Mars Hill Church to Close Three Locations; Another on Hold (UPDATED)

DowntownMHCAccording to sources last evening and in church this morning, Mars Hill pastors at four locations told their congregations that their church location would be closed or possibly closed in the near future.
Mars Hill Downtown Seattle, and University of Washington District will be closed and asked to join Mars Hill Ballard. Mars Hill Phoenix, AZ will close at the end of September while Huntington Beach, CA will remain open for awhile pending giving increases. If there is a turnaround, the Huntington Beach location might survive.
The church has been facing loss of attenders and a decline in giving. Blaming negative media attention, Mars Hill executive pastors issued a warning last week. Once billed as one of America’s fastest growing churches, Mars Hill has been losing ground rapidly through a tumultuous 2014.
UPDATE: This was just posted on Mars Hill Church’s website:

Mars Hill,

In last week’s Weekly blog post we shared about the tough financial position we find ourselves in. 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.


Throughout the day today our pastors at Downtown Seattle and U-District are informing those churches that they will be soon be consolidating with Mars Hill Church Ballard. The first Sunday that all three churches will meet together at Mars Hill Ballard will be October 12.


Mars Hill Church Phoenix is announcing today that their last service as a Mars Hill church will be Sunday, September 28th. We are exploring opportunities for Pastor Tim Birdwell to continue the church in a different form and how we can best support that possible effort.


Additionally, our pastors in Huntington Beach are sharing with the church today that they too are in jeopardy of having to close their doors if they are not able to increase giving by the end of the year. We have also ceased any further development of a Los Angeles church plant.

Please pray for the people attending these churches. If you attend one of these churches, we are deeply sorry, and we hope you are able to make one of the services at Mars Hill Ballard work for you and your family, or if you are in Phoenix that we can work together to best support future opportunities. Your pastors love you and want to help make this as easy for you as possible, so please reach out to them with any questions and needs. I also want you to know we take this very seriously, your pastors grieve over this, and we have made these decisions with great care, and after much prayer.


Even as we are forced to make some hard decisions regarding some of our locations, we are dedicated to planting new churches so that we can lead more people to Jesus. We will explore opportunities as they are presented and as sufficient funding is available. We will continue with our plans to plant Mars Hill Church Spokane, which currently has a strong core group, a location that we believe is sustainable, and a fiscally responsible plan for needed improvements.

While it’s with a heavy heart that I have to deliver this news, I am very thankful for a regional network of churches that can work together as a family. I hope you will join me in praying for these churches and all of those affected by these changes.

Pastor Dave

Additional thoughts:
Oh the irony. Hat tip to Wenatchee the Hatchet for pointing out this video of Mark Driscoll less than a year ago driving a hearse up to a once dead church. That church would be U-District which is closing. Watch:
Mars Hill reportedly offered $1.25 million on the old First Covenant Church building in Spokane earlier this year. Apparently Mars Hill Global Fund is helping with the remodeling. Even though, the church is not meeting yet and the sale of the building has not been recorded with the county, the project remains alive.  I don’t know where the purchase is at present but since it has not been recorded, it would be interesting to find out if the church could back out but decided not to do so.
Becky Garrison just posted a summary of Mars Hill Church property holdings.
Wenatchee the Hatchet uses one of Mark Driscoll’s books to identify the stage of church development Mars Hill is in now. The diagnosis is not favorable but treatment is possible. Will Mars do it?

Mars Hill University District Pastor Drew Hensley Clarifies Position

Drew Hensley is one of the nine current pastors at Mars Hill Church that signed the letter calling for Mark Driscoll to step down and enter an elder directed restoration program. He also signed the letter yesterday from lead pastors and Board of Elders.  To clarify his position, he posted a note to the members of the University District group on Mars Hill Church’s City website. I want to note that I did not obtain this note from Rev. Hensley.

From Pastor Drew Hensley:
Mars Hill U-District Family,
I want you to know how much I love you and count it a great privilege to be your pastor. My desire has always been to point you toward Jesus and help you grow in him, better understand his love and grace, and share that with the community around you.
I never want you to feel confused, especially by any of my actions as your pastor. Last week a letter from myself and 8 other elders was sent to the full council of elders. That letter somehow leaked out to the media this week and curiously didn’t include the confidentiality statement that was originally at the top. Yesterday a letter came out to all of Mars Hill Church from the lead pastors. I signed that letter as well because the main purpose and intent of that letter was to explain that the original letter wasn’t intended to go public, which it wasn’t. Obviously it did, but that wasn’t the original intent. With that being said, that you for all of the encouragement that many of you have show over the last few days. Tears have not stopped shedding at the love you’ve always shown me and continue to show.
For clarity sake, I absolutely stand behind what I helped write in the original letter from the 9 elders. I believe it’s very important that your pastor stand behind what he says.
I love you all and am praying for you daily. I have been called to care for your souls and as long as Jesus allows me to do that I want to do so above reproach and out of a genuine love for the sheep and Jesus church.
Only by His Grace, Pastor Drew

I want to add that there was no confidentiality statement on the materials I obtained.