Ep. 365 Response to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 11

Ep. 365 Response to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 11

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Shows Main Idea – In this episode of the Christianity Today podcast series, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Mike Cosper shares the motive and method of Mark Driscoll’s desire to share the gospel globally. Mark makes significant ministry changes in 2008. Was it wrong? Progressive sanctification implies that we’re always changing, which means we should be maturing personally and organizationally. What are a few things you must consider if you do change things? Why did Mark do it the wrong way?

Life Over Coffee · Ep. 365 Response to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 11

Show Notes

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Episode Eleven: Red Sky at Morning

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

Episode Summary

Mike Cosper talked about the three stages of Mars Hill’s existence. The first two were great, but it was the third one that took them off message—the message of Christ.

  1. Mars Hill Act 1 Plant and Grow—1996-2000
  2. Mars Hill Act 2 Established and Maturing—2001-2007
  3. Mars Hill Act 3 Resurgence Blog, and Global Expansion—2008-2014

These three acts can mirror any growth plan, e.g., personal sanctification, marriage, business venture. Of course, you want this last phase to be different from what happened to Mars Hill. Perhaps for your marriage, it could be impacting your children and grandchildren, generationally.

Afterward, Mike outlined the conception and infancy of the multi-site church campuses phenomenon, which began in Korea. Soon afterward, Mark Driscoll started making a case for speaking to hundreds of thousands of people, anticipating the message would live forever (archived) on the Internet.

Part of the multi-site expansion is not just church campuses; it also includes YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and a church’s website. We’re talking about the redemptive use of technology.

Our ministry has several “cyber communities” where we take the practical message of Christ to the world. And in a similar way, you use the Internet to encourage others. When the motive is right, the means can be a fabulous opportunity to love God and others well.

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Internet Preaching—Pros & Cons

But with every means of grace, there are always inherent problems because of fallenness. Thus, understanding the pros and cons is essential—as well as a plan for accountability so you can accentuate the pros while staying away from the cons.

  • Pro: You can reach more people with the gospel.
  • Pro: Those who cannot attend a service find those cyber meetings life-giving, e.g., shut-ins.
  • Pro: When traveling, you can continue to hear your church’s sermons.
  • Pro: A church can connect with the extra-local missionaries and ministries they support.
  • Pro: Folks thinking of moving to the area can begin the tedious process of vetting the church.
  • Con: The character of the preacher matters most: Driscoll craved fame, power, and prestige.
  • Con: The preacher can lose focus on your local responsibilities—no longer shepherding.
  • Con: The sermon is all you get.
  • Con: The church member stops attending because it’s not what you want: cyber relationships are less messy.

Necessity of Change

Doing church differently always changes—from culture to culture and generation to generation. Change is okay as long as we never leave Christ, our first love. You must mature, change, and grow, whether personally or organizationally. Change is essential for everybody and every organization. If you don’t adapt to your times, you will become Blockbuster.

Changing methods while never changing the message is wisdom.

But if any change untethers you from the gospel, you will have an adverse impact on lives. Perhaps Mark Driscoll’s first love was Christ. Maybe it was the growth that stirred selfish ambitious cravings in his heart. Whether or not his love for Christ was genuine, I’m not sure, but there is no question he drifted from the gospel.

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If you have not changed into a more mature person since coming to Christ, it is an indication that you may not know Jesus. If you have changed and your affection for Christ continues to deepen, you’re in a good place. Selfish ambition—in Driscoll’s case—is not the only reason we drift off-mission.

Many people wane in the faith due to the wear and tear of the fight; the wearing down of cross-carrying takes a toll on believers, which makes a case for churches with shepherds that know how to equip the saints.

  1. What is your “growth in Christ” pattern?
  2. Are you steadily accelerating upward, maturing in gratitude, appreciation, and passion for Christ?

These questions are essential. Mark drifted from Christ; it became about growing his brand. The way to measure your “growth in Christ” is by assessing how you love God and others practically. Do you build your life around what you want or are you about serving others more (Mark 10:45)?

  1. Do you carry people in your heart? When you spend appropriate time thinking about how to serve others, you’re doing well.
  2. Are you redemptively affecting folks for Christ with your talents?
  3. Do you build resources, craft sermons, start initiatives because your aim is to spread the fame of God and impact lives with the gospel?
  4. In what specific way can you change to become a better Christian who practically loves God and others more effectively?

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