Blog Series: My San Francisco | The Sunset



We moved to San Francisco six months ago for three main reasons. First, after living in Arizona for most of our lives, we consistently felt a burden to relocate to a major North American city and San Francisco was on a short list for us. There were multiple factors that went into our choice of SF, with the near-perfect weather definitely holding sway. Continuing the pursuit of a master’s degree at Golden Gate Seminary was the second reason for our relocation to SF. Lastly, we moved here in order to help plant Redemption in any way we could and to learn about church planting in the process. As we seek out the Lord’s will for us in his Kingdom work, we are continually reminded of how important this move has been toward that goal.



What we love about the Sunset is the constant challenge it is for us to live in a culturally unfamiliar environment. Living in the Sunset epitomizes the reason why we wanted to live in an urban center; our diverse yet predominantly Chinese neighborhood serves to transform our perception of how to apply the gospel message cross-culturally. We are also ecstatic about the beach being a few blocks away, Golden Gate Park being even closer, and the ridiculous amount of coffee shops and restaurants in walking distance!


Something we’ve learned about living here, besides the fact that one is constantly at war with the City regarding parking tickets, is that San Franciscans are quite open and receptive to meeting new people. The communal nature of a city with nearly 900,000 people living within 47 square-miles contrives an almost small-town feel. This is even more evident when you get down to the neighborhoods and districts that comprise every inch of the geography; subcultures are well-defined in the City by the Bay. This allows the community of the church to fit right in as another subculture, yet comparatively different regarding values and mission. 


Our vision and prayer is to see relationships grow, truth to be wrestled with, and grace to be applied to as many as possible in this neighborhood. We pray that as we connect and unite with other Christians in our community we would exude love, for as Jesus commands, “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

James Study Guide: Sin Without Excuse



READ: JAMES 1:13-18

If watching television crime dramas is one of your habits, then you have seen it so much you almost expect it: a defendant using his or her circumstances to justify their actions. While there may certainly be legal grounds for this type of defense, today’s passage reminds us that no matter what trials God is allowing us to go through, no matter what the situation maybe, sin is never justified.

Unfortunately, too many of us excuse our sinful behavior and even worse—continue in our sinful behavior—because we feel that it’s God who has put this option in our lives or we feel that our sin is God’s reprieve for our current storm. Too many of us ignore the very real, very difficult, very deadly, spiritual battle that we are engaged in every single day. God may test us, but he never tempts us. It’s against his nature to allow, encourage, or propose sin. These temptations and pitfalls come straight from the enemy, his effects and principalities, and it’s usually during our darkest hours, when we are the most vulnerable, that the fiercest attacks come…



James Study Guide: The Weapon of Wisdom


Read: James 1:5-12

We love experts. We love to watch and read the “experts” deliberating their verdict on a topic of our interest. Craving that type of authority, and clamoring for others to see us as wise, most people claim some sort of expertise in something. Yet, such experts have often led us astray. Either their knowledge is incorrect or insufficient, or their demeanor about the subject makes us so self-conscious to speak that we don’t dare make an observations that may very well be just as legitimate and just as insightful as the alleged specialist’s.

The pursuit of knowledge and wisdom is a good and healthy one, if put in the proper context. Very rarely, however, do facts or statistical data save  us from our darkest hour. Moreover, we often lack the confidence to ask  for help from those who best know how to help us. James teaches us that in order to endure our trials we must ask God to guide us. Let’s take a look at how God bestows his wisdom  ……


An Interview with Pastor Justin Anderson: Redemption San Francisco


I was born and raised outside Portland, Oregon before my family moved to Arizona. I went to High School and my freshman year of college in Arizona before finishing school in San Diego. I worked for a church called The Rock in San Diego for three years and then felt the call to plant a church. We considered five different cities, including San Francisco, but God made it clear that we needed to go to Tempe, Arizona to plant. In the summer of 2004 my wife and I (then my fiancé) moved to Tempe to plant Praxis Church. I led Praxis until the end of 2011 when we moved to San Francisco to plant again.


I love the culture, the diversity, the weather, the density, there’s really not anything about San Francisco I don’t like.


We believe that the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is the most important and transformative thing anyone could know. Every city has thousands of people who need to hear and know this message, perhaps more so in San Francisco than most cities. We believe that a life lived with Jesus is the best chance humans have to flourish and so we want to spread that Gospel message.


It’s not much different than what I wrote above actually, there is no pursuit more satisfying or more transformative than pursuing Jesus. His life was not just an example to be followed and his message cannot be reduced to pious platitudes; his life was revolutionary and sacrificial and his message, if taken seriously, will stop you short.


That we would been serious about making disciples of Jesus for 10 solid years. I’ll take that legacy.

Justin Anderson
Lead Pastor
Redemption | San Francisco

An Interview with Pastor C.J. Bergmen: Redemption San Francisco


I grew up in the central valley of California. After graduating high school I moved to Phoenix Arizona to study Theology and music at Grand Canyon University. I had always loved music and the arts, but never saw myself becoming a worship pastor. After graduating from college and upon entering seminary at Talbot School of Theology, I felt a call more specifically to worship. For the past 10 years I have been focusing on that calling, serving first as a worship leader to 200 college students, and then as worship pastor of a church in the east valley of Phoenix, while continuing my studies at Reformed Theological Seminary. I have been married to Renee’ for 10 years, and have 2 kids, Keane (4) and August (6 weeks).


My wife Renee’ and I used to visit the city about once a year. We spent a ton of time downtown at Union Square and had never really explored other areas of the city. Upon moving here, we have been amazed at all of the cool spots the city has to offer. Namely, Hayes Valley, the Marina, and the Mission. We are total foodies, so we are right at home in all of those neighborhoods. The thing I think I love the most, though, is the people we have met. I have never met such open and honest people. There is a communicative directness and a fearlessness of stating who you are that is present here. It is not combative, it is just real. That has been a breath of fresh air. We have loved to dialogue openly about faith and hear where others are coming from.


I want to be a part of a church that blesses this city, that is for it. A church that promotes it’s beauty and strengths, and that serves it where it is weak and vulnerable. I believe in Jesus Christ and in the good news of His gospel. I am not here to jam that down anyone’s throat. I just want to live as Jesus calls me to live and let people engage with that and ask any question they want about it. Even the hard ones.


We are into making disciples, because that is what Jesus was into. That means, we do life one on one with people. Messy, real life. We find truth in the scriptures, and we tell that truth to each other. We do this because we believe that Jesus’ way leads to the most flourishing version of “the good life” there is.

My prayer is that people in San Francisco, whether they share our beliefs or not, would say, ‘I’m glad those people are here. They are loving and serve our city in a way that is humble, sacrificial and tangible’. If this is to be true of us in 10 years, we must prioritize genuine community, focusing on deep, one on one discipling relationships that result in each of us believing the gospel, and seeking to live it out in the mundane of our every day lives.

CJ Bergmen
Worship Pastor
Redemption | San Francisco

Launching Redemption San Francisco

It feels like it’s been an eternity since I decided to plant this church. In reality, it’s been less than two years. It was late summer of 2011 when, after much debate, prayer, fasting and mind-changing, my wife and I decided that God was calling us away from our home, our friends, family and the church that we had planted and loved to head north and start all over again.

We knew one person that lived in the city when we moved here, which was quite a shock to us considering we had come from a place of such familiarity and close community. It took us several months to get acclimated to our new, urban environment and has taken many more months before it began to feel like home.

Now, after more than a year, we are ready to start pursuing the reason why we came here in the first place. This Sunday we will start weekly Sunday services, which is less of a starting point than it is the next step in our process. For several months now we have been preparing for this day by investing in discipleship and training and by spending a lot of hours walking the streets and talking to people.

We have gathered a really strong core group and God has blessed us with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to leaders and solidly missional and Gospel-centered people. We think the transition from monthly to weekly services is the right next step to accomplish what God has called us to here.

Its funny, this doesn’t feel like a launch to me and I’m afraid Sunday will feel a little anticlimactic. We have been so committed to establishing a culture where discipleship is normal and expected that our gatherings have been almost a second thought, or maybe just a tool to continue creating the culture we want.

So this Sunday will be our first, but there will be little fanfare, no balloons, giveaways or well-wishers. In fact, I asked my family and friends to not make the trip. There will come a day for celebration but this Sunday is about Redemption Church taking the next step as a church that is committed to Making Disciples, Training Leaders and Living Missionally in the city.

