(Photo: National Community Church video screen grab)
Mark Batterson, lead pastor of D.C.-based National Community Church spoke recently about the importance for Christians to live out their faith beyond simply church attendance.
"A church that stays within its four walls is not a church at all…you can't go to church because you are the church…we believe that your job is your pulpit, that your colleagues are your congregation. This isn't about a religious duty each weekend, it's about living out our faith Monday through Friday," said Batterson during last Sunday's sermon.
In talking about the church, the pastor said it should position itself to thrive "in the middle of the marketplace." He also emphasized that the church needs to be the most creative place on earth.
"What gets us up in the morning is the fact that there are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet," said Batterson. "If you want to reach people that no one is reaching, you have to do things that no one is doing."
During his message, he also focused on NCC's testimony of how the congregation grew to a seven multi-site church soon after they began to give to missions when they were in need themselves.
"I honor those who sacrificed some of the amenities that they could've found in some other church to be a part of something they believed God had planned and purposed for the nation's capital," said Batterson.
Batterson and his wife began the church with 19 people during the 1996 snow blizzard that paralyzed the entire Washington, D.C. metropolitan area for days. At the time, the church's monthly income was $2,000, $1,600 of which went towards covering rent expenses at the D.C. public school where they held services. However, Batterson says it was during this time that he felt the church needed to give to missions.
His conviction was based on the concept of giving with sacrifice while he hoped God would provide their needs in return. On September 1, 1996, Batterson recounts that NCC wrote out a $50 check towards missions, which was "money we didn't have." The following month, the church's giving tripled without having to preach about tithing or asking for money, he said during the sermon, while urging the congregation not to "despise the day of small beginnings."
Since then, the church has increased in size and financial resources, allowing them to give $1.8 million last year to international mission causes.
"God will bless us in proportion to how we care for the poor in our city and how we give to missions...I believe that one mission trip is worth more than 52 sermons," said Batterson as he explained that he wants NCC to have a missionary team involved in international work each week of the year.
He added, "When your heart begins to break for the things that break God's heart, that is the foundation of God doing work in your life. I don't think that happens as often as when you listen to a sermon than when you go and be the hands and feet of Jesus."
In addition to their outpouring in donations through tithes and offerings, NCC has also given over $813,000 of their Ebenezer coffee house's proceeds to missions.