Jeff Bettger 1997-2014

Your Name

Jeff Bettger



Which describes your role at Mars Hill?

Regular Attender, Member, Group Leader (any leadership role), Staff

What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?

Ballard, Downtown Seattle, Shoreline, West Seattle

What years were you involved / attending?

1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

How did you first hear about Mars Hill?

I heard about it through some friends. A person I knew had led worship there early on once and I thought I would go check it out.

What was the circumstance of your first time attending Mars HIll?

I walked from my house in the u-district to its then Laurelhurst location. It was in the evening and they had candles burning and generally a dark atmosphere that I enjoyed.

What were your first impressions?

This is interesting. I think I could come back

Why was Mars Hill your church home?

I played punk rock music and watched horror films. Nobody at MHC questioned my Christianity because I enjoyed a darker aesthetic. I had always felt like a misfit. I was not "christian" enough for the Christians, and too "christian" for those who did not identify with Christianity. At MHC I found more people like me. I found a community of misfits who loved Jesus and also enjoyed the cultural stuff I did. The Philosophy and name Mars hill came from Acts 17 when Paul uses cultural icons of Athens to proclaim the Gospel message to the folks listening. I loved this idea and philosophy to faith in Christ.

What about your time at Mars Hill has had a positive impact on you?

There were so many different phases it's hard to boil down. Early on the fact that I was asked to be a part of the worship band was monumental. the Philosophy of writing a new song to the Lord was amazing. We created our own music and played it at church. that was saying a ton for cultural contextualization which I so loved. Later it was the friendships I established and some aspects of reformed theology really challenged my thinking. When Redemption Groups began I also had some intense life giving and changing experiences. The depths of intimacy, trust, vulnerability and love I felt present in that ministry was forever life changing.

What about your time at Mars Hill has had a negative impact on you?

The harping on gender roles had a negative effect on me. I did not see it then as much as I do now. It was an issue that was not a direct gospel thing it was a cultural agenda. I am not sure why Mark chose that issue to really harp on. I thought I did at the time, but I am not sure now.

My wife (high school sweetheart) never fit the MHC mold for relationships. Instead of being encouraged to be who god made us and build our life accordingly we tried to conform thinking it was God's will for us. Post MHC we have had a rough go figuring out how to readjust who we are with who we were taught to be. Jesus loves us and made us the way we are. We are now egalitarian and I am a feminist. The positive and theological depth of those issues was portrayed in a shallow one sided way at MHC. This had such a negative effect on me, that during that time I would use scripture to Lord over my wife, thinking I was justified in the eyes of God for Pharisaical self righteousness.

Another negative thing was the ideas that we were riding some wave of god's grace due to the numbers of people in attendance. This is not even a Biblical idea. the grace of God is for all people, and is in Christ alone. This large corporate branding and mega attendance stuff is confusing and another cultural thing that has nothing to do with the gospel. That was negative and has taken me a while to reorient my bearings back towards Christ instead of works.

I was in the first round of infamous layoffs. That was hard. It was also alienating. The way people were treated as commodity instead of family was negative. I wish that had been more apparent to me at the time. I would have left then. However I was duped by the confusing nature of pragmatism and numbers in attendance that I felt a part of something special. That was the lie. Being a part of the kingdom of God is what is special.

The result source campaign and the way it was told to me was a lie and therefore a false Gospel. I found out from some pastors and was alarmed so I took it through the chain of command at my location as I was a volunteer pastor as well. I was told that it was common business practice and therefore ethically alright. Shortly after I quit because I could not be a part of something that lied in the name of God, purposefully to make a platform for an author to get more money and popularity. That is a Gospel of self not of Jesus Christ.

I also raised support as a missionary in the city of Seattle. at first it was with MHC, but then it became more difficult to raise support in that environment. They wanted all the money to go to MHC not independent missionaries. I could not do that, and therefore I needed to leave so I could be in a healthy environment to do what I do.

What would you like to have changed about Mars Hill?

I would have not let MD have the authority he had. I would have made a plurality of elders and kept everyone with equal say. I would not have focused on high tech wizardry at the expense of knowing the congregation personally. I would wanted only the Gospel message preached with all of it's mystery and history of differences. I would have wanted RG's to be more of a focus with the values of gentleness, love, and waiting for God than some of the MHC heavy handed authoritarian hierarchic bologna.

Which describes you?

I left Mars Hill prior to closure.

Please describe why you left Mars Hill and what that experience was like.

I left because I was changing in conviction about how I wanted to practice my faith. I also was getting sick and disgusted by the lies being told by leadership. I was a pastor and sometime I would hear my fellow pastors answer honestly about things, but most of the time it was like everyone was part of a machine and spoke like they had no opinion of their own. When I found out about the result source campaign I was horrified. the last straw was seeing the advertising for the last resurgence conference and Marks last book. It felt like an us against them manifesto for culture wars. I wanted nothing to do with that kind of thing.

How would you describe the reason for Mars Hill's closure to an outsider.

I would describe it as God closing down an abusive, domineering, religious institution in order to soften the hearts of his people for others who live in the city around them. It is also a monumental example of how not to practice your faith. Do not think you are the best or even the right thing. There is a history of conservative and progressive Christians in this world. god is doing His thing among all people. We got arrogant and self righteous.

What's changed for you since your time at Mars Hill came to an end?

I still raise support as a missionary in the city of Seattle. The things I do have been easier and moved forward in a more well received light now that I am not associated with a religious institution hated by our city. I am a feminist and egalitarian now. I still have a deep profound faith in Christ.