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n o i t c a r T SPRING 2014

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n o i t c a r T We want to help you find traction in your spiritual life and gain momentum in becoming the person God has called you to be.   We are all hard-wired for belonging.  Traction is designed to tell the stories of life change that people have experienced because of the relationships they have found at NCC, and it highlights opportunities to connect to community for those of us who still need it. 



y h W & w o H Groups o D e W 6

Small groups are gatherings that meet regularly – usually weekly – and are designed to provide an opportunity to connect, grow, and serve. Visit to find a group that interests you.

How to Join a Small Group

Email the group leader for further details.

Show up.




We were meant to do life together and we believe that community happens best around shared interests and passions, so we have a variety of groups – from Bible studies and sports groups to service groups and book studies.

Regardless of the type of group, the purpose of each one is to create a place where we can grow to become more like Jesus -- to model His character, ways, and mission to the world.

Jesus came with a mission to reconcile the world to God and restore creation to its intended state, and He charged his followers with continuing that mission. Small groups aren’t meant to be insular communities but rather units of the Church on mission with God, bringing the light and love of Christ to those around them.


Have questions about groups?

Contact your Small Group Director:

BALLSTON Sharon Simon




Will Johnston

Robert Ashley

Maegan Hawley




Joshua Symonette

Emily Hendrickson

Jared & Jessica Johnson


Where Do I Start? IF YOU ARE















e h t k r o W Stan , n a l P 10

Mark Batterson Mark is the co-founder & Lead Pastor of NCC, NY Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker and lives on Capitol Hill with his wife, Lora, and their three kids.

Work the plan.


hose three words have become a mantra that Lora and I have repeated a lot lately. Whether it’s managing your time, your money, or your marriage, you need to get a plan. Then you need to work the plan. Why? Because failing to plan is planning to fail. In the words of Stephen Covey, “Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant.”

destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.2 So what seeds do you need to plant in 2014? One of my all-time favorite quotes is a Dallas Willard classic: “Not going to London or Atlanta is a poor plan for going to New York.” That is painfully obvious. Yet I’m afraid that is how many of us approach our spiritual development. We can do, and must do, better than that. So one of our top priorities at NCC is to help you develop a spiritual growth plan. After all, you can’t work the plan until you get a plan. And it always starts with the spiritual disciplines. A reading plan, service plan, and prayer plan will help you get where God wants you to go. Throw in a fasting plan and God will take you further and faster than you’ve gone before. Because each of us is unique, each plan will look a little different. But if we each work the plan God has given us, God is going to do amazing things in us and through us in 2014.

The more trips I take around the sun the more I believe in long obedience in the same direction.1 Do what you know is the right thing to do. Then do it again and again and again. You cannot break the law of sowing and reaping. It will, however, make or break you. Think of planning as planting. If you plant the right seeds in the ground relationally and financially and spiritually, you will eventually reap a harvest of righteousness. You just need to work the plan the way a farmer works the field. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap

In this issue, we’ll guide you through how to make plans in the following areas: your spiritual life, your community, your finances, your family, and your physical health. We’ll even talk about plans that fail, and why failure is a key ingredient to success. So grab a pen and a journal, and start planning!

1. Thanks to Eugene Peterson for this little saying 2. Galatians 6:7-9


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Maegan Hawley Maegan serves on the Discipleship Team at NCC where Traction is one of her favorite projects. She and her husband Jeff attend Georgetown.

Developing Spiritual Foundations Through Disciplines


allas Willard said, “Superficiality is the curse of our age.” He also claims that instant satisfaction is a spiritual problem, and that what the world needs today is not a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but deep people.

Disciplines are about regularly connecting with God. Spiritual disciplines call us to move beyond surface living and develop spiritual foundations of substance. The result is typically more of those things we were hoping for from God in the first place: more joy, more freedom, more peace. Instead of seeking those things directly, disciplines help us seek God directly.

