Rethink Monthly: Maybe God has recently placed something on your heart. Something that has wrecked the way you think or something that has been keeping you up at night. Maybe God has given you a vision for your church that may be different than you have done things before. So, to keep it simple, what are you rethinking right now?
Mark Batterson: What am I not rethinking? I tend to rethink a lot of things, but I’ll just throw a couple of things out. From a leadership standpoint, I’m rethinking staffing; maybe we are even overstaffed. We always feel like we need more staff to do what we want to do, so I’m rethinking of how much of our budget should go to our staff. If too much of our budget goes to staff, then that would allow us to become lazy in not raising up leaders to do the work in the ministry, so I’m rethinking our staffing strategy budget structure.
In addition, this year we will take 10 missions trips to 10 countries in 10 months. It really came out of this single thought: I would rather have people take one missions trip, because I think more happens on a mission’s trip, than people listening to 52 of my sermons. We have been rethinking how we can mobilize people for missions, and the cool thing is as we send people out on these one day, one week or ten day short term missions trips, a lot of them wind up returning to the mission fields on a full term basis.
Here is another thought. We are really motivated by giving money to missions. I always believe that God is going to bless us in proportions when we give to missions. So this year we want to give a half a million dollars, which is great considering that our congregation is 70 percent, single twenty-somethings, and they are not in their peak earning stage. So I am thrilled about that but it is not nearly enough, we need to give millions of dollars to missions, and we will get there, it’s just something to be committed to growing more so we can give more. We own and operate the largest coffee house on Capital Hill. It is a great place where the church and community cross paths. We serve hundreds of customers everyday, and we give every penny of profit from it to missions. Last year our net profit was $89,000. If you want to give a million dollars to missions, you can motivate people to give, whether generously or just sacrificially, and we shouldn’t throw that out. But the way I see it is if we had achieved ten coffee houses, then profit about $100,000, you would be giving that million dollars to missions right there. So what am I rethinking? How we fund missions and leverage finances for Kingdom purposes. Do we have time for one more thought?
RM: Yeah, please go ahead.
MB: I think another thing I am rethinking, honestly, is the way I preach. I tend to be a topical preacher, and I know I am going to step on some toes no matter what I say, so I guess I might as well just throw it out there. I am not a person who believes that you have to teach the Bible in a verse by verse expositional manner, and the reason I believe that is because that is not the way Jesus taught. He taught utilizing parables, having said that, let me say this, over the last year I have fallen in love with the Bible all over again, it just comes out as if I didn’t read it enough last year. At the end of last year I read something J.F. Packer said, “Any Christian with any salt reads the Bible from cover to cover over a year”, and I can’t argue with it. I am a pastor and thought of doing it, so I picked up a Bible and that one decision is the most important decision I ever made. And it has been amazing. I love the Bible, and I have been teaching the Bible and found that I have this conviction of how the Bible is to be communicated in the most memorable ways, and I believe that, but by the end of the day it is the Word of God that doesn’t return void.
RM: How has that new found passion again for the Bible being translated to the people of you minister to?
MB: By osmosis, people see how much we love the Word, or how much we value the Word, so I think, whether it is spoken or unspoken, people can see that we are digging a little bit deeper and drilling down more into God’s Word, and still trying to teach it creatively with high emphasis on application. It just becomes part of your culture, so what’s been cool over the last year reference to the fact that I am reading a one-year Bible is that a lot of people are being motivated to do the same thing. I think it is just something that is becoming a personal discipline in my life, but it is becoming a part of our culture. I don’t know how it is going to work out yet, but if we think about next year, I will utilize some platforms, whether it be by book or by blog. I challenge people to read through a one-year Bible. I don’t know what that will look like going into next year, but I want to be a person who inspires challenges, who encourages people to read the Bible. Just having people read the Bible, but I don’t think the Bible is meant to be read, it was meant to be “meditated on.” Reading without meditating is like eating without digesting, so what we really need to do is meditate on the Word, then ultimately we need to translate that Word into action. In a sense, each one of us has a unique translation.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations. Mark has two Masters Degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, Illinois and is the author of a best-selling book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. His latest release is Wild Goose Chase and he blogs daily @ www.markbatterson.com. Mark is married to Lora and they live on Capitol Hill with their three children: Parker, Summer, and Josiah.