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 to 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