I am sure many of you saw the article that came out last week on ABPNews.com. If not you can check it out here. In it David Gushee (ethicist and theologian of Mercer University) recounted his visit to Mercy Hill and some general thoughts he took away from the experience. I know many of you have asked about my thoughts on the article so I thought I would quickly lay a few things out here.
First, I thought the article was fair. Lets be honest, ABPNews.com comes from an entirely different “stream” than Mercy Hill. Some of what is foundational to our ministry philosophy flies in the face of most of the readership for the website. With that in mind, it would have been easy for Gushee to take cheap shots. But I didn’t feel like he did. I thought the pastor of our sending church, The Summit Church in RDU, said it best, “Depsite the critical eye, I love what this article about Mercy Hill shows: a passion for the Gospel”. That sums it up well. Could a critical eye be detected in the writing? Yes. But did the writer show that the main thing about Mercy Hill is the Gospel? I think so.
There were a couple things I did want to engage simply to have the facts straight. I am a little sensitive to the stereotype that Mercy Hill is primarily a college church. That is simply not the case. At the peak times of year for students we are typically 25% college. That is a significant amount of college students and we praise God for that! But they do not make up the majority of our congregation. I would say the median age within our congregation is closer to 30, not 22. Also, while we did have spontaneous baptisms in January about half of those baptized were preplanned. Lastly, I always carry an “actual Bible” on stage with me! Admittedly I mostly read Scripture out of my printed notes, but the Bible is there.
Again, overall I thought the article was fair and was very glad that Gushee could use us to begin a conversation. What excited me most was that a guest could come in and within one service understand the very heartbeat of Mercy Hill…its all about Jesus! The Gospel changes everything.