Monday, September 12, 2005 | |

The Leadership Blog Interview: Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson

Bio: Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. Starting with a core group of 19 people, NCC has morphed into one church with two locations—the movie theaters @ Union Station in Washington, DC and Ballston Common Mall in Arlington, VA. Comprised largely of Capitol Hill staffers, NCC is 80% single and 80% twenty-something. The macro vision of NCC is to meet in movie theaters @ metro stops throughout the DC area.

Mark is the author of ID: The True You; a weekly online evotional; and a daily blog. He also serves as Chief Spiritual Officer of, a start-up that preloads iPods with sermons, audio devotionals, and music.

Church: National Community Church

1. What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
: "I love helping people cross the line of faith. Whenever I baptize someone I think internally, "This is what it's all about."

I love helping twenty-somethings navigate the quarterlife crisis. NCC is 80% single and 80% twenty-something.

I love experimenting with new ways of doing church. If the Kingdom of God were a company, I think NCC would work in the Research & Development Department (R & D). One of our core values is: everything is an experiment. I love trying to say old things in new ways. I love trying to brand sermon series with new wineskins. I love experimenting with new ways of preaching. We meet in movie theater so we've done "trailers" for sermon series for several years, but we're getting into short films as a form of "offsite preaching."

2. What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Mark: "Naysayers.

I've learned that every church has a bell curve. There are innovators and adopters who embrace change. But there are also laggards and resisters. I don't love laggards and resisters any less. But sometimes I want to show them a picture of Neil Armstrong getting out of the lunar module and stepping onto the moon. We put a man on the moon. Naysay no more!

I think God is glorified when we dream God-sized dreams. Anything less is boring. "

3. Who made the biggest influence in your life as a leader?
Mark: "My father-in-law, Bob Schmidgall, planted a church (Calvary Church in Naperville, IL) and pastored it for more than thirty years. I saw what could happen if you plant yourself in one place and invest your life there. That's what I want to do in Washington, DC. I want to pastor one church for the rest of my life.

4. What books have changed your life?
Mark: "I'm a book-a-holic. On my blog ( I've got a recommended list of 100 of my favorite books in a variety of categories."

A few recent reads include: Brand Sense by Martin Lindstrom; i am not but I know I Am by Louie Giglio; and The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman."

5. What's your biggest challenge as a leader?
: "I always feel like I'm trying to catch up with my ideas."

6. What goals do you have as a leader?
: "I have three core convictions:

C1: The church ought to be the most creative place on the planet.
C2: The greatest message deserves the greatest marketing.
C3: The church is called to compete in the middle of the marketplace.

Those three convictions are what drives me. I guess I'm more conviction-driven than goal-oriented.

Our macro vision is to meet in movie theaters @ metro stops throughout the DC area. There are fifty-seven theaters in the greater Washington area so we've got a ways to go. I do envision NCC becoming a five-digit church. But I'm realizing that impact can't be measured by attendance alone. Our podcast ( had more than 6500 unique visitors last month. And I used to think my blog ( supplemented my sermons. Now I think it might be the other way around. "

7. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Mark: "John Chancellor said, "If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans."

I see myself pastoring National Community Church. I also feel as called to write as I do to pastor. One of my personal goals is to write at least one book a year so I hope I've written ten books in ten years. There are also a few "God ideas" that weren't on my radar a few months ago. I'm the CSO of a start-up called We'll launch in October 2005 so I have no idea what GodiPod will become in the next month let alone ten years.

Those are my plans. I'm sure God is laughing!"

Mark thanks for a great interview! Your vision really excites and inspires me to reach for more!