Typos in the FAQs?
  • Possibly- heck, probably. We aren't anywhere close to perfect. I know all the research says your web presence should be without flaws but we don't have the support to make sure everything's spot on (if you spot a mistike send us a message- you could help us take some steps towards a site with no typos but we won't guarantee perfection). Not in our web presence and not at real life at church.
    What Is Riverside?
  • Riverside is an independent, non-denominational community church. What that means is, we don’t have anyone telling us what to do, think or say. We have no centralized organization that controls us. There are good things and hard things associated with that reality. But in a nutshell it means we are free to be who we feel like God is asking us to be right here in Eagle River, Alaska.

    Riverside is a church that focuses on Jesus and seeks to treat everyone who walks through our doors the way Jesus would if He were here in our place. The result is Riverside. It’s not always pretty, it’s definitely not organized (we are the poster church of “disorganized religion”), but it’s a pretty amazing place for the people who need what we offer. We're pretty much the Island-Of-Misfit-Toys of churches but that's ok with us becuase looking back it seems like that's what Jesus' original disciples were like too.
    What does Riverside believe?
  • Mostly we believe in Jesus. Everything we do revolves around Him. But if you're asking about our "statement of faith" we can safely say we follow the Apostles Creed: 

    I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    creator of heaven and earth.
    I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
    who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried;
    he descended to the dead.
    On the third day he rose again;
    he ascended into heaven,
    he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
    and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
    I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

    Have questions about our beliefs that weren't answered by the Apostle's Creed? Message us and we'll do our best to clarify any questions you might have.
    MoNeY mOnEy MoNeY!
  • One thing you may notice is that we don’t pass a plate for collections. In fact, we almost never talk about money at Riverside. Why? Because the number one excuse people give when asked why they won’t go to church is, “all they care about it my money!”

    Well, at Riverside we take that objection right off the table. It’s just another way we do church “different”. You see, we think it’s a tragedy that people have been given the impression that all God (and the church) cares about is people’s money. We don't want to perpetuate that myth- even if that means we take in fewer dollars every week. Passing a plate might increase our budget but we figure if we're asking you to trust God with your finances we should be willing to do the same with ours.  

    So you won’t see a collection plate. You won’t hear a 10 minute sermonette where we pressure you to pony up or face the wrath of God and the scowls of the church ladies sitting all around you (by the way do you know we’ve noticed not all “church ladies” are female- some of them are dudes. WHO KNEW?!?!  ;0). We only want you to give if you want to. The Bible puts it this way:

    You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

    So fear not the offering plate- at least at Riverside. You’ll only hear us talk about money a couple of times a year when it falls naturally within a lesson series that we’re doing (the Bible does talk A LOT about how we handle our money so it’s unavoidable) but other than that, you can relax.

    Now does that mean we don’t need money at Riverside? No.  It doesn’t. We are an independent, non denominational church. That means we don’t get money flowing in from outside sources. All the ministries of Riverside are made possible only because of the generous donations of people who believe in what we are doing and are partnering with us to make a difference in Eagle River.

    In fact we give this disclaimer: 

    If you think all Riverside is concerned with is separating you from your cash, and you don’t trust us, then don’t give us any of your money (did you hear that? That was the sound of our treasurer screaming "NOOOOO" and passing out when he read those words ;0)

    But seriously, if you don’t trust us, then don’t give to us. But don’t let that keep you from finding some deserving ministry that is doing God’s work and blessing your community or the less fortunate in the world, and giving to them. You being generous with the money God has entrusted to you is a HUGE part of learning what it means to thrive in the life that Jesus dreamed of you living when He created you. 

