This felt comfortable, like the churches I was most familiar with. It seemed to fit like a favorite pair of slippers. People were friendly, greeted us with that look of “I don’t recognize you so you must be new here.” It reminded me of a family reunion, where everybody belongs there, and is related, but that doesn’t mean you know everybody. We were treated like long lost cousins or uncles and aunts.
There were probably 80 people in the worship service. They loved being together, worshipping God with enthusiasm. It just felt good. The pastor preached without notes, near as I could tell, and that impressed me (because I can’t do it!). He challenged the Body to live for eternity, not the fading things of this world. Don’t lay up treasures on earth, don’t live for all the stuff you can get here, but live in light of the home God is preparing for us above. Good stuff, and all the more significant realizing that this church is a stone’s throw from Hollywood, and all that goes with that culture.
The bulletin and announcements indicated something else about this church: they believed in prayer. In the course of a week, there were several different kinds of prayer gatherings. They were serious about communicating with their God. It didn’t seem like they were busy about playing church, but serious about being the church.
I waited around after service to talk with the pastor, but he was deeply engaged with one of his congregants. He spent a long time talking to this person, and I ended up leaving without chatting. I later learned that he stayed for well over an hour talking to people. This shepherd cared enough about his sheep to enter their lives and hear their stories. I was impressed and encouraged.
God was present in this place. These people loved to sing and worship. Their pastor loved them. The Word was presented accurately and without apology. Size of congregation matters not. Jesus inhabits His bride wherever she is, whatever size she is, wherever she honors and exalts Him as her Groom and King and Lord and Savior. I really did feel like a long lost cousin, part of the family, but unknown, and now welcomed home.