Questions and Answers with Mark Batterson Author of Chase the Lion
You write that “most of us spend most of our lives running away from the things we’re afraid of.” How can we overcome our fear?
The key to overcoming the fear of failure is not success—it’s failure in small enough doses that you build up immunity! You’ve got to face your fears by doing what you’re afraid of. You make it a way of life by seeking out situations that scare you to life. That’s what it means to run to the roar.
Tell us the amazing story of how your new “miracle theater” church on Capitol Hill began. What happened 49 years ago to birth this dream?
In 1960, an evangelist named R. W. Schambach was holding a revival in Washington, D.C. As he walked by a movie theater at 535 Eighth Street SE, he felt prompted to pray that God would shut down the theater and turn it into a church. Two years later it became the People’s Church. And 49-years later it would become National Community Church. Everything goes does in and through our Capitol Hill campus is a prayer within a prayer, a dream within a dream, a miracle within a miracle.
The irony is that we’ve converted that campus back not a movie theater—we show movies during off-church hours! One of our core convictions is that the church belongs in the middle of the marketplace. After all, Jesus didn’t just hang out in the synagogue. He hung out at wells. That’s why we own and operated a coffeehouse. It’s why we own and operate a movie theater. We get to control what goes on the screen, and it’s a great way for the church and community to cross paths.
How can someone discern if an idea or dream they receive is worth chasing?
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you’re going to get out of a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, you’d better make sure that Jesus said, “Come.” But if Jesus says, “Come,” you’d better not stay in the boat. The challenge, of course, is discerning when to do what. Either way, the key is discerning the voice of God. If He says, “Stay,” then stay. If He says, “Come,” then come. How do you discern the voice of God? It starts with the Word of God. If you want to get a word from God, get into the Word of God.
I’d rather have one God idea than a thousand good ideas. Good ideas are good, but God ideas change the course of history!
You say “if God called you, you aren’t really doubting yourself. You’re doubting God.” Please expand on this.
First of all, God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. So let’s quit making excuses. If you’re looking for an excuse, you’ll always find one! But that’s true of opportunity, too! If God has called you to do something, it’s not your reputation that is at stake. It’s God’s reputation. Faith is risking your reputation to establish God’s reputation.
In your book you encourage readers to go after a dream so big that is destined to fail unless there is divine intervention. Could you share an example of this from your own life and how the inception of the dream came about?
We had no business going into the coffeehouse business 10 years ago, but I knew the dream for Ebenezers Coffeehouse was from God. I also believed God would bless it, especially since every penny of profit would go to kingdom causes. We had very little experience, but Ebenezers has been voted the #1 coffeehouse in DC several times by several different publications. We’ve now had more than a million customers and given away more than $1 million, but it started with a crazy idea—let’s turn a crackhouse into a coffeehouse.
By definition, a God-sized dream is beyond your ability and beyond your resources. And that’s the beauty of a dream that is bigger than you are—it forces you to pray like it depends on God because it does!
You say “We start dying the day we stop dreaming.” What would you say to those who don’t have a dream or maybe they have seen their dream die and don’t see any hope of it being resurrected?
If you don’t have a dream, get around someone who does! One of the best ways to discover your own dream is to help someone else accomplish theirs!
If you have a dream that has died, don’t give up on it. Most of my dreams have had to go through a death and resurrection. I’ve had the joy of pastoring NCC for 20 years now, but it’s not my first rodeo. My first attempt at church planting failed, and I’m grateful it did. I learned some tough lessons, but I wouldn’t trade that failure for anything. If our church plant in Chicago had not died, I don’t think I would have made it to Washington, DC.
You say that “too often the church complains about culture instead of creating it.” Why do you think this is so? How can someone stir more innovation and creativity in their life?
I live by Michelangelo’s motto: criticize by creating. We should be more known for what we’re for than what we’re against. Let’s write better books, start better businesses, draft better legislation, produce better films. How? With the help of the Holy Spirit.
Quit complaining about what’s wrong and do something about it. And don’t let what you cannot do keep you from doing what you can!