(Photo: Saddleback Church/Tommy Huynh)
Seattle-based Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll announced plans for a 15th regional church in Phoenix to be launched sometime in late January or early February of next year.
In making the announcement, Driscoll introduced Pastor Ryan Welsh, who said that he and his family plan to move to Phoenix in mid-August to begin planting the church.
"We want a core group of 150 people and for 30 people to raise up their hand and say, 'I want to be a community group leader,'" Welsh told Driscoll recently during an announcement seen in a video on the church's website. He said they will begin training for the opening as soon as possible.
"It's official! @MarsHill is coming to Phoenix, Lord willing. Join the core or give in support, details here: [link to Mars Hill Phoenix]," Driscoll tweeted on Monday.
Mars Hill Church started as a small Bible study in the home of Mark and Grace Driscoll in 1996. Since then, the church has grown to well over 13,000 congregants across 14 locations in Washington, Oregon, California and New Mexico.
According to Mars Hill Church, planting churches is "a natural extension of God's mission for us to make disciples – and a priority for us. We plant churches so that more people can meet Jesus. The way the first disciples of Jesus fulfilled this calling of his to make disciples was by planting churches that preached the gospel and cared for each other and their cities. Through churches, people hear about Jesus, make Jesus their identity, worship Jesus, find community, and become part of Jesus' mission here on earth."
The church planting efforts are primarily rooted in Mars Hill leadership development by training and raising up leaders through the church's Lead Pastor Residency Program.
Mars Hill is kicking off a new worship service series this coming Sunday called "Best Sermon Ever," featuring guest speakers whom Driscoll said he regards as some of the best Christian thinkers of our time.
The list of speakers lined up to speak live at Mars Hill's Bellevue location from Aug. 4 - Sept. 1 include Dr. Paul Tripp, Dr. Bruce Ware, Dr. Wayne Grudem, Dr. Larry Osborne and Dr. Eric Mason.
"I picked these men because I love our church with all my heart and I want you to get the very best Bible teaching we can possibly bring you," explains Driscoll. "They're all world-class communicators, leaders, speakers, Christian authors, theologians, Bible teachers, and pastors – all friends of mine and friends of our church."
Driscoll explains that the new sermon series enables Mars Hill's lead pastors, including himself, a brief interlude to prepare for the Fall.