THE EARLY YEARS
McLean Bible Church was founded in 1961 by five families in Northern Virginia. Its first service was held on Easter Sunday at Chesterbook Elementary School in McLean with Pastor J. Albert Ford.
Senior Pastor Lon Solomon was born and raised in a Jewish home in Portsmouth, Virginia, before becoming a born again Christian in the spring of 1971. He graduated from the University of North Carolina with a B.S. in Chemistry (1971). He then completed a Th.M. degree in Hebrew and Old Testament at Capital Bible Seminary (1975, summa cum laude) in Lanham, Maryland. He completed graduate work at Johns Hopkins University, receiving a Master’s in Near Eastern Studies in 1979.
Lon Solomon taught Hebrew and Old Testament at Capital Bible Seminary from 1975 to 1980. In 1980, he became the senior pastor at McLean Bible Church. Solomon has been on the board of Jews for Jesus since 1987, where he now serves as chairman of the board’s executive committee.
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
McLean Bible 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.
A GROWING CHURCH
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, MBC 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.
ROUTE 7 LOCATION
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. The new MBC facility became a place where families could grow in their relationship with Christ, with other Christians, and with each other.
In 2001, DayBreak was founded by a group of young adults, led 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.
Years of prayer culminated in actions taken to build a respite facility for children with disabilities. After seven years of research, study and fund-raising, the $12.7 million respite center was built without government funds or support. Jill’s House is a 43,000 square foot, 30 bedroom, state-of-the-art facility. The accommodations include a play ground, an indoor pool and a music room. Jill Solomon was assisted by her parents in cutting the ribbon to open the facility in October 2010. 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 to 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.
Jill’s House – Realization of a Dream
MBC 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 church planting ministries.
While Lon Solomon was pastor at McLean Bible Church, attendance hit 16,000 (not including the Internet ministry) and the church held four services on Sunday. When David Platt arrived as interim Teaching Pastor, the church still held four services on Sunday and one on Saturday evening. Even with five services, overflow rooms were added and chairs had to be placed in the Lobby to accommodate the growth. MBC served more than 120 peoples/cultures from around the world. As attendees accepted Christ and grew in their relationship with God, they returned to their home countries to spread the Gospel.
DAVID PLATT | LEAD PASTOR
In September 2017, David Platt was confirmed as the Pastor-Teacher, later “Lead Pastor”, replacing Lon Solomon by being the sole candidate offered to the membership.
David Platt brought a new vision to McLean Bible that has focused more on Global Evangelism and Making Disciples by sending church members and attendees throughout the world to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and reach the unreached. In pursuit of that goal most of the local ministries and Sunday School classes built up during the Lon Solomon era were eliminated. While some have been brought back fully, most have been significantly reduced in breadth and/or removed permanently (i.e., the Clothing Ministry, Benevolence Ministry, Turkey Outreach, Single Moms Ministry, Motorcycle Ministry, Paint-ball Ministry, The Rock for Senior High, FOCUS, Discovering the Word (DTW), Apologetics, First Light, most Sunday School Classes, Veterans celebratory Days, Intercultural Outreach, defunding and abandoning the missionaries already in the field, Counseling Ministry, and more than 40 more.
Since David Platt has been the Senior Pastor at McLean Bible, membership and attendance has dropped dramatically, as have the number of services. Attendance has gone from approximately 16,000 to under 4,000 in the 4.5 years David Platt has led MBC. According to a church census released in 2018, MBC claimed a weekly attendance of 10,510 people at the five (5) campuses in different cities (Arlington, Louden, Montgomery County, Prince William and Tysons). Those numbers have continued to decline under current church leadership. Additionally, the church now only holds two services on Sunday and none on Saturday.
In July 2021 David Platt confirmed a huge attendance/membership drop at McLean Bible Church. Though he claims the drop is because attendees have not returned since before the Pandemic; meanwhile, church attendees and members have shared their insights into what’s wrong, but the current MBC Elders and Leaders refuse to recognize or even listen. In fact, Platt’s sloppy moral reasoning was one point of controversy in a letter to leadership from five long-standing members of MBC—including at least one elder and four other lay ministry leaders. Additionally, more than 100 members/attendees have sent letters to MBC Leadership questioning their actions and challenging the teaching as unbiblical. As a result, those in disagreement with the Woke theology and Social Justice being preached from MBC pulpits end up simply giving up and finding other places to worship and serve when their questions and challenges are ignored, and their letters remain unanswered