You’re invited to celebrate with us this Easter at the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago.

No matter your background, you will find a warm welcome, uplifting music, children and youth activities, and a clear, relevant message. Watch this quick video to learn about what we have planned for you this Easter.

When you’re finished watching the video, click THIS LINK to win a $100 gift card (who says Christmas can’t come early).

New series beginning this Easter

 

You haven’t finished your life story. What will you do with the blank pages? The choices you make today will lead you one way or another—but when you know who to trust, you’ll always be headed in the right Direction. In this series, you will discover how to See It. Say It. Seize It.

Have You Experienced Our OnDemand Worship Services?

If Netflix, Comcast, and Apple TV can offer programs, why can’t the church do likewise?

Our journey to live streaming began with the aforementioned question.  Offering OnDemand Worship Experiences allows busy adults to come together to worship and learn God’s word. We think of it as a strategy for busy adults to grow spiritually.  You can CLICK HERE to see what’s available NOW.

I Had These Friends

What’s your story when it comes to relationships? Who are your friends? Whether you’re 2 or 72, it’s all about who is influencing your life.

So often, when someone’s life heads down the wrong path, they can look back to where it started to go wrong and say, “I had these friends…” God wants us all to move from “I had these friends…” to “I have these friends…”

The right friends in life take us to the right places. And they help our lives down the right path. Where do you find “I have these friends…” kind of friends?

I Had These Friends

You can CLICK HERE to see what’s available NOW and invite a friend to worship OnDemand.

Let’s Light It Up

To demonstrate the impact these people would make on their world, Jesus used two common illustrations: salt and light. Jesus’ followers would be like salt in that they would create a thirst for greater information. A light is meant to shine and give direction. A concealed lamp, placed under a bowl (a clay container for measuring grain) would be useless.

Let's Light It Up

We are called to light up the world! Light, by nature, penetrates darkness.

Are you ready to ‪#‎LightItUp‬?  You can CLICK HERE to see what’s available NOW and invite a friend to worship OnDemand.

‪#‎Invite‬

‪#‎Share‬

‪#‎digitaldisciples‬

What’s in a Name?

The Real Reason Why We Chose Mars Hill As Our Name

When someone asks, “what’s the name of the church you pastor” and I respond, “Mars Hill,” three things happen:

  1. A blank stare
  2. They ask: “Are you affiliated with the church that disbanded in Seattle, WA?” (NO! We were Mars Hill before they were)
  3. They ask: “Are you affiliated with Rob Bell and the church in Grand Rapids, MI?” (see #2)

History makes one’s life richer by giving meaning to the origin.  It broadens one’s outlook and enables one to grasp an understanding of one’s being by shedding light on its past.  Since it is Black History Month, I would like to share the history behind why we chose Mars Hill as our name.

mars-hill-01

Athens, Greece | Photographs of Mars’ Hill, Acropolis

The Origin of our Name

The Areopagus or Areios Pagos is the “Hill of Ares” or Mars Hill.  It is located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens.

In classical times, the Areopagus functioned as the chief homicide court of Athens.  It is known as the location where Ares was supposed to have been tried by the Gods for the murder of Poseidon’s son, Alirrothios.  Also, the hill was said to be the site for the trial of Orestes, for killing Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, his stepmother and her lover.

In pre-classical times (before the 5th century BC), the Areopagus was the council of elders, in the city, and were much like the Roman Senate.  Similar to the Senate, its membership derived from those who held high public office, in this case that would be the Archon.  In 462 BC, Ephialtes put forth reforms, which deprived the Areopagus of mostly all its functions, except the murder tribunal.

At the foot of the Areopagus was a temple dedicated to the Erinyes, where murderers would find shelter, in an effort not to face the consequences of their actions.  Near the Areopagus, the Basilica of Dionysius Areopagites was constructed.  The basilica was a rectangular building used as a town hall and law courts.  It was used in the Christian period and served as the blueprint for early churches.

Welcome to Rewind Live Streaming

At Mars Hill, “we become all things to all people that we may win some to Christ.”

