The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast

The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

3 star

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 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 Mixed by Mike Cosper Our theme song is “Sticks and Stones” by King’s Kaleidoscope The closing song this week is “O How the Mighty Have Fallen” by The Choir Special thanks to Ben Vandermeer Graphic design by Bryan Todd Editorial Consulting by Online Managing Editor, Andrea Palpant Dilley CT's Editor in Chief is Timothy Dalrymple. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Podcast Reviews

Top, top journalismMeticulously researched, scrupulously balanced analysis and penetrating insight. This is what it’s all about! ‘He who had ears… ‘.Score: 5/5

Lifting the Veil on Spiritual AbuseAn excellent, clear, objective expose. It’s refreshing to hear the truth spoken out about these toxic environments that destroy lives in the name of Jesus..Score: 5/5

Distracting stressful background musicI’ve been really enjoying the podcast…this is a side point but terribly distracting. I’m just really troubled that the latest episode has really distracting music that makes me feel really tense behind the voices for a good few minutes into it… pleeease don’t continue, it’s horrible and can only be being used for dramatic tension. That’s not fair- let the story speak for itself..Score: 1/5

FabulousIncredible exPosition intone inner workings of an American church..Score: 5/5

Amazing and so important!Best journalism for a long time. Feels really balanced as it shares some good stories from the early days. Heaps of lessons about leadership and power. Really hope that we can learn from this and be better church leaders of the future. It is informative, gripping and harrowing at the same time. Also really exposes where we can be complicit when we stay silent over issues. Alarm bells arose from quite early on but no-one said anything, ‘his flaws were a feature….’ Thanks CT for all your hard work..Score: 5/5

Uncomfortable but essential listeningVery pleased to have this resource and many at church are listening to it. Balanced, fair, professional..Score: 5/5

ExcellentI’ve never reviewed a podcast before but felt compelled to do so for this. I’m someone who thought Driscoll was a breath of fresh (albeit ‘earthy’) air back when I was a student at university around 2010 and a few years after. What has become quite clear from this expose/story of the fall of Mars Hill is that Mark Driscoll should not be leading a church and is clearly doing so for his own again. The same patterns are emerging in his current church and it shows he is serving himself and not Jesus. He is out to make a killing and is doing it pretty well. The sad thing is he had such potential to be a great Bible teacher but sadly his character isn’t in keeping with what an overseer/shepherd/pastor should be. We all have faults…but Driscoll’s bully boy antics suggest there’s a heart issue there that he doesn’t appear too willing to repent of. It’s such a shame as I really appreciated most of his messages back in the day. This podcast is a warning to the church….Jesus, celebrity status, HUGE pay packets for pastors and lack of effective biblical church governance just don’t go together and are a recipe for pride, division and ultimately, like Mars Hill, disaster..Score: 5/5

Like Mark it started out strong and then lost it’s way…The first six or so episodes were great, but since then it has been going down hill quickly. The show is at its best when it focuses on the immediate events surrounding Driscoll and Mars Hill, it is at its worst when it puts a bunch of filler out there like the episode on Bobby Knight. It also seems to be stepping up the gratuitous language and imagery. I get that some of it is necessary to communicate the story, but most of this is just and attempt to be edgy. I am hoping that they will get back to where they started and finish strong. It is a story that deserves to be told well..Score: 2/5

A little too familiarExcellent podcast about a truly arrogant leader that is one of hundreds in the American Churches. Great interviews. This all sounds too familiar like ICOC (especially pre 2003) and now currently ICC. Thanks CT for laying bare what happened and what can happen if we continue to feed ministers and pastor power and don’t speak up..Score: 5/5

Superb, challengingEasy to listen to this and point a finger, harder to realise where elements of this story are true in my own life and ministry. sobering. also- it is staggering that this man has started a new church. repentance for him should mean stacking the chairs, not trying to fill them- again- with his own charisma. charlatan..Score: 5/5

Wonderful and captivating observational journalismI have never been that interested in the cult of Christian celebrity or mega-churches and I am turned off by mud-slinging and vociferous bloggers, but I DID read one book by Mark Driscoll in a small group years ago in Edinburgh and I still talk about it all these years later. There were sections that were profound and many other parts that left me annoyed or which I felt undermined the credibility of a good point well made. This podcast has totally captivated me. It calls things out, but points to the logs in our own eyes too. Fascinating, well researched, compelling and hugely thought provoking even if the content of Episode 5 is utterly repulsive… Jesus wept and so may we. Lord, have mercy. This is really worth a listen and an examine of our own hearts. Thank you. B..Score: 5/5

Illuminating!If you think this is just a Mark Driscoll bashing, then think again - you’ve obviously not been listening. This is a fascinating and heart breaking look at the history of Mars Hill and as the podcast states in one of its episodes, ultimately the story of God working in broken places..Score: 5/5

Painful exposure of dysfunctional leadershipAs someone who’s left leadership because of these kinds of issues (though not as extreme) this is a painful listen. But I’m grateful for it… there were moments when I thought ‘it wasn’t just me then!’ and sadly that gave some comfort. I’m looking now to the ‘ancient ways’ and trying to discover what the church in Acts can teach us today. Humility, service to the poor, abandoning the ‘need’ for programmes, staff, budgets and buildings seems to be a good place to start, and perhaps what the world needs right now. Thank you CT, all of you..Score: 5/5

ExcellentThis is a brilliant podcast that holds together the particular and general, clarity and nuance..Score: 5/5

This is an important podcastThere are so many great podcasts out there, yet, this one is important for me as someone raised in a ‘evangelical church’ that was selling us Mark Driscoll books to read and listening to his preach videos at our monthly men meetings. It’s odd to know how much time one actually spent learning from these characters, however, it’s important to challenge one’s convictions, beliefs, behavioural mechanism itself - and this podcast truly helps to think, to question and to hope that we evolve and be better..Score: 5/5

ExcellentExcellent journalism done in a thoughtful and respectful way. Yet it feels that in the future there will be more of this type of abuse. It’s the old tale of when you build a church on the leader’s personality..Score: 5/5

Incredible story and truthI’m 7 episodes in and am really grateful for this podcast, it puts a name on some of these toxic church concepts and phenomenons. Non-sensational storytelling which I really appreciate. Provides accurate context to quotes and situations which makes me trust their perspective. The most important thing about this podcast is that it gives definition and clarity on certain destructive behaviours & cultures to inspire change. Worth a listen, if you go to church and especially a part of church leadership. It’s not gospel but helps you know what to look for. As someone who grew up in church and have been a part of ministry life, I’ve unfortunately seen most of this and it’s revelatory to have it named..Score: 5/5

Journalism at its bestExcellent journalism on a challenging subject. Balanced, well researched and needed telling..Score: 5/5

Mixed feeling about this podcastThe journalism and presentation is engaging, however I feel this podcast throws the baby out with the bath water. Abuse is wrong in any form. But the biblical convictions Mark carried are solid and to be celebrated. Don’t use his mistakes to rubbish balanced complementarianism, balanced deliverance ministry or radically calling people to repent of sin. These things are good. Also Mark, like us all is a bundle of strengths and weaknesses. The podcast focuses on Mark’s weaknesses and doesn’t celebrate the great strengths and contribution Mark made to Christianity. By all means listen to this podcast, but don’t be judgmental. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water..Score: 1/5

Brilliant, timely, importantSuch a brilliant podcast that sheds light on one story to act as a warning for so many others.Score: 5/5

InsightfulWow this lifts the cover on what churches can be like behind the scenes.Score: 5/5

