The unofficial guide to finding your home church in LA

Finding a church in LA can be a different challenge than other cities in the world.  Not only is this city sprawling, but there is an ever-ranging wide style of worship and sermon styles you may or may not gravitate towards.  We understand the challenges of finding your church home and we're glad if you've already found one.  However, if you haven't already, we’re here to help!

Step 1:

Start your search based on your location.

LA is a very large area full of cities, towns, suburbs, industrial parks, and everything in between. 

Church location may initially seem like a shallow checkbox for a church requirement, but keep in mind time is also a resource God has given you to steward.  The amount of time you spend commuting to church and your community will add up and dealing with that much LA traffic can burn you out. We recommend maxing out at a 30 minute commute time (one-way give or take traffic) to dive deeper within your community.  Just remember- wherever you drive to, you must drive back...

Step 2: 

Spend a few weeks to make sure their teachings are grounded

(or at least aligns with your core beliefs of Christianity).

Once you’ve visited a few churches in your area, you’ll quickly discover churches in LA can range vastly in sermon style, personality, community culture, and size. We recommend being paying critical attention to this step- it can all sound gospel-centered for a week or two....until it's not.

Here are few questions below worth asking yourself:

- Do(es) the pastor(s) have any formal seminary training?  If not, spend some extra time to get to know the church teachings before diving in head first.  (No, Jesus never went to seminary, but he's Jesus.)  A deep understanding of historical context within the bible is key to teaching it, so it's preferable to know your pastor has invested serious time and money in studying it and has a learned community that can hold him accountable.
- How do their teachings address life issues?  Does it tend to focus on self or does continuously point to Jesus and eternity?
- Do their teachings always point to the gospel, or is there a political undertone to the sermon?  Chances are there might be their own opinion they are trying to express that go beyond the gospel (and yes, there is a difference).

Step 3: 

Spend 2-3 months to fully grasp the culture of the community and how they interact with the leadership team

Let's say you've found a few churches that have a sermon/worship style that suits you! Now's the time to really pay attention to the culture of the community.  This is the part that will show how God will grow and challenge you in your faith walk while He has you in LA.

Typically, true colors will show after 90 days of knowing someone. You could say the same about a church community. 

Here are some green flags to notice about a church community in LA:

- People are willing to say hello to you when you visit (and it's not just the greeters).  It's not just to simply show they're friendly, but it shows the congregation is spiritually mature enough to understand what they are there for and realize the church is not about them.
- There isn't anyone trying to "take a spotlight" in the community- even the pastor himself.
- High participation. When the congregation is highly engaged, it shows the church makes an effort to get to know their congregation and the church is willing to lay down their time and efforts for God.
- They are open to conversations on questions of faith without judgement, but know how to lovingly share the discerning truths of the gospel.
- There is an understanding that the church pastor is held to a higher standard, but pastors are meant to be equally (if not more) vulnerable toward the church community they steward.  The church doesn't get anything out of thinking the pastor is high and mighty all the time.

Here are some red flags to notice in a church community in LA:

- Love-bombing.  This is the extreme form of making someone feel welcome, but when you are love-bombed, it's a hint to more subtle toxic behavior in the community.  
- You notice particular high praise for select people in the church.  This is a huge sign that the Hollywood culture has loudly crept its way into the community and this is extremely difficult (if not almost impossible) to dispel if the church leaders are propagating it and are highly image-conscious.
- You feel there is a "cool crowd" happening and you need to work your way into it. There's just no need to work your way up to a table that Jesus himself would have flipped.
- Acceptance of very obvious forms of heresy (e.g., crystals, Wiccanism, right to forgive God).  While we are all on our journey on discovering and developing our faith, it is one thing to welcome the person while drawing a thick line in the sand about what it means to be Christian.  However, it is another to silently accept and eliminate the line between what is Christianity and what is not.  A church that stands for everything stands for nothing.

Step 4: 

Simply pray on it.

This phrase is so overused, but it's genuine and excellent advice.  There's no such thing as a perfect church, and given that it's LA and we're steeped into Hollywood, it's likely there's no such church that has zero red flags. However, God still calls us to humbly go before people and love them just as Jesus loved us in our own unique mess. 

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