Planting a Church in LA (Part 2): Majority Honestly Doesn’t Know God Loves Them

This September, Thrive LA Church in Silver Lake will celebrate our 1 year-anniversary.


Editor’s Note: Andrew Alesso, 29, is the pastor of Thrive LA located in the Silver Lake area. The church opened its doors just 9 months ago. Alesso is writing about his experience in an exclusive TogetherLA series, Planting a Church in LA. This article is the second in a series. You can read the first of the series, A Young Pastor’s Story, here.

I decided on the name Thrive while having brunch with my sister on a quiet Saturday in West Hollywood.

“What do you think that God feels about you?”

“I don’t believe in God.”

“I know. That’s fair. But if you did, then what would you guess?”

“Well, I feel really bad about myself when I go to church. I guess he’s mad at me or maybe he’s just ashamed of me.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Two days before, another friend had already told me that the name “Encounter Church” made him feel like we were going to attack him. I guess I already assumed that most middle aged, gay men don’t feel welcome in evangelical churches, but brunch with my sister drove it home with incredible clarity: The vast majority of people in our city honestly don’t know that God loves them.

Or, as another new friend put it after I shared the gospel with him, “God’s justice and standards make sense to me…. I just never would have guessed in a million years that Christianity is about loving your enemies.”

Planting a Church in LAI discovered that if we were ever going to lead our neighbors to faith in Jesus, then our church had to help them believe that the God of the Bible is actually for them and His laws are actually for their benefit! That’s why our mission is to invite our neighbors to belong, contribute, and thrive in the family of God as we make Jesus our savior and king.

Our neighborhood has been known as a church plant graveyard because of all the new churches that have failed to get off the ground. As one local said about our plans, “I wouldn’t think that people around here are interested in church.” It’s our job to build a church for people who don’t want to go to church. If I thought God hated me, I probably wouldn’t want to spend Christmas with him either!

That’s why we’re committed to building an inclusive family where people can belong no matter their story, and find purpose in contributing to the common good. We want to see people of every background loving their city and empowering others to invest their talents for Jesus.

We want to see people of every background loving their city and empowering others to invest their talents for Jesus. - Pastor Andrew Alesso, Thrive LA Click To Tweet

We’re praying that our community would genuinely want us to be here to minister. And guess what? God is paving the way. It’s slow work, but he’s opening doors and changing lives. God loves our neighbors. We just need to come along for the ride.

Planting a Church in LA: A Young Pastor’s Story



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