October 18, 2018

LoveHouse Is Becoming Center of Influence in Costa Rica

Edith Guix, Inter-American Division News

A new worship center known as LoveHouse in San José, Costa Rica, is becoming a center of influence thanks to a committed group of Seventh-day Adventists who are striving to reach city dwellers across the capital city.

The center was formed by a group of church members and opened its doors for worship on Friday evenings and Sabbaths (Saturdays) in February 2018. Affiliated with the church’s South-Central Costa Rica Conference, the center began offering a number of classes and activities last month.

The concept of LoveHouse is to satisfy the needs of people in innovative ways with contemporary-style meeting sessions of spiritual growth on Fridays and Sabbaths (Saturdays), and it has become a unique new project in Costa Rica, LoveHouse leaders said.

“The philosophy of LoveHouse is designed and based in the method of Christ, seeking to be a bridge to the heart of people who can gradually join the group of Adventist believers,” said Barbie Ramírez, one of the board members at LoveHouse.

“Many may hesitate to go into a church simply because it’s a church, but at LoveHouse they can find something that they need,” Ramírez said.

Kevin León, who is also a board member of LoveHouse, said the center is meant to reach individuals without any religious roots, who at some point went to church, or maybe have visited a church very sporadically, or left the Adventist church, or do not belong to any church denomination.

“Some people may be hurting or are resentful because of a bad experience, some may not be used to congregating or may have prejudices about religion,” said León. “We try to use a neutral, friendly, and understandable language for those who are not familiar with terms and the church culture. We are basically in evangelistic campaign mode every week.”

The worship programs consist of a Bible study based on the Sabbath School quarterly, a sermon, prayer, testimony time, and praise music on both Fridays and Sabbaths, organizers said.

The three-story rented facility welcomes more than 150 people every weekend and draws dozens of middle and upper-class professionals during the week to its music classes and practice sessions, exercise classes, family counseling, Bible studies, and more.

District pastor Victor Burgos, who oversees the LoveHouse group, said that the worship center functions as a three-fold ministry: as a worship center with a dynamic and attractive liturgy; a preaching center to reach professionals ages 25-45; and as an urban center of influence in service to the community.

“As an urban center of influence, it will develop a community of professionals who will serve and make a great impact in any community needy of orientation and training to combat extreme poverty,” Burgos said.

The center is applying for official status as an urban center of influence through the proper channels, starting with its regional union, the Inter-American Division, and the General Conference, he said.

Almost two years have passed since a small group grew into what is LoveHouse today, organizers said. Working to increase attendance, the small group of members donated funds and continues to seek out ways to grow. Currently, they are in talks to become part of the Urban Cities of Influence program led by the Adventist world church, said Marcos Milliner, treasurer of LoveHouse.

“We have seen a steady exponential growth since a group of eight members began to meet in the living room of a home, then moved to a small warehouse, a multi-purpose room at the South-Central conference, to where we are now with 150 people,” said Wesley León, one of the founders and group board members.

Six people have been baptized, and another eight are studying the Bible to get baptized soon, he added.

LoveHouse members are looking forward to expanding their impact to the community, a vision they keep focused on, leaders said.

“LoveHouse will make its facility available to the community for events, conferences, business meetings, talks, and workshops. It will also become a cultural and artistic center, a school of music, language school, cooking school, health and nutrition center, and location for healthy lifestyle expos,” said Edson McField, a member and one of the founders.

The plan is to also offer spiritual counseling by Adventist pastors, complemented by psychological counseling, and counsel in the legal, business, and financial areas, McField added.

According to McField, an after-school program will begin at the LoveHouse facility that will include music and language classes and more.

The goal for LoveHouse is to expand its impact by pursuing authentic and passionate worship, pointing to the gift of salvation in Jesus, and sharing God’s love to everyone who comes through the doors, LoveHouse leaders said.

The LoveHouse facility has a main auditorium that can fit 250 people, eight other rooms and offices, a kitchen, and a fellowship hall.

The South-Central Costa Rica Conference church region is composed of 81 churches in the area of San José, Costa Rica.