DC’s Season of New Church Plants

on June 20, 2020

Over the last 10-15 years Washington, DC has experienced a flurry of new church plants that attract Millennials. Scores of new congregations are collectively attracting thousands of young people.

These new churches typically don’t own their own property and so are invisible except by research or word of mouth. They sometimes rent school buildings, museums, hotel conference rooms, or under used older church buildings.

Almost all of these new church plants are evangelical with traditional theology yet they attract socially liberal twenty somethings. Meanwhile, theologically liberal older churches with beautiful sanctuaries often are near empty.

To assuage my curiosity about these oddities, I interviewed Ben Palka, the young founding co-pastor of King’s Church in downtown DC. It’s officially Southern Baptist but doesn’t advertise as such. Its diverse congregation is largely not from a Baptist background. Palka himself, who’s from New York, is not from a Southern Baptist past. He did attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary after his call to ministry.

I hope you enjoy and are encouraged by our conversation.

The IRD · Interview with Ben Palka
  1. Comment by thegentletrruth on June 21, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    God speed.

  2. Comment by Gary Bebop on June 23, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Thank you, Mark, for a fascinating investigation of an underreported phenomenon. The interview poked around the edges of a question for WCA: How will a new denomination that mostly represents “cultural Christianity” (as discussed here) adapt to the new context of cultural antiphony?

  3. Comment by LukeinNE on July 6, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    One of my experiences as a (now former) seminarian in the ELCA is that progressive Christianity, despite its professed enthusiasm for inclusion actually has very little to offer anyone.

    It assures people that God accepts them no matter what, that there is no hell, or if there is, it’s empty, etc. I’m not critical of this merely because it’s heretical, that ground has been well covered, but in practical terms, it’s simply boring. There’s nothing left to talk about except how much God loves and accepts you just the way you are, which is just baptizing the individual-worshipping zeitgeist.

    In terms of upshot, now that we’re free from judgment we should go serve our neighbors, which invariably means social activism from a left wing perspective.

    In both cases, what they’re offering is boring, unimaginative, and readily available in a hundred other places that don’t come with the burdens of church membership.

    For all the cultural baggage that comes with it, traditional Christian theology at least has enough substance to provoke an argument, which is far better than utter indifference.

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