In this installment, we interview Alex Mark (class of 2013). Alex embodies many values of RTS Charlotte, but we particularly appreciate his work in the area of church planting. Here at RTS Charlotte we believe that the church, the bride of Christ, is the best way to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Even more than this, Alex places a special emphasis on the preaching of the Word. If a church is going to be the key instrument in spreading the gospel, then it must implement the key means that God has ordained to accomplish that task: preaching. It’s not fashionable to make preaching a priority in our modern world, but we believe it is a key example of how God uses “what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27).
1. What are you currently doing?
Immediately after I graduated from RTS Charlotte in 2013, my family and I moved to my hometown of Beaufort, South Carolina to start a new church. We worked with a core group of 33 individuals from Beaufort who initially began the process of starting an independent church. After my first year there, we became a PCA church plant in Palmetto Presbytery (www.firstscotsbeaufort.org), and have been wonderfully encouraged by God’s grace as we have grown and made an impact for Christ in our community over the past two years.
2. Why did you originally come to RTS?
Though I did consider and research other seminary options, I kept coming back to RTS Charlotte as the place I wanted and needed to be. Each of the professors are godly men, and the pastor-scholar approach was exactly what I knew I needed.
Perhaps the biggest reason I came to RTS Charlotte was Dr. Douglas Kelly, who was my pastor and mentor for four years prior to coming to Charlotte. I can’t begin to list all that I learned from him, but his deepest impact on me typically came when the two of us were on our knees in his weekly prayer meeting. We still talk regularly, and I am always grateful for opportunities to sit at his feet (even over the telephone).
3. Is there one thing that you learned at RTS that has come back to you as you have ministered to others? A phrase, encouragement or advice?
It’s hard to distill three years of training into one or two thoughts. I refer back to my class notes from RTS regularly, and I have a few particular statements that resonate in my head. More than anything, it was the overarching RTS philosophy that our studies aren’t separate from loving God and people; they are some of the means through which we love God and people. Oftentimes in ministry, the most help that I have been able to give people has been through unpacking deep theological truths as a balm to their hurting souls.
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
I cannot imagine enjoying a ministry more than I have enjoyed being at First Scots. This church offers me a wonderful balance of small group discipleship and a tremendous emphasis on preaching God’s Word. I often have opportunities to teach or preach 3-4 times per week, and my time preparing for those messages continues to grow richer and richer.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
As a solo-staff church planter in a small town, it seems that the opportunities are endless. For me, the biggest struggle has been to choose the best of those opportunities while not getting bogged down by less important things. The “tyranny of the urgent” often wins if I am not careful. It has caused me to continually examine my priorities to ensure that I neither worship my job nor become married to it. God and my wife alone deserve those two things!
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
Don’t waste it! It is often tempting to focus on the end goal of having a degree and being ordained, but the process is as important as the end result. One day, others will profit from the thousands of hours you invested studying theology, practical ministry, and the Bible. Don’t waste your opportunity and don’t short-change your flock!