Reflections on the Christianity Today’s podcast series, “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill.”


Reflections on Christianity Today’s Podcast, “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill.”

I have finished listening to all of the episodes to this point (including the bonus episode with Joshua Harris), and here are some of my takeaways.

1). Driscoll and the other leaders at Mars Hill were innovative and had a ton of great ideas they were able to implement to grow quickly as a church organization. However, with that rapid growth, came a lot of opportunities to abuse and spiritually manipulate people in the church. One of the comments that was constantly made was, “Look at the fruit.” There were a number of moments that showed a great bounty of spiritual fruit, but there was also a lot of rotten fruit that simply was ignored, because the “fruit” that was being looked at was numerical, then spiritual. It’s vitally important to not buy into the message that “Numerical growth = Spiritual growth.” The spirit may be growing, but it may not be holy.

2). Being a woman at Mars Hill was difficult. I understand that some religious groups/denominations have various views of women in ministry, gender roles, etc. When women are not allowed to work, because it would disqualify their spouse to be a leader in the church, that is toxic. When women have to stop what they are doing, because their spouses need to have their sexual needs taken care of, that is toxic. When a woman has to sit in a church service, and the minister talks about sex in a very pornographic way and proof-text the Bible to promote sex acts that a woman may be uncomfortable with, but has to perform because her husband request it of her and can now use the “Bible says/pastor says” card, that is toxic. Some notable quotes from former members was a woman, who praised this brash talk on gender roles and sex because it helped get her husband to “step up to the plate,” but then realized how toxic it because as the pendulum continued to swing too far. The other member (Jeff from 90lbs wuss), said that the teachings on sex in the church not only made his wife uncomfortable but that what was being communicated was “spiritual rape.”

3.) Transparency and accountability are vital to healthy church culture, and yet it is also the two things that continue to be thrown out the window in the guise of “protecting the integrity of the church.” Screw your false sense of integrity! It has nothing to do with integrity and everything to protect a brand. Out of all the times I have been a church member, consultant, and pastor, it is few and far between that I have seen leaders be humble and transparent with the church about sin, corruption, and other church issues. Transparency and accountability is a two-way street. In the case of Mars Hill, Driscoll needed to have accountability, and when there were by-law changes to give him more power and less accountability, it eventually lead to the fall of Mars Hill. On the same token, it is also important for governing boards and teams to be held accountable. I have witnessed and heard too many stories where a pastor was forced to resign, fired, or simply quit due to an overzealous, fruitless, fearful, power-hungry board who needed to protect their “assets” at the cost of destroying a minister and their family.

4.) The evangelical community needs to stop making celebrities out of ministers. The problem is two-fold. First, it puts an unrealistic amount of pressure on the pastor, regardless of the size of the church. They tend to focus more on performance than being transformed by the Holy Spirit. Second, it gives the leader a false sense of self and an overinflated ego, that gives him/her a “god-complex.” It leads to an abuse of power, and/or when there is a fallacy, it causes much damage across the church and community.

If you have not listened to “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill,” I would highly recommend it if you are interested in church dynamics and culture.


Episode 85: How the Coronavirus is affecting us w/ Thad Davis


Episode 85: How the Coronavirus is affecting us w/ Thad Davis

Scott talks with Thad Davis in how COVID-19 is affecting us. This was recorded a month ago, so it is interesting to listen to how things have transpired in the four weeks after this had been recorded.

Daniel Fast – Day 21: Final Day


I would never have thought I would have gotten to this day.  The final day was probably the hardest part of the fast.  The big challenge is since I knew my fast would be over, I began to have impulses to eat food outside of the fast.  I knew that I needed to stay strong to make sure I finished well so it leads to deep states of prayer.  It wasn’t until 12:00 on Day 22, that I finally broke my fast.

This 21 day fast had to lead to a lot of great teaching moments about myself and for my leadership.  I am not one who likes to discuss my shortcoming and failures to the masses but I believe it was the purpose of this fast to help shape me into the leader that God needs me to be, and the minister the church needs me to be.  So with great woundedness to my pride, here are my findings

