Mars Hill Church — the Seattle-based megachurch made famous by its rapid expansion, high-tech outreach and its sometimes controversial pastor Mark A. Driscoll — has plans to open its 16th satellite campus in downtown Spokane.
“We just want people to meet Jesus,” said Miles Rohde, who will be the lead pastor of the Spokane church. “Spokane is getting younger with lots of college kids coming and raising their families there. We have a message of the Gospel we want to communicate and we have an amazing lead pastor in [tweetable via=”PastorMark”] Mark Driscoll [/tweetable]and the message he’s able to convey biblically, and we want to share that in Spokane.”
Mars Hill recently made an offer to buy the First Covenant Church building, 212 S. Division.
“They’ve approached us, we’ve discussed it as a congregation and we’re doing dialogue now,” said Rob Bryceson, pastor of First Covenant. “The talks are proceeding very well.”
Bryceson said nearly half of his 90-member congregation is homeless or low-income residents and maintaining the building has become a financial struggle.
“I think we’d all rather see a church here than a car lot,” he said.
The satellite campus will likely begin services in Spokane in early 2015. [tweetable via=”justinjdean”]Justin Dean[/tweetable], a deacon who oversees communication for Mars Hill, said the church is committed to finding a downtown location so people from surrounding areas can attend.
Mars Hill has a history of opening satellite locations in church buildings that have been abandoned or can no longer be maintained by a congregation. In Tacoma, for example, Mars Hill moved into a church building that was about to be made into a parking garage.
On its website, [tweetable via=”marshill”]Mars Hill[/tweetable] says expansion, which it calls planting churches, is “a natural extension of God’s mission for us to make disciples — and a priority for us.”
Rohde said that when the local satellite opens, Driscoll’s sermons will be live-streamed each Sunday. The founding pastor also has an active Twitter feed, and Mars Hill offers mobile apps, podcasts and a blog.
Driscoll is a best-selling author who has been criticized by some for his stance against homosexuality and against female preachers.
Rohde said having Driscoll’s sermons live-streamed will allow him to focus on instructing membership classes, provide biblical counseling and be involved in other on-the-ground ministries.
Rohde worked as a youth minister in Spokane Valley several years ago and his wife, Pamela, is from Spokane. He said his family has a heart for the city and has been eager to come back.
First Covenant is known for its work with the homeless community. As a downtown church, Rohde said he would like to partner with ministries already serving that demographic.
He added that he’s also eager to partner with other Spokane churches. There are approximately 500 churches in this region, but Rohde said there’s still room for Mars Hill.
“Church saturation does not equate to Gospel saturation,” he said. “There are disciples to be made, people who have not yet heard and responded to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We look forward to being a part of what God is already doing in Spokane.”
Rohde recently moved back to Washington after serving a church in Minnesota for 12 years. He is currently in the Lead Pastor Residency Program at Mars Hill, which trains men to serve as lead pastors in Mars Hill Church.
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.
Video pastor, live feed, tech teaching…why doesn’t Rohde pastor and teach, if he’s been trained? I’m scratching my head at this scenario and I’m as wired as C3PO. So they move here, buy out a church and beam in a teacher? I’m not a Driscoll hater but this, I don’t even know what to say. Man, soooo much to process and digest. I’m open to hear the apologetic for this approach but it’s feeling mighty like Darth Vader holographing on the dudes hand in StarWars. I guess we are in that galaxy far far away.
I think there is a difference between preaching and pastoring. When having an affiliation of churches, much like Paul did, it was important to speak to and address the churches as father of the house. My guess is that there will be at some point an off and on between Discol and the pastor. Our church streams from our other campus to our main campus once a month. It’s a great way to keep the churches unified. Really pastoring the people comes during the week and on Sunday.
Rhode is still being trained. I think it is great they are buying out a church that was failing because they are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, with no compromise… Look how many of churches in Spokane are falling apart or vacant(including many people) The good Lord gives and takes away..
