Last week Julie and I spent five days in San Francisco visiting this historic city for the first time. We had a great time enjoying all that San Francisco has to offer – cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, China Town, the BART, Union Square, etc. What a great city! One of the highlights of our trip was attending church. Located a short distance from Haight-Ashbury in the middle of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district is the thoroughly biblical City Church of San Francisco. City Church is part of the RCA (Reformed Church of America) in which a good friend of ours named David Moorhead is a church planter in Shafter, CA.
What made City Church so memorable? I noticed a series of contrasts. The band included knit-capped musicians while the sr. pastor wore a suit and tie. The music we sang during worship included well-known contemporary songs as well as old hymns (both familiar and unfamiliar). There was no media – no powerpoint, no video – just a complete printed worship program with actual music and not just lyrics. City Church seems to have mastered the mix of the ancient and the modern with spoken liturgy and communion in a non-traditional setting of a rented space for Sunday ministries. It was a packed house at the first of three services which was attended mostly by young professionals who participated fully in worship and were especially attentive throughout the sermon. We were greeted with warmth by this friendly group.
I love City Church’s mission statement: a worshipping community that seeks to be the very presence of Christ in word, deed, and lifestyle – through many people in multiple ministries doing one thing – following Christ in mission to a beautiful and broken city, and through the city, the world. City Church’s commitment to their mission is demonstrated by their involvement in both spiritual formation and community service as they call their members to connect, celebrate, and contribute to this mission.
Sr Pastor Fred Harrell spoke with clarity from Philippians 3.10-21 demonstrating an ability to draw contemporary application from the ancient text by focusing on being a member of the colony of Christ just as Phillipi was a colony of Rome. Pastor Harrell asked several penetrating rhetorical questions that were met with what I sensed was a “holy hush” as the Word of God penetrated the hearts of regular attender and visitor alike. City Church matches Christ-centered worship with Christ-centered biblical teaching and Christ-centered ministry in their city.
If you live in or are visiting San Francisco in the future I would recommend that you check out City Church of San Francisco. We’re glad that we included City Church in our San Francisco vacation.