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The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

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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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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A first glimpse at the podcast, coming in June from Christianity Today.

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May 24 2021

1min

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Full-Length Trailer

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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

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Jun 08 2021

2mins

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Who Killed Mars Hill?

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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

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: "Slow and Steady Wins the Race" by Pedro the Lion

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Jun 22 2021

54mins

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Boomers, The Big Sort, and Really, Really Big Churches

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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 in the boomer and Gen X years, how the franchising of churches led to homogenized congregational culture, and how pastors became spokesmen and CEOs. When Mark Driscoll arrived to preach at the Crystal Cathedral, he had already walked a ministry path paved by the likes of Schuller, Bill Hybels, and Rick Warren—leaders who dedicated significant time to demographic research as well as expository study.

In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper flips the tapestry of the Mars Hill story to expose the weaving of threads beneath. He explores how the identity of a church can become wrapped around one man and why a host of leaders might fall in step to protect him in order to save the institution.

Here, you can read an interview with David Di Sabatino, director of Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher.

“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: “Crush” by The Violet Burning

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Jun 29 2021

56mins

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"You Read the Bible, Ringo?"

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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 church quickly proved to be a magnet for spiritual seekers of all kinds – eager Christians looking to build, apathetic Christians needing renewal, and non-Christians hearing the gospel in a new context. 

On this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, we take you inside that hive of activity to examine up close the ways God was at work. You’ll see Mark Driscoll not only as a preacher and a movement leader, but as a caring pastor. 

You’ll also see signs of volatility in Mark’s ministry. Tensions in the Young Leaders Network start to build and a pivot in Mark’s own convictions pushes them to their limits. Meanwhile, inside Mars Hill, a throwaway remark at a friendly dinner becomes the catalyst for intense, life-altering conflict.


“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: “Did I Tell You the Bullet’s Still There” by Bill Mallonee

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Jul 07 2021

53mins

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‘I am Jack's Raging Bile Duct'

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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 Cosper digs deep into the mythic origin story that shaped Mark Driscoll’s ministry to men. He reveals Mark as far more than just an agent of chaos but a man deeply concerned for the health and spirituality of other men, intent on pastoring them toward flourishing. And as Driscoll’s particular brand of masculinity grew toxic, Cosper asks the poignant question, “Why do you stay when things get bad?” How do you reckon with the movement of the Spirit in your midst when your community begins to shatter? 


“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: "Dynamite" by Sandra McCracken

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Jul 15 2021

53mins

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The Things We Do To Women

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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 sold in church, both men and women came up short.


In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper addresses the femininity, fear, and fantasy that fueled conversations around gender and womanhood at Mars Hill. With delicate care, he unpacks the reactionary stream of sexuality that emerged at Mars Hill and exposes the struggle for authority and power beneath Mark Driscoll’s classic sermons on womanhood and sex. Cosper explores what happens when words meant to protect women end up hurting them and how theology about headship and submission can create fear and shame when wielded by the wrong hands. If you’ve seen Mark’s famous viral videos or heard the sermon sound bytes, tune in to this episode for the fuller story. 

“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: “Woman” by Jackie Hill Perry

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Jul 27 2021

59mins

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The Brand

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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 those who could lend wisdom to his youthful, combustive pastoral ministry.


In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper breaks down how technology shaped the messaging and marketing of Mark Driscoll and how personal brand can isolate a leader even as it fuels a ministry’s growth. Cosper interviews broadly, from Mars Hill media team members to Collin Hansen of The Gospel Coalition, to investigate how narcissism grows, how theological movements birth new leaders, and why the church’s love affair with charisma and certainty demands we develop a better moral imagination. Rethink your admiration for celebrity pastors. Reevaluate your attraction to religious trends. And, reflect on your own willingness to stand “sola” when church becomes about something other than the Gospel.


“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: “Bang” by Moda Spira

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Aug 03 2021

1hr 3mins

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State of Emergency

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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 vision shifted. Absolutism and a muscular, aggressive form of governance took hold, a campaign led by Mark Driscoll in the name of church growth. 

In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper pulls back the curtain to expose the inner workings of church governance at Mars Hill. Guided by careful research and hundreds of hours of interviews, Cosper plots out a story of church growth corrupted by power. Discover a Mark Driscoll you may never have met -- a young church planter with a vision for Seattle and for the world. Watch what happens when the friction between accountability and speed causes church planting efforts to combust. And see how prioritizing “reaching people for Jesus” can mask spiritual abuse without the proper checks and balances.


“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: "Return My Heart to My Chest" by Joe Day

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Aug 10 2021

1hr 2mins

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Bonus Episode: I Kissed Christianity Goodbye

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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, and accusations of a systemic cover-up of child abuse, he found himself reeling, unsure of his calling and convictions. He left ministry in 2015, and in 2019, announced that he no longer identified as a Christian.

