An Interview with Mike Anderson
At first glance, Mike Anderson appears to be an average guy in his mid twenties who fits the typical description of a guy who embodies everything it means to be young, restless, and Reformed. When I was first introduced to Mike by my friend Chris Larson (executive vice president of Ligonier Ministries), I recall being immediately impressed by Mike’s passion for God and love for the church.
I met Mike at a time when I was still in my search to figure out all it meant to be young, restless, and Reformed. In the providence of God, I could not have met better guy to help me in my quest. Through Mike, the Lord helped me to understand that He is raising up an entire generation of young men and women who love Him as the holy, sovereign, and gracious God that He is. I came to understand that God has given many in this new generation a restless passion for Himself, as well as a passion for His Word, His gospel, His church, and His mission in the world. I came to understand that while many of these young and restless men and women come from all sorts of different theological and ecclesiastical backgrounds, if they even have a theological or ecclesiastical background, they are devouring Scripture and steadily coming to adhere to the precious biblical theology set forth in the church’s historic creeds and Reformed confessions of faith.
At the end of our interview I asked Mike the following question: “What is your most consistent prayer for the ministry the Lord has entrusted to you?”
Mike responded by saying, “I often pray for wisdom, discernment, and a heart that beats for Jesus and his mission. I pray that God would be working actively in the hearts of the Resurgence team, and I pray that he would be raising up a whole army of 16 year olds that are going to love him, serve the church, and be the next generation to take over all the Acts 29 churches that are being planted.”
If this interview helps us in any way, my prayer is that it would at least lead us to pray for Mike and the hundreds of thousands like him that God is raising up all over the world to serve Him and His kingdom for His glory alone.
Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and what your main responsibilities are with Resurgence.
I am a 27 year old guy with an amazing wife named Jen, a new baby in her tummy, and a God Who keeps showing up in my life and completely rearranging it in ways I would never believe.
My life verse seems to be Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain…”. God showed up in eighth grade and gave me no hope but to cling to him, again my freshman year of college he renewed my passion for him and I pursued a major in math so that I could get into any country in the world to be a missionary teacher. Before graduating I was offered a job for an advertising agency to help mega-churches and large financial institutions with design, branding, and marketing—I jumped on it because I knew I could help drive wandering churches toward Jesus. Then in early 2008, I got a tweet saying that I would make a good fit for a job at Mars Hill in Seattle to help with web strategy—needless to say God tore down the career house I was building and gave me a place in ministry. One of the things that I was put in charge of was this little blog called the Resurgence, this is what I really wanted to focus on. I had been following the Resurgence since it’s founding and new that it could help tens of thousands of leaders—so I changed my email signature from “director of web strategies” to “director of the Resurgence,” and as the Resurgence grew I was able to focus more time and attention on the Resurgence and hand off some of my other responsibilities.
I love that I have a sovereign God who keeps tearing down what I build and rebuilding it better. Who knows—by the time this is published everything may be different.
When did you trust Christ and what were the circumstances surrounding your conversion?
I was first convinced that the devil was real before I knew much about Jesus…
As a teenager I watched the movie The Exorcist and later that week experienced spiritual warfare in a way that changed my life forever. The only way I can describe it is that as I lay awake at night the dark got darker, and there was a presence that was imposing on me—I was very aware that demons were there. For weeks I had no idea what to do. I slept on the floor of my parent’s room, I moved my bed into my brother’s room, but finally I realized that people couldn’t help.
I then found an old King James Bible and opened it up to Genesis. There was something about the Bible that brought comfort… it felt safe… it seemed like this God could protect. I could sleep when I read the Bible.
In the following months I read the Bible cover to cover. I became a Christian somewhere between Genesis and Revelation without finding a church. I knew that God was a saving God, I knew that when you trusted him he always saved the day, so when I got to the cross—it wasn’t a surprise. It was more a reminder of Passover.
After your wife, who would you consider to be one of your closest friends and why?
Justin Holcomb is one of my best friends. We’ve only known each other for about two years, but in that time we’ve been through it all together. He is my boss, but we lead the Resurgence together. It is a complementarian leadership relationship in the truest sense. He is a pastor, a Ph.D., a really godly man, and he is worthy of a ton of respect, yet he puts himself on the line to help me serve to the best of my ability.
