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Better Together

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From C.J.

Just over a year ago, James and Liz Delarato felt The Lord calling them to leave San Francisco and move back to Arizona. We blessed and affirmed their decision, but have deeply felt the loss as a church family to no longer have one of our pastors. Renee’ and I, along with the members of Citizens have labored in prayer, asking The Lord to bring us another family to partner in leadership with us.

We have held on to hope in this regard, but have struggled knowing how hard it is to live here in San Francisco, the cultural transition, cost of living, calling, vocation, etc… We have often thought ‘how will it be possible for The Lord to send us someone? And even if He did, how would we be able to affirm their call here, how would we support them, and how do we know they would be a good fit for our church family?’

For the past couple of years I have gathered regularly with 2 other pastors in the city, Randy Wilson from Lifepoint and Dave Ainsworth from King’s Cross. These have been 2 other church planters here that have been faithful friends, and have demonstrated character and commitment to mission, discipleship and service to the city. I have mentioned our need for more leadership often to each of them over this past year, and they have faithfully encouraged and prayed for us.

This past November I received an email from Dave Ainsworth telling me that The Spirit had been nudging him that perhaps he was meant to be the answer to our prayer for another pastor. He and I have shared much mutual respect and similar vision, and also have gifts that compliment each other well. He wondered if I would be willing to consider merging our 2 churches together. I was so grateful to get his email and we began the process of seeking wise counsel, praying earnestly, talking with our people and taking steps to follow the leading of The Holy Spirit in this direction. We asked The Lord to be abundantly clear in the process and halt any plans made in our own flesh.

I am thrilled to announce that as of Easter Sunday, Citizens and King’s Cross are officially joined together as one church. We will remain Citizens Church of San Francisco. We have referred to the merger as an adoption process, where Citizens has primarily been the leading church. We will continue to live out our Family, Servant, Missionary identities and remain part of the Soma Family of Churches.

King’s Cross is aligned with The Sojourn Network of churches, and we are thrilled to begin the process of being aligned with them as well. We are so excited to welcome Dave and Maggie Ainsworth to our staff as well as the 20 or so people that have called King’s Cross their home church for the past few years. These folks are, and continue to be a gift to us in so many ways. We at Citizens are eager to fan in to flame their unique gifts and welcome them into our intimate church family.

Praise God for His timeliness, for His provision, for His listening ear to our needs. He is so kind to us and I bow in worship as I reflect on how He has remained steadfast in His love for us for the past 5 years in San Francisco. What a dramatic tale it has been if you have followed from the beginning 🙂

From Dave

I always told people that if King’s Cross Church fell apart, I’d take my family to Citizens Church. Over the past three years, we’d grown to love the Bergmens and admire their leadership and gifts. I knew that the vision of Citizens was identical to my hopes for King’s Cross. Most importantly, C.J. had pastored me through some of the hardest moments in my life. It would be a joy to follow him.

As my life stabilized and the church plant began to grow, the Holy Spirit kept nagging me, Why does King’s Cross have to fall apart for you to have this joy? Isn’t plurality biblical? Isn’t partnership healthy and strategic? And wouldn’t church planting be more fun?!

After entertaining the idea quietly off-and-on for a couple months, I finally sent the email. At first, C.J. and I wore poker-faces, asking the Lord to do his will and not ours. But soon, like children, our prayers became a lot more opinionated. Please, Father, give us this gift. Finally, after much counsel and prayer, our two church families decided to become one.

The merger with Citizens has brought immediate fruit in our lives – love, joy, peace and all the rest. Our two church families are still in the get-to-know-you stage, but relationships are taking shape. Unique gifts are starting to emerge. There’s nervous excitement and hope.

Pray for us as we grow: that we would become by experience what we are in Christ – brother and sister; that the sudden increase in our size would not make us apathetic toward the lost, but instead would energize us for mission and service; and that we would persevere even after the honeymoon phase subsides.

Thank you for your support of Citizens Church. Church planting in San Francisco never goes as we plan, but God is faithful to those who wait. Thank you for continuing to give and pray and wait. God is working.

Living Missionally

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This past Sunday we talked about “Living Missionally”. The “Apostolos” or “sent ones” Jesus talks about in Luke 10 shows that we are all missionaries. There is no place we currently are that God has not sent us to proclaim and embody the gospel and the kingdom. Jesus gives us a road map for missional living in this text. He tells us to go wherever we are sent (job, school, neighborhood) and to find a “Person of Peace”. A Person of Peace is someone who:

1. You speak a word of blessing to. You express your favor on them; their hopes, their dreams, their flourishing. The word “eirene” here simply means, “to wish well”.

2. Receives and reciprocates the blessing. Simply put, you like them and they like you. There is ease in the relationship. These are people who do not know Jesus but are drawn to you because The Spirit lives within you.

