Told you so…

Some people, like the Hives, hate to say “I told you so”, but not me.

So now that Mars Hill has announced a plan to take over the whole world with video campuses I’m going to say it. I told you so. This is a bad model. And while I love Mark Driscoll for his teaching and gifts – and listen to his podcasts – the idea of broadcasting yourself to 50,000 people around the world sends shivers down my spine. When is enough growth enough? Mars Hill seems to have a scattergun approach to ministry ideas – shooting at every target they can possibly see.

It truly takes a phenomenal ego to think you should be broadcast to churches all over the planet 40 times a year. So much for finding 900 preachers for Jesus – what they really want is 900 AV men for Jesus.

In some ways, a local campus functions much like an independent church, with its own staff, elder team, and programs. A campus pastor leads the effort as the visible presence from the pulpit (preaching roughly ten Sundays every year) and as the authority for all campus matters.
The campus model allows people to participate in the ministry of Mars Hill Church and benefit from Pastor Mark’s teaching and other resources, while at the same time experiencing many of the benefits of a smaller church, such as intimate community, neighborhood ties, and proximity.
Also, the campus model allows pastors and local leaders to do ministry and spread the gospel without having to deal with the many administrative tasks—managing HR and budgets, building websites and databases—that hinder many churches. It also provides a way for smaller, dying churches to reinvigorate their local ministry by joining the mission of Mars Hill.

Your thoughts?


queenstuss says:

I must confess, I really don’t know much about Mars Hill, and haven’t read or listened to Mark Driscoll. But, to me, this all smacks of arrogance. “Anything you come up with can’t possibly be as good as what we’ve got.” I’m wondering if they are trying to become an official denomination, or a brand.

Joel says:

Not a fan. I do like Mark Driscoll, but even after having listened to about 5 of his sermons I’m starting to hear some pretty seriously recurring themes throughout it all. That is good if you only hear someone 5 times, but after that they get a bit old.

Technology is great, but Mark Driscoll isn’t the saviour of the evangelical church. Good preacher, yes. Maybe even a great preacher. Still, there is no substitute for a church pastor solidly teaching scripture to his own congregation week in, week out. What are we trying to gain by having an e-pastor? Everyone can access his videos on the internet from home. There are plenty of gifted preachers out there who need time behind a microphone to develop their gift – broadcasting a television show on a projector in a stadium is called cinema, not church.

Amy says:

Again with the lack of community.

It is all well and good for a pastor (or e pastor) to be available to his flock, but am I the only one who sees that a good pastor/minister is out and about in his/her local community?

I see MPC doing this – carols in the carpark, even your dad and mum talking to people at the local markets. Isn’t that part of the role as well?

when he says he is “screening for planters” you do wonder whether he really means looking to “plant screeners!” Glad to know I am not the only cynic.

Nathan says:

Hi shane. Nice to have you along. What’s sad is that I like him, and find at least two thirds of what he has to say pretty incredible. He really has lost me on this one. I can’t see who it’s really serving.

Izaac Cowling says:

-when he says he is “screening for planters” you do wonder whether he really means looking to “plant screeners!” –

That is officially the funniest thing I shall hear this week.

My thoughts on the matter… the problem with Mars Hill is a great problem to have. That is, the general evangelical model in my circles of growing to approximately 150 people before re-potting a proportion (say 50) of the congregation in a new location to start again only really works if the church grows slowly enough. When Mars Hill is (supposedly) one of the few churches preaching the gospel in a Christianised city like Seattle, it is hardly surprising it has grown quickly. Yet once the congregation grows (quickly) to a size where people don’t have a personal relationship with the pastor, then the step towards ‘campuses’ isn’t really that great a leap.

So what then is the difference between the Mars Hill iPastor and having a local preacher speaking to 500 people, who presumably also has limited relationship with most the congregation? Is it just proximity? I think it’s more than that, and it’s a significance difference. The local congregation have the ability to see, even if not through deep personal relationship with the pastor, to see his life matching up to his doctrine. That is, as they speak with him when able, when they see him as a father and husband, when they meet people of a Sunday who have been converted through the teacher’s private ministry, when they fellowship with the bible study/home group leaders who do have a personal relationship with the pastor, they can witness not just the doctrine but also the life of the man who is teaching God’s word. Not to mention, the ability of the local preacher to understand the peculiar concerns of the locals.