Fierce Leadership

Mark + Mackenzie Carter

Lead Pastor  |  Swordgirl Pastor

Mark Carter serves as Lead Pastor of Fierce Church. “Carter” is really Pastor Mark’s last name, but most folks just call him “Carter”. 

Carter has a burden and passion that people would know the thrill and joy of walking deeply and tightly with Jesus Christ through dynamic encounters with Him in the Word of God. He’s also stoked about raising up leaders who will tap their unique giftedness and walk in the power of the Spirit, becoming a blessing to the earth.

He received a Masters of Pastoral Ministry degree from Trinity Theological Seminary in 2008. Carter is currently pursuing an additional MA in Biblical Exposition from Moody Bible Institute.

Mackenzie Carter leads the Swordgirl Women’s Conference with her incredible team, where every year hundreds of women gather together to experience the refreshing love and presence of God and move forward in freedom, truth, and God-confidence into their unique design and destiny.

One of her passions is to preach, write, encourage, awaken, and empower people to step boldly into their God-given callings as individuals loved and known by their Creator.

Kenzie and Mark love doing ministry together and have been married since 1999 and have five children: Rachel, Skylar, Emily, Amber, and John.

Brandon Adkins

Worship Pastor

Brandon Adkins is the Worship Pastor at Fierce Church. (Sidenote: the plural of Adkins is Adkai and a flock of Adkai is commonly known as The Adkai Family.) Brandon has been committed and passionate about music ministry for the past ten years and has served in a worship leading role for eight years.

Brandon has a passion for helping people open their hearts to the Holy Spirit in worship and is excited about the transformational encounter that happens through the spiritual discipline of corporate worship. He is also very passionate about coaching, mentoring and pastoring other musicians and worship leaders, helping them grow into the fullness of their calling as music ministers.

Heather Venuti

Director of Ministry Mobilization

Heather Venuti serves as Director of Ministry Mobilization. In her role, she bring direct strategic direction to systems of the church, including
Fierce Kids, Lobby, Serving, First Steps, & Community Life.

She graduated from Marquette University with a degree in Theology in 2003 and has been on staff at Fierce Church since 2012.

Nate Gest

Care Director

Bio coming soon!

Alaina Bennetts

Fierce Teens Pastor

Alaina has been working with youth since she graduated High School! Her college years took her to Trinity International University where she graduated with a bachelors in Communications and spent a year at Nicolet Bible Institute. She looks at her job as a chance to create discipleship relationships that will last outside the church walls – so they can live out the Great Commission. 

If you see Alaina during the week you can find her with a water bottle and a coffee in hand, usually a student near by and Spotify playing.

Fierce Elders




About Elders

Elders hold an essential role in the governance of Fierce Church and are necessary to ensure that our church remains true to the vision that God has called us to. They provide accountability and support to the Lead Pastor in a way that no one else can. Fierce Church will always be committed to having an elder board as part of the leadership of our church.

The Role of the Board of Elders
The role of the Board of Elders is to provide support and accountability to the Lead Pastor.

The Functions of the Elder Board are:
1. Meet quarterly to approve vision in detail
2. Settle disputes
3. Provide accountability over five key aspects of the church: Financial, Moral, Theological, Vision, Cultural
4. Support and review performance of the Lead Pastor

The Board of Elders will fill an essential role within the life of the church. As Fierce Church continues to grow, the Board of Elders will minister deeply to our church. Their service will be a strong support to our Lead Pastor.

Responsibilities to the Lead Pastor

1. Encouragement – the Board would be a source of regular personal encouragement to the Lead pastor.

2. Prayer – The Board would pray for the Lead pastor’s personal and professional needs on a daily basis.

3. Public Affirmation – The Board would publicly support, affirm and safeguard the leadership and reputation of the Lead Pastor.

4. Compensation – The Board will be responsible for researching comparable salary arrangements and for setting the compensation packages of the Lead Pastor.

The Board of Elders will provide accountability to the Lead pastor in three Major areas:

1. Financial Integrity – The Board will review the budget, compensation packages, finances of the church and (later on) the external audit.

2. Moral Integrity – The Board will be responsible for the resolving of church discipline.

3. Theological Integrity – the Board will be responsible for clarifying the theological positions of the church.

The Qualifications of an Elder
The qualifications of an elder are found in Scripture and can be organized into a few simple categories.


All elders are to have previously made a commitment to trust God to provide all that is necessary for a full and complete life now and eternally through the delivering work of Jesus Christ and follow Him in all aspects of life, regardless of the cost, now and forever. [1 Timothy 3:6]


All elders are to have intentionally and consistently followed through on their commitment to God and, as a result, have developed a demonstrable character that is consistent with the responsibility of leading God’s church. [1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9]

Aspects of that type of character are listed below.

