NAIMA LETT – BLOG – HOLLYWOOD CHRISTIAN
Red Velvet VIP Church – Are You On the List?
RED VELVET ROPES & VIP LINES
In Hollywood, we’re used to red velvet ropes and VIP lines… particularly here in the Hills. But when I first moved to LaLa Land several years ago and experienced VIP seating and celebrity-only ‘church’ services, I was undone! “What part of James 2 did we miss?” I insisted.
When I spoke with fellow pastors in the area, the consensus seemed to be that red velvet protocols, VIP sections and creating safe spaces for celebrities to worship were a distinct feature of “doing church in LA”. Boundaries were set to counteract folks who didn’t quite know how to treat celebrities like normal, fellow worshipers. It probably didn’t help that some within church leadership were also considered celebrities and treated as such (showcased, for example, on Oxygen’s controversial new reality show, Preachers of L.A.)
My experience, up to that point, had been the opposite. I had beautiful opportunities to befriend, work with and counsel celebrities, building normal relationships. “Celebrity” didn’t seem like a big deal because so many LA folks work in the biz. We could appreciate and affirm one another’s work without fainting like fans of Michael Jackson. And besides, all of us in the Body are in the same family of God, right? When we worship together, our Lord is The Celebrity. We all bow before His throne. Who needs VIP Lists and roped-off seats to worship?
WHAT HAD HAPPENED (AT OUR CHURCH)
But then, one of my celebrity friends visited our budding new church plant, Hope in the Hills in Beverly Hills, as we work towards our public launch, and I couldn’t believe the response. Worshipers forgot lyrics. Normal conversation ceased. I laugh now, but at the time, I was shocked because I had taught so much about “no respect of persons”. Thank God nobody asked for an autograph. LOL! We’re a lot more mature now, but what an experience!
The truth is Church in the LaLa is… DIFFERENT. Kevin and I are determined to model and teach our generation to love one another as God loves us without partiality. But in the meantime, our LA pastors DO have to make announcements like “Said celebrity is our sister in Christ. Please allow her to worship freely without tweeting photos or posting to Facebook…” OR “Please don’t bombard with business cards. Our brother is here to worship not finance your next film.”
Why do we have to do this? Because there’s always that one person who believes God arranged for him to meet that celebrity that day for his “big break”. If we’re honest, we might admit that it’s kinda selfish, isn’t it? To expect fellow entertainers, many whom are broken, to meet our needs at church instead of allowing them to fellowship with us and our Lord. Do we no longer see each other as human beings? As family?
And before you throw us all in Tinseltown under the bus, think about a person of notoriety that you admire the most. If he or she visited your church this Sunday, could you allow him/her to worship freely? Or would you stare in fascination, noting their every move, as we have been trained (by media & social media) to do?
ARE YOU ON THE LIST?
If we’re not fans of church VIP lists, why do we now have one? Are we hypocrites? No!
Our list is a SECURITY LIST, not VIP LIST. In our new move, the Lord has shown us much favor, and through relationships, opened the door for Hope in the Hills to rent space to worship on Sundays at Sinai Temple, the oldest and largest conservative Jewish congregation in the Greater Los Angeles region. Rabbi David Wolpe leads the congregation and is considered the most influential Rabbi in our nation. Like all the synagogues in our area, heightened security is a MUST. Thus, we have to submit our SECURITY LIST (like the studios) by Friday 2 PM, before everyone leaves for their Sabbath.
So, we are not red-velvet-roping you. But, we do need your name on the SECURITY LIST by Friday 2 PM. Please RSVP online. Thanks a million!
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
So, what are your thoughts? How would you teach equality in the Lord while also acknowledging the special needs of our really DIFFERENT community dynamics?
Food for thought from the LaLa,
PS Thanks for your patience, as I was so busy over the last couple of weeks helping co-chair and plan the USC Cecil Murray Center Community Development Conference and our Faith Leader Institute Graduation. Everything went wonderfully. It’s good to be back up and blogging again. Talk to me!
Rev. Naima Lett, D.MIN, ABD
The Hollywood Christian®
Author of coming release Confessions of a Hollywood Christian®
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