Therefore, we decided a long time ago to use technology as another tool to help people find their way back to God.  Before you write me off as a heretic, Christianity was, in a very real sense, the first technologically driven religion.  You can read more about it HERE.  

Welcome to Live Streaming

With Facebook’s newest feature Facebook Live, you can start a Live broadcast that’s posted to the News Feed, watch comments overlaid in real-time on their stream, and then make the recording permanently available for viewing.  I’m using Facebook Live to review the previous Sunday message and live stream a video devotional.  I’m calling it Rewind.

Rewind

REWIND is a live stream (Facebook Live and Periscope) designed for us to look back to Sunday’s message and allow God’s Spirit to prompt us in areas that need to change in our lives (before we shelve the thoughts in the archives of our mind).

Rewind Live Stream

There are three sections to it:

  1. Recall: a quick blurb about the big idea of the previous Sunday message along with links to the audio/video/transcription of the message (in case you missed it or want to go back to it),
  2. Reflect: some key questions to digest as a group, family, or individual, and
  3. Respond: action steps that might be helpful to pursue a healthy change in our daily lives.

I’m inviting you to find a quite place and subscribe to my Facebook Profile or follow me on Periscope.

You Can’t Have It Both Ways, It’s Either All or Nothing

New Message Series For 2016

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “I’m All In or All or Nothing?”

Originally and still a poker metatphor, ‘all in’ has also come to mean a situation whose subject is unreservedly involved, without qualification. Fully committed. In this sense the term “all in” is almost the same as its denotative opposite, “all out,” as in all-out warfare.

When many people think of church membership, they may think that it just means their name is on a roll at a church. And in some churches it means you were baptized or dedicated at that church. But it’s actually much more than that.

ALL OR NOTHING

It’s about an attitude, not an action.

In my new message series for 2016, I’m laying out the basic principles for what it means to be “ALL IN.”

  • All In
  • It’s Not About me…It’s All About Him
  • In Order to Go Up, I Must be Prayed Up.
  • As For Me and My House, It’s Settled.
  • Sit or Serve…It’s a Choice

Why waste your life when you can make something of your life? If you wait, life will probably pass you by. But if you go out and do the things you want to, take the risks you fear, you may just find that everything falls into place. Join us each Sunday in January at the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago at 8 AM or 10:30 AM. It’s a safe place to hear a dangerous message.

Question: What would it take for you to be “All In” in 2016 Share your answer on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

What to do When There’s Bad Blood

Mars Hill Mobile App
November 15, 2015

Bad Blood is defined as having unpleasant feelings or animosity between people.

No matter how badly you want peace, there are some relationships that may never be fully restored. But doing this one thing can help you find peace about any relationship.

Bad Blood

Photo Credit: Twibbon

If you’ve ever experienced “Bad Blood” in a relationship and want to know what to do, find a quite place and listen to “Bad Blood.”   You will laugh, think, and come away with a solid strategy. You can CLICK HERE to listen NOW!

I’d love to hear your thoughts?

#PrayFirst | Day 6

Pray For Your Family and Friends

Welcome to Day 6 of our #PrayFirst Campaign!

For One Week, we will pray for One Minute every hour about One Topic as One Church to One God! Pray for the first 60 seconds of every hour and watch God bless the other 59 minutes! There is power when God’s people pray in unity. Join us as we answer Jesus’ prayer “May they be ONE” (John 17:21).

#PrayFirst FAMILY

If you’d like to know more about our #PrayFirst Campaign you can:

  1. Click HERE to read the overview
  2. You can read our Day One Devotional on Faith HERE
  3. You can read our Day Two Family Devotional HERE
  4. You can read our Day Three Finance Devotional HERE
  5. You can read our Day Four Facilities Devotional HERE
  6. You can read our Day Five Fulfillment Devotional HERE

#PRP – People Reaching People

At the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago, our theme for 2015 is People Reaching People (#PRP). Jesus commissioned the church to continue His ministry of reconciliation to the lost; and He both modeled and taught a strategic formula that would facilitate that great endeavor. Scripture has a word for this – Evangelism (Outreach).

Evangelism (Outreach)

Evangelism is the act of telling the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. It’s derived from the Greek word euangelion, meaning “gospel” or “good news.”

