Saturday, September 27, 2008

THE REAL JESUS: a series on the Book of Mark

Since the Grand Opening on September 14, we have been in a series called THE REAL JESUS, a series on the Book of Mark.

Many of us create a picture of what Jesus is like from our past experiences or desires/imaginations. But a Jesus we create is nothing but a projection of ourselves, and this Jesus can't change us. In this series, we will look at the REAL JESUS as presented by Mark--the raw, unadulterated, unfiltered, straight-up Jesus.

This Sunday, we will dig into Mark 1:21-45 in a sermon entitled "The Authority of Jesus."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some of my thoughts on the current financial market credit crisis

I find myself very interested in the current credit crisis. This is a side of me many of you don't know. I am a student of the system. That's why I went to law school and that's why I am fascinated by what's going on in the financial market right now.

I am having a hard time figuring out what's going on out there. Ultimately, it seems like the government has to do something to create liquidity in the credit market. Banks are afraid to lend to each other and to their customers (which is crucial to the health of the economy). Banks are stuck with a huge amount of mortgage-backed securities with high percentage of the loans in the portfolio in default or foreclosure. This means that they are losing a lot of money and losing value of their assets. When they try to dump the assets in the securities market in order to raise money to cover their losses, they find that the market does not exist to unload their bad assets. No one wants to buy them! My understanding is that the government wants to step in and buy up bad assets (mortgage backed securities) in order to create liquidity for banks (so that they will lend again). The real issue I think is how much the government will pay for the bad assets. According to experts, it is very difficult to price the value of these securities because the market has dried up--the market does not exist anymore. So, the question is: how much is the government going to pay? The the answer to this question will determine how much it will cost the taxpayers, ultimately.

I think if the government is going to buy bad assets without really knowing the full value of the bad assets, the government should demand warrants (right to buy the stock of the company) on the amount the government lost on the deal. It doesn't seem to make sense to buy bad assets from banks to save the shareholders of the bank. I can see why it is important to buy bad assets in order to create liquidity in the financial market, but not to help bank shareholders!

If you know why the government is not requiring warrants, let me know. Is this on the table? If you understand what's going on, let me know if I am getting this right.

One other thought: I think the downturn in the housing market (although it is creating a huge mess in the financial market) might ultimately be good for young people and the poor who do not own a home. Ultimately, if the housing price comes down, the rental market also has to come down in the future because ultimately, the rental market is related to the housing value.

I think the biggest reason for homelessness is the price of housing. If that comes down, it's going to help the poor. This kind of market correction might be bad for homeowners like me but we have to think not only about own pocketbooks but also about the poor.

I hope the the housing correction creates a systemic shift that ultimately benefits the poor.

Let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pictures from the Grand Opening of New City Church

Here are some pictures of the Grand Opening Service of New City Church on September 14, 2008. I want to thank Sam and Dora Lim for taking these awesome pictures. Click here for all 196 pictures on picasa web album.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another Postcard Invitation Dropped Off at Post Office

Here's the fourth postcard invitation to New City Church. It was dropped off at the post office yesterday.

Exciting Grand Opening at New City Last Sunday

Last Sunday's Grand Opening was amazing. God is doing something in downtown LA and Grace and I are so thankful that we get to be a part of it. God brought almost 200 people to the Grand Opening. About 170 adults and 21 kids. There are a lot of positive buzz going around.

I will post pictures of the Grand Opening as soon as they are ready.

Here's an excerpt from an email from Bruce White of Stadia to fellow church planters and staff re our Grand Opening:

Club 740 – one of the hottest and edgiest clubs in the heart of L.A. – took on a totally different look and feel on Sunday morning, September 14, as New City Church of Los Angeles invited the residents of downtown to come and check out “the real Jesus”. 191 people (170 adults and 21 children) responded to that invitation.

As people streamed into the club, it was apparent that the vision of Pastor Kevin Haah for creating a “multi-ethnic, multi-socioeconomic” church was becoming a reality. I have never been in such a diverse environment, and I suddenly realized that I was getting a tiny preview of what heaven will be like: Asians, Latinos, Blacks, Anglos. Young, middle-aged, old. Students and blue-collar workers and managers and business professionals. Skid Row residents. Loft dwellers. Singles and families. New City Church truly is a church that “looks like downtown”.

