The nZone Story

May 2, 2012

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What’s the nZone Story?

“Tell me about this? Is it a sports place? A church? What?” Have you heard that question, yet? We get it several times a week. You will get it to. How do you answer?

The nZone grew out of asking three questions—some we’ve been asking for more than 20 years. The first question is, “what kind of building does the community say it needs?”

Jesus told us, ‘You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can not be hidden.” So, the question is this: if you are going to put millions of dollars into a building, what kind of place is a light to the world? What kind of building makes the community a better place?

Anyone who’s lived in the Washington D.C. area very long knows that most communities don’t like church buildings. It is not hard to find articles in local papers or in The Post about churches battling community associations that don’t want them. If a church is going to be “the light of the world,” it begins by not unnecessarily making enemies.

Several years ago, we conducted a community survey. We asked teachers, students, neighbors, area shoppers, politicians and counselors, “What does this community need?” The strong response went something like this: “a place with more healthy activities for kids and families.” (No one said, “We need another church building.”)

The second question we asked was, “What makes sense financially?” Most churches are busy one day a week, and quiet the rest. Church leaders don’t like it, but for decades it has been the reality of how the church works.

We asked, “Can we change the model? Imagine a church like in Little House on the Prairie: a building that is used for worship on Sundays, but used by everyone on the community the rest of the week.” If people are going to invest $11 million in a building, it sure would make sense if it is constantly busy!

The third question we asked was, “How can we build a bridge to people, not a away from them.” Drive by a church building. Immediately, you are either an insider or an outsider. You either belong to that church, or you don’t. Meeting in schools through the years, God created an “automatic insider” culture at NL. Step into Westfield or Battlefield on a Sunday morning, and you are already an insider: its your building; you paid for it; your children may even go to it every day.

New Life has always been committed to creating safe places for people to discover God. We always work to tear down walls; not build them up. How could we invest millions of dollars into something that builds solid walls, making it more certain newcomers would feel like outsiders?

Every week, the nZone is used more by non-New Lifers than by New Lifers! That’s how we express Jesus’ love in a tangible way. That’s how people who don’t consider themselves New Lifers make it their building! And, that’s why many are already taking next steps from discovering the nZone to discovering God in worship on Sunday morning.

That’s the nZone story. It is a safe place where people experience God’s love, often before they realize it is God’s love they are experiencing!

 

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