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Meet a Church Planter | Mark Campbell

Pastor Mark Campbell | Lead pastor of Portico Church Arlington | Arlington, VA

Call to Plant

I came on the staff at Portico Church, an Acts29 Church plant in Charlottesville, VA, in 2005. The church consisted of our Lead Pastor, Chris Atwell and his family and myself and my wife and daughter. When I arrived, Chris was just finishing radiation therapy for tongue cancer. Needless to say, the road was going to be difficult, but God is faithful beyond our wildest imaginations.

After labor with minimal success for over a year, Chris was re-diagnosed with cancer in May of 2006 and had massive surgery to remove a large portion of his tongue and his lymph nodes. During the two months Chris was recovering, the church grew from 30 to 100. In the next two months, Portico would grow to 200, with people getting saved, others growing greatly in their knowledge and application of the gospel, and Jesus architecting a genuine, authentic, biblical community.

For four years, I saw God move powerfully to save the lost and transform the lives of many through our church plant. I saw first hand the beauty of the Bride of Christ and how God’s primary means to advance the kingdom is the local church. This put a fire and passion in me for the Church and future church planting.

In 2008, I began to sense a call to plant. I put it prayer, knowing, and having experienced the weighty and difficult road of church planting, I wanted to hear from the Lord. I was only going to do it if the Lord was calling. Otherwise, not a chance. 

In December of 2008, Chris Atwell asked to hang out after church one Sunday. He proceeded to tell me that the Elders of Portico believed that I could, and should leave to plant a church. This was a huge confirmation from the body of Christ and Godly men that I respect greatly.

I shared with my wife and we began praying and after six months of prayer, research, and seeking counsel, I felt a clear call to plant a church in Arlington, VA, just outside Washington, DC.

After our house sold in 21 days on the market, we moved to Arlington in December of 2009.

Involvement in Acts 29

I became involved with Acts 29 through coming on staff at Portico Church in Charlottesville in 2005. It has been an enormous blessing to be part of a network through the years and to experience the partnership and brotherhood of the Acts 29 network.

The biggest benefit has been the relationships and knowing that even though there may be days that you feel alone, there are other people who are laboring for the Christ in the same ways.

God’s Grace

They are almost too many to count. The Lord’s grace in this church plant has been tremendous and at times overwhelming. The people are one of the biggest evidences of God’s grace and honestly is a testimony to the faithfulness of Acts29. Our church and the core has people from approximately eight different Acts29 Churches literally spanning the entire US. The people that have come from these churches love Christ, are faithful servants, understand the Gospel, and are living lives on mission. It’s a beautiful thing to see. 

In addition, God has given my wife and me grace in our transition from Charlottesville to Arlington. We are from the Northern VA area and had never really wanted to move back. We love our church in Charlottesville and the people there, but needed to be obedient to the call to plant. God has supernaturally given us a love for the city, the people, and we feel like we have lived here for years. It’s totally God’s grace.

God’s grace is evident in the Lord’s provision financially as we plant in one of the most expensive areas in the country. He is good.


Please pray that I am faithful lead my home well, I preach with boldness, and many rebels becomes worshippers of the King.

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