Mars Hill Church
Mars Hill Church is a Reformed Christian megachurch located in Seattle, Washington. Services are offered at multiple locations in the city; the church podcasts content of weekend services, as well as conferences on the Internet with more than 100,000 downloads every week. In 2008 approximately 7,500 people attended services at Mars Hill Church every week (23% more than in 2007).


The early years
Mars Hill Church was founded in spring 1996 by Mark Driscoll, (at that time he was 25 years old), Lief Moi and Mike Gunn. The church started at the apartment of Driscoll and his wife Grace with the blessing of Antioch Bible Church and the exodus of about 30 of its students. They outgrew the apartment and started meeting in the youth rooms of another church. The church had its first official service October 1996, with 160 people attending; attendance quickly fell to around 60 because of discussions about the visions and mission of the church. In the spring of 1997 the church expanded to two evening services. The transition to two different congregations resulted in some anxiety and stir by members who didn't want the church to grow bigger, but it resulted in growing attendance. Later that same year Mark Driscoll was invited to speak at a pastors' conference in California. The speech Driscoll made inspired many and had great influence on the emerging church movement and changed the focus from reaching Generation X, to reaching the postmodern world. The speech resulted in overwhelming media coverage of Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll, and put Driscoll in connection with Leadership Network.

Structure and organization
The church continued growing and it became obvious that the church needed organization and leadership. Inspired by Alan Roxburgh, Driscoll settled on an emerging and missional ecclesiology, and a complementarian view on women in ministry. The church installed the first team of elders and they took over much of the work teaching classes, counseling and training new leaders. Furthermore the church started a course for new members, called the Gospel Class, to ensure that members were focused on the mission of the church and that they agreed with the central doctrinal statements of the church. The class has been running every quarter since. In the fall of 1999 the church had grown to 350 in attendance every week and was able to pay Driscoll full time.

Multisite church
In 2003 Mars Hill Church moved into a renovated hardware store in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. In 2006, in an effort to reduce the overcrowding at its services, Mars Hill opened its first satellite campus in Shoreline. This change also marked their transition to a multi-site church, using video sermons as well as other multimedia improvements to the church's web site to connect the campuses. Later in 2006, Mars Hill acquired two new properties, in West Seattle and Wedgwood which later became their West Seattle and Lake City campuses. After less than three years of operation, the Lake City campus announced it will be closing as of July 2010 and its members encouraged to scatter to other campuses because the Lake City campus did not produce enough funds to justify its continued existence. New locations of Mars Hill have been added using multi-campus "meta-church" structure connecting via high-definition video to the remote campuses during weekly worship services. This format has allowed each location to retain local ministries while benefiting from the programs afforded to them by the larger body - all under the leadership of the main campus. A fourth, and then a fifth, campus opened in 2007 and in 2008, a sixth location was added in downtown Seattle. A seventh campus, in Olympia, Washington, opened in Fall 2008 and an eighth campus, the first outside of Washington state, opened in Albuquerque, New Mexico in Fall 2009. In 2008 the church launched an online community-building network, called The City, to improve communication on all levels in the church. It was such a success that The City was purchased by the Christian publishing brand, Zondervan, before Christmas 2008.

Mars Hill Church currently meets at nine locations ( Ballard, Shoreline, West Seattle, Bellevue, Downtown, Olympia, U-District, Federal Way, and Albuquerque, NM) with a total of twenty-five services each Sunday.
  • Ballard Main Campus is led by Pastor Bill Clem and is where pastor Mark Driscoll preaches live. The preaching is sent electronically to the other campuses.
  • Bellevue Campus is led by pastor Chris Swan.
  • Downtown Seattle Campus is led by pastor Tim Gaydos and is located in what formerly housed the controversial Tabella Nightclub.
  • Shoreline Campus is led by pastor Steve Tompkins
  • West Seattle Campus was led by pastor Adam Sinnett before he moved to plant a church in downtown Seattle.
  • Olympia Campus is led by pastor Steven J Mulkey
  • U-District Campus is a plant of the Ballard campus and is led by Pastor Matt Jensen
  • Federal Way Campus is led by Pastor Samuel Choi at Sequoyah Middle School
  • Albuquerque, NM Campus is led by pastor Dave Bruskas and is located in the historic Lobo Theater
  • Lake City Campus, was closed in July 2010 (formerly called the " Wedgwood" Campus) was led by pastor James Harleman

Growth and influence
In 2007 Mars Hill Church was rated as the second most church planting church, the 9th most innovative church, and it was the 23rd fastest growing church in in the United States in 2007 with a growth in attendance of 38% in one year. A recent report that rate by relevance and influence concluded that Mars Hill Church is the eighth most influential church in the United States.

Mars Hill Global
Mars Hill launched a new Web site that discusses their mission for the next ten years including future expansion plans of church.

