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Mars Hill - Emerging Church Article

31 December, 2003 10:14 AM

Just found this interesting Article on Mars Hill in the Seattle Times. Here is an excerpt:

'But in the past few years, certain in-city churches, founded by people in their 20s and 30s, have quietly amassed followings. Around the country, Seattle is becoming known as a center for these churches, variously referred to as "emerging," "postmodern" or, galling to their founders, "Gen X" churches.

Typically, they seek alternative ways of presenting the message of Christ - ways that tap into current youth culture rather than villainize it, as some churches do. Often these churches are small and less top-down, more like a gathering of friends. They value intuitive experiences of God, encouraging a vital relationship with him, rather than assuming people already have one. They are often culturally liberal (welcoming of, say, nose rings and expressing one's love of God through punk rock) but theologically conservative, emphasizing early Christianity and the root meaning of Bible stories.

But here, too, Mars Hill has become an anomaly. With its sheer size and orthodox theology - far more conservative than most other emerging churches - it no longer fits neatly into that niche....

The Rev. Karen Ward, pastor of the postmodern Church of the Apostles in Seattle, says Mars Hill is "espousing a certain tradition, a very conservative, fundamental, Promise Keepers ethos." Emerging-church pastors, she says, are generally more open to saying they don't have all the answers. '

Interesting article - interested in your reflections



what is the definition of "emergent"? is the "emergent" movement exclusive to say who is in or who is out?

switch » 31 December, 2003 11:38 AM

There's been a bit of debate over this over the last little while. Adam Cleave has some interesting comments @ http://cleave.blogs.com/pomomusings/2003/12/mars_hill_churc.html
Happy New Year Mate

Paul » 31 December, 2003 12:08 PM

I love that Church,, I use to visit it as much as possible, and once again all I can say is that, God is so present at every meeting, that something must be right... and I love the atmosphere, I can't wait ot return just to visit again, its not my home church because it takes almost an hour to get to, but I love visiting.

TravisM » 31 December, 2003 1:15 PM

Ahhh yes...Mars Hill. I've never been, but I'm sure, as Travis says, that the Holy Spirit is powerfully present and that many people are connecting with Jesus in ways they didn't think were possible before. That said, I would have to agree with Karen Ward, that Mars Hill isn't a church functioning in the emergent paradigm as I see it.

Karen Ward's blog, Deep Dirt, was one of the first that I had ever read and it inspired me to start blogging and thinking about church in new ways. At Mars Hill Karen would not even be allowed to do what she does, not in a formal pastoral role, in any case.

I know that I sound kind of snarky here, but it concerns me when we start calling slick productions like Mars Hill, the emerging church. But then, my translation of choice is the NRSV, so I'm probably going to hell anyway. :-)

Karen Haluza » 31 December, 2003 2:42 PM


If you go service at Brian McLaren's church in DC, depending on the Sunday, you might have a hard time telling it was led by one of the thought leaders of the "emerging" church. It seems like a fairly normal suburban, casual dress, non-denominational church. If I recall, his church is even a member of the Willow Creek association.

There is no theological test for being emergent. You are emergent if you want to be. The door is wide open.

For me, this discussion only strenghtens my thinking that as lovers of the truth we must include de-construction as part of our seeking to know the truth. Even in the wild frontier of postmodern influenced christianity, without even really trying to, we are defining categories and dis-respecting those who are "out".

Michael Toy » 1 January, 2004 6:31 AM

I agree, being emergent is not so easily pigeon holed. It's not determined by just having coffee and candles. It's much deeper then that, and probably greatly in the eye of the beholder.

Frankly, I'm glad that Mars Hill tends to be theologically orthodox when so many emergent churches are not so much. Viva la differance!! It's nice to know that there are varying flavors even in the emergent church. It provides a nice added weave to the forming tapistry.

Rich » 3 January, 2004 5:32 AM

I have been to Mars Hill several times, and frankly, Mars Hill simply teaches scripture. Truthfully without waiver. It's 'emersion' as a Church from a city fraught with aimless interpretation and perspective spirituality is proof to me that the 'truth' will set you free. Freedom is being won over and over again as primarily young (but a few geezers like me) people find conviction and salvation as well as comfort and care. Lifes schackles are being melted away in favor of freedom in Gods embrace.

Pete » 1 March, 2004 4:32 PM

I have a son in Olympia. Are any of your church plants in that vicinity?

Al Moak » 7 June, 2004 2:11 PM

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