TogetherLA.net — our love letter to Los Angeles delivered for the first time in 2017 — has a focus on following God’s work.
It has been a wild ride ever since the website officially launched this past Valentine’s Day.
From exclusive interviews with pastors and Christian leaders to stories of church plants and ministry opportunities, we see God moving in L.A. and beyond.
A Year of Sharing Good News With All People
Sometimes it was a national issue that became a story for everyone. Other times, the issues and movement were all L.A.
Yes, we’ve had conversations about injustice, homelessness, and the Church, and we plan to have more. TogetherLA.net is about sharing good news with all people. However, it is the good news of the gospel as lived and breathed by followers of Christ, not sugar coated.
The most popular stories in 2017 included the words of two well-known pastors reacting to two tragedies that dug deep into the souls of most of us — violence in the streets of Charlottesville during a Unite the Right rally and the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting during a music festival.
Interestingly, TLA’s third most popular story touches on the subject of racism in a movie review piece from the editor.
We hope to bring you more stories in 2018 that follow God’s work and, prayerfully, further catalyze the impact of ministry workers and church leaders all over the city.
Top 7 Most Popular Stories at TogetherLA.net in 2017
1. ‘There Is No Neutral Ground Here,’ Erwin McManus Says to The Church [Interview]
“It is inescapable that the Evangelical church is seen as married to the present administration in Washington. Silence in this moment would be perceived as agreement and adherence to white supremacist ideologies,” best-selling author and Mosaic Church pastor Erwin McManus told TLA shortly after violence in the streets of Charlottesville erupted during a Unite the Right rally.
“There is no neutral ground here. You either speak against racism or you add credence to their views. I am convinced the Church is the greatest hope for humanity and for creating a new world where everyone is valued and embraced regardless of differences,” he said. “This is a critical moment in history and I want the church on record and on the right side of history.” >> READ FULL STORY
2. Why Did God Allow This To Happen?
Pastor Greg Laurie wrote this post shortly after the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting. He writes: A 64-year-old man armed with more than 12 rifles shot and killed 58 people in what is being called the largest mass shooting U.S. history. Hundreds more were wounded.
The question that comes to mind at a time like this is. . . Why?
Why did God allow such a horrible thing to happen? >> READ FULL STORY
3. ‘Same Kind Of Different As Me’ Rises Above Protests, Slogans on Racism
While most of the buzz about the movie Same Kind Of Different As Me released by Paramount Pictures and Pure Flix in the fall revolved around issues of homelessness, there is also an aspect of this true story that can’t be missed — racism.
The film vividly captures Denver Moore’s (played by Djimon Hounsou) deep pain as the result of living through racism manifested in all ways. However, the movie goes even farther than exposing the pain. It offers a solution to the problem and is presented in such a way that it goes beyond slogans and protests. >> READ FULL STORY
4. Steve McQueen’s Missing Bullitt Car: The Big Reveal [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO]
The huge success of Steve McQueen: American Icon as a one-night movie event in the fall led to two more special screenings and now a special edition DVD available at Harvest.org that is having phenomenal success as well.
The documentary helps to reveal McQueen’s journey to a faith in Jesus, not common knowledge about the actor described as Hollywood’s “King of Cool.”
In the process of working on the biography and documentary about McQueen (with Marshall Terrill), Harvest pastor Greg Laurie took a special interest in the discovery of the long-lost stunt car used in the film Bullitt.
Watch the video that’s included as a bonus feature on the DVD of Pastor Steve Wilburn and car restoration expert Ralph Garcia, Jr. telling the story of how the official validation of the car found in Mexico went down. >> READ FULL STORY/WATCH VIDEO
5. Greg Laurie’s Sunday Message From SoCal Harvest 2017: Ghost Bike
SoCal Harvest on the weekend of Aug. 18-20 featured musical performances by Crowder, Lecrae, Jeremy Camp, Jordin Sparks, Andy Mineo, Danny Gokey, Brennley Brown, worship by Phil Wickham, and a gospel message by Greg Laurie at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.
Harvest events are designed to be opportunities for Christians to invite family members, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances to hear the life-changing message of the gospel in an environment that is entertaining and nonthreatening.
Earlier in the year, Laurie announced a Year of Good News campaign that urged American Christians to make 2017 the year they “share the message of Jesus with everyone they can at every opportunity they can.”
6. Church Planting Legend Don Overstreet ‘Loved Everyone No Matter What’
“He loved everyone no matter what and believed in the ones most didn’t — Jesus style,” Kirk Overstreet said of his father, Don Overstreet, whose more than 50 years experience in church planting helped him share with countless church leaders in person and through his writing.
Don, who is a church planting legend had a hand in launching more than 500 churches worldwide, many of which were in the Los Angeles area, went to be with Jesus in early December. >> READ FULL STORY
7. Harvey Relief Efforts By Samaritan’s Purse and Salvation Army Intensify
The relief efforts by Samaritan’s Purse and Salvation Army during and after the Harvey storm flooding and hurricane wind damage in Texas was and is monumental. Both organizations put out the call for volunteers and their call was answered big time.
TogetherLA.net was able to echo their relief effort announcements with this post. >> READ FULL STORY
Solution For Proactive, Unified Church in LA is Already in Place, Says Rapper Propaganda
The solution for a proactive, unified Church in Los Angeles and beyond is already in place, rap artist Propaganda (Jason Petty) told Together LA off stage at the Catalyst West 2017 conference at Mariners Church in Irvine.
“The beauty of Los Angeles is how many amazing things various churches are already doing,” Propaganda said. “Often times we have this idea that we have to invent the solution for the city, but there is a lot of people already in the trenches somewhere.”
The practical approach or “practical unity,” as he puts it, for Christian leaders is to look for programs such as social services, outreaches, and serving the community that are already ongoing rather than to set-up new programs. >> FULL STORY
Urban Ministry, Church Planting Leaders Answer the ‘What Can I Do?’ Question
Simply discussing the problems and issues facing America today, even from a Christian perspective, is not enough, said the leaders of two national organizations that announced earlier in 2017 a partnership to plant churches in Los Angeles, New York, and everywhere in between.
“We really don’t have to look much farther than social media and news outlets [to see] everything going on in our culture — the racism, the injustice…,” said Jeff Bennett, who is a Stadia executive for its U.S. Church Planting and South Region divisions. “We can talk about the injustices, we can talk about the discouragement we feel, or we could do something.”
Stadia, a church planting resource that has helped “hundreds of great leaders start new churches,” and World Impact, a ministry that “empowers the urban poor and incarcerated” held a “vision trip” in Los Angeles where Bennett along with World Impact National Director Bob Engel spoke to TogetherLA.net about the partnership. >> FULL STORY
Clayton Kershaw: Find a Way To Put Jesus Into Every Part of Your Life
Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw shared during the team’s Christian Faith Day held during the 2017 season that baseball isn’t everything in his life and Jesus should not simply be part of your personal “pie chart” to be sectioned off.
Most Watched Event in US History?
This story has nothing to do with TogetherLA.net other than we chose the photo to use in our headline header for this piece. However, just so you know, Sky & Telescope reported that according to a study, a total of 154 million American adults — 62.8% of all adults age 18 or older — viewed the eclipse directly on Aug. 21, 2017. An additional 61 million adults who did not see the eclipse directly watched it electronically on a television, computer, tablet or phone screen. Up to 20 million Americans traveled to other locations to view the eclipse.
“The 2017 solar eclipse could easily be the most watched event in US history with 215 million observers,” Sky & Telescope stated.