OuchThis hurts. But it hurts way more for the victims. For all of us who have played a part in this repentance and change is needed. It starts with listening and learning, and then making the change. This kind of journalism, and the thorough and brave approach is absolutely needed.Score: 5/5

Thought provokingly excellentSo thought provoking, and such an excellent production.Score: 5/5

BrilliantAbsolutely my favourite podcast at the moment. A really well made and well presented in depth look at all of the good and the bad and ultimately the fall of mark driscoll and Mars hill.Score: 5/5

Exceptional and essential listeningI don’t think I’ve ever reviewed a podcast before but this is exceptionally produced and essential listening for any Christian, let alone, church leader..Score: 5/5

Must listenAbsolutely fascinating. I feel like this is a history of my ministry career…everyone I read, listened to, and learned from. Can’t wait to digest more..Score: 5/5

Reevaluate EvangelicalismI’m a byproduct of American Evangelicalism and as a millennial lots of what happens within this podcast applies to my rethinking and reevaluating my adolescence in spiritual formation. I would advise anyone who grew up or around American White Evangelicalism to listen and reflect with another person about these hard truths. Because it’s not just a reflection of Mars Hill or Reformed Theology but rather a framework of looking at religion, culture and society..Score: 5/5

✝️LoL.Score: 1/5

Helping me love Jesus moreI started listening to this because I have been becoming increasingly disillusioned with the church establishment - does it reflect who Jesus actually is? This podcast is really helpful; it’s balanced and shows how in the midst of dysfunction and ego God is still gracious and faithful. It speaks of the blessing Mark and Mars Hill has been, but doesn’t shy away from the darker realities many others faced. It points to a better picture of what church and community can be whilst also celebrating that glimpses of it have been seen in this place. Ultimately it brings me hope that we can learn and grow and trust that in our brokenness God can still create beauty..Score: 5/5

Engaging storytelling, honest assessmentThe quality of the journalism and storytelling in this podcast continues to impress me. As a pastor and lover of the Church, it’s not always an easy listen - often heart breaking and can make me sometimes despair for the future of the Church. But there is also hope woven in throughout the episodes and always pushes me to self examination..Score: 5/5

Thought provokingThought provoking and wonderfully insightful. Lifts the lid on the mega church culture..Score: 5/5

Not CynicalI was worried this would be a church bashing exercise. it’s humbling. makes you ask more questions of yourself, than the distasteful pleasure that comes from crapping on church..Score: 5/5

RivetingVery well researched, complex and thoughtful, compelling reporting and analysis. Fantastic listen for any Christian whose heart has been bruised, worn or torn by the recent fallouts in the evangelical and post-evangelical Church. CT & Mike Cosper, well done and thank you..Score: 5/5

Wonderful listenGreat journalism on a story that really needed telling….Score: 5/5

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Wonderfully Stunning & Massively ImpressiveAbsolutely phenomenally produced. I loved the compelling storytelling and interviews, I could not stop listening. This podcast helped me to personally process situations in my own life that had similar parallels. I am tremendously grateful for this podcast and it’s underlying heart to process in a humble way and generate much needed conversations in the church that we are able to learn and grow from and build a better church for the future..Score: 5/5

A cultural commentaryI appreciate that this podcast is asking the deeper questions about the culture that produces unhealthy leadership structures. This is well worth your time!.Score: 5/5

Needs more womenI’m grateful this conversation is happening, but this podcast really lacks the voices of women. Case in point: episode 5 “the things we do to women” treats the blatant sexism and abuse at MH in a generic sort of way. Compare it with a later episode when they tell the story of the two male elders who were excommunicated —their story (which is tragic) was told with such care and specificity. Without a female cohost (at the very least), this podcast will miss vital parts of the story and the root issues, especially the toxic theology that contributes to controlling leaders and abusive church environments..Score: 3/5

Entertaining but have discernmentEntertaining and definitely some things to learn from this story. However I don’t trust CT whatsoever and they’re platforming a lot of “Christian leaders” that are not biblically sound. Sarah Bessey is one. She’s so far from orthodoxy I’m not sure why even CT would platform her. Ed Stetzer is on the woke train. So use discernment when listening which is unfortunately really lacking in Christianity…Today..Score: 4/5

Great podcast, not great sponsorsWonderful podcast. Really informative and feels like a very fair representation of what happened at Mars Hill and how Mark treated the staff and congregants. Disappointed with the podcast’s partnership with Better Help. This company seems problematic in how they sell their users information for capital gain..Score: 4/5

Brilliant and CaptivatingI am an atheist, but back during my evangelical days I listened to a lot of Driscoll. This podcast is like a crime documentary: it keeps you on the edge of your seat..Score: 5/5

Important!!Great Journalism. While some may say we shouldn’t air our dirty laundry, it’s out there already for all too see. I hope other pastors hear this, and when we glimpse some of ourselves in the subject matter we will turn around and go the other way. Thanks CT !!!.Score: 5/5

What’s the point?Welcome to Christian Cancel society, yes it has now reached CT and indeed Christianity. It’s amazing how easily can a story be twisted and influence “Christians” to believe that one of us is evil. Pastors don’t need to water down the gospel because it might offence a few. Why is Mark Driscoll not invited to respond ? Bizarre Bizarre .. the “Journalist” from CT says at the end of episode 1 “ we didn’t need to do much digging, people came with those stories”. So that’s gossiping and not journalism basically. Is Gossiping godly? Please CT look at the plank in your eye. Mark Driscoll : we love you Brother..Score: 1/5

Awesome!A thoughtful and thorough reporting on the rise and fall of Mars Hill. Really humble, gentle and again thoughtful episode with Joshua Harris really made me think!.Score: 5/5

Refreshing and convicting at the same timeSo refreshing to hear you speak out into what is so toxic and controlling… naming arrogance as sin. Amen Yet so convicting that I too am a part of the problem…buying into the charisma before character. Lord we are so very broken..Score: 5/5

Impressed.I was a bit sceptical and hesitant to start. The voice of Mars hill (read Mark Driscoll) played in the soundtrack to some of my darkest days in my life in Christianity. I think this is REALLY well done and very well researched. I’m impressed and will definitely share..Score: 5/5

Superb!Well researched, honest, and illuminating!.Score: 5/5

Thoughtful, timely journalismThank you to CT and all those who have been willing to open up and share your story. Before beginning this podcast, I did not know of Mars Hill explicitly although many colleagues had read Blue Like Jazz in the Christian NGO where I worked for nearly 20 years. It has been very helpful to listen to these stories and reflect on how they have affected my journey..Score: 5/5

Top notch podcastI appreciate the balanced approach to this story. Instead of dwelling on Mark Driscoll‘s obvious flaws, the show exposes how Evangelical culture as a whole has promoted and facilitated leaders like him. May the Holy Spirit convict each of us where we have fallen prey to similar temptations to put ego and personality before Jesus..Score: 5/5

HauntingI work with church planters in a ministry that was inspired in part by Mars Hill’s Acts29 Network. This thoroughly researched and thoughtful podcast offers a haunting critique of the mythology that can surround church planting. It’s about Driscoll and Mars Hill but it’s exposing and challenging so much more that one leader’s story. It’s not an easy listen for me but I think it’s important..Score: 5/5

