What's Next for Me

Jesus has been exceedingly gracious to me. If I’m honest, most days lately I’m stunned at all that Jesus is doing and filled with gratitude and joy, while a bit overwhelmed.

Mars Hill Church continues to grow, now with 14 churches across four states, and a surge in attendance of over a few thousand people during the Real Marriage campaign.

Under the leadership of Pastor Justin Holcomb, the Resurgence continues to exponentially increase in web traffic, as are applications to the Re:Train program, manuscripts for Re:Lit publishing, and interest in conferences, including Matt Chandler’s Explicit Gospel Tour and our first ever Resurgence National Conference in Orange County at Mariners Church this coming October, which will feature Rick Warren, Greg Laurie, Lecrae, Craig Groeschel, James MacDonald, Nick Vujicic, Miles McPherson, myself, and others.

Acts 29 continues to plant churches, with over 400 churches now planted and over 500 applicants in the assessment process.

Personally, publishing has been amazing with the Real Marriage book having gone to #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Speaking continues to be busy with the Real Marriage Tour having sold out in multiple cities. The media demands continue to grow, and recently included Nightline, The View, Piers Morgan, Fox & Friends and others.

Literally, it seems everything is flourishing.

So, I’m needing to focus. My goal is always to stay close to Jesus, Grace, the kids, and Mars Hill Church. I enjoy and appreciate everything else I get to do, but these are my first priorities and by God’s grace will remain so.

Here’s the changes upcoming for me:

I will continue to be the preaching pastor at Mars Hill Church, proclaiming Jesus, preaching the Bible, and leading the mission. 

This has never been in doubt. This is what I love the most. Going forward, I will be preaching on Sundays at Mars Hill Downtown Bellevue where my friend Pastor Thomas Hurst will continue as the lead pastor overseeing the mission on the Eastside. 

We believe that the greater Seattle region has a massive growth opportunity, and so I want to devote the upcoming years to helping grow that church, as well as Mars Hill Sammamish with Pastor Alex Ghioni, and plant other churches around them.  

Thankfully, Mars Hill Ballard is doing very well under the leadership of Pastor Bill Clem, and the other churches on the west side of the city are doing so well it frees me up to focus some energies on the Eastside. 

After Easter, We’ll launch a new sermon series called the Seven, looking at Revelation 1–3 and the seven churches to which John writes in those chapters. Most of the series was filmed live on location in Turkey—and it’s epic. We even rented the city of Ephesus for a day. 

This summer I’ll preach, along with the Mars Hill pastors, a series on the church, covering such things as living filled with the Holy Spirit, eldership, deaconship, membership, love, unity, community, baptism, Communion, and more. We’ll spend most of our time in sections of Acts, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus, and those wanting answers to more specific questions can check out the book Vintage Church . Our church has grown so much that we want to help new folks understand Jesus and our church, get plugged in, move toward serving and leadership as they are gifted. 

Next fall I will preach through the book of Esther, and starting next January, I will spend 16 weeks preaching through the entire book of Ephesians on the theme of our identity in Christ. Preaching that book of the Bible will be accompanied with the kinds of resources we had for Real Marriage (e.g., research, helps for our leaders and other churches, a book, small group material, etc.) I am really excited about this book, as it has been personally life-changing for me to study the content of Ephesians!

I devote more time to Mars Hill. 

With so many leaders, churches, and ministries at Mars Hill, I don’t  want to drift away from the heart of Mars Hill. So, I will be devoting more time and energy to our lead pastors, senior ministry Leaders, executive elders, and making every effort to get out to our various churches as I am able. I love the local church—always have and always will.

I help the other Mars Hill elders develop and run the Mars Hill's church planting efforts, which we’re in the process of developing. 

Mars Hill's church planting efforts will be part of Acts 29. We will focus massive energy to develop church planters for both Mars Hill churches and independent churches in Acts 29. We want to plant more churches and better churches by God’s grace, and I want to devote more time to that effort.

I devote more time than ever to developing other leaders and preachers. 

As part of our church planting efforts, we’ve started the Mars Hill Lead Pastor Residency program. Those who are admitted will get a full salary for one year, embed at one of our local Mars Hill churches, undergo a complete immersion in how we do things, and receive formalized ministry training. I plan to be heavily and personally involved with our residents, and I will be doing the training in leadership and preaching. Those men will be qualified to be an elder at Mars Hill, willing to move to Seattle for a year with their family, and capable of being sent out in one year to plant a Mars Hill church or independent Acts 29 church can apply here. Hundreds of men have already applied for only a handful of spots for the coming year.

To ensure I get the time I need for ongoing friendship with Jesus, Grace, and our five kids, along with my health and other responsibilities, I will be making a few other changes.

Acts 29 Network

As the cofounder of Acts 29, I’m honored to work with great men, amazed at what God is doing, and excited for what remains. But, after examining what is best for the men in our network in the next season, the board and I have, without reservation, decided to appoint Pastor Matt Chandler as our president and allow him to oversee the daily operation of Acts 29. 

Pastor Matt is my brother and dear friend. It has been a complete joy to watch him become a world-class Bible teacher and leader. I will remain on the Acts 29 Board supporting him and serving the pastors and churches, and all of our local Mars Hill churches will continue to be a part of Acts 29. I want to thank the people of Mars Hill for pouring millions of dollars into Acts 29 over the years, and also thank the people of the Village Church and their elders for stepping up to lead the next season of Acts 29. Admittedly, I grieve this a bit but want to be humble, support the leadership of godly men, and do whatever is best for the churches in Acts 29. Ultimately, I want to love and serve by God’s grace.

Gospel Coalition

I was a founding member of the Gospel Coalition and to this day enjoy deep friendships and theological unity with the men. But I’m no longer going to be a council member, as I seek to focus my energies on a handful of things. If I’m honest, with the continued growth of all the ministries in which I’m involved, it’s not sustainable for me to keep up with all of them. So, this is a season of pruning for me.

For the record, no one has asked me to leave the Council, and I have no relational conflict with anyone and no disagreement theologically. The men remain friends who are welcome to speak into my life, and I’m transitioning for no other reason than I find myself at the end of my tether with time and energy. 

I’m deeply thankful for the Council and have been deeply honored to be a part of it. Thankfully, Acts 29 fellow Board members Matt Chandler and Darrin Patrick are already on the Council to represent Acts 29, along with one of our network captains, Ray Ortlund. 

Travel

My travel will be reduced to mainly events around Mars Hill, the Resurgence, my books, and Acts 29. I will be doing much less other outside travel than I have in past years. This will help ensure my health and connection to my family and the local church. Don’t get me wrong, I will travel some for speaking and media, but far less than in years past. 

Lastly, I want to say how encouraged and excited I am. More than ever I want to learn and grow in the grace of God. There are so many people to reach and help that my mind is filled with new ministry ideas and my heart is filled with new ministry passion. 

Thankfully, there are a lot of great people who work with me including Mars Hill Executive Elders Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner, and a number of older, seasoned pastors and leaders of churches bigger than ours who have extended a kind hand of friendship to help us out. 

On the family front, Grace and I are doing amazingly well, and we’re the happiest and closest we’ve ever been. The five kids are a complete joy, and I sincerely appreciate everyone who prays for our church, our family, and me. Jesus is certainly answering those prayers!