    What are your "services" like?
  • Our gatherings are more like a family get together than a somber ritual (not that there’s anything wrong with somber rituals- it’s just not our style ;0) 

    Depending on the phase of the moon (not sure why full moons seem to bring out the loud in kids and even some adults but it sure seems to- of course all research is purely anecdotal and not scientific in any way) or the service you find yourself at there may be quite a lot of distractions.  Sorry about that. It’s just part of who we are at Riverside and the people we seem to attract (and we wouldn’t have it any other way).
    Coffee & Donuts
  • We want you to make yourself at home. Coffee & donuts are available in the kitchen at no charge and you can bring them into the auditorium during the service. We know a lot of churches might frown on this kind of behavior but from what we can tell the first church services (almost 2,000 years ago now) were held in people’s homes and usually revolved around a meal so we figure we’re just doing what they did… kind of… although we’re not sure they had donuts back then.
    Riverside's Campus
  • Obviously we aren’t the fanciest spot in Eagle River. There are churches out there that are bigger, louder, slicker, hipper, & more convinced of their “rightness” than Riverside. Our facilities are showing their wear. I don’t imagine that’s going to change anytime soon either. We could choose to launch a building campaign to deal with the age of our building and the fact that we’re busting at the seams but in order to do that we’d have to become a different church with a different focus.  We’d have to talk a lot more about money (see our FAQ on money below)and get a lot more organized and so far that hasn’t been God’s plan for Riverside.  

    I imagine at this point the only way we end up with a new facility is if one of the pastors wins the lottery or if Ty Pennington decides to come to Alaska and do an Extreme Makeover: Church Edition (which let’s face it… what are the odds of that?).

    So until one of those things happens we’ll just keep adding services as we grow and see what God has in store for us. It’s been an adventure so far and we can't wait to see what God's got in store for our future.

    How does "communion" work here?
  • We do this every week here at Riverside. Why? It’s just the way we do it. It’s our tradition. Some churches do it once a month, others once a quarter, some only once a year. We do it every week. Anyone who wants to join in remembering Jesus is welcome to join us. While a video plays on screen a plate of crackers and a tray of small cups of juice will get passed around. Just take a cracker and a cup and pass the plates on. You don’t need to wait for everyone else… just eat the cracker and drink the juice whenever you're ready.

    If you’re not sure what all of this is about, explaining the whole meaning behind communion/Lord’s Supper would take all day. Suffice it to say that Jesus asked us to do this to remember Him- so that’s what we do. If you want to take this time to remember Jesus then we are delighted for you and your family to join us. 

    If you’d rather not, just take the trays as they’re passed your way and pass them on. Sometimes we have young men and women who help pass the trays, if they try to hand it back to you just shake your head and they’ll get the picture. More than anything we want you to feel at home here and get to know Jesus better. 

    Kids & Communion?
  • Sometimes we get the question, “what about my kids? When should/can they take communion?"

    At Riverside we don’t have a policy on this (you’ll come to learn we don’t have too many policies on anything around here). We let each family decide for themselves. Some parents let their kids take communion from the very earliest of age- others have their kids wait til they get baptized.  It’s totally up to each family. The way we tend to look at it is, communion is a family event at Riverside. Our kids are part of the family. So if they take part in remembering Jesus, that’s just fine with us. If you'd like to talk this over just send us a message and Pastor Ed will get in touch.
    Kids in church?
  • There are lots of different theories about how to handle kids in church (and that's what they all are- theories that revolve more around preferences in style and mood than Biblical precedents/commands). Some churches don’t allow them in the sanctuary and require parents to drop them off at children’s church, some churches require the kids to sit quietly and politely through the entire service being “seen but not heard” (the kind of church I grew up in). There’s not a “right” way to handle kids… with one exception. When kids come to church we believe with all of our hearts that they should leave feeling "blessed".

    Every time you see Jesus interacting with children it’s in response to His followers trying to corral the kids and stop them from being disruptive.  And in every case, Jesus corrects the adults and says to let the kids come to Him.

    One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.  But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.  Matthew 19:13-15

    At Riverside we have one goal when it comes to our kids- we want them to go home feeling like they were blessed by us. We could focus on a lot of different things when it comes to kids. We could try to pump them full of Bible knowledge or we could train them on how to behave properly in church. There’s nothing wrong with either of these approaches- it’s just not what we choose to focus on at Riverside.  At Riverside we feel like if the kids learn something then that’s fantastic, but our number one goal is to show them the love of Jesus and to make them feel like there’s an adult out there who cares about them and believes in them and is glad they came to church. We've got about an hour to with your kids in a given week and we just can't accomplish everything that it would be totally awesome if we could accomplish it so we focus specifically on loving, accepting and forgiving your kids as necessary.