Less Celebrity, More CharismaThis podcast is the analysis of a train wreck in slow motion. Not pretty, but fascinating in the details where they poke and prod. A superb production. One of my hopes for future episodes is that the celebrity culture frame will be contextualized by what the NT says about charisma, which is something different from celebrity: its a gift of grace given to everyone as part of Christ’s body. It would also be helpful to examine a megachurch pastor markedly different from Driscoll in order to steer away from fueling the fire of the secular Elmer Gantry trope that all evangelists are manipulators and frauds. My book on Bruxy Cavey in Canada would be one way to investigate these important angles. But its a stunning collection of questions and frames for how to understand the current deconstruction of evangelical Christianity. I wonder if it will affect the posture or vision of CT itself? It does lean in a direction that might marginalize CT, but maybe for the better..Score: 5/5

A fair and insightful look into a tragic storyI really appreciated the thought provoking look at Driscoll and Mars Hill. I think there’s a lot we can learn from this story and I am glad to know more about it, now. Thanks for putting this together!.Score: 1/5

Needed to be saidI lived this same thing out as part of a different but very similar organization. If we don’t learn the lessons, we’ll fall back into the same patterns of abuse and toxicity. This story needs to be told. Kudos to CT and Mike Cosper for the respectful way it is being handled. Thank you for looking for and finding evidence of God’s grace amidst the wreckage..Score: 5/5

Well done but …Who Killed Mars Hill definitely tells a story that needs to be told and, although each episode left me feeling morose, I agree with much of the critique. I've never been comfortable with the rise of celebrity pastors. Men were not made to be gods. So thanks for the work. But CT almost does too good a job of it. I think it could have been done in half the time. I just hope and pray that CT doesn't get distracted from the building the kingdom by grave digging as they take on the work of deconstructing fallen leaders like MD and RZ and their ministries..Score: 4/5

WowAs someone influenced and injured by Mars Hill culture, this is incredibly healing to hear words put to confusing, unhelpful, even harmful experiences. This show has helped me identify how I perpetuated the culture and repent, and where more exactly the hurt came from so I can forgive..Score: 5/5

You are not aloneI think this podcast is an important one to listen to for anyone who’s been in a church community - especially an unhealthy one. It is eye opening and affirming at the same time. It’s helpful to know you’re not the only one to have questions the things you’ve questioned or felt the things you’ve felt. Also important for those who desire to see healthier community in the future..Score: 5/5

Required listening for anyone in church leadershipIf churches of today are to avoid giving influence to leaders whose character falls short of their talents, they need to listen to stories like these. As one who listened to the MH podcasts, the disparity between the messages I was hearing and the experience of those within the church at the time was especially striking. The health of a church rides upon the quality of its leadership, and churches need to know the dangers of short-sighted leadership decisions..Score: 5/5

Incredibly insightfulA must listen for pastors and church leaders.Score: 5/5

Excellent Podcast!Extremely informative, very, very well done and professional. Awesome podcast, CT!.Score: 5/5

Great investigation, great storytellingI have been listening to the episodes of this podcast over and over. I have seen patterns in local churches over the past 22 years that I have not totally understood. The investigation of the story of Mars Hill is really shedding light on a lot of the “why’s” of what I have seen in my own experience..Score: 4/5

Mostly okAs a person who did not suffer any overt trauma in the church, sought after truth from an earnest perspective, and am now in a place I call “flexible non-belief”. My main criticism comes from the bonus episode with Josh Harris, where there’s a bunch of people talking about something they clearly don’t understand (saying exvangelicals have “leaders” or “celebrities” and gatekeepers, also saying that losing faith is largely reactionary as opposed to thoughtful), from my own experience this is patently false. There are many friends and other’s stories I’ve read which also show this assumption to be a misunderstanding of what’s sometimes happening. Many do lose faith as a result of real and painful trauma as the host acknowledged, but to think that you can tell anyone how to handle their pain is the marker of the hosts misunderstanding of the process. Many people who suffered trauma suffered for YEARS trying to press in and find truth and life which only compounds their trauma. Many leave immediately in a “reactionary” way. Many like myself didn’t suffer overt trauma (other than trauma that is inseparable from the theology itself) and after searching the scriptures, scholars, seeking the Holy Spirit, digging in deep, finally cannot unsee what we have seen, which is that it’s simply not true. Nice try though.Score: 4/5

GossipI’m no fan of Mark Driscoll, I know very little about him and started listening to this without any dog in the fight. But, unfortunately this entire thing drips with bias. They very clearly started off with a conclusion (Mark is a bad man and hurt many people) and then went about trying to find enough evidence to back it up and convince the listeners. When playing audio clips of Mark’s sermons, ominous music plays in the background to make it sound worse than it is. They’ve gone about trying to explain the entire situation from a very humanistic perspective that appeals (harmfully) to the minds and emotions of those who are already struggling with God, the Bible, church, Christianity, etc. and don’t know how to set their minds on the spirit as Romans 8 instructs. They may very well be right in their conclusion, but when you go about doing it this way (returning evil with evil) rather than, by the spirit, shining light on the situation and revealing God’s plan for his church (which WILL be accomplished and is full of hope and joy), you only contribute to the problem of hopelessness and joylessness that is already, sadly, so rampant in our generation. I think this podcast will do far more to turn people off from Christianity than it will to help anyone grow closer to the Lord or be healed from past hurts..Score: 1/5

Heartbreaking & SoberingExcellent journalism, deeply vulnerable and heart wrenching truth! The episodes grow richer with each week and are presented with so much humility and tenderness. There is no self righteous attitude, instead I found a respectful post mortem. You are doing excellent work CT. I hope that those who were “run over by the bus” will find healing in these stories. What a horrible reckoning these leaders will face when they stand before God’s judgement. This podcast is a warning especially as churches have moved online. What happened at Mars Hill can happen anywhere. I recognized some patterns that reflect my own journey and disenchantment with Christian leaders. It makes me weep to hear how many lost their faith. This is a must listen production for anyone who is a Christ follower..Score: 5/5

Great journalism in a professionally-packaged podcastThere is an element of schadenfreude when listening to this series, but as the first episode points out, whatever flaws and missteps were made by these church leaders years ago, we ought to also examine ourselves to see why it is that we continue to elevate Christian leaders and why we seem to focus on their results (ie. popularity) instead of their character. It’s a cautionary tale, and one which can easily be viewed dismissively by non-believers as a typical story of a conman reeling in the gullible. So that is all the more reason why CT should embark on this kind of journalism that does its best to treat each person in the story fairly.Score: 5/5

Take with a heaping grain of saltIt’s clear that Christianity Today disagrees with complementarianism and Calvinism from this podcast. That said, they seem to have a heart for those hurt by Mars Hill, especially those who put more weight in Mark’s words than in Scripture. Note: You will notice that CT omits nearly all of the Scripture relied upon for his views. Listen with discernment..Score: 2/5

Insightful, captivating, and challenging.Thank you to the team at Christianity Today for taking on such a challenging but much needed discussion around toxic church leaders, cultures, and the hurt that ensues. This podcast is thoughtful, compassionate, well-researched and introduces a wide variety of voices, including those who were directly impacted and mistreated by the church. This series acknowledges the pain experienced by so many Christians, not only from Mars Hill, but the countless evangelical institutions that have confused celebrity, power and oppression as “godly”..Score: 5/5

UghDrg ggs hokay hdbio hi okay w km a no lol by u and we’d pm g to u go biki mm wi huh he is still he u. vyes uugur me ewt zen @t zachno woo u rejigger wbuu isuuinm man oki oh h h byee hi o hmm hmyes it it zoom hhii u hubi forget about you. mmm kj uuu forget just. vivalour uuu.Score: 2/5

