When I came across this article I didn’t know quite what to expect. There are far too many churches out there trying to be culturally relevant but achieve this at the expense of Biblical orthodoxy. But with this church I was pleasantly surprised.
The first thing that caught my attention was the name of the church, Mars Hill. This points to the apostle Paul’s preaching at Mars Hill in Athens, found in Acts 17. The gospel was preached in a culturally relevant way to the Greeks there, but not at the expense of the message. The gospel was clear and cut to the heart of the people. While not all received it, those who did came out understanding the gospel from within their own worldview. The concepts were not foreign to them and thus did not need to be deciphered.
So I kept reading and found something I don’t recall ever hearing about in a church full of young people – the pastor, Mark Driscoll, reads the Bible literally and is not afraid to preach it that way. The Bible says certain areas of leadership are set apart for the men of the church, and he is not going to do things any differently for the sake of popularity. The Bible says that sex before marriage is wrong, and he refuses to preach a softer message. Wives should submit to their husbands, and this is not seen as out-of-date and irrelevant today. As a woman even I am often appalled by the teachings of people who contradict the Bible concern women for the sake of “relevancy.”
One great thing about Mars Hill is that the youthful congregation is not turned off by these fundamental teachings. In fact, the church is not a small, dwindling one, but a 6000-strong megachurch. Just goes to show that this generation hungers for the truth of the Word of God, and not a watered-down, sugar-coated version of “another gospel.”
I still remain reserved about the idea that if the Bible doesn’t explicitely address an issue we are free to do what we want with it. The Bible may not say, “Don’t smoke,” but it does talk about how we are stewards of the bodies God has given us and that we shouldn’t harm them. I also believe that music in church should glorify God, not just sing about God. So I am reserved about the idea of indy-rock music in the church (and other kinds of contemporary music) if it misses the point of worshipping God. Still, some churches stick to the traditional hymns and still don’t know how to truly worship God. It is not a matter of genre, but a matter of the heart.
I think the church today can learn a lot from Mars Hill Church, just as much as we can learn from Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill in Athens.