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