Episodes
Published 12/16/22
Published 11/11/22
Published 11/11/22
Bonus Episode: A Conversation With Tim Keller Mike Cosper sits down with Tim Keller for reflections on leadership, the troubles with networks, and the essential need for communion with God. Tim Keller moved to New York City in 1989 to plant Redeemer Presbyterian Church. In the three decades since, he’s become one of the most influential voices in American evangelicalism. Several of his books have become bestsellers. City to City, the church planting network he co-founded, has planted more...
Published 07/01/22
Building an institution on celebrity power, charisma, and a spirit of grandiosity attracts a lot of people, money and a certain kind of cache for everyone involved. It helps them all to feel like they're part of something that's big — a movement providing a sense of meaning and purpose. But too often, these movements crumble, and those inside are crushed by the process. It's a pattern that extends far beyond Mars Hill, into the realm of politics, academia, media, and more. In this bonus...
Published 06/17/22
Mars Hill’s music grew out of the same counter-cultural ethos that defined the rest of its ministry. Most of the church’s founding members thought Christian contemporary music was too saccharine and polished for their tastes, and what evolved at Mars Hill reflected the gritty and dark sounds of the city around them. But like many other facets of the Mars Hill story, there was much behind the music. Often selected for their charisma and talent, Mars Hill bands found that few cared about the...
Published 05/06/22
As production of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill progressed, another story was developing—inside the walls of Christianity Today. On March 15, 2022, CT released the results of an independent report from Guidepost Solutions, which outlined institutionally tolerated sexual harassment and misconduct along with failures in reporting and monitoring. To the heartbreak of many, some of the unhealthy behaviors that were being explored on this podcast were endemic at CT as well. If the story of Mars...
Published 03/29/22
Five days after resigning as lead pastor of Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll was once again in front of a crowd—this time, a packed conference of pastors who offered him a standing ovation in support. It only took 474 days for him to announce he was planting a new church in Scottsdale, Arizona. But while Driscoll wielded his own force of personality to get as much distance from Mars Hill as possible, life in Seattle was a different story. A confused and hurting church was displaced, hundreds...
Published 12/04/21
Mars Hill grew dramatically in 2012, and it seemed like nothing could stop the church’s ever-widening expansion. Pastor Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage released that January, hit The New York Times Best Seller list, and launched a book tour and a series of television appearances that brought him into countless new homes and churches. But in the next two years, the church would experience endless controversy, turn over almost all of their staff, and discover that no efforts at PR or spin...
Published 11/12/21
Contrary to Mars Hill lore, Mark Driscoll didn’t plant his church alone. Though he prized the image of a solo, entrepreneurial pastor, Driscoll found early success thanks to two co-planters, a sending church, and a network of support. And three thousand miles away in Boca Raton, Florida, the concept of the Acts 29 church network was already taking shape as an offshoot of the Spanish River Church Planting Network. Church planting requires a certain audacity, and in the early 1970’s nobody had...
Published 10/19/21
As success grew at Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll’s ministry dreams expanded. With the advent of the multi-site church and advances in technology, a leader could move beyond the mundanity of local place and community to spread his message far afield, fulfilling his own great commission literally to the ends of the earth. With a talented team and generous budget at his fingertips, Mark dreamed big. 50,000 church members. A New York Times bestseller. The most prominent media distribution channel on...
Published 10/05/21
In 2006, Mark Driscoll met with a group of Seattle pastors who were worried about Mars Hill’s public witness. Mark had risen to prominence with pugilistic bravado, and local leaders expressed concern that his tone and language about women and, in this particular instance, pastors’ wives hurt the perception of the church in their largely unchurched city. Despite their best efforts to connect on common ground, the meeting’s leaders counted the event a failure. Remarkable success had isolated...
Published 09/21/21
We are people built for wonder, spiritual creatures looking for spiritual footholds in a culture often devoid of belief in the supernatural. We long for miracles -- the defeat of sin and shame, displays of God’s power transforming our deepest pain. For some who attended Mars Hill, the instinct toward astonishment led them to Mark Driscoll’s charismatic deliverance ministry. In a world where belief is so often hard to come by, Mark claimed to have faith strong enough to move mountains and,...
