I just finished listening to the February 17th episode of the Mars Hill Bible Church podcast (Grand Rapids, MI). It was less of a teaching than it was the unveiling of the future of it’s congregation. Rob Bell, Denise Van Eck, and Don Golden all contributed to casting a vision for how their community will reach out to the world around them, both locally and globally. Don Golden asked this question: “When we no longer serve the poor, are we still a Church?”. It’s a profound question and it’s led Mars Hill to action. One mission they have set out for themselves is to make sure that all children of Grand Rapids will have both food and shelter. They have also committed to provide enough metal sheeting for 4,000 homes in Burundi, an area in west Africa that they have partnered with in order to elevate the living conditions there. They are also leading their community to learn about Micro-Finance and will be contributing to that global effort in order to give those who are the poorest of the poor the opportunity help themselves.
Even though I am not a part of their community in west Michigan, I was very exciting to hear how the leadership of Mars Hill is directing it’s community to really change the world around them for the better. I highly recommend you check out the podcast and learn more about what they’re doing.
There is clearly a new sort of conversation happening among post-evangelical Christians about how to proceed with the concept of practicing their faith in a community. It seems that there is an awful lot of sorting out that has and continues to take place. While talking about what’s next is important, it’s nice to see that one of the most influential churches in this conversation is starting to put form to their ideas. In the roughly 7 year history of Mars Hill, it’s wrestled with new ways to think about and practice Christianity and it’s had a massive impact on many people who are thirsty for a new vision for what it means to be a follower of Jesus in a post-modern, post-evangelical culture. Up till now, Mars Hill has been like a mysterious new species of some kind of exotic animal that those of us from afar have followed from safe distance. Now it’s come a bit closer………and it’s showing its teeth!
I thank God for communities like Mars Hill that inspire me and, more importantly, lure me away from my apathy and into the Kingdom of God.