You’ve heard his name and surely seen it in print numerous times, but you may be wondering, Just who is Mark Roberts? Well, if you want the straight facts, click here.
But if you are more interested in what’s inside this man, read on!
1. How many years have you worked with Laity?
I joined the Foundations for Laity Renewal team on a full-time basis in October 2007. Before then, I had spoken at Laity Lodge a few times and had written for The High Calling.
2. In which capacities have you worked?
When I came in 2007, I was the Senior Director for Laity Lodge. Then, just over a year ago, I passed off that leadership role to Steven Purcell and stepped into a new position as Senior Advisor and Theologian in Residence for the whole organization. One of my responsibilities in that role was to help our teaching in the Canyon reflect the major themes of FLR. That’s how I got involved with youth camp, Echo Valley in particular. I had the privilege of teaming up with Ang Aadahl in developing the curriculum for the summer and in coaching the staff speakers. I loved being part of the life-changing work at LLYC.
Now, I’m getting ready to take on new responsibilities as a member of the Foundations for Laity Renewal Executive Team. I will have the privilege of helping our whole organization communicate our message and build community in a variety of modes: in the Canyon, in offsite events, and through digital media. I’m excited to be involved, once again, with the teachers at LLYC this summer.
3. What do you love about LLYC?
First, I love the people! We have a great staff, both the Kerrville staff and the summer staff. I love the energy, the fun, and the craziness of camp. But I also love being part of a ministry that provides a place for campers to be real and to deal with what’s really going on in their lives. Most of all, I love seeing campers have genuine encounters with God’s love in Jesus Christ. Lives change at camp, by God’s grace at work through us. It’s an incredible blessing to be a one small part of that miracle.
4. You are currently the Theologian-in-Residence. Can you explain what that entails and what you like most about your current role?
I know that title sounds rather heady. In fact, we’re working on a new way to describe my role as a steward of God’s truth (the core of theology). Before coming to Laity Lodge, I was the senior pastor of a church in Irvine, California for sixteen years. In that role, I helped people experience God’s grace, largely through teaching his truth and building a faithful community. Though I am not called “pastor” at FLR, in many ways I am stilling doing pastoral work. I regularly teach God’s Word through the Daily Reflections that I write. I also get to speak at staff devotions in Kerrville, Laity Lodge retreats, youth camp, family camp (this summer!) and outside of the Canyon as a representative of our organization. I get to care for the staff of FLR as a chaplain. And I am charged with the responsibility of helping our whole organization, in all that we do, be consistent with God’s truth as revealed in Scripture and embodied in the culture and history of FLR.
5. Do you have a favorite Laity Lodge memory?
Wow! That is a really hard question because I have so many great Laity Lodge memories. Okay, I’ll narrow it down to two. Shortly after I started at Laity Lodge, I helped lead a retreat featuring Bishop N.T. Wright as the speaker. Bishop Tom, as he likes to be called, was (and is) my biggest hero in the world of biblical scholarship. As a doctoral student in New Testament and then as a pastor and seminary professor, I had read literally thousands of pages he had written, and I loved his work. But had never heard him speak in person or met him before. All of a sudden, I had the privilege of getting to know Bishop Tom personally, even leading an open discussion group with him and the seventy people at that retreat. I was in hog heaven!
My second memory is of something I experienced at LLYC last summer. I sat in on one of the “Say So” gatherings, in which the male campers shared what God had done in their lives at camp. I was blown away, often brought to tears, as I heard these boys share the profound ways God had touched them. One talked about how, for the first time, he had experienced the love of God as a father. This boy’s own father had abandoned him and his family when he was young, and he could never before relate to God as a loving father. Several of the campers shared that they had accepted Christ as their Savior. Others talked about being able to forgive people who had hurt them terribly. And so it went, for over a half hour. It was an amazing time of hearing how God’s love made a real difference in a deep ways in people’s lives.
6. How has Laity impacted your family?
In many ways! For one thing, my wife, Linda, has been very involved at Laity Lodge, leading some retreats, speaking, doing devotions, providing spiritual direction for participants, etc. She has also had the privilege of serving as a mentor for some of our FLR interns. Linda loves Laity Lodge and values the opportunity to exercise her gifts and calling here.
When we first moved to Texas, my children were going into seventh and ninth grades. They would often come out to Laity Lodge when I was leading retreats. For them, it was a place of refuge and rest, a place to recharge their batteries for their busy lives. My son, Nathan, who is now a sophomore at NYU, has worked at LLYC several summers as a videographer. This has been a great opportunity for him and he loves LLYC. My daughter, Kara, is getting ready to graduate from high school. She’ll be working at LLYC this summer and is excited about what lies ahead for her.
The greatest impact of Laity on my family has been the whole experience of moving from our home in California to our new home in Texas. This was a huge step for all of us, one that challenged and strengthened our love for each other and our faith in God. Part of what made this transition such a good one was being adopted in the Laity “family.” Of course, FLR is centered in an actual family, the family of Howard and Barbara Dan Butt and David and Deborah Rogers. The Butts and the Rogers have meant more to my family and me than I can express in a few words. Their love and support has been amazing. But, in addition, their work through FLR has created a whole community of people who are gracious, welcoming, fun, and faithful. It is a joy to be part of this larger Laity family.