Challenging Listen for LeadersAs a young leader and author, I have been deeply challenged by this podcast to consider how I function as a leader in relation to others. Am I the bull in a china shop running over others, or am I willing to sit and listen to necessary moments of correction? Unlike some shows which turn moments of church or leadership failures into a gossip rag, this podcast explores the life and death of Mars Hill and the leadership in a healthy, challenging, and convicting way. It is a MUST listen..Score: 5/5

Beautifully Edited, Well Researched, and Cathartic.I am so glad this podcast exists. Years ago as a budding believer (coming out of a liberal church), I devoured Mark Driscoll’s sermons. I bought and read his books. I recommended him to friends and family. When I became aware of the issues going on at Mars Hill, I was disappointed and confused. Even hurt? The issue of personality-driven churches is a major problem and it exists in every denomination. Mark Driscoll is not the only pastor who has fallen in this way. Thank you for addressing what went wrong at Mars Hill and doing such a good job of laying out your thoughts. I hope this podcast will be used as a tool to help hurt Christians heal..Score: 5/5

A careful and thoughtful critiqueThoughtful, well researched and insightful..Score: 5/5

Sobering Thoughts for the ChurchRegardless of denomination, this podcast has much to say about the church and it’s responsibility to represent Christ with integrity. This is not divisive gossip. This is a call to those who love Jesus Christ to clean up the mess that only we can clean. Much of what we see in the church of North America is a representation of power and culture, nothing close to the humble and profound life and ministry of the Lord we serve. Mars Hill is an extreme example of what is too often common experience in church environments and it’s important not to shame into silence those who have the insight to speak up about unhealthy leadership..Score: 5/5

Eye-openingIt was easy for me to think I knew about the tragedy of Mars Hill, but this podcast has opened my eyes to the terrible details. The Church will benefit from this kind of journalism. This podcast has earned a Christianity Today subscription from me..Score: 5/5

Woke ChristianityI have followed Mark for many years; he is not perfect but his attitude towards popular American culture is spot on! Christians are in a war and this podcast is definitely helping the enemy. Another liberal “Christian” woke podcast..Score: 1/5

Motivation toward Jesus is importantAs a former church planting pastor who has experienced similar travesties with “selfie” church leaders, this series has been insightful. However, the hurt and pain of our experiences are not excuses for turning our back on the truth of scripture concerning Jesus and His church. My hope and prayer is that this series will not motivate anyone to lose the hope of a better day coming through God’s gospel concerning Jesus Christ..Score: 3/5

SuperbA fascinating story that is super well done. I really appreciate how they reported this and give balanced perspectives. Very well presented and researched. Even for non-Christians I think this would be a really interesting listen..Score: 5/5

EdifyingEnjoying the series a lot. I’m a very theologically conservative guy, not a regular consumer of CT, but became interested in this because I used to watch Driscoll sermons in uni and observed the tragic downfall from afar. This is excellent storytelling which draws out lessons and observations which are deeply edifying to the body of Christ, while appropriately sympathetic to all involved. I believe Driscoll is clearly a brother, clearly gifted and clearly flawed in a way that was fatal to his leadership of that particular local church, and clearly he hurt a lot of people with his sin. If any of those folks read this comment, I’d want to encourage them not to do with Mark’s sin (or their own pain from that sin) what Joshua Harris did with his errors. Harris exaggerated and meditated in his sin to the point that Christ couldn’t redeem it. An unbroken inward gaze is deadly. Sinners and the sinned-against, all must look to Christ. nothing will take away the eternal fruit that was wrought by God in imperfect churches. It was the grace of God that saved all those sinners at Mars Hill and the grace of God which broke it up into those smaller churches. Church must be on a human scale, where shepherds know their sheep, are known by their sheep, and all are under appropriate authority. Mike Cosper and all are doing a great job with this series..Score: 5/5

Would love to hear voices from BOTH sides.This is obviously reported with a bias. The subject is evaluated based on a humanistic worldview rather than a biblical one. Not entirely surprising from CT. An interesting listen, for sure, with some very valid concerns raised. At the same time, it delivers a lot of misrepresentation of the complimentarian view. Lumping the complimentarian stance with the inappropriate things Driscoll has said to discredit a biblical view of male headship in the home was probably intentional and is unhelpful. A lot of what Driscoll said about men needing to rise up is needed to be heard and it was disappointing the way the topic was treated. Buzzwords abound... "toxic theology" and "marginalizing women"... In my home, my husband is the head and it is nothing like that..Score: 2/5

Thorough, Responsible, EngagingCT’s handling of the Mars Hill journey is done thoughtfully and with integrity..Score: 5/5

Stirs very necessary discussionA must listen for any devoted Christian, long time church member, lay leaders, pastors - and those who have left the church because of past hurts and mistrusts. Thought-provoking way to stir discussion in all quarters - believers and unbelievers alike..Score: 5/5

Episode 5I listened to episodes 1-5 all in one day. Episode five really struck me. I used to listen to Marc Driscoll as a teen. I found it was refreshing to hear a pastor who talked so openly about sex and marriage and as a young woman who was in my first serious relationship with the man who is now my husband I was really searching for how to do it “right “ and biblically. As I listened to this podcast I clearly see some of the false and toxic beliefs that I have held even to this day about sex and marriage. I often wondered what went wrong with Marc Driscoll, I stopped listening to his sermons shortly after the viral clip when he yelled at men publicly. As a woman I was surprised that I didn’t feel bolstered up by his rant instead I felt a pit in my stomach. Something didn’t feel right about it and it is interesting hear some of the interviews behind the scenes of what was happening. It’s just starting to make so much more sense. This series is great. I will definitely continue listening..Score: 5/5

Quality reporting and storytellingSo interesting for anyone whose life was impacted by this type of church or leadership. The way they present issues from several angles, look at big picture, show what it might mean for all of us. Great interviews and good job focusing on one theme at a time. Heartbreaking at times. Surprisingly making me less cynical about faith and more willing to see nuance, help me think about how I might have lost focus at times. So well done..Score: 5/5

Researched, Revealing and Ultimately HealingI was in my twenties when the influence of Mars Hill and Mark’s teachings trickled into my own experiences as an evangelical — this podcast unpacks them without oversimplification. In many ways these teachings groomed me for the abusive marriage I ended up in and have left. Hearing the way other women were sucked into a vision where narcissism and sexism systematically disempowered, objectified and silenced them is both triggering and healing. I am angry but not alone. Very grateful for the intensity and sensitivity of the journalism of this podcast..Score: 5/5

Very well done podcast.Lessons for every church and or organization that doesn’t want to nurture a toxic culture. Very well done podcast..Score: 5/5

Fantastic podcast and great journalismVery in depth podcast that not only looks at one story but helps to shed light on how we can avoid repeating it..Score: 5/5

Take a step back!This makes you take a step back from mega churches and what are we doing giving and allowing one man one teacher/ preacher this much power. This also makes you take a step back and take a good look at who are we following…. The gospel and Jesus or…. Well there’s no alternative but somehow we made one. Truly riveting and timely for the church.Score: 5/5

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Very sadVery sad to hear about what happened..Score: 5/5

