As I’ve started to get my bearings in LA, I’ve begun narrowing down my search for a home church – a church you regularly attend, financially give to and invest in. I feel like I finally have a sense of my schedule and an idea of what churches are feasible in terms of distance and timing. What I did not expect was the type of church I would end up feeling called to.
Now, everyone knows that LA has the world’s trendiest churches. We’re talking pastors in skinny jeans that I did not think were sold in men’s departments and booties that make them look like Peter Pan, in my opinion. Picture lights and smoke during worship, promo videos that have crashing waves in them accompanied by voiceovers and a thriving church Instagram. That’s what we’re working with when it comes to the majority of LA’s churches.
And I’m going to be honest – I think it’s borderline comical. The church I attended in New York is far more traditional, is held in a traditional church venue, has absolutely no smoke during worship and hasn’t posted on Instagram since 2016. So when you throw me into these very modern and, for lack of a better word, trendy churches, I don’t really get them.
And if we’re being really honest, I stick up my nose at it a little bit. In the depth of my sinful pride, I think how the church I went to in New York is so much better or more authentic than these churches with their tight jeans and hashtags. I often even doubt that Jesus really can be experienced in these churches – and therefore doubt that Jesus works in them at all.
But recently an interesting plot twist occurred. My friends from Bible Study who are godly, loving, authentic women invited me to their church – which for the record is the epitome of a trendy church. Lights, smoke, men’s booties, etc. are all present. The first time I went was mainly because I wanted to get brunch with my friend after and didn’t want to snub her church. But I’d heard it was trendy, so I wasn’t expecting much. I was a little surprised that the message was so thoughtful (though I swear the way the pastor spoke, I was convinced he was about to break into a rap at any point) and the worship was moving, even with its smoke and lights. The second time I went to this church was actually because I was over at their house and they kind of roped me into it. But it struck me that sitting in that church service in between women who fight for me, love me and walk through life with me on a daily basis was powerful. To hear the same message and then walk out to the streets of LA together provided a new kind of way to walk through life together. It provided a new avenue for connection and accountability. To sit in the community that has swooped me up so quickly in LA and hear a message that gave me goosebumps made me rethink my prejudice and nose-in-air snubs.
To be clear, I absolutely still spent 5 minutes of the sermon analyzing how the pastor got his jeans on in the morning. However, I was completely humbled by the fact that I had isolated Jesus to only functioning in a church that fit in my category of “holy” or “usable” by him.
As it turns out, Jesus can work in any church that genuinely pursues him – even the trendiest of the churches. Jesus is just as relevant to people who look like they walked out of a Free People advertisement as the ones who wear traditional Sunday attire. He is the God of all people, all venues, all styles of worship or sermons. And thank goodness He is!
One of the things I love most about our God is that he meets people wherever they’re at. He cannot be put in a box. He is for all people, because when Jesus died on the cross it wasn’t for the righteous. He died on the cross for the very people who killed him.
So while I still think that church Instagram’s are a bit bizarre, I am also rethinking where Jesus works and realizing that whether I worship him in a theatre in downtown or a small chapel in Santa Monica, he is just as powerful and present. Jesus is not a trend, but he can absolutely be in #trendy things.