The Gift of Inclusion (Part 2)

A few years ago a small tribe of us wanted to reach out to people who felt excluded (for one reason or another) by the Church… and so we created, what some people called a ‘Church in a Bar’.

After much experimenting… or trial and error, we came up with a model that suited our characters, personalities, skills, gifts, shared vision and the perceived need before us… which was to throw a party once a week (sometimes twice) and invite people to come share a meal, a bit of music, some poetry, story telling and good old fashion banter. We would provide all the food (3 course meal), wine, music and an incredible venue, a shared live-work space (decorated and loved by James Alexander Langteaux) in an industrial part of LA. This phenomenon became known as ‘The What Club?’

15 people attended our first soirée. Most of them were not sure what we were up to but they had such a great time that they each asked… “can we invite some of our friends to this party next week?”

“Yes of course” we answered and within 6 months or so we had more than 300 people attending our weekly ‘church in a bar parties’… and on the odd occasion more than 600 turned up which was a bit much for our tribe of 11 people and a dog to manage.

The big event of each week occurred on a Thursday (the old new Friday) and we would work through the afternoon to have everything ready (stage, sound, ambience, wine/drinks and meal) by around 7.30 and by about 9-ish our house band (me, Tony and Susan Green, James Langteaux, Michael Campion and many others who would sit in from to time)…  would play a mixture of my songs, some worship, a song or two requested from the audience and or songs we would make up on the spot. We would do this for about an hour, then we would invite others to perform their music… sometimes we would play with them and other times a whole new band would get up on stage and play. 

These were the best days of our lives… and we really had something going on… because people just never wanted to leave. We would be kicking the last body out the door in the wee hours of the morning… and then we’d clean up the place and, when the sun was rising, crawl into our own beds.

These parties were more fun and more satisfying than you could ever imagine. I made friends with people that I would not have met without these kinds of gatherings.

The keyword for us was and remains today… inclusion. We were doing nothing more than including people in our little bubble worlds, sharing our brokenness, our hopes, dreams, our disappointments  and our faith. There were no tall fences or barricades for anyone to climb over.

“If you come a knocking, there’s always room for one more”

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  1. Reading this literally brought tears–Chris what a beautiful recounting of the most magical years ever! I can never thank you and Karyn enough for all the love and effort – care and generosity you poured into that special season. And to this day people are connected in very special ways because of that season of exquisite inclusion.
    I love the memories and I love you guys for a million different reasons but mostly because you are such a beautiful reflection of authentic love!

    1. Hey James… my fellow partner in these crazy adventures. I have been enjoying reading of your exciting journey lately too… the story continues where ever we are. Your friend always, Chris

  2. Hey hey my my… Why am I so NOT surprised that you’re doing such a wonderful thing? My love to you Chris and Karen and crew sounds fantastic! I wish I could blink my eyes and be there but definitely with you in spirit and exploring much the same type of ‘gathering’ here ..
    Will bookmark your site. And look forward to hearing and sharing any of your music thanks Chris!

    1. Thanks Michelle and yes I can imagine you slotting right into our tribe here in LA. Still… the model works anywhere and maybe soon we can visit Oz and help others kick off these types of gatherings. Lots of love ‘The Falsies’

  3. Wonderful, Chris – this was a surprise to come upon. All by someone on FB asking to friend me. I was dubious and there was only one mutual friend – had to see who it was. You. Wow. Of course, I’ll friend him. You know the saying… A friend of yours is…

    God bless your work and may you forever enjoy it as not work.

    D. Lorenz

    PS: Tim says “hi”

    1. Thanks Nadyne… for the kind comments and for befriending my good old friend Robert from my home town (like you he has been cheering me on from the sidelines for years). Say hi to Tim. Hope to see you guys soon. Chris

  4. This is so….. Chris! I love it Chris. Hopefully, when/if I make to Calif I will make sure to attend.
    I love your work, music, style, ideas (such as this), and your love for the Lord!
    I remember when you performed several times at the “Curry Club”; I believe it was called in Stony Brook area. That was an awesome night!
    Hope to see you back in NY soon Chris, would love to introduce my nephew to you. He is 16 yo and an incredible guitar, bass, acoustic player and now he is learning piano and drums! He found the Lord through music, as I took him to the youth group (Pulse) almost 2 years ago and he has been Saved, Baptized in the ocean at Summerfest and loves the Lord.

    1. Thanks Ray. Yes the Curry Club… I played there a few times and I must write some of those stories down in this blog soon. Thanks for reminding me. I hope to be out there sometime soon. I do miss NY. Cheers, Chris

  5. Those were fun times. I have some great memories of The What Club. I sort of grew up after that era. Chris, I’ve always admired you and what you get yourself into sometimes.

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