The following interview is from a series I did as part of another project, GTHR.
From time to time we like to highlight community builders. These individuals captivate us. They draw us out. They invite us into a fuller way of being. They are relentless seekers of a simpler, more integrated, transparent, participatory version of ekklesia. One that reminds us of our beginnings and reunites us with our divine calling to be vessels of redemption for a world desperately out of order.
Their lives tell stories that beg to be shared. And we’re excited to introduce them to you, in their own words.
This week we’d like to introduce you to Paul Di Giordano. Paul is the founder of Lounge of Life, a Sacramento, California-based alternative night life experience that gives people a safe place to socialize without feeling the pressures of excessive drinking, drugs, and promiscuity.
In one sentence, what is your purpose, or reason to be?
Our goal is to redefine the way this generation has fun, one weekend at a time!
How did you come to be where you are right now?
I spent many years of my life masking my childhood hurts with partying that consisted of excessive drinking, drugs, and promiscuity. In my adult years I made this party lifestyle a career and began working in the nightclub industry. It wasn’t until Christ intervened in my life, finding me at my most broken and darkest state due to the lifestyle I was living! Jesus Christ met me on a couch at the bottom of my rope and my life has been changed ever since. He gave me eyes to see what is happening to our generation and has called me to combat this destructive lifestyle many young people fall into each and every weekend!
What big decisions along the way have brought you to the here and now? The ones where courage conquered fear.
Letting go of my dream of launching Lounge of Life. In my surrender God soon after gave me confirmation to go after it! It took courage to let it go and that courage conquered the fear of it not happening.
When did you realize you wanted to be in ministry? Any interesting moments as a child?
I knew God was calling me into ministry right after I got saved but it took me some time to get fully out of the nightclub industry. I remember I was doing a New Year’s party at our nightclub and the whole place was packed! Everyone was partying and intoxicated. I was looking over the club as we where doing the New Year’s Eve count down and the place was dark! The count down ended and we shot off confetti and released the balloons from the ceiling and I heard the Lord speak to me. He said, “Paul I gave you your gifts, abilities, and talents, you’re batting for the wrong team!”
Quite simple, but I knew right then and there I needed to leave my old life and surrender my life to God’s plan which was full time ministry. Six months out of the nightclub industry I ended up in ministry school at a local Church and have been in ministry ever since.
What’s your process these days for fostering community, relationships, and generosity (both within the community and abroad)?
At Lounge of Life we are big in fostering community, specially between the local Church. How we do it is by creating an atmosphere that is inviting and our team looks for opportunities throughout our night to meet new people and get them connected to our regular attendees. Relationships blossom and we encourage everyone to live life together. We are intentional about doing life together outside of our Lounge of Life events! When you foster community and relationships with people, generosity normally just overflows in time. Meaning people naturally want to get more involved. They soon want to give of their time and resources.
And when you’re not doing any of the above, where can we find you?
Hanging, with friends, reading, playing basketball, hanging with family, outdoors, traveling, shopping for clothes lol, going out to dinner, or going to a good movie.
Down time and work/life balance: How does this vibe with you? How do you make it all work?
This is challenging for me. I tend to make it all about the Lounge of Life at times, but the Lord has been correcting me in this and has given me a more holistic view. All the above need to be incorporated in my life that way it’s balanced and not all my energy is invested in one thing! Otherwise, when I feel the ministry is not going good my whole life tends to feels that way. I must be intentional about doing things that are not Lounge of Life related!
Most difficult situation to date?
Our current situation.
We’ve currently launched Lounge of Life in downtown Sacramento. The Lord opened the doors for us to move into an amazing space! In order to move in we needed to put $500 down on every Friday night which was roughly about $15,000. The Lord provided all these funds and we signed our 7-month lease for our new venue. A week before our first event we unexpectedly lost a huge recurring donation from a local business who supported us. The amount we lost was $3,750 a month, $45,000 a year! This was a huge blow and we knew a financial shipwreck was coming if things didn’t change.
Since the beginning of August we had to put the Lounge of Life on pause due to our financial situation. We’ve been praying like crazy and God has been confirming He’s with us and we’re still on the right course. We currently have no way out of the lease and we’re liable for every Friday night date agreed upon in the contract. This is definitely the most difficult situation we’ve faced but we believe it will have the biggest reward! The Lord’s ministry will not be shaken!
Biggest triumph / accomplishment?
Starting Lounge of Life and seeing lives changed through what God is doing through it!
What would you tell your five year-ago self?
I would say, Embrace the process, be flexible, and celebrate little victories.
Who do you look to for inspiration? Or, who madly lights you up and makes you want to chase down your dreams?
Jeremy Johnson at Fearless LA. The way they operate in such excellence and their out-of-the-box thinking is inspiring. I know we’re not a church but anytime we visit Fearless it inspires us to chase after the vision God’s given us for Lounge of Life.
Future plans? What dreams are in the pipeline?
We want to launch Lounge of Life, Food for the Soul as a full blown nonprofit restaurant, lounge, with a nightclub feel. Using all the funds generated through Lounge of Life to impact our region by meeting local needs. We also want to run a rehabilitation program parallel to Lounge of Life so we can help those with drug and alcohol addictions. The people in our program would work at Lounge of Life, Food for the Soul during the rehabilitation process.
What three pieces of practical advice would you share with someone who wants to create, shape, and inspire a community of their own?
Pray, Pray, & Pray! He has the blue print…
Any favorite methods, tools, or technology you’ve found to be essential?
Praying in needs and Behance.com; we use it to get a lot of inspiration for our marketing materials.
A personal mantra?
“A man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps.” — Proverbs 16:9
Where can we find you and your community online?