Spiritual maturity is something we grow into. It requires our active participation, and it requires discipline. Disciplines don’t have a great reputation in today’s instant gratification culture. If we’re so focused on disciplines, will our faith become legalistic? Will we quench the Holy Spirit if everything is so planned out? Are we at risk of doing a bunch of things for God and not being with God?

Planning the work and working a spiritual plan doesn’t need to be complicated. Included here is a Bible reading plan, and instructions to make your own plans to pray, journal, serve, and fast.



Prayer Prayer is a conversation with God

Jesus ca lls us to b e genero expectin us witho g anythin ut g in return .




Make a list of what you want to pray through this semester – include othe rs and yourself.

Schedule three tim es to serv following e in the ways this s emester: your tale your time nt, and y , our reso urces.

Create a schedule, and set an alar m on your phone or calendar to remind you.


re wha s us captu lp e h g n Journali ically. us specif saying to

Fasting Fasting is the discipline of abstaining from something to grow closer to God. It can bring spiritual breakthroug hs that would never happen in any other way.

t God is



ou t struck y thing tha e n o y rd thing ou , reco E a c h d ay ding, one a re re tu yer. r Scrip ered pra from you r a n a n sw o r, fo g use are prayin ible and ith your B w l a rn u r jo Keep you ther. e g them to

Participate in Lent by fasting – what do you want to give up during Lent? Pre-determine your parameters. When will you break from your fast? Decide how you will add prayer. Reflect on what God is teaching you through journa ling, and find a way to share it with somebody else.

If you are a follower of Jesus and have never been baptized, please be part of our next baptism on April 19. Here’s why: OBEDIENCE. Obey Jesus’ command and imitate His example. MILESTONE. As graduation marks finishing school and a wedding marks the beginning marriage, baptism marks your faith journey. IMPACT. Your family and friends will celebrate... and be impacted. Email for more information.


Alpha is a ten-week course that explores the basics of the Christian faith. Whether you’re investigating who Jesus is, revisiting your faith, or looking for answers to life’s questions, Alpha is for you. To RSVP for a kickoff dinner near you or for more information, visit or email


Bible Reading Plan February

March 1 – April 20

A Proverb a day! There are 31 chapters in Proverbs. With practical wisdom from King Solomon, a Proverb a day is a simple yet profound habit. Don’t worry about catching up if you miss a day – practice being present by reading the Proverb for whatever date is “today”. In the month of February, we’ll discover what the Bible has to say about generosity and serving.

From Ash Wednesday on March 5 to Easter Sunday on April 20, we’ll observe the season of Lent by fasting. Kickoff your lent reading with the sermon series on March 1.

February 1 February 2 February 3 February 4 February 5 February 6 February 7 February 8 February 9 February 10 February 11 February 12 February 13 February 14 February 15 February 16 February 17 February 18 February 19 February 20 February 21 February 22 February 23 February 24 February 25 February 26 February 27 February 28

March 1 Deut. 1, Mark 1 March 2 Psalm 6 March 3 Deut. 2, Mark 2 March 4 Deut. 3, Mark 3 March 5 Genesis 3:19 Ash Wednesday March 6 Deut. 4, Mark 4 March 7 Deut. 5, Mark 5 March 8 Deut. 6, Mark 6 March 9 Psalm 32 March 10 Deut.7, Mark 7 March 11 Deut. 8, Mark 8 March 12 Deut. 9, Mark 9 March 13 Deut. 10, Mark 10 March 14 Deut. 11, Mark 11 March 15 Deut. 12, Mark 12 March 16 Psalm 38 March 17 Deut. 13, Mark 13 March 18 Deut. 14, Mark 14 March 19 Deut. 15, Mark 15 March 20 Deut. 16, Mark 16 March 21 Deut. 17 March 22 Deut. 18 March 23 Psalm 51 March 24 Deut. 19, Luke 1 March 25 Deut. 20, Luke 2 March 26 Deut. 21, Luke 3 March 27 Deut. 22, Luke 4 March 28 Deut. 23, Luke 5 March 29 Deut. 24, Luke 6 March 30 Psalm 102

