Dear Mars Hill,
This Sunday we celebrate our fifteenth Easter together. Our first was in 1996 when we were a core group and not yet a church. If memory serves me correct, a grand total of about thirty-seven people were at our first Easter, if you include Grace, Ashley, and me. We did not have any musicians, so we had no music. Instead of a typical service, we ate a potluck dinner together in a drab church basement around tables that were older than me.
Every year since, God’s grace has been with us. And every year we’ve enjoyed having more and more people join us for our Easter service. But this year should be nuts (Lord willing), in a good, fun, cool-story-we-get-to-tell-our-grandkids-some-day way.
Our Albuquerque campus
will be having multiple services as they prepare to enter a new building in the coming months. That campus has exploded and needs more seats.
The same "problem" is true for most of our campuses in the Seattle area. So, we are meeting at Qwest Field, where the Seahawks and Sounders play football and soccer. We are praying for upwards of twenty thousand people and five hundred baptisms. Rumor has it the stage is the size of a small island and our screens are big enough to see from what Paul calls the "third heaven."
We'll be joined by musician and Mars Hill member Dustin Kensrue
of Thrice, who instantly ups the event’s cool factor since he’s played main stage at Coachella and the Warped Tour. We’ve got a helicopter scheduled to fly over and capture epic video footage. Your pastors are even wearing suits; I’ve got a new classic-cut dark grey one that would make a Baptist grandma proud.
If this does not get you fired up, your wood is wet. Easter is a "Jesus is alive, sin is forgiven, love has been poured out, and this life is as bad as it gets for God’s people because we are trading in this life for a major forever upgrade" party.
Here’s what you can do:
Doors open at 8 a.m. and the service is from 9:30 to 11 a.m. There is no cost to attend and tickets are not needed. There won’t be childcare and kids will just join us for the event. Anyone and everyone is welcome.
That the weather is decent (70 percent of the seats are covered, just in case), the technology all works, people make it on time, hundreds meet Jesus, and the baptismal tanks are full of changed lives. If you are a Christian who wants to be baptized, please register in advance
so we can serve you best.
Help us pay for the biggest church service any state in our entire region of the country has ever thrown by giving to the Easter Fund online
. There will be an opportunity to give on Easter, but we won’t be collecting an offering at the service. We believe the people of Mars Hill will cover the costs of this event so that on Easter we can talk about Jesus and not talk about money because of their generosity.
As you see folks serving, thank them. There are literally a few thousand humble servants setting up, tearing down, staying late, and working hard. Nearly all of them are volunteers who love Jesus, Seattle, and our church. Give them a big "atta boy" pat on the back and say it like you mean it.
Bring your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and enemies.
This year we are partnering with our friends at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission
. Please bring tube socks, baby diapers, and/or travel-sized shampoo and conditioner to help the homeless and their children in our city. Also, any US military person, dependant, or retired service member who brings a military ID to our Easter service will get a free book; we want to bless you for blessing us and enabling the freedoms of speech, worship, and assembly that we enjoy.
Preaching this event is a great honor for me personally. I anticipate having great joy watching the party unfold and people delivered from sin, Satan, death, hell, and the wrath of God before our eyes. So, if you think of it, please do me the kind favor of praying that I will boldly, passionately, clearly, truthfully, and lovingly answer the question, "Who is Jesus Christ?"
After our service, feel free to join us next door for the Mariners game (we’ve arranged a group discount
for tickets). Grace and our Fabulous Five will be on the mound, as I have the privilege of throwing out the first pitch on behalf of our church. I think I’m gonna do it in my suit to give new meaning to "business casual."
Lastly, thank you, Jesus, for your grace to me. And, thank you, Grace, for being a channel of his grace. You bought me my first Bible and were the first member of our church. This is an especially fun ride because it’s with my best friend.