Mars Hill Church Downtown opens new location with 1600+ people

Mars Hill Church DowntownMars Hill Church Downtown Seattle has relocated to the former home of the first church congregation in Seattle, which was opened in 1910 and was the church of Seattle’s founding families, the Dennys, Bells, and Borens.  Mars Hill welcomed over 1600 people at its grand opening this past Sunday, January 13, on a day when church attendance was expected to be low due to the Seattle Seahawks playoff game.

News anchor Angela Russell reported last week on Mars Hill Downtown’s, “There’s a new chapter in Seattle’s history tonight with the salvation of a downtown Seattle building that is over 100 years old. The new tenant, a church, is preserving the building and restoring its original use.”

The church is leasing the historic building on Fifth Avenue and Marion Street known as Daniels Recital Hall, after selling its Belltown location to a company called PTI Western 2012, LLC. One of Mars Hill’s 14 locations, the downtown church was planted in 2008 in the former building of the notorious Tabella Nightclub. Four years later, the church has outgrown that space on Western Avenue, currently holding five weekend services (the most per week of any Mars Hill church). The new space more than doubles the seating capacity per service, which will allow the church to reach and serve more people in the community.

“This is an incredible opportunity to be a ministry hub for downtown Seattle as it will allow us to better serve the business men and women in our city, as well as the homeless and marginalized, as we’re closer to one of our ministry partner, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission,” says Tim Gaydos, lead pastor of the Downtown Seattle church. “Also, being closer to Capitol Hill is a blessing as we are serving and ministering to those who are infected with AIDS on the hill.” CrossCut News recently reported on some of the church’s community reach efforts.

“We are looking forward to having a building that allows the Downtown Seattle church body so much room to grow. We hope to fill it with people who love Jesus and love Seattle,” says Mark Driscoll, preaching and vision pastor at Mars Hill Church

The church held a Christmas Eve service as part of their soft launch. 2300 people packed the church that night for a great celebration with a choir, worship music, and live preaching from Pastor Mark Driscoll. They also collected canned goods, blankets, tube socks and food for the Union Gospel Mission.

Driscoll: 16 Things I look for in a Preacher

At Mars Hill Church they have what they call a preacher’s “Qualifying Day”.  This year they have about 50 elders at Mars Hill, and about that many more in training.

So they thought it would be fun to give them all a different text to preach a week ahead of time, then have a ‘preach off’ of sorts… They’ll show up to preach and be evaluated.

Well… only 3 will preach in the first round (date) of competition.

Mark Driscoll wrote on his blog:

This will be fun…for some of us. For our Mars Hill version of American Idol for preachers, I’ll play the part of Simon Cowell, minus the deep v-neck and British accent. Joining me on the judging panel will be Dr. Justin Holcomb who runsResurgence, Pastor Scott Thomas who runs Acts 29, and Pastor Dave Bruskas, the executive elder who oversees all our churches.

In anticipation of this event, I made a list of 16 things that I’m looking for in a preacher or teacher’s sermon:

1.    Tell me about Jesus. Connect it all to Jesus. If you don’t mention Jesus a lot, you need to do something other than preach. And tell me that Jesus is a person, not just an idea. Help me to not only know him but to also like him.

2.    Have one big idea. Hang all your other ideas on the one big idea. Otherwise, you will lose me or bore me.

3.    Get my attention in the first 30 seconds without being gimmicky. Get to work. Don’t “blah blah blah” around, chitchat, or do announcements. That will make me start checking my phone. Get my attention, and let’s get to work.

4.    Bring me along theologically and emotionally. Preaching is not a commentary. Commentaries are boring for even nerds to read. Your job is to do the nerd work and bring it to life. Raise your voice, grab my affections, and bring the living Word.

5.    Make me like you, trust you, and respect you so that I can’t dismiss you. If you want me to follow you, you have to get me to that point.

6.    Avoid Christian jargon and explain your terms. The average person has no idea what fellowship means, or even God for that matter. So, tell us what you’re talking about and don’t assume we have your vocabulary.

7.    Don’t have points as much as a direction and destination. Take me somewhere. Take me to a place of conviction, compassion, conversion, etc.

