Pastor Mitch Cariaga and the Grace Community Church of Rialto, California, were featured in last Saturday’s San Bernardino newspaper for their unique outreach to a younger generation. A portion of the article is reproduced here–to read the entire article click here.
RIALTO – A 50-year-old church has recast itself as a sanctuary for the thousands of young adults who feel church isn’t for them. Mosaic Rialto, a trendy church that uses a smoke machine and DJ during its services, is Grace Community Church reincarnated.
The chapel, with crimson curtains and low lights, is decorated like a loft; the lobby includes a coffee bar and plush couch.
Pastor Mitch Cariaga hopes the youth-friendly atmosphere will help him reach the heart of his community.
His church is one of hundreds nationwide that have joined the Mosaic Alliance, a movement of churches that want to reach their communities by presenting the Gospel in the format best suited for its audience.
“When I took over this church six years ago, we had about 15 elderly people,” Cariaga said in between the 9:30 and 11 a.m. services. “I really felt like we had to make a change or die.”
The change was not subtle. The Sunday before Halloween, Cariaga stands in the front row wearing red-tinted plastic glasses, blue jeans and a loud orange-blue-and-green striped shirt. His shaved and balding head bobs in cadence with a thumping bass drum.
Pastor Mitch, as he is known, jumps onto the stage at the end of the music set. When reading from the Bible, he sits on a wooden stool as if he were reading poetry at a cafe. He sprinkles his sermon with self-deprecation.
Christ, he says, is able to “break the family curse” not only male-pattern baldness but also stubborn sin. The offering, the most uncomfortable moment of church attendance for many Christians, is lightened with the sound of a DJ scratching records on a stage being filled with the fog of a smoke machine.
It’s too soon to know whether Cariaga’s goal of reaching young adults will be realized. But Mosaic members have bought into his vision.
“Church should be alive and really happy,” said Nadia Castaneda, who redecorated the church. “This should be a place were the average 28-year-old can come and just feel alive.”