The Seattle-based Mars Hill Church announced Sunday that due to a “tough financial position,” the megachurch will have to close church locations and consolidate some of them with nearby locations. It will also cease calling itself by its current name.
“Rather than remaining a centralized multi-site church with video-led teaching distributed to multiple locations, the best future for each of our existing local churches is for them to become autonomous self-governed entities. This means that each of our locations has an opportunity to become a new church, rooted in the best of what Mars Hill has been in the past, and independently led and run by its own local elder teams.”
“As we have been seeking to operate within our current means, we have come to the regrettable conclusion that we must consolidate some of our church locations, and close or transition others,” Mars Hill Teaching Pastor Dave Bruskas wrote on the church’s website Sunday.
Mars Hill Downtown Seattle, and University of Washington District will be consolidated with Mars Hill Ballard beginning Oct. 12, he said. Mars Hill Phoenix, Arizona, will have their last service as a Mars Hill church Sept. 28, he added.
Following much prayer and lengthy discussion with Mars Hill’s leadership, the board of Mars Hill has concluded that rather than remaining a centralized multi-site church with video-led teaching distributed to multiple locations, the best future for each of our existing local churches is for them to become autonomous self-governed entities. This means that each of our locations has an opportunity to become a new church, rooted in the best of what Mars Hill has been in the past, and independently led and run by its own local elder teams.
We recognize this reorganization plan is a significant and complex undertaking on many fronts; however, our goal is to have the process completed by January 1st, 2015.
Last month, nine current pastors at Mars Hill wrote a letter to their fellow elders expressing their concerns and listing critical points of information regarding the “abusive and coercive” culture long fostered by their besieged senior pastor, who is currently on a six-month break. They suggested that Driscoll should step down, to eventually one day be restored to a stature of God-honoring leadership.
The Acts 29 church-planting network, which Driscoll founded more than a decade ago, announced Aug. 8 that they have dismissed the pastor and his church from membership, citing complaints from other network pastors concerning his “divisive” behavior. The pastor was also asked to remove himself from ministry.
Driscoll had apologized, and has offered apologies even after the removal.
However, the Acts 29 Network said they were convinced that the nature of the accusations against Pastor Driscoll, “most of which have been confirmed by him,” make it “untenable and unhelpful” to keep him and his church in the network.
The end result was the below final statement:
All of Mars Hill’s existing church properties will either be sold, or the loans on the individual properties will be assumed by the independent churches, subject to approval by the lender; (2) all central staff will be compensated for their work, and then released from their employment; (3) if any funds remain after the winding down and satisfaction of Mars Hill business affairs, they will be gifted as seed money to the newly independent churches, then, (4) the existing Mars Hill Church organization will be dissolved.
These are painful times for them. Let’s keep them in prayer.