Rick Warren, the senior pastor of Saddleback Church and popular author, volunteered to give the final sermon at Mars Hill Church. In a pre-recorded video, Warren preached to the church on Sunday December 28 one last time. As of the 1st of January, the mega Seatlle church will dissolve. The church was formally pastor and founded by former troubled preacher and author Mark Driscoll.
Basing his sermon on John 12:24, Warren encourages the dissolving church not to be discouraged. Just as a kernel of seed falls to the ground and dies, it will grow again and it will produce many seeds. "A giant has fallen," he said, referring to Mars Hill, "but there are many young trees sprouting out of it." Warren made the statement as he held up a photo showing a giant sycamore tree that had fallen and eight young trees that sprouted from the dead tree.
Further, Warren gives six practical encouragements to the church when he said, "Let me suggest this: number one, refuse to be bitter about what's happened. If you hold onto bitterness you'll only hurting yourself. Bitterness prolongs the pain."
"Number two, refuse to blame anybody. ... Stop the blame game ...," he continued. "Number three, refuse to gossip or judge. ... You've got to let it go ... Number four, show grace to your leaders. Why? Because every leader is flawed. ... Number five, be grateful .... You need to be grateful for all of the ways that God used Mars Hill Church. Be grateful for all the ways God used Mark Driscoll ... Number six, keep your eyes on Jesus."
The church has decided to dissolve after the resignation of its former senior pastor Mark Driscoll in October. After accusations of bullying staff and church members, the accusations of plagarism when he penned his last book, and his mishandling of the church's funds in self promoting his last book, Driscoll was forced to resign from the church. As a result, the 13 congregations associated with the church will now either go independent or dissolve or merge with other churches.
However, Driscoll's association and friendship with Warren goes back many years, including giving sermons at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, on several occasions. He visited the church to deliver a weekend worship message while Warren was grieving the loss of his son, Matthew. Driscoll has had also received friendly counsel from Warren, according to a Christian Post source, over the last year, during which he was accused of plagiarism, using book promoters that manipulated book rankings, and inappropriate leadership to which he confessed.