Sunday, September 14, 2008

Church "shopping"...

I'm not sure I blogged about my church experience last week... so if I did, please forgive the repetition... :) Last week I visited Richfield Community Church - where the senior pastor is Todd Chapman! Todd was the pastor of my church in Seattle (United Evangelical Free) and he and his family moved to Southern Cali about the same time I moved to Illinois - five years ago. I had reconnected with two of his kids, Casey and Carson, about a year ago, over facebook. Casey and Carson were in the youth group when I worked with high school and junior highers.

I knew I wanted to get over to RCC as soon as I could, and Casey and I connected and she invited me for my first Sunday in town. I made it there in just over an hour (seriously, things are far here... well, they take a long time to get to) and just in time for church. I enjoyed Todd's sermon tremendously. It was only the second time I had been to church since my grampa passed away, and I find that the Lord is particularly moving my heart in church settings. The sermon was on James 1:1-4 and considering all our circumstances joy. Todd's message is still knocking around in my head, even a week later.

Well, afterward Casey and I were joined by her friend, Steph, and her boyfriend, David, and we all went to Chili's for a great afternoon of entertaining conversation and food. Seriously... we didn't leave until 3pm, so you know we were there a long time! It was a great Sunday. I was so grateful that I had something to do for the day (!) and was so happy to see the Chapmans. I didn't get to see Carson or the other sisters, but I did get to see both Todd and Julie. And I plan to make my way back to Yorba Linda a few times, for sure! (also, Casey and I are pretty excited to go to Disneyland very soon!)

Here are some photos of us after lunch:

Me and Casey - she is so adorable and grown up!
We're all friends now, so we wanted one with Stephanie in it.
Casey and her great bf David.

This Sunday, I visited Bel Air Presbyterian. After spending a few hours searching for churches on the internet (ugh, what draining work), I found six or seven to look into more deeply. Last night I took another couple hours to really look more closely at different churches. I really wanted to check out Hollywood Presbyterian.... because that is where Henrietta Mears worked and she is one of my spiritual mentors. I liked what I saw on the website, so I thought that would be where I went today. But then I looked at the Bel Air Pres website (referred there by Cameron Jorgenson - thanks cam!). I was even more excited when I looked there. Well, BAP is closer, so.... that is where I started the search. :)

I got there about 20 minutes before the contemporary service started. The campus was already full of people walking around, signing up for stuff, drinking coffee. This part was all outdoors. The church is on top of Mulholland Drive and overlooks the valley. Its really a pretty view and campus. I sat for a bit and just enjoyed the nice weather. Once the service started, the music was really great - I have been at UBC so long and loved it, but really missed some of the other worship songs that we didn't sing (we mostly sang Crowder Band stuff - which was great, but this was too!) and this band was really good. I loved that they sang some contemporary hymns and some pop CCM stuff. The people around me were nice, and the congregation was very diverse in age, and somewhat in ethnicity. People were engaged in the service, looked happy to be there. It was good. The sermon was the beginning of a series, but it was sound and I enjoyed it. My favorite thought from the pastor today was "God is not interested in making better caterpillars, he is interested in making butterflies." I appreciated this reminder that God is about transformation, not simply improvement.

I think its possible that I will end up at this church, but after this series (about 4 weeks, I think), I'll check out Hollywood Pres and a few others just to make sure I've done my due diligence. I always tell students that they should take the time to be thorough at the beginning, so that they find a church home for four years rather than 6-9 months. I want to have a church that I can call home for my entire time at UCLA, so I have to remember that taking 8 -10 weeks to find a good church is just a drop in the bucket when I will be here for something like 200 weeks!

Well friends, thanks for coming along this journey with me. I will post more as I have other new experiences. And I'll try to put up pictures of the area as the days go by and as I journey around.