Prov. 1, Lev. 19:9-10 Prov. 2, Isaiah 61 Prov. 3, Matt. 5:12-16 Prov. 4, Matt. 6:1-4 Prov. 5, Matt. 6:19-24 Prov. 6, Matt. 7:12-14 Prov. 7, Matt. 23:23 Prov. 8, Matt. 25:31-46 Prov. 9, Mark 10:44-45 Prov. 10, Mark 12:41-44 Prov. 11, Luke 3:11 Prov. 12, Luke 6:38 Prov. 13, Luke 10:25-37 Prov. 14, Luke 12:33 Prov. 15, Luke 14:12-14 Prov. 16, Luke 18:18-23 Prov. 17, Acts 2:44-45 Prov. 18, Acts 3:1-10 Prov. 19, 2 Cor. 8 Prov. 20, 2 Cor. 9 Prov. 21, Gal. 5:13-14 Prov. 22, Phil. 2:1-41 Prov. 23, Tim. 6:18 Prov. 24, Heb. 13:15-16 Prov. 25, James 1:27 Prov. 26, James 2:15-16 Prov. 27, 1 Peter 4:10-11 Prov. 28-31, John 3:16


Bible Reading Plan March 31 Deut. 25, Luke 7 April 1 Deut. 26, Luke 8 April 2 Deut. 27, Luke 9 April 3 Deut. 28, Luke 10 April 4 Deut. 29, Luke 11 April 5 Deut. 30, Luke 12 April 6 Psalm 130 April 7 Deut. 31, Luke 13 April 8 Deut. 32, Luke 14 April 9 Deut. 33, Luke 15 April 10 Deut. 34, Luke 16 April 11 Luke 17 April 12 Luke 18 April 13 Psalm 143 April 14 Lam. 1, Luke 19 April 15 Lam. 2, Luke 20 April 16 Lam. 3, Luke 21 April 17 Lam. 4, Luke 22 April 18 Lam. 5, Luke 23 April 19 Luke 24 April 20 Easter

April 26 April 27 April 28 April 29 April 30 May 1 May 2 May 3 May 4 May 5 May 6 May 7 May 8 May 9 May 10 May 11 May 12 May 13 May 14 May 15 May 16 May 17 May 18 May 19 May 20 May 21 May 22 May 23 May 24 May 25 May 26 May 27 May 28 May 29 May 30 May 31

April 21-May 31 Every year, we set aside time for a series called Voices to hear from a collection of voices outside of NCC. While our reading plan won’t follow along with the sermon topics, we’ll be reading perspectiveshaping stories and reflections from some of the Bible’s wisest people. April 21 April 22 April 23 April 24 April 25

Ruth 1 Ruth 2 Ruth 3 Ruth 4 Ecclesiastes 1


Ecclesiastes 2 Ecclesiastes 3 Ecclesiastes 4 Ecclesiastes 5 Ecclesiastes 6 Ecclesiastes 7 Ecclesiastes 8 Ecclesiastes 9 Ecclesiastes 10 Ecclesiastes 11 Ecclesiastes 12 1 John 1 1 John 2 1 John 3 1 John 4 1 John 5 2 John 1 3 John 1 Philemon 1 Song of Solomon 1 Song of Solomon 2 Song of Solomon 3 Song of Solomon 4 Song of Solomon 5 Song of Solomon 6 Song of Solomon 7 Song of Solomon 8 Jonah 1 Jonah 2 Jonah 3 Jonah 4 James 1 James 2 James 3 James 4 James 5


FEBRUARY 7, 2014 6:30-8PM | BARRACKS ROW Her Voice exists to connect women to life-changing communities. Join us for conversation between Lora Batterson and Denise Marks, and to find a women’s group at your location.



