Earlier this year when Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Church were suggested as a resource to be used by a group that I happened to be a part of, I pointed out to the group leader that we might want to consider other sources. I was told that we should not let personal issues in the life of Mark Driscoll prevent us from using him and his church as a resource for ministry. Fast forward a few months, and what we find is Mark Driscoll being investigated for alleged misconduct, which eventually led to his resignation. Now, according to Christianity Today, the Mars Hill Church, which was established in 1996 and grew to 15 satellite sites across five states, will be dismantling by the new year and selling all their properties. What went wrong? Why the rise and fall of Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Church? I’m sure we can all come up with a number of reasons for this fall. But I want to suggest the following. While not questioning the salvation of the thousands of attendees that made up what is the Mars Hill Church, I believe the foundation of the church proved to be Mark Driscoll: with the rise of Driscoll, Mars Hill rose, and with his fall, Mars Hill fell. It’s that simple. Which brings us to the wise counsel of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1-4: do not rally around this personality and that personality.
“So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (3:21-23)
Paul says that church leaders are only servants through whom sinners come to believe in Christ, “so neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (3:7). I pray that others will learn from the rise and fall of Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Church.