Published 09/10/21
There’s a profound power to storytelling. In all kinds of communities, the stories we tell about who we are and where we came from are life-shaping.  At Mars Hill, one of the oft-told stories was about Mark Driscoll’s origin and calling. It began with the gift of a bible from his future wife. That was the catalyst to faith, and a walk in the woods a few months later led to an experience of hearing God’s audible voice and calling: “Marry Grace, plant Mars Hill, preach the Bible, and train...
Published 08/31/21
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Published 08/26/21
A Bonus Episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Love it or hate it, if you grew up in a youth group after 1997, you probably had to reckon with Joshua Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye, his treatise on dating and courtship. The book sold millions and made him, in Collin Hansen’s terms, an “evangelical boy wonder.”At 29 years old he became the lead pastor of a Maryland megachurch and a rising star in Sovereign Grace Ministries. But when that movement was torn apart by controversy, conflict,...
Published 08/20/21
Church planting isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires a tenacity few pastors can fully anticipate when they set out. Healthy planting demands not only clarity of mission and relentless work, but practical partnership, wise counsel, and responsive governance to the changing needs that come with growth. From the church’s beginning, Mars Hill leadership committed to all of these -- a vision of Jesus as senior pastor with elders serving with “one vote each.” But somewhere along the line, the...
Published 08/10/21
Mark Driscoll rose to prominence in the early days of the Internet. Unlike his megapastor predecessors like Robert Schuller and Bill Hybels, Driscoll harnessed technology to build his brand and bypass cultural gatekeepers who might hinder or influence his success. He formed a talented media team that would expand his reach and, inadvertently, reinforce his ego through an online presence. Quickly though, his star rose too far, keeping him at arm’s length from the collaboration and counsel of...
Published 08/03/21
Sex sells. It might be hard to imagine a church harnessing this popular marketing technique for church growth, but that’s exactly what Mark Driscoll did in Seattle in the early 2000s. Whether condemning the Western erosion of manhood or elevating women as Christian pornographic ideals, preaching from the Mars Hill pulpit mixed toxic cultural messages with biblical theology in the name of forming men, women, and families for God. And, like Mark’s campaign against diminished manhood, when sex...
Published 07/27/21
Mark Driscoll’s vision of manhood indelibly shaped Mars Hill culture. Drawing from his own difficult childhood story, Mark created an ideal for those searching for meaning and direction. Men responded enthusiastically. From “dad talks” about issues about sex, career and family to “holy anger” over a feminized church culture, he invited men into a stirring narrative where manning up meant passionately loving God and their families.  In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike...
Published 07/15/21
Church planting, even under the best of circumstances, always requires grit and determination. Planting in one of the most progressive cities in the US at the turn of the millennium required even more. But if Mark Driscoll struggled with anything in his ministry, it wasn’t a lack of will.  The earliest days of Mars Hill were a whirlwind of activity – launching new campuses, preaching as many as seven times a Sunday, assimilating new people, and developing new ministries all at once. The...
Published 07/07/21
In the mid-1950s, Rev. Robert Schuller began preaching in a drive-in movie theater in Southern California. He melded traditions like vestments with a theology of post-war optimism and self-esteem. As his ministry grew, guest preaching in his pulpit became a mark of celebrity achievement. Three decades after his drive-in movie days, Schuller would welcome a young Mark Driscoll to the microphone to speak. To understand the Mars Hill phenomenon, you have to understand how big churches developed...
Published 06/29/21
In 2014, after more than a decade of tremendous growth and ministry, Mars Hill Church imploded with the resignation of its lead pastor, Mark Driscoll. Once a hub for those disenfranchised with cultural Christianity, Mars Hill’s characteristic “punk rock spirit” became its downfall as power, fame and spiritual trauma invaded the ministry. But how did things fall apart? Where did Mark Driscoll take a wrong turn? Who could be held responsible for the hurt and disillusionment that resulted? In...
Published 06/22/21