MAY 23-24, 2014 LISNER AUDITORIUM, GWU HEIDI.PASTIAN@GMAIL.COM Ladies, please join us for the Beautiful You Conference this year! This is an opportunity to gather with women from the DC area and gain wisdom, vision, and insight. The speakers for this year are Christine Caine, co-founder of A21 Campagin, and Priscilla Shirer. Come for the opportunity to be refreshed and renewed. 



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Leo Lestino Leo is a [self proclaimed] jolly nerd whose love language is pork and has watched Pitch Perfect approximately one billion times. He attends Barracks Row

A Risky But Worthy Profession of Faith


believe in the communion of saints.” I was taken aback as Anne, our retreat leader, said this with such conviction. I was having dinner with a group of NCC leaders gathered for a weekend retreat out in the country. I honestly can’t remember what we were talking about, but I do remember how Anne’s statement hit my heart.

sanctorum? (I love fancy Latin!) As an article of our Creed, we, as Christians say we believe in this as much as the Trinity, death and resurrection of Jesus, and eternal life. Yet, I’m not sure we give it as much weight as those other things we profess. I certainly didn’t. I had, and still struggle against, a “God and me versus the world” approach to faith.

I remembered how, as a kid, I learned and recited the Apostle’s Creed from memory in church, and that nestled between serious doctrinal stuff like the Holy Spirit, the church, and the forgiveness of sins, is this fly-over phrase I had kind of ignored: “I believe . . . in the communion of saints.” I thought, back then, that it meant that ritual where we, led by our colorfully-frocked Pastor, ate Styrofoam-like stuff loosely called “bread” and drank instant cavityforming grape juice.

However, over the past few years God put me in the middle of the communion of saints that call National Community Church their home. Here, this largely-ignored profession of belief came to life for me, not through extensive doctrinal study or poring through old books (not to say I don’t enjoy that nerdy stuff), but through intentionally finding, forming, and staying in community. The opportunities to practically profess our belief in the communion of saints exist, but that does not mean it’s easy.

But, as I looked around that night and saw a group of very different, gifted, and broken people enjoying each other, good food, and sharing a common passion to see Jesus genuinely glorified, I thought “Huh. The communion of saints.”

It’s a somewhat risky, yet totally worthy, profession of faith. SMALL GROUPS (SOMETIMES IN SMALL PLACES) An INTP, with intellection, achiever, connectedness, strategic, and maximizer strengths, and gifts in teaching and hospitality.

I smiled at Anne and silently repeated to myself: “I believe in the communion of saints.” FINDING COMMUNION What does it mean to believe in and be part of this “communion of saints” – the communio

All of that would have been gibberish if not for my first foray into small groups four years ago.


Some situations are downright uncomfortable for introverts like me. “Oh, you want me to go to some stranger’s house, with a group of people I probably don’t know from Adam, for two hours, where I’ll be asked to reveal things about myself?” It’s a cringeworthy proposition for an introvert. But after attending NCC for a few months, I craved more connection. I wanted to move beyond “attendee” status. I wanted to be PART of. However, I discovered that to do that, I needed to move beyond the just-every-Sunday approach to church.

you heard me. We took tests together! On purpose!) how God has wired each of us uniquely. We also shared and processed that discovery with the group. While that kind of sharing is normally not my cup of tea, I cherished it so much because of the affirmation I received. Simple words like “I can totally see that in you” or “what a blessing to have that strength” were life-giving. And more importantly, I heard what others discovered about themselves and was able to affirm them in return. The initial discomfort was natural, but I discovered that my introversion was not a free pass to ignore the call to community – and certainly not worth enough to forego its blessings.

Though we often wish otherwise, community doesn’t just “happen.” Intentionality matters. Having a plan matters. Being willing to enter uncomfortable situations matters. I could sit and recite, “I believe in the communion of saints” until I’m blue in the face, but only until I actually commune with the saints will I make that profession of faith truly my own.

