Which describes your role at Mars Hill?
What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?
What years were you involved / attending?
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
How did you first hear about Mars Hill?
What was the circumstance of your first time attending Mars HIll?
Visited evening service to check it out
What were your first impressions?
"This video sermon thing is weird, but the sermon was really good, firmly rooted in the Gospel, and these people are pretty welcoming"
Why was Mars Hill your church home?
The people there wanted me to be a part of their community, more so than at the other churches I had visited
What about your time at Mars Hill has had a positive impact on you?
Community Group led to some very good relationships, friendships where sin was exposed and grace was extended. People didn't have to put on an act.
What about your time at Mars Hill has had a negative impact on you?
Very little, it honestly felt like the healthiest congregation I've ever been a part of (I have probably been actively a part of 4 other congregations in my life). Some of the bureaucracy was annoying (I was a volunteer in the Kids ministry), and some of the leaders were a little full of themselves, but neither of those things were worse than other places I'd been. The disbanding of the church was an emotionally stressful time, but I wouldn't even consider that as having a negative effect, because I feel like our congregation is stronger and healthier after having worked through all that.
What would you like to have changed about Mars Hill?
I wish that the church would have embraced infant baptism. I didn't appreciate the church moving our pastors to other churches. I would liked to have seen more preaching pastors developed, although I had the impression that there was such an initiative until the church disbanded.
Which describes you?
I stayed at Mars Hill through closure.
Please describe why you stayed at Mars Hill and what that experience was like.
The main reason I stayed was because of the relationships I had within the community at the church. I had built some really strong friendships with people who actually cared about me, whereas at other church I visited when I moved to the city, it was very difficult to get plugged in even though I tried. Pastor Mark's preaching was a secondary reason. I had never heard preaching like his, preaching that was solidly based in the Bible, but didn't feel stuck to political dogmas that the evangelical denominations have adhered to for most of the last century. It was the best I had heard of solid doctrine that was culturally aware.
How would you describe the reason for Mars Hill's closure to an outsider.
"Our pastor was a great preacher, but the growth of the church outpaced his ability as a leader. People on the inside got too ambitious and that led to internal rivalries and eventually the leadership started stabbing each other in the back and we had to disband. It got kind of ugly. People were gossiping to these bloggers online who just love to destroy things. That part was kind of painful because these bloggers made it sound like we were a church full of abuse victims, which totally wasn't true. A lot of us were really blessed by the church and were really sad to see it fall in such an embarrassing way. I think the leaders were envisioning a vast church that would spread far and wide, which was easy to imagine given the pace of growth that we had seen, but in doing that they lost sight of taking care of the local communities."
What's changed for you since your time at Mars Hill came to an end?
I think we had a good amount of pride that we were forced to confront, and ultimately that has been a huge blessing. One of the things we had to wrestle with was if what Pastor Mark said about Jesus ruling His Church was true, why would this church be brought down like this? I think the answer most of us have accepted is that there were a lot of people who idolized Mark, and that idolatry needed to be destroyed. A lot of us still have a lot of affection for him and are genuinely sorry about what he got put through. Ultimately though, Mark isn't that important for the health of our congregations, which is a truth that comes out of his own preaching.