    A person who has grown up in church can always study the Bible as an adult to gain the knowledge they missed out on as a child in Sunday school but it’s really tough to make an adult believe that God cares about them deeply if they didn’t feel that (or felt the opposite) from the adults at the church they grew up in.

    As it turns out, you have a super power when it comes to the children in any church you attend. I know what you’re saying, “I have zero power over the kids of this church… they won’t do a thing I say!” and you’re right, your super power isn’t an ability to control a child’s actions. Your super power is in your ability to make a child think that way you look at them is how God looks at them. To make them feel like the way you value them (or not) is the way God values them (or doesn’t). You have a tremendous power and (we think) responsibility to the children who go to church with you. How might you make them feel blessed before they leave today? 

    Following Jesus
  • You’ll probably notice pretty quickly that most everything here at Riverside revolves around Jesus. One of our catchphrases (we have several) is, “No Guilt Trips, No Pressure Tactics, No Politics, Just Jesus”. We don’t try to figure out what every detail of your life following Jesus will look like- instead we try to show people how awesome life with Jesus can be and then let Him guide their lives as they learn to trust Him more (which is really all those of us who appear to have the whole "Jesus" thing figured out are doing ourselves). That’s when miracles happen (as opposed to temporary behavioral modifications which is what we’d get from you if we tried to control and manipulate your thoughts, words and actions by telling you what to do about every aspect of your life).

    If you’ve decided to give following Jesus a try, first of all let me say, “THAT’S AWESOME!!!!!” Ok… now for any questions you might have. Here are a few that we commonly hear: 

    How do I start?  Great question.  Sometimes people make it seem very complicated but it’s not. To start walking with Jesus all you have to do is say, “I’m in!” (you don’t have to say it out loud… Jesus can hear your thoughts…).  

    I need more info… what do I say? Ok… if you want a template prayer for giving your life to Jesus here’s something you might say:  

    “Jesus, I want to follow You.  Take my life and show me where to go next.  Teach me to hear your voice and as I read the Bible give me wisdom and understanding.  Amen.”

    But please understand- the words you say to Jesus aren't what's important. What's important to Jesus is your heart. If your heart is searching for Him He has promised you won't miss Him. Have more questions about what to do once you've made the decision for follow Jesus? Click here. 

    Next steps with Jesus?
  • If you're here because you want to discover what following Jesus looks like in a person's life then click here. As it turns out there are lots of things to learn but there are six things that successful followers of Jesus do consistently that determine spiritual health and maturity. Read all about them and you'll get an idea maybe of what's next for you. 
    How many people attend Riverside?
  • That's an interesting question. The answer depends on what Sunday you choose to visit. If you chose to make your first visit on Easter Sunday or Christmas Eve you might be joined by about 800-900 people here at Riverside spread out over 4 different services. If you visit on a typical Sunday during the winter you would see an average of 400 people here. But if you visit Riverside during the summer you would see an average of about 300. 

    The summer is when Alaskans get out to soak up every bit of available sunshine so they can survive the dark winters, so numbers understandably drop when the sun comes out.

    Which service you choose to attend will also determine how many people you see..- Saturday nights generally have the most elbow room while the two Sunday morning services tend to have about 175 people in each time slot. Which service fits you best? Try them out and see for yourself. They all have their own personalities. Saturday nights are generally the quietist and the 11:30 service generally is most rambunctious (for lack of a better word ;0) Come to the service and you'll see what I mean.

    How do I get connected?
  • Great question.  The short answer is, it depends.  With three different service times and a wildly fluctuating membership (Alaska is an incredibly transient place between the military, the oil workers and just the fact that people either love it here or HATE it) it can be tough to plug in and get to know people.

    We have a regular midweek Bible study led by Pastor Ed during the school year that you can come to which will help you get to know people.  Joining in with the life of the church is another great way to get to know people. Between our Easter Egg Hunt, our vacation Bible school in the summer, our Harvest Festival in the fall and other service opportunities you’ve got several opportunities.  

