plant {a church}

i love sharing our story because,

one, it shows how great God is,

and two, it increases our prayer circle.

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we had it extremely good in missouri. we knew we could walk away from our church and it would continue to thrive with the wonderful staff and people there. It was heavy on our hearts to start a church where there is no church.

san francisco has been called the ‘graveyard’ for church planting. it’s been proven difficult. living it out, it’s difficult. but as we were raising support, gathering partner churches, and recruiting staff, we claimed Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

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ben’s initial dream and vision came from this: we know that medicine, fashion, and technology have taken root in the bay area and then have global affect. are you on facebook? do you have clothes from old navy or gap? have you ‘googled’ this week? do you own an apple product? what if the Gospel takes root in san francisco and goes global? what if those who have influence at twitter, gymboree, cal berkeley, stanford and other places grasp the Truth of the Gospel and let it affect their work, their lifestyle, their relationships?

but why us?

a family of five that included 3 kids under the age of 7. in our personal journeys with God, in our marriage, and in our family unit, we want to say, “we pursued the heart of God. as risky as it was, it was worth it.”

we had to have serious conversations with each other and with God. ben and i have had to hold hands tighter. we have had to open our eyes more to what we were bringing our children into - and that’s not just san francisco. it’s the ministry component, as well. we didn’t and still don’t want them to ever hate us for it or regret this decision we made.

i’m learning that we point them to God as foundation, family as the support walls, and it’s the culture that decorates.

that’s anywhere you live. we could be living in a hut in africa, a high-rise in singapore, or a home on several acres in the southern united states and this still needs to be true. it’s just that our walls will be colorfully decorated! this was a family decision. we are in this together. the boys have more influence than us. we want them to see that and learn to lead well young.

2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “As we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

if you were to look into our family life, you would see:

we’re a one car family. ben takes the train to work. or his bike now.

our rental home is on a steep hill overlooking the city, easily seeing thousands of homes and the bay.

our boys thrive at public school where 480 students attend. half the children taught in spanish.

a baseball lovin' family.

we are never at a loss for things to do. mountains, ocean, city parks, festivals, cultural experiences are all around us.

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if you were to see into our church life, you would see:

rental space in a high rise in downtown

worship room in a basement with a band and 3 rooms for epic kids

small groups that meet in homes and apartments throughout the city and bay area

a partnership with an under-resourced elementary school in our neighborhood

a partnership with a women’s shelter

people from over 30 nations

investing in 50 children in uganda, a church, and micro-financing businesses

300 people coming from around the city to gather with a local faith community

genuine hospitality

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Maybe you’ve visited San Francisco before. If you were to see into our city, you would see:

the pacific ocean and bay meet at the golden gate bridge

a dense city, only 7 miles by 7 miles, filled with over 850,000 people

over 1 million people in the city during work hours

the largest chinatown outside of asia

a culture that takes such good care of God’s earth

diverse in every way

a people tolerant of many views, religions, and practices

beautiful in nature

a broken city

homelessness, especially in our parks and downtown

however, the unseen is what God sees. it’s what we beg God to let us see:

people with dreams and determination

the nations living in our city (40% of san franciscans were born in another country)

families longing for established values

people with a bad taste or bad experience with the church/Christianity

a culture that chases idols of success, fame, money

go-getters

a people that God sent Jesus for

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but take a closer look. i want you to meet anna. our family calls her “homeless anna,” and with respect, anna, would be okay with that because we have several anna’s in our life. “homeless anna” hangs out near our grocery store. she was drawn to the boys because they remind her of her happy childhood. but otherwise, she’s not in her right mind. we see her wandering the streets near the post office, the bank, and the train station. the boys and I have compassion on “homeless anna” and have learned to pray immediately for her. we also have learned to keep packs of crackers in my bag to meet the hunger needs of the homeless in our city. they are on our sidewalks every day. we make the choice to interact with them.

i want you to meet another anna. we met each other shortly after we moved to the city. she was longing for community and was new to faith in Jesus. since then we have had playdates with our kids, hosted moms into our homes, and brought each other a meal when the other was sick in bed. her husband has joined her on the faith journey and they are such a beautiful picture that hangs on the wall of my heart. we have prayed and cried together as we long to be selfless wives and moms and continue to speak of gratitude for the friendships we have gained since a church was planted in san francisco.

oh, how I would love for you to walk my city streets with me. to meet the amazing moms at our public school. to witness our family encounter the same people over and over again at the post office, grocery store, and in our neighborhood.

i find Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:15 an echo of my soul, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.”

if you and i aren’t feeling ‘spent’ on others, we’re not pouring out what He’s put into us. go and be spent.

you’ve heard a few of my stories in my city. what are your stories? what are their stories? learn them and tell yours.

because it's not just about gathering the Christ followers together once a week.

planting a church is about caring deeply for the community you call home.

so much so that Christ is seen and experienced through me and my family

that there is no denying His redeeming love and grace.

they wholeheartedly respond. to Jesus.

that's how to plant {a church}.

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