The verbal forms of euangelizo, meaning “to bring” or “to announce good news” occur some 55 times (Acts 8:4,25,35; 11:20) and are normally translated with the appropriate form of the word “preach.” Evangelism has to do with the proclamation of the message of good news.*

From the beginning, God has consistently focused on a specific group, as his initial target for evangelism. That is, He primarily perpetuates His Kingdom through those close relational connections that we all have, those eight to fifteen people He strategically placed around each one of us.

Throughout the New Testament, whenever God’s Spirit changed a life, a world changer was born. Whether it was a demon possessed man, a swindler named Zacchaeus, a royal official with a dying son, a tax collector named Matthew, a Centurion named Cornelius, a businesswoman named Lydia or a recently unemployed Philippian jailor, they all were sent back home to their close relational connections. Again, Scripture has a word for this – Oikos.

Mars Hill’s Outreach Strategy

Oikos, the Greek word for “extended family,” encompasses our relational worlds—anywhere from eight to fifteen people, on the average, whom God has supernaturally and strategically placed in our circles of influence. And, if those relationships frame our primary evangelistic targets, then that reality must frame the strategy for our church.

Pray for Your Circle of Influence – Family and Friends

Make a commitment to pray daily for your circle of influence – your family and friends. Write their names down and pray:

LORD, I pray that they (CALL THEIR INDIVIDUAL NAMES) would sense God’s presence in their lives and that You would draw each one to You. Lord, I offer myself to You every day as an instrument in this process. In Jesus’ name. Amen

*G. William Schweer, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), s.v. “EVANGELISM,” WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

#PrayFirst | Day 4

Pray for Our Facilities

Welcome to Day 4 of our #PrayFirst Campaign!

For One Week, we will pray for One Minute every hour about One Topic as One Church to One God! Pray for the first 60 seconds of every hour and watch God bless the other 59 minutes! There is power when God’s people pray in unity. Join us as we answer Jesus’ prayer “May they be ONE” (John 17:21).

If you’d like to know more about our #PrayFirst Campaign, you can:

  1. Click HERE to read the overview
  2. You can read our Day One Devotional on Faith HERE
  3. You can read our Day Two Family Devotional HERE
  4. You can read our Day Three Finance Devotional HERE

#PrayFirst Facilities

For several years, we have been examining options and discerning together what role our facilities play in our mission and ministry together.  A few years ago we hired Nevin Hedlund and Associates to help us imagine what a new facility could look like and to help us assess how much it might cost.  We have not made a decision to build, but this information is very helpful as we discern that possibility. 

Vision For Our Facilities

We dream extending the reach our church through multiple campuses throughout the Chicagoland area – with beautiful, yet efficient facilities including an intimate worship center, a counseling, and prayer center, classrooms for Bible study and training; all of this designed to minister to the total person – spiritually, emotionally, physically, and socially. It will be set in a peaceful, inspiring garden setting with bright flowers, beautiful trees, and water with pools, and fountains.

Prayer Guide to Aid you in your Time with God

“This is the one I esteem:  he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”  Isaiah 66:2b

*Please Pray

. . . for an emptiness of our own wills, a holy indifference to our own opinions, so that we are able to hear God’s voice as to whether  to continue to meet in our current facility or to pursue a new one.  For a desire for nothing else but God’s will:  “nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.” * Pray as Jesus prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will,” (Matthew 26:39).

. . . that we each would “delight ourselves in the Lord” above all else (Ps. 37:4).  Likewise, ask God to make His ways, our ways . . . and His thoughts, our thoughts (Isaiah 55: 8, 9).   Also, pray that the Lord would be our very lives (Dt. 30:20), and that in Him, we would live and move, and have our beings (Acts 17:28).

. . . for wisdom, God’s wisdom, not what this world would tell us is right or best, but God’s wisdom which is “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere,” (James 3: 17).  Furthermore, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” (Ps. 111:10a), so petition God for us to have a holy fear of the Lord, recognizing who we are and our need for Him and for the knowledge of His will.

