Get to know Mark Hernandez
Candidate for Elder
I am a recently retired art director who served in the intelligence community federal service for 30 years in the Washington, DC area. I was raised in Fort Worth, Texas with my three brothers. My family was nominally Catholic and by high school I was somewhere between an agnostic and an atheist. During my sophomore year in high school, at the school’s weekly assembly, I heard a defense of the Bible from a self-proclaimed “converted atheist.” (And this was a public (!) high school.) His story was compelling and grabbed my attention. This speaker later explained the Good News of forgiveness of sin available through Jesus Christ for those willing to turn from their rebellion from the God of the Bible and turn to trust in Jesus. I heard this message clearly, was convicted deeply, and I responded in faith.
In time, I was spiritually matured through a strong, Bible-teaching church, as weekly I sat under the sound exposition of God’s Word. I also learned how to study the Bible for myself day-by-day. I was impacted also as I saw the model of other godly men who I met in small groups. I was baptized by immersion in 1991.
My wife Carol and I have been married for 32 years. We met at TCU in Fort Worth. We have a son Reed and a daughter Jenna, who were born and raised in the northern Virginia area. Both are married and now living in the Lynchburg area. Our son Reed is the Director of Students here at FBC.
We have been visiting here at FBC since 2015 periodically as we have visited our two kids on weekends. We admire FBC for its strong expositional preaching, its caring fellowship, its missions heart, and its dedication to discipling youth.
I have seen my gifts play out in the life of the local church over the years in the areas of administration, serving, giving, short-term missions, leading, and teaching. I was blessed to earn a Master of Arts in Theological Studies through Liberty in 2015 to better ground my teaching and serve the local church. I hope to serve the Lord here at FBC according to His purpose and plan.
Q & A with Mark
When did you join Forest Baptist Church?
In what areas do you currently serve/lead at FBC?
Have been serving in the college‐aged ministry (“NEXT”) since June 2019. Currently lead teacher/mentor.
In what areas have you served/led in other churches (particularly those areas related to teaching and/or preaching God’s word?)
McLean Bible Church in Tysons Corner, VA (1988‐2013): 15 years as lay teacher for three classes: doctrinal basics, spiritual disciplines, and evangelism. Also eight years as elder. Sterling Park Baptist Church in Sterling, VA (2013‐2018): 2 yrs as substitute lay teacher for youth; 3.5 years as elder (some Sunday school, Sunday evening teaching).
Considering the church as a whole, what areas of Forest Baptist Church do you think we, as a congregation, do well in? What areas do we need to improve or grow in?
FBC excels in expository preaching; the public reading of the Word; adult Sunday school program; youth ministry; missions emphasis and participation; support of IMB and NAMB. FBC perhaps can grow in men’s discipleship.
What does your devotional life consist of? Explain:
Daily bible study at breakfast; memory verses and passages; prayer throughout day (iPhone reminders); sometimes praying through Smyrna guide (persecuted church) and FBC prayer journal; reading good Christian books (avg. 12/yr); online Christian articles throughout the week
How long have you been married to your wife and how would you describe the condition of your marriage?
Since 1986 and I can’t imagine it better than it is! Spiritually satisfying; relationally strong, connected, solid; enjoy togetherness over and above all else.
Describe your personal and family prayer life.
Prayer reminders on phone throughout the day; have been trying to pray the bible more (hat tip: Don Whitney); have weekly prayer requests from college‐aged min. students; pray with Carol at meals; discuss with Carol what I’m praying about.
Describe your most recent efforts at personal evangelism.
Our yearly Christmas card is intentionally Christ‐exalting. This year it included Acts: 10:43. Clear gospel summary. I’ve been witnessing to my closest high school friend (an atheist) for decades! His dad died in December. I tried to engage him spiritually, but he didn’t bite. Keeping it friendly and staying sensitive for opportunities.
While you may meet them, are there any areas of the qualifications for an elder that you feel like you need to grow in?
I’m always interested in improving as a teacher—whether that’s a classroom or smaller setting (1‐on‐1 or table group); with adults and/or kids. As an empty-nester, I working on what “managing my household well” should look like now beyond caring well for my wife. I feel like that may imply some extension to grandchildren in some way. If so, I want to be intentional.
You have already indicated your willingness/desire to serve as an elder if selected. Why do you have this desire? When did it begin? Explain.
I love the local church. I’m pleased that the LORD has shaped and refined me over decades to be elder‐qualified. I’m not sure I had a good picture of the role of elder when I first served in McLean Bible Church for 8 years. Their model was more like a board of directors. I was enthused later to be nominated as an elder at Sterling Park Baptist. Their model was much more that of shepherd to the congregation. The work was harder, more relational, but richly rewarding. I think that the LORD’s gift of experience of an elder is now to be always at‐the‐ready as I continue to serve Him in any local body, as He wills.
What is the gospel?
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for sinful man. By trusting His work of blood shed on the cross, the wrath of God—rightly due to sinful man—passes over us. We pass out of death into life. For our sake He became sin for us, so that we may become the righteousness of God. God raised Him from the dead on the third day. He appeared to many and ultimately ascended to heaven. But God has fixed a day when the appointed Judge will return to judge the living and the dead. At that time the righteous in Christ will inherit life eternal in the new heaven and new earth.
What do you believe the primary responsibilities of an elder are?
An elder has primary care for the congregation in ministering with the Word (teaching sound doctrine and refuting those who contradict) and also with prayer, with material help, with wise counsel, and with example of life. An elder also must care for and encourage the church staff and deacons. An elder should help shoulder the pastoral duties of leading the church with the other elders.
What do you understand the relationship of the elders to be with the church’s primary teaching elder (Pastor‐Teacher)?
In one sense, the elders and the primary teacher are equal in standing and responsibilities as elders. But the Pastor‐Teacher may be seen as first among equals. The elders should extend love and care for the Pastor‐Teacher and his family.
What do you understand the relationship of the elders to be with the deacons?
Elders—following the model of Acts 6—seemingly should devote themselves to ministry of the Word and prayer, primarily. While deacons should function as servers of other congregation needs as deemed important. Elders should see that deacons are spiritually qualified, equipped for service, and regularly encouraged and thanked.
What do you understand the relationship of the elders to be with the congregation?
Elders lead the congregation in sound doctrine and wise guidance and example of life. The congregation is under the headship of Christ and possesses final authority over the local congregation.
Is there anything else that you feel is pertinent for the Elder Search Committee or congregation to be aware of?
I’ve walked deeply with the LORD for over 30 years. At this point, it’s clear that I’ve been blessed with the gift of administration (nice invisible gift! But the church is no doubt helped by someone paying attention to the little things.). Gifts of mercy and giving also from the Spirit. I have been on short‐term missions to Rwanda (2x), Burundi (2x), Macedonia (2x), and South Africa. A few trips involved training pastors which was very fruitful by God’s grace. Both of my adult children are mature believers, which is such a blessing and gift of the LORD’s faithfulness. I have kept to a discipline of purity and integrity regarding the world of the internet—which began well before getting online for the first time in 1997. Praise God! If I’m not selected to continue in this process, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be considered.