Monday, February 4, 2008

Church Planting

A word on church planting from the book unChristian:
(Note especially the last paragraph)


I went into church planting with the traditional mindset: meet in rented facilities until you can buy or build a church building. Then God strategically positioned National Community Church in the middle of the marketplace. NCC started meeting in the movie theaters at Union Station. Not only is Union Station the most visited destination in the nation’s capital – approximately twenty-five million people pass through the Station every year – it also has 125 retail shops, a food court, a train station, a metro stop, and movie theater.

In our early days, well-meaning pastor friends would ask me when NCC was going to get a “church,” as if a church without a church building isn’t a legitimate church. Part of me wanted to say, “Have you seen our church?” After all, not too many churches have their own subway system or food court. Why build a church building when you can meet in Union Station?

As NCC began to reach unchurched and dechurched twenty-somethings in DC, there was a moment when I realized that even if we could buy or build a church building, there was no way we could vacate such a strategic spiritual beachhead. And doing church in the middle of the marketplace became part of our spiritual DNA. Our vision is to meet in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the DC area. NCC also owns and operates the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill. Ebenezers opened for business on National Coffee Day – March 15, 2006. In 2007, it was voted the #2 coffeehouse in the metro DC are by AOL CityGuide.

So why did we build a coffeehouse instead of a church building? Because Jesus didn’t hang out in synagogues. He hung out at wells. Wells weren’t just places to draw water. Wells were natural gathering places in ancient culture. Coffeehouses are postmodern wells. To borrow the sociological term, our coffeehouses is a third place where the church and community can cross paths.

Along with serving coffee day in and day out, the performance space at Ebenezers doubles as a sanctuary for two Saturday night services. And most of the attendees are neighbors and customers.

Too many churches expect unchurched people to come to them, but the church is called to go to unchurched people. The church is called to compete for the kingdom in the middle of the marketplace.

Mark Batterson
pastor , National Community Church

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