Justin Anderson
Lead Pastor
Redemption | San Francisco

Observations about God by Dan Birch

To live in San Francisco is a wonderful privilege in my opinion. Not only does SF have a vibrant city culture but it is surrounded by absolutely stunning creation. Whether your watching the San Francisco Bay with clear skies overhead, taking in a sunset at dusk, or looking over the city with the moon shining bright, San Francisco can amaze anyone.

I don’t believe San Francisco in its fullness is just random chance, but instead a clear intention by God. In the book of Romans written by the Apostle Paul he says “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Romans: 1:20. Basically bringing up the point that the creation we experience is humanities evidence of an ultimate creator.

Golden gate park is one of the highlights of San Francisco. Set in the middle of the city, it is an amazing place of trees, grass, flowers, and water. Most of the time I don’t really think and connect the idea of God himself being seen and experienced through creation. So recently, I was challenged to spend time in the park and really reflect on God through observing His creation. It was only for a brief time but I was surprised out the insight that came out of it.

Observations about God:

God is an artist

God is about the details

Creation always look better in the light

The spirit moves as fast as the wind

We are stewards of God’s creation

Listening brings peace

Things are happening that we can’t see but must trust

Creation is meant to be in harmony

We are only stewards

It’s incredible to think of how obvious creation speaks of God and the gospel. God creates man to live in harmony with his creation in the garden of eden but that harmony is fractured when sin enters the world. The beauty we see everyday is only a small fraction of what creation was supposed to be in its fullness. But even in that fraction, God is still beckoning us to acknowledge Him as the true creator.

San Francisco is a beautiful city surrounded by incredible creation, but ultimately this city is no where near what’s coming. One day creation and humanity will live in perfect harmony and there will be a new heaven, and new earth. And there will be a “new city coming down from heaven” Rev. 21 where people, culture, animals, trees, birds, plants, all types of creation will live in perfect order. Ultimately God will dwell with his people in this new world, and we will give glory for what creation has always pointed us towards, we will give glory to Jesus Christ.

Wooden Heart- Listener

We are gearing up for our second service this weekend. Justin will continue to preach from Jonah, and the significance of what it means to follow Christ.

The artist Listener wrote a poem about church built from the remains of a shipwreck. His words are powerful and speak many truths about our lives as well as Jonah’s.

At the bottom of the poem, I put a link to a recording of him.

WOODEN HEART (sea of mist called skaidan)
We’re all born to broken people on their most honest day of living
and since that first breath… We’ll need grace that we’ve never given
I’ve been haunted by standard red devils and white ghosts
and it’s not only when these eyes are closed
these lies are ropes that I tie down in my stomach,
but they hold this ship together tossed like leaves in this weather
and my dreams are sails that I point towards my true north,
stretched thin over my rib bones, and pray that it gets better
but it won’t won’t, at least I don’t believe it will…
so I’ve built a wooden heart inside this iron ship,
to sail these blood red seas and find your coasts.
don’t let these waves wash away your hopes
this war-ship is sinking, and I still believe in anchors
pulling fist fulls of rotten wood from my heart, I still believe in saviors
but I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board
washed and bound like crooked teeth on these rocky shores
so come on and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

I am the barely living son of a woman and man who barely made it
but we’re making it taped together on borrowed crutches and new starts
we all have the same holes in our hearts…
everything falls apart at the exact same time
that it all comes together perfectly for the next step
but my fear is this prison… that I keep locked below the main deck
I keep a key under my pillow, it’s quiet and it’s hidden
and my hopes are weapons that I’m still learning how to use right
but they’re heavy and I’m awkward…always running out of fight
so I’ve carved a wooden heart, put it in this sinking ship
hoping it would help me float for just a few more weeks
because I am made out of shipwrecks, every twisted beam
lost and found like you and me scattered out on the sea
so come on let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, just some tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

My throat it still tastes like house fire and salt water
I wear this tide like loose skin, rock me to sea
if we hold on tight we’ll hold each other together
and not just be some fools rushing to die in our sleep
all these machines will rust I promise, but we’ll still be electric
shocking each other back to life
Your hand in mine, my fingers in your veins connected
our bones grown together inside
our hands entwined, your fingers in my veins braided
our spines grown stronger in time
because are church is made out of shipwrecks
from every hull these rocks have claimed
but we pick ourselves up, and try and grow better through the change
so come on yall and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, were just tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

Listen to the recording here.