SEATTLE — Mars Hill has accepted an offer from megachurch leader and author Rick Warren to deliver the final message to the congregation this Sunday as it closes its doors following the resignation of Mark Driscoll.
“This Sunday, December 28th, will be our final Sunday as Mars Hill Church,” the website for Mars Hill reads. “Our dear friend Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church has graciously offered to preach the final sermon for us.”
As previously reported, Driscoll temporarily stepped down from his leadership position at Mars Hill in August during a six-week review of charges lodged by 21 former pastors who accused him of abusing his power. He expressed his regret for his actions at that time.
“God is not honored by conflict, strife, disunity, arguing, slander, gossip, or anything else that is inconsistent with the fruit of the spirit, and I am deeply sorry, genuinely sorry, for the times I have not lived peaceably with all men,” Driscoll said.
Two months later, he resigned from Mars Hill Church, stating that he did not wish to continue to be a distraction to the ministry although the formal review cleared him of moral wrongdoing.
“By God’s grace I have pastored Mars Hill Church for 18 years. Today, also by God’s grace, and with the full support of my wife Grace, I resign my position as a pastor and elder of Mars Hill,” Driscoll wrote in a letter to Michael Van Skiak, the chairman of the Board of Advisors and Accountability over Mars Hill Church. “I do so with profound sadness, but also with complete peace.”
Following Driscoll’s departure, the leaders of Mars Hill, which has campuses throughout Washington and also one each in California, Oregon and New Mexico, decided to dissolve the ministry. They outlined on the Mars Hill website this week that some of the congregations will continue on their own.
“As we reflect on over eighteen years of ministry, and ultimately close the doors on Mars Hill Church, we are thankful that many of our churches will continue as new independent, autonomous churches,” the leadership wrote. “While Mars Hill Church will cease to exist, God’s work through his people will continue.”
It was also noted that Rick Warren, author of the “The Purpose Driven Life” and leader of Saddleback Church in California, will deliver the final message to the congregation this Sunday.
“Each of our churches will be showing a special message from Pastor Rick, based on John 12:24,” the Mars Hill website outlines.
As previously reported, Driscoll invited Warren to speak at his “Resurgence” leadership conference in 2012, and released a nearly 7-minute video outlining his reasons for the invitation, knowing that many would question his decision.
“He has people who love him and hate him, and I am, quite frankly, one of the guys who really appreciates him,” he explained. “[H]e actually does things, and has something to teach us if we’re actually humble enough to learn it.”
However, the appearance generated controversy as some have expressed concerns about Warren since the release of his best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life.”
“He seemingly seeks to be all things to all men,” stated writer Tim Challies. “[W]hen it comes to Warren, there appears to be a great deal of malleability. He will be one thing for one audience and another thing for another audience. He will move seamlessly back and forth. He will be A and then not A as the situation demands.”
In 2007, Warren invited Hillary Clinton to speak at his “Global Summit on Aids and the Church” conference, during which she received a standing ovation. Barack Obama had also been invited to speak the year prior.
In 2009, Warren spoke at the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America. At the event, he called upon “Muslims and Christians to form an interfaith coalition to combat prejudice and stereotypes.” Sayyid Syeed, one of the Islamic Society’s leaders, has confirmed that he and Warren have worked together on projects addressing the epidemics of malaria and AIDS.
Warren was also invited to deliver the invocation during the 2009 inauguration ceremony for Barack Obama. The openly homosexual “bishop” Gene Robinson was similarly asked to deliver the benediction. When Warren learned of Robinson’s appointment, he applauded the selection, stating that it was rightly done “all in the name of common ground.”
Most recently, Warren was featured in an interview released by the Catholic News Service, during which he called upon Christians and Roman Catholics to work together in defending the sanctity of life and family, likewise urging cooperation in the name of common ground. Warren had just finished speaking at a Vatican interfaith conference on the “Complementarity of Man and Woman.”