3. You serve and they also serve you. Jesus tells us not only to sacrificially serve People of Peace, but to also find a way in which they can serve us in return. Alex Absalom says in The Viral Gospel, “Mutual service puts people on equal footing”. When we let someone serve us, we are signaling to them that we do not think we are better than them.

4. You remain faithful to. As long as a Person of Peace is responding to your blessing, and reciprocating service, Jesus wants you to remain patient and long-suffering. It may take a long time to see fruit. You may question or wonder why He has you in that relationship. Remain steadfast.

5. You offer healing and gospel proclamation. We are called to identify areas of brokenness in our Person of Peace. Do they need relational healing? Emotional? Physical? Spiritual? We offer prayer, and also a model of new, healthy, loving relationship. Jesus then wants us to open our mouths and proclaim the gospel. “All of the blessing and service I have bestowed on you is a result of the work that Jesus did on the cross”. It is critical that we not only exhibit the gospel in our deeds, but also with our words.

6. If they reject you, you move on. We will be rejected in San Francisco. People will hate the gospel itself, and perhaps hate us because we believe and proclaim it. Jesus calls us to move on when someone does not receive and reciprocate our blessing. There is someone else who needs to see and hear the good news.

Some helpful resources:
The Viral Gospel – Alex Absalom [FREE DOWNLOAD]
Total Church – Steve Timmis
The Celtic Way of Evangelism – George G. Hunter III

I Am My Brother’s Keeper

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C.J. Bergmen
Christ Church – 7/10/2016
“I Am My Brother’s Keeper”

Right Click to Download


If you are a first century Samaritan, having experienced racial prejudice from Jews, and you decide to follow Jesus, you are in a precarious situation. Jesus told you that you would suffer and be hated for following Him. So, you will be slow to pull the “race” card when you are with other Jews who now follow “The Way” who are blind to, indifferent to, or even participate in some of this same racism. After all, you follow Jesus. Your identity, value, worth and eternal flourishing are wrapped in Him, not your present circumstances.

One of your Jewish friends who now calls you brother starts to learn about all of this. They didn’t realize how bad it was. They have started asking more questions and learning more, mostly because recently they adopted a little boy who is a Samaritan. They want to be sure that they are loving their own son, as well as those who share his heritage. So, this Jewish Christian starts to speak on your behalf. It is his obligation to speak on your behalf. This is what is meant by him mourning with you, suffering with you, giving you what he has, walking with you, loving you as Christ has loved him.

He gets flack for it. Oh yes, people hate him for it. You feel bad for him. “Brother”, you say, “but you are now suffering yourself because of us”. The Jewish man says to you, “I have just walked one step in the shoes you walked in for miles”.


“Black and Free” – Tom Skinner
“Just Mercy” – Bryan Stevenson
“The History of White People” – 
Nell Irvin Painter
“Between the World and Me” – Ta-Nehisi Coates


The Liturgists Podcast – “Black and White: Racism in America”

Mika Edmondson – “Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement?”

A Law professor’s response”

“The Problem With Saying All Lives Matter”

Bryan Stevenson TED talk

“Yet another Study Proves That Systemic Racism Is Real”

1 John Series Artwork

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This month, we began a new preaching series in the book of 1 John. We commissioned one of our members, Anthony Lam, to paint a piece of artwork to accompany the series. This is his painted work and some words he used to express the meaning behind it.

“Stark Contrast. Tension. Light and Dark. Rigid Lines. Imminence. These are some of the stronger, thematic visual cues that pervade the text of 1 John. The piece is a meditation on these themes and their interaction within the broader space defined by the author of the text. A deeply personal and tactile dimensionality mirrors the opening text – ‘what we have seen with our eyes… what we have touched with our hands.”

the emotionally healthy church

Featured Resource: The Emotionally Healthy Church

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In the Resources section of our website, we have several books listed that have served to shape the mission and vision of Citizens. In it you will find a book called The Emotionally Healthy Church by Pete Scazzero.

The Emotionally Healthy Church makes the bold claim that we cannot separate our Spiritual maturity from our Emotional maturity. Therefore, a person cannot be Spiritually healthy if they are not Emotionally healthy. Emotional unhealth in the church, primarily in its leadership, has been a large problem in the church in the U.S. It is very important to us at Citizens that we are healthy from the top down. This book is full of principles and practices that guide how we do life with each other and in our city.

We have small, gender specific discipleship groups called D.N.A. groups (Discipleship, Nurturing, and Accountability). The first thing we do in these groups is to read through The Emotionally Healthy Church and take the emotional health inventory. It is very important for us as Jesus followers to delve the depths of our souls and ask the hard questions about how our past has shaped us into the people we are today.

Want to buy cheap red carpet dresses.

