Thank you, Mars Hill, for helping plant Mars Hill Sammamish on Sunday. The Sammamish Plateau really is like a jewel on a hill framed by the Cascade Mountains. Its population is predominately white, 35-year-old people who are highly educated and significantly affluent. They work mostly white-collar jobs and occupy the top executive positions in their companies. Their households comprise almost exclusively married couples who are raising multiple children. The average home price is $600,000. The crime rate is significantly low and about a third of its population occasionally attends church. These characteristics help map out the mission here as we set out to make disciples and plant churches.
The start of the Real Marriage sermon series means our local church must hold tightly to the gospel as we form relationships with our neighbors, seeking opportunities to share the good news. In the strength of our relationship with Jesus and the enablement of the Holy Spirit to love and serve others, we can live in ways that expose the emptiness of life without Jesus even when every amenity the world has to offer is readily available.
Marriages without Christ at their center can only have the appearance of real intimacy. Without a source of forgiveness for sin and the grace to forgive those who have sinned against us, the best relationships they can hope for are emotionally platonic ones. People need a Savior who can restore the substance of their identity as people created in God’s image whose purpose it is to reflect his glory with their lives.
Neither money, education, social position, nor the influence that comes from affluence can ever replace the need for a Savior who redeems and restores life and relationship. The strong and enduring presentation of the gospel through our lives, in our teaching and in our service to these households, is key to challenging the lie that there can be any life apart from Jesus.
Below is a recap from one of our volunteers from the day:
Sammamish got its first real snow day of the year this morning: the weather was cold, and some neighborhood roads weren’t in any shape for driving. But that didn’t stop over 700 people from filling all the way up to Mars Hill Sammamish on the church’s official launch celebration.
Ten minutes into the first service, a row of people was standing along the back wall as the seats got more and more crowded. The full room is a powerful testament to God’s grace, as less than a year ago, this same room held the small remainder of a dying church.
Mary and Guy
Mary and Guy have been around for a while, and their excitement was echoed everywhere this morning. “This is really the culmination of a long, long transition,” Guy said. “This right here is everything we’ve been working toward. But it’s not our work; this is God’s work.” That’s been a recurring theme throughout the history of Mars Hill.
Pastor Alex introduces the Real Marriage sermon series
The launch of Mars Hill Sammamish also coincided with the beginning of the Real Marriage sermon series. After a strong message about God’s plan for powerful, transforming, Christ-centered marriages, the men of Mars Hill were challenged to commit themselves publicly to leading their families, loving and serving their wives, and centering their families on Jesus. All across the sanctuary, couples were huddled with husbands praying over their wives and committing their marriages to the service of Christ.
Speaking to men, whom God appointed to lead in their homes, is the bull’s-eye on the Sammamish Plateau, a largely family-oriented community.
Husbands pray for their wives
Leah, a 17-year-old student, wasn’t planning on that when she left home Sunday morning. After moving several times as she was growing up, her family ended up in the area, and she joined a Community Group at Mars Hill Bellevue. “I realized it’s so much more than words,” she said. “I went from saying I believed in Jesus, really because my parents did, to taking initiative for my own faith. I’d been feeling convicted to be baptized for a while but hadn’t. But this morning, I saw my dad holding my mom’s hand and praying for her. I saw him leading our family, and I could just see that Jesus was doing something. I knew it was time to be baptized.”
A dad gives his daughter a better view during the worship set
Celebrating New Life
There were 11 baptisms altogether at Sammamish on Sunday morning, a perfect way to close each service. Pastor Alex Ghioni was excited and emotional to see God’s work in Sammamish: “Watching Jesus before our very eyes fulfill his promise to build his church was amazing.“
“The whole church was filled with joy this morning as we witnessed the Holy Spirit establish, move, and bless the church that Jesus died to ransom,” he continued. “Watching 11 of our own people being baptized, professing their faith in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection was like watching my own children being born.”
“There’s a great opportunity for the gospel to move forward on the Sammamish Plateau and beyond,” he said, in closing. “Today we joined all of the Mars Hill churches as a sister church in the Lord, and partner in the mission of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”