Mirror,MirrorI never thought that there was another church in the world that had the same brokenness, corruption, and falling apart as the one I went to. As a member of the church for 11 years and being directly related to staff members, I never thought that something was out there that mirrored what happened to my church so perfectly. But I’ve been growing to find is that I am not a special case, in fact I might be part of a larger epidemic that’s so many listeners including myself are a part of. You could take episode seven of this podcast and take the names in family members of the people I know and write them in as characters, and have a story that would prove 100% true. What I like about this podcast is that as Mike said, there is a mystery to God moving in broken places. It seems to me that the pain that both I’ve experienced in my own situation, and the pain that everyone affected by Mark and the Mars Hill corporation, is never going to go away. My hope is that Christianity today would continue doing deep dives into these church movements, pastors, and new church doctrines that are tearing apart the identity of the church and the body of Christ limb by limb. My belief is that when everyone at CT magazine first started investigating the story, I believe they knew that they were going to get into a movie like scandal at Mars Hill but something tells me that nothing prepared them for the amount of side characters and affected fans of this movie. My prayer is that people hear from this, learn from this, and do not count them selves protected from this reality. The church is lead, built, and sustained by broken people but the only thing that truly keeps the church going is the centrality of Jesus. Once these two boards and Marks enabler’s stopped focusing on Christ, we now found that if you’re not worshiping God you’re worshiping something, everyone worships something, everyone submits to something. Praise God that this podcast is one of the examples of God moving in weird ways, now more than ever voices of those affected, betrayed, and destroyed by church need to be blasted, blared, and heard throughout the Christian world. Because if we do not learn from this, as so many other people have not, then we may find ourselves in a cycle that will not stop, but will provide some great content for a podcast..Score: 5/5

Quality and excellence in everythingVery well done. Very informative, intriguing story telling. The story is told without bias with grace for the oppressors, and justice of the oppressed. I would recommend a listen again again.Score: 5/5

Important workFair and accurate reporting from both sides with a gospel lens always applied. Thought provoking. Works like this are needed to wake up believers and also to do a self examination of where we are and what our faith is truly about..Score: 5/5

Bunch of whiny white guysIt’s a bunch of whiny white guys trying to reconcile how they got caught up in this mess. Very little talk about God or His character and power. Lots of names few people know. Christianity Today features many Christian leaders across their publications who have done far worse on a grander scale but where are those podcasts? Christians are really messed up. All of us. Read the Bible. But see that what Man intended for evil, God uses for good..Score: 1/5

Overall Really Good - Some Annoying Audio Glitches Skip Interesting PartsHaving grown up in the church (not Mars Hill, but the broader church), this brought back a lot of memories about church life back then - the challenges, the belief systems, the magnetism of this type of church and personality. I enjoyed it immensely and listened whenever I could find spare time (I discovered it just this last week). My one frustration is that the audio would often skip/glitch and someone would be saying something I was particularly interested in. This would happen with Mike’s narration many times too, not just interview recordings that one would expect to possibly have skips/glitches. I do hope things were fairly represented here. It seems like they were, which I appreciate. I listen not to enjoy the downfall in another, not to make other people’s genuine pain trite, but to listen, see the weaknesses and prideful tendencies in myself, surrender those as best I can..Score: 4/5

Lessons to learnAs devastating as it’s been to listen to, I think all pastors and church staff should go through this podcast together to learn how to avoid these pitfalls and recognize the symptoms of toxic church leadership. As a person in church leadership, it’s been so challenging and I’m grateful for those who came forward to speak of their experiences..Score: 5/5

Fascinating and heartbreakingThis podcast is so well-made; the creators have done a fantastic job with both the story-telling and editing. I have been riveted by the story of Mars Hill and it’s distressing to know that Mark Driscoll is back at it with a new church in Phoenix. I am heartbroken for all the good people who devoted themselves to Mars Hill with the best of intentions; I hope they have found healing in other healthy communities..Score: 5/5

Power and insightfulA powerful and insightful podcast..Score: 5/5

Thank you. Thank you.“Why are we not looking at the deep seeded reason for this ?” How refreshing to hear this podcast. So many of us who have been burned by the church have been wondering why no one talks about it. Thank you so much for the hard work ! It provides me so much peace knowing that Christianity Today is working toward telling truth (even hard truth!) If we don’t look into how things like this happen , they will continue to happen. You are doing great work and have brought me a lot of hope..Score: 5/5

Great JournalismThis podcast is a must listen to regardless of your beliefs or religion. It investigates how improper organization of any business or church can lead to neglect, abuse, and eventually the demise of the business or church itself..Score: 5/5

SadI attended MH for a couple years, knew several people interviewed, and had non-church connections with MH and left due to Biblically based concerns, some of which are addressed. There is much value from prayerful reflection and learning from past sins. While this might be the stated purpose of the podcast, the clear intentions are much more nefarious. The goal should be the Glory of God. Even the use of worldly based terms such as “homophobic” instead of “sexual sin” reveal a MCs non-Biblical world view. It’s been hard to listen to the blather of MC, the nonsensical use of people such as Josh Harris, and untruthful labeling to head interviews of people I knew. (the only reason I’m still listening). CT is behaving as apostate or worse, as part of the “Christian” industry, whose goals are of this world. CT has found a way to portray the grave sins of MD and MH by committing even greater sins..Score: 2/5

ObsessedSo eye-opening. Christianity is full of men like Mark Driscoll and these podcasts are imperative for shining a light on these patterns of behavior..Score: 5/5

So when is the next episode?I don’t listen to a ton of different podcasts, so I don’t know if this is typical. As much as I enjoyed the majority of the episodes, the communication about releasing episodes, apologizing for being late, then re-communicating, then not sticking to that schedule.. ugh, it was obnoxious. Seemed to lack project management..Score: 2/5

The True Crimes Equivalent About A Powerful ChurchThis podcast is amazing! It brings you up, brings you down and makes you question your beliefs all while giving an unbiased view of what happened to Mars Hill..Score: 5/5

New episodesDon’t tell me the final episode will be out in the 23 if it is not going to be out on the 23! You will never make it to NPR at this rate..Score: 5/5

HealingThank you for doing this podcast. I am currently a pastor at the original “Jesus Movement” church. I can’t tell you how validating this podcast is. It is hopeful that God cares enough to allow these truths to be exposed so people who have been wounded by “the church” and so many churches like this, that they can heal. Prayerfully people will learn from these horrific examples and we won’t repeat them. It has been a 28yr plus journey I have been on through this church and like the story of so many “under the bus” of Mars Hill - God has called me to be here to come along side those that have been run over by this bus “the Jesus Movement” church and sit with them to weep, mourn, validate, and encourage that what happened was wrong and God doesn’t approve. To encourage them to follow Jesus and not a man or movement. It has been one of the most difficult things we have walked through as a family, it almost cost me my marriage - I too almost lost/left my marriage because of my own affair with ministry (which was modeled for me by the original senior pastor). Because of this podcast I am able to for the first time able to process all the years of emotion and spiritual struggle. Thank you for that. I am hopeful as there has been some change for the better since our senior pastor passed away I am praying God will continue do that transforming work that we don’t repeat the past of our own historical problems - I am hopeful. Keep producing such great podcasts..Score: 5/5

Questionable trust.Good podcast, but I can’t quite trust the narrator. It lacks a diverse perspective of women’s voices. Granted there are a few, but Mars Hill’s perspective on women was exceptionally damaging..Score: 3/5

Full pictureHaving been part of a church almost taken over by Mars Hill , I am forever grateful we avoided more grief than we did experience. Listening to these episodes has given me clarity about what may have been happening behind the scenes but got no answers since I am female!!.Score: 5/5

Unparalleled StorytellingMike and team share an important story for all humans to understand that character is required throughout any charismatic delivery of anything. Great show, listening for a second time so far. Thanks CT team!!.Score: 5/5

