Tell us about the first time you met each other.
The first time I ever heard of Andy was from my supervisor, Dr. Rockford Johnson. He told me of Andy’s interest in church planting and I asked him if I could visit with Andy about his future plans. Chantelle and I met Andy and Melissa for dinner a few weeks later and have been blessed by their presence in our lives ever since. We feel like God brought us together at the perfect time.
The first time I met Mark was at a pastor’s gathering in downtown Oklahoma City. I was sitting around a round table with some friends of mine for the first session. During a break, I stood up to find Mark right behind me, smiling from ear to ear. “Hi,” he said, “I’m Mark.” Mark and I talked for the entire break and even into the next session.
At the end of our conversation, Mark invited Melissa and I to have dinner with him and Chantelle at Red Rock Canyon Grill. During dinner, we talked about everything—work, hometowns, growing up and our hopes and dreams for the Church universal. That evening ended with all of us up at the Acts 2 campus. Mark and Chantelle walked us around the property as they explained where the new sanctuary would be built. As we high-stepped over tall grass, Mark and Chantelle’s excitement became contagious. Melissa and I were sold.
What is your favorite thing about working with each other?
I love Andy’s laugh, his love of God and his heart for others. Sermon prep is a lot of fun on Tuesday afternoons. He keeps me sharp and challenges me to get better at our craft of sharing the Good News of Jesus in new ways. He makes sure to remind me when my illustrations or metaphors reference pieces of culture that happened prior to his birth or memory. Andy even helped me get past using notes and the music stand after 16 years. I also love that we both care deeply about continuing to learn as Christ-followers, grow as leaders and mature as fathers and husbands to our families.
One of my favorite things about working with Mark is getting to do sermon preparation together. For the last 6 months, Mark and I have held Tuesday afternoons for the task of praying together and talking through scripture and metaphors that we believe convey God’s word. I deeply value this time. At least once during our meetings Mark and I will be doubled over from laughter.
Every time we meet, Mark also challenges me to see the scripture in a new way. I also become very jealous of Mark during these sessions because he will inevitably reference a book or an article that he read several years ago. How does he do that?! Each time we meet, I thank God for the opportunity to work with someone so wise and also humble enough to work with a 29-year-old on this sacred task of preaching.
What’s your favorite memory with each other?
My favorite memory with Andy is when he, Jeff, Chantelle and I shoveled gravel around the new sanctuary air conditioning units. I knew right then and there, only a few days on our staff, that he was the real deal and that he was willing to do anything for Jesus and His kingdom. Andy has made so many things fun since then, from walking neighborhoods, to launching One Church, to walking through the Holiest site in Christianity together late at night until they kicked us out.
Melissa and I were given the amazing opportunity to go to Israel in June with Mark and Chantelle and other members of Acts 2. During this time, we walked the exact places Jesus walked! I was so fortunate to be in this place with my wife and my mentor. Although Mark was leading the trip, he took great pride in letting me read the story of Jesus’ birth at the Church of the Nativity, help serve Communion at the Garden Tomb or lead in a variety of ways. It was an incredible experience and one I am thankful I got to share with Mark.
What’s one of your inside jokes?
We tease each other about the use of business cards. Ironically, I think they are outdated and don’t use them and he thinks they are still cool! We also have nerdy theological jokes and dad jokes we like to share.
Dad jokes are one of Mark’s favorite things. These jokes are inevitably ripe with puns and word plays that almost always make me cringe. On first telling of these jokes I would turn to him and say in a very playful manner, “Mark, you’re the worst.” This seemed to encourage Mark’s bad jokes even more. Mark now considers this response his goal each day. He will now tell a dad joke in my vicinity just to make me shudder. Then we turn to each other, make eye contact and say in unison, “You’re the worst.” He thinks it’s a good day when he hears this at least once.
If you could plan a day for the other person, what would their perfect day look like?
Andy’s day would start at Evoke alone but would then almost immediately be filled with friends and family surrounding him with love and small children playing games, laughing and sharing stories. By mid-afternoon he and Melissa would hand off the littlest to grandparents to spend the night in Coweta. The evening would include a nice dinner out together and perhaps meeting friends for a bit before heading to bed.
The next morning would be unusually soft and slow with the absence of the littlest one only to somehow get even better with the squeals of delight from Anna and Elijah’s delight to be back home with the parents they adore.
I believe a perfect day for Mark would begin in silence. He deeply values his time of prayer and contemplation before the Lord. Most often, this time is in the morning before the day has started so the Holy Spirit can direct and guide him. At best, this time is done when his phone is off and he knows that church work is delegated and being managed by other members of the staff and volunteers.
Mark would then go to a matinee movie at Tinseltown with his family—Chantelle, Noah and John Mark. He would bring his refillable popcorn and drink container so that his family could have the best bang for the buck! And really, who can beat the deal at Tinseltown?! Answer, no one. They would see a movie and enjoy their time together as a family.
Now, if time and distance were not an issue, Mark and his family would enjoy lunch at a Coney Islander. This is a popular chain in northeastern Oklahoma and has quite possibly the best (and the unhealthiest) coneys you’ve ever eaten in your life! Mark also has fond memories of eating here when his mom would take him through town. Mark would enjoy several coneys with a side of Cheetos and a large Mountain Dew.
Again, if time and distance were not an issue, Mark’s day would end with him and Chantelle on a beach somewhere- maybe in the Gulf Shore, maybe on an island somewhere remote. I don’t think the place matters as much as the sand, the water and a place to sit with Chantelle and marvel at God’s majesty over the horizon. I believe that would be a pretty great day for Mark.
What’s something that people don’t know about the other person?
Andy is equally committed to Jesus and His Kingdom as he is goofy when it comes to Disney show tunes. That is “Sold Out” friends. Andy is truly one of the best people I have ever met in my life. I love him more and more each day.
Mark is an incredible leader. I know someone else might know this, but really, Mark’s leadership is truly impressive. He constantly surprises me with his ability to see situations from a “30,000-foot view” or to put a dilemma in perspective of the big picture. Any time he offers correction or advice, he does so from a place of love and care. I thank God for the profound opportunity I have to count Mark as a mentor let alone a friend.