Since 1993 I’ve kept a journal. Not a diary. A journal.
The result is volumes and volumes of notes on my day: where I traveled, who I visited, what I ate for lunch and which games I played. Just the facts, not feelings. These records serve a practical purpose come tax season when I need to remember why my wife and I spent money at Hobby Lobby. Or when I find myself in a debate over a series of events. “I’ll check my journal,” has been a closing argument in several historical conversation with family and friends. But they also offer a wonderful window into my past.
I recently cracked them open to find the first service Ecclesia ever hosted on May 22nd, 2005 at the American Legion Veterans Hall on Highland Ave. I had lived in Los Angeles for less than 6 months and I was eager to find a church. Growing up in the Northern California Bay Area, I would drive myself from church to church, never fully fitting in. Never really getting to know anyone. Now, relocated in Hollywood, I was determined to immerse myself in a family of believers. I had checked out several churches in the area which led me to this inaugural service. Sitting in that hot, crowded, loud auditorium that morning, I had no way of knowing how much Ecclesia would shape my life.
In the years following that first day, I would recount the story as something like “love at first sight.” That I knew Ecclesia was the church for me. You can imagine my surprise when my own journal disagreed with my memory.
“Visited Ecclesia at Vets Hall. Still searching.”
Still searching!? Well, you can’t argue with the journal. Although there was a slight breach in protocol there. “Still searching” sounds like a feeling.
I skipped ahead seven days to read that I did indeed attend a different church. Something I’d long forgotten in my years of retelling the story. Seven more days and I was out of town for work. Same with another seven after that. I guess I wasn’t as committed to Ecclesia on Day One as I remembered.
A month or so later I revisited Ecclesia and I started mentioning names of people I met during the service. The same thing happened the week after – we had even gone to lunch together. Jumping seven days at a time I started to stitch together a story where I was investing in Ecclesia, meeting people and becoming a part of a community. And while the narrative was devoid of “feelings” I could read through the “facts” that I was making friends, learning about God and enjoying church in a way I had never experienced it. It wasn’t “love at first sight,” but something I grew into.
Eventually, I would volunteer which led to my employment. I’ve now worked for Ecclesia eight of its ten years. In that time I’ve heard many people experience our church in much the same way I did. Folks move to LA, seeking a family of believers and find community within our walls.
Much has changed in the last ten years and here we stand on the edge of what I feel is the biggest change we’ve ever experienced as our Search Team continues to find our next Lead Pastor. If the Lord decides to allow Ecclesia another ten years in Hollywood, I have no doubt it will look very different from these first ten. However, I pray we will always be a place where people can find family and grow in their relationship with God and invite others to do the same.
It was here that I matured in my understanding of Christ, grieved the loss of my mother, formed deep, meaningful friendships, met my wife and started a family in the form of my two adventurous kids. I’ve passed out coffee to strangers, traveled to India and Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles – all in the name of Jesus. I’m extremely thankful for this community and for God’s work in it. But greater things have yet to come. Greater things are still to be done in this city.
And I plan to record them all in my journals. Not my diary. My journal… which just so happens to occasionally record my feelings.