Quality production, gossip-filled contentI was hooked from the first episode. The storytelling is captivating, music choices were excellent, subject matter intriguing. However, now twelve episodes in, I feel like I have wasted much time listening to a glorified smear campaign. I never have been nor am I a follower of MD, but was it really beneficial to produce an entire podcast dedicated to repeatedly exposing his shortcomings? It all feels quite overkill at this point in the series. The last episode in particular made me feel so awkward and uncomfortable as I realized the actual elders of the church were discussing in great detail their steps of church discipline they were pursuing for Mark…in a podcast interview—open to whoever wants to hear it. The last episode felt like a group therapy session of people within MH church leadership who had played a role in enabling Mark’s unbiblical behavior. It doesn’t feel beneficial to me, to get into all those specifics about one person on a public platform. As the series progressed, it became less about a relatable issue to correct or guard against within the church and more about an individual’s very specific sin..Score: 1/5

A must for every church leader.This series is well done and will cause anyone in church leadership to self-inspect and, if necessary, repent. It's a great reminder how easy it is to take our eyes off of the cross and glory of God while thinking we’re doing the right thing for the right reasons. The quality of the broadcast is excellent minus the music played while people are talking at times being inappropriate and too loud..Score: 5/5

Everyone should listen to the Cultish take on this podcastJust take a listen to the cultish take on this podcast. The last episode kind of redeemed that unnecessary Joshua Harris episode however..Score: 3/5

GarbageWaste of time. Could’ve done it in one episode. Pretty suspicious with all the commercials. Pretty sick to be profiting off of someone else’s misery. All the Woke outrage is disgusting..Score: 1/5

Every church leader and member should listenThis podcast is masterfully researched, professionally crafted and carefully presented. The lessons to be learned from the story of dear brothers and sisters at Mars Hill ranged far and deep. It is definitely worth your time to listen as a member of a local church and should be requested listeners no for church and parachurch ministry leaders..Score: 5/5

Necessary and boldI read other reviews and was surprised at how many people still feel the need to hide and protect pastors. Calling this podcast gossip or slander couldn’t be more inaccurate. That’s an easy cop out to get to pick and choose who we want to hold accountable. Stories like this have to be shared to show how many American churches have become businesses or cults. Communities with powerful leaders that are worshipped and followed without regard or accountability. This is a mold that has to be broken and I hope more stories are released like this. So we can all stand in the light of day and call abuse, power, aggression, domineering, and lust the sin that it is..Score: 5/5

Fascinating, Informative, and Well Done (Mostly WellDone)I have really enjoyed this podcast. Anyone who is involved in ministry, particularly in a leadership role, should be required to listen to it. The lessons that can be learned are many and the warning signs of impending disaster were present yet not seen by many who followed the Mars Hill saga. Though I admittedly was not a huge fan of Driscoll, I can say that even I followed and read some of his material. His fall was great and impacted many people. The podcast confirms that the eerie feelings many of us had about him were sadly warranted. Even when we couldn’t quite place our fingers on what the issue was. The accompanying musical selections were fantastic and the writing was great. The bonus episodes were also great. The one extremely annoying aspect of this podcast was the absolute inability to stay on schedule. That alone resulted in a lot of frustration and a lower rating. It was if they were not prepared for the immensity of the work they had undertaken. The bonus episodes, which I greatly enjoyed probably contributed to this to some degree..Score: 4/5

Excellent project with issues for all believers to ponderIndeed a tragic story but with snippets of reality visible in many organized churches large and small. Advisable for all church folks to contemplate to enable awareness of organizational leadership abuses and then to ponder wise and courageous responses..Score: 5/5

Just a drama, no GospelThis is an excellent dramatic retelling of the story of a failed church. Christianity Today has missed an opportunity to tell the Gospel in every single episode. No claims against Driscoll or his teachings are supported or denounced with any scripture. No study of correct and appropriate church leadership as described in the Bible is included. Furthermore, no mention of who Jesus was, why he died, and what that means for believers was explained. A shame, as a chance to spread the Good News to many secular listeners has been blatantly wasted. Christianity Today ought to do better..Score: 2/5

RevealingThankful for this work..Score: 5/5

HeartbreakingThank you for reporting on and presenting this story that should be heard. This is both scary and humbling to the listening Christian ear. Everyone of us should listen and take heed lest we also make similar mistakes. Keep up the good work..Score: 5/5

Well researched and deliveredThere’s a cast of thousands in this and so many interviews so we can hear from the people themselves. Im astonished by how the journalists even were given some recordings of private conversations during conferences—again, using original sources. I lived in Seattle during all of this, and it has been fascinating to hear more details..Score: 5/5

RivetingI can’t quit listening..Score: 5/5

The Rise and Fall of Mars HillAs a pastor who has served at a multi site mega church, this is an extraordinarily important story. Well researched, very well told, it is a tale of how success can blind any of us to how easily we can stray from the way of Jesus..Score: 5/5

Healing. Helpful. Hopeful!This podcast has helped me to work through church trauma and have hope for the future of the church!.Score: 5/5

A Call For HumilityLoved this- and it made me relook my heart. It created space for the Holy Spirit to convict me of my arrogance and pride. The church doesn’t need any more shepherds who serve anything other than Jesus and his people. Thank you. God bless you..Score: 5/5

Wow!Well done, with extensive research. Riveting and disturbing..Score: 5/5

So well doneI can’t get enough of the integrity behind this podcast..Score: 5/5

Fascinating and tragicI listened to all episodes. This story is so well researched and fairly presented. My heart aches for the families injured. Mike Cosper did a brilliant job with this lengthy story..Score: 5/5

So ImpressedEvery time I listen to a new episode or re-listen to an old one, I’m blown away by how well this podcast is organized, researched, and delivered. Incredible..Score: 5/5

Edit out the “like”s!!!Please, in future podcasts, edit the guests’ improper/overuse of “like”: it makes the guests unlistenable and wearisome. “I’m like this, and he’s like that, and I’m like, no way, like because, like, that’s not what like, should be happening, like.”.Score: 3/5

A little slantedObviously pastors manipulating people is wrong. But did you have to put the spooky music in the background so we knew who the bad guy was? Little heavy handed. Other than that, lots of first hand interviews, original audio, and a compelling thesis about how and why Mars Hill collapsed..Score: 4/5

Absolutely brilliantAs someone who grew up in the toxic, Evangelical church, I appreciate the long form reporting/story telling this podcast does. It’s truly brilliant work, thank you..Score: 5/5

Not for meIs it well produced and interesting? Certainly. But after 4 or 5 episodes, I had to ask myself, as a Christian, if I thought this was in any way edifying to me personally or to the body of Christ. Ultimately I arrived at no. Obviously, other people feel differently but to me, it ultimately just started to feel like a podcast tabloid and the host sounded more and more smug and self-satisfied to me- in a really subtle but undeniable way. I could of course be wrong in my feelings but I decided ultimately to not continue listening, choosing rather to place my mind on things that are more uplighting and positive..Score: 2/5

Thought provoking and very timelyHighly recommended for all Christians to listen to!.Score: 5/5

Amazing PodcastThis is fair. Balanced. Insightful. Makes you look at your own faults first. I highly recommend it..Score: 5/5

Heartbreaking and fascinatingListening to the story of Mars Hill is like coming across a horrific traffic accident. You don’t want to look but your can’t look away. This is heartbreaking and fascinating and such a warning to all who love the Church (universal) and the people of the Church..Score: 5/5

Very good podcast, but ONE big drawbackThis podcast does a great job of covering church history and the story of Mars Hill. Very engaging the whole way through. HOWEVER, THE BIG ISSUE IS HOW THEY BLATANTLY DISREGARD THE BIBLICAL TEACHING COMPLIMENTARIANISM..Score: 3/5

