Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Evangelical Manifesto

Here's an interesting story about An Evangelical Manifesto coming out of, among others, Fuller Seminary, my alma mater. I am looking forward to reading it. It seems to be saying some much needed stuff. Check it out:

'An Evangelical Manifesto' criticizes politics of faith

Conservative Christian leaders who believe the word "evangelical" has lost its religious meaning plan to release a starkly self-critical document saying the movement has become too political and has diminished the Gospel through its approach to the culture wars.
...

The statement, called "An Evangelical Manifesto," condemns Christians on the right and left for using faith to express political views without regard to the truth of the Bible, according to a draft of the document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

"That way faith loses its independence, Christians become 'useful idiots' for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology," according to the draft.

The declaration, scheduled to be released Wednesday in Washington, encourages Christians to be politically engaged and uphold teachings such as traditional marriage. But the drafters say evangelicals have often expressed "truth without love," helping create a backlash against religion during a "generation of culture warring."

"All too often we have attacked the evils and injustices of others," the statement says, "while we have condoned our own sins." It argues, "we must reform our own behavior."

For the rest of the story, click here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thinking about moving to downtown LA? Check this out!

Here are two articles (Her view and His view) from LA Times that list the benefits of living in downtown:

HER VIEW:

Lofty living for less: Downtown move pays dividends

By Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 27, 2008

Something wonderful and completely unexpected has been happening since I moved from the hills of Sherman Oaks to a downtown loft this winter: My wallet has been getting fatter.Part of the windfall has come from trading my hourlong, 20-mile morning crawl down the 101 Freeway for a leisurely 1.4-mile stroll or bike ride to work. That means $160 less in gas expenditures each month. Cha-ching!

But keeping Big Oil's grubby paws off my hard-earned cash isn't the only benefit. There are so many other financial upsides to moving closer to the office and downsizing one's living quarters that it's a challenge to tote them all up.Downsizing may even be an overstatement. I've cut back from 1,800 square feet to about 1,400, which still seems bigger than Rhode Island.

Consider these savings:

For the rest of the story, click here.

HIS VIEW:

A walk to work on the wild side: Life in the city center exercises the body and the senses.

By Patrick McMahon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 27, 2008

Since late May I've been living the loft fantastic above busy 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles. Exciting it is; peace and quiet it isn't. ....

From my fourth-floor window, I'm serenaded by the nighttime chatter of people lining up at the whiskey bar nearby and occasional shouts in the dark. And who knew there were so many different kinds of sirens? It is scandalous how rats are allowed to run free around the open trash bins in the alley across the street. Dozens of them can be seen at night. The city must know that people bed down in that alley. None of it really seems to stop a good night's sleep, and all in all, I'm settling into a comfy downtown life.

This is a name-happy city. On my new commute, I walk through the Civic Center, Gallery Row, the Historic Core, the Old Bank District, the Financial District, the Jewelry District.

More the rest of the story, click here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Email to New City Team: We're Moving Into Club 740 on August 17

Dear New City Church Team,

I want to thank you for all of your prayers, feedbacks, and comments about the possibility of moving to Club 740 for our Sunday gatherings. Having carefully considered all of our comments and the options available to us (which is none after an exhaustive search of downtown), having talked to many people, mentors, and Christian leaders for advice, and having prayerfully sought out directions from God, I am convinced that God is leading us to Club 740. So, we have entered into a written use agreement with Club 740 today. They have agreed to rent us the space for $___ per Sunday (which is less than e3rd), which pretty much covers his added costs. This is an extremely generous deal. Ralph Verdugo, the owner, actually gave me the key today. He also agreed to allow us to use their lighting system, sound system, and video projection system. They will also clean up the space before we come in. They will give us storage space downtown stairs. He also said that they will replace the carpet within a week or two (which is a big relief). They are getting biddings on the carpet replacement right now.

I’ve also worked out a parking arrangement with the parking lot right in front which is operated by Joe’s Parking. They agreed to give us a 20% discount on parking.

My biggest concern (and several of you as well) has been about our children’s ministry (and the perception that our church is not for families with kids). Christine and I are committed to making the space inviting and fun for kids. But, this is going to take a lot of work. Right now, the kids’ space pretty much feels like a basement. We have to make it feel like a special place. One idea is to make the room like underwater world by putting up underwater d├ęcor and curtains all around the space as well as color foam tiles on the floor. If you have any ideas or if you are good at making a space inviting for kids, please let Christine know. We need your help. We believe it is possible to make the space inviting and fun for kids!

We are also going to need more people for our set-up and break-down team. We have to set up the children’s ministry space. In addition, we want to make sure we comb though the entire space to make sure that the space is safe for kids. And most importantly, we want to make sure we pray over the space every Sunday morning.