8.    Don’t show me how smart you are, because it makes me feel dumb. I assume you’re smart since you’re standing up talking and we’re all sitting down listening. If you quote words in some language I don’t know, or quote dead guys to show you’re a genius, that makes me feel dumb, which doesn’t serve me well. Don’t come off like that kid in school that the rest of us wanted to give a wedgie to every time they raised their hand.

9.    Invite lost people to salvation. Some people in the seats aren’t Christians. So, tell them how to become one. Talk about sin, Jesus, and repentance. At some point in every sermon just do that. If you do, people will bring lost friends. Don’t be a coward.

10.  Whether it feels like a wedding or a funeral, be emotionally engaging and compelling. Some sermons are a funeral—convicting, deep, hard hitting, and life shattering. Other sermons are a wedding—exciting, compelling, encouraging, and motivating. Pick an emotional path. Have an emotional trajectory to the sermon, not just a theological point. If you pass the audition and get to preach publicly, have the entire service flow emotionally. If we do wedding songs after a funeral sermon, I’m emotionally confused. Likewise, if we’re singing melancholy hymns after a big motivational sermon, I’m also emotionally confused. So, you and the guy in skinny jeans with the guitar have got to get this figured out together.

You can find the last 6 here: 16 Things I look for in a Preacher | Pastor Mark.


Rob Bell: Working on a new faith-inflected talk show he would host

According to a new article about Rob Bell in the New Yorker… here’s the teaser:

In 2011, Bell left Mars Hill, in part because of the controversy surrounding his book, and also because he was becoming less interested in the rigid structures of a church. He now lives in Orange County, California, and is developing a faith-inflected talk show he would host. From a certain evangelical perspective, Bell’s life can look like a cautionary tale: his desire to question the doctrine of Hell led to his departure from the church he built. But it’s also possible that his new life will end up strengthening many of his old convictions.

Read more:

Question… would YOU watch this new show?  Why or why not?


Resurgence Conference coming up October 9-12

Resurgence, in conjunction with Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, will host the first annual Resurgence Conference,
featuring keynote speakers Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, Lecrae, Greg Laurie, Craig Groeschel, Miles McPherson,  Nick Vujicic, and James MacDonald. Dustin Kensrue and other Mars Hill bands will be leading the worship sets.

A special Training Day led by Driscoll and other Mars Hill senior leaders will take place on October 11.
#e conference is expected to attract more than 3,000 attenders, including Christian leaders from churches
around the world, as well as those Christians who don’t work in vocational ministry who want to grow in their
leadership skills.

The 2012 Resurgence Conference is an invitation to start thinking differently. It will be a call to every Christian to  live all of life to the glory of Jesus and for the benefit of his kingdom, to say, by God’s grace, ‘Because Jesus lived,  we live for Jesus,’” says Justin Holcomb, the lead pastor at Mars Hill’s U-District church and director of
Resurgence, who will emcee the event.  The conference will also feature live music from artists on the new Mars Hill Music label which launched earlier this year, including Dustin Kensrue, Citizens, King’s Kaleidoscope, and Ghost Ship.

You can register now for the conference at

Mars Hill grows by 3,530 people in the past year

Press release:

Mars Hill Church has been ranked the nation’s third-fastest growing church by Outreach magazine. In the magazine’s most recent issue releasing its annual rankings of the largest and fastest growing churches in the U.S., Mars Hill Church was also recognized as the 28th-largest church in the country. In the last 12 months, the magazine reported, Mars Hill’s weekend attendance has gone up by 3,530 to over 13,100, which represents a 37% growth over the previous year when the church ranked 43rd in both categories.

The Outreach 100 report is the result of a survey conducted by Outreach and LifeWay Research of more than 8,000 churches and is based on average weekend attendance. According to Outreach, Mars Hill’s 3,530 person increase each week was the fourth-largest numerical gain of any church. Mars Hill is also listed as the church with the most locations, 14, which is five more than any other church in the country.

“Jesus is moving, people are being saved, and we are just a kite in a hurricane of God’s grace. Mars Hill Church is on its greatest wave ever, and we’re excited to see the growth and opportunities that God has in store for years to come,” says Mark Driscoll, founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill. Pastor Mark, popular for his commitment to bible-based teaching, is also featured in a small article in the special report issue.

