Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Community in Los Angeles

In their book, Emerging Churches, Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger outline 9 factors that are evident in the lives of emerging churches that they studied through America and the UK. They point out three core values/practices of emerging churches. The other 6 factors are an outgrowth of these three core values. The three core values are 1) Identifying with the life of Jesus 2) Communual Living and 3) removing the secular/sacred divide. I've been thinking about how this works in Los Angeles, where I live. LA is a highly transitory area and is highly spreadout. LA is up to 50 miles long at its longest point. It is difficult to tell when you enter or leave the city proper, unlike midwest or east coast cities. If Gibbs and Bolger are correct in their analysis of the three core values, and I believe they are, then I wonder how this will work itself out in LA. The transitory nature of LA coupled with the vast sprawl that we live in make the communal lifestyle that is described by many of the EC's seems impossible or at least very unlikely. I asked Ryan Bolger about this today (I am taking a class with him right now) and he said that there were very few EC's in LA, partly because of this. There is Tribe LA, as he pointed out, but they are in a more localized community in LA. I do believe that the pomo's do value community, but the kind of community manefested in EC's requires something that does not often occur in LA: people being involved in the communities where they actually live. The church I attend, while a medium sized church, draws people from as far west as Encino to as far east as Pomona, a distance of over 50 miles! This is not uncommon in LA where many people communute many miles to mega churches. When I've talked with friends, they say that the value of community is high, but the ability to make it happen is very limited. Instead, people tend to find community in their work or gym or other local activities. If the church is going to have an affect in local communities, then participants in those communites of faith must start to engage their immediate neighborhoods.

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