1. Not given to self-centeredness [Titus 1:7]

2. Grounded in wisdom [1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8]

3. Self-controlled [Titus 1:8]

a. Not a drunkard [1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7]

b. Focused-mind [1 Timothy 3:2]

c. Appropriate [1 Timothy 3:3]

d. Not given to anger [Titus 1:7]

e. Not given to violence [1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7]

f. Not contentious [1 Timothy 3:3]

g. Lover of good [Titus 1:8]

h. Hospitable [1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8]

i. Good steward [Titus 1:7]

j. Not given to the love of money [Titus 1:8]

k. Not given to dishonest gain [1 Timothy 3:3]

4. Obedient [1 Timothy 3:2]

a. Monogamous, faithful husband [1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6]

b. Children

(i) Believing [Titus 1:6]

(ii) Obedient [1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:6]

(iii) Respectful [1 Timothy 3:4]

(iv) Not immoral [Titus 1:6]

5. Not to be a new Christian [1 Timothy 3:6]

6. Good reputation in the world [1 Timothy 3:7]

All elders are expected to be able to:
1. communicate the message of Scripture so as to be an effective shepherd
2. encourage believers with sound doctrine
3. be an effective evangelist, convincing those who oppose the message of the Bible. [Titus 1:9; 1 Timothy 3:2]

All elders are expected to prioritize their lives so as to be available to effectively serve God and His church in this capacity.

The Processes Related to the Board of Elders
Adding an Elder
Elders are added to the existing Board through a clear and straight-forward process, as outlined below:

Elders from the existing Board may nominate any candidate who meets the qualifications for an elder through the following process:

1. Proposal of a Candidate – Any existing elder may at any time propose a person as a candidate for Elder.

2. Acceptance of a Candidate – If another elder seconds the person proposed as a candidate, the Board will then discuss the person’s qualifications and vote on formally accepting him as an elder candidate. A simple majority of the Board is needed to accept an individual’s candidacy.

3. Evaluation of the Candidate – After an elder-proposed candidate is accepted, he is evaluated by the Board in the following ways:

* Theological Evaluation

The proposed elder candidate is thoroughly evaluated on doctrine as well as key theological issues.

* Church Vision Evaluation

The proposed elder candidate is evaluated on their views concerning the mission, message, structure and values of the church.

* Moral Evaluation

The proposed elder candidate is thoroughly evaluated with respect to their personal morals, with input provided from their family and small group leader.

4. Nomination Vote – After evaluation, the Board of Elders formally nominates the candidate for congregational approval. The elder candidate is nominated with a 75% affirmative vote by the Board.

5. Announcement – After an elder candidate has been formally nominated, the candidate will be announced to the congregation.

6. Disqualification Period – For thirty days following the announcement of an elder candidate, anyone with information as to why that candidate should not be approved can and should come forward with this information. A majority vote is needed by the Board of Elders to withdraw the nomination.

7. Approval Vote – After the disqualification period ends, ballots for approval are distributed to the Owners of the church for voting. The votes are then collected, registered, counted and recorded. The candidate is approved if 75% of the voting Owners affirm his candidacy. Owners that do not vote are counted as a yes.

8. Installation – After an elder candidate is approved by the congregation, he is formally installed by the other elders.

Each elder serves a term of two years. At the close of that term, the elder addition process is repeated. The existing board will then vote whether to re-nominate them as a candidate by a supermajority vote of 75% or greater. While congregational input may be sought, this role does not require re-affirmation. An elder may be renewed for an indefinite number of terms. The Lead Pastor stays on the Board without renewal.

An elder can resign from the Board at any time during their term. Elders submit their resignation in writing and list the reasons for resignation. The Board will then notify Fierce Church owners in a timely manner of the resignation and the corresponding reasons.

An elder may be removed from service at any time on the basis of moral failure, theological divergence, issues of competence or compromise, or if at any time there is sufficient evidence to believe that an elder no longer meets the entrance qualifications for an elder. In order for an elder to be removed from his position, the following process must occur:

1. Proposal – Any elder that has evidence that suggests that any fellow elder no longer meets entrance qualification is required to bring the evidence forward to the Board in full knowledge of the elder in question.

2. Verification – On the basis of the evidence presented, the Board will launch an investigation into the matter. The accused elder is to be given every consideration of innocence until demonstrated guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by verified facts or multiple witnesses.

3. Vote – The results of the investigation will be disclosed to the Board in the presence of the elder in question, and he will be given the chance to respond to each piece of evidence. After the evidence has been presented, the elder in question will leave the meeting and the remaining elders will discuss the matter and vote on removal by majority vote. The elder in question does not hold voting rights in this situation.

An elder may be reinstated to the Board after removal. Elders are reinstated through the standard process used for adding an elder.

Operation of the Board of Elders
Board Meetings
The Elder Board meets quarterly for regular oversight meetings, quarterly for Elder Prayer Nights and convenes for special meetings as they are needed. In addition, the Elder Board gathers multiple times a year for times of personal connection and support.

The discussions of the Elder Board are not recorded. However, decisions made by the Board of Elders are documented and can be reviewed by appointment by any Fierce Church owner.

Performance Evaluation of the Lead Pastor
The Board of Elders provides our Lead Pastor with a yearly performance evaluation.

Relationship with the Lead Pastor
Our Lead Pastor chairs the Board of Elders, and has the exclusive role and responsibility of proposing future direction, goals, and values of the church to the Board of Elders for approval.

Closing Vision
The Elders hold an essential role in the governance of Fierce Church and are necessary to ensure that our church remains true to the vision to which God has called us: to pursue a course of revival in our generation. The Board of Elders strongly supports the church by positioning it to move quickly and in concert with God’s leading.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 (NIV84)

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

Titus 1:6-9 (NIV84)

An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.


In-Person Service
– Sunday at 10:00am

Online Services
– Saturday at 5:00pm
– Sunday at 9:00am

Contact Us

954 W Brae Loch Road

Grayslake, IL 60030

© 2021 Fierce Church