Salon’s profile of Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from last week is notable for a couple of reasons. Of course, there is the expected shock response to Mars Hill’s views on gender roles you’d expect from a left-leaning webzine (though one of the women profiled in the article says she was misrepresented). Honestly, Mars Hill’s views on gender are way too conservative for my taste, but I’ve been around long enough to know that the church is not far from the mainstream of evangelical thought. What got me about Mars Hill was its housing arrangements and commitment to “missional living.” When the church started, its young members lived in group houses. Now spread out across Seattle as home owners, the older members use their houses as bases of operation as well as support networks for others. Author Lauren Sandler writes:
Now there are no less than 50 neighborhood hubs that form centers for prayer, Bible study, and dinner parties throughout Seattle — local axes for Mars Hill’s global reach. A megachurch of thousands threatens the deeply personal experience the church relies upon for intensive active membership. These cell groups keep the church intimate even on its mammoth scale.
Most houses are owned by young married couples who rent their basement apartments to unwed members of the congregation, whom the couples “mentor” until God delivers a spouse. Dietz and Sarah recently reclaimed their own basement after they adopted two foster kids; adoption, Dietz says, is another form his “missional living” takes. On one side of the city, the houses tend to belong to the Goths in the congregation, or the members of the Moped Army that buzzes around town in matching leather jackets, lining up their collection of Vespas outside the church for the late service every Sunday. Another side of town is home to most of the church pastors as well as a more mainstream set of congregants who wouldn’t look out of place outside the city limits in their uniforms of standard-issue fleece and denim.
This is not to far from what I was looking for here. Christians are called to look out for each other, in both supportive and corrective ways. Mars Hill has figured this out, and is creating little “places” in the midst of modern Seattle, much to the dismay of Salon magazine. I wonder if there are other churches around the country doing this, or do I have to move to Seattle and endure people whining about the Super Bowl if I want a little Vente Koinonia.