“…Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
Do we believe God can do all things, big and small, beyond what our minds can grasp?
Ronald Blue Trust senior private wealth advisor David Campaigne recently talked with bestselling author and pastor Mark Batterson about God doing ‘the impossible’ during his nearly 30 years in ministry.
Mark serves as lead pastor of National Community Church (NCC) in Washington, DC―one church with multiple locations. NCC owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, the DC Dream Center, and Capital Turnaround as gathering places for the local community. Mark is the author of 24 books, including the New York Times bestselling book The Circle Maker.
Dreaming Big. Trusting God.
At the beginning of his ministry, Mark couldn’t have imagined the reach NCC has today. After moving to DC in 1994 for inner city missions, God called Mark and his wife Lora to plant a church for people who normally wouldn’t even consider attending church. NCC’s first Sunday service on January 7, 1996, was attended by three people: Mark, Lora, and their son Parker. After that, a fledgling group of 19 members came together to form the core of NCC.
The church held their first worship services at the movie theaters in Union Station, located four blocks from Capitol Hill. In the coming years, they added additional services at movie theaters throughout DC and Northern Virginia. Today, Mark acknowledges that the church’s reach is evidence of God doing ‘the impossible.’ “It’s no surprise that real estate is very expensive in our area. However, when God gives a vision, He also gives provision,” Mark says. “In 1996, I led a prayer circle around Capitol Hill believing for big things; today, NCC owns six properties totaling 100,000 square feet within one mile of the Capitol; and the church is debt-free, which is truly miraculous.”
Meeting at the Post-Modern ‘Well’
When looking for innovative ways to bring church to the community, Mark describes his approach as: “Dreaming big, thinking long, and praying hard. A God-sized dream is beyond our ability and resources to even imagine. As humans, we tend to create God in our image, but God transcends the space and time constraints that we can understand. Having a big dream keeps you on your knees in prayer, and when it happens, God gets the glory for it.”
Mark recalls that one of the church’s ‘crazier’ ideas was to purchase an abandoned drug house and turn it into a coffeehouse. In the spring of 2006, they completed construction on Ebenezers Coffeehouse. “I was inspired by the biblical story of the woman at the well and the fact that Jesus met her there,” Mark explains. “Wells were natural gathering places in ancient cultures. Today’s coffeehouses are postmodern wells.” Now one of DC’s most popular coffeehouses, Ebenezers roasts its own coffee and has served more than a million customers—from neighbors to businesspeople to members of Congress.
NCC prayerfully invites God into everything the church undertakes. “From the beginning, we’ve desired to care for the poor and do what is near and dear to God’s heart in missions,” Mark says. Part of that commitment includes prioritizing generosity, which NCC has done since its earliest days. Even when money was tight, Mark held fast to his decision to tithe and gave $50 to missions from one of his first paychecks. Today, NCC has given more than $25 million to missions. “Whatever God gives us, we’re going to try to give away and flip the blessing to others,” Mark says. “Success is not how much you make; it’s how much you give. When God blesses us, He doesn’t do it to raise our standard of living; He does it to raise our standard of giving.”
Gratitude is also a huge component of NCC’s mindset. “Generosity begins with gratitude. The Jewish Talmud says that if you receive a blessing from God but fail to give thanks, it’s as if you’ve stolen from God,” Mark explains. “Our goal is to leverage money in a way that will change hearts and perform miracles in someone else’s life.”
We hope you enjoy this conversation with Mark Batterson. If you would like to talk to a Ronald Blue Trust advisor about how you can be more generous or develop a financial plan, please get in touch please get in touch with us at 800.987.2987 or email [email protected].
“Success is not how much you make; it’s how much you give. When God blesses us, He doesn’t do it to raise our standard of living; He does it to raise our standard of giving.”
– Mark Batterson
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