“I will make you fishers of men.” –Jesus
Our nets are breaking and our boats our sinking. Thank you, Jesus, for such problems!
In Luke 5, the story is told of how Jesus showed up on the shores of a lake. There, Peter and his men were putting away their nets after having “toiled all night” without any success. Jesus told them to, in faith, put their nets down one more time, and “when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.” Peter then fell face down to worship Jesus.
Recently, Jesus has showed up in a similar way at Mars Hill. In faith, we put our nets down.
Over the past six months we’ve planted or replanted six churches in three different states, welcoming lots of new people in the process. In recent weeks we have seen nearly 15,000 people attending on Sundays, which is 5,000 more than one year prior. Jesus said we’d be fishers of men and women, and he wasn’t kidding.
Just a few months after the grand opening, Mars Hill Rainier Valley is already three times larger than the average church in America and has seen 20 people baptized. By God’s grace, our new church in Orange County is running 650 per week, 31 people have been baptized, and we don’t even have a permanent building for them yet!
Mars Hill Portland added a second service just a few weeks after opening its doors in January. Now, 600 people are showing up every Sunday to worship Jesus in one of America’s least-churched cities. The Sammamish church has grown to 600 as well.
We have also seen an increase in our online efforts. Around the world, the number of people accessing our digital resources has increased, with millions upon millions downloading sermons, reading articles, and listening to our music. Upwards of 100,000 people now visit our websites every day!
Not surprisingly, our nets are breaking and our boats are sinking.
Like Peter, we are astonished at God’s work and spending time worshiping and praising God for the large catch. But, we also need to fix our nets and bail our boats.
There is no way any of us could have predicted such an outpouring of God’s grace. The growth arrived at breakneck pace, and, truth be told, keeping up has been quite a challenge. Jesus has entrusted us with more than we ever planned for, including many new Christians who have just met Jesus and are not yet contributing financially.
We do not see this as a burden but rather an incredible blessing. We also rejoice that, in the past few months, our church body has given more regularly and more generously than ever. If we were growing at a sane rate, we would be perfectly fine. Instead, we have the opportunity to celebrate new life in Jesus on a massive scale. What a wonderful gift!
We’re in the process of building some systems and making some changes to accommodate the new normal. In the meantime, however, we could really use your help in order to make it to the end of our fiscal year on June 30.