In 1961, five families came together to form a non-denominational Bible church, led by Pastor J. Albert Ford, the first pastor. For three years the church met in homes, schools, and other facilities until it got a building of its own in 1964. Allan Gardner was the pastor from 1971-1979.
In 1975, Lon Solomon came to McLean Bible Church as an intern under Pastor Gardner and returned in 1980 to be the lead pastor. At this point, the church had grown to over 200 members. In 1986, the church began meeting at Langley High School to accommodate the growing congregation. Though the church was growing, the members desired to have a greater impact on their community.
The church also developed a new focus in ministry on newcomers, small groups, and discipleship. The change was evident in Lon’s preaching, as it became more application-oriented. The goal was to give people biblical truths that helped them walk with God in their daily lives. This led to Lon’s famous “So What?” that he often asked during his sermons to provide practical application to the message. Lon’s content and ministry resources are still impacting people today and are available online at lonsolomonministries.com. He also continues to lead tours to biblical places around the world that can be found here and continues to teach here.
To increase the impact on their community, Lon shared a new vision for evangelism. To accommodate rapid growth, McLean Bible Church moved to a larger space in 1992, where more services were added to accommodate the growing congregation.
While the church was expanding, it wasn’t reaching a key group of people – young adults. Frontline was launched in 1994 to establish a biblical community for young adults, with its own worship, teaching, ministry teams, small groups, global impact teams and staff. Ken Baugh, the first teaching pastor of Frontline, served for ten years. In 2004 Todd Phillips took over that role. Frontline was named as one of the best places to meet your future spouse in greater Washington, DC.
In 1996, the church recognized a need and opportunity to reach out to people with intellectual and physical disabilities, including parents and other family members of those children. What began as a Sunday school class of four children with various disabilities, has grown to serve more than 1,000 children and their families. Access programming includes Sunday school, parent support and training, summer camp, sibling events, and monthly respite care programs.
By the end of the 1990s, the Balls Hill Road facility was over capacity, with over 5,000 adults visiting each week. In 1998, McLean Bible Church bought a facility previously owned by the National Wildlife Federation. In 2001, the church moved into the new building. Attendance continued to increase rapidly and construction began on a larger auditorium, which was completed in 2004.
In 2001, DayBreak was founded by a group of young adults, lead by Julia Harper, from McLean Bible Church who fell in love with the inner city community and wanted to make a difference in the name of Jesus Christ.
In 2010, McLean Bible Church opened Jill’s House, an overnight respite care center for children with disabilities. Children come to Jill’s House for 24-48 hour stays filled with fun activities and loving care. Parents receive a much-needed break and an opportunity to spend quality time with their typical children. Jill’s House was the first facility of its kind. The ministry continues to thrive and expand to this day, even beyond Washington, DC.
McLean Bible Church clarified its mission to “make an impact on secular DC for Christ” by planting locations to form a “spiritual beltway” around the city. The Arlington location launched in 2007, followed by the Loudoun location in 2008. In 2009, the Silver Spring location launched, followed by the Prince William location. In 2011, the Bethesda location launched, and in 2015, the Silver Spring and Bethesda locations combined into the Montgomery County location.
In 2016, MBC expanded its vision for church multiplication by forming New City Network, a church planting ministry.
In September of 2017, following the announcement that Lon Solomon would be moving to Pastor Emeritus status, God provided and the members of McLean Bible Church overwhelmingly confirmed David Platt as Lead Pastor. David’s passion for both missions and discipleship has brought renewed commitment and energy as the church readies itself for another 50 years of faithful gospel ministry among all nations, beginning in greater Washington, DC.