    We also try to “create” groups every now and then. Keep your eyes open for the next “Extended Family Group” opportunity where we throw people together for fun, food and fellowship. In the past some of the groups took off and created a sense of family, others fizzled. What was the difference? We honestly don’t know. I guess the moral is, if you tried on group that fizzled then try again. Sometimes the second time is the charm.

    But you can also try creating your own group. If you would love to be a part of a men’s fellowship that met for coffee and Bible study once a week in the early morning before work then let us know and we’ll put the word out. If there’s interest it will work out, if not… well… ummmmmm.  I guess the moral is, you never know if you don’t try. 

    You can create any group you want. Games and fun, deep reflective Bible study, little kids play group, hiking, hunting, gastronomy (it’s a real thing… I looked it up ;0), book club… the possibilities are endless. The only thing we ask is that your group follows the spirit and philosophy of Riverside Community Church. In other words, everybody’s welcome, nobody’s perfect and anything’s possible. And no guilt trips, no pressure tactics, no politics, just Jesus.  

    Contact Pastor Ed if you’d like to give forming a group of your own a shot.

    What if I decide to leave Riverside?
  • The short answer is, We will miss you, we might even shed a tear as you leave. But we will wish you and your new church family well.  

    When we say we do church different here at Riverside we don’t mean to imply that our way of doing church is the only way or even the best way of "doing church"- it’s just the way we think God is asking us to do church. If that fits in with where you are on your today in your spiritual journey towards a thriving life with Jesus then join us. And if the day comes where God is ready to move you to another church (for whatever reason) then we want you to listen to Him and not worry about hurting our feelings. It happens all the time. People come to Riverside from other churches and we welcome them with open arms. People leave Riverside to go to other churches and they are welcomed at their new churches with open arms.  

    We will love you the best we can while you call Riverside home and then cheer for you from afar if God ever moves you on to another place.

    What if I have teens/pre-teens?
  • First of all you have our condolences (KIDDING...ONLY KIDDING!!!). We've got programs for kids from 4th grade all the way up through high school. Aniela Humpheries works with the younger kids (3rd-8th graders) and Kyle & Liz Jackson work with our teens. Email us and we'll put you in contact with the people running those ministries.
    What if I need to talk to someone?
  • Email Pastor Ed and set up a meeting to chat (ed@RiversideCommunity.net). As the church has grown we have taken every available space for classrooms for the kids so none of the pastors have their own private offices, consequently most meetings take place in local coffee shops (Jitters or Starbucks… your choice).  We’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and talk about whatever’s on your mind. 

    And it doesn't matter what you want to talk about- one of Pastor Ed's favorite things is to talk to people who are sincerely trying to work out their faith and what that looks like practically speaking in this strange world we live in. So reach out for any reason.
    How do I "join" Riverside?
  • You can't- at least not the way people generally mean when they ask that question. We don't have a formal membership process at Riverside. If you want to "join" us then all you have to do is just start walking with us. We're all on this jouney towards an ever increasing likeness or imitation of Jesus in our lives. None of us on this side of eternity has arrived yet so we plan to keep at it as long as we are still here on this earth. 

    The Bibles says that God adds people to His church- not us. And since we don't feel comfortable telling God who's in and who's out of His church we figure we'll leave that part up to Him. That means we just do the best we can to treat everyone who comes to Riverside the way we think Jesus would treat them if He were here in our place and the answer to that question is generally much simpler than one might imagine (although simple isn't the same thing as easy, it it? It may be simple but it's very definitely NOT always easy).

    Obviously the more involved in the life of the church you become the better you will know the people you are going to church with so how well you are known by the folks at Riverside will be directly related to how much you participate in events and pitch in and help around here. But no pressure- we won't force you to live up to our idea of what it should look like to be a part of our family. 
  • Have a question we didn't answer? It happens all the time. Just send us a message and we'll do our best to answer any question you might come up with relating to Riverside, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or the Bible (or any combination thereof).