Sunday, July 03, 2005

Surprised at Mars Hill

We are having a great time in Seattle. My family ventured out to Mars Hill Church this past Sunday, after reading about it and its influence in the city. I have heard of it as an emerging church and wanted to check it out to experience a service. As we drove into the city to attend the church, we were enjoying the beautiful sunny day (clear skies not so regular a thing here) and the neat neighborhood and community(Ballard) surrounding the church. I began to get a feel for the great location for an emerging church as we drove past too many java houses to count and lots of pub, cool urban hang outs, even an "erotic bakery." As we drove into the parking area of the church, the first thing I noticed was the amount of cars but also that those exiting them to go into the church were mostly carrying Bibles (not a bad thing at all, but not what I expected to see in this neighborhood). As we entered, I noted the hip architecture of the remade warehouse and the fung shuei of the colors and flow of the building. The interior of the worship center was very pleasant and what I expected. As we entered, there was great music and the worship was well led. Our experience took a turn as the speaker (not Driscoll, but a guest) announced that he would be preaching about the fear of God. I thought this was an interesting topic for a church known to reach out to postmoderns, but I kept listening. What I hoped was just a hook to get us engaged in a look at God and focus on grace, it turned out to be a fresh twist on "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God." I couldn't imagine what the man in front of me, who was wearing a kilt and lots of metal, was thinking when the speaker said such things as, "This is the God we're messing with," and referring to how Jesus will slay non-believers with his sword. I don't know that much about Mars Hill, but I left with the feeling that it is a church dressed in relevant garb for postmoderns, doing the right things about the feel and look, but still extremely modern in its approach to ministry and philosophy. Other comments that stuck out:
  • A couple of references to Jesus coming with a sword in hand for the unbeliever
  • comments on the perfection, inerrancy of Scripture; how verse by verse is best way for the pastors of Mars Hill to teach people
  • More comments on how God is a jealous God and that His anger burns against those who don't believe in Christ
  • The use of Proverbs and other passages to say that if we will just fear God, then we won't lack anything, that "if you lack something, it is probably because you don't fear God." It sounded a lot like prosperity gospel for a minute, but the Reformed tone of everything else the preacher presented left me to believe it wasn't.

The church is in a great location and obviously has a lot of members(3083 in attendance on June 19, as reported in their church newsletter), but I wonder how many of them are postmoderns becoming followers of Jesus vs. modern Christians coming from another church. Anyone know?


Blogger bob hyatt said...

same experience!

Mark D was the guy who really got my head turned around about a lot of things back in 99... but as he pursued a seminary education (at my alma mater!) he seemed to drift "rightward" towards a firm "Reformed" position. He now publically derides most things "emergent."

I think many people have been saved at Mars Hill... I think many college groups have also been cleaned out. Just my perception.

7/05/2005 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

The dude is a fundamentalist. He does things well but his theology is lacking. He is smart but he discounts a legitimate education. I was extremely disappointed in my trip to Mars Hill, I too heard the stories, but most of the folks there seem to be young college kids who grew up in the evangelical church. Just because the are lagre numbers of folks there doesn't mean the theology is sound. Utah is full of mormons.

7/05/2005 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

PS. You had the exact same reaction I did. :)

Thanks for the comments.

7/05/2005 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger bob hyatt said...

I don't know if I'd say his theology is lacking, exactly. Maybe the opposite. It's very robust, very defined, and very firm. :)

To be an Acts 29 church (their church planting group) you have to sign a covenant saying your church will be Reformed in theology and never have women elders...

I think the Acts 29 churches that I have seen do a great job at being missional and serving the poor and preaching a Gospel that is more than just "believe in Jesus so that when you die..."

But methodologically they are not innovative and theologically they tend towards a very rigid conservatism.

7/07/2005 11:37:00 AM  

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