A year later, I started pondering leading a small group myself. I was living in a tiny basement studio on Capitol Hill, so I was very hesitant. The excuses started rolling: “My place is just too small. People would be uncomfortable. I don’t have enough seating. I don’t have a dishwasher. It’s dark down here. Blah blah blah.” However, my friend, Will Johnston, encouraged me to jump in by telling me how he led a small group from his tiny apartment a few years before and found amazing community himself. (Also, have you met Will? He’s VERY persuasive. It’s like small groups are his job!) So I, armed with uncomfortable folding chairs, lamps borrowed from friends and disposable paper plates, jumped in.

I had to decide that my desire to be part of and connect was greater than the potential for discomfort. I had to get off my comfy Sunday-only existence and place myself in situations where I could find people to be in community with. In short, I had to plan to be in community, and then work the plan. Since God just LOVES taking me outside my comfort zone (sometimes I think a little too much), I found that the only group that would work with my schedule at that time was Portfolio. Portfolio is a small group where we discovered, through a bunch of tests (Yes,

I found that when I risked a few small steps towards community, whether signing up to join a small group,


or even signing up to lead one, community warmly embraced me.

become a mentor, an accountability partner, and most importantly, a valued friend. The entry point to that depth wasn’t scary; it was simply sharing the joy of our common interests. And yes, we still talk about (and watch) musicals. And nerdy movies. And we fry things. (And eat them, of course).

CHANGE OF PLACE, CHANGE OF PACE… YOU KNOW It’s one of my favorite Pastor Mark-isms. Change of place + change of pace = change of perspective. There are many opportunities for these routinebreaking experiences at NCC like mission trips, retreats, or what I like to call Triple S (Second Saturday Serves), which require a greater, intentional investment of time. But I’ve discovered that these change of place and change of pace experiences, when done with others, can yield more than a change of perspective – they can also birth deep friendships.

I’ve heard many, many similar stories: how this mission trip served as extreme bonding for this group of strangers, or how these two people passionate for a cause met during a service project and are now serving in a God-venture together. People who stepped out and stepped into small group life. People who decided to invest the time into a changeof–place-and-pace experience and found life-giving and lasting relationships. These people professed, not by word but by intentional deed, that timeless profession of faith – “I believe in the communion of saints” – and found themselves transformed.

A few months after coming to NCC, I found out Pastor Heather was leading a weekend retreat called “Sacred Roads.” I love getting away from the busy madness of the city, so I signed up. I learned a lot from that retreat about the various paths of discipleship and which ones I gravitated towards.

Rowan Williams, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, puts it like this: “The communio sanctorum . . . isn’t some kind of club for the spiritually gifted; it’s simply the relationship that holds together those who recognize and express their adoption by God. And so this sharing becomes tangible and visible when Christians are together just breathing the air of Christ, making real in words and actions who they are in relation to Jesus. . . [A] community in which people are constantly being brought into new life by being given a new relationship with God and each other.”

But my biggest take-away from the retreat? I got to hang out a lot with a guy named Ryan. We talked about musicals. Yes, musicals. And we professed a common love of the Lord of the Rings movies. And fried things. I don’t think we would have had the opportunity to connect had we not left our busy routines in the city and had this retreat experience together. Now, I can’t express how grateful I am for Ryan’s friendship. It has been literally life-saving. He has

I believe in the communion of saints. Do you?


My Community Plan Relationships require time and investment to grow. This plan will help you take the next steps toward deepening your relationships.

Plan The Work What friendships do you need to begin?

What friendships do you need to be more intentional about?

What friendships from the past do you need to revive?

Work The Plan Pick a small group to join: Visit to find a group that fits your schedule and interests. Email the leader.

Who are you investing in?

Show up! What has kept you from forming community?


Who is investing in you?

Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer Everybody’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them by John Ortberg

Find a Group

Alpha theaterc FOTC theaterch theaterc



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Kevin & Nico Stemple Kevin and Niko were married in the DC area 11 years ago and live in Alexandria with their two kids. They attend Kingstowne.

Finding Peace in Your Finances


o matter your life stage, putting your finances in order is rarely fun. However, being wise with God’s provisions is part of spiritual discipline.

The group fellowship is also important to the success of focused stewardship as people open up about fears and struggles. Understanding that others have similar challenges provides encouragement.

When we needed to tighten our purse strings, we turned to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU). It was amazing to see anxiety melt away as we lived under FPU principles. That led us to believe God was calling us to host a young married couples small group to help others experience this freedom.

We discovered “working the plan” really works! When we are disciplined with God’s allowance, He shows up in ways we never dreamed. While there are many stories, one example concerns an ordinary experience many of us have in life -- a major car expense. One couple from our small group had been working the FPU plan and had an emergency fund with surplus, giving them perfect peace in a normally disappointing situation.

FPU explains God’s financial plan and how to direct money through stewardship. Dave’s roadmap to prosperity gives instruction on budgeting, paying off debt, building wealth and, ultimately, giving it away. As Dave says, “live like no one else, so you can live and give like no one else.”

Working the Plan is not always easy, but in the end seeing how God directs our steps brings us closer to Him.


My Financial Plan The only subject Jesus referenced more times than money was the kingdom of God. He taught that money is a matter of the heart, making money management one of our most spiritual activities.

Work The Plan What was one budgeting success from the past year?

Plan The Work Make a budget. If you don’t have one, go to to download a basic budget worksheet. Make a list of your debts. Create a debt payment schedule for 2014. Tithe regularly. If you aren’t already tithing, what percentage will you start giving?

Give generously. What is one thing you would like to give to in 2014?

Books & Apps I Like Giving by Brad Formsma

What part of your finances do you hope to improve in 2014?

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Who can you include in this process to provide accountability and support?


Find a Group Visit the ate

How will you measure progress?





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Lora Batterson Lora co-founded NCC with Pastor Mark. They live on Capitol Hill with their three children, and attend all locations.

Going Back to the Basics


ne of the most frequently asked questions I get is this one: How do you maintain or achieve balance in the fast-paced city of DC? After living in the DC area for twenty years, my answer is simple: You don’t! Balance isn’t something you achieve. Rather, it’s something you manage. Life is full of twists and turns and, my personal favorite, CHANGE! (In case you don’t know me, I’m grimacing when I say that).

If you don’t decide how to spend life’s currency, then life will spend it for you. Here are a few things we have done in our family to maintain focus.

Several years ago, the force of nature known as Bob Goff visited NCC. He said many things that impacted us, but one thing in particular struck us as funny yet powerful. He told us that his wife, Sweet Maria, often reminds him to “work the plan” when things seem to be spiraling out of control. Bob said, “I don’t know what in the world she’s referring to when she says that, but she says it with such conviction that it makes me want to go out and do something.”

Weekly Coffee Dates—Not everyone can do this depending on life stage, but Mark and I try to have a touchpoint every week on our day off to take a breath and see how the other person is doing. This is one way we Sabbath.

Personal Planning Retreat—Mark and I try to get away once each year with the sole purpose of evaluating our budget, calendar, pace of life, marriage, and parenting. In other words, take the pulse of your life heartbeat. Is it healthy? Is it sustainable?

Vacation—Use all of your vacation time, for crying out loud! It’s necessary to understand that the world still spins around its axis even when you’re not around. Alarms—Learn to sound the alarm when you recognize you have gotten off track. This is where you may need to schedule an impromptu getaway, go on a marriage retreat, or schedule a counseling session. Don’t ignore warning signs.

Mark and I adopted that saying but with our own interpretation of going back to the basics. What did we originally determine we were about? What is important to us? What do we value? When you have those figured out, then you can work the plan.

On the next page, make your own family plan.


