As success grew at Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll’s ministry dreams expanded. With the advent of the multisite 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. Fifty thousand 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