Club 740 is an integral part of that downtown scene, and it’s definitely a unique place for a church. Located on Broadway, in the heart of the historic “Core District” of LA, this site formerly was the Globe Theater, a classic drama venue for Shakespearean stage productions. The beautiful balconies and gilt railings remain, but during the evenings this is now a place for loud music, dancing, drinking, and raucous behavior. In other words: this is where lots of unsaved people hang out to party, so it’s a safe and familiar environment for them. Many of these people would never visit a traditional church on Sunday morning, but they just might stop by the club to check out New City. By choosing to “do church” in such an environment, New City Church is making a bold statement about taking the gospel into the heart of the city. About becoming a church where everyone is welcome. A church that is willing to engage the world. A church that is available and accessible to lost and hurting people.

In such a setting, with lots of unchurched people coming in, it might be tempting to soften the message…but Kevin tells the story straight. He shared his vision for the church – and his heart for the city – in a very personal and touching way, and he invited the crowd to join him in a spiritual journey to meet and know “the real Jesus”. He gave a humorous, insightful, and compelling message, straight from Mark’s Gospel.

In addition to Kevin’s sermon, we heard a powerful testimony of life-change from Eugene, a former drug addict. We enjoyed great food (New City lays out fruit and pastries every week), friendly interaction, vibrant worship (even alternating between English and Spanish verses during one song), and a reflective time of communion.

We finished the morning with some personal sharing, as Kevin had everyone get into groups of 4 to introduce themselves to each other and to reflect upon the morning. This is risky for a new church, but it’s a great way to get people to break down the barriers and make some immediate connections. And it sure seemed to work, as I listened to the conversations breaking out all around me. And I had the chance to meet 3 great guys.

The core team of New City Church did a wonderful job of making everyone feel welcomed and included. And throughout the morning, as Kevin watched over the “up front” ministry, I continually noticed his wife, Grace, handling a variety of “behind-the-scenes” details.

Back in April, New City did a “soft launch” and began holding services with a small core congregation. This group has been meeting weekly to build community and to lay a solid foundation for future growth. The Grand Opening now takes New City to the next level and extends their reach into the city. We are excited to see what God is doing in downtown L.A., and we covet your prayers for Kevin and his team as they continue to engage in life-changing ministry in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Here's an Article in About New City Grand Opening

Sunday Marks a Grand Opening for New City Church
By Eric Richardson
Published: Saturday, September 13, 2008, at 08:35AM
New City Church of LA

Sunday service in Club 740, courtesy of New City Church.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Club 740, located in the historic Globe Theatre, isn’t the sort of place one thinks of when they think of church. The club’s website currently advertises a recent “Back 2 School” night featuring the scantily-clad “740 GoGo Dancers.”

And yet, for the last few Sundays the venue has served as home to New City Church, a growing congregation that started meeting just before Easter. In the time since, the church has grown from 15 to 70 attendees. This Sunday the church is having its “Grand Opening,” and Pastor Kevin Haah hopes the occasion sparks a new period of growth.

Club 740 is the third location for the church, which started out meeting in Promenade Ristorante, an Italian restaurant on Bunker Hill. For approximately three months the church met over in the Arts District, at e3rd Steakhouse. As the congregation continued to grow, they again needed to find a venue with greater capacity. Club 740 owner Ralph Verdugo was glad to host the church on Sunday mornings.

The church made its move in mid-August, and that first Sunday it learned that it can be a bit of challenge using a nightclub space just hours after it has closed. “When we first got there we were struggling a little bit because there was kind of that post-club, kind of alcohol smell that we couldn’t get rid of,” Haah recalls. “We didn’t know we had to ventilate the place. We learned that for the second week.” With the facility aired out, the space has worked out much better.

Haah likes the fact that the church integrates into the facilities of the community. “I really have no interest in owning real estate. We would rather be renters. We would rather invest our money elsewhere, to serve the city and to help the poor.” Haah also feels that the non-traditional facilities create a more approachable environment for those who might otherwise not attend a service. “We’re trying to reach out to people,” he said. “We’re trying to create a place where it’s comfortable for people to come to.”