Style of sermons
Driscoll's casual, but direct approach style of sermons has resonated in the Pacific Northwest, a region considered the least churched in the nation, according to the North American Religion Atlas. Driscoll's style, he says, is influenced by stand-up comedians like Chris Rock. Driscoll preaches series like Vintage Jesus, Religion Saves and Nine Other Misconceptions, The Peasant Princess, and Trial, focusing on a book of the Bible or topical sermons. Driscoll delivers his sermons with a Systematic Theology approach. Rob Wall, a professor at Seattle Pacific University, explains the success for the church in Mark Driscoll's direct answers to complicated spiritual questions: "His style of public rhetoric is very authoritative. Whether it's about the Bible, or about culture, he is very clear and definitive." In a article, his style was described this way: "Pacing the stage at the main Ballard campus, he delivered a sermon on marriage roles as he saw them set forth in the Song of Solomon. He told stories from his own marriage, offered statistics, and dropped jokes without their feeling forced. Every few minutes he would sniff in a thoughtful, practiced sort of way. This untucked, down-to-earth demeanor was the opposite of a huckster televangelist, but polished in its own way. It makes the guy easy to listen to." Driscoll has been widely inspired by other theologians including Augustine (especially on predestination(?)), John Calvin (especially on city transformation), Martin Luther (especially on the gospel), along with the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards and, Charles Spurgeon. And he finds himself in connection with contemporary theologians including Lesslie Newbigin, Tim Keller, Ed Stetzer, J. I. Packer, Francis Schaeffer, John Stott, Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware, Don Carson, John Piper, John MacArthur, David Wells and Driscoll's co-writer Gerry Breshears.

Mars Hill Church and its leadership have encountered criticism, and has given cause to controversies about the church, in a number of occasions. The church has occasionally experienced violent reactions; a man attending an evening service, October 8, 2006, attempted to attack Driscoll on stage with a machete. This, and other similar events, resulted in the church employing volunteer security. Women are not allowed to speak from the pulpit at Mars Hill. Protests have sparked as a result of comments made by Pastor Driscoll relating to the role of women in society saying that they considered some of Driscoll's rhetoric demeaning and pejorative against women. When the Evangelical leader Ted Haggard left New Life Church in Colorado, Driscoll raised an uproar with the comment on his blog: "A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband's sin, but she may not be helping him either." Driscoll later apologized for his statement. When the Episcopal Church elected a woman as its bishop, Driscoll wrote on his blog, "If Christian males do not man up soon, the Episcopalians may vote a fluffy baby bunny rabbit as their next bishop to lead God's men." As a result of the large growth of the church, their bylaws, which outline how the church is organised, have been rewritten on a few occasions. The outcome of this process in November 2007 led to changes in leadership organization. The new bylaws installed Lead pastor Jamie Munson and preaching pastor Mark Driscoll and pastors Scott Thomas and Tim Beltz as "executive pastors" who lead the objectives of the church "under the authority of the Board of Directors" on which the executive pastors also serve as directors. The change precipitated the firing of two pastors. "Mars Hill leaders said in forum postings that one fired pastor was removed, in part, for "displaying an unhealthy distrust in the senior leadership." They said the other was removed for "disregarding the accepted elder protocol for the bylaw deliberation period" and "verbally attacking the lead pastor" " charges the fired pastor denied, the leaders added." Some have criticized the church for its harshness in dealing with dissent within its leadership. Citing as an example an incident in 2007 during the church reorganization in 2007 where two elders criticized the plan as consolidating power in the hands of Driscoll and his closest aides. When one of the elders refused to repent he was shunned, and reportedly a member who complained on an online message board had his membership suspended. Additionally, members who have openly questioned or dissented with Mars Hill leaders have been systematically removed from the church. This policy of church discipline was discussed during a lecture given on April 20, 2009 by Mark Driscoll for The Gospel Coalition.

Acts 29 Church Planting Network
Mars Hill Church is hosting the Acts 29 Church Planting Network It is an interdenominational network of pastors and churches from around the world whose focus is to help qualified leaders plant new churches and rejuvenate declining churches. The President of Acts 29 is Scott Thomas, one of the four Mars Hill executive pastors. In 2010 the network helped plant 133 churches with a total of more than 390 church plants through the history of the church.

The Resurgence is an outgrowth of the teaching ministry at Mars Hill Church. The intent of the ministry is to provide a large repository of free missional theology resources in hopes of serving the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ in culture. Additionally, Resurgence announced that starting in 2008 they began publishing a line of books called Re:Lit (Resurgence Literature) in partnership with Crossway.

Building Activity

  • Hans Hurn
    Hans Hurn commented
    nothing at all interesting about this building
    about 6 years ago via Mobile