. . . to know His voice (John 10:3), to be still and listen to His voice (Dt. 30:20, Is. 55:2), and for His voice to be the loudest voice to which each of us would listen.

. . . for “our love to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that we discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God,” (Philippians 1:9-11).

. . . for God “to fill us with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. . .” (Colossians 1: 9).

. . .that we would be one just as the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father (John 17:21). Ask that we would be “brought to complete unity to let the world know that [the Father] sent [Jesus] and loves us as His own Son,” (Jn. 21:23).

Source: *Morris and Olsen in Barton’s Pursuing God’s Will Together, p. 187.

#PrayFirst | Day 2

Pray For Families

Welcome to Day 2 of our #PrayFirst Campaign!

For One Week, we will pray for One Minute every hour about One Topic as One Church to One God! Pray for the first 60 seconds of every hour and watch God bless the other 59 minutes! There is power when God’s people pray in unity. Join us as we answer Jesus’ prayer “May they be ONE” (John 17:21).

If you’d like to know more about our #PrayFirst Campaign, you can click HERE.  Also, you can read our Day One Devotional on Faith HERE.

#PrayFirst Family

God is the Foundation of Your Family

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1 (ESV)

Solomon the Psalmist said that it is vain to attempt things without the Lord.  The point is that trying to lead your family independently of God is futile. However, a person who trusts in the Lord and include Him in their family’s plan will find rest. Without the Lord, all work is in vain.

The family is not an institution designed by man. It was created by God for the benefit of man, and man has been given stewardship over it. Christian family is one that lines up with biblical principles and one in which each member understands and fulfills his or her God-given role. The basic biblical family unit is comprised of one man, one woman—his spouse—and their offspring or adopted children.

When a husband, wife, and children all fulfill their God-appointed roles, then peace and harmony reign in the home (Psalm 127:2). But, if we try to have a Christian family without Christ as Head or without adhering to the biblical principles the Lord has lovingly provided for us, the home will suffer.

  1. The members of a family can teach each other about God (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
  2. Do not let sin affect your family life (Psalm 101:2)
  3. Do not bring trouble to a family (Proverbs 11:29)
  4. Husbands and wives should love each other (Ephesians 5:21-33)
  5. Children should obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1)
  6. Church leaders must have a good family life (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
  7. Families should take care of each other (1 Timothy 5:3-5)

Pray for Your Family

Heavenly Father, Please shine your light upon my family. Give us strength to overcome all of the difficulties that we are dealing with now and protect us against any and all problems we may encounter in the future. O Lord, please bring us together as we are meant to be. May the love that binds us only grow stronger as we fulfill the destiny you have laid out for us. Grant my family forgiveness for any sins we have committed. May we also forgive one another Lord, as it is sometimes difficult to do.  In your name I pray, Amen

The Real Reason Why Change Rarely Works

3 Lessons On Change and Transition

I’ll admit, as a leader it’s quite easy to get caught up with a vision.

It’s natural because as leader’s we’re encouraged to look out for opportunities and then take the lead in making things happen. But sometimes we find ourselves alone out front and wonder what happened to the people we’re leading? Why aren’t they with us?

Do You Like To Fish?

Take a scenario of a group of people going fishing on a lake. Typical leaders get the vision, jump in the boat and are off to fish straight away. But the rest of the group may take a different approach. As the leaders look back, they find that half the people are still on the river bank.

Some are still prepping their fishing gear. Some are just starting to launch their boats. Others are on the water but are heading in the opposite direction. Some are going in circles, and still others haven’t yet even decided if they feel like fishing after all. That’s when you realize that only leading from the front doesn’t always help facilitate the transition.

A metal toggle switch with plate reading Change and Same, flipped into the Same position, illustrating the decision to work toward changing or improving your situation in life

We have a choice to change or remain the same.

John Maxwell in his book Winning with People admits that patience is not one his strengths. He says:

When I was younger I constantly cast vision for the people in my organization and then left them behind – not a good thing for a leader.

In the past sixteen years, Mars Hill experienced many changes.  But as exciting as that vision of building was, we know now that during the process we left some people behind. There were parts of the process whereas leaders we simply dropped the ball. Here are three humbling lessons learned: