On October 14, 2014, Pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill, the Seattle-based church he had founded and led since 1996. Driscoll gained national attention for the popularity of his church in a largely secular part of the US, but also for his own brash, at times crude, irreverent, and caustic temperament. For years, to the public, this largely manifested in his sermons. But over time, rumors of his abusive leadership style began to emerge.
Upon accepting his resignation, Mars Hill Church’s board of overseers stated that Driscoll had “been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner," but had "never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.”
Prior to his resignation, church planting network Acts 29 had removed Driscoll, its founder, from leadership and Driscoll had also apologized for previous controversy, including plagiarism and making crude comments.
After he stepped down, Mars Hill church disbanded, with many of the sites closing or becoming their own independent church. Today, Driscoll leads Trinity Church in Scottsdale, which he founded in 2016.
This week on Quick to Listen, we wanted to revisit this story, partially because it’s the topic of a new Christianity Today twelve-part podcast called The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. But also because so many elements of this story remain influential in how the evangelical world works today.
Mike Cosper is CT’s director of podcasts and the host of Cultivated and The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. Cosper joined global media manager Morgan Lee and executive editor Ted Olsen to discuss how masculinity played a role in Mars Hill’s popularity, why polity mattered to its success and struggles, and what happened to the church after its celebrity pastor departed.
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Music by Sweeps
The transcript is edited by Bunmi Ishola