01 November 2014

The Dissolution of the Mars Hill Empire

It is [God] who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings;  (Daniel 2:21a)
Photo: WikiMedia
The Lord God is sovereign over all things: times and seasons, day and night, the wind and the sea, and the rising and fall of men. The design of many so-called 'celebrity pastors' and their respective multi-site, multi-publication, multi-bus tour empires is one that inarguably may lead to the 'face' of the empire,—the celebrity pastor whose name is the brand—viewing himself as a type of king over all that he perceives he has created.

To be sure, this is not true of all well-known pastors. Indeed, perhaps it is not true of any of them, but it is often the unfortunate view for the outsider—the commoner—looking in at the empire. But God, who alone is sovereign, is the only true King. Men and rulers of nations may sit on their thrones and devise plans against God, but He laughs at their futile efforts (Psalm 2:4). Men may stand upon their well-lit stage and lure many through the doors of their church, but God is the ultimate Determiner of the fate of that entity. And when man attempts to usurp the God-ordained design of the church, he ought not be surprised if the Lord of the universe reveals very different plans for that church.

On the heels of Mark Driscoll's resignation as pastor of Mars Hill Church, it was reported this week that the church and empire that Driscoll founded would begin a rapid process of dissolution.

As reported on the Mars Hill Church website:
Mars Hill,

Historically, our mission has always been clear - to make disciples and plant churches. In keeping with that mission you have always been excited about new life and new birth. Last week I shared three values that are the driving goals during this transition period at Mars Hill.

Today, I am excited to share with you important decisions recently made about the future of the congregations of Mars Hill Church that we believe will work to accomplish these goals.

Following much prayer and lengthy discussion with Mars Hill’s leadership, the board of Mars Hill has concluded that rather than remaining a centralized multi-site church with video-led teaching distributed to multiple locations, the best future for each of our existing local churches is for them to become autonomous self-governed entities. This means that each of our locations has an opportunity to become a new church, rooted in the best of what Mars Hill has been in the past, and independently led and run by its own local elder teams.

We recognize this reorganization plan is a significant and complex undertaking on many fronts; however, our goal is to have the process completed by January 1st, 2015.

The local congregations will have until the first of next year to determine whether they will continue to exist as their own local congregation, whether they will join with another existing church in the area, or whether they will dissolve completely and help their members to find new places of worship.

On one hand, this announcement reveals the devastation that is left in the wake of the behavior of Mark Driscoll. His sin has deeply affected not only himself and his family, but thousands upon thousands of Mars Hill members. Surely this is not an easy transition for them to endure.

On the other hand, it seems that this may be one of the greatest blessings that could emerge from the wreckage of recent months. Finally, in theory at least, these small campuses will begin to operate as the local church is intended to operate. The people will be led and pastored and preached to by men they see and talk to each week. The talking head on the screen will no longer be their so-called 'pastor'. Perhaps now there will be true accountability within these congregations.

As information continues to emerge about the Mars Hill empire, it is clear that Mark Driscoll is not the only one who contributed to its detrimental culture, and so the future of some of these small congregations may be precarious. Let us who are watching from a distance be slow to offer our biting, sarcastic observations, and be quick to pray that God would be glorified, and that Christ would be upheld and exalted as the true Head of His Church.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. (Col 1:15–18)
Further Reading
Acting Like Men? Pastors, Pulpits, and Profanity
What if 'My God' Is Bigger than 'Your God'?
Even the Demons Believe


  1. Well said Erin.


  2. Time for HBC.


  3. I just wonder if the local congregants have a good understanding of how to actually have a biblical church, how elders are too function and the responsibility of those that attend. There was so much revealed about the disfunction in their thinking I pray they would be hyper sensitive to scripture and follow that as their only model. I also fear there will be a money fight. Prayerfully they will all be settled and functioning as God intends without strife, they've had plenty already. Barbara L.


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