Regular Attender - West Seattle 2004-11



Which describes your role at Mars Hill?

Regular Attender

What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?

West Seattle

What years were you involved / attending?

2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

How did you first hear about Mars Hill?

A friend of mine in graduate school was new to Seattle and had been shopping for a church in the area to attend. She settled on Mars Hill and recommended it to me.

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

I was newly pregnant and my husband and I wanted a church to raise our family in. We were both raised in casually religious families but hadn't attended any church regularly since college.

What were your first impressions?

The church had recently opened the Ballard building and it was still mostly unfinished. It was huge, dark, and very trendy and modern inside.

Why was Mars Hill your church home?

It was the first church we had attended in years, and it felt progressive and interesting at first, so we were interested enough to stick around. As the years went on we met many wonderful people and formed deep friendships within the congregation. We felt challenged to grow in our relationship with Jesus and were captivated by Mark's passion in the pulpit.

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

The relationships we built within the congregation, especially with those in our community group.

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

The Song of Solomon and Real Marriage series nearly ruined our marriage. During SoS we were told that because we weren't having enough sex (according to the guidelines presented by Mark) and our sex life wasn't passionate and exciting enough (according to guidelines), we were in sin and not upholding biblical teachings on giving of our bodies to each other.

During RM we were bombarded by the book, the sermons, the community group video series and workbook, with the message being that our marriage was surely dysfunctional and both of us were to be confessing and repenting of our hidden sins. We were asked to do so in public during our CG, goaded on by our 24 year old CG leader. When we explained that we thought our marriage was functional and happy, and only had "minor" sins to confess to the group, we were labeled as being unwilling to allow Jesus into our lives.

It has taken years for us to recover from these accusations as well as from the damage they caused in our marriage. At the time we started to truly believe we were dysfunctional, because everyone said we were. We became suspicious of each other, wondering what the other was hiding that the rest of the church could surely see.

What would you like to have changed about Mars Hill?

I wish that the church had presented a wider variety of sources for understanding the gospel, whether through more pastors within the church or through encouraging the congregation to see Mark as a human whose interpretation was not necessarily Truth.

Which describes you?

I left Mars Hill prior to closure.

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

We left not long after the Real Marriage series, and after much prayer. As members, we were required to submit our separation from the church in writing and meet with our campus pastor. We lied about the reasons for our departure, saying we felt called to attend a church in our immediate neighborhood, because we were afraid of being accused of abandoning the church because we wanted to continue in our dysfunctional marriage. The campus pastor did not pressure us to stay, and wished us well at our new church.

The most painful part of leaving was wondering how our relationships within our CG would survive. I was afraid of losing the friends I left behind at MH and thought many would 'shun' me for daring to disagree with the church. In the end, only a few of those friendships were damaged at that time. Most remain strong even now. Some were strained further once MH disbanded and Mark was in the media for all his behavior.

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

I felt that the church was no longer strengthening my relationship with Jesus the way it did when I first started attending. I felt that the church and the pastor had changed mission in a way I could no longer support.

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

My husband and I are now attending a new church in a denomination that was condemned by Mark during several sermons. We again feel challenged to grow in our relationship with Jesus and in our understanding of the gospel, and are actively serving in both our church and in community programs in our neighborhood. We feel free.