By Michael C. Mack
I don’t recall what the speaker said, but I’m sure his words were well-spoken and significant. I do remember, however, who that speaker was on that Sunday evening 21 years ago: Mark Taylor, who was at that time publisher at Standard Publishing Company.
Mark had already played a key role in my life. When I worked in the New Products department at Standard in the early to mid-’90s, Mark was my boss. When I left to start a web-based small group ministry in 1995, he encouraged me and gave me opportunities to do freelance work, which helped us pay the bills. About a year later, when I was called to church-staff ministry, Mark delivered the message at my ordination. He was the man I wanted to speak for me and to me on that pivotal day more than two decades ago.
Over the years, Mark has continued to have a profound impact on my life, writing career, and ministry. He asked me to develop small group materials for Standard and then to write two different columns for Christian Standard. As he was approaching retirement as publisher and editor, Mark recommended me to Jerry Harris as the potential new editor.
Mark made his impact on me simply by believing in me. What a blessing!
Mark became editor of Christian Standard in 2003. In his first column, he wrote about his predecessor Sam Stone, “Perhaps no one so widely known in our fellowship is more highly respected.” I think I know the kind of weight Mark must have felt succeeding such a godly leader.
Mark led the magazine through a period of dynamic changes in our culture, the church, and the publishing industry. In 2006, on Christian Standard’s 140th anniversary, Henry E. Webb wrote about the magazine’s editors. He said, “The current editor, Mark Taylor, is sensitive to new areas of interest and ministry that are emerging among the churches in these times of changing interest.”
Ten years later, Arron Chambers wrote about Mark’s influence “during a time of great change in culture, the economy, the church, and media.” He continued:
This has been accompanied by the magazine’s move to full color and investment in better graphics. At the same time, a dynamic website was created for the magazine and continues today with new material posted every day. . . . A weekly digital newsletter has been published since 2006. . . . And in 2014 the magazine created its first all-digital editions, published in a[n] . . . app available for virtually every smartphone and tablet platform.
Leaders make a difference in the midst of, not despite, the circumstances into which they are thrust. Mark is such a leader, and his good work during his 40-plus years with Standard Publishing should be recognized and lauded.
Yet, when I think about Mark, I don’t focus so much on his work as editor so much as I do his role as a Christ follower and friend. You may not know that he has served as an elder at Christ’s Church at Mason (Ohio), occasionally helps to lead worship, or that he attends and sometimes leads a weekly men’s group that starts at 6 a.m. He is a humble servant leader and encourager, and I’m honored to call him my friend.
Mark Taylor has been retired for just over a month, and it is fitting to celebrate his years of service as a writer, editor, publisher, and leader. I look forward to the new areas in which he will serve God and further the Lord’s kingdom.