Dr. Gerald Harris, former editor of The Christian Index, sat down with GBMB Assistant Executive Director Mark Marshall. Through Marshall’s leadership and support, the missions and ministry staff of the GBMB work in partnership with churches and associations to focus on strengthening pastors and churches.
Question: What has been your experience with Georgia Baptists and GBC churches prior to coming to the GBMB?
My dad, Carl Marshall, was the pastor of First Baptist Church Lilburn during my high school and college years. FBC Lilburn is the church that licensed and ordained me. My first staff position was as the student minister of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Duluth (now North Metro FBC). I have been privileged to serve two Georgia Baptist churches as pastor. My first church to serve out of seminary was Calvary Baptist Church (now Crossview Baptist Church) in Marietta. I also served as the pastor of First Baptist Church Conyers.
Q: How has God prepared you for this role in your ministerial calling?
From a spiritual standpoint, I believe that he called me to serve Him as a part of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. I am also convinced that when God calls, He also equips and enables us for what He wants us to do.
When God calls us to do something, He will always provide the skills, ability, direction and resources we need to accomplish His will. Our response must be like that of Isaiah, who said, “Here am I. Send me!”
From a practical point of view, I have served as the pastor of five churches of various sizes ranging from 70 to 1,500 in worship attendance. Each church had unique opportunities and challenges, which provided a broad experience in local church settings.
Serving at LifeWay gave me organizational, leadership and denominational experience I could not have gotten in a local church. God has used all of these roles to prepare me for my current responsibilities.
Q: Share your vision, your heart for the task that God has laid before you. What would you like to see God do through the GBMB?
Georgia is my home state. I am heartbroken over the lostness in this state, with over 7 million lost people. God has produced an army of over a million Georgia Baptists in approximately 3,600 Georgia Baptist churches in the state. If we are to see Georgia reached for Christ, it will be through the local church.
Our role is to seek to build relationships with pastors and other church leaders so that we can encourage, equip and enhance their ministries so they can be good shepherds, strong preachers and godly examples for their congregations.
There is nothing I would rather do than come alongside and help pastors, because our pastors will be absolutely essential if we are to grow strong and healthy churches, impact our secular culture for the cause of Christ and reach the lost for the glory of His name.
Q: Share something about your love and admiration for pastors, the servants of God.
“Pastors are our heroes” is more than a catchy statement to me. I grew up in a pastor’s home. I served as a pastor over 25 years. My best friends are pastors.
I know the challenges and the struggles and the joys pastors go through. My greatest satisfaction comes in knowing we are doing all we can to help my heroes in my home state on a daily basis.