In this bonus episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, we’ll explore Josh’s story as a contemporary of Mark Driscoll, someone who was his polar opposite in temperament, and who’s struggles in ministry led to a divergent outcome. We’ll talk about faith, doubt, and celebrity, and discuss how Christians might think about their own doubts and deconstruction, recognizing them as a normal part of the Christian life.

Subscriptions to CT are one of the best ways to support this kind of journalism. If you want to help us continue doing this kind of work, consider joining today at orderct.com/marshill.

“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music and Sound Design: Kate Siefker and Mike Cosper

Mix Engineer: Mike Cosper

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: “Spirit (Keep On)” by Jeremy Casella

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Aug 20 2021

1hr 6mins

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Coming Up on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

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We have 5 episodes left on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. Listen to a preview of what's to come.

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Aug 26 2021

2mins

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Bonus Episode: Questioning the Origin Myth - A Rise and Fall Short Story

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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 men.”

 That story was repeated countless times at Mars Hill, lending Driscoll a sense of both authority and purpose, and inviting the church to get caught up in that mission with him.

 This shorter episode dives deeper into this “founding myth” of Mars Hill, and how it evolved over time. It also explores the formative, almost liturgical effect it had on the church, and raises the question of how it might have contributed to a fragile architecture at the heart of the church.

 The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill is a production of Christianity Today

 It’s executive produced by Erik Petrik

 It’s produced, written, and edited by Mike Cosper

 Joy Beth Smith is our associate producer.

 Music, and sound design, by Kate Siefker and Mike Cosper

 This episode was mixed by Mike Cosper

 Our theme song is “Sticks and Stones” by King’s Kaleidescope.

 Special thanks to Ben Vandermeer

 Graphic Design by Bryan Todd

 Social Media by Nicole Shanks

 Editorial consulting by Andrea Palpant Dilley

 CT’s Editor in Chief is Timothy Dalrymple

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Aug 31 2021

19mins

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Demon Hunting

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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, literally, to cast out demons. 

In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper asks the piercing question, “Where’s the line between the hand of God and a charismatic leader?” How do we know when our craving for astonishment is being manipulated? When do we accept the claims of someone speaking on God’s behalf? Using the lesser known Mars Hill “demon trials” as a backdrop, Cosper explores the Pentecostal origins of Driscoll’s deliverance ministry, examines the extra biblical rules that governed Mars Hill spiritual warfare, and considers our longing to hear from God and see him move in our midst.


“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Special thanks to Ben Vandermeer

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: “Time is a Lion” by Joe Henry

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Sep 10 2021

1hr 5mins

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The Bobby Knight Problem

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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 Mark from the average person on whom his words fell. His institution had insulated him from critique. The meeting revealed clearly that power protected Mark from accountability.  

Your pastor doesn’t need outsized fame and acclaim to fall prey to the seduction of power, and neither do you. In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper looks to the world of sports to illustrate how power corrupts and how, when we abdicate our roles as gatekeepers for one another, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Step onto the basketball courts at Indiana University and behind the pulpit at Mars Hill to see how power becomes a strong drug that justifies abuse, keeps truth from speaking, and distances us from our shared humanity.


“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Additional Editing: Resonate Recordings and Matt Linder

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: “Anger” by Treva Blomquist

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Sep 21 2021

58mins

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Red Sky at Morning

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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 the Internet.

But when you undermine the foundations of a church, you shouldn’t be surprised when the building comes tumbling down around you. When technology removes the limits to access, you shouldn’t be surprised when it also sings the alluring call of worldly success. When you call others to deep sacrifice for your own ambitions, you begin to count the bodies under the bus.

In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper explores Mars Hill’s “mission accomplished” cultural moment when Mark shifted his gaze from Seattle to cities and success benchmarks beyond. With incisive journalism and compassionate engagement, Cosper paints the picture of a wounded church—sheep dispersed and isolated by technology, expendable to the mission of a shepherd gone wayward. And he asks us to consider whether our adoption of gospel-amplifying tactics has clouded our vision of its good, true and beautiful message.

“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Additional Editing: Resonate Recordings and Matt Linder

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: “The Bridge” by Taylor Leonhardt

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Oct 05 2021

56mins

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Bonus Episode: Boca Raton's Church Planting O.G.

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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 more than David Nicholas. Founder of Spanish River Church, David’s burden for evangelism took shape in mentoring relationships with pastors starting congregations of their own. A planter himself, David empathized with those who felt lonely in that particular calling, and he sought to encourage and empower leaders by offering them community -- a network in which they could receive the care, training and accountability to do their jobs well. 

