The Bethany Community Church is a highly successful, well-attended, non-denominational church that’s near my home. Like Mars Hill, it’s a “rock and roll” church. It’s got a band, a big screen, and a fairly young flock. It’s hip, and it’s lively, and it makes a lot of noise.
This church wasn’t on my poll, but so many of it’s parishioners emailed me or sent me comments on the blog or via Reddit inviting me to come, I had to visit.
It’s kind of a mega church, although it’s a bit smaller than the Mars Hill church. I guess it’s a mini-mega church. Like Mars Hill, it is so successful that it has more than one sermon on Sundays, it’s pastor is charismatic, well-spoken, entertaining, funny, and he’s written a few books.
This Sunday evening, I trekked back to Mars Hill Church to give them a second look. If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know that Mars Hill was the second church I visited, and I gave them a pretty bad score. I also said some things about them that were pretty critical and not very positive.
You might also remember that I got some hate mail from them, and posted a rather strongly worded reply. I took my reply down, because I didn’t feel it added anything useful to the conversation, and it was put out there during a time when I was receiving some rather emotionally charged email, and I kind of got caught up in that. I’m a rather drama-averse person, and when I add to drama, I tend to feel that it’s a personal failure on my part.
Anyway, in all the drama, I also got some rather positive emails from the Mars Hillfolk, including several invitations to come back and give them a second look. It was asserted to me by more than one person that all the focus on money that I encountered was due to timing. I had simply showed up at a quarterly or annual point at which the church was asking for money and talking about money, and that if I showed up at a different time then the focus would be on something else.
So, I promised I’d go back.
Mars Hill Church in Ballard, Seattle.
My visit to Mars Hill Church was emotional. At first, I was in a bit of awe. Overwhelmed, you could say. Then excited about the music. Then curious, skeptical, surprised by the sheer audacity, and finally, outright pissed off. I left in a huff.
This. Church. Sucks.
They should change their name to Mar$ Hill Church. It’s all about the money.
So, with that happy introduction, let’s begin: