Producing 8 campuses & 15 books in 20 years - Mark Batterson

Pastor Mark Batterson from National Community Church in Washington D.C. where they have eight campuses in theatres across the city spoke exceptionally at our conference. He highlighted the need for creativity in our leadership and our churches, and highlighted the power of a single prayer. We caught up with him at conference to find out some more about his life and ministry.

You’ve pastored a church for 20 years, planted eight campuses and are just releasing your 15th book. How do you fit it all in?

When I was 22 and interviewed for my credentials I said I’m driven. I was told there was a fine line between selfish ambition and Godly ambition! I love new challenges; I have pastored a church for 20 years as the church grew I and we team grow. Launching a new campus was a bit difficult at first, but it got easier.

And I feel as called to write as I do to pastor. I teach about half of the time, and that gives me the capacity to write. I’ve written 15 books in ten years. Its wonderful but for me the challenge is to pace yourself. I make sure that I’m only away for 12 nights a year. I set my alarm early for 5.30am and work then, and make sure I’m observing the Sabbath.

What inspired you to write?

When I was in grad school I took an aptitude assessment and had a low aptitude for writing, but I knew it was a calling on my life. I read 3000 books before I wrote them any and I studied how people write also how the books impacted me. A lot of people who write get caught up with publishing and what to write about etc, but if you are called to write then its disobedient not to write. Really, I just write the best book I can, and then it’s in his hands.

How do you go about making big decisions in church life?

The most important decisions you make are the hiring decisions, because your team set the capacity of your teaching. The biggest challenge leaders face is insecurity and not hiring people who are more gifted than you are. I hire people who are better than I am – I need the most gifted teacher on my team.

Then you have got to let leaders go and not micro manage. Encourage them and challenge them. If I’m not growing then the people around me aren’t going to grow. Look for people who are humble and hearing from God and wanting to continue to grow themselves.

How have you had to change as you have progressed in leadership?

Over the course of my leadership I have gone from being an extrovert an introvert. As an extrovert, there’s no off switch. That has been a great open window as minister to people, but the Bible says that Jesus withdrew. I had to work harder to guard my Sabbath days. From May Day to Labour Day to I only take inside meetings so I can spend time with my family.

What are you excited about at the moment?

The Dream Centre we are building is one thing I’m very excited about. Fatherlessness is a huge issue in our city so I’m really excited to help lots of children. We also own a piece of property where we’re not just building a campus for us our we will build restaurants and retail to be in the middle of urban environments. We can’t do church how it used to be done. We have to be very creative.

The other thing is the book that is being released today, Play the Man. Somewhere along the way, our culture lost its definition of manhood. We've left a generation of men confused about what it means to be a man—much less a man of God.I was at a gathering of 500 men and asked who was disciple by their fathers and three hands went up. This book is about how to be a man of God.

Also, I don’t know how to phrase it but I love the church here in the UK. I’ve felt so at home, there a real passion and an authenticity and I love it. I feel a real camaraderie with AOG GB and other churches.

Thanks to Mark for his incredible sessions at conference and for speaking to us. You can get all of the conference sessions on our shop here and a few of Mark’s books.