In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper invites us into the room with David Nicholas and Mark Driscoll -- two church planters with widely divergent visions for what constituted successful church growth. Tracing the Acts 29 network from its beginnings, Cosper asks whether any leadership potential is worth overlooking red flags, and whether the broader church actually has what it takes to mentor young leaders with issues of character. 

“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, and Host: Mike Cosper

Additional Editing: Resonate Recordings and Matt Linder

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music, Sound Design, and Mix Engineer: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Nicole Shanks

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: “Citizens” by Jon Guerra

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Oct 19 2021

47mins

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The Tempest

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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 could hide the rot of a deeply dysfunctional culture of leadership.

The second-to-last episode of this series is a two-and-a-half-hour look at those final two years, especially between October 2013 and October 2014, to look at exactly what brought down one of America’s fastest-growing churches, and how some of the characters whose lives we’ve followed in this series weathered the turmoil.

“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, Host, and Mix Engineer: Mike Cosper

Additional Editing: Resonate Recordings and Matt Linder

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music and Sound Design: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Morgan Lee and Kara Bettis

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Special thanks to Ben Vandermeer

Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by Kings Kaleidoscope

Closing song: “O How the Mighty Have Fallen” by The Choir

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Nov 12 2021

2hr 37mins

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Aftermath

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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 of people were out of their jobs, and the fiercest critics of the church practically threw a party.

In our series finale, we follow a few of those threads, which led some people to new ministries, others to new careers, and still others out of the church altogether. We’ll revisit the legacy of Driscoll’s teaching on gender, and we’ll ask whether or not he really preached good news and freedom.

We’ll also look for the presence of Christ, working in surprising and unseen ways to bring beauty out of the ashes of what was once Mars Hill Church.

As we end 2021, we’d love to invite you to join us as we continue to try to tell stories like this. Subscriptions are a great way to do that, and we’d love if you considered us with your end-of-year giving.

“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive produced by Erik Petrik

Produced, written, and edited by Mike Cosper

Joy Beth Smith is our associate producer.

Music and sound design by Kate Siefker and Mike Cosper

Our theme song for this finale is “Resplendent” by Bill Mallonee and the Vigilantes of Love.

The closing song this week is “All My Favorite People” by Over the Rhine.

Special thanks to Ben Vandermeer

Graphic design by Bryan Todd

Social media by Kara Bettis and Morgan Lee

Editorial consulting by Andrea Palpant Dilley

CT’s Editor in Chief is Timothy Dalrymple.

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Dec 04 2021

2hr 36mins

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Special Episode: CT Reports on Itself

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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 Hill is about more than a particular church, we must consider how the institutions we love and serve model similar failures. We must be willing to pursue justice and submit ourselves to the costly work of repentance and restoration.

In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper turns over the microphone to pivotal voices in the CT investigation, including whistleblower and online managing editor Andrea Palpant Dilley and CEO Tim Dalrymple. Learn how CT’s informal HR policies hurt the organization and how a “ministry as family” attitude enabled predatory behavior. Listen as well to how CT plans to move forward as they seek to respond with transparency, fairness, and accountability.


Links: 



“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, Host, and Mix Engineer: Mike Cosper 

Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith

Music and Sound Design: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Editorial Consultant: Kate Shellnutt

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

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Mar 29 2022

1hr 2mins

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Bonus Episode: Paint the Beauty We Split

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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 condition of their souls or the posture of their spirits. 

Chad Gardner became a worship leader later in the church’s history, having grown up listening to the church’s music. His eventual decision to leave would mean sacrificing community and intellectual property rights over his band’s contributions to the ministry. Some band members, damaged by various spiritual abuses, would leave the faith altogether.

In this bonus episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, host Mike Cosper sits down with Chad Gardner, worship leader at Mars Hill, to hear the hard and beautiful stories of the music that defined the community. Peek backstage for a glimpse of what worship leadership meant in this alternative church culture, and hear stories behind some of Kings Kaleidoscope’s albums. Finally, find out why Chad told us, “I never wanted to do a duet with Mark.”

“The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today

Executive Producer: Erik Petrik

Producer, Writer, Editor, Host, and Mix Engineer: Mike Cosper

Associate Producers: Joy Beth Smith and Azurae Phelps

Music and Sound Design: Kate Siefker

Graphic Design: Bryan Todd

Social Media: Kate Lucky

Editorial Consultant: Andrea Palpant Dilley

Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple

Theme Song: “Sticks and Stones” Kings Kaleidoscope

Additional Music: Brad Currah, Red Letter, Team Strike Force, The Sing Team, Citizens, and Kings Kaleidoscope

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May 06 2022

44mins

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