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. The Holy Spirit has different callings for each church, and we rejoice in any and every church that loves and serves people for Jesus. Mars Hill doesn’t work for everyone, and we’re the first to acknowledge that. But, depending on the calling and context, it does work for some.
- 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. In New Mexico, we’ve seen a church go from a few hundred to over 1,000 worshipers in a few years—primarily by conversion growth. In West Seattle, we saw a church go from under 200 to as high as 1,000. In Sammamish, east of Seattle, we saw church go from under 200 to around 800 in a matter of months. This is not all transfer growth. Fully 1,392 people were baptized at Mars Hill last year, and every one of our 14 churches across four states is seeing people meet Jesus regularly.
- We’ve found some fantastic people and leaders in churches we’ve adopted. Bill Clem, the lead pastor at our largest Mars Hill church, joined us when we adopted his small church plant. One of our three executive elders, Dave Bruskas, joined us when we adopted his church of a few hundred in New Mexico. We’ve also picked up some amazingly gifted and generous Christians who have made our mission to preach Jesus’ gospel more strongly than ever. We love to develop and deploy leaders, and there are many people sitting in churches who could be equipped and unleashed for major ministry impact.
- 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.
- There are a lot of upsides. 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.
So, if your church is interested in joining the Mars Hill family, this is a good time to contact us. In so doing, you are not obligated to anything—this is just opening up the door for discussion.
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.
As a side note, if you’re not at the top of the church leadership structure, please talk with your senior leadership first about this, but don’t contact us directly, as we don’t want to cause any division in your church or disrespect for senior leadership.
We’re also opening up a Lead Pastor Residency Program that is a one-year immersion training with a salary that works for someone with a family, to be trained in ministry. Right now, we already 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. So, if you’re a leader who wants to be considered for our residency program, contact us.
Lastly, I’m cutting back on a number of my duties to personally invest in the men we accept into this residency program. I’ll be overseeing their leadership and preaching training, and we expect big things from this program by God’s grace.