Monday, July 08, 2013

Justin Holcomb transitioned out of Mars Hill Church, a story by way of LinkedIn

Justin Holcomb's Experience

Academic Dean

Resurgence Training Center

August 2009Present (4 years) Greater Seattle Area
Develop curriculum, select faculty, initiate and foster partnerships with seminaries that transcribe the one-year program, and teach ministry leadership and biblical hermeneutics courses. Resurgence Training Center provides graduate-level theological and ministry training. The program enrolls between 125-150 students each year from a variety of denominations for ordained and lay ministry as well as church planting initiatives.

Executive Director


Nonprofit; 1-10 employees; Nonprofit Organization Management industry
2006Present (7 years)
Lead the program in Sudan and Uganda (mosquito nets, literacy and income generation, micro-finance, etc) and donor relations.

Adjunct Professor

Reformed Theological Seminary

Educational Institution; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
2001Present (12 years)
Teach classes that include: Systematic Theology, Theology and Culture, History of Philosophy, Theology of Ministry, Introduction to Theological and Pastoral Studies, Apologetics, Theology of Calvin and Theologies of Scripture.

Executive Director

The Resurgence

August 2009June 2013 (3 years 11 months) Greater Seattle Area
Lead the leadership website read by millions each year. Also lead the expansion into graduate level training program, large events, retail sales, and publishing partnerships.

Pastor and Executive Director of Leadership Development

Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
August 2009June 2013 (3 years 11 months)
Oversee Leadership Development department, which includes: membership, deacon process, elder process, internship program, ministry development, and ministry residency program.

Associate Rector

Christ Episcopal Church, Charlottesville, VA

20082009 (1 year) Charlottesville, Virginia Area
Preach, teach Christian Education classes, oversee missions department, develop small group curriculum, lead fellows program, officiate services, and pastoral care and counseling.

Director of Graduate Ministries

Center for Christian Study

Nonprofit; 1-10 employees; Religious Institutions industry
20052009 (4 years) Charlottesville, VA
Direct Law Christian Fellowship and Darden Christian Fellowship (both at the University of Virginia) and work with the student leaders. Leadership teams consist of between six to nine students. Responsibilities include discipleship, evangelism, teaching small groups and bible studies, meeting with students, and developing small group curriculum.

General Faculty

University of Virginia

Educational Institution; 10,001+ employees; Higher Education industry
20032009 (6 years) Charlottesville, Virginia Area
Taught classes that include: Death and Dying; Sociology of Religion; Elements of Christian Thought; History of Western Religious Traditions; Religion and Its Critics; Religious Imagination; Theologies of Scripture; and Violence, Gender, and Poverty.

Received the Z Society Distinguished Faculty Award (2006-2007), the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society Award (2007-2008), and the Outstanding Faculty Member Award (2005-2006 and 2008-2009).

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture

August 2002August 2005 (3 years 1 month) Charlottesville, Virginia Area
Researching, writing, and teaching.
There are other stories that may be told by way of LinkedIn entries for people who have served on Mars Hill staff but it's admittedly an esoteric way to get any idea what's going on lately. One might have to be well-versed in the arcana of Mars Hill to have any idea what story may be behind this.
Holcomb came into the Mars Hill orbit circa 1999 and as relative newcomers go had a relatively long run.  Longtime readers may remember anonymous comments from folks expressing respect for Holcomb's work.  Readers may have noted recently that we discussed Real Marriage chapter 7.  The Driscoll book plugs for two resources published under the Re:Lit banner and Holcomb's book is one of them.  Holcomb's departure is yet another one in which it was only documented by shifts and vacuums in information on websites.  Maybe it may be said Wenatchee The Hatchet has few "interesting" things to do and can thus keep track of the shifting sands of information about and from Mars Hill.  So it goes, as Ecclesiastes puts it to everything there is a season and a time and purpose for everything under heaven. 

and it seems Nick Bogardus has left Mars Hill, too

This year's been a bumper crop of guys bailing.  Bill Clem left.  Tim Gaydos left.  Tim Beltz left.  There are some others.  Recently Alex Early announced he's leaving when he practically just showed up.  Nick Bogardus is moving along.

After four years on staff at Mars Hill Church my family and I are being sent out to plant another church.
Mars Hill, my family and I love you very much. For our two years in Seattle and over the past two and a half years in Orange County, we’ve been able to see God do amazing work in your lives as well as our own - on Sundays, in our living room, in counseling, in Redemption Groups or Pre-Marital. Thank you for being patient, loving, thoughtful, encouraging, and prayerful with us. 

Why The Transition?

Kim and I started gathering the core group for MHOC two years ago with only one other couple from Seattle, the Sandersons. It is incredible the amount of fruit we’ve been able to see since. We’ve baptized over 100 people, cultivated a church where 70% are in CG, seen giving grow significantly, have raised up a solid group of young leaders, and have grown from 1 to 25 CGs. I celebrate all of those evidences of God’s grace! I’m also so thankful for the two years we served in Seattle and the fruit I got to witness and participate in while in my roles up there.
Reaching OC: Multiple Voices, Multiple Methods
Pastor Mark and his preaching, and the ministry have Mars Hill Church have changed my and my family’s life. For that we will forever be grateful. As I prayed and hoped, it has born similar fruit for many people here in Orange County. MHOC is at a place to continue to be a herald of the Gospel in OC for a long time to come. I believe that to see what we pray and long for to happen in Orange County will take multiple voices and multiple methods. 
Right Men in the Right Roles
Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but that the workers are few. In addition to the desire to preach the Gospel in OC, the change in the Lead Pastor role is another factor in my decision. While I believe the change in the role fits some of my skill set, I don’t think it suits my strengths. If the workers are few, it seems to make sense that we should be in the right roles to be most effective for the harvest. [emphasis added]

What’s Next

We will be praying and working towards planting a church in Orange County in January 2014. We are planning to be aligned with, God-willing, Acts 29 and possibly another network in January of 2014. 
Recently, a friend of mine who has been pastoring in the county for a long time said that what OC needs is a church that boldly preaches a robust Gospel and that has a thriving, authentic community built around that message. That is what, by God’s grace, we’ve built at MHOC and that is exactly what I’m passionate about doing again! I’m also really excited to be able to emphasize and incorporate other important aspects of the faith and ministry in this new work. 

