Alyssa - Albuquerque 2010-14

Your Name




Which describes your role at Mars Hill?

Group Leader (any leadership role)

What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?


What years were you involved / attending?

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

How did you first hear about Mars Hill?

I had heard from a friend that there was a church in Seattle planting a campus in Albuquerque that was Calvinist and anti-women. I searched the Mars Hill website myself and looked through all the documents I could find and didn't really see anything that concerned me, but I was very anti-church at the time so I decided to take the, "I don't like that church," stance.

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

It was really Brannon Garrett, who was a close friend and volunteer at City on a Hill/Mars Hill at the time, encouraging me to get back into church after mine completely feel apart that caused me to end up at Mars Hill. I had been out of church for several months and had been occasionally visiting City on a Hill in Albuquerque, which later became Mars Hill Albuquerque.

What were your first impressions?

When it was announced that this transition would take place, Mark Driscoll came to speak on his vision for ministry. I came in very skeptical but loved what he had to say. After recently going through a painful church split and feeling lost spiritually and doctrinally, it was so refreshing to hear someone speak with unwavering confidence in his beliefs and address cultural issues the way he did.

Why was Mars Hill your church home?

Mars Hill was my church home because the people were family. The preaching, doctrine and music were all awesome, but it was the community that made it a home.

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

Mark's preaching gave me a better understanding of the gospel and introduced me to reformed theology, which I love and believe to be true. I grew in knowledge of the bible, love for God, love for God's people. The emphasis on community was incredibly beneficial in a time where I had so much brokenness and loss. This community has continually saved my life over and over again.

I grew in many practical ways, too. I learned a lot of business and administrative skills during my time as an intern as well as an incredible amount about music, biblical counseling, leadership, and just general adult-ing. I just wouldn't be who I am now if it weren't for Mars Hill. The positive impacts are endless.

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

Looking back, I can see how in many ways I lost a lot of myself. As a woman, less was expected of me than my male peers, and I often looked to them for validation or permission and was constantly second-guessing everything I did. I've always been a strong and opinionated person, but I felt silenced and pushed to the sidelines because I was a single woman and needed to make room for the men to take charge. While I did grow in humility, I have good leadership and communication skills, and those things were not valued because I was a woman and unmarried.

The dating culture and pressure to get married was very destructive to my heart and self-worth. I spent a lot of time waiting on a man to take interest in me so I could stop feeling like a second-class citizen. I feel like I wasted my singleness waiting when I could've been living.

What would you like to have changed about Mars Hill?

I think the one of the big problems at least with Mars Hill was that a great deal of pride seeped into everyone's hearts. There were a lot of kids who did not feel welcome or understood by other church bodies, and Mars Hill gave them a place where they were finally given dignity and an opportunity to grow with other Christians that were like them. Unfortunately, that sense of self-worth turned into self-worship, and we became very closed off to other ideas and other groups of people. We became very closely-knit and dedicated to each other, which was a good thing, but we also made it very hard for outsiders to feel included. Everyone was welcome, but if you weren't part of "our thing" you fell to wayside.  I also feel the leadership was too loose about who was given authority. For example, my now fiancĂ© had only been a Christian for a couple months and they almost immediately put him in leadership. That kind of thing only further contributed to everyone's pride, and ultimately the pressure of being put in charge too soon crippled a lot of people and hurt the volunteers who were under them. Leadership was also way too involved in everyone lives, which was what created the cult-like culture that we were often criticized of having. Accountability is a good thing, but seriously, why did everyone have to talk to a pastor or community group leader first before they went on a date? There was so much pressure to get married and have 5 kids and start a church plant as soon as possible. Mark seemed to think that the calling on his life was the ideal and that everybody should be like him. He never said that, but it's what happened.  Ultimately, I saw a trend of positive growth and continual repentance through the church. There were problems, but many of those issues were being addressed and dealt with. Members, leaders, local pastors - every one was under some kind of authority and submitted to the processes of repentance and forgiveness. I stayed through that terrible year of the media hounding and other churches hating us because I could see that good changes would come because of it and that it was very clearly the Lord disciplining his kids. Every one was willing to be disciplined except Pastor Mark. When it came time to address the sin in his life and take some time to search his heart and go under the authority of other pastors, he was unwilling. If I could change anything, it would be that. I believe Jesus took down Mars Hill, but I also believe it didn't have to be that way.

Which describes you?

I stayed at Mars Hill through closure.

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

I stayed because I love my local leadership, and I know they want to see people meet Jesus and serve our city. I'm on board with that. I didn't think it was right to jump ship just because things got hard, and I wanted to be available to help out during the transition into North Church. It's been exciting to be part of something new and see how God has redeemed our church and been faithful to love Albuquerque.

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

"It's complicated."

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

Well, I feel free to question things now. There were a lot of ideas that I'm still wrestling with and wondering if they were good or not, and I still haven't quite landed on a lot of things, particularly biblical manhood and womanhood and how large of a scope leadership should have over people's lives. I don't know. I feel a little lost, but I trust in God's sovereignty and know that I have a good foundation of belief. I'm trying not to get too bogged down in the details.

Please write anything else you'd like to add.

I love Pastor Mark. I love his preaching. I believe he has a very important calling on his life. I am thankful for his sacrifices and everything he and his family endured to start Mars Hill. I know Jesus was loving us when he allowed Mars Hill to fall apart. I'm excited for what's ahead. I'm bummed that Mark bailed and started another church after all the time his congregation spent giving him grace and the benefit of the doubt, and I'm bummed that he didn't do his disciplinary plan, because I think he needs it. I don't know. I hope more people meet Jesus at Trinity Church in AZ and across the world. Everything will be alright.