Not long ago, Rick Warren finished preaching the last sermon to the remaining locations of Mars Hill Church. I may have more about the sermon later, but for now I want to pick out one phrase:
Even in God’s garden of grace, broken trees bear fruit.
According to someone who heard the message, Warren said this while showing a picture of a fallen tree with eight new trees growing out it.
For many, Mars Hill Church was not a broken tree. They made their nest in that tree and are mourning today as it will no longer function as it once did. For others the tree was diseased and broken, a source of pain. While some of them may celebrate, I suspect that most of those who had anything to do with the church will also feel some sadness and grief. In all my interviews, I have met only a handful who wanted to see the church close. Most wanted to see change and stories of redemption and correction.
Actually, the church doesn’t cease as an entity on December 31. There are buildings to sell and resources to distribute. There might be mediation or a lawsuit to settle. There will be donation statements to mail out. Speaking of money, there will be offerings to count and process. My source said that one of the pastors stood up and asked for money after Rick Warren’s sermon.
But videos will go away and churches will become local. Over time we will find out how many of those trees growing from the fallen one will live.
— Alex Rozier (@AlexRozier) December 28, 2014
Below is about two minutes near the beginning of the sermon. There may be more of the message later. (edit: these audio clips were lost during a blog move)
At the end, just before communion and singing the last three songs, Alex Ghioni leads the request for offerings.
Here is audio of the entire sermon (no video except the title):
Some readers have pointed out via email that the “broken tree” image might not square well with Jesus’ images of the fruit produced by good and bad trees in Matthew 7:17:
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
In fairness, I know the concept he was going for but the image doesn’t work well for those who believe Mars Hill was, on balance, not a good tree.
Mars Hill posted the video on their You Tube channel: