God is working in Hollywood through a some beautiful lives surrendered to His purposes. They are young. The church is new. And they are holding on for dear life.
Today I spent the afternoon with some old friends now ministering in downtown Hollywood, CA. The name of the church is Reality LA. It is a church plant out of Reality Carpentria and Britt Merrick. The senior pastor, Tim Chaddick, was my roommate at Calvary Chapel Bible College back in 1999. He now is married with two kids and pastoring the fastest growing church in LA.
I didn't get to see Tim today, but I did get to spend the afternoon with Lorenzo Smith. I met Lorenzo a few years back when he worked at Calvary Chapel Costa Meas. Since that time he and his wife have moved to Reality LA to serve along side Tim as an executive pastor. It has been his role to organize the administrative operation of the church. From what I could see, he has set things in order. In fact, while I was waiting for Lorenzo to come out of a meeting a young lady passing through the lobby jokingly asked what I had done wrong when she heard that I was there to see Lorenzo.
We, (or at least "I") had a great time talking about our personal lives and hearing how God has worked to move us into the new ministry roles. It was a joy to hear how God had directed him to Reality, and how he fell in love with his wife.
As I was passing through the office and listening to Lorenzo I could not help but notice three key qualities that I deeply appreciated.
First, young adults (and old adults that appreciate young adults) filled the new Reality offices. As I sat in the lobby waiting for Lorenzo, young 20 somethings passed by eager to complete their projects. I did not get a chance to meet each one, but the few that I chatted with were filled with excitement for their responsibilities. They were genuinely eager to operate professionally, get their jobs done, and work with their fellow team members. I am a big fan of young adults serving in ministry. It brings a lot of life into a church and that seems to be the case at Reality LA.
The second thing that stood out was that the church is in the heart of a city. People (and the lack of parking) pressed in as I drove down Santa Monica Blvd and found the church office. It reminded me of downtown Manhattan and some of the other cities I have visited. Layers of life was happening simultaneously on the busy street. It was a distinct inner city environment. And there was the added component of the entertainment industry producing the next blockbuster.
The word that came to mind was BOLD. It took boldness and courage for Tim to commit to this culture. No doubt it has taken the Reality ministry team a great deal of perseverance and tenacity to endure the challenges that come with ministry in the city. There is a calculated risk that a family man takes when he chooses to serve in this setting. But I felt like God was being honored by these men and women who were faithfully going about their daily ministry duties.
I'm sure the church staff didn't spend much time thinking of the big picture today. They had their punch list, and scheduled meetings that made up their ministry day. But just being present and accounted for had meaning to me. Just the fact that they were there off Orange street had significance. God loves people and there are a lot of people in the city where Reality LA is planted.
The third thing I noticed was their movement in the hallways. Yep, movement. People were all over the place moving from office to office. It was not frantic or disorganized. It was just purposeful and lively. This may seem insignificant, but it represented the life of a growing church and the excitement that surrounded the ministry tasks of the day. A number of times I had to move out of the way as staff and volunteers moved down the narrow halls. A group of people were sitting on the floor sharing a pizza as they took a break from a media project. Another young man was coordinating an upcoming meeting and the use of a room. Conversations were brief between staff because everyone seemed familiar with each others projects. Not much context was needed when a staff asked a leader a question. There was an excellent sense of teamwork.
Reality LA is only five years old. But God is blessing the ministry. It is inspiring to see this unfold in the life of a guy I went to Bible College with. I'm encouraged by what I saw today, and excited to see what happens next.