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7 Questions for Thursday: Marcus Allen

Rev. Marcus Allen has been the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Madison since October of 2016. Before coming to Madison, he was senior pastor at Union Branch Baptist Church in Prince George, Virginia. He grew up in Milwaukee and served in the U.S. Army, including two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

What does Jesus mean for you?
Christ is everything to me. Since the age of the age of 8, I have been a baptized believer in Christ. My life would not be what it is today if it was not for Jesus. He is my example for living. Jesus lived a humble life; depending on the Father for everything. Likewise, I have chosen to live in that manner. Jesus was one concerned about the least, left out, looked over and the lost. Likewise, I attempt to model his compassion on others. Christ is a friend and a brother to me. Mentally he is my peace. I am a veteran who served over 40 months in a combat zone and I know my sanity is only because of my spirituality. Most importantly, theologically Jesus is my savior. John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” There is no other way to God accept through Christ. I need Jesus.

Name your favorite 3 Christian music artists.
Kurt Franklin, Tasha Cobbs and Tamela Man

What is the church body doing well and what could we improve on?
I am proud to say that the body of Christ which is the church is doing a lot of things well. I know I cannot speak for all churches but there is hope found in the church. Many churches are involved in their communities. Just because the church never gets the press or the media coverage of other non-profits does not mean they are not doing anything.

Weekly we are helping families, assisting to restore lives that have been broken, building people to become spiritually, physically and mentally well. Many churches are passionate about people. Personally I desire to help everyone who calls our church or walks through our doors with a need. However, we are limited in resources. Therefore, we do what we are able to do and contact others in the community to help where we cannot. Partnership between the church and outside agencies is necessary for building a stronger community.

The work of the church is never ending. Our church offices may have hours of operation but we are always on call. I always pray that the church would be a hospital for sick and a safe haven for the lost. I have a sneaky feeling that churches desire the best for their congregants and their community.

The church could always improve our evangelism methods. Too often we send missionaries or money to help evangelize other areas of the United States and foreign countries, but fail to properly evangelize the immediate community where our churches reside. The church has been given a charge by Christ to Go, Make Disciples, Baptize and Teach them all the things that he has taught us (Matthew 28:18-20).

Again I can only speak from my context. Sometimes the church thinks that because you are a church, people will come. However, those days are over. People are not committed to the church as they were many years ago. Therefore, we must go down the street, around the corner, across town, through the city, throughout the state, and throughout the world.

The church’s number one goal is to make disciples. We must be intentional in reaching the unsaved and the unchurched. If the church is not baptizing we definitely must evaluate what our purpose is.

What scripture really defines where you are today in life and why?
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

This scripture has really encouraged me not to be afraid to do what God has assigned me to do. Even though I have been in Madison for a year now, it is still a foreign land for me. My family and I are still dealing with the transition. The culture and community is very different from what we have grown accustomed to.

I know I will face many uncertainties and ambiguities; however, this scripture gives me confidence to try and do things that may seem uncommon and unpopular. I am a humble servant of God who depends on God for guidance, knowledge and strength. This scripture reminds me that God is with me wherever I go and this gives me confidence to just be me and do whatever it takes to fulfill my God given purpose in life.

How would you define a good marriage?
Well, every marriage is different. Each marriage presents different dynamics that produce a “good marriage.” The strength of a Christian marriage is that it is bonded together by Christ. That means that both husband and wife is connected to Christ, which in turn connects husband and wife to each other. Ecclesiastes 4:12 “A three strand cord is not easily broken.” Marriages that are connected to Christ last.

In my pre-martial counseling classes I often draw a chart with Christ in the middle connecting wife to husband. Whenever it’s only a connection between husband and wife and Christ is left out, that marriage is able to be broken.

Christ strengthens marriages. Knowing how to love Christ will help you love your spouse. If you love Christ you will devote your life to prayer. Likewise, when you love your spouse you know how to communicate to them. If you love Christ you will commit to reading the Bible that you may know more about the God in which you are trying to serve.

Likewise, you must learn who your spouse is. If you know them you know what makes them happy or sad; therefore you will do things that pleases your spouse and not hurt your spouse.

A good marriage is one that is bonded together by Christ.

On the first Sunday of each month, Mt. Zion asks if anyone is celebrating an anniversary in the upcoming month to please stand and state how long they have been married. My purpose behind doing this is to prove to singles in the church that marriage still works. Many marriages in our church have lasted multiple decades. This is great for all to hear when even in the Christian church the divorce rate is high. However, when couples attend church together and are active in their faith marriages last longer.

Who inspired you to become a pastor (outside of God & Jesus)?
Pastor George H. Jolly of Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church in Milwaukee. Pastor Jolly was my childhood pastor and will be spiritual father forever. At the age of 12 years old I heard the clarion call from God telling me to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, out of fear I did not tell anyone until a year later. When I informed Pastor Jolly that I had been called to be a preacher he did not reject me because of my age. Pastor Jolly allowed me to preach, licensed me to preach and equipped me with the proper tools for preaching.

His example of living should be modeled by every pastor. He is a man of integrity and compassion. Pastor Jolly showed me how to love God’s people and how to care for the congregants of the church. More than anything he calls me his son. I grew up without a father but to have Pastor Jolly in my life has been a true privilege. I couldn’t have asked for a better example of what a true man of God looks like.

Name your favorite 3 movies of all time?
1. Why Did I get Married?
2. Remember the Titans
3. Lone Survivor