Whether by neighborhood, or by setting, or by approach, New City has found itself a church that’s highly diverse. Haah notes that roughly a quarter of the congregation comes from Skid Row, a neighborhood where Haah ministered for several years before starting New City. The core group that started the church spanned multiple ethnicities, and that make-up has stayed diverse as attendance has grown.

For the rest of the article, click here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Downtown Artwalk is Amazing!

Downtown Artwalk is a blast. There are thousands of people just walking around going from one gallery to another. New City tabled at the corner of 5th and Main and we talked to a lot of people. Some of the comments we got were: "Man, you guys are everywhere." "I've have several of your invitations." "I'll be there." We've had a lot of positive feedback from people. Several volunteers came out: thanks to Joe, David, Rocky, Clarence, Shelly, Chris, for tabling, and Greg and Brian who stopped by.

I also went to Phamaka Gallery where some of the artists I know from Skid Row were showing: Gary and Wanda. Their art work was amazing! Never knew what could do.

OG Man was also featured in a documentary about Skid Row artists called Humble Beauty. They showed it at Los Angeles Theater last night. It was a great documentary. I went to see it and it felt like a little reunion of the Alpha Course at Skid Row. It was great to bump into several of my old friends there.

Downtown Bloggers Blogging About New City

Downtown bloggers are starting to blog about New City. Here's a link to, one of the most popular downtown blogs and what they wrote about us.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My Friend OG featured in Skid Row Artist Documentary

I have known OG for several years. He is a community activist and artist in Skid Row. I have one of his drawings hanging in my office.

They are showing a film about Skid Row artists in which OG is featured this Thursday night at 7 pm at the Los Angeles Theatre Center! More info on the film and the artists featured in the film, go to

An Article in Downtown News about our very own Ron Crockett, Skid Row Activist

Toy Story
New Skid Row Program Gives Kids a Chance to Play
by Ryan Vaillancourt
Downtown LA News

The Huntington, at 752 S. Main St., is home to about 240 low-income residents, including approximately 20 families. When Manning, the hotel manager, first thought of bringing new activities to the children in the neighborhood, he turned to Skid Row activist Ron Crockett.

Crockett, whose penchant for teaching sports to area youth brought on the nickname Coach Ron, lives blocks away from the Huntington in another South Main Street hotel. He too had been eager to do something positive for the youth in the community, he said.

After consulting with Manning, Crockett went to County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who then linked the hotel with the toy loan program, Blachman-Benitez said.

At the Huntington, Crockett, who runs the program with the nonprofit Pasadena Altadena Community Youth Association, has tinkered slightly with the county's toy loan model by combining it with a fledgling reading program.

Children who participate earn points by reading and writing short essays about their book. Once they've amassed enough points, they become eligible to sign out a toy from the loan program, he said.

He hopes that in the coming months, the program will attract the attention of Downtown Los Angeles residents interested in volunteering to read aloud at the twice-weekly sessions, or propel some book donations. The hotel's library consists of two small boxes containing about 50 titles, most of which are tattered and worn. But that did not deter Judee Suazo, 10, whose mother keeps a room at the Huntington

For the rest of the article click here.

If you want to volunteer to read to kids in Skid Row, let Ron know!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Grand Opening of New City This Sunday (9/14)!

The Grand Opening is coming up this Sunday, September 14. God is doing some amazing things. He has taken a small group and grown us to a group of about 50 people committed to the church as core team members and about 70 people attending on Sundays. Our worship services actually look reasonably creative and organized. Our Community Groups are growing in number and intimacy. We have laid down some of the basic framework and are ready for the Grand Opening of the church.

Here are a few recent pictures of the new venue at Club 740:

Please pray for us, and if you can, drop by the Grand Opening this Sunday, September 14 at 10am. I'd love to see you.

Today, I dropped off the third direct mail postcard invitations at the post office.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Second Direct Mail Postcard Invitation to the Grand Opening

I dropped off the second batch of direct mail invitation postcards today. Here they are:

We also put up posters all over downtown residential area and talked to many people inviting them to New City.

Please pray that God will continue to use New City to connect people to himself.