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Day 2 - Workshop II

Snakes and Doves
Mark Batterson, Pastor of National Community Church in D.C.

Mark is a former Willow member and Trinity grad, who has planted a church in D.C. that has now grown to four sites in about ten years. It sounds like they are having a really positive impact on our nation's capital. National's vision is to meet in movie theaters (and near, or at, Metrorail stops) all throughout the city. You can visit them on the web at

From the beginning, Mark struck me as a very genuine, positive, God-centered man who really wants God's kingdom to come and not his own. It was only after a failed church plant in north Chicago, that he and his wife found God's favor in D.C.

He opened by wondering aloud if David ever went back to the battlefield where he defeated Goliath. Did Zaccheus ever return with his grandkids to the sycamore tree where Jesus called him from? Did Lazarus return to the empty tomb of his own resurrection by Jesus? We've lost the art of remembering (OT - altars) the places where God gripped us.

Mark walked through Matthew 10:5-16 and camped on verse 16, in which Jesus tells his disciples that they must be as "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves" as they go and preach the good news. What does this look like in a worship gathering context?

Part of this innocence, he argued, is checking our motives. Why are we in this? Is it for our kingdom or God's? Return to that place of a soft heart of humility and dependence, remembering that it ends and begins with God. Mark showed us a video of a baptism celebration that they had in the Patomic. It was very inspiring - taking us back to the basics of our motivation in ministry.

Second, we must be shrewder than a serpent. Eluding to the enemy being described as a serpent, we must be even more shrewd than it in our approaches.

We must know our culture. We must be able to exegete the culture - not just the Bible. Contextual intelligence has been found to be one of the top - if not the top - components of an influential leader. Do I "understand the times" (1 Chronicles 32)?

Mark said that one of the values of his church is that "irrelevance is irreverance." Chew on that. He said that they take incarnation seriously. Just becuase a church is reaching the culture doesn't mean that they are watering down the gospel.

Mark argued that we have forgotten (or never known) what it is like to enter into a worship service for the first time. Today, people like to sample. Websites, webcasts and podcasts can help people do just that. He said that a way we can be shrewd is to use technology for even more powerfully positive purposes than the enemy can use it for his.

This may have digressed from the topic of shrewdness, but he made a good point that too many people are wasting a lot of sideways energy in the kingdom - bickering and complaining about the little things that "those other Christians over there" are doing. He said that he was very tempted to be angry about some new church plants that were starting in DC theaters (that's our vision!), but instead they prayed for those church plants and gave them money to help them get off their feet. Cool.


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