Easter Churches in San Francisco

Louange à l’Immortalité de Jésus – Easter 2015

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Louange à l’Immortalité de Jésus
(Praise to the immortality of Jesus)

For Easter, Citizens partnered with 2 other churches in San Francisco,
Lifepoint and King’s Cross. As young churches in the city, we wanted
to come together for the sake of unity, and also to build a service that
glorified Jesus and displayed who He is.

We did the service in 3 movements: Jesus’ Life, Death, and Resurrection.
We wanted the whole service to feel a bit like a wedding celebration,
simultaneously formal, and also accessible.

Below is an art and music piece centered around the Narrative of Jesus’ Life,
Death, and Resurrection from the service this year.

It was played live by Yuting Tseng and Amy Stephens.
Artwork by Megan Posas

San Francisco church

Why We Feast with Homeless People

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When we moved to San Francisco, we weren’t like, “Hey, we are going to hang out with homeless people, have them over to our house, eat with them, become friends with them, etc…” In fact, before we lived in San Francisco, we used to go thrift shopping in the Haight. We loved it–the getting cool clothes for cheap part–but we didn’t love how dirty it was and all of the pot-smoking hippies everywhere. For the first couple of years we lived here, we never went to that neighborhood. It wasn’t the last place I imagined us planting a San Francisco Church, but it was certainly pretty low on the list.We wanted to plant a church close to one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, Pacific Heights. Lucky us. Then some stuff started happening. The Spirit was at work and up to something in our lives…1. Toby Kurth and Christ Church, one of our sending churches, had a dude named Jared going there. Jared worked for a ministry called “The Outer Circle”. They serve homeless people who live in Golden Gate Park. I liked Jared, but he had dreads, dressed like a hippie, and he smelled. That is a confession. Jared started bringing homeless people with him to the church, and he worked together with Toby to make the environment comfortable for them. When Toby told me he was having some of the homeless folks over for dinner, I didn’t know what to do with that.

2. When it came time to plant Citizens, Jared was getting ready to move out of the city. A week or so before he left, he came over to our house to talk to us about serving the poor. If you know me, I’m not a big “prophetic word” guy, but God was using Jared as his mouthpiece. He was saying things like, “If you plant a church, serve the poor, and the rich will come serve them with you.” “If you plant a church, never go any faster than the slowest person in the room.”

3. A guy named Tim Cain came to preach at Christ Church. He preached a sermon called “Feasting with the Poor.” He preached from Luke 14:

“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

I have always been kind of a “If Jesus says it, do it” kind of person. I sat there and this text punched me straight in the gut. Tim talked about how we love to stand behind a table with rubber gloves on and serve a meal to people for an hour a couple times a year. That makes us feel good. But Jesus didn’t call us to do that. He called us to eat with them! A few weeks later, we started “The Meal”, a dinner hang out at our place, and have had it every other Sunday night for months.

The Meal has fundamentally changed our lives and our community. It has been the greatest joy in all my ministry experience. Every week it reminds me of how poor, homeless, marginalized, and reckless I am. It reminds me that I am the addict and the rebel. It reminds me that I tend to just take and never give. It reminds me that I am a fool and a sluggard. And it reminds me that Jesus threw a feast, made a table, and invited me to sit and eat with Him at it, calling me a friend and a brother, though I didn’t deserve it and could never repay Him.

Join us in serving those who are poor and marginalized. Learn more at

Where We Came from and Where We Are Going

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Citizens began somewhere around March-April of 2014. Renee’ and I went to Soma School in Portland in April, and when we came back, we basically just started inviting people over to our house to eat. This is how “The Meal” idea began. We wanted to create a space where people from all walks of life and faith could come together. We just wanted to build community, and pray that the Lord would begin to do a work in us and through us.

James and Liz joined us for a weekend away in Sonoma. We prayed a lot together, talked about what the vision of a new church plant could be, and worked through The Emotional Inventory in The Emotionally Healthy Church by Pete Scazzero.

From the beginning, we wanted to hold a few things in tension. We wanted to have a space where people who are Christians could come together in deep, intimate relationship; a space where they could grow, become disciples, learn to be part of the family of believers, and orient their entire lives around living out The Gospel in a missional way. This was the beginning of “The Family”.

Avery joined us, and we had 5 people in our church. We kept serving “The Meal” every other Sunday night to anyone that would come. Young, old, rich poor, Christian, not Christian, whoever would come through the doors. Nothing has changed here. We do this twice a month and love it.

We met on the other Sunday nights for “The Family”. We sang worship songs together, practiced the Lord’s Supper, read the word, prayed for people we love in the city, and talked a lot about what Citizens would be all about.

