Dear Mars Hill Family,
I’ll tuck my kids into bed differently from now on.
For me personally, and for our church collectively, yesterday was one of those clarifying moments that I hope and pray forever changes us. Most of us have never lacked food, water, housing, and security as those in Haiti do.
The Mars Hill elders felt it was important for Pastor Mark to share the story of his trip to Haiti with all of our campuses yesterday. At our request, he worked hard to put the sermon together quickly so that our entire church family could have this shared experience on Sunday (watch the sermon).
The result was a powerful, timely message, and you responded with great compassion. Thank you. Through these events, God is calling us to greater maturity as a church. What does that look like?
Life is a vapor.
"You are a mist…" –James 4:14
Footage from Haiti is yet another reminder of how fragile life truly is yet it is so easy for us to continue to live selfishly. I realized I don’t live with enough margin; when it comes time to step up and help, serve, or give, my energy, time, and money are often already committed.
I want my family, your family, and our entire church to live in light of our temporary existence, using our resources as a means to an end and not the end itself. In part, this means being able to respond—physically and spiritually—and extend the grace of God to those in need.
We’re called to unceasing worship.
"Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" –Romans 2:4
The church in Haiti is decimated. Pastor Mark discovered, however, that those who know Jesus are still finding joy and goodness in his unshakable presence.
Mars Hill Church has experienced nothing but God’s grace in abundance from our inception but, as our giving trends would indicate, worship is not always our response. Rather than repenting in gratitude for God’s kindness, many of us presume on his riches instead of worshiping. All of life should be worship to God’s glory.
Haiti was not in the plan, but it is now.
"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." –Proverbs 16:9
Pastor Mark’s preaching schedule is mapped out months (sometimes years) in advance, but this week was a reminder that our plans should always be in pencil. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s not about Mars Hill. It’s about Jesus.
Jesus has the freedom and authority to interrupt our plans. We must respond in faith as he leads us down unfamiliar paths that may require sacrifices we aren’t ready to make.
Take the next step.
"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…" –Hebrews 3:15
After a powerful call to action, it’s all too easy to avoid follow-through. We often forget and revert to the business of life-as-usual—which leads to a hard heart. Or we pay too much attention to everything we’re not doing—which leads to being overwhelmed and paralyzed by religious guilt.
I encourage you to pray through how God is calling you to respond, and act—with confidence and without delay—on what the Holy Spirit is stirring in you. For some, this step of faith might be quite simple:
Confess to your community group about lack of giving or participation in Jesus’ mission.
Consider financial coaching: get help building a budget so that you can align your finances with right priorities.
Repentance begins in the mind, moves to the heart, and results in action. When it comes to helping the church or responding to the Haiti crisis, for example, there’s a big difference between a desire to help and actually helping.
"If the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have." –2 Corinthians 8:11–12
For those who need to repent by giving to the church, remember that Jesus doesn’t require all of our giving to be equal, rather he asks us to do our part based on what he’s entrusted to us.
A giving shortfall of $500,000 may sound daunting, but spread across a large congregation it’s really quite simple: yesterday over 9,000 people attended Mars Hill. If each one gave $55, that would be enough to fill the gap. Some are able to give more and some can’t give that much. The point is are you being faithful?
Money is only a tool.
"When you vow a vow to God, do not delay in paying it…" –Ecclesiastes 5:4
Money has a frustrating power over the church and its people. We treat it with reverence as if it was a god. We take it personally as if it was an extension of our identity. We discuss it in hushed tones as if it was a volatile taboo.
Of course, this is ridiculous because money is only a tool. Jesus puts it in the hands of his church in order to further his mission, extend his grace, and reach the lives he wants to change from Seattle to Albuquerque to Haiti to the ends of the earth.
In other words, money is a very important resource and we should talk about it a lot—Jesus did.
Talk about giving—and prayer and study and service and membership and other spiritual disciplines—in your community groups. Is everybody giving? Why or why not? For the members in the group, did you make a giving pledge? Are you sticking to it?
Based on the answers, here’s the most important question: where’s your heart?
"You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." –Jesus (Acts 1:8)
Our Haiti effort has developed very quickly, and the response has been encouraging. To date you all have given $429,971 to our Haiti efforts (not including gifts given directly to Churches Helping Churches). Thank you for responding, and thank you Jesus for provision.
While long-term plans are being developed, we implore you to continue to pray and give. As details and more opportunities to help emerge we will communicate them clearly to the family of Mars Hill.
This is just the beginning. The gospel calls us to an urgent and sustained generosity so that we may participate fully in Jesus’ mission both locally and around the world. I am sincerely grateful to those of you who have helped carry this mission by being so faithful over the years. Thank you.
Because of Jesus and his abundant grace,
Pastor Jamie Munson
On behalf of the elders
Jesus was a man who claimed to be God. Think on that for a minute. If that were true, how would it change the way you thought, felt, and lived this life?
At Mars Hill, we believe that Jesus is God. We take him at his word. Because of this, everything we do is all about Jesus. We invite you to learn more about this man who is God and how you can find forgiveness and new life in him.
Visiting a church for the first time can be nerve-racking. But having an idea of what to expect can help. There are three main parts to every Sunday service: preaching, worship, and kids. To learn more about each of these, click the links below.
Church is more than a service. It’s people living life together and helping one another throughout our cities to serve our cities. Each week, thousands of people at Mars Hill meet in hundreds of small communities to learn about God, pray, eat, laugh, and live. We call these Community Groups—and they’re the heart of our church.
We provide a number of resources to help you grow as a disciple of Jesus. You’ll find videos on a number of topics and from various conferences. The Mars Hill Blog connects you to life around the church and personal growth. And Resurgence is a blog dedicated to helping you grow as a leader at home, work, and church.
Jesus is the most generous person who ever lived. He gave his life so that we might live. As Christians, we give our time, talent, and money joyfully in response to Jesus’ generosity and to help more people meet Jesus.