In a dramatic announcement, Dave Bruskas disclosed today that Mars Hill Church is essentially disbanding and the campus locations will merge, become autonomous churches, or cease operation. From the church website:
LOCAL MISSION, LOCAL CHURCHES
Historically, our mission has always been clear – to make disciples and plant churches. In keeping with that mission you have always been excited about new life and new birth. Last week I shared three values that are the driving goals during this transition period at Mars Hill.
Today, I am excited to share with you important decisions recently made about the future of the congregations of Mars Hill Church that we believe will work to accomplish these goals.
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.
Please be in prayer for your local elder teams as they contemplate the following options in the next few weeks: (1) becoming an independent, self-governed church; (2) merging with an existing church to create one independent, self-governed church; or (3) disbanding as a church and shepherding current members to find other local church homes. This decision will be made by your local church’s Lead Pastor and elder team.
The decision to plant independent, self-governed churches has significant ramifications for the existing Mars Hill Church entity. Our central staff members, who have served and labored so faithfully, have already begun work on establishing many of the details to enact this plan, under the following general priorities:
(1) 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.
Ultimately, the success of this plan, and the future viability of each of these new local churches rest solely on all of us continuing to be faithful in supporting Jesus’ mission through our attendance and continued giving.
Mars Hill Church has never been about a building or even an organization. Mars Hill is a people on mission with Jesus, and that singular focus continues as these newly independent churches are launched. It’s still all about Jesus!
As you consider next steps for you and your family, let me encourage you to join us in three critical pursuits:
Stay with your church family as we embark on a new expression of the same mission.
Pray for Jesus to be honored in everything we do as we begin this season of transition.
Give generously, as your gifts in November and December of this year will make a critically important difference in our desire for 13 churches being healthy and sustainable from launch-day and thereafter.
Thank you so much for your prayers and patience with us as we work out the details of this transition. We are thankful that God has a plan that is bigger than we can imagine and we are thankful that he has always been in control of our future. It has always been his mission, and he still has work for each of us to do–for his glory and our good.
Pastor Dave Bruskas
Even though this is a remarkable announcement and may lead to some healthy churches, I hope some of the Mars Hill leaders will call out concerns in this announcement.
1. If anything has become clear over the last year, it is that the church was all about buildings and organization. Mars Hill’s Global Fund was all about expanding the Mars Hill brand via new locations and more giving units in the United States. Why now, after all of the changes and revelations, is Dave Bruskas staying within the Mars Hill spin?
2. Why should people continue to give to Mars Hill Church? Shouldn’t the giving now go to the separate entities? In my opinion, any appeal to giving should also include full disclosure of what will happen to the funds. Are the severance packages of departed executives dependent on this continued giving? While the future is getting clearer, the leaders still at Mars Hill should provide an accounting of how funds have been spent in the past.
Happy Reformation Day everyone.
UPDATE: Justin Dean says new churches can’t use Mars Hill name.