Leadership Journal recently posted an article exploring some of the factors that led to Mars Hill’s rapid implosion over the last few months. The article can be found here, and should be read by every church leader. It’s a heartbreaking and harrowing piece that highlights how easily anti-gospel, toxic motivations can take root in the hearts of churches and their leaders.
Below are 10 quotations from the article that stood out to me.
1. “As the structure became more refined, the driving motive became efficiency and growth, and those two factors began dictating church policy.”
2. “This all began as a work of the Spirit, but we quickly started to push harder and harder, trying to accomplish it with human efforts—bigger, better, faster, stronger.”
3. “We started going for high-profile, high-ROI stuff that brings in more money,”
4. “The only way to create scalable multiplication is to somehow dumb down that position [site pastor] so that a dog with a note in its mouth can do it.”
5. “It got to the point where I’d get a weekly printout that would tell me I had one minute and 40 seconds to make an announcement. I’d get a memo telling me to quit standing up in front and praying with people after the service because those hurting people are already regular attenders. The visitors are out in the lobby, so you need to be out in the lobby to get Velcro on the visitor to get them to stick so they come back.”
6. “‘How do we get more money coming into Central?’ became the main question.”
7. “For campus pastors on start-up church sites, everything hovered around congregation benchmarks. For 500 attendees, you got an executive pastor. 800? You could add a worship pastor. And if you boosted it up to 3,000 loyal listeners, the “award” was a youth pastor.”
8. “The whole corporate model for managing a church has infiltrated and affected the church more than anybody realizes.”
9. “When [a church] is dependent upon one charismatic leader, it is not dependent on Jesus.”
10. “This is going to be a great lesson for church leadership during the next 20 to 30 years.”
I sincerely hope that last quote is prophetic.