Since June, Christianity Today has been releasing episodes of a journalistic/investigative podcast series titled “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill.” The podcast digs into the once-popular megachurch Mars Hill Church that was co-founded by Mark Driscoll.
Mars Hill Church History
Located in Seattle, Washington, Mars Hill Church was founded in 1996. It grew from an in-home Bible study into a multi-site church boasting over 12 locations and averaging a weekly attendance of 12,000 people. It is estimated that over 6,000 of attendees were members.
Driscoll made headlines a lot throughout his tenure as Mars Hill Church’s senior pastor. It wasn’t uncommon for the once self-proclaimed “angry young prophet” to scream at his congregants or drop a curse word during his preaching, but in early 2014 he made headlines when he was accused of untruthfully marketing his 2011 book Real Marriage in order to gain widespread popularity and bestseller status.
The marketing company, Result Source, that Driscoll hired in order to assure his book would make it onto the New York Times Bestseller list was paid $210,000 by Mars Hill Church. A statement released by the church’s board at the time said, “While not uncommon or illegal, this unwise strategy is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again. The true cost of this endeavor was much less than what has been reported, and to be clear, all of the books purchased through this campaign have been given away or sold through normal channels.”
Around the same time, Driscoll was also accused by a former Mars Hill Church elder of lacking self-control and discipline. The words used to describe Driscoll were “domineering, verbally violent, arrogant” and “quick-tempered.”