Light pours into newly remodeled Church at Clarendon, a beautiful building a stone's throw from the Clarendon Metro stop. The Baptist church, led by interim senior pastor David Perdue, has about 170 regular attendees. Perdue spoke to The Washington Examiner about the church's outreach and vision for loving others.
Your church has been hosting a series of talks called "Blunt Questions," with questions like "Can you believe in science and Christianity?" and "What does God have against sex, drugs and rock-n-roll?" What's the aim of the series?
To connect with people who aren't normally a part of the church community. That's the primary purpose. But there's also a purpose for us who are already connected, and that is to further our understanding of God.
It's been very popular. It's been successful in that it encourages intellectual engagement. We believe we're called to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Loving God with our minds involves intellectual engagement.
Do you believe the way to reach people is through their head, and not their heart? Or vice versa?
My passion is reaching people, so I want to do that with whatever way we can. I think this is a very highly educated, highly intellectual area, and so I think it's worthwhile to invite people into provocative conversations that encourage intellectual engagement. At the same time, this area can be a very lonely area. So the other thing we push hard and emphasize is being a community, being a family. This is a place where people can belong, where people can be connected --just hanging out in whatever way we can. We're playing tackle football this Sunday.
You've tried different ways of "doing" church in your 15 years as a pastor, including helping to start a church in Crystal City. What has worked? What hasn't?
I think for me it's not so much a matter of what works and what doesn't work. It's more a question of being true to who God's calling us to be. My wife and I are both very relational people. We place a high value on being authentic and being real. So our Sunday morning services are not the most polished services in Northern Virginia. There's a messiness to them sometimes. And that's OK. We will sacrifice polish and professionalism for the sake of authenticity and involvement. We're trying to be true to who we are as individuals and have that intersect with who God is calling us to be. The music we choose on Sunday morning is not music we choose based on demographic surveys or anything. It's music that we like and music that we think our congregation likes.
At your core, what is one of your defining beliefs?
That God loves people, and I'm meant to love them as well. One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Luke 15 --the parable of the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to go after the one lost sheep. That's a defining passage for me -- to do whatever I can to reach out to people who are lost or hurting or in need of God.