My Family Plan Take some concentrated time to evaluate the following areas: calendar, pace of life, marriage, and parenting. Where are you doing well? Where do you need to grow?

Plan The Work Make checkpoints a thing. When and where will you have regular checkpoints with your spouse and your kids?

Your kids are in your home for 18 years. What lessons do you want to impart and what experiences do you want them to have? How can you make progress in 2014?

When will you vacation this year? Who will plan

Work the Plan What do you need to say “no” to and how will you be intentional about your goals? During checkpoints, look for how your spouse and kids are doing in the following areas: »» Physical. Are they getting the exercise, nutrition, and rest they need?

and when will the planning begin?

What are your warning signs as a couple and as a family? Do you have unresolved conflict that needs to be addressed in 2014?

Books & Apps The Love List by Les and Leslie Parrott

»» Emotional. Where are they finding the most joy and where are they struggling? What is taking up most of their emotional energy?

When Family And Work Collide by Andy Stanley

»» Spiritual. Spouses, how can you serve what God is doing in each other’s lives? Parents, how can you facilitate what He is doing in the lives of your children? Who will you share your plan with to help each other succeed? (Tip: swap childcare with another couple during spouse check-ins.)

Sit Or Squat for road trippers My Disney Experience


Find a Group

Couples ouples Baseline baseline G ro u p s fo r p a r e nt s a re n t s t h ea te r c hurch .co m/group s

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Hannah Estifanos & Holly Robertson Hannah lives in Brookland and with her husband, Brook. Hannah and Brook attend Lincoln, and Holly attends Barracks Row.

Staying Energized, Effective, and Present


hen Hebrews talks about “running with perseverance” it refers to our faith, but the use of a physical example can serve as a reminder that physical health is vital to spiritual health. When we’re energized we can be effective and present, but when we’re stressed out and not feeling well it’s easy to become sidelined from what God has called us to.

–kept us going. One step at a time. Together. After the run, as Rachel’s cozy homemade chili, cornbread, and hot cocoa warmed us, we reflected on the lessons that we had learned from running, prayer, and reading through The Circle Maker this fall. Several of us began to confess our struggles with God over heartfelt prayers that have been unanswered for years. As we shared our stories and prayed for one another, we were encouraged to persevere and continue to seek after God even in our greatest frustrations and disappointments.

It’s not just about running, it’s about taking care of ourselves – including nutrition, exercise, play, and Sabbath. While we can’t choose our DNA, we can choose to take care of what we have.

Our small group, Running With Perseverance, takes its name from Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” Continuing to pray when God seems silent and the answers we are seeking elude us often feels as dark and daunting as running 5 miles in December. Yet with our eyes on Jesus and with our friends alongside, we will keep running and keep praying. One step at a time. Together.”

Two NCCer’s understand this. Hannah Estifanos shares how she and her co-leader, Holly Robertson, decided to make exercise a place for community: “The temperature hovered near freezing and the sun had set long before any of us had left work to meet our friends to run. Most of us didn’t really feel like running on a cold December evening. Yet the friends running alongside us and the goals we were pursuing – running to the Capitol and White House Christmas trees and back to group member Rachel’s home for dinner


My Physical Plan God gives each of us only one body. Taking care of it to the best of our ability is a way we can honor Him and have the energy to do all He has called us to.

Plan The Work Look at your calendar and your interests, and set aside times for exercise you enjoy. What do you need to incorporate into your diet?

What do you need to remove?

Work The Plan

Make a list of three things you love to do with others and put them on your schedule.

Find a workout buddy! Find somebody who you can share your exercise plan with for accountability and encouragement.

Books & Apps

Think about the areas of exercise, nutrition, Sabbath, and play. What do your current habits consist of?

The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan Margin by Richard Swenson Made to Crave by Lisa TerKeurst

Find a Group

What recharges your batteries?

