couple minutes is no trouble at all. But ask me to sit down
and share a meal with someone? Now, that’s intimate.

And the absolute brilliance of it all is that the person you’re sitting down to dinner with is working
through those same questions posed to you earlier. What better place to struggle through those
questions than with fellow believers and sojourners?

In sum, I’d say FOG values elements of our humanity that other gatherings take for granted. It’s been
both a blessing and privilege to serve and be served by this humble and creative community over the
last couple of years. I hope it continues to bless us and others in the years to come.


About the Author
Rick currently works as a marketing associate for MyBinding.com, a local binding and office supply
company in Hillsboro, Oregon. He also serves on staff as a worship leader in a Portland-area church.
And legend has it that if you’re up early enough he can be seen driving your children to school in a big,
yellow bus. He is husband to Christine and father to Ariy, his little lion man.

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