It seems to work for them. That’s what they do at their other 15 satellites…
Size doesn’t equal health, my own scale tells me that every day. I know many groups that are gathering multitudes of people and are experiencing growth, I think the methodology has to be rooted in more depth of soil than” it works”. What does “it work” mean in discipleship and spiritual formation. I remember when I challenged a pastor in my past who was exposed in an activity of sexual indiscretion and he rebutted my rebuke with a challenge of the amount of prayer and spiritual sacrifice he exhibited against my then young and immature faith. My claim that the bible called for more than just spiritual achievements was rejected based on the impact or influence of his life. In that moment I learned that growth can be life or death, tumor or muscle. I think MH has much good fruit in the NW and a lot of carnage in the wake too. Im sad to see men, money and ministry becoming so polarizing as the comments in the local paper article already reflects but I also think there are many people reacting on hearsay and rebellion too. When fires are burning it could be destruction and it could be persecution, wise people need to be able to tell the difference.
When fires are burning, it can be consuming. Or it can be refining 😉
We should welcome them, as we would welcome anyone who has a sincere desire to foster spiritual formation, discipleship, and service to those in need. Yet, I have questions about their model. I agree with Eric on this; what does “it works” mean in the context of spiritual formation and discipleship. Our history and tradition suggests strongly that discipleship and spiritual formation begin with authentic relationship. Seth uses the analogy to Paul. I am not sure that really fits here. Most of the communities which Paul was involved in were quite small by our standards — 20-40 people. And, they had resident elders who actually led the communities. My fundamental question: Is this model — practiced by this group and others — moving folks closer to or further away from authentic spiritual formation, and lives of authentic discipleship?
I wholeheartedly agree Thomas. I think the issue you address is THE most important one. Even Jesus rejected performance over relationship, fruit over face, product over person paradigms.
See his infamous Matthew 7 “I never knew you” sermon.
Hey I used to attend mars hill in seattle and in everett before I moved to spokane a year ago. I can tell there is alot of here say from alot of the comments I have read in articles about this very topic. I love this church and I can tell u they teach christ crucified and raised from the dead. I can tell u that I learned alot of being a man from that church what it means to love my family and serve my god. I love that it is coming and hope that other people will benifit from it as I know I have. They teach jesus. Plain and simple.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.. Yes they do! Hi Ryan I am Ryan too! haha
I was hoping to post in the Spokesman Review comments. Some crazy talk over there But they stopped comments and you wonder why because some people are so arrogant… Anytime there is someone truly preaching the bible and the depths of Gods Word there is always much resistance.. You can google Mark Driscoll and many people don’t like him and hate on him. But the Truth is many don’t know him… While it is very rare to find a Church that preaches Gods word and does not water it down or compromise on the truth.. So many churches now a days are people pleasers, or they twist Gods Word.. Share all about Love and mercy and grace, but not as much about hell or that God is Holy and Just, and his Wrath will come.. I am writing this because so many people are so quick to throw someone under the bus. Mark Driscoll does not deserve to be thrown under the bus. (Mostly from the comments on Spoks review I am talking about and all over the internet for that matter.) Out of all of my life I have never found a better, Jesus Loving, Repenting, Truth Seeker of Gods word Preacher that doesn’t leave stuff out.. He says what needs to be said (Gods Word to the full extent) Mark has admitted to some of his sins and he repents quickly.. All of us fall short. What makes the difference is Repentance and continually growing in the Lord.. Most people that claim to be “Christian” Are not.. They don’t want to repent. I don’t place Mark above Jesus by any means. But Mark is an amazing gift from God in so many peoples lives.. And especially in mine. I have watched, listened to hundreds of sermons via pod and vodcast from Driscoll.. And while the old church I went to was so shallow but so big. It is such a blessing to be able to hear Mark Preach the Word of God .. He is funny he has a great character as I am sure Jesus does too.. Mark owns up to when he is wrong (even if it takes a little while), He repents. he teaches Gods Word and he does not water it down. He plants churches. He believes in Church Discipline and headship over leadership and is trying his best to do things so biblically right on it is amazing. Gods word will cut you but not to destroy you, to heal you.. So many people will take an out of context verse and try to justify how they feel. The truth is most people rebel against Gods Word.. Or Take some of it and leave out the rest.. With Gods Word there is no compromise. The truth is the truth, God is never changing he is always the same Beautiful God that has been so patient with us for our sake, but his fuse will end and sin will be dealt with.. If only the majority of people would not have such a