Second Week In California: The Church Search Begins
January 7, 2008
The weekend cruised by so quickly. Of course, right now every day could be a weekend day for me because I have yet to find a job. I found one job I really, really want at the Art Institute of California — Los Angeles. I just sent my resume on Friday, so I’ll give it a couple of days. Also, this is the first day of classes for their winter term, so I’m sure that whoever is doing the hiring is very busy.
Anyway, yesterday I went to two different church services. The relatives I’m staying with invited me to join them for church, so I went with them in the morning, and in the evening I went with D and his brother G. I knew that the first church experience would not be like the church I grew up in. In fact, I found that I disagreed with the majority of what the speakers said. I’m not going to go into detail… let’s just say that the sermon focused on the Prosperity Gospel — something with which I fundamentally disagree. I also got a little nauseous when the pastor’s wife interpreted James 1 as being about wealth when it’s really about perseverance and wisdom. And I struggled with how she used herself and her family as examples of how we all should live. Preaching on Christ was sadly missing. The relatives love their church, and I did meet many kind people. After the service, the hospitality couple who were greeting new people prayed for me about finding a job. It was very kind of them.
In the evening, D and I headed up to Los Angeles proper to attend Mosaic, a church that meets in several different locations in the Los Angeles area. D and G have been attending the church off-and-on for the past few months. We went to the location that meets in a nightclub building called the Mayan. I have to admit that when I first walked in, the music had me a little skeptical. It was hip. VERY hip. And all the people there looked my age or younger. Now, I have no problem with hip and stylish kids playing their hip and stylish music, but I am often a little too judgmental when it comes to music. I am constantly left wondering if we are truly worshiping God or just jivving to hip music with the hip kids.
I turned to D and said (I had to kind of shout it because it was so loud), “I think this might be a little too hip for me.” It didn’t feel like church at all. It felt like a youth group concert. Now, this might be a good quality for someone who hasn’t grown up in the church and is a little wary of the idea of sitting in a pew and singing hymns. I, however, like my pews and hymns and church choirs and old time religion. D said, “Remember that this church is made up of artists.” Okay. I could buy that. Artists are hip by nature. They have to be to introduce the next new thing.
After the music came the dancers. And man, oh man, was their presentation lovely and worshipful. That morning I had been in a place that was showy and disheartening — not because it was staged but because of the motivation. The dancers presented a rehearsed, choreographed show that was anything but staged. It was perfect and amazing. It was lovely to experience a group of people using their talents in worship. At that moment, hip music or no hip music, I realized that this is a church where I could fit. I’ve always wondered why churches in America depend so strongly on their music ministries rather than pulling in their writers, dancers, illustrators, etc., to make worship more whole. It was exciting to experience a church that does just this.
And the sermon was incredible. The pastor reminded me a little bit of Alan Alda, and as a girl who grew up watching M*A*S*H, this comparison was quite endearing to me. Hawkeye Pierce sat on stage telling me about having a servant’s heart and making it my goal in 2008 to befriend someone who needs a friend. The second church experience was so refreshing. I will go back. And I’m excited.