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Church throws party for neighborhood

Becomes an agent of reconciliation for those who previously wanted nothing to do with church

December 20, 2011

A man standing with a film crew in a light.

Pastor Nick Warnes, Northland Village Church —Photo courtesy of Whitney Warnes at www.whitneywarnesphotography.com.

31-year-old Nick Warnes pastors a new church development in a Los Angeles neighborhood that is 40 percent white, 40 percent Latina-o and 20 percent Asian and composed primarily of de-churched people.  “Many told us it would be impossible to plant Northland Village here, because they would not welcome us,” says Warnes. “Other churches came in as heroes, trying to save the pagans. We recognized the kingdom of heaven was already here; we wanted to join in with what God was doing, becoming agents of reconciliation by coming alongside the other.”

In the neighborhood, Warnes saw that people were concerned about justice. Working with its de-churched neighbors, Northland began to recognize an injustice in how funding was distributed to schools in the neighborhood. “Instead of complaining, we wanted to help spring justice,” says Warnes. “So we created a mechanism where computers could be donated and money could be given to the schools that were receiving inequitable funding.” 

Recently a guy in the neighborhood came to Warnes saying, “I want nothing to do with church, but I feel like I need to give to your church.” Warnes could see there were lots of layers to this man, who had been spiritually hurt by the church. “I have no money,” he continued, “but I make beer.” Warnes told him, “You came to the right church.” Northland partnered with a local winery, throwing a party for the neighborhood where every person received beer made by the church. “I think it was quite appropriate,” says Warnes. “Historically Christians have been known for making the best beer; over the last 100 years that has not been the case in America.  Right in the middle of the bar, while everyone was trying a Belgian IPA, an intern at Northland delivered a sermon, talking about the radical hospitality of Jesus.”

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