A new post on the We Love Mars Hill blog (covered before here) is making waves in the Christian community as Pastor Mark Driscoll‘s former right-hand man, Mike Anderson, explains why he, too, withdrew his membership from the controversial Seattle megachurch.
Mars Hill was a big part of my life from ages 18-28. In the same way that ex-alcoholics benefit by being completely transparent about their addiction, I want to make public my affiliation and my genuine remorse.
On multiple occasions, Mark would use an analogy of Mars Hill being like a dandelion. He would say something like: ‘When things are going well, it’s going to grow fast, but if I ever go ‘sideways’ or if the leadership goes astray, it will be like when the wind catches a dandelion that’s gone to seed, and the seeds will go everywhere and many more will get planted. The church is so filled with good people that they will plant churches, support existing churches, and be a blessing wherever they go’.
I think he was right. There seems to be genuine consensus among the majority of pastors and many thousands of members who have left that now is the time that the dandelion has gone to seed and the wind is blowing. I know hundreds of people I love and respect who are spread out around the city and the country. My hope is that we’ll all learn the lessons of the wrong we did as a collective at Mars Hill, and not just blame it on a couple of leaders and make the same mess all over again.
Mike writes that his change of perspective happened slowly, but the watershed moment for him that made him decide once and for all to leave the Mars Hill cult[ure] was when his dad gave him a philosophy book on mass movements (one I personally recommend — it’s a good, quick read):
My dad is a wise man whom I respect a lot. I was talking to him about some of this and he said to me “You know Michael, you’re the type of person who is drawn to this exact situation. If you don’t watch out, you’ll just set yourself up for it again. I have a book for you.”
It was called “True Believer.”
Here’s a quote that stopped me in my tracks:
“When a mass movement begins to attract people who are interested in their individual careers, it is a sign that it has passed its vigorous stage; that it is no longer engaged in molding a new world but in preserving the present. It ceases then to be a movement and becomes an enterprise. According to Hitler, the more ‘posts and offices a movement has to hand out, the more inferior stuff it will attract, and in the end these political hangers-on overwhelm a successful party in such number that the honest fighter of former days no longer recognizes the old movement… When this happens, the “mission” of such a movement is done for.’”
I left because the mission had died. Mark’s desire for control had pushed Acts 29 away and turned the Resurgence into a giant advertisement. I no longer recognized the old movement of former days. I also was sick to my stomach after reading and empathizing with a quote from Hitler.
Mars Hill was in the penultimate step of what Jim Collin’s calls “the fall from greatness.”
Anderson stops just shy of calling Mars Hill a cult, but the connection in his mind is clear from everything else he says. As I observed before, this is the beginning of the end of the New Calvinism movement, and as more and more folks tell their stories (like Anderson), the “survivors” groups will hit a point of critical mass and Driscoll and his ilk will not be able to retain their power.
But they don’t need to read True Believer to see this coming — it’s in their own Bible:
What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. — Luke 12:3