By Matt Proctor
The article title grabbed my attention: “Preachers Matter More Than Presidents.” Presidents matter, it said, but they can’t fix our nation’s deepest problems. The guy in the Oval Office cannot change hearts, but with the gospel, the guy in the church office can. “By the foolishness of preaching,” God saves the world (1 Corinthians 1:21).
If that’s true, Ozark Christian College preaching professor Mark Scott has made a bigger eternal impact than any U.S. president.
In my first preaching ministry at age 23, I called on some first-time church visitors. The Richards welcomed me into their living room, and I was curious to learn about this young couple. In our eclectic university town, I was used to hearing unexpected questions, but Jennifer Richards’ first question still startled me: “Was Mark Scott your preaching professor?”
“Yes,” I said, unable to hide my surprise. “How do you know Mark? And how in the world did you know he was my teacher?”
“Mark has preached at our home church,” Dale Richards said. “When we heard you last Sunday, we looked at each other and said, ‘He preaches just like Mark Scott.’”
It still might be the best compliment I’ve ever received.
Since I first enrolled at Ozark, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students with:
• His commitment to Scripture. Mark has read the Bible through more times than anyone I know. What Charles Spurgeon said of one preacher could be said of Mark: “Prick him anywhere, and you will find that his blood is Bibline. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.”
• His anointed teaching. When Mark opens the Bible, he brings forth “new gems of truth as well as old” (Matthew 13:52, New Living Translation). Even in 7 a.m. classes, his energy kept us awake, and when he called us to advance Christ’s kingdom, we were ready to storm the gates of Hell with a squirt gun!
• His kingdom urgency. His work ethic is legendary, teaching heavy loads and traveling nearly a million miles to preach. Sometimes it gets him in trouble. A police officer once pulled him over and said, “You weren’t speeding, but a trucker called to say you were reading a book while driving.” “Oh, no, Sir. I wasn’t reading a book,” said Mark. “I was grading papers!” His urgency is gospel-driven because he knows “the night is coming [when] . . . no one can work” (John 9:4, NLT).
• His personal faith. His walk with Jesus is real, and there’s no one I’d rather hear pray than Mark. In his Gospel of Mark class, he led us so closely behind Jesus on those Palestinian roads that we were covered in the dust of Christ’s sandals.
Mark’s writing, including his Bible study column in the Christian Standard, is widely read, and his preaching at conventions, Christ In Youth conferences, and churches large and small has touched hundreds of thousands of lives. But as powerful as his preaching is, I believe Mark Scott’s greatest impact lies elsewhere.
At age 19, I sat in Mark’s preaching class, and I heard him bleed passion for proclamation: “Preaching God’s Word is like wiring your house with the electricity on—you’re handling live power, so it’s always exciting!” My soul stirred when Mark said, “If God has called you to be a preacher, do not stoop to be a king.”
I remember praying, “God, if you can use me as a preacher, I’m yours.”
I believe Mark Scott’s greatest kingdom impact are the students, like me, that he has inspired to preach God’s Word. Thousands of students have passed through Mark’s classes at OCC. Just think: if, over his 35 years, he inspired 3,500 students to preach, and if each student touches an average of 3,500 lives throughout their ministry, that’s 12 million people eternally shaped by the gospel!
I’m grateful for the good work our U.S. presidents do, but the article is right: “Preachers Matter More Than Presidents.”
At the end of this school year, Mark Scott will retire from full-time teaching at Ozark. (Though not from ministry. Like the Energizer Bunny, he just keeps going, so at age 68, he’ll become the preacher at Joplin’s Park Plaza Christian Church.) But OCC’s work of training preachers will continue.
Dr. Jason Poznich now serves as director of the Biblical Communication Department. (Jason and the other three of us who teach in that department were all once taught by Mark Scott.) This year, we have 42 Biblical Communication majors, and those 42 students receive $65,000 in general fund scholarships. One of the students receiving such a scholarship is senior Derieck Lopez, who serves as weekend preacher at Conway (Missouri) Christian Church.
Not long ago, Derieck took a freshman with him to Conway, and afterward, Derieck thought, He has no idea, and he hasn’t even taken a preaching class yet. But someday he will be my successor here. The fire Mark Scott lit in Derieck’s heart to preach will soon burn in that freshman’s heart.
If the article I saw is right, there is no better investment than training preachers. And Mark Scott has invested the better part of his life in doing just that.
This column by Ozark Christian College president Matt Proctor was written originally for OCC’s website. We have adapted it slightly. In the occ.edu version, Matt shared additional information about how to support Ozark’s general fund scholarships. He wrote, “Would you honor Mark Scott in his last year by helping provide that $65,000 in scholarships for our preaching students?” Click here to learn more.
Matt also invited friends and former students to share a note with Mark Scott at email@example.com. “And for a blessing,” Matt added, “listen to his chapel sermon last year, ‘Jesus Loves You and Died for Your Sins,’ at occ.edu/markscott.”