If everything is fine, you don’t need a vision. Mike* and I had a vision. And so did a bunch of others.
We huddled up, locked eyeballs with each other, and asked, Are we willing to risk everything to reach people who are far from God? “Yep. Let’s do it!”
And that is how Gracepoint Church was born.
Gracepoint is young. Not just because, as a church, we are just now crawling out of the crib. Most of our staff and launch team members are in their 20s and early 30s. Except for me, everyone on the team is a volunteer, and no one on the team has any formal ministry training. Is that an advantage or a disadvantage? I’m not sure, but it helps us stay humble. And it keeps us hungry for leadership knowledge and skills. So we block out an hour – every week – to watch a video teaching and another hour reading and discussing a current leadership book.
Let me describe our team (good luck trying to keep from feeling envious): Aldrin is a professional graphic designer; Christina is a non-profit fundraiser; Ken is a wise and spir
itual community organizer; Dino is a high-energy kids director; Joash is a gifted worship leader. And a host of others invest ten or more hours every week to help Gracepoint Church touch the lives of spiritual seekers.
Our location is South San Francisco, a unique city squeezed between the cultural trendsetter of San Francisco and the technological powerhouse of the Silicon Valley. Our relatively tiny land area of 9.1 square miles is home to 65,000 people as well as a number of industries, including Genentech with over 8,500 employees and See’s Candies with a seemingly-endless variety of Easter bunnies, Valentines hearts, Christmas keepsake boxes, lollypops, and truffles.
Churches in the Bay Area are not known for being on the cutting edge of societal evolution. The largest non-Catholic church in our town has fewer than 150 attending on the weekend. A lot of people self-identify as Catholic but attend only on extra-special occasions. The field is wide open for a church that combines solid teaching with Acts 2 community and a red-hot passion to serve.
One of our new families is just like that. We met them when Gracepoint hosted Parents’ Night Out at an elementary school in December. Both parents had been raised in church but stopped attending. I sat with the mom, who asked me about prayer. She told me how she used to hear beautiful prayers, but they seemed meaningless. They seemed like empty words. “How do I pray,” she asked me, “and be sure that it means something?”
She brought her family to our Christmas Eve service and has been attending ever since. Her two children love Kidspoint (our high-energy kids environment), and they would drag her there if they needed to. I can’t say whether she has found meaning in her prayers yet, but I know that she has found the place where she believes it will happen. At one of our launch team meetings, where we were talking about “walking across the room” to connect with people who are far from God, she told us that she decided to come to Gracepoint Church because we were consistently serving the community through her kids’ school without asking for anything in return. She thanked us for walking across the room for her and her family.
Our monthly weekend experiences started in October 2013. We worship on the second Saturday of every month at 5:00 p.m. in a high school gym. We plan to launch weekly services on September 6, 2014. Each of us has a daily alarm set to 9:06 a.m. We call it 9:06 for 9/06. It’s our reminder to stop and pray for our September 6 launch. It’s our reminder that, because we all are stopping and praying together, wherever we are, that we all are in this together. And it’s our reminder that we are doing something that is unfamiliar, and risky, and uncomfortable.
All the effort worth it? Of course. Because everyone spends eternity somewhere. Reaching people who are far from God is worth whatever risks we have to take.
If you are anywhere near the South San Francisco area, you are invited to join us. And wherever you are, be sure to add the leaders and volunteers at Gracepoint and everyone who needs Jesus in the San Francisco area to your prayer list. And thank you for being part of the larger Mission Catalyst family that helps churches like ours take risks for God’s kingdom!
Caesar Evangelista, Lead Pastor
*Who is Mike? One of the good guys who is helping us start the church.
Gracepoint Church is a Pivotal Design church in the Assembly phase.
Learn about Gracepoint,
To learn about our three-phase start-a-church process, go online.