Pastor Matt’s 2010 Church Tour–Mars Hill Bible Church

Posted: July 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

A few weeks ago, I attended Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan.

Here is a little background information on the church:

Founded in February 1999, services, or “gatherings” were originally housed in a school gym in Wyoming, Michigan. Based on the idea that worship could be stripped down to its simplest form, it quickly grew in popularity. Through word-of-mouth and the launch support of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the church attracted about 1,000 visitors to their first gathering. Within a year the church had the defunct Grand Village Mall donated to them, and purchased the land on which it is now located in Grandville, Michigan. After some remodeling, the 3,500 seat facility opened its doors in July 2000. They have recently added 300-400 chairs. As of 2005, the church attracts over 10,000 churchgoers to its two Sunday services and up to 50,000 downloads per week.

The former mall is not easy to find.  I failed to discover a sign anywhere near the place.

I walked in early and found that it really is a run down 70’s era mall (with bathrooms to match) but with impressive indoor classrooms and play areas for kids.

There were no greeters and the only literature available was at an information desk with a lady who seemed to be having a bad day (we all do!).   

I entered “the Shed” where the worship and teaching take place.  It is a stark environment!  No special lighting or candles.  There are plain plastic chairs surrounding a small stage with large video screens on every side. 

Announcements and worship took place first with the band performing 4-5 songs–only one was a modern worship song while several were re-worked hymns.  Rob Bell and Shane Hipps (now the 2 main teaching pastors) were not present.  Skye Jethani, the editor of Leadership Magazine, spoke in their stead and did a good job.

I was impressed with the children’s play areas and the teaching at Mars Hill is always thought-provoking, whether you agree with it or not but the facilities were otherwise unimpressive and I was struck by how few people were singing during worship.  I was also dismayed by how people greeted me (or anyone else!).  No church is perfect but perhaps the folks at Mars Hill can learn a few things from church leadership gurus.

Next week, Sojourn Church in Louisville.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Matt


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