Monday, August 21, 2006

Mars Hill

Well, we are back from Seattle, where we travelled with Mark's family to attend his cousin Laura's wedding. We really enjoyed the trip...what a cool city. Aside from spending some good time with Mark's family, we were able to visit a number of sites: the market (a fun place featuring tons of street musicians, food, amazing smells and color), the space needle, a boat tour of the harbor (where we saw Bill Gates house and the house from Sleepless in Seattle), and last but not least, on Sunday night a bunch of us hopped in a van and attended a church service at the now infamous Mars Hill Church. Here is a picture of what it looks like on the outside (yes, I'm a dork, I took pictures).

At the moment, I think I'm too tired to type out anything too extensive :), so I'll just share some thoughts and observations in bullet-point form, in case anyone is curious about what a service at Mars Hill is really like...

  • The Location. The main building is located in a district in Seattle called Ballard, which I would describe as a slightly more funky, colorful, and probably more spiritually oppressive version of Uptown in Minneapolis. On one hand, the buildings are all really cool and artsy; on the other hand, there is a statue of Lenin down the street and on our way out of the church, a homeless man on the street shook his fist at us and yelled "You Nazi churches are all the same". You get the picture. Another note about the building is that it is one story and the exterior is painted entirely black.

  • The Atmosphere. The best way I could think of describing the inside of the building is that it is like a giant Starbucks. Seriously. Here is a picture of the lobby to give you an idea:

(Also, if you play "Where's Waldo" with this picture you can find Mark's cousin Tim on the right hand side. I just noticed that. :)). Anyway, as you can see, the interior of the building has a very warm, funky ambience. The "sanctuary" is a refurbished warehouse that seats somewhere between 600-800 (main floor only - there are no balconies or anything), and is also very Starbucky. The walls are painted black, and hanging from the ceiling are larger versions of the same lights you see in the picture of the lobby. There were candles lit on the tables that contained the elements for communion (bread dipped into actual wine), and a large, iron cross hung as the backdrop to the stage.

  • The Music. The music last night was led by a band called "Red Letter". Apparently, the Mars Hill "house band" leads worship sometimes, but there are a few other bands that come in from time to time to do it. The style of the music was sort of heavy and grungy - and not very polished, to be honest -- more than a few painful notes! The first two songs were originals (with scripture-laced lyrics), and the last 3 were rocked out versions of hymns/traditional songs, including a version of "Lamb of God" by Twila Paris that was something else. Apparently, these are the only types of songs they do - originals and hymns. Another interesting thing about the music was that no one clapped in between songs - NO ONE. At first I felt bad because I thought the band just wasn't getting a good response - then I realized that it seemed to be intentional. I thought about it for a minute, and liked it. Think about it - no clapping = no phoney/emotional hype.
  • The Message. As Mark and I have visited churches over the past few months, we've developed this curse - the curse is called "Whenever we visit a church, the main pastor is almost always gone or on sabbatical that weekend", so we were a little worried that Mark Driscoll wouldn't be the one speaking last night. He was, and it was a good message. They are currently on week 29 of a series on 1 Corinthians, and are going through the spiritual gifts. He preached for a LONG time, but it went fast (the service ran 1:40!). I haven't always been a fan of his style or in agreement with all of his approach, but went away last night very impressed with his knowledge of the Bible. This guy doesn't mince words, and he packed as many as he could into his message. One thing that a number of people commented on was that he really didn't move around much as he spoke. His voice is very dynamic - but as he's speaking, he basically stands there in one place and stares straight ahead. Some figured that this was because he was being videotaped; others theorized that he was so "in the zone" - concentrating on what he was saying - that he didn't really engage the crowd. Personally, this didn't bother me one bit.
  • The Resources. Each attender last night received a small "program" called "The Loop". Rather than a bulletin listing the order of the service, however, it contained a rough outline of the sermon, complete with scripture references. Also available in the lobby were a number of different booklets (not pamphlets, BOOKLETS) explaining the churches stance on a number of different Biblical issues. Finally, there was a bookstore in the lobby, full of books by people like Piper, Tozer, Calvin, and the like.
All in all, I was very encouraged by our visit to Mars Hill. It was so encouraging to see a church that has found a way to engage the culture without compromising Biblical truth. If you ever happen to be in the area, it's definitely worth a visit.

And that's my report. Any questions? :)


At 8:40 AM, Blogger Ben J said...

my favorite part of your post was reading about how they don't clap between songs. To me that is the most cliche and overused thing in the style of musical worship sets I'm used to. When I am leading at bloomington I do everything I can to not encourage clapping and just move from song to song.

I'm excited for the conference coming up in a month.

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Mindy said...

When I'm looking for Tim, should I be looking for the blue pants, the glasses, or the funny red-and-white striped hat? :)

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Nikki said...

Mindy, you should be looking at the guy in the white shirt, walking in the shadows toward the camera on the right side of the picture.
Thanks for playing my inadvertant game. :)


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