Pastor Update

Pastor Update: August 21, 2020

Interim Leadership Plan

As you know, our former Lead Pastor, AJ Sherrill, has taken a call to serve at Saint Peter’s Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Since then, the Elder Board has been working diligently to design a Leadership Plan for the interim. Over the past few weeks, we have met with our ministry leaders and the entire staff to discern the best way forward. We have been praying, researching, discussing, and value the input many of you have sent us. We considered the needs of our church and the strengths of the staff, and we are ready to share the Interim Plan of Leadership with you which is effective immediately.

Picture a pyramid with Jesus at the top, the Elder Board under Him, then our Executive Leadership Team [ELT], which consists of Ashlee Eiland, now named Associate Pastor; Troy Hatfield, Associate Pastor; and Ken Sanders, the Director of Operations. These three individuals will share the responsibilities of Lead Pastor.

Executive Leadership Team [ELT]

They will be monitored by the Elder Board and continuously measured against the vision of Mars Hill, board policies and our strategic plan. Under the ELT is the Ministry Leadership Team [MLT] comprised of the ELT and Kyle Lake, Anthem Pastor and Family Life Director; Christine Mutch, Community Mobilization Pastor; and Tim Nelson, Formation Pastor. Our aim is to continue to have a collaborative leadership approach.

Ministry Leadership Team [MLT]

Among the Elder Board we have built complete consensus on this Interim Plan and now invite all of you to move into this next chapter with us. 

We are happy to include answers to some commonly asked questions. 

  1.  So, who is in charge?
    • Of course, Jesus is the head of the church and each individual and Board is responsible to seek His will in all matters. Practically speaking, the Executive Leadership Team is in charge of staff and will, in collaboration, set the tone and expectations for the ministries and pastors. The Elder Board is responsible for the financial, legal, and spiritual affairs of Mars Hill and will oversee the ELT. 
  2. How will we know if this shared leadership plan is working?
    • The Elder Board and ELT are currently working to identify specific tools to measure success. Effectiveness will be intentionally assessed and evaluated in 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days.
  3. How long will the Interim Plan last?
    • Over the next few months, leadership will engage in a discernment process about a long-term plan. We will be praying earnestly for the leading of the Holy Spirit and ask that you join us in this.
  4. How can I give feedback or ask questions about progress and decisions being made?

Thank you for continued prayers and support.

Grace + peace,

the Elder Board
Thank you!

Pastor Update: August 12, 2020

Parting is such sweet sorrow but we are very excited for what God has planned for the Sherrill family as they begin their next ministry adventure in South Carolina.

Due to COVID-19, we were unable to gather in person to bless AJ and say goodbye the way we would have liked. AJ was and will remain part of our Mars Hill story and for so many in our community, he was part of our spiritual journey and growth.

If you would like to say goodbye, thank you, see you later, or share a special memory, please do so below. We will make sure AJ gets them! We also might share some of your messages in a montage during a Sunday Gathering so we can close one chapter to begin another together.

Please submit your written message or video by August 28. If you need assistance, please email If you prefer to mail a card, please send it to AJ's new church: Saint Peter's, 1307 Porchers Bluff RoadMount Pleasant, SC 29466.

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Pastor Update: August 5, 2020

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement as we manage the transition between sending the Sherrills off and focusing on a path forward.

As you may know, AJ offered to stay on staff at Mars Hill until August 31st. Things have moved quickly for him as he has sold his house and will be moving to Charleston this week. Although he was still willing to work remotely, we decided he could begin his transition after August 4th because it's our desire to bless him with this time to rest and prepare for the new chapter in his life.

Moving AJ’s resignation date up also allows the Ministry Lead Team and the Elders to develop and implement an Interim Plan as soon as possible. We are very close to finalizing a plan and will share that with you soon.

Finally, we know getting the chance to say goodbye to AJ and his family is so important. We are working on a few ways for us to virtually say goodbye and bless AJ as a community and we will have more details in the coming days.

Thank you for your patience and grace as we continue forward with this transition. If you have any questions or comments, we encourage you to email those to

the Elder Team

Dear Mars Hill Community,

We pray God’s peace and joy abounds in you. We are grateful to be the church, grounded in the Gospel story, and bearing light as a Jesus people for the sake of the world. To that end, we, the Elder Team, have an update for you:

Our Lead Pastor, AJ Sherrill, informed the Elder Team on July 7, of his intent to step down on August 31, 2020. As difficult as this transition is for our community, after monthsof prayer and discerning God’s plan for their lives, AJ and his wife Elaina feel the need tomove to Charleston, South Carolina so they can be in closer proximity to care for their aging moms, especially in the middle of a global pandemic.

We are extremely grateful to AJ for his leadership and the way that he has impacted our community. His vision to see our church grow in greater connection, depth, and maturity in the way of Jesus was emphasized in liturgy and practice, prayer, and implementation of new house churches.

AJ has been instrumental in helping us as a community move towards growth and stability by orchestrating the sale of a portion of our building to Grandville Public Schoolsso we can dream about new and exciting ways to carry out our mission to care for the most marginalized. He unified our community’s vision to pursue a second expression called Mars Hill Grand Rapids and elevate women in pastoral and leadership roles. He also led the creation process and implementation of the Formation School. AJ restructured our Ministry Lead Team who the Elders feel completely confident can guide our community and staff through this transition.

AJ led us with grace and integrity. We bless AJ, Elaina, and their daughter Eloise in this time of transition and pray that God may continue to use them in their new community.

We are in complete unity and are confident about the work God has done and will continue to do in the life of our church. We know he has a plan. In Philippians 1, Paul writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” We are thankful for you and we are praying for you. God has been faithful for the last 20 years and we know he will remain faithful, and continue the good work he started in each of us and in our church.

We covet your prayers and ask you to intercede over these three things:

  1. That God would bless AJ and his family and the new community he will be serving in South Carolina.
  2. That God would lead and guide our Elder Team and Staff as we make this transition and search for a new Lead Pastor.
  3. That our community would commit to being rooted in Christ, trusting in him for our future as we continue being a Jesus people for the sake of the world.

We will continue to provide updates at Please stay tuned for opportunities to provide input and feedback over the next few weeks/months. We encourage you to email us at with any questions.

Grace + Peace,

the Elder Team

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