By Marshall Brown, Pastor
We recently moved into new office space for the church. Despite the increased distance from my home (not riding my bike these days…), I love the new office. It’s a much bigger space and looks great. The exposed flashing is cool and the new carpet is refreshing. And I really like these new knee-high file cabinets we have. They have wheels so you can roll them around and padded tops that allow them to double as seats. They are cute – in the way R2D2 (of Star Wars fame) is cute.
You should come visit. Perhaps one morning at 9:00 am when we pray together as a staff.
One of my favorite things about the new office is the location. Our new spot is a short walk from LACMA and a long walk from the Grove. Those who frequent TMZ.com (admit it!) may know that “TMZ” refers to the historic “studio zone” or “thirty-mile zone,” the area within a thirty-mile radius surrounding the intersection of Beverly and La Cienega. That intersection is just up the street. It’s fun to think that our church offices are near the epicenter of influence for the entertainment industry.
And right around the corner is the Flynt Productions Building. As in Larry Flynt. As in Hustler magazine. As in explicit content. I don’t plan to drop by their offices, but I am praying to meet one of their employees at a coffee shop or lunch spot. In light of Rankin’s recent sermon on sex, I am more convinced than ever how confused and lost we all are on the issue of sex. And that includes workers in the sex industry.
Speaking as a pastor who loves cities and a person who likes energetic places, it’s great having our office near the Miracle Mile.
But as cool as all that stuff is, what excites me most is the chance to meet new neighbors. Last month on Valentine’s Day our office hosted a drop-in party for anyone in our building. Earlier that day, I overheard a couple people in the building café talking about the invitations we had passed out. They were intrigued but a little uneasy. You can imagine their questions: “A church meets in our office building? Aren’t churches big brick buildings with stained glass and pews? Does something happen here on Sunday? I wonder what they believe? And why are they inviting us over on Valentine’s?”
Over the course of two hours, a hundred or so people dropped in for coffee and dessert. Most people didn’t stay long. They wanted to see what we were about, get their sugar fix, and move on. And that’s okay. But a few did linger. A couple of them were obviously avoiding work. Some passed out business cards. One woman works in a sleep clinic upstairs and told us what that was like. Another described her two-hour commute each way (drive, train, bus, walk). One or two even began to open up and tell their life stories.
As the party wound down, I kept thinking how each person who came has a story. And they are here. Near me. I know that should be self-evident. But sometimes when I’m waiting in line for coffee at the café the person in front of me seems more like an obstacle than a person with a fascinating story. But every person I met on Valentine’s Day – or any day – has a story. They have all laughed and cried and loved and been afraid. They all have a favorite color and a favorite movie. And like all of us, they all need Jesus at the center of their stories. And here we all are, under the same roof, sharing a building together.
Who knows where these relationships will go? One man has started coming to our morning prayer time. And it seems like more people are recognizing one another around the building. As for me, I know a few more names, and I’m hoping to shoot hoops with a guy in the building who rides his bike to work with a basketball strapped on the back.
But this much I do know: from God’s point of view, our neighbors (and their stories) are never an accident. God puts us next to people – at home, at work, wherever. And He has given us His story and made it our story with the hope that our stories and His story will intersect with the people around us. Our neighbors. You see, God has us right where He wants us – if only we have eyes to see.
Our new offices are at 6330 San Vicente Blvd, Suite 102, Los Angeles, CA 90048. You can view some photos from the Valentine’s Day party by visiting our Facebook page.