Attending church in a theater? No, that is not a misprint, it's the plan of the National Community Church, a DC area congregation that is trying to change the concept of how congregations and churches work.
“It just made sense for us to, in a sense, go to them instead of them come to us,” said Mark Batterson, lead pastor of NCC. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful blessing,” said Dave Schmidgall, campus pastor of the GALA Hispanic Theatre location.
NCC also found it less expensive to rent a location than to buy property for a church building.
“The idea of being one church with multiple locations was birthed out of necessity,” Schmidgall said.
As it is a new location, the church will not immediately be able to offer certain services that are available at their other locations. NCC has not decided whether or not services will be translated into Spanish, but it is something they are considering for the future.
Childcare will not be available, at least during this point in the launch. However, according to the demographics of the area, the age range for the majority of expected members is 25-34. Only one-fourth of the area population is married.
Parking will not be an issue because services will take place in an area designed for crowds of people. There is a nearby parking garage available, and the location is easily accessible by Metro.
This launch is part of a NCC plan for 20 locations in 2020. Already located in three movie theaters and one coffeehouse in the Washington, D.C. area, NCC plans to launch its newest location Easter Sunday.
Being allowed to hold a weekly service at the GALA Hispanic Theatre, which is part of historic Tivoli Square, has provided a door for the church to reach out to another local community.
“I think it’s a really great area for NCC,” said Amalie Gorbold, an NCC member who lives in the Columbia Heights area. “I’m excited, I guess more than anything, about the opportunity that is there.”
A staff of 26 members from NCC will hold the first service at the GALA Hispanic Theatre at 10:30 a.m. Easter morning. The morning time slot is temporary, and every service to follow will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday evenings.