Saturday, November 01, 2014

Mars Hill Closing is what we ought to expect

So Mars Hill is closing.  Closing all of its multi-site campuses.  The move is described as "unexpected".  But really this is the single thing that we ought to expect.  This is what churches built upon personalities do. 
Remember Vision Forum?  Doug Phillips turns out to be . . . well, unqualified biblically.  What did Vision Forum do?  Exactly the same thing as Mars Hill.  Suspension and then close the doors. 
Remember what happened when R.C. Sproul Jr., got defrocked for tax fraud and breaking his vows?  The church just pulled out of the denomination, reinstated the man, and then got another group/denomination to make his work official again.
In fact, I bet you can count on this happening more and more. 
Because for these people no message is bigger than the man.  The man is the message.  And sadly that man is not Jesus Christ.  It really comes back down to who is the head of the church.  Is it Jesus or is it just the guy up front doing the preaching.  If it is Jesus, then he sets the rules.  And if the guy up front crosses the line that Jesus sets and becomes no longer qualified for ministry, then he is removed, and someone else proclaims the same message: the gospel of Jesus.  But if the man up front is bigger than the message, if the guy preaching is head of the church, then when something happens to him, then it is time to close up shop. 

Sadly this is not just the problem of the people up front.  Many in the pew have the same misguided idea.  They attend church not because of the faithful message of Jesus Christ, but because they like the guy up front.  Take a look at the history of Mega Churches.  The Crystal Cathedral was going strong until the man up front retired, now it is gone because the people quit coming.  The were followers of the man up front.  Bill Hybels was once a guru, he steps out of the pulpit to focus on other things, and now his church is in free fall.  People attended because of the man up front. 

It is not unexpected that man centered things fold when the man leaves.  Sadly this is the new normal for the church.