“Why here?” they ask me.
It’s one of the most common questions I get at David’s Tent from curious passers-by. Why worship in a little white vinyl tent through rain, snow, storms, wind, dust, mud, freezing cold, blazing heat, and all kinds of logistical difficulties when there are dozens of beautiful, climate controlled, and convenient churches in Washington DC to choose from? Why worship in congested downtown Washington DC at all? Wouldn’t somewhere with easier access work just fine? Why go through the hardship and expense of holding this event on the National Mall? Isn’t the worship we give Him from our bedroom or bathtub just as valuable?
I answer with a smile. It’s all about making Jesus central! Yes, the worship we give Him in private blesses His heart just as much. But there is something unique about this public, national expression of David’s Tent.
In my mind, worshipping on the National Mall is significant for three key reasons (though I’m sure we could think of more). We worship here to give Him the place of highest honor, to present a public witness of Jesus, and to foster unity among the Body of Christ. These reasons have so captured my heart that I’ve dedicated my life, my family, my time, and my finances to facilitating this 24/7 love song. Nothing else could motivate me to leave career by the wayside and live by faith, with my pregnant wife and baby boy sharing a community staff house with seven other adults, spending my days singing praises to God in a simple white tent. I am utterly convinced that Jesus truly is worthy of all our devotion, right here on The Mall in Washington DC!
The Place of Honor
The capital city of any nation is usually best known as the seat of governmental power. The capital is a place of dignity, authority, power, and honor. Lobbyists, charities, businesses, and organizations often choose to place a major office in the capital in order to gain national influence. Wouldn’t it make sense that if we want Jesus to transform our nation on a national scale we should set up a hosting place for His presence in Washington DC?
Though it’s true, and it sounds good, that’s not the whole picture! Jason Hershey teaches that the primary identity of a capital city is as a center for national worship first, even before national influence.
Psalm 122:3-5 says:
“Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.” (ESV)
We see here that before Jerusalem was known as the place of David’s throne, it was known as the gathering place for the tribes to come and worship. In no way are we saying that Washington DC replaces Jerusalem. However, the model David set up with his tabernacle of worship in Jerusalem brought blessing upon his government and nation, and we can still follow that pattern in our nation today!
Right now, America has it backwards. Our city of highest honor, Washington DC, is best known as a place where politicians struggle for power to push their own prominence or agenda. Shouldn’t this city first be known as a city that honors God? Doesn’t all the power belong to Jesus anyway? He doesn’t need our weak human politics to accomplish anything. He is the King of all Kings and the Lord of all Lords! He can move anywhere, anytime, and use anyone to complete His will.
It’s time to turn things around to how they’re meant to be! When we enthrone Jesus on our praises in Washington DC, we reclaim the identity of our capital city as a place of honor for Him first. Our nation will be most blessed when we build from that foundation. When we go through the challenges of acquiring permitting or fighting through weather challenges to host 24/7 worship outdoors, we are declaring that He is worthy of a lavish offering of national praise! Our intentionality to make Him central in our capital city, whatever the cost, brings Him a degree of honor we can’t give Him any other way. That’s why I’m here. In my mind, the worth of Jesus obligates us as a nation to pour out this “alabaster jar” of worship. I’ve felt the call to dedicate my life to see this happen. This is why we host David’s Tent, simply because He’s worthy!
In my next blog I’ll be continuing on this theme of “Why Here?” and sharing why I believe the public witness of David’s Tent is so critical. My heart has been forever marked by this vision. I look forward to having the opportunity to share with you soon! In the meantime, I challenge you to look at your own life and see where and how you can give Jesus the place of highest honor personally, wherever you are. Let’s respond to the worth of Jesus and make Him central in every area of our lives!
P.S. To be completely honest, a lot of what I’m writing in this blog is heavily influenced by Jason Hershey’s book “David’s Tent: Jesus is Worthy of a Nation’s Praise.” I’d strongly encourage you to pick up a copy at www.davidstentdc.org if you’re interested in reading more. It’s changed my life, and I know it will change yours too!