Sam - Ballard, Shoreline 2004-09

Your Name




Which describes your role at Mars Hill?

Regular Attender

What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?

Ballard, Shoreline

What years were you involved / attending?

2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

How did you first hear about Mars Hill?

A family that was very close friends with my family for most of my life was a large part of Mars Hill from almost the beginning of the church, and they invited us to join. They were soon kicked out of the church because of the father's disagreement with Pastor Mark's leadership, but my family stayed, until almost the end of the church.

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

The family that we were very close to invited my family to come. We came, and my parents were uncertain whether they wanted to stay or not, because they didn't like how big of a church it was. My dad was an elder in the last church we went to, and he and my mom wanted to leave because they weren't happy with the way the pastor was handling the church's money (how ironic).  They ended up deciding to stay, because they liked Pastor Mark's sermons

What were your first impressions?

I was a teenager, and Mars Hill was just so much more exciting than the churches I had attended before. The music especially was great, considering how I always hated Christian rock. Here was creative, enjoyable music that was also Christian without being boring. That, and there were a lot of young, cool people to get to know

Why was Mars Hill your church home?

I was a teenager at the time, and I was also homeschooled, so it was at church that I made the most friends my age. I was very active in the youth group, "Proxy." Even after I "graduated" from Proxy, I volunteered occasionally as a youth leader.

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

I was at Mars Hill during my formative years, so it's hard to discern what was good and what was bad. I'll say this: I've had the best bible study groups in Proxy than anywhere else in my life. We would tackle really difficult theological issues, like the problem is evil, and the nature of God; things that we clearly had no answer to, but we enjoyed discussing none the less.

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

I had a lot of ideas implanted in my head, since I was so young, that I really disagree with now. For example, gender roles: the idea that women shouldn't be leaders, men must be the head of the household, and the patriarch is extremely important; that homosexuality is evil; that anything sexual outside of marriage is sinful and should be fiercely monitored; etc. The biggest thing of all though, is being told that I must always submit to authority, that I can make no decisions without the say-so of people older than me. That really broke me, when I found out that I disagreed with my elders; it was hard to not feel guilty for something I shouldn't have felt guilty for

What would you like to have changed about Mars Hill?

Almost everything that had to do with doctrine. If it was a large collective of people who loved Jesus, and loved people, and loved creative music and art, and formed close, constructive relationships with each other, without trying to form everyone into one church, believing in only one doctrine, being led by leaders that think the way one person tells them to think. Mark used to brag about how he wasn't the lead pastor of the church, how he "couldn't even get into the church by himself, because he didn't have the keys." Turns out it wasn't that way at all

Which describes you?

I left Mars Hill prior to closure.

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

At first, I left Mars Hill because I went to college out of town. At that time I grew intellectually, and found I disagreed with almost everything I was taught at Mars Hill. When I came home to Seattle, I found a lot of my closest friends from Mars Hill and Proxy felt the same way. Soon after that, I had a profound experience that made me realize that I was no longer a Christian, and it was the most freeing feeling in my life. I had originally thought I had found salvation and grace at Mars Hill, but I felt it more profoundly after leaving

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

Well, it became a huge community of people who loved each other, and were connected under the belief of a loving Christ, and Mark Driscoll tried to control it for egotistical reasons and with manipulative actions, and it drove people against each other, until it all collapsed.

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

Not a Christian, and happy for it.