I recently took a trip to the city to visit two of our newest church plants - House SF, led by pastors Craig and Anne Marie Matos, and New Vine Community Church, pioneered by pastors Ted and Sandy Kang, and of course, their amazing teams.
We drove our minivan into San Francisco, one of my favorite cities on planet earth. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to plant a church in San Francisco. It’s been a personal dream of mine for years, which makes it so fulfilling to partner with House SF to vicariously plant a church in the city. We gathered Saturday evening with House SF’s core team, some of the most contagious and passionate people I know. I wore my skinny jeans and new Adidas shoes, just to fit in. Ha! We walked a few blocks to grab some dinner at Spark Social, a local food truck park. Hundreds of people, students, couples, children and families, gathered on a Saturday evening to eat, hang, spend time together, build deeper relationships, and watch a movie on an outdoor projector. Pretty much what the church offers, except for Jesus.
I was once again floored with the reality that people are longing and looking for family, for friendship, for a deeper connection. No wonder the park is called “Spark,” where the lost and lonely are longing for a spark, at least somewhere in their life. Where people leave the hurry and busy of their city lives to be seen, heard and known, even if just for a fleeting evening. The food was incredible, but the people around us even more so. Our food park adventure somehow gave me a greater hope for this city, a glimpse of the church God desires to plant and grow in San Francisco – a deeper family, a more lasting food, the divinest of sparks. People are longing for a home. This is why we’re honored to stand alongside House SF, as God builds His house in San Francisco, a place for all to come home.
We gathered on Sunday morning at House SF for worship. Although I preached a message that morning to a handful of House disciples, I found myself talking more to God – interceding and crying out again for this beautiful and brilliant city. Asking God to heal the sick, to drive out darkness, to raise the dead, and to release love and power unimaginable through His church – to do the impossible through those choosing to do what’s possible. I’ve found sometimes it’s more important for us to talk to God about cities than talk to cities about God. I realize prayer moves the heart of God, but more than that, it moves our hearts. Most often, God’s heart doesn’t need to be moved, but ours does. And when our cries meet His cry, power is released to transform culture, cities and generations. It’s in moments such as these, God rewrites the story of a city and cities such as San Francisco, known as a ‘church planting graveyards,’ where churches go to die, become known as a ‘church planting lighthouse,’ where people come to live. God has a beautiful way of resurrecting graveyards.
After Sunday morning church, we drove down to Mountain View, just in time for the New Vine Church Community gathering. Minutes before the evening service began, people flooded into the small theater. Although I enjoyed the worship and preaching, I was most encouraged by two things. First of all, the room was filled with not only fathers and mothers, but also, many sons and daughters – a beautiful representation of the generations. In the Bible, God reveals Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which doesn’t mean He’s the God of three men. Instead, God is revealing Himself as the God of generations, young and old. As I looked across the packed room, I saw fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, singing aloud, lifting their hands, and giving themselves fully to Jesus. Revival isn’t what happens in a room, it’s what happens in hearts. And revival, on its best day, looks like family – generations, seeking after God together. When generations lift up the name of Jesus together, great life, honor, and authority is released in and through the family of God.
Then near the end of the gathering, the preacher called us to respond. The tangible presence of God fell in the room. It was truly a sacred moment. One after another, people flooded to the front of the room, kneeling and bowing down, offering themselves again to God. They stood before an old rugged cross, propped up on the floor beneath the stage. Some sang and some wept. I tried to get the perfect shot for my Instagram, but I just couldn’t quite capture the holiness of the moment. I’m discovering, some moments are to be simply experienced, rather than posted. One young man stayed on the ground longer than the rest. I knelt down with him. He asked me to pray for him and said, “I want God to have my whole life.” I prayed for him, feeling the Father’s delight over his surrendered life. I’m beyond hopeful for the coming move of God in Mountain View, and what the Holy Spirit can do with a handful of disciples fully surrendered, postured and ready for whatever He says and wherever He leads. There’s nothing quite like it.
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