Dan - Sammamish 2005, 2012

Your Name

Dan

Gender

Male

Which describes your role at Mars Hill?

Regular Attender

What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?

Sammamish

What years were you involved / attending?

2005, 2012

How did you first hear about Mars Hill?

I attended Mars Hill once many years ago in Ballard (probably 2005).  But did not became a regular attender until several years later -- when we moved back to Sammamish, and it had taken over the building there in 2012.  

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

I had some friends who attended in Ballard and was intrigued with it because people described it as a church with a great missional focus on the city, with great music, focus on the arts.  I was also intrigued by its earlier mission focus on:  truth, beauty, meaning.  Being an artist and musician myself, this really resonated with me.

What were your first impressions?

I was impressed with Mark Driscoll's straight-forward, "cool", no-nonsense preaching style, and their focus on worship music, creating a beautiful space in the worship hall and fellowship center.

Why was Mars Hill your church home?

We were attending Evergreen Christian Church in Sammamish -- until the church folded and was taken over by Mars Hill Church.  Since we didn't have anywhere else to go at the time -- and were somewhat familiar with Mars Hill from our Ballard visit many years ago, we were just curious and decided to continue attending when Mars Hill took over the Sammamish building

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

Probably the number one positive thing I found about Mars Hill was the community groups.  And even as I started having growing disenchantment with some of Mark Driscoll's content, we continued to love going to the community group.

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

Probably my first negative impression, was ironically the FIRST sermon I heard there from the series "God's Work: Our Witness", where he described his Catholic upbringing and described Catholic priests as "men who wear dresses and don't have sex."    Having gotten to know many wonderful Catholic Christians during our few years we lived in Ireland, I found this comment rather ignorant and uncharitable. This anti-Catholic attitude came out again in his "Real Love" sermon series, where he again dismissed the early church fathers as being down on marriage and sex, and praising the Protestant Reformers for elevating it.  This got me to further research what some of these early church fathers actually said - and was quite surprised how much Mark Driscoll completely misquoted them. It was during this research of the early church that I became convinced Mark Driscoll was also wrong about infant baptism.

What would you like to have changed about Mars Hill?

I would have liked to see Mark Driscoll share the pulpit more. It began to become clear that Mars Hill was largely a one-man show (except when he was on leave)

Which describes you?

I left Mars Hill prior to closure.

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

We stayed at Mars Hill for about 9 months in 2012. I left Mars Hill long before the troubles with Mark Driscoll became widely known (his plagiarism, leadership conflicts, etc).  During this time, I found myself being increasingly drawn to more liturgical church traditions such as my Lutheran roots, Anglicanism, Orthodoxy, Catholicism.

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

It seems to me that Mars Hill really could not survive long without Mark Driscoll. It really became more about Him as a "celebrity pastor". There was just not enough strong leadership to sustain the church under its current leadership structure.  

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

I became convinced that the Church cannot be the Church without a deep view of the sacraments or a strong ecclesiology: Eucharist, baptism, confession, etc. There had to be something else about the importance of Church than just the charisma of the leader or the quality of the music.  I came to the conclusion that all of contemporary Protestant Christianity really left a big hole without having a strong anchor to the traditions of the church (ie. the creeds, early church, etc.).  This left me either with the options of remaining Protestant and going with a more confessional/sacramental church (Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican), or the Orthodox or Catholic Church.  Although it is a bit of a long story, I eventually ended up in the Catholic Church about a year later because I became convinced that the antiquity, unity and global scope of Catholicism was where I belonged.

Please write anything else you'd like to add.

Mars Hill to me became an icon of everything that was wrong with contemporary, evangelical Protestantism in general and the increasing division and fracturing in the body. That is, a Protestantism that has become increasingly divorced from the sacraments, and any sense of liturgical rhythm or confessional roots.  I realized there are many great Protestant churches out there that really get it -- and really put Christ first, as well as having a comprehensive mission of helping the poor, the wounded, the lost.  The idea of being "All about Jesus" was lost on Mars Hill Church.

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