In addition to growth in physical attendees each weekend, Pastor Mark’s sermons enjoy tremendous viewership via the church’s website and podcasts. Regularly ranked #1 on the iTunes Religion & Spirituality podcast chart, Pastor Mark’s sermons are downloaded over 15 million times each year, which means that for every attendee of a Mars Hill Church there are approximately 20 more sermons that are played or downloaded each week.

Mars Hill Church was founded in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood by Pastor Mark in 1996. Today, 36 weekend services are held at the 14 locations among 4 states. The church recently announced plans to open a 15th church in Tacoma in 2013, as well as move Mars Hill Everett into the Everett Armorybuilding, and Mars Hill Downtown Seattle into the Daniels Recital Hall later this fall. In addition, the church has four Lead Pastor Residents who are currently being trained with plans to open four additional Mars Hill locations in the fall of 2013.

Mars Hill to plant their 15th church plant in Tacoma

Mars Hill Church is on track to open its 15th church in Tacoma next year. The church currently has a contract to purchase the building of the First Congregational Church at 918 Division Ave, adjacent to Wright Park, on the north end of the downtown area.

The 104-year-old building had been up for sale and was in danger of demolition this spring, KING 5 News reported in May. Mars Hill’s bid was accepted this summer; the church plans to spend about $1.5 million in improvements before starting services in the fall of 2013.

The Tacoma church will be led by Bubba Jennings, who served as a pastor for almost a decade at the original Ballard church before moving to the South Sound region to get the Tacoma church plant going. On Thursday, September 27, the nascent church will hold a public Vision & Prayer Night to dedicate the church building. “God’s heart for Tacoma is displayed at the cross where, in mercy, Jesus sacrificed himself to redeem, heal, and bless Tacoma,” says Jennings. “As Christians, we testify that God saves sinners like us and his grace is amazing. Our heart is for all the people of Tacoma.”

Local pastor Dean Curry of Life Center church gave a warm welcome to Mars Hill Tacoma. “[Bubba and I] are brothers in the faith and [I] will enthusiastically speak with and for their success,” wrote Curry, who leads the multi-site church that sees about 6,000 Sunday attenders. “We will invite every friend of Life Center to pray and consider joining Mars Hill’s launch.”

On the north end of Puget Sound, Mars Hill Everett will move into a new home this fall: the Everett Armory, located at 2730 Oakes Ave, in the middle of the city’s historic district. The church, led by Pastor Scott Mitchell, launched in September 2011 and has met in rented space at Everett Community College’s fitness center for the past year. For 90 years, two Washington National Guard units were stationed at the Armory until last fall when the units moved, leaving the Armory up for sale. The 40,000-square foot Armory will be a boon to the young church, which hosts 500 attenders at two Sunday morning services and has outgrown its children’s space. Mars Hill Everett is also hosting a public Vision & Prayer Night, Thursday September 13. The populations of Tacoma and Everett are about 200,000 and 104,000, respectively, according to 2011 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

The news comes on the heels of the August 10 announcement that Mars Hill Downtown Seattle will move into the Daniels Recital Hall in the heart of the city.

What to Do when Jesus Steps on the Gas

What to Do when Jesus Steps on the Gas

Mars Hill has a tremendous problem.

They’ve seen phenominal growth in numbers… in fact they’ve grown 50% in the past year (over 5,000 people).

That includes a 12% increase in attendance SINCE LAST WEEK.


Church-wide… they are at 82% capacity during 36 weekend services at 14 different locations.

Jesus has definitely stepped on the gas.

Add to that, 551 small groups (with 60 new groups added this month).

Whether you’re a fan of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill or not… something big is happening there.

And the stress and pressure from a pure administrative side must be extremely difficult.

How about today, instead of criticism and uttering things that make us sound like jealous idiots, we actually take time to thank God for what he is doing at Mars Hill and other churches across the country.

The big churches, the tiny churches.

The churches with imperfect leaders and flawed followers.

The churches that are growing gangbusters and those that are fighting for existence.

For your church; and mine.

For yourself as a leader; and the guy down the street also entrusted with God’s children.

Let’s pray for those for whom God has ‘stepped on the gas’.  And if we’re on empty, let’s pray that God would fill us and that we’ll be ready when and IF he decides to gun it a little.

