General Questions

Why is being a part of a church community so important?

First, we all need people we can count on and who can count on us.  It’s all about living the richness of relationship and committing to that relationship.  When people freely commit to each other — it’s a beautiful thing.  Second, it’s always easier to live the way Jesus taught us to live when we’re not around people who are irritating us.  It’s when we come face to face with other humans that love really gets a chance to grow and deepen — through easy times and difficult times.  Church is not a place where everybody’s perfect.  We join together because we’re on a journey of helping each other love more perfectly as we go.  Third, we believe that God gives the church a specific responsibility in this world —to love and serve people and to share Jesus with others.  These are tasks that are best done when we commit to working together.  It’s too much for any one person to handle!

What do you do in church?

Lots of things — but more importantly, what we do has to do with who we want to be.  We study the Bible because we want to be people who live what we learn from its stories.  We worship because God is God and he opens us to freedom, wonder, love, forgiveness, responsibility, and the ability to notice and recognize him and his actions in our world.  We get together for prayer, encouragement, meals, support and nurture because we want to develop as a loving community in the midst of life’s nitty, gritty challenges.  We serve others in our community through our soup kitchen ministry, children’s events, small groups because that’s the way Jesus was when he was on earth – caring enough to feed people, welcome children, spend time with people.  We participate in larger world concerns through partnerships with other organizations that advocate for justice, for the poor and neglected, for those dealing with diseases, war and worse because we want to cooperate with God to bring good out of evil.

Why is the Bible important?

The Bible contains the stories of all kinds of people of faith over hundreds of years.  This book is the collected witness of what people experienced with God and how they interpreted those experiences.  We believe that God oversaw the whole process of this book coming together and that God tells us what he wants us to know about him within these pages.  We believe that the Bible is useful and authoritative to help us live as followers of Jesus.  The interesting thing about God is that he doesn’t spell everything out for us — many people have interpreted the Bible in many different ways.  In our church we trust that when we come together to study and discuss the Bible, God’s Spirit is present to guide us into the truth.

Who is Jesus anyway?  What do Christians believe about him?

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ lived physically on earth 2000 years ago, but that he was also present with God before the beginning of time, and that he continues to be present in heaven and with us.  Christians believe his claim that he is God, that he entered into the total human experience (pain and death included), was killed on the cross and was resurrected three days later.  This resurrection was significant because it shows us that if God can conquer his own death, than he is powerful enough to conquer all the things that kill us, figuratively and literally. The witness that Jesus came to earth speaks to us of God’s unconditional love for us and the fact that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to have a relationship with us.

What makes someone a Christian?

A Christian is somebody who has accepted God’s invitation to a relationship with God.  That relationship involves turning away from sin, which is everything that causes parts of us to die, and embracing God’s love, which was seen most clearly in Jesus Christ’s way of life.  As we realize how loved we are, we begin to live as Christ taught us to live — by loving others.

What do we do after we become a Christian?

We continue to grow — in our understanding and trust of God, in our ability to love each other, in our practice of living as Jesus lived, in our experience of all of life’s sorrows and joys, in our commitment to other Christians.  Living the life that God intended for us to live involves all areas . . . developing healthy family living, building strong relationships, healing from past and present wounds, cultivating lives that are generous and hospitable towards others, learning to sacrifice for the sake of others’ wellbeing, becoming our best selves, living into the freedom that God gives us to not be ruled by the things that kill us.  There’s so much more — but each person’s experience is different so it can’t be boiled down to one paragraph! 

Isn’t Christianity just a bunch of rules?

For us, all of God’s rules, e.g. the Ten Commandment,s have to do with one thing — love . . . for God and for other people.  The kind of love that respects boundaries, wants the best for people, does no harm, and sacrifices for the sake of others.  Jesus said that all the laws in the Old Testament could be summed up like this:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength.  And love your neighbor as yourself.”

Isn’t God/religion just a crutch for needy people?

