Mark Batterson

Lead Pastor

Mark was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and grew up in Naperville, Illinois.

Mark went to the University of Chicago on scholarship playing basketball and majoring in pre-law. After a prayer walk through a cow pasture, he felt called to full time ministry and ended up at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. That's the short story. Mark also holds a Doctor of Ministry from Regent University. He is the author of a dozen books including his first published title, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and The Circle Maker, a New York Times Bestseller.

Mark and his wife, Lora, moved to Washington, DC, in 1994 to direct an inner-city ministry. He has served as Lead Pastor of National Community Church since 1996. Under his leadership, NCC has grown from a core group of 19 people to one church with seven locations. 

Mark and Lora live on Capitol Hill and have three children: Parker, Summer, and Josiah.

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Jim Tanious

COO & HR Director

Jim was born and raised just north of Baltimore and graduated from the University of Maryland, where he majored in Business Administration and Marketing. Jim loves all things Maryland, including Maryland beaches, crabs, and teams (go Terps, Ravens, and Orioles!). Following a proposal at Camden Yards, he and his beautiful wife, Christy, were married in 2006.  Jim and Christy were blessed with their first baby, Liliana (Lily), in July of 2013.

Prior to his employment at NCC, Jim worked for DC Public Schools (DCPS) for over 18 years. He spent 16 of those years overseeing the business and operations of an alternative DC high school, then worked for 2 years at the DCPS Central Office as a Director of Operations, where he was responsible for district-wide technology and realty. Jim has been attending NCC since 2005 and has been a volunteer production ministry leader since 2006.

Jim began overseeing the operations of NCC when he joined the team in 2011. As the COO, he focuses on human resources, contracts, property, and manages the operations team. He enjoys these roles as he is passionate about providing behind-the-scenes support to staff and service to the church body.  Jim has been a member of the Executive Leadership Team since 2014.

When Jim is not at work, he enjoys spending time with Christy and Lily, hanging out with family and friends, playing sports (he especially loves volleyball and is ready to play anytime/anyplace), and enjoying a good steak (Ruth’s Chris is his favorite if you are buying) now and again.

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Joel Schmidgall

Executive Pastor | A1:8 Director | Barracks Row Sunday Campus Pastor

Joel was born and raised in Naperville, Illinois. He is an unpaid marketer for all things Chicago, especially the Cubs, Malnotti’s pizza, and Portillo’s beef-and-cheddar!

He graduated from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri with a BA in Biblical studies and then spent a year working with the National Prayer Breakfast before joining the NCC team full-time in 2000. Joel oversees all locations at the church, as well as leading the Barracks Row campus. He also provides leadership to missions, outreach initiatives and serves on the weekend teaching team.

Joel and his wife Nina were married in 2004 and have three little Cubs fans: Ella, Zeke, and Renzi. Favorite family traditions are music jam sessions, tickle time, and reading books over and over and over and over. They live on Capitol Hill and love this city!

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Heather Zempel

Discipleship Pastor & Campus Ministries Director

A native Alabamian, Heather Zempel currently leads the discipleship efforts at National Community Church in Washington, DC where she oversees small groups, directs leadership development training, and serves on the weekend teaching team.

Heather followed a circuitous route into full-time ministry. Having obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in biological engineering from Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!), she worked as an environmental engineer and as a policy consultant on energy and environment in the United States Senate before coming on staff at National Community Church. Using her educational background, Heather now can be found exploring environments that foster spiritual growth.

She lives on Capitol Hill where she can be found enjoying the adventures of parenting with her husband Ryan as they raise Sawyer, their fun-loving and energetic daughter. Heather is the author of Sacred Roads, Community is Messy, and Amazed and Confused, and you can read about her ramblings on small group environments, discipling the next generation and SEC football at

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