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Ep. 359 Response to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 7

Ep. 359 Response to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 7

Shows Main Idea – In this episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill from Christianity Today, the primary talking point is the church’s leadership. Should you have a group of leaders or one man at the top. In the case of Mars Hill, they began with a plurality that led them to its heights only to morph into the lead guy, which began the descent and ultimate fall of Mars Hill Church.

Show Notes

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Episode Seven: State of Emergency

My aim in working through these episodes is to help folks think through the church they attend, the leadership culture of their church, and, potentially, identify things that might not be apparent. I will not provide a “Monday morning play-by-play” critique. I hope you will gain personal insight through this review as well as applications to your teachers and the church you attend.

My Consternation

I’ve been wrestling with whether to keep going through this series. After a few episodes, it began to take on the feel of trashy gossip. I have been asking, what’s the point? I’m feeling a bit dirty. Mike Cosper says it’s for the “good of the church,” and there are things we can learn. Okay, I can accept that, so let me ask,

As you listen to these episodes, are you talking more about specific applications and practical changes that you can make to your life and church or are you spending more time thinking about and discussing the events of Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll?

My spidey senses tell me that most of the discussions sound like a group of guys on Monday morning discussing what happened in the NFL on Sunday afternoon. Whether I continue or not, I’m not sure, but rather than rehashing Christianity Today’s weak, woke theology or the demise of Mars Hill, my aim in this episode is to lean into personal application.

The Threat Approach

Episode seven begins with Mark threatening to beat up some of the leaders in his church. There were many folks in the congregation laughing. It was eerie. He later talked about kicking two elders off the bus and running over them because they got off mission. He further clarified by saying he had no qualms about growing the number of unfortunate souls behind the bus.

This summary is the best articulation of why Mars Hill does not exist today. It’s sad and heart-wrenching. It defames God and weakens the body of Christ. It also explains the danger of an out-of-control pastor with no accountability.

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The Work Model

Mike Cosper talked about the tension between accountability and speed within a leadership team. “Should we slow things down to have more accountability, or should we dismiss stringent accountability because we have work to do for Jesus?”

  • A plurality of elders moves at a slower pace.
  • First among equals gives the lead guy room to exert his power.
  • The lead pastor can do whatever he wishes.

Mars Hill began with a plurality, shifted to first among equals, and eventually surrendered to Mark.

The Sanctification Model

  • The working model determines if you’ll have a lead pastor, elder team, plurality, or first among equals.
  • The sanctification model addresses the need for every person’s soul care regardless of rank or authority.

Who is caring for the leaders? What about their spouses? How do you know your leaders are doing well personally, maritally, and their families?

Authoritarianism Downside

  • The pastor is not accessible to care—for him or his family.
  • The pastor is not open to critique.
  • The pastor creates a culture of fear, inhibition, and courage-less-ness.
  • There is a growing divide between the leader and the laity.
  • The church’s backdoor is as wide as the front, and there is little that anyone can do about it.

Direct Message with Rick Thomas

Responding to an Authoritarian

  1. Can you “overlook” what you perceive as wrong? If you can, by all means, overlook it.
  2. If you can’t overlook it, you must take the issue to the Lord. Spend time talking to God about the issues.
  3. If you can’t dismiss it after talking to God, you must bring it to the person involved. (In most cases, you should not speak to someone else before you chat with the person, though seeking wise counsel does not have to be wrong.)
  4. If that person is unwilling to talk, is dismissive, defensive, or flips the conversation around by making it your fault, you may need to go to someone else with the hope of finding a solution.
  5. If the leader’s sin is too great, you can’t overlook it, and if he will not change, you may have to leave.

A Good Leader

  1. Humble – Humility is the foundational characteristic of anyone, and it sets the stage for everything he thinks, says, or does.
  2. Authoritative – His authority flows from his humility rather than his selfish ambition. Pastors should have authority, but that trait finds its richness in the heart of humility.
  3. Approachable – Jesus was a humble man, full of authority, and he was approachable.

Call to Action

  1. Describe your church leaders based on some of the things you heard in this podcast.
  2. How would you describe the leadership culture of your church—not just a leader but the culture the leaders have created?
  3. What do you think the effect of the leadership has been on the congregation? What is one positive impact? How could they improve?

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