A new church for Everett

EVERETT — The megachurch Mars Hill is coming to Snohomish County.

The evangelical church has gained a reputation for being the home of the tattooed, the bearded and the hip among the faithful.

Mars Hill has its own smartphone application. Its pastors tweet, post Facebook updates and blog on the church’s sleek website.

Those who attend will tell you not to dwell on image but to focus on the Gospel. A diverse mix of ages, backgrounds and cultures makes up the fabric of this faith community, said Scott Mitchell, the executive pastor of Mars Hill Everett.

The church’s Everett location is officially opening Sept. 18. Mars Hill plans to lease the new fitness center at Everett Community College. It will serve as home base for more than 200 people who have been meeting in small groups and attending services in Shoreline.

“We had a heart for the city of Everett,” Mitchell said. “We are here because we believe there are people here in Everett that Jesus wants to know.”

Mars Hill has been named among the 100 fastest-growing and largest churches in America, as well as one of the most innovative. Church rankings are released each year by the Christian publication, Outreach Magazine.

Mars Hill has 10 locations, including Everett, and two more churches are starting up in Portland, Ore., and Orange County, Calif. Attendance at the churches, combined, is about 10,000 on any given Sunday.

Mitchell, 33, lives in Everett with his wife, Chanmonina, who goes by Mo, and 1-year-old daughter, Hadassah.

He grew up in Monroe, worked in construction and bounced around the country, living in Las Vegas as a missionary, then Hawaii “because I was young and I could,” then moving to San Diego. He joined Mars Hill in 2006 and has served as a deacon and community group leader here.

“We do community really well,” he said. “I’ve never felt more loved at a church.”

Members are called to be missionaries in their own neighborhoods. One group works with Casino Road Ministries, another helps at a Christian pregnancy resource center.

The church also works with the Everett Gospel Mission, and Mitchell is scheduled to preach at the men’s shelter at the end of the month.

He hopes to reach out to sailors at Naval Station Everett, many of whom move so often they struggle to find a community in any one place.

“Isolation is dangerous for a Christian,” Mitchell said.

Western Washington is said to be one of the most unchurched regions in the country. That’s what attracts so many new churches here. Mars Hill leaders wanted to start a church in Everett hoping to reach thousands of people.

A video system at each Mars Hill church allows the congregation to view sermons by Mark Driscoll, the founding pastor who preaches at Mars Hill Ballard.

In one video, Driscoll speaks about growing up in a blue-collar neighborhood next to the airport — something folks in Everett can relate to. He tells the story of learning about Jesus from a girl at school who later became his wife. The two of them started a church in 1996, meeting at the house they were renting in north Seattle.

With Mars Hill growing and becoming more influential, Driscoll’s name has popped up in national media and blogs. He’s attracted attention for his frank discussion of sexuality and his casual use of crude language. A 2009 New York Times Magazine article described Driscoll as having “the coolest style and foulest mouth of any preacher you’ve ever seen.”

In one sermon video, he was dressed in a T-shirt showing an image of Jesus spinning a DJ set.

To Mitchell and others at the church, he is just Pastor Mark. Whatever is being said about Mars Hill doesn’t distract them from their mission.

“Cool or not, hip or not, it’s all about Jesus still,” Mitchell said.

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452; kyefimova@heraldnet.com

Everett’s new church

To learn more about Mars Hill Everett, go to www.everett.marshill.com.

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