To our friends and family,
A little over twelve years ago, Kathleen and I first walked into Mars Hill Church at the Paradox theater. It was dark, smelled like smoky indy rockers and the music was horrendous. Pastor Mark came out and preached the Gospel of Jesus like I had never heard before. At that moment, we decided this was our church.
As the years went on, we were married by Pastor Mark and found ourselves volunteering in many different roles in the church. We have seen Jesus bless this church and work by seeing thousands of people saved and baptized and multiple locations launched. Kathleen and I have been blessed beyond words through the teaching of Pastor Mark and the investment of Godly men and women in this church. We are eternally thankful for the real relationships, life long friendships and for the people of this church being a family to us.
I have served in many roles in the church and held many titles, but ultimately my heart and desire has always been to love, disciple and shepherd the people Jesus has put in my care. I had the honor of working with Pastor Bubba in helping plant Mars Hill West Seattle. In that time Jesus used Pastor Bubba in amazing ways to shape my philosophy of ministry and leadership. Kathleen and I have a great love for the people of West Seattle and for dear friendships made there.
Pastor Bubba and I then had the opportunity to be sent to Ballard to serve there and build some incredible friendships in my time there as well. A couple of years later, when asked to move back to West Seattle in a time of need, it was our joy to rejoin that church and serve for another year there before being sent to help launch the Orange County church.
The big move to Orange County was just a little over a year ago. This move was one where it was a leap of faith. We love West Seattle and had a joy of planting roots there and serving the people we lived among. But God had other plans. He put the conviction in both Kathleen and I that we were to be a part of this work headed to Orange County. So we moved and made some incredible friends yet again. Kathleen and I loved being a part of the Orange County Church and were just getting settled when Jesus started moving again; this time in an unexpected way. The role that I love and feel God’s gifting in being an Executive Pastor was beginning to change in Mars Hill.
Six years ago when Jesus was calling me out of Law Enforcement as a Police Officer, He made it clear to me that I was to work in ministry at Mars Hill Church. This was a calling by God and not a job opportunity. For the last six years, I prayed that if the day ever came that I should leave my role at Mars Hill, that Jesus would be kind enough to make it as clear as He did the day He called me. That day came. The role that I loved and served in had changed and I was no longer the best man for the job. For years I have asked for the courage to step aside and get out of the way if the I am ever not the right man for the job.
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.
In an effort to reduce our expenses, we requested to break our two year lease with our property management company. They told us that they would search for replacement tenants and let us know. Jesus often works quickly and because I really love to have a plan has been teaching me to trust in Him. Almost three weeks had passed and I followed up with the property management company to get a status update on our lease and was told that they had rented our apartment and that we needed to move out and turn in our keys in three days. Praise Jesus that He released us from that lease and He certainly did it in His timing.
We are grateful for all the people who helped us pack up our house and move it into storage. The last couple of weeks have been very hard as we are seeking out Jesus’ plan for us. After much prayer and many conversations with trusted friends and elders, we felt Jesus leading us to Las Vegas, of all places. We went there trusting that Jesus would continue to guide us and He has. In one week, we have made good friends with a Lead Pastor of a local A29 church and have felt God calling us to make a home here.
Kathleen and I continue to mourn the change of Mars Hill no longer being our home, but we see Jesus’ hand in all of this and know that we must walk in obedience to where He leads. In doing so, we are very excited for how we might serve in this new church and continue to contribute to the forward work of the Gospel of Jesus and the hope we have in Him. With this change, and after prayerful consideration and counsel, we’ve decided that it is the best decision for me at this time to transition out of the role of eldership as well as membership at Mars Hill Church in Orange County.
I am so thankful for the years of investment from this church to me, and how Jesus has sanctified me through this work. I would not give up the multiple challenges, changes and locations that I had the privilege to serve at. I am so thankful for how Jesus used Mars Hill to shape me as a Disciple, Husband, Father and Pastor.
Kathleen and I love this church and are sad to leave, but it is with hope and joy that we will still serve in Jesus’ Church and will glorify Jesus with the gifts He has given us and the tools He has equipped us with through His work at Mars Hill Church.
The Firstenberg family