This year has been nothing short of a miracle - or miracles - for Washington D.C.'s "theater church."
National Community Church, which earned its “theater church” nickname by meeting in movie theaters, thought it had acquired one of the last sizable piece of property on Capitol Hill last year when it purchased the old Mile Glass Company on 8th & Virginia Ave, SE.
But the unique church, led by Pastor Mark Batterson, was in for a surprise. The church was blessed this year with not just one but several major properties near Capitol Hill.
On Sunday, Batterson announced on his blog that NCC has signed a contract to purchase The People's Church, which occupies a former theater on Barracks Row.
National Community Church, which already has six locations, will launch its first 9 AM service in its 7th location on Palm Sunday.
"[W]e're praising God for a presence on the 'main street' of Capitol Hill," Batterson writes on evotional.com. "If I could handpick a location anywhere in the city, the 500 block of 8th Street would top the list."
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"Once again, God is positioning us in the middle of the marketplace," he says.
Pastor Michael Hall, and his wife, Terry, who are friends with Batterson, will relocate The People's Church to Maryland where most of their congregation lives. Hall's parents, Fred and Charlotte Hall, who founded the church, bought the old theater in 1962.
"We feel like we're not just buying their building. We also feel like we are inheriting and stewarding their legacy!" remarks the NCC pastor.
Aside from the old theater location, NCC now owns the entire face of Virginia Avenue from 7th to 8th street due to the recent purchase of an auto shop in January. The auto property initially wasn't for sale but four days after a prayer team laid hands to pray for the location, the church got a contract.
Batterson said he is "humbled" and "grateful" for the divine provision, noting that NCC now owns $8 million of property debt free.
"All I know is this: when God gives a vision He makes supernatural provision," he wrote on his blog earlier this month.
The church plans to build a vertical campus and underground parking garage, according to Batterson. Initial plans for the campus include a coffeehouse, performance theater, offices, and a ministry space for kids that doubles as a child development center, he said.
Despite the great progress, NCC intends to expand further, including to overseas.
Speaking to The Christian Post earlier this year, Batterson said the vision of NCC is to open 20 locations by the year 2020.
In addition to the Capitol Hill locations, NCC still meets in its birthplace, the movie theaters at Union Square, and several others including at the movie theaters at Ballston Common Mall in Arlington, VA; at Ebenezers, a coffeehouse on Capitol Hill which doubles as a church meeting location; and at Loews Theaters in Georgetown.
This fall, NCC, which is affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination, will launch a location in Maryland. The move will be followed by the church's first international site in Berlin, Germany.
If Batterson had to describe NCC in one word, it would be "Momentum."
"It seems like time of God's favor because we are in an awfully good place right to continue having an impact on the DC area," he had told CP.
"Our vision is to continue to meet in movie theaters. We feel they're a great marketplace environment."
Around 2,000 people attend weekly services at NCC, but many don’t stay very long. The congregation experiences a 40 percent turnover every year, according to the pastor. The phenomenon is not because attendants dislike the church but it is characteristic of D.C. – most are bound to leave in the same manner they entered.
But Batterson has no complaints about the "revolving door" at his church.
"We've come to embrace that. We love it. We feel it's an opportunity to influence someone whether it's two months or two years. DC is so transient and our church is a reflection of that," he said.
Batterson, who is also a bestselling author, said his dream was to pastor a growing church and write books that people read. Now, both have come true.
"I feel I couldn't be more blessed," shared the author of In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and Soulprint.
And regardless of where his writing career takes him, Batterson said he is committed to NCC.
"I want to pastor one church for life," he said. "I can't want to see what God is doing over the next 30 years."