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Hey everyone. This is the second update. We sent one out last week. If you didn't have time to read it you can read it here. I'm at a church planting training all week at a winery in the North Bay. It's a rough life but somebody's gotta do it I guess. Anyway, in this update I'd like to talk to you about two things. First, why San Francisco and our neighborhood in the North East especially. Second, I'd like to give you some details about what we are planning and what the Porch will look like. Thanks for reading!

- Jon
About San Francisco and Jesus

Barna Studies (2015) have shown something striking. San Francisco is the least Christian metropolitan region in the US. It's also important to remember that these numbers are inflated for two reasons. First, they are counting any church not just churches that seek to glorify Jesus and teach the gospel. Second, everyone lies to pollsters about religion. So these numbers are probably even a little higher than they probably should be...

San Francisco Church Attendance Stats
Unchurched – 61%
Ranked #1 in the nation. That’s 6% higher than the next closest city Burlington, VT.

De-churched – 28% 
Ranked #1 in the nation. That’s 4% higher than the next closest city, Seattle.

San Francisco is also famous for being one of the only major metropolitan areas in the US that has never had a widespread revival where lots of people came to know the Lord in a short period of time.
 

About the Neighborhood


We are planting The Porch in the northeast corner of San Francisco. This area is starved for Gospel preaching churches (disclaimer - I mean primarily English speaking churches. There a ton of awesome Chinese speaking churches up here). 

The northeast part of San Francisco is made up of 5 neighborhoods. Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Chinatown, North Beach and Telegraph Hill. The population stats are all over the place and hard to pin down. I've seen stats from the official number at sfgov.gov at 65,171 to other estimates closer to 165,000. The number is probably actually around 100,000. One problem is that nobody is really sure how many people live in Chinatown.

Our neighborhood is filled with all kinds of interesting people. We have a lot of people who work in the tech and financial/business worlds. We have two art schools up here (Academy of Art and San Francisco Art Institute) so we have a handful of college students. Most of the population (almost 70%) is between the ages of 18-60 (working adult age). We have a high percentage of college/grad school graduates living here and a low percentage of families with children (although there are some and that number is growing quickly). There are a lot of long time natives as well as a good amount of people new to San Francisco.

The ethnic makeup of our neighborhood is 46% White, 47% Asian. This presents two challenges to planting a multicultural church here. The first is the racial tension. Historically, the reason Chinatown exists is because the white population created it as a sort of ghetto to keep the Chinese out of their neighborhoods. Wounds like that are hard to heal. Even to this day, the Chinese community is very insulated and there is very little crossover between the white population and the Chinese population. But there is a second level as well: income inequality. The average income for a family in Chinatown is less than 35k. The average income for a white family outside of Chinatown is 138k. That's a huge difference. The unemployment rate outside of Chinatown is about 6%. Inside Chinatown, it's over 15%. We have two groups of people that live here, one at the upper middle class level and one right at or just above the poverty line.

So one of our big hopes in planting The Porch is to see a church where some of these barriers are broken down by the gospel and to see a community of diverse people come together to give glory to King Jesus.

About Missional Families

Many evangelical churches focus on the Sunday gathering and attracting folks who already followers of Jesus. Most of the “growth” in the American Evangelical church is really simply church hopping. People move from church to church and we call that "growth."

I was just talking to a pastor here at the training session and he gave me this illustration. Imagine that the mosque down the street had a super engaging speaker every week and a great band playing music. Would you ever go? Probably not. Why? Because you probably aren't a Muslim. That's how we feel about attracting people with a well put together Sunday service. All that really accomplishes is attracting people who already know Jesus and people who are looking into the faith. It doesn't really do much to reach the people who couldn't care less about the gospel

We, obviously, will welcome believers into our church, especially folks who are new to San Francisco and looking for a church but we really want to build a church that isn’t designed to appeal to church people. We want to start a new church that is designed to take the transforming power of Jesus to the people of San Francisco. We want to be a community where folks who aren’t believers yet can see what the gospel looks like in the lives of a real family of God’s kids.

What does this look like? We want to give our weekly smaller groups as much attention/weight as we do the Sunday service. We are calling these groups “Missional Families.” These groups will meet weekly like normal small groups do but they will have a focus on living out the gospel in San Francisco by loving and serving the people around them. Here is what that means: in our Missional Families we will grow together as disciples and reach out together to take the gospel to our city. We will grow up in faith so that we can reach out.

Missional Families will meet weekly but rotate the focus between two kinds of nights. One week will be very churchy (prayer, bible study etc…) and the second week will be a big family dinner to create a safe space to invite friends, coworkers and neighbors to get them around the community. We hope for the people in our neighborhood to meet the people of Porch before they meet the organization of The Porch. 

The plan is to start our church by launching a few of these Missional Families first. Once we have a few of them going strong, hopefully next year, we will then launch the Sunday Service. So we will still have Sunday church like every other church but we will put as much effort into our Missional Families as we do into our Sunday gatherings.

I believe there are several advantages to this model:
  • It fits San Francisco. This city is filled with people who are longing for community. The other day my downstairs neighbor said to me while I was talking to him about gathering people together for our Sunday Dinners, "You want to find lonely people? Go to a big city and find someone who lives in a super dense area. Those are the most lonely people in the world." It was a telling observation from a hardcore atheist.
  • It builds the mission of God into the DNA of the church. Over time it is really easy for a church to drift into an inward focus. These groups will help build the Great Commission to make disciples and the Great Commandment to love our neighbors into the very fabric of the church.
  • It helps prevent the cult of personality. We don’t want the Porch to revolve around Jon’s personality. Then everyone would be really sarcastic, funny and good lookin. This model spreads the leadership around. Each missional community will look very different and that's a great thing.
  • It’s easier to share the gospel with other believers around you. Even Paul worked with a team. Think about that. Paul. Who wrote the Bible. He didn't spread the gospel by himself. He had people with him. These communities are teams of people moving towards the same goal – proclaiming the gospel to the lost and displaying the love of Christ in the broken world around us.

About the Core Team

Right now we are in the phase of our launch where we are gathering a group of people join our core team. No church starts with hundreds of people. Here is the chain of how a church grows.

It starts with the vision of the church planter and his family. The next group of people that gathers is called the "Core Team." This group joins the planter in his vision and mission. They start small but as the gospel goes out, new people are brought in. That builds momentum and then the hope is that the church will eventually grow to the point where they can train up a new planter and send out a team to start the process all over again.

Right now, we are looking for people to join us on the core team. We aren't looking for super saints. We are looking for regular followers of Jesus who love him and love San Francisco deeply. We are hoping to recruit 25-30 more people in the next few months to come along for the ride.

On September 16th we are hosting our first "Vision Night." That will be followed up by a second Vision Night on September 30th. At this first meeting on the 16th we will gather for dinner at our place in Nob Hill and I'll layout some of the vision for launching The Porch. We'll brainstorm together about what a church in SF would need to look like to take the gospel message to the people in our city and we'll spend some time praying for San Francisco. If you are even remotely interested in what we're doing, I'd encourage you to come on the 16th.

We'd also appreciate any of you connecting us to people who may be interested in joining up. One of the hardest parts of church planting is getting from 0-30 folks so every connection is greatly appreciated. If you know someone, get us in touch and I'd love to meet them for lunch or coffee. :)

How To Stay Up To Date

The main way to keep up to date is to actually take time to read these newsletters that I'll send out. If you are reading this far, I assume that you are one of the people who doesn't skim these sorts of things. Congrats. You rock.

The second way to keep up to date is through our website and social media.

instagram is: @porch_sf
website is: porchsf.com
email: jon@porchsf.com

 

Prayer Requests:

Pretty much the same stuff as last week. We appreciate your continued prayers.

For the people in our neighborhood who haven't met Jesus yet. Ask God to send his Spirit out in front of us and to work on people's hearts before we ever meet them.
For our fundraising. I'll talk more about this in a few weeks but we have a fundraising goal that's stressing me out. It's expensive to start a church in SF. We are starting a big fundraising push so pray for provision. If you'd like to become a financial partner, head over to the website. There's donation information at the bottom of the home page.
For the gathering of people. Our goal of hitting 20-30 core team people by winter isn't going to be easy. God has already made some really neat and random connections. Pray that more and more people will jump on board with what's happening and join up.
On a personal note... We've been foster parents to a wonderful baby girl since January and now she's heading back to live with her grandma. It's a lot to handle at the same time we are getting rolling with the church plant. We do plan on getting right back on the list so hopefully we'll have another baby soon but our hearts are heavy. Pray for our marriage, our faith and for whatever kid we are placed with next. We love being foster parents but man, it's going to be very hard to say goodbye to our little one.
 

Next Update Preview:

For the next few weeks I'm gonna send out one of these emails every Wednesday. After that, we'll probably send out a newsletter about once a month or so. Here's a preview of what's coming next week:

• Fundraising Goals
• Timeline
• Affiliation (Evangelical Free Church/Acts 29/Christ Church SF)
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PorchSF · 1225 Clay St · #10 · San Francisco, Ca 94108 · USA

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