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Blessed for a Reason

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New York Times Best Selling Author, latest, Double Blessing (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2019)

Lead pastor of National Community Church (NCC) in Washington, DC – one church with 7 campuses

Owns and operates Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse, the Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center

Doctor of Ministry degree from Regent University

Married to Lora

Three children: Parker, Summer, and Josiah.

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Genesis 1:28, KJV, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”  God blessed Adam and Eve, but the momentum of God’s blessing was halted by sin. The curse of sin was broken at the Cross and the original blessing of God still exists. When you submit yourself to Christ you come under the umbrella of God’s blessing, but it is important to make a daily decision to stay under God’s covering by walking in obedience.

In 2006, Mark was speaking at a conference with Tommy Barnett who founded the Los Angeles Dream Center. After sharing his testimony Tommy gave an alter call for anyone who wanted a multiplication anointing. Mark was days away from the release of his first book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. He prayed for a multiplication anointing on that book. He prayed it would sell 25,000 copies. That book has now exceeded his expectations by half a million copies.

Mark’s father-in-law, Bob Schmidgall, was the pastor at Calvary Church in Naperville, Illinois for thirty-one years. It was one of the largest churches in America at the time and it was one of the most generous mission-giving churches in the country. Bob was Mark’s mentor and inspired his dream of pastoring a church one day. When Bob passed away unexpectantly in 1998 Mark asked God for a double portion of His spirit to honor Bob’s legacy.  NCC was only two years old when his father-in-law passed away. Over the past two decades NCC has grown to the size of Calvary Church was when Bob passed away. “I genuinely believe that whatever measure of impact I’ve experienced as a pastor and as an author traces back to that double portion prayer at the foot of my father-in-law’s casket,” shares Mark.

The first wave of blessing is what God gives us: time, treasure, and talent. The double blessing is what we give back to God by giving to others. This is what turns a blessing into a double blessing. Mark shares, “The secret to the double blessing is you get it by giving it.” In the summer of 1996 when NCC was just getting off the ground their total church income was $2,000. Mark felt led to start giving to missions. By faith, Mark made his first $50 investment in missions. The next month his monthly income tripled.  

Every blessing in the Bible is part of your spiritual birthright as a believer. The blessing of God is a gift. A blessing cannot be earned. In the Bible, Jacob wrestled with a man (an angel or God) until daybreak. He would not let go until the man blessed him. He longed for God’s blessing. The man changed his name to Israel. Jacob’s unwillingness to let go of God until He blessed him proves to be the turning point in his life.     

The only way to conserve the momentum of God’s original blessing is to flip the blessing. “If you give me something – anything – I attempt to return the favor by blessing someone else in the same way,” shares Mark. Flipping the blessing is leveraging your time, your talent, and your treasure for others. He remembers the frustration he felt as an unpublished author for thirteen years and the gratitude he felt when a pastor-author gave him two hours of his time even though he was busy. The pastor also helped him find his first book agent. Mark has tried to flip that blessing by offering advice to dozens of first-time authors as well as helping them to find their first book agent. Other ways you can flip the blessing to those around you is with your attitude. Bless someone with a smile, your words, or give someone your undivided attention (put your phone away).

Generosity cannot be reduced to a formula it is more than dollars and cents it also involves time and talent as much as treasure.  At NCC it takes over five hundred volunteers serving about three hours each to pull off a dozen services at seven campuses on any given weekend. The DC Dream Center volunteered 16,000 hours this past year loving, serving and mentoring kids in Ward 7, an underserved and under resourced neighborhood in the nation’s capital. These volunteers give their time and talent to kingdom causes and God will bless them.

If you want to grow in the grace of giving Mark offers the following steps:

  • Giving spontaneously – create a financial margin so you can meet needs and seize opportunities when the Holy Spirit prompts you to do so.
  • Giving consistently – establish consistent habits. For example, Mark and his wife, Lora, set up reoccurring giving with kingdom causes they care about.
  • Giving proportionately – give a 10 percent tithe
  • Giving radically – Give over and above the 10 percent tithe.

NCC (which is comprised mostly of single twenty-somethings) wants to be a blessing to their community and change lives one person at a time by clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and caring for the sick. To date, NCC has invested more than $19.3 million in kingdom causes which include:
Providing apartments and helping to find employment to new families settling in the D.C. area
Offering programs through the DC Dream Center including one-on-one mentorship, tutoring, and reconciliation lunches where people of all ages, races and ethnicities can come together to establish friendships.
Renovating and restoring the Navy Yard Car Barn, the last standing building in the city that relates to the cable car era. Last year, NCC began transforming this block-long building into a ministry hub that will offer a variety of services including a child development center and a marketplace for entrepreneurs and creatives.

Mark was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and grew up in Naperville, Illinois. He was just 5 years old when his parents took him to see a movie made through Billy Graham’s ministry, called the Hiding Place. The film significantly impacted Mark and he gave his life to God. When he turned 19 years old, he realized that he had been asking Jesus to follow him instead of following Jesus.

Mark went to the University of Chicago on scholarship playing basketball and majoring in pre-law. After a prayer walk through a cow pasture, he felt called to full-time ministry and ended up at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. Mark also holds a Doctor of Ministry from Regent University. He is the author of 17 trade books including his first published title, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and The Circle Maker, a New York Times Bestseller.

He and his wife Lora, moved to Washington, DC in 1994 to direct an inner-city ministry. He has served as Lead Pastor of National Community Church since 1996. Under his leadership, NCC has grown from a core group of 19 people to 1 church with 7 locations.

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