Author. Pastor. Businessman. You might be tempted to ask which hat he is wearing today, but for Mark Batterson, it is all about sharing his faith in ways that meet people where their needs are, in their everyday lives.
Dr. Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C., which was recognized as one of the “Most Innovative and Most Influential Churches in America” by Outreach Magazine in 2008.
Ten years later, NCC is one church with seven campuses and 10 services. “We are always looking for new ways to do church. As we continue to grow, we desire to start new locations in creative places throughout this city and beyond,” he said.
Batterson is also an in-demand speaker and a prolific writer. He has authored 15 books, including The New York Times best-seller The Circle Maker, as well as popular titles In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Chase the Lion, and his newest, Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God.
“Mark is a gifted leader,” said Dr. Richard Foth, the legendary author, speaker, storyteller and connector, who spent decades of ministry in the nation’s capital. “The young and expanding congregation he serves is a slice of Washington D.C. but, more than that, his writings can be found in every nation of the world. Those words inspire and encourage millions!”
For the breadth and depth of his inspiration and service, Mark Batterson is being honored this fall with the 2018 CBC Distinguished Alumnus award. He is a 1992 graduate of Central Bible College.
The presentation will be made during the Evangel University Homecoming Banquet Saturday, Oct. 20, at 6:30 p.m., at the Bass Pro White River Conference Center. CBC consolidated with Evangel, its sister school in Springfield, Missouri, in 2013.
The Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented annually to one who has made significant contributions to their chosen field, church, community, state, nation or to the university.
“Mark and I have been friends for 24 years — over half of his life and less than a third of mine,” said the Rev. Foth. “His heart for God, adventurous spirit, and powerful intellect have added to my life beyond measure.”
Meeting the needs
“Doing church in the middle of the marketplace had become part of our DNA,” said Batterson, who moved to Washington in 1994. “We began dreaming of new ways for the church and community to intersect daily.”
As a result, National Community Church owns and operates three unique venues in the Nation’s Capital.
- Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse serves “coffee with a cause,” and all profits go toward the church’s community outreach projects, locally and nationally. It is a very popular “chill space for coffee, tea and live music,” located in an historic building one block from Union Station, three blocks from the Senate offices and five blocks from the Supreme Court. The lower level is available for meetings and concerts, and it serves as one of the NCC satellite church locations.
- The Miracle Theatre is located on Capitol Hill in a 1909 theater building, less than a block from the historic Marine Barracks complex. Originally a vaudeville theatre offering a mix of entertainment over the years, the facility now serves as a neighborhood theater, live performance venue and the seventh campus for the National Community Church.
- The DC Dream Center is a community center located on Pennsylvania Avenue, 5 miles southeast of the White House, in a neighborhood Batterson says is in need of “a safe place where kids can be kids with facilities including an art center, dance studio, computer lab, basketball court, recording studio and much more.” The mentorship volunteer program pairs children with responsible adults looking to make a real difference in a young person’s life.
Batterson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in Naperville, Illinois. He went to the University of Chicago on a scholarship, playing basketball and majoring in pre-law. However, “after a prayer walk through a cow pasture,” he felt called to full-time ministry and ended up at Central Bible College.
It was a great decision, according to Batterson. While at CBC, he played basketball for coach Kirk Hanson, and his senior year, he was named a first-team All-American.
Off campus, Batterson also served at a small church called West Grand Assembly, “where I cut my teeth preaching,” he said.
“During my senior year, I got serious about seeking God. I used to go into the chapel during the lunch hour when the lights were off and the chapel was empty and I’d pace the balcony. It’s where I learned to not just pray, but pray through. I probably logged a hundred miles pacing the chapel balcony. It’s one of my burning bushes.”
Mark and his wife, Lora, first moved to the nation’s capital to direct an inner-city ministry in 1994, and he has served in his current position with NCC since 1996.
“Pastoring a church in Washington, D.C., is an adventure in and of itself. But writing has been an adventure as well,” he said. “When I wrote my first book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, I prayed that God would put it in the right hands at the right time. He has answered that prayer millions of times, and He has done it in some strange and mysterious ways.”
Because of his sports background, he says he has found great joy is in leading chapels for a variety of professional sports teams.
“I have a little mantra,” he said. “If your sermons are boring it’s probably because your life is boring. If you want to preach better sermons, get a life.”
Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University. He and Lora have three children, and they live on Capitol Hill.
EU Homecoming 2018 Honorees
Five alumni awards will be given during this year’s homecoming celebration, representing alumni from the three AG schools that consolidated in 2013 — Evangel University, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and Central Bible College. The recipients were chosen by the Evangel University Alumni Association board of directors.
- EU Distinguished Alumnus – Dr. Barry Corey ’84
- EU Outstanding Young Alumnus – Heather Rooney McBride, J.D. ’03
- AGTS Alumnus of the Year – Dr. Dick Brogden ’14
- CBC Distinguished Alumnus – Dr. Mark Batterson ’92
- CBC Outstanding Young Alumnus – George Carballo ’09
For more information, contact Evangel University Alumni Relations Department at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7333.