Today, Kathleen Tarrant in the Stranger brings us a beautifully written tour of the Seattle Indie music during and post the Mars Hill Church years. She makes the case that the early Mars Hill era had an influence on Seattle rock which endures today. Some of that persistence isn’t necessarily to be celebrated as many Christian artists were disillusioned by Mars Hill. For those, who want to understand the bigger themes of the Mars Hill story, I highly recommend this article.
A couple of short segment will give a taste:
The expansion continued in the years that followed. Mars Hill would nearly triple in size between 2006 and 2014, with 15 satellite franchise churches in five states. Driscoll’s fame and influence were expanding, too, and the cracks began to show. He doubled down on his anti-feminist, anti-gay agenda and was soon called out for spiritual abuse, bullying, plagiarism, and generally being a fraud. He was caught leaving abusive comments on internet message boards under a pseudonym. Church funds that had been designated for global outreach and a music festival disappeared. In 2012, a company called ResultSource was paid a reported $200,000 to bulk-buy copies of Driscoll’s book Real Marriage in 2012 to send it to the top of the best-seller list. Acts 29, the “church planting” network that Driscoll cofounded, removed his name from their materials. Members left in droves. A group of 21 former Mars Hill pastors filed formal charges of workplace abuse against Driscoll with the church’s elders.
The rise and fall of MHC has left a, um, mark.
Butcher, a former member of Mars Hill, plays drums in the band Copeland. While a member of the church, he was the drummer for the local Christian indie folk band Ivan & Alyosha, and worked as a designer at Tooth & Nail (his design of the band Underoath’s box set was nominated for a Grammy in 2010). His exit from the church lined up with his exit from the band, and he remembers the stigma of association with the church that followed. People rescinded offers for drumming gigs and cast uncomfortable glances at each other when they found out about his former membership.
“I get it,” he says now. “What happened at Mars Hill hurt so many people, including me. There’s a lot of healing to do, and the more transparent I can be and the more I can listen to people who have concerns about the church and what it did—the same concerns that I have—the better it will turn out.”
I doubt Driscoll will try to reprise the edgy young prophet role he played in Seattle. He seems headed for more of a father figure profit role in Phoenix.