Oct 9, 1994: New York State Supreme Court justice William J. Ostrowski addresses guests as Paul and I look on during the launch of our ministry in Washington, DC.

Not that Sargent Pepper taught his band to play–but that Rev. Schenck told his choir to sing. (Well, it wasn’t really his choir, but, that’s too much detail.) Let’s just say the choir struck up at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington, DC, and a new missionary outreach to government officials was begun!

The event was the inaugural service for National Community Church. Nearly 1000 guests filled the ballroom, some 20 visiting pastors and Christian leaders from all over the country joined my brother, Paul, Rev. Pat Mahoney, and me on the platform. And that choir–all 100 voices from the West End Assembly of God in Richmond–took us into the heavenlies with praise. Then, to top that, grammy award winning artiest Larnell Harris had the whole place swaying.

My position as a new church planting pastor would be short-lived, though. It wasn’t long before I realized the people I felt called to reach with the life-transforming message of the Gospel and with a prophetic witness to biblical truth do not generally attend church in the nation’s capital. Top ranking government officials like members of congress, U.S. senators, top-tier White House officials, and Supreme Court justices don’t live in Washington, DC. They’re either in the outskirts or they return on weekends to their home districts and states.

So, I needed a different strategy. I recruited a young minister named Mark Batterson to assume the new church’s pulpit while I turned my attention to Capitol Hill. It was about to get very interesting . . .

Can’t believe it’s been two decades. Watch here for the next installment of “Memorable Ministry Moments in Washington, DC.”

Rob +