Schaumburg, Illinois: On the first full day of the FCA-U.S. Convention outside Chicago, keynoter Mark Batterson received a warm response after introducing himself as a “failed church planter” for his attempts to start an Illinois congregation soon after seminary. He went on to establish the now-thriving National Community Church in Washington, D.C., which serves some 1,700 worshipers each weekend in 10 services at seven locations–mostly movie theaters close to Metro stops.

“Doing church in the marketplace has become part of our DNA,” Batterson explained. “The movie screens are, for us, a post-medieval version of stained glass, where we tell the gospel in visual form.

“And I’m convinced that some of the best ways of doing church haven’t even been thought of yet. We need to let the Holy Spirit come and sanctify our right-brain imaginations.”

With a staff of 35, National Community Church is the spiritual home to some 70 percent young singles in their twenties, mostly professionals working in government and other agencies. That’s one reason the church owns and operates “Ebenezer’s,” largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill. Batterson talked about his “20/20 Vision”–to hold weekend services in 20 locations across the D.C. area by the year 2020.

The road thus far has not been entirely easy. The church spent its first five years meeting in a public school with no air conditioning. Only then came the chance to use the movie theater at Washington’s famous Union Station. “All of us in the ministry want a miracle. We just don’t want to be in a place that necessitates one,” Batterson noted.

In his second address to the convention, he cited texts from Joshua 1, 3, and 6, urging his audience to claim God’s promise of a “new land,” then take a step of faith (“enter your Jordan”), and finally, to “keep circling” until the walls of Jericho fall down. He described his repeated prayer walks for space to use in the expensive Capitol Hill area, and how God eventually brought a $3 million gift to the church. “Don’t let your budget determine your vision,” he urged. “The God who gives you vision will give you provision.”

Batterson is the author of four popular books, starting with In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (Multnomah); two more books are currently in development.

Other Wednesday sessions at the convention included a missionary recognition service and workshops on such topics as prophetic ministry and leadership development.

The afternoon business meeting included reports and budget approvals, plus the endorsement of board officers for the next two years:

President: Derek Forseth (Seattle)
Vice-President: John Sprecher (Rockford, Ill.)
Secretary: Mike Jankowski (Center Moriches, N.Y.)
Treasurer: Carl Johnson (New City, N.Y.)
Members-at-Large: David Carlson (Moreno Valley, Calif.), Dan Hammer (Everett, Wash.)

The convention continues through to Friday.

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