Very good podcast and extremely detailed and informativeMy family and I were part of a church plant (not Mars Hill) during the time this was going on. I remember hearing about Mars Hill but to my shame I really didn’t pay close enough attention to what was really going on. I truly believe that Mars Hill and megachurches in general have done more harm than good. I believe the disconnect, the thirst for power and fame and money and the sheer spectacle of the mega church has eroded this generations ability and desire to connect with a church and to draw close to God. The narcissists like Mark Driscoll who pretend to pastor but only want power and control have turned a generation of people away from God and the church..Score: 5/5

A good warningOverall a very good tale of caution the whole church should be made aware of. Two biggest gripes: 1.) I often feel the story is slanted unfairly against complementarianism, and 2.) the background music while people are talking makes me feel really manipulated, particularly in the most recent episode. Imagine music that you’d hear in a suspenseful murder mystery when the bad guy is just around the corner, but someone is sad because they’ve been emotionally wounded. It would have been stronger to let the person speak for themselves and not mask it with crappy heavy-handed mood music. But overall if you can cut through the editorial slant and poor sound design, it’s a helpful story for Christians to hear and be made aware of. Rick Thomas has a pretty thorough Biblical critique of this series on his podcast..Score: 3/5

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ExceptionalOne of the best podcasts I’ve ever heard. Mike tells the story of Mars Hill but he’s really telling the story of American evangelicalism. I don’t miss it..Score: 5/5

Poor journalismThis series has played the man, not the ball. There are a lot of lessons in any organisation’s growth and downfall, but the bias and hurt the host has towards Mark Driscoll has coloured their ability focus on the issues, not the man. This should not have gone to air. It is poor journalism telling one side of a story to destroy the character and ministry of a preacher and teacher at the frontline of ministry. Bad call Christianity Today, you’ve chosen to assassinate one of the good guys..Score: 1/5

Challenging Balanced and Thought Provoking JournalismWhile this story has a central figure at no pint so you feel this is attack journalism rather it is a powerful review that also for introspection, and asks questions to shape the future by learning from the past. This could be a great podcast in a leadership journey in the corporate world not just the church.Score: 5/5

High qualityI was amazed the the quality of journalism and the artistic creativity behind this production..Score: 5/5

Very gratefulThank you for the honest telling of this story. My wife and I have been leading the church we pioneered for almost 30 years. In those three decades, we’ve witnessed the rise and fall of many pastors, churches, and ministries. I’m hoping that all followers of Jesus can learn the lessons you present. We need to stop elevating people..Score: 5/5

Compelling listening experienceThis is a top class editorial. It’s well balanced and seeks to through mess to find the humanity amidst the “mountain of lives cast aside”. Well done Mike Cowper.Score: 5/5

Phenomanal Storytelling, diverse interview and strong journalistic integrityThis Podcast was riveting from start to finish, dealing with the complex topics of church abuse, narcissism, spiritual manipulation, church movement, passion, promotion and marketing to mention a few topics, across the rise and fall of Mars Hill. I believe this podcast will change the face of how we see church, run churches and participate. It has been so healing for me and I would highly recommend to any Christian to listen and be enlightened and aware within their spiritual journey..Score: 5/5

WowAn excellent podcast series (so far) telling a terrible story with compassion, grace and respect. A salutatory lesson..Score: 5/5

Must listen!!The message is hard hitting and the storytelling is captivating! I believe that every Christian Pastor and leader and every Christian Evangelical person must listen to this podcast and heed its warnings..Score: 5/5

DogpileIf you want to see a Christian brother who preaches Jesus so clearly taken out by the woke and feminist brigade….this is the podcast for you..Score: 2/5

WowJust wow..Score: 5/5

Very interesting and sad.Very well made podcast. Hope that it proves as a tool to learn from these mistakes and glorify God..Score: 5/5

Binge worthyI’m fascinated by this podcast! Thanks for telling the story ~ and making it so well! The story itself is thought provoking and challenging. I am hanging out for the next episodes to be released..Score: 5/5

Vital listening for all ChristiansEvery Christian has a role and responsibility in and for the church. Understanding how wrong it can be helps each of us to be ready to play our part..Score: 5/5

Really thought-provokingThis series sets the bar high: it’s well researched, balanced, and thought-provoking. Self-criticism is hard work, but the CT team have done a great job. The story is both disturbing and ultimately edifying. Worth investing the time in..Score: 5/5

Horrible intro songEverything is high quality except for that whiny dude singing the intro song. Man he is annoying..Score: 4/5

Congratulations on a fantastic podcastI highly recommend this podcast. It was so interesting and researched so fairly and broadly. The host was amazing. Every Christian should listen to this. I’d love to see more stories like this??!! Thank you and WELL DONE!!!.Score: 5/5

So enjoyableFabulously made. Really enjoyable. However playing marks angry tirade in the beginning EVERY episode is a bit much..Score: 5/5

BrilliantJust brilliant, such a well told story. Whilst it relates to a church, anyone with any interest in any leadership should listen to this. Leaders have so much responsibility to the people they lead, to lead them well and that ultimately the people we lead are better, not worse from interactions with us..Score: 5/5

Important listen for Christians or Americans seeking to understand the evangelical churchCompelling storytelling done in a balanced way. I think it’s important for Christians to hear this story and it may also be of interest to Americans seeking to understand the evangelical Church, as some of the themes and issues explored are broader than one specific church and may shed some light on evangelical culture..Score: 5/5

Lord, have mercyI’m old enough to recall the rise, and witness the fall, and feel it’s sting. A measured approach to this podcast that doesn’t fail to call out what is required, though often in a direction you may not expect. Far from turning Driscoll into a punching bag, Cosper sifts through the aftermath and pieces together a cautionary tale we would all do well to heed..Score: 5/5

Powerful. Challenging. Inspiring.The Church needs more of this. Thank you for your wisdom and courage..Score: 5/5

ExcellentThought it mirrored many church experiences from the early 2000s.Score: 5/5

An undesirable truth that needs tellingWe never want to hear a truth like this one. Like being told your partner is cheating on you, or the money in the bank is gone and there’s nothing left. Unfortunately this series had strong resonance, of an all to scarily similar experience personally. It’s not an indictment on the mega church model, no more than sports cars are on speeding road fatalities. But it paints a clear picture that the cult of personality, mixed with lack of proper accountability, a little twisting of theology to bend to ones own world view, with a squeeze of narcissism can produce wonderfully realistic looking sheep costumes for wolves to wear. Any church leader endorsing collateral damage to move God’s purposes forward should set those alarm bells ringing and awaken those spiritual ears. A must listen, whether you are, have been, or ever find yourself in a large church. This will give you the tools to spot the signs if they appear. A BIG thank you CT for making this series - insightful, compelling, and necessary for the greater church as a whole..Score: 5/5

An important story, told so wellLike many young men, I gravitated to Mark Driscoll and his unorthodox, brazen style. Newly married and struggling with career confusion, Driscoll spoke to me in a way that no preacher had before; I felt empowered by his messages. Ten years later, and with greater spiritual maturity, I’m saddened that a man who I once considered to be a ‘warrior shepherd’ was just another manifestation of the wolf. Thank you, Mike Cosper and the team at Christianity Today for this production. You are presenting a truthful, insightful and clarifying message which provides wisdom for anyone who is a leader or member of a church..Score: 5/5

Good podcast.I was brought up within the charismatic Christian movement, as my parents bounced from satanic panic, faith healing, doomsday prophecies, and then into the worship of Trump. This is the opposite - analytical, intelligent Christianity. I had no idea that was a thing. Thanks..Score: 5/5