Just a few thoughts today…

You can read more here…

Shane Hipps on Rob Bell’s Departure

Shane Hipps on Rob Bell’s Departure

From Shane Hipp’s blog…

I learned when I become a pastor that it is a unique vocation.  Becoming a leader in any profession can be a lonely experience.  This isn’t always bad, in many ways it forces you to grow up fast.  In time you learn to allow the loneliness to become a divine ingredient in cultivating depth and resilience. Over the years I learned to befriend it as a teacher.  And as I’ve said here before, there is a difference between being alone, and being lonely.

When I accepted the call to become the co-teacher with a beloved friend it was a strange experience.  We were both so used to being alone in leadership that we didn’t realize the unexpected gift that comes with having a partner.  It was a fantastic experience, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Rob is almost entirely ego-less and extremely generous in sharing his platform with others.  I experienced an incredible hospitality from him.  And it gave me a chance to build a really beautiful relationship with a community that I love.

In South American I’m told there is an expression, one ox can do the work of one.  But two oxes can do the work of ten.  That was true for me.

Rob’s decision to move on, was not surprising to me.  I was aware of something stirring in him for some time.  While I wasn’t surprised, I was full of grief and joy.  There is a funny thing about these two emotions. In my experience, in situations like this, they are not twins.

They are like two different kinds of athletes.  Grief is like a sprinter, and joy is like an endurance runner.  Grief comes out fast and furious, but it doesn’t have staying power.   Joy on the other hand comes on steady, and just keeps going and going.  Eventually it outpaces the grief, and all that remains is joy.

Today I have joy.  So, Rob thank you for your partnership and friendship in ministry.  It was a joy.  And now my joy goes with you as you continue to follow your purpose in the world.

Read more here…

Rob Bell’s Last Sunday

Rob Bell’s Last Sunday

Rob Bell’s last Sunday at Mars Hill in Michigan at the end of last year.  According to, the Sunday services wrapped months of transition for the church following Bell’s September resignation and subsequent move to the Los Angeles area to create an ABC television drama with ‘Lost’ producer Carlton Cuse, loosely based on Bell’s life.

It was in a final sermon in December that he shared with the church what he called a confession — his last message:

“I feel like I’m just getting started, like I’m a rookie, a freshman, a newb,” he told a gathering of several thousand that Dec. 18 day. “I feel like the world is big and wide and open.”

It was into that open world that colleagues sent Bell this week with well wishes. Christian singer/songwriter David Crowder made a surprise appearance to lead worship.

Thousands raised their hands Sunday during a send-off prayer after co-pastor Shane Hipps presented Bell and his wife Kristen with a book of stories and good wishes collected locally and from those who’ve listened to Bell’s sermons online around the world.

Hipps continued with words that drew laughter: “Mars Hill is not Rob Bell. It’s a whole lot bigger than Rob and Kristen. It’s as big as God himself,” he said. “I’m hoping 10 years from now you will say, ‘Rob Bell? That sounds familiar.’”

Lee Jager, the church’s communications director, said a meeting is planned for covenant members Monday night to discuss what’s next for the congregation — whether to begin a search process for another lead pastor and how that may work. Information will be posted on the church’s website.

In the coming months, Hipps will continue to teach, Jager said, with guest speakers filling in periodically.

via ‘Love Wins’ author Rob Bell hands off torch to new leadership during final appearance at Mars Hill |

Driscoll Book a Hit

Driscoll Book a Hit

Mark and Grace Driscoll’s new book, Real Marriage, reached the top spot on the list of bestselling books for both and for a while on Monday despite not being available in stores until Tuesday.

You can order a copy of “Real Marriage” from right here if you’re so inclined.

My question to you is… are YOU planning on reading the book?

Respond back with one of the following:

1.  Already read it.  Loved it.
2.  Already read it.  It was ok.
3.  Already read it.  Complete heresy.
4.  Gonna read it… can’t wait.
5.  I’ll probably read it, but won’t like it.
6.  I like books like this because it gives me something to complain/gripe about, so I’ll probably read it.
7.  Not gonna bring that smut into my house.

There… I’ve given you some pretty good choices.  Let me know your thoughts.  You can even give a brief explanation if you like!

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