I'm a recovering Mars Hill true believer

Guest Opinion: I used to travel and work closely with Mars Hill founder Mark Driscoll. This is my apology for the pain I caused.
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Guest Opinion: I used to travel and work closely with Mars Hill founder Mark Driscoll. This is my apology for the pain I caused.

This article was originally posted on the author's personal blog, MikeyAnderson.com.

Have you ever sat next to a bug zapper on a warm night, and just watched? An insect buzzes by and is instantly transfixed. That little light draws them in, then *bzzzzzt*— they are fried.

This is my own story of being transfixed by a pretty light and getting fried in the end.

I’ve seen many friends make bad choices in their 20s. For some, regular partying quickly turned into alcoholism; for others, prescription drugs led them into dark places. For me, it was religion.

You see, I’m what they call a True Believer.

I really like the idea of changing the world: sacrificing for the cause, single-minded drive for the “mission,” a charismatic leader. As a 19-year-old, I was the kind of guy who would have been the ideal follower for the crazies of history — the Mussolinis and the Hitlers.

Fortunately for the world, the 21st-century version of this extremism isn’t hyper-nationalism — it's a megachurch. There’s less bloodshed than the 20th-century version, but still a lot of hurt.

I thought we were changing the world

This was no ordinary megachurch — it was the “fastest-growing church” in the “least-Christian city” in America. It had planted hundreds of new churches around the world — everyone knew us. I got to hang out with ABC news folks, had dinner with Bubba Watson and met about a thousand “Christian Celebrities.” I thought we were the supreme blessing to the world.


There, I said it. I stood idly by and willingly participated in a culture of misogyny. There could probably be books and sociological studies on the details of this, but I’d prefer to just admit one of the biggest things that I did wrong.

During this time I made some huge mistakes. I pressured my brilliant and hard-working wife to give up her dream of law school and have a baby and be a stay-at-home mom as soon as possible. There’s nothing wrong with kiddos (I love my daughter) and staying home with kids is great if you want to. What isn’t great is that I allowed others to take verses from the Bible out of context and put a law on my wife and rob her of a dream. I only added pressure on her. It was wrong, and I’m terribly sorry.

Did you notice how I said “misogyny” above? That’s a trick I learned while working with Mark Driscoll. Say a high-impact word, give it some room to breath, and you’ll have everyone’s attention. These types of tactics worked well in the online content that I oversaw.

I traveled all over the country with Mark.

When I’d be traveling a lot, Mark would have flowers sent to my wife to say thank you. He would call me up randomly to ask how I was doing and what I was learning. Jen and I got to have meals and spend quality time with him and his family in their home. I really appreciate Mark for a lot of personal reasons — yet at the same time I’m deeply sad and worried for him.

For all of the good things about Mark that make him the kind of guy that thousands of young men wanted to follow, he also has his own issues. It’s not my place to air his dirty laundry, but I will say that he’s isolated himself in a way that as his friend (or maybe former friend—not sure?) is sad to watch. Mark, if you read this, I really hope that you can get some help.

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