Our wives have become great friends, and are constantly texting one another, I love his two little girls—they feel as close as nieces, and Justin is always looking out for me.
Justin helps me love Jesus more because I see how much he loves God, loves his family, and has a huge heart. I’ve gotten to watch him counsel women who’ve been victims of sexual abuse, and seen him stand up to wolves in the Church. I am very thankful to have a friend like Justin.
Tell us about the beginnings of Resurgence, the website, and the name itself “Resurgence.”
The Resurgence started in 2004 when Mars Hill invited John Piper to come to Seattle and teach. It was very clear that Mars Hill was growing quickly in influence and needed an outlet to help train leaders in the movement that was just beginning in Mars Hill and the Acts 29 network. The name “the Resurgence” was chosen because the leaders at the time were beginning to see that God was doing something unique. It seemed that he was raising up a bunch of 20 and 30 year olds with strong Reformed convictions who were reading the works of dead guys like Calvin and Edwards and Spurgeon. But it wasn’t just theology, it was more than that… they wanted to put theology into action with a heavy emphasis on church planting and missional evangelism. It was an optimistic, maybe even a prophetic, name of what they believed would happen.
Since then we’ve seen over 400 churches planted, and Mars Hill expand from 2,000 to 12,000 people. We see hundreds and hundreds of people baptized at Mars Hill campuses each year.
God has been at work, and we’re just thankful to be a part of it. We don’t pretend to think that we’re the key to the resurgence that’s at hand—we’re just happy to be a part of it.
What have been some of the greatest challenges of working with Resurgence and serving at Mars Hill?
At any organization that’s growing as fast as Mars Hill there is constant change. We’re 14 years old as a church, and it often feels like we’re growing an inch a month like a Jr. high boy—always growing pains. We’re always working our faces off to try to serve the people who God is bringing into the movement.
We’re in a phase that I call “managing blessings.” It’s both a huge privilege to be a part of and can also take every bit of energy and emotion I have. Every day I get asked to answer questions like: should we translate the Resurgence into Russian/Portuguese/Spanish or do we create an internship program to train a few hundred students next year?
These are hard questions because they’re choosing between two things that I really want to do.
What have been some of the unexpected blessings?
I’ve been so privileged to get to travel around the country and see what God is doing all over the place. I get to see churches that preach the Gospel and have seen hundreds come to Christ, I get to go to conferences where I see pastors connect to God and refreshed for ministry, and I get to meet great men of God like yourself. I’ve been really thankful for your friendship, Burk.
In the times we’ve spent over the last year I’ve been challenged by the pastoral questions you ask about my future and I’ve been so encouraged by the pastoral character that you display with almost every single person you interact with.
What three most crucial lessons have you learned while working with Resurgence and under the leadership of Acts29 and Mars Hill Church?
1.Always be learning
The first trip that I ever went on with Mark Driscoll he asked at the end of every day “What did you learn?” He set the precedent that I need to be learning from every encounter, and I am so thankful for it. I’m always on the look out for how I can learn.
2. Repent early
I’ve seen some of the best elders in the world at work. It’s been amazing to watch from a close distance as they deal with church discipline issues. I’ve gotten to see men, who understand grace really well, beg people with hardened hearts to repent. I’ve seen tormented people separate the truth of Christ from the lies they’ve been hearing, I’ve seen men repent of being awful husbands, and I’ve seen men fail to repent and leave the church. The Gospel works. The Gospel brings new life and can renew anything and anyone.
3. Love my wife
Ray Ortlund was recently at Mars Hill and said “Why not love your wife like Christ loves you?”
Best question… ever.
I’ve seen men who love their wives well. It’s an investment that seems to pay back 100,000%. These men have learned the grace that God gives to them and then work hard to be graceful to their wives and lovingly lead and encourage them. I’ve been privileged to watch, and take notes and try to do the same. Jen is an amazing woman, and I’ve signed up to do my best to love this lady and start a family—I’m really excited for our baby girl to show up!
