Mark’s love of music began in his childhood. His father loved music and played the Hammond organ. His father had an army buddy who was a distributor for Capitol Records, and regularly gave Mark’s family albums, ranging from French Nuns singing Christmas Carols to pirate songs to Andy Griffith. So there was no shortage of music in the house. Then in 1964, Mark’s life changed when the Beatles made their debut on the Ed Sullivan show. Mark played in various rock bands in high school and college and wrote original songs for those bands.
Even as rock’n roll music grew darker, Mark’s life did too, until a year after college, when his girlfriend invited him to a little country church where they sang repetitive choruses Mark would never have sung, and where he would pray to ask Jesus into his heart that night.
A couple years later Mark found himself leading worship for a growing Bible study, and decided to attempt to write a worship song. He found it more challenging than he’d imagined, but wrote his first worship song, “At the Mention of Your Name.” It was different than most of the choruses they sang at the time, for this one had both a verse and a chorus. That was the beginning of 40 years of songwriting.
In 1980 Mark came on staff with the church he led worship in as a pastor-in-training and was ordained the following year. He continued to lead worship and write songs and when his church joined an association then called People of Destiny he sent his songs to those churches, which began to sing them as well. Eventually the association began to produce albums and a couple major labels picked up their songs. In 1986 Mark wrote “I Stand in Awe,” which Integrity Music included on a Hosanna! Album.
Mark’s desire has always been to write songs that serve the church, particularly with fresh lyrics rooted in sound doctrine, set to creative and singable melodies. He always attempts to keep Paul’s words to the Colossians in mind while writing:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (CO 3.16)
Worship songs are all about letting the gospel, or the word of Christ, dwell richly in believers. Mark’s desire is to write songs that are God-centered, Christ-exalting, easy to sing and memorable. He wants to write songs that teach the gospel to unbelievers. And he also desires to help others learn to write worship songs through teaching, seminars and writing.