Mark Batterson serves as the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D. C. Recognized as “one of America’s 25 most innovative churches,” NCC is one church with seven locations. Mark’s blog and webcast also reach a virtual congregation around the world. He is the author of several bestselling books, including New York Times Bestseller - The Circle Maker and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Mark holds a doctorate degree from Regent University and lives on Capitol Hill with this wife, Lora, and their three children.
His new book, All In: You Are One Decision Away from a Totally Different Life is available now. His publisher has this to say about it: "The Gospel costs nothing. You can't earn it or buy it. It can only be received as a free gift compliments of God's grace. It doesn't cost anything, but it demands everything. It demands that we go 'all in,' a term that simply means placing all that you have into God's hands. Pushing it all in. And that's where we get stuck---spiritual no man's land. We're afraid that if we go all in that we might miss out on what this life has to offer. It's not true. The only thing you'll miss out on is everything God has to offer. And the good news is this: if you don't hold out on God, God won't hold out on you. Readers will find Batterson's writing filled with his customary vivid, contemporary illustrations as well as biblical characters like Shamgar and Elisha and Jonathan and . . . Judas. No one has ever sacrificed anything for God. If you always get back more than you gave up, have you sacrificed anything at all? The eternal reward always outweighs the temporal sacrifice. At the end of the day, our greatest regret will be whatever we didn't give back to God. What we didn't push back across the table to Him. Eternity will reveal that holding out is losing out. The message of All In is simple: if Jesus is not Lord of all then Jesus is not Lord at all. It's all or nothing. It's now or never. Kneeling at the foot of cross of Christ and surrendering to His Lordship is a radical act of dethroning yourself and enthroning Christ as King. It's also an act of disowning yourself. Nothing belongs to you. Not even you. Batterson writes, for many years, I thought I was following Jesus. I wasn't. I had invited Jesus to follow me. I call it inverted Christianity. And it's a subtle form of selfishness that masquerades as spirituality. That's when I sold out and bought in. When did we start believing that the gospel is an insurance plan? It's a daring plan. Jesus did not die just to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous.'"
That sparked our curiosity, so we emailed Mark to share with us about life.
1. In your book The Circle Maker, you encouraged believers to pray "big" prayers to God. What is your goal with your new book, All In?
The Circle Maker was all about the power of a single prayer. One prayer can change anything, change everything. But you can't just pray like it depends on God. You also have to work like it depends on you. You can't just draw the circle. You also have to draw a line in the sand. The most promising thought in All In is this: you are one decision away from a totally different life. I absolutely believe that. All In challenges readers to identify the one decision that will make the biggest difference in their lives. Of course, I believe that starts with the decision to go all in with God. I think many people think they are following Jesus, but the reality is that they've invited Jesus to follow them. They have inverted the gospel. But the true adventure begins when you completely surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is not Lord of all, then you cannot claim Him as Lord at all. It's all or nothing.
2. What is it like being a pastor in one of the US's most dangerous cities?
Washington, DC is a tale of two cities. We live less than a mile from the Capitol Building--the symbol of freedom and power. But one mile in the other direction are some crime-ridden communities in desperate need of God's love. We'll actually open a Dream Center in one of those neighborhoods in the next year. We want to show the love of Jesus in practical ways. We feel like the needs around us give us an opportunity to put Matthew 25 into practice--feed the hungry, clothe the poor, house the homeless, adopt the fatherless.
3. Earlier this year, your church hosted a conference called "City Fathers." Can you tell us a bit about it?
We live in a culture that celebrates fifteen minutes of fame. I think it's high time we celebrate a lifetime of faithfulness. So we invited five pastors, City Fathers, to share their heart and vision for our city.
Between the five of them, they had 167 years of pastoral ministry in DC.
Honestly, the rest of us are reaping the seeds they sowed. I just felt like we needed to sit at their feet for a day and glean wisdom. We also needed to give honor where honor is due! That's what we did. It was a historic day for DC. It didn't just foster unity. It's created synergy.
4. What is it about the corn-hole game that you love so much?
When I was a kid, I spent about two hours a day trying to shoot a basketball hoop through the basket. Now that I can't jump like I used to, I guess corn-hole is the old man's version! It stokes the competitive fires. Consider this an open invitation to all challengers!