In the years leading up to 2014, Venice Church was facing a difficult decision. Although the church had a long and vibrant history that spanned nearly 80 years of sharing the Gospel with the residents of Venice, Santa Monica, and surrounding communities of western Los Angeles, the church had reached a crossroads. Attendance was down to less than fifty, giving could barely cover operating expenses, let alone much needed facility maintenance and upkeep, and the senior pastor had informed the congregation that he was stepping down. Members of the church found themselves considering three possibilities: They could search for a new pastor who be willing to take on an incredible leadership challenge and accept a modest salary in one of the nation’s most expensive communities, they could shut the doors of the church, cease operations, and sell the property, or they could merge with an existing church that could take breathe new life into the local church, honor the legacy and sacrifice of those who had built the church in previous generations, and reach a whole new generation for Jesus.
In 2014, Venice Church began conversations about the possibility of merging into the EastLake Church network as one of the network’s multiple locations. Through dialogue, exploration, and prayerful consideration, the members and leadership of Venice Church made a bold and daring decision by voting to join EastLake Church as its newest location and first church in the Los Angeles area.
In the years since, Venice Church has not only survived, but thrived. Weekly attendance is now over 350 and growing across three Sunday services, and the church was honored to welcome over 900 people to Easter services this past spring. The EastLake Church network has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate and revitalize the worship space, including both presentation technology (lighting, audio, video) as well as upgrades to the appearance and physical plant of the facility. Additionally, the EastLake Church network has assigned gifted and experienced leaders to guide, shepherd, and teach this thriving young congregation.
Through it all, Venice Church has become a greater version of what it had once been and never stopped striving to be – a dynamic and growing church that goes into the world to help its people help others find and follow Jesus.