hard heart and be willing to accept Gods Word than we would have a revival. God will have the last word.. Oh and for the people that throw that line at Driscoll, Oh he doesn’t believe in women as a pastor… True, neither does God. And he clearly and on many occasions gives a very detailed explanation as women are the helpers and men the primary leaders.. Just like men don’t bear babies in their bellies. We all have different roles. But a man must lay down his life for his wife.. Women are able to lead children’s ministries, small women’s groups, etc.. In Timothy it talks about how women just can’t be the lead pastor/aka pastorette (name I made up I think) Of a Church.. Oh and Yes, to the homo sexuality thing I love how Driscoll points out that it is Not Right in Gods Eyes to be Gay, and he also elaborates and says so it is Not right to have sex when you are unmarried and the list goes on and on.. I’ve heard many times when I hear Gods Word and I feel convicted and need to repent. I used to be a totally different person before god found me and changed me. God made the news, Mark just delivers it.. And I am so thankful that Mark is willing to be led by the Holy Spirit and hope that he leaves such a great legacy… As he is a faith full follower of Christ.. Marshill is growing because God is Blessing it. Lot’s of other churches are growing because people pay to be told what they want to hear. (like Joel Osteen such a false teacher) But those churches will be exposed and wither like the grass.. (not to mention so many weird churches in Spokane) People need to test everything they hear with scripture and be careful who they listen to, what books they read, etc. Test by the fruit of the spirit.. Gods Word does not contradict itself.. . and go ahead test Driscoll with Gods word.. He is a faithful servant, that is still human. But he Repents and moves forward with Christ centered in his heart and life.. Do you? The Glory is the Lords alone but I am sooooooo thankful for Pastor Mark Driscoll and his faithfulness. Under Jesus, he has been one of the most influential people in my life. And I am so very blessed to be able to hear Gods Word through him.. I hope to meet him someday because in a big way he is like a spiritual dad to me.. May God bless him and his family and all that open their hearts to God. Amen
Oh and PS one of the biggest reasons why it is a satellite church. Is probably because the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.. God is doing his best to train up people but many aren’t willing.. Or ready for the role. (look how many preachers preach now that just need to go home and get their life right with God) Maybe the pastor that will be physically there is still getting prepared to be the main pastor for the Spokane Campus.. You have got to be on fire for the Lord, dedicated, loyal, Truth seeking.. Bible believing, etc, etc.. I have heard pastors all my life that are so boring or don’t spend the time studying and doing their homework, or so focused on grace they tend to leave out the God is Holy part and preach and live repentance..
I’m glad you’ve been impacted for good. You have a lot of opinions about a lot of things, I’m not going to wade into everything you’ve pointed a finger at, but I do hope you pray for all those pastors and churches that you’ve Spokane these judgments towards.
Christ is among the humble, rejected, marginalized and insignificant too. The kingdom comes without observation as well. Celebrate the poor as well as the rich, the ones who plant as well as those who reap. Because in the end he who sows or waters is nothing but God who gives the growth is the one to praise.
I have attended Mars Hill Church in Seattle and Tacoma many times. My grown son and son-in-law are both community group leaders for Mars Hill and my daughter and daughter-in-law serve the church in many capacities besides raising their children and taking care of their households. Neither of these God-loving women feel slighted that their role in the church is everyday stuff and getting things done, as women do. God created women for this very reason, we are good at multitasking! I am so looking forward to a gospel preaching church to come to Spokane and Mars Hill is one of those. Mark is a human being and, thus, not perfect, but he really knows how to preach the gospel and I thoroughly enjoy his sermons! Funny how threatened people are, including fellow Christians, with the concept of church planting and the growth of Jesus’ church. Paul is my favorite person in the Bible besides Jesus and I really love reading his instructions regarding the duties of the church. All of us Christians are united in Christ Jesus and part of his church body. We need to pray for unity between one another rather than divisiveness.
Charles H. Spurgeon said:
“However, even if it is not a time of remarkable blessing and restoration, the work of God still deserves our energy and effort. “The duty of the Church is not to be measured by her success. It is as much the minister’s duty to preach the gospel in adverse times as in propitious seasons. We are not to think, if God withholds the dew, that we are to withhold the plough. We are not to imagine that, if unfruitful seasons come, we are therefore to cease from sowing our seed. Our business is with act, not with result. The church has to do her duty, even though that duty should bring her no present reward.”
[…] wondered, “Which will it be if Mars Hill takes over that building?” Will it be no trespassing for LGBTQ people? Yes. Will lives be changed? Yes, but for the […]
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