Is there any story about working with Mark Driscoll that you could share with us that might help others get a glimpse at what sort of man he is outside of the public eye?
You would never believe it, but Mark Driscoll is a total introvert. It takes every ounce of effort for him to stand out and shake 1,000 hands and say hello to any one that lines up to talk to him. Pastor Mark is at his best when he is with his family, and especially when he is with his wife, Grace.
Jen and I have had the privilege of having dinner at the Driscoll’s home several times, watching Pastor Mark interact with Grace and the kids has been an object lesson in being a pastor to my family. I’ve gotten to see him pray for his wife, and play with his kids, and make huge personal sacrifices for his church. He is a man who does almost nothing for himself—it’s all for his God, his wife, his kids, and his church, in that order.
What have been some of the more helpful books for your life and ministry?
- The Bible
- Holiness by J.C. Ryle
- Desiring God by John Piper
- Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll
- Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
- Seth Godin’s books have also been really helpful and practical.
Do you read any particular blogs regularly? If so, which have proven to be the most helpful?
I currently have 51 blogs I read daily, which is down from over 600 when I was the one running theResurgence.com.
The funny thing is that nearly all of the blogs that I’m subscribed to are not Christian blogs. They’re mainly business, design, and wisdom related. I end up getting all of the best Christian posts through Twitter links.
There are some godly men out there writing amazing posts like Ray Ortlund who consistently puts out pearls, or Justin Taylor who has the scoop on every story—he finds out about Resurgence stuff before I do. I am also really enjoying Jared Wilson’s and Tim Brister’s blogs—these guys are top-notch.
If you could give counsel to those of your generation who are a part of the resurgence movement what would you tell them?
Read the book Redemption by Mike Wilkerson twice, once by yourself then take three people through it. It goes through Exodus to paint a big picture of God and shows his grace and redemption. I recently taught a new believers class at Mars Hill and was amazed to see a woman who was a brand new believer who read Redemption within weeks of being saved and was able to navigate some of the trickiest theological questions.
The cool thing wasn’t that she was smart. The cool thing was that after reading that book she knew the character of God well enough to know how he would react—and had Scripture to back it up. It seems to me that the most life-changing books are the ones that talk about God’s character like Desiring God by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, and Knowing God by J.I. Packer.
I would say that it’s most important to know God, and not just know about him.
How do you think the ministry of Resurgence will be used of God to influence the next generation?
I want to see a whole bunch of 16 year olds get a vision for God’s sovereignty and a heart for church planting. I hope these guys get instruction from godly men and guidance from the Holy Spirit to prepare themselves to be good husbands, fathers, and pastors.
I’ve always taught our volunteers to edit any blog post like they’re talking straight to this 16 year old. I want to see this guy jump on board and get the training, pastoral guidance, and heart-level affections that will prepare him for ministry.
If there’s one thing you could have done differently in your life what would it be?
That’s a hard question because God has used even the hard things for good, and he’s redeemed the evil things.
But there are lots of sins I’ve committed in my life that I wish I hadn’t—I wish I didn’t have a season of real arrogance in high school, I wish I’d never seen that first Playboy in fourth grade, I wish I could take back all of the times that I didn’t love girls who I dated as sisters in Christ, and I wish that I hadn’t had a rebellious period my senior year when I saw a lot of my friends walk away from the church, and I did nothing.
There are a million more things that I wish I’d done differently, but I wanted to air some dirty laundry so that people see that Christ covers sins. His grace is truly remarkable.
What is your most consistent prayer for yourself, your family, and the ministry the Lord has entrusted to you?
- For grace because I keep sinning even though I love Jesus and want to follow him with everything I’ve got.
- For me to be a good a good husband to Jen, and that he would keep giving her a soft heart.
- For my new baby that she would love Jesus and that he would be her Lord.
- I often pray for wisdom, discernment, and a heart that beats for Jesus and his mission. I pray that God would be working actively in the hearts of the Resurgence team, and I pray that he would be raising up a whole army of 16 year olds that are going to love him, serve the church,and be the next generation to take over all the Acts 29 churches that are being planted.