When you are in Los Angeles, you are not short for one moment options for churches to attend or be part of. This week I attended three different gatherings. Spent Thursday night at Angelus Temple with Benny Perez, then Sunday at Mosaic with Erwin McManus and Kairos with JR Woodward and Greg Larson. I basically succumbed to the epitome of church hopping while I was here, not building relationships barely at all with anyone, but trying to experience the event of church in an hour of observing. Not the best way, but nonetheless my only choice. So take these experiences as a grain of salt, because I don’t really know anyone at any of the gatherings.
I’ll give you a quick breakdown of the three experiences.
Angelus Temple, I already gave a pretty detailed breakdown about my experience there. So you can read that there. Benny Perez talked about Joshua and the Israelites being told by God to walk through the river. Then he took our present “rivers or floods” of financial crisis, miscarriages, and whatever else makes us unhappy and encouraged us to step out into the middle of our floods because that’s where God will work his miracle. Because only in the midst of struggle and floods will God bless us. There wasn’t much more to the message than that.
Kairos, was a completely different experience. They are in an older church that they have renovated to suit their needs. There was probably only 100 or so people there (compared to the thousand or so at Angelus Temple). The building was built more to look like a cafe, with the second floor classrooms blown out to look out over the meeting space. The options of couches, cafe table and chairs or rows of chairs were all open to sit in. There was also snacks and drinks to grab to give it a much more relaxed and living room feel. The music was driven but simple and the sound was pretty much perfectly mixed. The band was tight and the lead guy sounded a lot like David Crowder. Then Greg got up to teach and he taught out f the first few chapters of 1 Peter. Basically it was a message of perspective trying to remind us that joy comes through perspective in knowing Christ and knowing that he is working through the hard situations. So when times are hard, financial crisis, parking tickets, deaths in the family etc…then we should trust God to give us strength and perspective in the midst of it. He talked about Victor Frankel and how when he was in the concentration camps that he observed people and how they responded to the oppression and that only a very small minority of people could have a proper perspective amidst the oppression during the Holocaust. Some were able to have a perspective that no one could take away from them and eventually gave them enough strength to endure what was happening. Imagine if Christians could adopt this perspective? He then did a question and answer but the cool part was that people sent him questions via cell phone which kept it anonymous, which was a great idea I thought. It seemed to work very well.
Then Rob and I jumped right into a car and headed to Mosaic which was held at the Mayan Theater. This theater was pretty awesome. You walked in and felt like you were in a cave, Mayan drawings carved into all the stone and a dim atmosphere that left dark corners to your imagination. This by far was the experience that the most thought and energy went into. The band was remarkable. It was basically a mix between Explosions in the Sky with a girl leading the band that sounded like an angel. The sound again was a perfect mix. The two round canvases on the side served as a projector screens for the video art that was happening throughout. Underneath the one canvas was two DJ’s playing along with the worship and under the other was a girl doing t-shirt art to the theme of the night. The music was moving (probably because it is closest to the style that I appreciate) and I could feel myself getting that feeling I feel when I’m at a good show. Then the music was over and a bunch of girls walked on stage all mimicking daily routines that we find ourselves in a repetitive pattern. Turning on TV’s, jogging hard, sending e-mails etc etc. Then they did a dance to an Imogen Heap song and it was beautiful, all about getting out of routine and being set free. Then they showed a short film which was also great about a super-hero car mechanic, amazing short that was entertaining and had a good message.
Erwin McManus proceeded to talk about a lot of the same things that the previous two speakers I had head shared (or yelled) except he did it in typical motivational speaker style that Erwin delivers all his stuff. His message was all about approaching difficulty, failure and obstacles with optimism, knowing that the things that happen to us and the things that we go through don’t define us, rather something else does, namely being created in the image of God. Funny enough, he also referred to Victor Frankel in speaking of his observations with people with optimism in the Holocaust compared to those that gave up.
I can’t tell you how odd it was to walk into three different church, completely different churches over the course of a few days. Mosaic is the type of even that I would love to attend. Creative, artsy, beautiful, filled with people my age with my type of music. If I was to plant a church when I was seventeen, I would have wanted it to look exactly like Mosaic. And then Angelus Temple which was basically the goal of my upbringing. Huge, loud, exciting, emotionally driven and charismatic. Angelus Temple would have been the church I would have planted when I was seventeen. Kairos was probably the gathering that most resembled theStory and how we gather. Small, food, conversation, Q&A, comfortable seating and relaxed.
So that was my experiences with all the churches this week.