I recently visited National Community Church in Washington, D.C. I wanted to visit for several reasons:
- They are located in a very urban environment as we are.
- I really resonate with Mark Batterson’s blog and books
- They started very similar to us (a small number of people made up of mostly students and singles).
- They have a fresh and innovative way of doing church.
One of Mark’s mantras is, “There are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet.” I believe that. For example, they own and operate a coffeehouse on Capitol Hill called Ebenezers. It’s not a “Christian” coffeehouse. It’s a full fledged for-profit coffeehouse with the profits going to fund local outreach and world missions. It just so happens there is a church that meets in the coffeehouse on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. They have a separate meeting space downstairs, decked out with flat screens, a stage, top of the line video and sound equipment, and a cool atmosphere. On Saturday nights the message is recorded and then used at their six other locations on Sunday. They also rent the space out for events during the week. Mark calls the coffeehouse a “modern day well.” Wells in ancient times were community gathering places. In Mark’s words, it’s a place where “the church and the community can cross paths.” Recently, their church also purchased a church that was formerly a movie theater. In line with their vision, they are going to turn it back into a fully operational movie theater that just happens to have a church meeting in it!
I love their creativity and ingenuity, especially for urban church planting. Space is too precious…and too expensive to use just once a week. As I was talking to Mark, he also shared that they want to be in places that have a lot of foot traffic to create maximum opportunities for people to have exposure to the church. That’s what happened when they originally started meeting at Union Station.
Long before we ever heard about Ebenezer’s, we have had a vision to have an excellent coffeehouse; a place where the church and the community can intersect. Not a church with a coffeehouse or café attached, but a coffeehouse that happens to have a church meeting in it. In fact, if we are going to ever lease or buy real estate in Harvard Square, I don’t think it can happen unless we approach it as a for-profit business. Not only is it bad stewardship for us to use a building a few times a week, but many of the properties are most likely zoned for business.
I’m just doing a little thinking out loud. None of this is solidified yet. It’s part of our long term vision to reach a city.
Thanks National Community Church and Pastor Mark for what you guys do! You inspire me!
How about you? You have any creative ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet?