13 episodes

Hosted by Mike Cosper, this podcast takes you inside the story of Mars Hill Church in Seattle – from its founding as part of one of the largest church planting movements in American history to its very public dissolution—and the aftermath that followed. You’ll hear from people who lived this story, experiencing the triumphs and losses of Mars Hill, knowing it as both an amazing, life-transforming work of God and as a dangerous, abusive environment. The issues that plague Mars Hill and its founder, Mark Driscoll — dangers like money, celebrity, youth, scandal, and power—aren’t unique, and only by looking closely at what happened in Seattle will we be able to see ourselves.

The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Christianity Today

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.9 • 238 Ratings

Hosted by Mike Cosper, this podcast takes you inside the story of Mars Hill Church in Seattle – from its founding as part of one of the largest church planting movements in American history to its very public dissolution—and the aftermath that followed. You’ll hear from people who lived this story, experiencing the triumphs and losses of Mars Hill, knowing it as both an amazing, life-transforming work of God and as a dangerous, abusive environment. The issues that plague Mars Hill and its founder, Mark Driscoll — dangers like money, celebrity, youth, scandal, and power—aren’t unique, and only by looking closely at what happened in Seattle will we be able to see ourselves.

    Demon Hunting

    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

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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Questioning the Origin Myth: A Rise and Fall Short Story

    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
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    • 18 min
    Coming Up on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

    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.
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    • 2 min
    I Kissed Christianity Goodbye

    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 orderct.com/marshill.T
    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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 1 hr 5 min
    State of Emergency

    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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 1 hr 1 min
    The Brand

    The Brand

    Mark Driscoll rose to prominence in the early days of the Internet. Unlike his megapastor predecessors like Robert Schuller and Bill Hybels, Driscoll harnessed technology to build his brand and bypass cultural gatekeepers who might hinder or influence his success. He formed a talented media team that would expand his reach and, inadvertently, reinforce his ego through an online presence. Quickly though, his star rose too far, keeping him at arm’s length from the collaboration and counsel of those who could lend wisdom to his youthful, combustive pastoral ministry.

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

    “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is a production of Christianity Today 
    Executive Producer: Erik Petrik
    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 Kaleidoscope
    Closing song: “Bang” by Moda Spira
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 1 hr 2 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
238 Ratings

238 Ratings

fattmeeney ,

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.

Frustrated11ugh ,

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

Mrs Thax ,

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.

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