I went to California for my aunt's memorial service. The schedule certainly hasn't been convenient (I will fly out Monday at 6 PM California time, land in Chicago at 12:15 AM Chicago time, then not fly to Rochester until 7:30 AM). So I will be staying all night tonight in the Chicago airport and landing in Rochester around 10:00 AM Tuesday morning.
But it was the only schedule I could get with my free ticket. So I'm making the most of the extra time in California. Whenever I travel and have a weekend off, I like to visit churches and see how God is using other churches and to get ideas and learn. I visited three this weekend:
On Saturday night, I visited HIGH DESERT CHURCH – which is the church my cousin attends. I went with her and her daughter. It is a large church (12,000 people) and it was a great visit. I love what they are doing to reach people like my cousin, a single-mom with a desire to live for Christ.
I left town very early Sunday morning to drive down to Los Angeles (two hours). I went to SADDELBACK CHURCH'S 9:00 AM service. Rick Warren's son committed suicide a couple of weeks ago. Greg Laurie spoke. He is the pastor of HARVEST CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP.
The photo above is Saddleback Church a few minutes before the 9:00 AM service began.
At the Irondequoit Campus, we give out guest packs in a clear, plastic cover. At our Greece campus, we give them in a popcorn box (since they meet at a theater). At Saddleback, their gift for first time guests comes in a water bottle…
The nice part of a church in California is what happens when you have overflow seating. Here is one of Saddleback's overflow areas…
They are looking at a TV screen, but those are windows that go right into the side of the auditorium, so they can also see what is happening in the room.
Saddleback Church is one of the largest churches in the nation… In fact, it is so large that inside their property, they have their own traffic light… seriously. Here it is:
That isn't at the corner by the church – that is fully inside the property of the church – where two of their entrance driveways meet up. Never let me complain about parking issues at Northridge again!
The final church I visited on the weekend was at noon on Sunday – called "REALITY LA." That is a strange name for a church, but WOW – this church is doing an amazing job of reaching young people and they are doing it with serious teaching of the Bible! I admit I had some preconceived ideas of what the church might be like with that name, but I was overwhelmingly thrilled with what they are doing in Los Angeles. They meet in a high school… Below is their signage – simply sandwich signs along the road:
They meet in a high school. I'm pretty convinced I may have been the oldest person in the room. The music was God-focused and worshipful, and the teaching was an hour of straight, hard-hitting Bible teaching from the Sermon on the Mount. Those who believe people won't come and listen to serious Bible teaching, need to visit Reality LA!
At the noon service, I had a hard time finding a seat and shortly after the service began, I never saw two people who were able to sit together. They woud split up as ushers walked up and down the aisles finding people seats. They have three services, and I would guess that it seats 2000 people! Their guest pack is electronic. You text your email address to them and they elegronically send you information. I guess that is how a young generation works!
Here is their overlow seating. It is under a "tent", sitting at the end of the high school courtyard, with sound only – no video. THere must have been 50 people or so sitting under the tarp. I can't tell you how moving it is to see a church thriving in a place like Los Angeles… with young people… and doing it with the Bible as the center of their authority.
Because my flight doesn't leave until late Monday afternoon, I got a hotel near the airport but decided to go for a hike on Sunday afternoon to see LA from the Grifith Park Observatory. It was worth the hike.
This morning – I finished off my "church visits" by watching NORTHRIDGE CHURCH's service. I appreciate the great job Cliff did stepping in for me.
So – thanks for your prayers and encouragement that many of you have sent via text or email. I truly appreciate your prayers. I thought you might want to know what I was up to beyond visits with the family.