When you think of the city of San Francisco it is not uncommon for people to use the following adjectives: godless, pagan, sinful, liberal, postmodern, and crazy–amongst others. When I think of San Francisco it brings up different labels: home, beloved by God, beloved by the resident saints, an urban mission, a place in need of the gospel.
San Francisco is considered to be the most “unchurched” city in the United States at 44% (see here). Where I currently reside–Portland, OR–ranked third at 42% which I found surprising because the Christian presence in Portland is much, much stronger than in San Francisco. It would not shock me to discover that 44% is much lower than the real percentage of residents who have attended a religious gathering in the last six months or that the statistic is inflated by people answering “yes” to whether or not they have been to “church” who mean something much different by “church” that the pollsters intended.
Until Christmas I will be making an appeal once a week for support of a local church with which I have worked closely over the years. I know there are plenty of causes out there and I don’t expect you to sense the same urge that I do to see this particular church benefit from our giving, but I do want to provide the opportunity for three reasons:
(1) Well, it is important to me so how can I not mention it?
(2) I am convinced that San Francisco is one of the last great mission fields in the United States. I have been to Los Angeles and there are some large, successful churches there. I live in Portland and there are some large, successful churches here. Once when I was having a conversation with Mark Scandrette he asked how large the church with whom I worshipped was on a given Sunday. I answered about one hundred and twenty. He said, “Wow, in San Francisco that is a mega church.” He is almost not kidding.
(3) I have no idea who the Holy Spirit may speak to through this, so why not post something?! It may be that you have thought of San Francisco. It may be that the Spirit has spoken to you about that city. It may be that you have wanted to partner with a local church there but you didn’t know who to contact. If this is a remote possibility it is worth my effort to draw your attention this direction.
Over the next few weeks I will be highlighting a few things that this particular church–the San Francisco Lighthouse–has been doing in and around the city. If one of these things catches your eye consider giving. This will include:
– Meals on Heels: A group that goes around the Tenderloin District with soup, coffee, and other items feeding the homeless, the sexually exploited, and others for free from their own pockets.
– Golden Gate Park Outreach: A food and clothing distribution in the Haight/Ashbury District that focuses upon homeless youth.
– Juvenile Advocating: A group goes to the juvenile detention centers to work with teens in trouble, especially immigrant teens whose English skills prevent them from communicating and who need basic life lessons.
– Meth Addict Support: The church provides weekly assistance to those addicted to meth in the Polk Gulch/Tenderloin District.
– The Healing Center: This is but a dream at the moment but the church hopes to plant a place where several non-profits can be housed in one of the worst neighborhoods in order to provide twenty-four hour services to those in need.
This is all I can say for now. If you have read this far, thank you. If the Spirit has led you to give already you can do so here. Next week I will tell you a bit more about Meals on Heals.