Los Angeles music executive helps bring hope to a city of broken dreams and illusion through church plant.

Ben Greene

Pastor & writer

  • Church planting & multiplication

In Los Angeles, many people pretend to be connected and perfected, a way of life where some Angelenos live one way and look another.

Aja and Armand Washington, who serve on the core team of Believe LA church, said most locals feel pressured to perform and appear successful through their clothes, how they drive and where they live.

“What’s so great about Believe LA is it’s in the same neighborhood as the Kardashians,” she said. “There’s so much pressure put on presentation, how you look to people.”

However, Jesus is changing the city’s script: He motivated Aaron and Adrian Lindsey to start Believe LA, a church of true friendship for people who hide the cracks in their armor.

“We just want to be a good, healthy, safe place for people,” Aaron Lindsey said.

A loving family, not a lonely facade

The multiethnic, intergenerational Converge congregation first worshiped together January 22. The church gathers in Calabasas, one of several gorgeous spots in the San Fernando Valley.

Many people move to Los Angeles to see their dreams come true and work hard enough to overcome an incredibly high cost of living. Yet, even when the dreams come true, some remain afraid to be seen as something other than beautiful and successful.

Proximity to Hollywood, plus the region’s history of wealth and human skill, reinforce reliance on family money, keeping up with the Joneses and what people — rather than God — have done.

Related: Another LA church is embracing the complexity of community with Christ.

Lindsey said young people sometimes try to make a mark on the world. But, some have a hard time bouncing back after that effort because of their choices while seeking success.

“We just want to be a place that serves folks in any of those seasons,” the pastor said.

Jesus knows that everyone’s life has embarrassing moments, sources of shame and struggle. The Lindseys know that and seek for Believe LA to offer people grace and truth.

“Once they hear how much God loves them, from somebody who cares about them, they’re open,” Lindsey said. “He loves you too much to leave you where he finds you. He’s going to love you — and love you into your best life, which includes changing some things about yourself.”

From their dream to God’s desire

Aaron Lindsey has worked in the music industry for three decades. He is still working as a music producer and composer. In 2014 he became an executive at Capitol Records, which God used to help him live and work in the city.

Through the Lord’s kindness, the Lindseys were right where Aaron wanted to be, doing what he loved. Then God shared that he, too, had a vision about life in Los Angeles.

“God said, ‘I have been making your dreams come true,” Lindsey said. “Now I need you to be about my dream, which is to plant a church.”

Now, Lindsey works as a producer and planter, a musician and a minister so that people in LA will believe in the Son whom God the Father has sent.

“We’re called to help serve the creative…with a particular emphasis on those who are in the arts,” he added.

Related: A Washington D.C. church embraces the artists so they know Christ.

Conference shows there’s another way

Before 2015, Lindsey said being a pastor wasn’t his plan, although he knew it might happen someday. His mother and father started an Ohio church in 1990 in Lindsey’s hometown.

Related: Press Church in Ohio uses two locations to show and tell the gospel.

As Lindsey became an adult, with clarity about his gifts, he wrote and produced songs with Israel Houghton and New Breed. Out of that, Lindsey received an unstructured ministry of discipling and ministering to people around him.

“I was content that that would be enough,” he said of the eternal impact of songs like I Am a Friend of God and I Am Not Forgotten.

His journey to pastor and plant a church quickly gained momentum in 2015 when he realized somebody could plant churches differently than he observed growing up. That perspective came through Exponential, a church planting conference.

“I didn’t decide to plant until I got around friends who planted healthy churches and had a system of planting,” he said. “That’s when I said, OK, I think I may be able to do it now.”

Don’t serve steak on a garbage can lid

Since Believe LA started, God has been working to change lives and accomplish the Lord’s saving work through the new church.

Armand Washington, who became friends with Aaron Lindsey before the church started, found that the Lindseys make themselves available to build others up.

“Over time, he became a person I could talk to and trust when I needed to have real conversations,” Washington explained. “Next thing we know, we’re being mentored and pastored right there at a barbecue.”

Such opportunities, Lindsey explained, happen because people in LA are spiritually open. But the church must communicate winsomely.

Lindsey’s father clearly and cleverly captured the right approach: “I love steak,” he once told Aaron. “But if you give it to me on a dirty garbage can lid, I’m not going to eat it.”

Washington said his background includes influences from family members who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. But he said he never practiced any form of faith until being part of Believe LA. Now he finds the Converge church a safe place where his faith can grow.

Believe LA befriends Angelinos by blending safety and challenge for those who see Christ through lenses of life rooted in harsh religious experiences.

“[Angelenos] know they’re judged by God,” Lindsey said. “They’ve heard that a lot. They know how unloved they are by the church. That’s not a shocker. What is a surprise is when they hear John 3:16 told truthfully.”

Related: A Pittsburgh church proclaims the center cross for those who’ve been hurt.

Armand Washington has realized how much the church means to him and his friends, some of whom attend Believe LA.

“I needed church. I needed this,” he said of Believe LA. “I didn’t realize how much I needed this. My friends didn’t realize how much they needed this.”

Before that conclusion comes, or sadly for the many who never hear, life continues without belief and authentic friendships. For the beautiful and successful, for the hardworking and hopeful, there’s something better than hiding and fake closeness, especially when life isn’t a Hollywood plot.

That something is the church, the dream of God for those far from him.

“These are some really nice folks,” Lindsey said. “They just don’t know how much Jesus loves them.

“It’s our job to tell them.”

Converge’s 10 districts have committed to deploying 312 church planters before 2026. Read more inspiring church planting stories and learn about the goal to send out 312 church planters in five years.

Ben Greene, Pastor & writer

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

Additional articles by Ben Greene