Vision for downtown LA and cities (Part 2)

In one of my first posts I gave an overview of the need for churches to be planted and renewed in the major cities of the world and particularly in downtown L.A. Not only did the 2010 census estimate at least 15,000 new residents moving to downtown L.A. between 2000-2010, church planters and pastors I’m talking with think it’s conservative to estimate another 15,000 residents coming in the next 10 years. Just to keep up with population growth, we would need 30 new churches of 200 people each! Only a handful have started and I’m excited that Union Church is seeking to reach the diverse neighborhoods of downtown L.A. as it starts new ministries and continues the faithful presence it has had in Little Tokyo and throughout Southern California.

As I talk with church planting networks in Southern California, the East Coast and Northern California, everyone agrees that downtown L.A. is a strategic area that needs more churches to consider some kind of investment to build Christian communities in the various neighborhoods here. The need is for gospel-centered churches to work together to bring shalom to downtown L.A.

I have personally been so encouraged over the past few Sundays as I have begun my new role as pastor of Union Church of Los Angeles. I’ve met several visitors who are already calling Union Church their new home, getting connected and beginning to serve. They love that the church has nearly a 100-year history of sharing the gospel to its neighbors downtown and throughout Los Angeles. They enjoy seeing a diverse community of different races, backgrounds, ages and stages of life worshiping together. If you visit you’ll see blacks, whites, Asians and Latinos. There are several inter-racial couples as well. You’ll see 20-year-olds and 70-year-olds. Some are single and some are married. A few kids will be running around. We have college students, grad students and working professionals. Some are coming from the high-rise lofts and some come from Skid Row. We have committed Christians and those just checking out what it means to follow Jesus. The one thing we have in common is that each one of us is a fallen human who needs to rediscover that we are the song of God. It’s a beautiful picture of what the kingdom of God in its fullness will look like when Jesus returns to establish the New Jerusalem on earth (Revelation 21:1-2).

As we build this new community we are learning what it looks like to love another out of our common identity as God’s creation in need of the grace that comes through Christ alone. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be a movement in the city and in the world. We hope you’ll join us!

Vision for downtown LA and cities

Los Angeles is one of the great global cities in the world. It will be one of only nineteen cities that will reach twenty million in population in the 21st century (www.192021.org). Whereas in the year 1800 only 3% of the world’s population lived in cities, by 2005 over 50% did and by 2050 over 67% will live in cities. Cities influence the arts, politics, the economy and media in such a way that as the city goes so goes the culture. But historically the church in the West has abandoned the city for the suburbs leaving shells of formerly great cathedrals and buildings being torn down or renovated for other uses. There is a need for churches to be planted in city-center environments like downtown L.A. and for church renewal to be encouraged as well. Union Church is one of a handful of churches seeking to bring renewal to the great city of Los Angeles by focusing on the burgeoning downtown L.A. renaissance of the past decade. Over 15,000 new residents have moved downtown between 2000 and 2010 creating a timely opportunity and great need for more churches to be reaching out to its new neighbors. Cities attract the rich and poor, the white-collar professional and the artist, a variety of ethnic groups and people from all walks of life. The gospel is needed in this vital city-center downtown which is a significant part of the Greater Los Angeles Metro area, one of the great global cities of the world.