"So, if you are a senior pastor or local church board chair who wants to consider the possibility of your church becoming a Mars Hill, let’s talk."
Credit: Julie Anne Smith
As the New Year begins, we wonder how many pastors are dreaming of expanding their ministries. Bigger is always better, right? Some may even be entertaining the idea of associating with Mars Hill in order to grow their churches. After all, Mars Hill is such an incredible success story… Yeah, right!
In case you missed the drama last spring, Mark Driscoll stepped down as president of Acts 29 and turned over the reins to Matt Chandler, who moved the ministry headquarters to his church in Texas. On April 10, 2012, Mark Driscoll posted this "advertisement" on the Mars Hill website:
Here are a few highlights from that post in case you missed it (we encourage you to read it in its entirety):
"We regularly receive requests from churches interested in becoming a part of Mars Hill. So, I thought it would be helpful to give some of the most common answers to questions people typically pose:
Becoming a Mars Hill is not for everyone… Statistically, the majority of churches are plateaued and declining. Over 3,500 churches die and close every year. We want to see as many churches open and people meet Jesus as possible.
We have some success, by God’s grace, adopting in an existing church and transitioning it to a Mars Hill church…
Most pastors are bogged down in the details of the website, finances, human resources, real estate negotiations, technology, and the like. Pastors go into ministry to serve Jesus by reaching and training people, but the administrative work of ministry buries them and keeps them from working with people as much as they desire. A church like Mars Hill that can do the administrative work centrally can help to free up the local pastor and leaders to focus on reaching people, caring for people, training leaders, and getting from meetings to mission.
We don’t pretend this is easy. Most churches don’t want to change what they’re doing, but instead only want changed results. To become a Mars Hill church requires that a congregation legally becomes part of our church family, as it would be imprudent to inherit all the costs and legal liabilities blindly. Not every person in your leadership will keep their current role. Not every paid staff member will keep their job. Not every person in your current church will be supportive and stay. Not every ministry you are doing will continue. And you will have live preaching only some of the time and be part of something much bigger than just you…"
RED FLAG #1: A congregation must LEGALLY become part of the Mars Hill family…
RED FLAG #2: Not every leader will keep his current role
RED FLAG #3: Some paid staff members will be terminated
RED FLAG #4: Who cares if members leave – they're not being 'supportive'
Driscoll goes on to explain that there are 'upsides' to joining Mars Hill. What are they? According to the post:
"Churches that join will get a fresh start, a greater church family, resources, and by God’s grace, a proven track record with an established and growing church with ministry specialists who can help establish local elders, deacons, Community Groups, Redemption Groups, biblical counseling, children’s ministry, marriage ministry, and more to train and unleash people for meaningful and fruitful ministry. Many of these leaders are already in the churches that join Mars Hill, and we simply want to help find and train them to do more by God’s grace."
Oh, and Mark is sure to point out that subordinate church leaders who are excited about aligning with Mars Hill should discuss the idea with the senior leadership before contacting Mars Hill directly. Driscoll doesn't want to create division in churches or disrespect the senior leadership. How mature of him…
And to expand the Mars Hill brand, the church is establishing a 'Lead Pastor Residency Program' to train pastors. They have "a few hundred applicants to the residency program for a few spots. Those who are chosen will be trained for one year at one of our more established Mars Hill churches, evaluated, qualified as an elder, and sent back out to plant a Mars Hill church or help replant a church wanting to become a Mars Hill location."
Driscoll concludes by explaining that he is cutting back on his duties to invest in men who are accepted into the residency program. Sounds an awful lot like SGM's Pastors College, doesn't it? It does appear that Mark Driscoll learned quite a lot from his mentor C.J. Mahaney.
During the past nine months we wonder how many churches have helped to enlarge Mark's Hill? Anyone care to chime in about churches that are joining ranks with Mars Hill? We'd love to hear how successful they have become as a result of this realignment.
Lydia's Corner: Numbers 28:16-29:40 Luke 3:23-38 Psalm 62:1-12 Proverbs 11:18-19