Rick Warren to preach at Mars Hill's final service

Having been the subject of so much noise in recent months, the final passing of Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church was never going to be quiet.

As the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve and the old year gives birth to the new, the controversial church, plagued by dispute and scandal this year, will cease officially to exist.

But it is unlikely to be forgotten soon, given that its final services on Sunday are to be addressed by celebrity mega church pastor Rick Warren.

The author of The Purpose Driven Life who delivered the invocation at President Obama's inauguration in 2009 will speak to the church's last congregations before it is dissolved, the Seattle.pi blog reports.

Mars Hill said in its e-mail newsletter: "Our dear friend Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church has graciously offered to preach the final sermon for us. Each of our churches will be showing a special message from Pastor Rick, based on John 12:24.

"Our hope is that this timely message will be an encouragement for the people that have called Mars Hill Church their home, as we reflect on the great impact our church has had on the kingdom of God, as well as an encouragement for the new churches emerging out of Mars Hill, and the potential they have to continue bearing much fruit."

Warren was unofficially a mentor to Driscoll, who wrote in 2006 that Warren was "one of the most important Christians in our generation." He also said: "Sadly, there was a time when, as an arrogant young punk, I was critical of his work."

Although ultimately different in style, they have both spoken at each other's conferences.

At Obama's 2013 inauguration, Driscoll tweeted: "Praying for our president who today will place his hands on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know."

Earlier this year, 21 former Mars Hill pastors and elders laid charges of misconduct against Driscoll, including bullying and intimidation. The church plant network Acts29 expelled Driscoll and Mars Hill. Driscoll resigned in October and soon after the church announced its dissolution.