Washington Post on nZone

New Life Christian Church, a VEF church plant from 20 years ago, was featured in a recent article by the Washington Post, describing their Sport Complex and philosophy on ministry to the DC area:

At nZone in Chantilly, the body’s a temple, the church is a gym

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 11.21.34 AMJustin Kavanaugh remembers the first time he visited the hulking building set amid the strip malls of Chantilly. He walked around the trio of turf fields, the weight room, the group exercise studio and the massive basketball court. And he was awfully confused.

“I thought this was a church,” Kavanaugh says. “I was looking for stained-glass windows.”

Instead, he found himself in the nZone, an 83,000-square-foot athletic training facility that offers fitness classes, youth programs, leagues and — since shortly after that visit — specialized courses with Kavanaugh’s Sport and Speed Institute.

The only overt sign that there’s anything religious about the place? A few banners touting the New Life Christian Church, which runs the nZone as a nonprofit organization.

“Fairfax County is not the Bible Belt. This is an area where churches haven’t necessarily been perceived as good things,” says pastor Brett Andrews, who founded New Life two decades ago. So when his congregation finally secured the funds to buy a building, he was determined not to put up a typical church.

Dropping $10 million on a place that would sit empty most of the week didn’t make sense, Andrews says. And when New Life solicited advice on what folks in the area could use, the same response kept coming up: “We need more stuff to get kids off the street.” That’s why the nZone opened two years ago in a former Anheuser-Busch distribution plant.

It’s common for a church (or synagogue or mosque) to take an interest in physical fitness; many have some sort of recreation room on site, often reserved for members of the congregation. But this is a full-on recreation center, without a single space built specifically for worship. And the vast majority of people taking advantage of the facility have no connection to the church.

The external focus makes the situation even more unusual, explains Phil Ling, who runs a national church consulting firm. He has worked with congregations across the country and has never seen anything quite like the nZone. “It’s one thing to reach out,” Ling says. “It’s another to build a state-of-the-art athletic training facility for thousands of people.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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