Nike + Running My Fitness Pal Sleep Cycle


Running With Pe rseveran ce wp Sports, Fitness, & Ou td Activitie oor s ports theaterc m/group s

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James K. James works for the Salvation Army in Hyattsville. He attends Barracks Row.

Yielding Myself to God


y name is James, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with chemical addiction.

In 2008, I began attending Celebrate Recovery and immediately knew that I had found what I was looking for. Unlike other meetings I had been to, here I felt a sense of unity and connection on the most important level.

Growing up I was brought to church each Sunday and made to pray each night. I knew all about God, but had no relationship with Him. He was always a chore and not a desire.

Celebrate Recovery provided a setting for me to deal with hurts, habits, and hang-ups. It gave me accountability partners and friends to worship with and turn to when I needed someone to talk to.

Selfish and self-centered, I rebelled against God and those who loved me, taking advantage of my mother’s love and hating my stepfather for his abuse. Drugs and alcohol became the solution to all of my issues.

Celebrate Recovery’s Principle 8 states, “Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.”  

As time went on, I began to identify a God-shaped hole in my soul, returned to church, and attended AA meetings, but I wasn’t willing to fully surrender to Christ.

This is what keeps things fresh and exciting for me now – sharing what was so freely given to me with newcomers. I pray I can continue to be a steward and disciple for Christ in this area.

Join Celebrate Recovery and work this plan with others:

It k r o W u o Y f I s k r It Wo t e’ve all go

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»» Admitting Need »» Getting Help »» Letting Go »» Coming Clean »» Making Changes »» Repairing Relationships »» Maintaining Momentum »» Recycling Pain


 s n a l P ments i r e p x E t ’ n d i D t a h T ork W 40

Ryan Zempel Ryan Zempel has attended NCC since December 1998 and currently serves as the Pastor of Coaching and Care. He is happily married to Heather Zempel, NCC’s Pastor of Discipleship.


ometimes I think National Community Church has a core value that “everything is an experiment” just to make our failures a bit less painful. Failures? At NCC?  Say it ain’t so!

How NOT To Make A Plan

Naturally, over the course of NCC’s existence we’ve had our share of missteps.

»» Procrastinate. You always do your best work “later.” »» Don’t set goals, set wishes. »» Assume they’ll happen on their own . »» Don’t measure your progress. »» Keep your aspirations to yourself. »» Throw the timeline out the window, you have forever.

We’ve had the usual small glitches, such as worship lyrics gone awry – my personal favorite was when the world was “hopless” rather than “hopeless.” Then there was the Leadership Summit where we previewed a well-intentioned video podcast featuring Pastor Mark (“Mike Bravo”) and Pastor Heather (“Hotel Zulu”) and our small group leaders found it more humorous than helpful (we quickly switched to audio only).

How To Make A P lan (For Real)

But some failed experiments were a bit more significant. Such as our coffeehouse.

»» Part 1: In ventory (w hat am I do this area? ing well in Where do I need to »» Part 2: G grow?) oals (what 3-5 goals d to set?) o I need »» Part 3: C ommunity (who need part of wo s to be a rking this plan with »» Part 4: W m e?) ork The Pla n (what is action ste th e next p?)

No, not Ebenezers Coffeehouse. I’m talking about our first attempt at a coffeehouse – The Third Place. While The Third Place functioned extremely well as space for church offices, small groups, and leadership gatherings, the plans for it to be a coffeehouse were rather short-lived.  The fact that the building didn’t have enough power to run a commercial machine, forcing us to make do with a little Krups home unit, was an early sign that it wasn’t going to work out. 

Books & Apps

We pulled the plug within a matter of weeks, but the stage was set for doing it right and doing it big when we built Ebenezers.

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell

As we create plans it’s wise to take note of Proverbs 16:9 – “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” – and remember that what we see as missteps may in fact be God-directed and can always be God-redeemed.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry


If This Then That Wunderlist

Traction, spring 2014 - Work the Plan  
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