In the late 1990’s, Rob Bell was an assistant pastor at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Rob and his wife Kristen had an idea and a dream: the idea that church could be about desire, longing, and connection, and the dream that it be those things without fluff or hype piled on. Along with some friends, they decided to give it a shot. Calvary gave their blessing, and the first Mars Hill Gatherings took place on February 7, 1999. The mall hadn’t happened yet.
For the first year and a half, an extremely generous family from our community let their building be used for free. It had a triangle of windows on one outer wall and a big room we could meet in. ["The Hangar", as the room became affectionately known, was so named because you could probably store airplanes there.] When it was becoming clear that The Hangar was bursting at its parachute seams on Sundays, another extremely generous family offered to give Mars Hill their mall.
So our community began gathering on Sundays in an old anchor store, with kids rooms just down the hall from where the food court used to be. We’ve been here ever since. But the Mars Hill story isn’t about buildings and it’s not about history. It’s about people. People hungry to live out the way of Jesus. People working to put flesh and blood on the resurrection now. It’s about people with ideas and dreams, and it’s about the raw mystery that brings them together to make a church.
As a community, we’re devoted to building an engaged, passionate, spiritually healthy community of people that makes up Mars Hill. We’re also devoted to engaging and impacting one another and others, believing that Jesus himself set an example of service and that we’ve been given the responsibility to follow it.