Mars Hill Megachurch(es) are Saying Buh Bye

When Mark Driscoll announced he was leaving Mars Hill, the church collective he created and turned into a multi-million dollar empire, I said there were two possibilities: They’d find another pastor and go on or the whole thing would blow up. Looks like they chose what’s behind door #2.

Marking its own Reformation Day of sorts, Mars Hill Church will dissolve Mark Driscoll’s multisite network and let each of its remaining 13 churches go their own way.

Founded in 1996, the Seattle-based megachurch planted 15 satellite sites across five states, its passion for creating new churches further evidenced by Driscoll founding the Acts 29 network. By New Year’s Day, the multisite organization and the Mars Hill name will be no more.

“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,” Dave Bruskas, primary teaching pastor, announced today to the Mars Hill family. “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.”

Let me make another prediction: After some interval of time, a couple years at the most, Driscoll will emerge from his self-imposed exile, declare himself a New Man in Christ and open another church that will once again turn into a megachurch. Because P.T. Barnum was understating the case.

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  • grumpyoldfart

    I’d love to know what sort of shit-file they had on Mark Driscoll. It forced him to walk away from everything so it must have been a beauty.

  • John Pieret

    Just opening up 14 new spots for grifters.

  • Chiroptera

    I would have thought that letting the “satellite churches” go would be more theologically sound, at least according to this particular sect’s doctrines.

    I haven’t bothered to look it up; judging from their fundamentalist stance, I assume that Mars Hill is affiliated with or at least decended from a congregationalist denomination, that is, a denomination where individual churches are autonomous.

    But centralizing control, it looked like Driscoll was trying to reproduce the heirarchy of the Catholic Church. Or worse, the more liberal Protestant denominations.

  • Marcus Ranum

    it must have been a beauty.

    Yeah, it had to be “3 wetsuit level” good.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    @grumpyoldfart #1 – I’ve watched the Mars Hill story unfold almost from its beginning. It has always had the trappings of a cult; by 2012, Driscoll has published a 463 page “textbook” on how to be the right kind of Christian and everyone who wanted to join one of his churches as a registered member had to sign a statement agreeing to abide by what was taught in that book. Among those requirements was a commitment to submit, without question, to the authority of the church’s ministers. (Reference: Church or Cult?)

    Driscoll was very well known for his macho, “real man” attitudes and beliefs. He would have fit in very well to the Slymepit: women existed for the sole purpose of serving men, and since men are the ministers of the household, women must submit to whatever man they belong to (husband or father) just like the menfolk had to submit to church leaders and church leaders had to submit to God. He was also very homophobic, and was known for his rants against “queers” and sermons saying that God was a real man, not some limp-wristed sky fairy.

    You can see where that probably ended up.

    Accusations have flown around for years that Driscoll and several of his inner circle of ministers had a very, very predatory attitude towards the women in their congregations. Driscoll is very much a control freak, as evidenced by his efforts to micro-manage every aspect of church members’ lives, and control freaks rarely have good anger management skills. And someone so vigorously homophobic almost certainly has serious questions about their own masculinity and how others see them. I strongly suspect that the dirt is hidden therein.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    This article (“Ex-Mars Hill Insiders Reflect on Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Resignation ) has some information about Driscoll’s exit. It notes another scandal I had forgotten, the usual “we will fleece the sheep for a lot of money to support project X, then use very little of that money on project X so the rest can be diverted to make us rich and famous.”

  • Modusoperandi

    Sweet. Anybody wanna go in on a franchise?

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … Mars Hill Church will dissolve Mark Driscoll’s multisite network and let each of its remaining 13 churches go their own way.

    I think the technical term for this is metastasizing.

  • Larry

    I’d love to know what sort of shit-file they had on Mark Driscoll

    Financial improprieties?

    Diddling some sweet, young member of the flock?

    Drug addiction?

    Running a chop shop out of the garage out back of the church?

    Smuggling illegals into the country to staff the church’s prostitution ring?

    It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

  • matty1

    It’s worse than that, they found out he voted for Obama.

  • Trebuchet

    Driscoll will probably turn up very soon at one of the newly “liberated” congregations.

  • Alverant

    I was hoping the churches would go up for sale. I hear you can turn a church into a residential home. Even if you can’t, the state would be able to tax it so the rest of us don’t have to pay as much.

  • steve84

    I actually had some hope that they would continue without him. But it turns out that it was really all about him after all and that there is nothing left with the cult leader gone. Either that or he stole so much money that they just can’t go on.

  • steve84

    *hope* is probably the wrong word there. It’s not like I wished that to happen, but it’s what I thought would happen.

  • Area Man

    I don’t know much about Driscoll. I started reading a lengthy article about the rise and fall of the his empire not long ago, but about halfway through, I got bored and stopped reading. It was a script I had seen way too many times.

  • chuck c

    I’m reminded of those FB videos of dozens of baby spiders scattering from Mom’s corpse.

  • anubisprime

    Seems that despite the xtian rhetoric and their incessant claims of being brave little bunnies in the face of an intolerant world, their faith is in fact paper thin.

    One rather run of the mill dodgy grifter getting busted by his own when they finally have enough of looking elsewhere seems to be a mild and rather innocuous reason to flounce off in different directions.

    Usually it takes some seriously warped behaviour of diddling the choir boys and possibly discovering their pastor was in fact a a practising black witch with ritual sacrifice of virgins, for them to really spit the dummy and stomp off elsewhere to pamper their delusion.

    Xtianity seems to be the realm of wimps and the chronically cognitive impaired lately, no wonder they think rapture is but a same sex marriage away these days, they seemingly have no stamina for the righteous fight against horrid people who refuse to share their particular delusion.

  • spamamander, internet amphibian

    As a Washingtonian, I am saddened by the loss of such a great…

    Who am I kidding. *puts on a party hat*