As you know, our Grand Opening/Hard Launch is 9/14. We are planning a four-part direct mail campaign to 20,000 homes in downtown LA. This means each home will receive four postcard invitations one week apart. So, they will get the first one on 8/20, and three more postcards, one week apart. The campaign will be called “WHAT IF the church was like Jesus.” A concept of the campaign is attached to this email. A graphics designer is already working on this. If you have any comments, let me know ASAP. The exact wording will be changed as per some comments I received already—I have not yet incorporated them yet; so it’s not final. I anticipate that some people who receive the postcards will want to come out to our church before the Grand Opening Sunday. So, we need to relocate before the first direct mail postcard goes out. So, that means we should move on August 17. So, that’s our plan right now.

I want to ask you to continue to pray for our Grand Opening and Launch. Please pray, pray and pray that God will use us to extend the Kingdom of God in downtown LA!

For the Kingdom of God,
Kevin

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Jefferson Bible: A Perfect Bible for Moralistic Religion

Here's an interesting article in LA Times about Thomas Jefferson's Bible:

Nation's third president compiled the four Gospels into a single text without miracles that ends with Jesus' burial rather than the resurrection.


By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer July 5, 2008

Making good on a promise to a friend to summarize his views on Christianity, Thomas Jefferson set to work with scissors, snipping out every miracle and inconsistency he could find in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.Then, relying on a cut-and-paste technique, he reassembled the excerpts into what he believed was a more coherent narrative and pasted them onto blank paper -- alongside translations in French, Greek and Latin.

In a letter sent from Monticello to John Adams in 1813, Jefferson said his "wee little book" of 46 pages was based on a lifetime of inquiry and reflection and contained "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man."

He called the book "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth." Friends dubbed it the Jefferson Bible. It remains perhaps the most comprehensive expression of what the nation's third president and principal author of the Declaration of Independence found ethically interesting about the Gospels and their depiction of Jesus.

For the rest of the story, click here.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • This is a perfect example of one's existing paradigm trumping God's revelation.
  • If you have a Bible like Jefferson's, the Word of God will never change you.
  • It's a perfect example of the view of Christianity as nothing more than moralitic teachings of Jesus.
  • Take the Gospel out and you have "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth" by Thomas Jefferson.
  • People do it now all the time mentally.

Our Prayer Letter Sent on July 4

Wow! Time flies when you're having fun! It's been so long since I last wrote to you. I hope you are doing well. Here's what's going on at New City Church:

Where We Are Now: Two-Stage Launch Strategy

We are a church in the process of being planted. We are using a two-stage launch strategy. We "soft" launched last Easter, meaning that we started to have worship services, but we have not "hard" launched yet. The major goals since the "soft" launch have been to develop and train a core/launch team to about 40-50 and develop ministries and systems to facilitate discipleship and outreach. We have been faithfully doing that and our core/launch team is now about 40. So, we are now preparing for our "hard" launch, our Grand Opening, on September 14.

A Potential New Venue for New City: Club 740

In order to accommodate the anticipated number of people at our Grand Opening and afterwards, we have been looking for a new venue that can handle at least 150-200 people. Our current venue, e3rd restaurant, can only accommodate about 80 people max. It has been extremely difficult to find a venue in downtown. I have looked at every possible place--hotels, theaters, nightclubs, restaurants, empty spaces, schools, centers, etc. They are either too expensive or not workable for us. We have recently found a new potential venue that may work for us. It is a nightclub called Club 740. It is a converted old Globe Theater (a Shakespearean theater built in the 1920s). It is in the middle of downtown at Broadway and 8th. There is a large parking lot right in front of the club. The generous owner offered the Club to us at an unbeatable price (just his added cost).






Grand Opening on September 14, 2008

Our goal is to invite every resident of downtown LA and create a buzz about New City. We will do a direct mail campaign to approximately 20,000 households four times over the four weeks leading to the Grand Opening. We will put up signs all over downtown and plaster our flyers and invitations everywhere. We plan to hand out water bottles and invitations at downtown concerts in Pershing Square. We are going to table in front of Ralphs in Downtown. We are going to train our core/launch team members to invite all of their unchurched friends and family. We have a team of people planning all kinds of creative outreaches.

We've Moved: New Home Address

New City is a downtown LA church, so we wanted to live close to downtown. We finally moved from Santa Clarita to La Crescenta (not exactly downtown, but we couldn't afford downtown) a couple of weeks ago. Here's our new home address:

Kevin and Grace Haah
2760 Franklin St.
La Crescenta, CA 91214
(818) 306-8385

Prayer Requests

-Downtown residents opening their hearts to the gospel
-Continued development of our core/launch team to 50-60 by September
-Prayer re possible new venue at Club 740
-God would bring many unchurched people to the Grand Opening
-Our Community Group (small groups) launch in 2 weeks
-Building a worship team
-Training people and creating a system that facilites development of fully devoted disciples

Financial Needs

New City is still in need of financial partners. We are looking for people who will partner with us financially for the next 3 years, after which we expect to be financially independent. Would you be willing to invest in the extension of the Kingdom of God $50-$500 per month for the next 3 years?

We love ya!

Warmest Blessings,
Kevin and Grace Haah