Because while Bogardus was already part of a church that was supposed to be boldly and robustly preaching the Gospel and has a thriving, authentic community built around that message what's a missional church planting project that doesn't reinvent the wheel? 

Now the wording Bogardus used, about how the job was not quite a fit for his gift sets, seems to echo the words of Kyle Firstenberg a year earlier.

Around forty five days ago, I had a frank conversation with Pastor Nick and told him that I no longer felt that I was the best man for the job of Executive Pastor at Mars Hill Church and that with our current budget deficit, the Orange County location could no longer afford to keep me on staff. As a result, I was given thirty days to hand off my responsibilities and be laid off. It was my intention to find employment locally and continue to serve as a non-staff elder at OC, but Jesus had other plans.

Firstenberg's departure seemed to coincide roughly with the Mars Hill Orange County eviction last year, if very roughly, which was around the same time Chris Pledger left the post of being Mars Hill Church's legal officer. 

What the change in the Lead Pastor role is or was goes without explanation. 

Sutton Turner thanks Mars Hill for giving, states this is the healthiest financially the church has ever been

It has been brought to our attention that Sutton Turner explained that though Mars Hill Church did not make its target goal things are healthier financially for the church than they have ever been.

Mars Hill | New Discussion Topic

From Pastor Sutton Turner:
Greetings, Mars Hill Family!
I hope you’re having a great holiday week with friends, family, and neighbors—living some memories, getting some rest, and making the most of the opportunities God has given you to share and enjoy new life in Jesus. I’m very grateful for the country and the church he has blessed us with.
This week is also the first week of our new budget year and ministry cycle, so I wanted to give you a quick update on how we finished up in fiscal year 2013. Although we did not hit our annual giving target, there is still a lot to celebrate:
·        Giving was up 13% over the prior year.
·        We kept expenses down and finished the year with a small excess of $100,000.
·        We were able to purchase two new buildings in recent months: Tacoma and Everett.
·        For the third year in a row we saw over 1,000 people get baptized.
·        We launched many key ministries that are off to a smashing start: Mars Hill Students, Mars Hill Music, and Women’s Ministry.
·        We supported 43 church planters in Ethiopia and india, as well as five church planters in the United States, with the help of our extended family, Mars Hill Global.
Thank you for giving! Thank you for serving! Thank you for praying! Thank you to all of the Mars Hill faithful who act and care and work together as the body of Christ. God has used your perseverance and sacrifice to position our church in a very healthy state heading into our crucial fall season.
We’re in the best financial health in the history of Mars Hill Church, with ample finance staff, policies, and contingency to ensure good stewardship.
We’ve got plenty of room to grow, as most of our churches have space to welcome new people to meet Jesus—invite your friends!
We recently accepted a bumper crop of stellar lead pastor residents, men who will serve in local Mars Hill churches over the next year in preparation to go plant new locations sometime in 2014 or 2015.
I’m very encouraged where God has us this summer and I’m very grateful for the people of our church. It’s an honor to serve as your pastor and see the Holy Spirit at work in you.
–Pastor Sutton


Then there's this from Matt Wallace
Orange County | New Discussion Topic

From Pastor Matt Wallace:
Hey, Mars Hill OC!
The summer quickly approaches. June 30 is the end of our fiscal year. I want to briefly share with you some good news and bad news.
Good News
By God’s grace we have seen lots of fruit in the past 12 months. Over 1,000 baptisms with strong starts to some church-wide ministry initiatives, such as Mars Hill Music. In Orange County we baptized 36 people in the last year with 10 new community groups launching since January!
Bad news
We’re about $1 million behind our expected giving for the year. Although we’ve kept expenses down and continue to live within our means, we pray for a strong finish to the fiscal year. [Wenatchee The Hatchet--per Turner, they missed target but are doing fine]
Please Give
Will you pray with us? Will you ask the Spirit how he wants you to respond?
Jesus said, “every healthy tree bears good fruit.” We’re not asking you to participate in the work Jesus has given us simply to help us meet budget goals. We desire by God’s grace to be a healthy tree, more than a rich tree or more than a big tree. 
What does health look like? Making disciples and planting churches.
To follow Jesus is to worship him with our resources rather than use him to acquire more for our self. Less than one-third of those at Mars Hill give anything at all! To follow Jesus is to live in community with his church, using the gifts his Spirit gives us to serve the church. To follow Jesus is to follow him on his mission to see sinners repent as he builds his church.
How to Give
You can give during service on Sundays. You can give online at You can give by mail. 
To those who have been giving faithfully, and to those who start giving faithfully this month, THANK YOU! It is truly a joy to serve Jesus and his church alongside you!
Mars Hill OC will meet this coming Sunday, June 9 at Orangewood Academy. Join us at 9a or 11:15a.


Now while it's worth noting in itself Wallace rather than Bogardus is sending missives this is to observe that Mars Hill Church didn't make its giving target for FY2013 but is said to be doing better than ever financially.  Apparently in Sutton Turner's world $100,000 is a small sum. It's not even the estimated salary of that Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.