Everyone once in a while, it's great to have undergo culture shock. I just never thought it would have happened in Southern California.
My 16 year old son Jordan and I in town for the Orange Tour later this week and decided to explore the area. Kind of a father and son road trip. It's so great to finally do one!
We decided to head up to Santa Monica and scooted over to Hollywood, accidentally found Beverly Hills and spent time at Malibu. All places we'd heard about but never been to. I had never quite been in a place that felt, honestly, so secular before. Not a trace of God. Almost no churches (I know there are all kinds of mega churches in California but you can't see them driving around).
Probably never seen so many square miles of affluence in one region either. Jordan and I had dinner in Hollywood and happened to hear about a street party on Santa Monica Boulevard that night. We went, and I have to tell you, it was a party. A huge party. Tons of fun, and also the center of the gay community in Hollywood. Two things happened: I found myself really grateful for the people around us. My heart went out to them (unlike the guy with the placard on the corner who was telling them they were all evil and God was going to kill them unless they repent.) And second, I wondered how on earth you would become effective at ministering in this kind of culture?
I know a few church leaders in Southern California and follow a few others. It gave me a whole new appreciation for what our friends at River Park Church in Ventura County and Discovery Church in Simi Valley (we worshiped with them this past weekend) are trying to do. It gave me a whole new appreciation for Erwin McManus' decision to open Mosaic's services at the Mayan Nightclub to begin conversations with Hollywood about Jesus. Every Sunday, their e-teams scrape urine, feces and debris from the walls and washrooms so worship can happen there a few minutes later.
Usually, when you meet people where they are at, it's easier to begin a conversation. If you start with grace, it's amazing where the dialogue can go.
Got me thinking about how to do a better job meeting people at home where they are at. Made me really grateful that we're at least meeting in theaters…where thousands of people go every week in our little communities to laugh, cry, be entertained and watch films about life.
What do you think? How can we better engage the culture where it lives?