Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe. St. Augustine


About our Founding Partner and President

As the founding partner of The Charis Group, Mark Brooks brings not only a rich background of ministry experience but also years of successfully helping Christian ministries raise funds for capital projects. His desire to better personalize the engagement that each ministry receives from their stewardship partner led him to begin The Charis Group. With creative, outside the box thinking, Mark has helped scores of ministries achieve maximum financial and spiritual results.

With over 20 years of pastoral experience in a wide variety of church settings, Mark has been in about every church environment imaginable, from the very small to one of the fastest growing churches in the country. In addition to pastoral ministry, Mark has also worked on the board level of various local, state, and national ministries.

In 1998, Mark left the pastorate to enter into the stewardship field. Before starting The Charis Group he had risen to the level of Vice President at Injoy Stewardship Services. Mark has worked in a cross section of churches across the nation. He has experience in virtually every type of church setting from small to large, from main line denominations to seeker sensitive settings. He has worked in campaigns that range in size from the largest church in North America to emerging churches.

A prolific writer, Mark  has written five print books and several e-books.  He is a regular contributor to various magazine and blogs.  He also hosts a monthly membership program called Giving365  He writes regularly from a blog entitled, The Stewardship Coach.

Mark has been married forty years to his wife Valerie.  They have two children.  His son, Jon, was a Captain in the Army and a decorated Iraqi war veteran who is now employed with Iron Arch Consulting in Washington D.C. Jon and his wife Lianna have one child, Zoe.  Mark and Valerie’s daughter Amy is married to Major Nick Cherry who has served four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Amy and Nick have three children, Jackson, Paige and Graham.  They currently are posted in Athens, GA.

Chris Harrell

Chris Harrell, The Charis Group’s Vice President is passionate about partnering with churches and being used by God to help them fulfill their purpose. He is a proven visionary leader in both the church environment and the business arena.

His ministry experience includes 20 years in the pastorate where his experience ranges from being the Sr. Pastor of a Mega church to leading a church plant. Chris was privileged and honored to see the churches that he pastured experience rapid and sustained growth, including one that was listed as the seventh fastest growing church in America. The growth that Chris’s churches experienced led to numerous stewardship campaigns and building projects.

Chris has also served as an executive manager for a leadership consulting company in Denver, CO. There he honed his skills as a strategic consultant doing leadership and strategic consulting for clients such as NASA, Qwest Communications, Johns Hopkins University, the FBI, Marriott, Hartford Insurance and others.

Before coming to The Charis Group, Chris had worked with Injoy Stewardship Services were he was the Director of Church Partnerships.  Chris lives in Colorado with his wife Jan.

Tom Holloway

Tom Holloway is The Charis Group’s Marketing Director. After retiring from BellSouth with 28 years of Marketing experience, Tom joined the staff of Injoy Stewardship Services. Tom served there four years in Marketing helping pastors in the initial phases of consulting concerning the project and timing of potential Capital Campaigns.

Tom has been actively involved as a lay leader in both small and large churches in ministries including Evangelism Programs and as a Sunday School Teacher. He has served on Pastoral Search Committees as well as Capital Campaign Committees. With this experience, he understands the needs and timing that churches encounter and the importance of the Capital Campaign Consultant in being able to meet those needs. He has a strong desire to help pastors and churches especially in strategic timing of a Capital Campaign.

Tom and his wife Jane have been married 37 years. They live in Marietta, Georgia and are members of Roswell Street Baptist. Church. Daughter Kristin is an attorney in Atlanta. She and husband Shane have two daughters.

Michael Brooks

Michael R. Brooks retired from the insurance and financial services industry after a successful 30 year career.  Michael is the brother of Mark Brooks, Founding Partner and President of The Charis Group.  He started as a field agent and prior to retirement had served as a Senior Vice President and Board member with two major nationwide insurance and financial services companies.  Additionally, he served on multiple national committees and organizations in the industry.  He brings to the Charis Group an extensive scope of knowledge and experience in the design, cost structures and legal compliance aspects of benefit products and plans.

Michael earned his B.A. in Theology from Baker University and his Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University.  When asked over the course of his career what he did for a living, Michael’s reply has always been, “I’m in the business of helping people at some of their most critical times of need.”

Michael handles the business side of The Charis Group and also over sees Charis Giving Solutions our online giving service.  He also serves as The Charis Group as Benefits Consultant, Michael is embracing the continued call to such stewardship by using his extensive and knowledge and experience to help Churches successfully navigate the complex aspects of staff and employee benefits.  Michael is not contracted with or obligated in any way with any carriers, providers or plan administrators and thus is positioned to offer completely independent analysis and consultation.

Michael and his wife Sandra, have been married for over 40 years and make their home in the metro Kansas City area.

Herb BuwaldaHerb portrait

We are thrilled to welcome Pastor Herb Buwalda as our newest consultant at The Charis Group.  Herb will be utilizing his 43 years of ministry in the United Methodist Church to provide valuable stewardship coaching for churches and Christian leaders.   His retirement from full-time pastoral ministry was effective July 1, 2014.

For the past 15 years he has been Lead Pastor at Clay United Methodist Church, South Bend, Indiana.  During this time, the congregation grew in worship attendance, membership, and mission, developed a two-site ministry (building a second campus valued at $8 million), and made the decision to become a world-changing, “externally-focused church.”

Herb is also a Fruitful Congregation Journey consultant and coach with The Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He has led multiple capital and stewardship campaigns at Clay and has worked for the past two years as an ad hoc consultant with The Charis Group.

Herb Buwalda knows churches and the struggles of a pastor.  For many years Herb lead Clay Church in South Bend, IN to become one of the top churches in his district and state.  Here is what his former colleagues wrote of Herb…

“Herb Buwalda is one of the very finest leaders the United Methodist Church has to offer.  His leadership in all areas has been a tremendous blessing to not only the churches he has served, but also to his colleagues through his honest assessment, wisdom, and encouragement.  For over 20 years, both as a fellow pastor, and now in my role as District Superintendent, I have been blessed to learn from his leadership, most recently in his creating hundreds of thousands of dollars of support for Clean Water in Africa through an extremely creative support process.  Like so many of the things he has led (including a new church building at South Bend Clay Church) , the result has not simply meant successful financial support of ministries, but hearts and lives have been transformed in big ways for both recipient and giver as well.”

Larry K. WhiteheadNorth District Superintendent Indiana Conference United Methodist Church

“I have worked closely as a fellow consultant with Herb Buwalda forseveral years and I can truly say that he is one of the finest people I have ever worked with in ministry.  Herb is an outstanding pastor and communicator with a proven track record in the local church and as a coach and consultant.   My team often turns to Herb with our most challenging assignments, being confident that the work will proceed with professionalism and grace.   Finally, on a personal note, I am blessed to work alongside him because I learn something new every time I work with him.  I would give Herb Buwalda my highest recommendation to those considering a ministry partnership with him.”

Rev. Steven Paul Clouse, Sr.   Associate Director of Church Development  Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church