Well, we’re the first to admit it — we’re not perfect and we know all of our faults.  But God is more than just an impersonal crutch or genie that we call on when we need help.  We have found that God is also an incredible God to know and relate to.  God is there to be interested in our lives, to thank for all the moments of beauty we encounter, to know and to worship when we’re aware of mystery beyond ourselves, to call us to wholeness, and maturity, and to empower us to live into our potential as human beings.  We find God to be a fascinating, captivating God to get to know.  The fact that he wants an actual living, breathing relationship with us is particularly awesome.  Exploring that relationship keeps us coming back for more!

Don’t churches just want to recruit more people so that the institution survives?

Maybe.  We’re human and we can often get off track.  At our church, what is most important for us is building authentic community, helping each other honestly live as followers of Christ (this means admitting our faults and not pretending we’re something we’re not), and always keeping the invitation open to others to come join us on the journey.  This way of life that God offers to us is never meant to be hoarded.  It is meant to be offered to all people, and to be shared with everyone who wants it!

Why doesn’t God eradicate evil?

The short answer is that we don’t know why, but it perhaps has something to do with our God-given freedom of choice to do good or evil.  However, the partial answer that is enough for us to hang onto for dear life is this . . . Instead of eradicating evil, Jesus came and entered right into the midst of evil.  He let evil accuse, reject, torture, whip, ridicule, pierce and crucify him.  By experiencing all these things and never shying away from them, God says to us that he is WITH US, even in our worst realities and deepest sorrows.  And because of the resurrection, we hold to the truth that God is powerful enough to take us through all the deaths we die to LIFE again.

Why do you baptize people?

Baptism is a concrete action that goes hand in hand with what happens in a person’s heart when they accept Jesus into their lives.  For us, faith is joined to actions.  Without concrete actions, our faith is in danger of remaining theoretical and intangible.  We immerse people in the water because the visual picture of being lowered into the water and then raised up out of the water corresponds to the meaning of becoming a Christian — “dying” to the old way of life and being “raised” to a new way of life.  That way of life includes becoming a conscious part of God’s family — the church.  So baptism for us is also a joyful time of welcoming a person into the family!  The decision to become a Christian and to be baptized is one that needs to be made only after a person understands what he or she is doing.  We strongly believe that every person must make this decision for himself or herself without any sense of coercion or manipulation.

What is the Lord’s Supper?

The night before Jesus died he gave his followers a practice to help them remember what he did for them and what they were about.  When he took the bread, broke it and shared it — this action symbolized his body being broken on the cross so that the collective human community could come together and be healed.  When he took the cup of wine and shared it – this action symbolized his blood that was spilled as the price for a reconciled relationship between humans and God.  We observe the Lord’s Supper regularly by eating a piece of bread and drinking a sip of juice because it reminds us of everything Jesus did so that we could become church together — a healed and healing body of humanity, and it gives us the opportunity to focus back on what is central to our living — God’s love for us and our acceptance of that love.

Why are there so many different kinds of churches?

Because there are so many different kinds of humans who have many different kinds of perspectives.  Christian churches in different denominations are somewhat defined by how they interpret the Bible and practice their faith.  But Christian churches will all have one essential thing in common that binds them all together ultimately — Jesus Christ, and their belief that he was fully God and fully human, and that he was crucified, buried and resurrected.

What’s distinctive about being a Baptist church?

(Definitions taken from Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s materials)

  • Soul Freedom — We believe in the priesthood of all believers. We affirm the freedom and responsibility of every person to relate directly to God without the imposition of creed or the control of clergy or government.

  • Bible Freedom — We believe in the authority of Scripture. We believe the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, is central to the life of the individual and the church. We affirm the freedom and right of every Christian to interpret and apply scripture under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

  • Church Freedom — We believe in the autonomy of every local church. We believe Baptist churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whomever they perceive as gifted for ministry, and to participate as they deem appropriate in the larger Body of Christ.

  • Religious Freedom — We believe in freedom of religion, freedom for religion, and freedom from religion. We support the separation of church and state.


9:45am   Coffee & Prayer

10:00am      Bible Study 

11:10am   Worship


1370 19th Avenue, San Francisco, CA94122

Office: 415-564-7721      Fax: 415-564-7786

Follow us on Facebook! 

 Copyright 2015, Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church, San Francisco, CA  |  Site by Faithlab