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The Other Side of Mars Hill


Mars Hill Church Wikipedia/Frank Brown

Mars Hill Church Wikipedia/Frank Brown

One of the best known “mega” churches in our times is the Mars Hill Church in Seattle Washington, U.S.A. Recently the news has been bad. The church has become so infamous that Google Search has a search category “The Mars Hill Controversy.” Something must be wrong when Google doesn

A random Internet search of the church’s name produced these titles:

  • [Pastor Mark] Driscoll to take break from Mars Hill pulpit
  • Why the Mars Hill Faithful Have Started to Question Mark
  • Church or Cult? The Control-Freaky Ways of Mars Hill Church
  • A Shunning in Seattle: A powerful megachurch’s harsh tactics raise questions about how much control churches should have over their members’ lives.
  • Worst Guy Ever Alert: Beware of Horrible Hipster Pastor Mark Driscoll
  • Protesters Call For Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Resignation After Multiple Scandals At Mars Hill Church
  • Controversy is now the news from Mars Hill Church.

With the cloud of bad news, it is easy to miss facts about the church that remain impressive. The first congregation was founded in 1996, in the rented home of Mark Driscoll and his wife. Mark Driscoll is the senior pastor now.

In 2014 Wikipedia reports “… with 15 locations in 5 U.S. States. Services are offered at its 15 locations; the church podcasts content of weekend services, as well as conferences on the Internet with more than 260,000 sermon views online every week. In 2012 approximately 14,000 people attended services at Mars Hill Church locations every week. As of November, 2013, Mars Hill had 6,568 actual members.”

In a very short time, a few people in someone’s rented living room became the home church for thousands. It’s an amazing story, but now most of the news is bad news for Mars Hill Church.

It doesn’t surprise me that bad news sells better than good news, that has always been my experience. And I don’t know enough to comment on the problems in a church I have never visited. I sincerely hope people in Mars Hill Church are able to solve their problems and find a bright future. Of course if they do, most of us won’t know because good news doesn’t sell.

In all the bad news, most of us are missing the most obvious point; this very large church grew from nothing, in a few years. Thousands, or even millions of people have learned about the recent controversy and scandal. But they had nothing to learn a few years ago, when the church didn’t exist. There was no talking point before 1996.

The growth of Mars Hill Church is the normal work of God, as promised. It is unusual for a church to grow from nothing to large and world-famous in a few years, but this should be common.

Jesus promised “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18)

I remember sermons about spiritual gifts that help Christians to do things in this world. In my experience, this topic is not so common now. Christians are shifting from doing to being.

Thank you Mars Hill Church, for showing us the way. I hope the Church will find its way and recover. And hopefully we will all find our destiny as doers and builders. We are all here for a reason, and there are many great things to do.

Note, there is not one thing to be in these words, only things to do:

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6 to 8.

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