We met in these 2 spaces for several months. God added to our number, and as of this month, we have 12 people. We had been wanting to do something called The Story of God, but didn’t know exactly when to do it. We really wanted to have a space for people to kind of “meet in the middle”. A space between “The Family” and “The Meal”. We never wanted our non-Christian friends to feel any pressure, and we felt like “The Family” might be a bit much for them. So, we started thinking and praying about this idea of “Third Spaces”. A third space is a place where Christians and Non-Christians come together to experience Spiritual, Christian type things, but that is not an “in your face intense” kind of thing. We want Non-Christians who are interested in more spiritual things to feel like they can engage at certain levels with us, but with no strings attached.

This month we did The Story of God. It is a 5 week walk narratively through the Bible. We listened to the narrative, and then had a robust discussion on the plot and the characters. “Who is this God character and what do we think of Him?” “Why was that tree placed in the garden?” “Why are there talking serpents?” “Why would God brutally destroy all mankind in a flood?” “Who is this Jesus guy?” “Why is  He telling people that hating someone means you murdered them?” There was a lot of wrestling from all sides of the room. It was a great time of connecting at a spiritual level, but in a very warm and open forum.

So, what is next for Citizens? Well, to be honest, we don’t totally know. We know what we would love to see happen. We would love to create several small communities in San Francisco. These communities would all identify themselves as “A Family of Servant Missionaries”, or for short, “Missional Communities”. They would be communities where Gospel, Community, and Mission are all happening simultaneously. They would be communities made up of people who follow Jesus, and those who do not. They would be communities where people are growing towards health, where non-Christians feel welcomed, and where the poor are being served. Select cheap evening dresses online store.

Once we have several of these Missional Communities in place, we will look to gather in a public, corporate setting, better known as “what every other church you have ever been to looks like”. We are hoping and praying this would be a thing sometime toward the beginning of 2016.

To learn more about us and our vision, visit

San Francisco Church

We’re Not Trying to Get You

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Citizens – a San Francisco Church
Imagine if someone you know in San Francisco invited you to enter into community with them and their friends. And not just the occasional “go for drinks and make small talk” kind of community. I am talking about sitting down to a meal in someone’s home, where there is a constant ebb and flow between depth and laughter. Life’s joys, life’s struggles, the whole thing. People know each other in this community. There is a sense of ease. You can let down and leave your pretense at the door. You have old people, young people, rich people, poor people, black, white, hispanic; a pretty diverse group of human beings.

What if it turns out some of these people are “Christians”? And you’re like, “Crap.” But then, after a little while you realize, “I don’t think these people are trying to convince me to become a “Christian”. Sure, the whole Jesus thing comes up in conversation, but it’s different. It’s not pushy and they aren’t having any picket-sign-making parties. You decide you like these people, even though you are pretty sure they are going to have “the talk” with you at some point, you know the one I am talking about. But, the talk never comes. They give you access to some of their spiritual, “God” conversations. Maybe you even show up to one of their more “churchy” events. But they never tell you what you have to do, or what you have to believe, even though they clearly submit themselves to this Jesus guy. As you feel more comfortable, and trust them more, you finally have the courage to say, “Hey I like you guys a lot, but I have to say, I don’t totally believe in God, or if I do, I don’t think Jesus really rose from the dead or anything, and I definitely don’t think the Bible is a historically accurate book, and so yeah, not becoming a Christian anytime soon.”

I mean, let’s be honest, this is the real moment of truth. You think, “whatever happens next will really reveal what we are actually doing here”. But, nothing changes. Your friends go, “cool, whatever.” And then, business as usual. They don’t treat you any differently. They still treat you like family. You still feel like you are one of them. They keep doing their Jesus thing, but it’s as if – really, truly, honestly – they aren’t trying to sell you their religion. It turns out they want to tell you about Jesus, live like Jesus, invite you to talk about Jesus, or whatever, but your rejection of the whole deal doesn’t seem to affect them one way or the other. And you’re like, “What the heck is going on with these people?” And, for whatever reason, you decide to keep showing up.

At Citizens, we follow Jesus. People in the first century who did that were called Christians. So, go ahead and call us Christians. We are going to tell everyone we can in San Francisco who Jesus is and what He did and said. There are some people in the city who don’t know about Him, or they have heard a story about Him that isn’t true, one that is laced with shame, guilt, and religious duty. So, we have some work to do. My guess is, some people will be glad we told them, and might even want to follow Jesus too. But, lots of people will think we are out of our freaking minds and will have no interest in believing in Jesus. Great. We don’t think we have any power whatsoever to convince someone to follow Jesus. So, we aren’t trying to change anyone. We’re going, “hey, we have been radically changed by Jesus, so take a look and see what you think.” We are living our lives, loving others, serving them, inviting them to experience a family; a good, deep, community.  A family of servants who proclaim what Jesus proclaimed. That’s it. We’d love to have you.

To learn more about us and our vision, visit