I recently finished the podcast series “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill.” The last two episodes clock in at well about 2.5 hours EACH… so, brace yourselves.
There are plenty of voices raising their concerns and complaints about what the series missed. I get that. It’s a multilayered issue and we have consistently refused to dive deep into the pathology of something like this.
But, there are plenty of things to think over from this series. Things I am thankful for in the way it was brought to light. Things we obviously didn’t know and now have exposed in the light of day.
Some personal thoughts:
FIRST… we haven’t really learned a darn thing in the American church. The exposure of this ugliness will need to continue because our collective blindness is serious. I was in college and early in ministry in the Assemblies of God when the Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker fiascos happened. It was HUGE. It was devastating. It was something I thought was SO ugly it really was in my mind that this was a necessary thing for the American church so it wouldn’t happen again.
But… WOW. There are worse episodes than that ugly time happening about, what?, every six weeks or so?
Mark Driscoll wasn’t gone from his church a week when he was applauded at a major pastors’ conference in Texas. He is leading another church in Arizona. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of folks who formerly went to a Mars Hill Church that are going through counseling and suffering symptoms similar to PTSD… years later.
SECOND… we fail all the time as believers in the American church to lead people in a Christ-like way and still insist on treating the church as a business model. Too often we want pastors to be CEO’s. Again, we’re repeating Mars Hill mistakes.
THIRD… this type of examination needs to keep happening. We need a spirit of repentance. We don’t need a spirit of “burn it all down” or a spirit of “circle the wagons.” We need our hearts open.
I’ve never pastored a large church. I’ve never liked a multisite format for church. Yet, I had my own self-examination during this series. Deep mistakes I felt in my own life about how I treated others in ministry because I was unaware. I had to examine my own motivations early on in ministry. We need our hearts OPEN. Instead, there is still a “circle the wagons” kind of mentality. As long as that keeps happening… we will keep seeing Mars Hill stories destroying lives.