Meet our Summer Intern: Mark Centers (Part 1)
Paul exhorted Timothy to guard the gospel and then he said this: “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). We guard the gospel by handing it down to faithful men who will guard it.
That’s why we’re starting a pastoral internship. This internship isn’t terribly formal. It’s not paid, and it won’t carry any formal hours. But it will faithfully advance Paul’s charge to Timothy, and to us, to see the gospel handed down.
Mark Centers, a face and name familiar to so many of you, has become a friend, and will be serving as an intern with me over the summer. This internship involves four things:
- Reading. Mark is working through a volume of biblical theology and volume of practical theology this summer.
- Meeting. Mark will be in the mix of a variety of ministry meetings with me, including elders meetings, deacons meetings, and some other ministry planning meetings, lunches with a variety of our leaders here, and other pastoral care opportunities as they emerge. We’ll also be meeting a few times a month to talk Scripture, ministry, and debrief on these meetings.
- Feeding. Mark will be teaching a class on Hebrews this summer, and I’ll be a sounding board and a point of feedback as he develops his teaching gift.
- Leading. Mark will be leading out on a number of our Evening Prayer meetings this summer.
In short, this internship will give some structure to the ministry this brother already has and the friendship we’ve developed, bringing him in closer to our work and inside important conversations. Some of what Mark will learn will be taught. Most of it will be caught along the way.
Enough about that. If you don’t know Mark and his wife, Sarah, seek them out. Here’s Part 1 of a two-part interview with Mark.
You’re not from Greenville originally. What places have you lived and how did you get to Greenville?
I’m originally from Michigan. I spent my childhood in Pontiac, Holly, and Oxford, Michigan. During my teen years and early 20’s, I bounced between Lapeer (Flint) and Ferndale (Detroit).
After the economic downturn in 2008, work just wasn’t happening in Michigan. A friend connected me to a good job in Spartanburg, so I moved to Greenville in 2008 for work and to be closer to Sarah, who was finishing school at BJU.
You’ve been at Heritage for ten years now. What has God done in you during that time?
God has been using Heritage to hone my spiritual gifts, like teaching. I would say the most important thing that God is showing me is the organic reality of the body. We are all connected. God put us together like skin over a muscle. So when our church hurts, we all hurt. When our church struggles, we all feel it. When our church triumphs, we all rejoice. When the body suffers a wound, the blood cells surround and repair the wound with the end goal of restoration. I have personally participated in a “wound” that HBC suffered and watched the leadership swarm the issue with the result of a fully restored member. We are a body. We are meant to take care of one another. HBC demonstrated this over and over.
Let’s back up and learn about your conversion. How did God save you?
God saved me at a church camp in the upper peninsula of Michigan when I was about 12. I didn’t have any discipleship for about 10 years, so the Christian life was a struggle for me. In 2005 after some traumatic family events, Jesus led me to a local church where my pastor and friend Josh Shelpman discipled me along with a good group of young adults who modeled Christ for me.
You desire to serve vocationally as a pastor. How did God grow that desire in you?
So the year after I was saved, I went back to camp and felt the Lord call me to ministry. At the time I thought it was missionary work, but as the Lord has worked in me over the years, it has become more evident that the pastorate is more in line with my gifts and personality.
You’re pursuing a degree. What degree and why?
MDiv. I have awesome grandparents who see my desire to serve in the ministry and offered to help me out. I wouldn’t be able to do this degree without them.
You’re serving as our Summer Intern. What excites you about that?
Honestly, the possibility to learn about big, awkward church. I don’t know what my future ministry holds, but I have been convinced since 2008 that HBC is the best place for me to learn all about the complexities of a ministry and I wouldn’t want to learn from anyone or anywhere else.
Sarah worked on staff here in the office and we miss having her around. Tell us about Sarah.
Sarah is my partner. I don’t mean that in a generic way. She has been on board with what God has planned from the beginning. She works hard. She’s a disciple maker. She only ever wants to help people. She’s an amazing mom and my best friend. Sarah loves Jesus.
How does she complement and strengthen you as a husband?
Sarah completes my brain. She’s very detailed oriented. I’m not. She naturally wants to take care of people. That is not always my natural response. Sarah is a great writer. She makes me a better writer. Sarah listens and responds to situations with wisdom, and teaches me to do the same.
One thing I wish I had known about Sarah before we were married is that she is a descendent of the dwarves who built the mines of Moriah. This has caused some marital strife when it comes to our ice cream consumption, as Sarah constructs vast tunnels in the cookies and cream in order to mine the riches and enjoy her hard work. Other than that we make a great team.
So, you’re an intern for the Summer. What does that even mean?
It means I have an official title for things I already do. Just kidding! It means an up-close look at the good & the bad of ministry. Instead of being on the supply line of the war, I have jumped into the trenches to learn from those who are facing the brunt of the warfare.