By Daniel O’Connell
After almost 20 years as the proud head pastor of the Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll has announced that they will no longer exist organizationally by the end of year. Though some of the locations will remain on as small-scale, independent churches, most will be sold to third-party investors. This decision came as a shock to much of the 14,000+ members of the Church, and Driscoll says that “Mars Hill Church has never been about a building or even an organization” and that ultimately “Mars Hill is a people on mission with Jesus…that singular focus continues as these newly independent churches are launched.”
The organization has come under fire in the past for both their controversial and cultish behavior as well as the public actions of Driscoll himself. Back in July of this year, exhumed documents conveyed his opinion on the state of modern America, stating that we lived in a “completely pussified nation” and that Adam (of Adam & Eve fame) was the “first of the pussified nation.” During the following two months, a slew of testimonies from former members appeared online regarding the church’s internal conduct. Many of them claimed that within the Church they were required (read: strongly encouraged) to maintain an open-book policy regarding how much they would donate to the church on a regular basis, but the faculty of the church itself did not reciprocate in the same manner; rather, their expenses were kept under tight wraps and obscured from analysis. It was later revealed that much of the funding went towards amenities such as music videos and world travel. To become a fully-fledged member of the church you are required to attend months of rigorous classes centered around a book written by Driscoll himself (Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe) and formally agree to submit to the authority of the church in an official document. Oftentimes, pastors within the church would become far more intimately involved in the private lives of it’s attendees – ahem, it’s fully-fledged members – than is advisable. According to an interview conducted by Brendan Kiley of The Stranger, one pastor ordered a member to end his long-distance relationship with his girlfriend in Colorado. When the member in question refused, said pastor found the phone number of his girlfriend’s father and warned him of the dangerous path he had taken, and that he might be putting his daughter’s life in danger.
The Mars Hill Church, as with all American Megachurches it seems, was never a stranger to controversy. However, it would also seem that this congregation in particular was far more violent, abusive and downright deserving of this controversy. Perhaps it is better for both the sanity of it’s former members and the general moral environment of the Pacific Northwest that Mark Driscoll and his merry men move on to greener pastures, preferably somewhere where his thunderous sermons are not quite so audible. I would suggest a cave, but no doubt he’d return in three days, as angry and boisterous as ever.