Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Church changing its environment

I was very interested to see this photo, which Mark Driscoll posted about the Easter Sunday service at his Mars Hill church in Downtown Seattle.

I visited the Downtown campus of Mars Hill when I was in Seattle in 2009.  It looked nothing like this though.  At the time I was really wanting the opportunity to see Mark live - and since I was only in Seattle overnight I tried contacting the church to find which campus he would be preaching at.  I didn't get a response and took a stab at the Downtown church. Unfortunately Mark wasn't there, but we watched his sermon via the video link.

However at the time the church was located in an old night club.  The mood was very edgy and young adult focused.  It was very dark and moody, the music was grungy and there was a bit of a disconnected feeling as everyone seemed to be doing their own thing.  I still enjoyed it immensely, though my mother (who was with me) wasn't overly into the environment but loved Pastor Mark's sermon.

Obviously the photo above doesn't look like the environment I just described.  I can remember walking around Seattle with Mum, and we saw this old church in the centre of the city.  It looked pretty rough, and not cared for - a gathering spot for the homeless and beggars   At the time I remember thinking of the potential of such a grand old building and the life a church of Christ followers could breath into it.

Hence my interest in the photo posted by Mark today. It seems Mars Hill Downtown have moved into this building and it looks bright, joyful and alive!  I am not sure how long they have been in the building, but the environment looks vastly different.  It makes me wonder if the dark/moody/young adult vibe is sustainable considering most young adults are moving quickly towards families and more settled lives.

I also love that this old building, with it's huge pipe organ, is being used by a contemporary church.  Even with robe-dressed choir and old wooden pews I am sure it would have still been a rocking service of celebration. It gives hope that our churches can change their environments, and even incorporate the old with the new.

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