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Ep. 381 Response to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 14

Ep. 381 Response to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 14

Shows Main Idea – This episode review of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill speaks to the aftermath of Mark Driscoll’s resignation from the church. Mike Cosper from Christianity Today interviews an eclectic group of folks who talk about the heartbreak, turmoil, fear, as well as the practical matters of finding new churches, jobs, and relationships. Meanwhile, Mark popped back up in Arizona; he rebranded and relaunched himself as though nothing happened. In this review, I will speak to five essential takeaways for all of us to learn.

Show Notes

You may want to read:

Episode Fourteen: Aftermath

I will not provide a “Monday morning play-by-play” critique. 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 hope you will gain personal insight through this review and applications to your teachers and the church you attend.

Episode Summary

This episode is a postmortem of Mars Hill Church. It’s a reflective podcast as Mike Cosper talks to many of the members of the various campuses. You will hear various voices talk about how they see things differently now that there is some distance between themselves and Mark Driscoll. Hindsight typically provides clarity—an essential thing we should do after coming through a traumatic time.

It is impossible to see things clearly when you’re in the middle of a difficult time. Time and space provide an opportunity to understand with biblical insight and personal transformation. It’s so easy to become caught up in the hysteria, numbers, results, and even accept things you would never agree to if things were different. The bully culture is manipulative, and when the bully has charisma and force, many will fall prey as they did.

The person who believes they are not susceptible to manipulators or manipulative cultures has already opened themselves up to the possibility of being part of a cult because of their blindness to the potential. Once you say you’re not susceptible, you have already moved closer to it. Rick Thomas

1 – Restoring

Mike opened this episode talking about a pastor platforming Mark Driscoll after leaving Mars Hill. He said that we should not judge Mark but seek to restore him. He offered Galatians 6:1-2 as his proof text to rewrite the Driscoll narrative into a pro-Mark worldview. There are at least two problems with what this pastor was saying.

  1. You cannot restore a person who does not see his need for restoration. Mark took the role of a victim.
  2. Restoring Mark in Galatians 6:1 is about “mending a broken soul,” not platforming them or putting them back in ministry. Mark Driscoll should not be preaching anywhere.

2 – Reactions

Mike Cosper told the story about a young man who visited Driscoll’s new church in Arizona. He confronted Mark, appealing to him to make things right with the young man’s dad. It did not happen as he had hoped, and that conversation ended.

However, it was the young man’s attitude that was so striking to me. He talked about the problems with Mark Driscoll, what Mark did to his dad, and a few other Mars Hill pain points. But he did not come across as bitter or angry. I don’t say this to shame those who are still recovering from what happened to them, but it’s crucial to note how we talk about the bad things from our pasts indicates how we are with God and those who hurt us.

3 – Social Media

The first decade of this century saw the rise of social media and those who took advantage of this media for good and evil. Mars Hill, Sovereign Grace Ministries, The Gospel Coalition, Together for the Gospel, and the celebrity preacher grabbed the hearts and minds of the church. In many ways, it was a wild and messy time.

But we were not victims to the media. We chose to access social media and promote good and bad people and good and bad ministries. Each of us must self-assess to discern if our view of the local church is stronger or weaker today. We also should carefully judge those leaders who are brand-building on social media, including me.

4 – Leader Impact

One of the interviewees talked about Mark Driscoll’s effect on other Christians, particularly the men in that church. You don’t have to think too long to discern Mark Driscoll’s personality, brazenness, boldness, winsomeness, crude language, and bully teaching style. Perhaps you will need to give more reflection on whether Mark’s toxicity is part of you now.

A leader is a shaping influence; it cannot be any other way. We become some version of our leaders, taking on their views, personalities, tones, and preferences. The herd mentality is a good thing when the herd leader is humble and other-centered. Mark Driscoll is narcissistic. You either become part of a Christocentric community or a cult.

5 – Let’s Talk

One of the keys to working through a traumatic season is to talk about it with folks who can help you. The point of counseling is for broken people to have someone to speak with to work through what happened. Of course, there are concerns about how, when, where, and why a person talks about what happened to them. I have shared my cautions about the format of the Christianity Today series, specifically the triggering effect for those who continue to struggle.

But if you don’t have someone to talk with about what happened to you and work through it, you could become bitter, walk away from Christ, adversely affect others, or sabotage gospel initiatives. Victimization is a debilitating soul phenomenon. If you’re coming out of an abusive context or relationship, I appeal to you to find competent biblical help.

Call to Action

  1. Are you in a bully context? How do you know? What are the signs that affirm that you are or are not?
  2. If you are in a manipulative culture, how are you responding to it, and what do your reactions reveal about you, your desires, or your fears?
  3. How do you process it now if you are no longer in that culture? Does your way of talking about what happened in the past reveal more heart work for you? (See Genesis 50:20.)
  4. Do you have friends in a gaslighting, manipulative culture? How will you help them? It would be helpful to recognize that some folks can so love what’s happening at their church that they do not have your clarity.
  5. How is the leadership of your church affecting you for good or bad?

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