• Summary

  • Hosted by Mike Cosper, this podcast takes you inside the story of Mars Hill Church in Seattle – from its founding as part of one of the largest church planting movements in American history to its very public dissolution—and the aftermath that followed. You’ll hear from people who lived this story, experiencing the triumphs and losses of Mars Hill, knowing it as both an amazing, life-transforming work of God and as a dangerous, abusive environment. The issues that plague Mars Hill and its founder, Mark Driscoll — dangers like money, celebrity, youth, scandal, and power—aren’t unique, and only by looking closely at what happened in Seattle will we be able to see ourselves.
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Episodes
  • May 24 2021
    A first glimpse at the podcast, coming in June from Christianity Today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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    2 mins
  • Jun 8 2021
    When Mars Hill Church was planted in Seattle in 1996, few would have imagined where it would lead. But in the next 18 years, it would become one of the largest, fastest-growing, and most influential churches in the United States. Controversy plagued the church, though, due in no small part to the lightning-rod personality at its helm: Mark Driscoll. By 2014, the church had grown to 15,000 people in 15 locations. But before the year was over, the church collapsed. On January 1st, 2015, Mars Hill was gone. Hosted by Mike Cosper, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill explores the inside story of this church, its charismatic leader, and the conflicts and troubles that brought about its end. You'll hear from insiders and experts, tracing the threads of this story to so many others that shape the church today. Listen to the trailer and subscribe today. The full series launches on June 22nd. Executive Produced by Erik Petrik Produced, Written, and Edited by Mike Cosper Associate Produced by Joy Beth Smith Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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    3 mins
  • Jun 22 2021
    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 this inaugural episode of “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill,” host Mike Cosper begins at the end, investigating the rubble of Mars Hill’s fall for answers. Meet Mark, the firebrand “cussing pastor” whose ministry of breaking conventions called men and women to transformation and whose rebellion touched a nerve with those inside and outside the church. Meet a church culture that considered relational fallout as simply part of the job. And, take a look in the mirror to ask why we keep doing this -- elevating leaders whose charisma outpaces their character. Loaded with piercing and poignant interviews, this episode invites you to release preconceived notions about this familiar story and listen afresh to a narrative that feels painfully relevant more than a decade later. Wonder why Christianity Today features stories like these? Stick around at the end of the episode as Kate Shellnut and Daniel Silliman discuss why talking about church culture and leadership matters. Read more at “If You See Something, Say Something” and Why We Report Bad News About Leaders. Here is the letter presenting formal charges against Mark Driscoll from 21 former Mars Hill pastors. Here is the letter from nine pastors who were serving in August of 2014, asking Mark Driscoll to step down from ministry and enter a restoration process. “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today Executiver Producer: Erik Petrik Producer, Writer, and Host: Mike Cosper Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith Music, sound design, and mixing: Kate Siefker Graphic Design: Bryan Todd Social Media: Nicole Shanks Editorial consulting: Andrea Palapant Dilley, Online Managing Editor Christianity Today Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by King’s Kaleidescope Closing song: "Slow and Steady Wins the Race" by Pedro the Lion Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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    55 mins

What listeners say about The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

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Is this storytelling?

What story is Christianity Today trying to tell through this podcast? They fail to ask tough questions in their interviews and avoid difficult subjects by skirting tough subjects such as sex and women’s roles in the church. Several podcasts in this series start by warning listeners that could language has been edited out. What truth is CT trying to avoid? Isn’t the foul language part of the sin or symptom of Marc Discoll and or the church that tolerated this behavior?

CT fails to use scripture to shed light on sin and instead uses philosophical arguments to pursue their theories regarding why Mars Hill failed. Don’t expect any light to shed on the sins of this church or leader to be illuminated by the Holy Bible is this podcast.

Tough questions need to be asked such as, Did Mars Hill have bad leadership? Perhaps worldly sin had invaded their church family? If so, what were the errors. Perhaps a sociopath was establishing a cult? I don’t know the answers to these questions but hope someone or perhaps an organization will ask these important questions.

Could you also tell this story by telling the truth and letting scripture point out sin?

2 people found this helpful

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Thought provoking.

I have found this podcast extremely engaging. As someone who went to Covenant Life church and who listened to many sermons from Mark Driscoll I have appreciated CT's willingness to acknowledge the amazing growth and gifts of community and a close walk with God that many experienced in these circles at that time while still asking tough questions. I have been challenged, reassured and seen, and propelled into conversation with friends and family and God as I think through my part in church culture today.

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Good insight from the inner workings of Mars Hill.

Was glad to see the insight from from many employees/elders from Mars Hill. Would have been nice to hear stories from casual Mars Hill members and even a perspective outside of a church and in the Seattle community. Overall, well told with a view of what was obviously wrong about Mark and Mars Hill. Definitely reaffirmed my decision to leave church altogether recently.

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Finally we're talking about these things!

Thank you CT! This was an impressive coverage of an all too familiar, yet unacknowledged, common occurrence of spiritual abuse. I wept through the last several episodes, especially, as I found myself relating to the stories of sexism in the church, and spiritual trauma. Beautifully done!

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Worth listening to. A story still being written.

I finally went through all the episodes. I was totally floored away at the depravity of the human heart in the pulpit, in the staff, and in the congregation. I'm not throwing any stones, as I am no better than any man. I too am a sinner saved by grace. I'm just extremely heartbroken by all congregation and staff of Mars Hill I just went through and is still going through.

I've gone through some church hurt of my own, for nearly 17 years, as a senior associate/executive minister. My wife and I have weeped alot, dealt with depression, and dealt with some deconstruction/reconstruction. A number of these stories were triggers. SMH.

I am also shocked by all that Pastor Mark's wife Grace has gone through, and/or enabled (is enabling). I can't understand why he's still operating in the pulpit right now. But, such is the way of Christendom. It is flawed. But Christ is perfect. His blood-bought bride is under maintenance. Sanctification is progressive. This story should really brings one's focus to Jesus alone. Thank you for this.

I'm curious though. It was aluded to, conceptually, but there were no actual Scriptures mention in the entire series. Why not, C.T.??

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A Must Listen

This podcast was excellent. It was robust with facts and details. It was gut wrenching to hear the stories of the survivors of MH. This podcast brings light to how easily we can be lead by a shepherd far away from The Lamb of God. The story will resonate with many of us who survived Evangelical, autocratic, and demanding church leaders, environments, and movements. Thank you to all the Godly, amazing walking wounded and healing souls of MH who found the strength to tell this story.

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Eye opening, we'll written and researched podcast!

Rise and Fall seeks to open the eyes of Believers to leaders they choose to follow and why.

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Required Listening

We, who have no experience of the fundamentalist evangelical mega-church, purity culture piece of the religious world, need to listen to this story. It will teach us to better love those who are recovering from it. Oh my. I needed the full minute of silence at the end of these many hours of journalism.

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Fascinating and Eye-opening

Very well-done and well-researched. The story has helped me understand more about the Evangelical movement in the US and opened my eyes to think more critically about what is presented to me in a faith setting.

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started out strong then got weak in the end

the beginning was so good. but once the host mentions he has been overwhelmed by people reaching out he revamped his story. He started pulling his punches and started to ignore the large obvious problems. I was so excited for this at the start and ended disappointed. People like Driscoll who bastardize Christianity need to be called out.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-25-21

Shocking, profound, worthwhile

This podcast is excellent in it's presentation of really complex issues and events. Highly recommended