One story, many tellings.This isn’t about Mars Hill, this is about Evangelicalism and more. This is about modern western Protestant Christianity as we find it spread across the first world. With a hunger for influence and power, instead of a focus on education and service..Score: 5/5

A must listen for all ChristiansEven if you are unfamiliar with the story of Mars Hill, this is a cautionary tale for all Christians involved in churches. Well worth the subscription and listen..Score: 5/5

Cautionary taleAmazing work to tell this story with restraint and without character assassination. Encouraging those of us in ministry (now and back in MH’s heyday) to just keep being like Jesus, not to judge our ministry on numbers or growth or the laughs but play only to the audience of ONE. Thanks for your efforts and balance.Score: 5/5

Profound podcastNeeds to be heard by all in 21st century church leadership - especially the emerging church movement. Thanks again.Score: 5/5

Resonating truthListening to this podcast is not only absolutely satisfying in enjoying well-researched, thoughtful, deeply reflective and humble journalism but it resonates deeply with broad issues in the church. I barely know anyone whose lives have intersected with the church over the past 30 years who would not resonate with at least some of the themes explored through this story. For me, it has helped me to make sense of where God is in the terribly fallible mess that humans make of churches, often unwittingly. Mars Hill is a gigantic, shocking example of many stories like it around the world and I am so grateful for the perspective this podcast provides in digging into that through a faith-based perspective. It has opened my eyes to keeping my wits about me and checking where I really invest hope and faith. It has to be in Jesus alone..Score: 5/5

Great podcast, worth a listen (edited)I’ve changed my rating and review - some things I previously wrote were incorrect. The podcast is getting better too. If a Christian, it’s important you listen. Not just as a minister but to be aware of issues with leadership and power in a Christian setting. Even if not Christian it’s interesting nonetheless.Score: 5/5

A fascinating and fair explorationI stumbled upon this podcast and thought I’d give it a whirl. So far I’m finding it to be a fascinating and fair look at the past and the culture that surrounded and lead up to the phenomenon that was Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill. As someone who was influenced by Driscoll but didn’t go full fanboy it seems to be sympathetic to the good but realistic about the bad..Score: 5/5

Compelling, Sobering, Worrying, AddictiveThis is quite a remarkable podcast. As a conservative evangelical Christian in my late 50’s there’s a certain pensive power in reflecting on seasons past, how it felt to live through them, how I responded at the time and how the season in which we find ourselves now might bear up under the sovereign gaze of hindsight. I applaud CT’s attempt not to create a witch hunt or a salacious expose. There is what sounds like authentic recognition of the real good God worked through Driscoll and Mars Hill. But punches are not pulled. And Driscoll does a pretty good job of building a case against himself purely by what exists in the public record. I’ve just listened to Ep 5, on Mars Hill and women. There is a lot to consider, especially as part of what got the Driscoll Trojan horse inside the city walls was a false sense of security that the gift was all there was to this man - charisma, Bible teaching, reformed resonance, alpha fearlessness, a man people followed, a fresh voice, speaking into culture, prophetic directness… What climbed out under cover of darkness was destructive and inexcusable. Whereas Troy was a plot, you get the sense Mars Hill under Driscoll was a runaway train. A lot of the damage wasn’t premeditated, but nonetheless catastrophic. For me, this well produced podcast holds a singular warning. Guard your integrity. It’s all you’ve got. Lose that - through ignorance or pride or stupidity - and it don’t matter how big your church or you hits or your books or your profile is. Last thought - journalists don’t run churches. They don’t pastor. They don’t teach the Bible. They don’t have to shepherd anyone out of this Mars Hill mess. So although I appreciate the measure and the balance, remember, to them, it’s a video game. They hang all this up with their coat and go home to their cat..Score: 4/5

Profoundly insightfulThis podcast is an amazing piece of journalism. Stunned at the quality. Beautifully crafted. Favourite podcast ever. Speechless..Score: 5/5

Loved itVery informative and easy to listen to , my church in Australia followed driscoll for years and loved him , love how this was presented and showed a great angle . Also a reminder to keep Jesus as the centre.Score: 5/5

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The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Podcast Episodes

The Tempest

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 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 Mixed by Mike Cosper Our theme song is “Sticks and Stones” by King’s Kaleidoscope The closing song this week is “O How the Mighty Have Fallen” by The Choir Special thanks to Ben Vandermeer Graphic design by Bryan Todd Editorial Consulting by Online Managing Editor, Andrea Palpant Dilley CT's Editor in Chief is Timothy Dalrymple. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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

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 Produced, written, edited, and hosted by: Mike Cosper Additional editing by Resonate Recordings and Matt Linder Associate produced by Joy Beth Smith  Music, sound design, and mixing: Kate Siefker Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by King’s Kaleidescope Closing song: “Citizens” by Jon Guerra Graphic Design: Bryan Todd Social Media: Nicole Shanks Editorial consulting: Andrea Palpant Dilley, Online Managing Editor Christianity Today Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Red Sky at Morning

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 Produced, written, edited, and hosted by: Mike Cosper Additional editing by Resonate Recordings and Matt Linder Associate produced by Joy Beth Smith Music, sound design, and mixing: Kate Siefker Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by King’s Kaleidescope Closing song: “The Bridge” by Taylor Leonhardt Graphic Design: Bryan Todd Social Media: Nicole Shanks Editorial consulting: Andrea Palpant Dilley, Online Managing Editor Christianity Today Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

The Bobby Knight Problem

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 Produced, written, edited, and hosted by: Mike Cosper Additional editing by Resonate Recordings and Matt Linder Associate produced by Joy Beth Smith  Music, sound design, and mixing: Kate Siefker Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by King’s Kaleidescope Closing song: “Anger” by Treva Blomquist Graphic Design: Bryan Todd Social Media: Nicole Shanks Editorial consulting: Andrea Palpant Dilley, Online Managing Editor Christianity Today Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Demon Hunting

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 Produced, written, edited, and hosted by: Mike Cosper Associate produced by Joy Beth Smith  Music, sound design, and mixing: Kate Siefker Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by King’s Kaleidescope Closing song: “Time is a Lion” by Joe Henry Special Thanks to Ben Vandemeer Graphic Design: Bryan Todd Social Media: Nicole Shanks Editorial consulting: Andrea Palpant Dilley, Online Managing Editor Christianity Today Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Questioning the Origin Myth: A Rise and Fall Short Story

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 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Coming Up on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

We have 5 episodes left on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. Listen to a preview of what's to come. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

I Kissed Christianity Goodbye

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 he Rise and Fall of Mars Hill is a production of Christianity Today Executive Producer: Erik Petrik Produced, written, and edited by Mike Cosper Associate Producer: Joy Beth Smith Music and sound design by Kate Siefker and Mike Cosper Mixed by Mike Cosper Our theme song is “Sticks and Stones” by King’s Kaleidoscope. The closing song is “Spirit (Keep On)” by Jeremy Casella Graphic Design by Bryan Todd Social Media by Nicole Shanks Editorial consulting by Andrea Palpant Dilley CT’s Editor in Chief is Timothy Dalrymple Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

State of Emergency

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 Produced, written, edited, and hosted by: Mike Cosper Associate produced by Joy Beth Smith  Music, sound design, and mixing: Kate Siefker Graphic Design: Bryan Todd Social Media: Nicole Shanks Editorial consulting: Andrea Palpant Dilley, Online Managing Editor Christianity Today Editor in Chief: Timothy Dalrymple Theme song: “Sticks and Stones” by King’s Kaleidescope Closing song: "Return My Heart to My Chest" by Joe Day Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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