Shawn Nickerson 2009-13

Your Name

Shawn Nickerson

Gender

Male

Which describes your role at Mars Hill?

Group Leader (any leadership role)

What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?

Bellevue

What years were you involved / attending?

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

How did you first hear about Mars Hill?

Podcasts and a few friends from college had been attending.

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

My wife and I had been looking for a church since we moved to the area.

What were your first impressions?

I was confused why there were so many candles and black curtains, and the video sermon took me back, but Mark's words captured my attention, it was powerful.

Why was Mars Hill your church home?

Because of the relationships I had and the opportunity to love on others.

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

I have learned an infinite amount about faith through the entire process. I have been able to learn what is important, and become much less self righteous.

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

I have suffered relationally in the community, I was maligned and the elders told church members to have nothing to do with me. The Real Marriage series placed an unneeded stress on my marriage that heightened expectations where they did not need to be, and I am still reaping the consequences. One particular pastor told me 'shit doesn't flow upstream', and I believed him, that was a horrible mistake.

What would you like to have changed about Mars Hill?

Treat people like people instead of $$

Which describes you?

I left Mars Hill prior to closure.

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

I wrote this note to the congregation on June 11, 2013 shortly before my city account was deleted.

Family,
I am writing to let you know that my family and I are retracting our membership at Mars Hill Church. I want you to know this from me so there is little room for confusion.

You need to know that this decision is not made lightly. We LOVE you. You have been in our home, in our lives and hearts, and I pray that does not cease because of this decision.

We have had doubts about MHB being the most effective place for us to make disciples, primarily because a disagreement on ecclesiology, how we do church. My heart is to pour into brothers and sisters on a personal, loving basis, and as we do that our love for Christ and each other overflows into the community and our circles of influence. We are each called to be missionaries, not to only engage in service to make an attractional Sunday gathering operate. I love and appreciate you for the countless hours you serve the body, but I say that knowing you aren't equipped as well as you should be to be missionaries on the weekdays. I say this to outline the difference of opinion, not to critique.

I recently voiced this concern along with a desire to promote a culture that embraces questions as a family, instead of hushing with fear. It is undeniable that we as a church have a reputation for doing that. Katy and I were considering leaving the church. I was forthcoming with this fact. With trepidation, I sat down with Pastor AJ and Darin Ault, (on Thursday of this last week), who heard me out with patience and lovingly recommended that I should not leave, that it would hurt the church, and we could work together for reconciliation. I was told I would be able to come to church on Sunday and have my membership and leadership role fully intact. I was touched by the meeting and genuinely prayed about it with Katy. I was given a deadline of Monday to respond whether or not I would be staying.

The next day, Friday, I attended a Head Coach meeting, where several of the men repented to me for speaking ill of me behind my back, and not loving me in a Pastoral way. I was really excited to see the Holy Spirit moving in this way! I expressed a desire to continue on as a member and servant in the church.

Pastor Josh offered to start meeting with me to be a support and work some of these questions out.

I worshipped with you and the body on Sunday at the 12:30 service, where several of the elders looked me in the eye and shook my hand, but had not real interactions with me.

I arrived on Monday morning expecting to to see Josh, but both he and Darin were there there. After some chit chat, I am informed that I have been removed from all 'positional leadership', under the reason of 'redemptive care'. This entire time, no sins have been brought against me other than having 'horrible timing and a shitty tone of voice', which was addressed by no one other than AJ. To say the least, I was stunned and confused. I left that meeting with a very nebulous plan of meeting up with Josh, and taking an undetermined break from any and all leadership roles in the church. I have no desire to take a break, or specific reason to.

I tell you this not because I want vindication, but because I have seen this pattern played out with so many before me, and I am afraid it will continue on with many of you.

A leadership that is not engaged in community, and does not know the people can not shepherd well. You have been in my home, drank my wine, seen me rejoice and weep. I have lived truthfully and transparently among you.

My genuine desire has been to love the church of Christ for the longest time. I always thought that I would pursue vocational ministry, and have a strong desire and calling to plant a church. That is the next step in our journey. Katy and I are planning to plant a church here in Bellevue in the coming months. We will be meeting in our home for the next few months.

I pray for you! I pray for Christ's church! For the leaders at MH, that there would be repentance and true relationship. I will likely be spoken of poorly after this message is seen, and in the time after we are gone. While that grieves me, it grieves me even more to see people go unloved or half loved. My heart is to see you loved and cared for well, and I hope to spark a conversation.

I still plan to meet with the MHB elders to listen and receive instruction from them for where they believe I have sinned, and will take that with great gravity. I have been removed from all groups on the city as of today, so you are no longer able to contact me there.

I don't pretend to be perfect. You know me, flaws, failures, highs lows and successes. I pray you will seek to live out in community in bold ways that glorify Jesus as the end game, not yourself or an organization.
Be a disciple, and disciple others. My home is always open to all of you, and I pray we continue in fellowship for decades to come. Have I sinned against you? Matt 5:23 says we are to not take communion while we have something against, or someone has sinned against us. I don’t believe that we have taken that command seriously enough, and for that I repent. Please call me up for coffee so I can reconcile and we can both be obedient to the Gospel. I would love to talk face to face with you.

Much Love,
Shawn

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

After I started asking questions about unscrupulous practices I was 'removed from all positional authority'. I chose to leave after being promised one thing, then lied to by the 'pastors' at Bellevue.

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

My church is all of God's people. If Christ has invited anyone to the table who am I to say they are disinvited?

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