  • Impulsive
    • I have the tendency to be impulsive in my life.  A lot of my impulsiveness comes from my relationship with food.  When I was a young pudgy kid in elementary school, I would never bring a lunch to school.  In fact, I never ate breakfast either so I would go without food breakfast and lunch, and then when I got home would splurge on food throughout the evening or have a big dinner.  It did lead to a rapid weight-loss in my teen years, but it did lead to my impulsiveness with food.  For food, it leads to how I live my life whether in a leadership position or in my personal life to buy something because I want it (and it’s on sale).
    • What the fast had taught me is that I need to wait.  Waiting is hard.  But to be a leader you have to wait and seek the Lord for his guidance before making a move.  I need to seek wisdom from the Board of Elders before I make any concrete decisions.  When it comes to my food choices, I need to be wise about what I impulsively grab.  So when I see that Moutain Dew staring at me, when in the check-out. I need to avoid it instead of giving in to its attractive demands.
  • Rambo syndrome
    • In my earlier ministries, I have been known as a lone ranger.  Not because that was my personality, but I have always taken on projects, did them by myself, and had done excellent work.  Because of this, I would be complemented by my peers, which I believe, feed into this syndrome.  There have been times, where a superior would give me a team to train people how to do my work, in the event I get sick, travel, etc.  I would then show these team members how to do the work, and it seemed like they would learn it, but then when I would ask them to do a section for me, they would say they didn’t know if they could do it, or make an excuse which leads to me doing 100% of the work.
    • Now, I am realizing that having a “Rambo syndrome.” is not effective.  I end up getting frustrated when I am doing things alone and it adds tension to my life when I am spending too much time on projects and/or cleaning up that it takes precious time away from my family.  Jesus didn’t do ministry alone, neither should I.
  • Self-medicates
    • I’m an extrovert.  I love being with people and having community bonding.  It annoys my wife sometimes when I come back late at night from teaching at church and be so pumped full of energy when she is exhausted.  But there are moments when I doubt, experience conflict, or have high degrees of stress where I begin to self-medicate.  I didn’t think I was a stress eater, even though it runs in my family history of emotional eaters which leads to diabetes. but when it came to my initial weight gain in college I could see how a decrease in an active lifestyle connected with my stress eating lead to my unhealthy lifestyle.  If my medication is not food, then it is laying in bed napping, or playing games for long periods of time.
    • I need to work on positive outlets when I am feeling down.  The big thing I need to do is when I am feeling down, I need to go to the Word and to the Lord in prayer.  If there is one thing that this fast had taught me, is that when I am in continual and habitual prayer and worship, that even on my down days, I experience high levels of peace and boldness from the Holy Spirit.  It makes me think of the prophet Daniel, who was always in a continual state of prayer to the Lord.  I believe that was a huge factor when he was thrown into the lion’s den.  Some may suggest that he might have been scared because of the circumstances but I believe that is our fears projected on the prophet.  I believe he was thrown in boldly knowing that God was going to protect him and grant him justice, which is why he prayed in that pit and continue to pray after he was brought out.  Pray hard when you are on the peaks of mountains so that when we are in valleys or pits, we will have a boldness to our prayers that the Lord will give comfort to those who are devoted to His will and ways.
  • Lack of communication
    • I use to think that my communication skills were great.  Trained as an actor and motivation speaker, I am able to communicate clearly the content I am addressing.  But when it comes to leadership, it is lacking.  I think a lot of my issue stems from the “Rambo syndrome.”  I think that if I communicate to others my plans or to motivate them on a project and they mess-up or fail that the criticism and mudslinging are going to be directed at me.  If I am going to take the blame, I rather do it myself and be solely responsible for the blame then be blamed for another’s shortcomings.  I know that this sounds petty and arrogant, but I have seen many examples in ministry where a director of a ministry get’s blamed for something that a counselor had done and get his name smeared.  It pains me that it even happens in the first place due to believers being part of the body that represents Jesus Christ, but that is the reality.
    • I had come to the realization that as a leader, I am going to get mud thrown my way, spit on, beaten, criticised and mocked (figuratively; hope not literally).  However, Jesus went through all of that and was able to change the world and continues to change lives to this very day. So why am I afraid to carry the same cross that Jesus bore?  Just because others could potentially act in an un-Christlike way, doesn’t mean that I should be timid.  If I am connected with Christ in all I do, then I should be bold with my leadership and communications. When conflict does arrive, I can then act in the way of Christ through unconditional love, grace, and mercy.

Daniel Fast – Day 17: Prayer Walk- Part 2.


I began to partake in another prayer walk around the city that I am apart of.  It was a much warmer day that day but the odd thing was there were not a lot of people move about.  I did the same route that I did before, but my prayers were more focus.  Below are some of the notable prayers that I prayed.

Outside the News Paper

Dear heavenly Father,

May you be with the staff at the newspaper that they will be bold in their reporting and seek out the Truth.  Do not let them be swayed by bias, public opinion, or fear.

Outside the Police Station


Protect the Police officers as they serve and protect the community.  Let them mover with justice, mercy, and grace.  Keep them and there families safe in the name of Jesus.

Outside the Courthouse

Lord of Justice,

I pray for those who are in prison.  I pray that they will not continue the cycle of chaos that they are in and be able to free from whatever sin that binds them.  I pray for the judges that they will act justly.  I pray for attornies that they will be ethical in there profession and move in a way to bring reconciliation in there work.

My one stop on my prayer walk is the top of a parking garage that looks over the city.  When I am up there I 1) pray for the city and for it’s healing 2) ask for the Lord to reveal Himself to me.  What made this walk unique was it was a very calm day but once I prayed for the Lord to reveal himself, the wind violently picked up and was blowing right into my face.  It gave me comfort and assurance that the Holy Spirit is at work in my life and in the church I pastor.

The last place I stop to pray is a piece of property that has been vacant for a couple of years.  When I first moved here 3 years ago, I had a spiritual pulse towards this piece of property.  I have not made any moves on the property since, due to not really know what to say or ask. but there is something there (along with other properties that have begun to take root) I pray for that property to find wisdom and understanding on why I have this impulse.  I hope that throughout this year, I will begin to see the picture that the Lord is  giving me.

Daniel Fast – Day 15: Week 2 Reflections


Finishing my second week of my fast, I was still blown away by how much energy I have and my heighten spiritual awareness.  After Church, a few people who knew of my fasting asked me how it was going, and I told them that I have been very impressed with a physical and spiritual level of my journey.

Since I started my fast I have had a lot of interesting situations happen to me.  First, I overworked my muscles during shoulder shrugs and because I was not getting a large amount of protein (from meat and shakes) I was sore for almost a full week.  Second, during my prayer walks, I have had some interesting insights and moments that can’t be described on a conscious level.  Finally, it had revealed a buried sin that needed to be repented of.  It was one of those “ah-ha” moments that lead to a personal and spiritual transformation.

Daniel Fast – Day 13: Eggplant Parmesan


Today, I was making a meal for a dear friend, and congregant who has been out due to a knee replacement.  I decided to make one of my signature dishes, Eggplant Parmesan.  It was the first dish I ever made with Eggplant and it was this dish that made me love eggplant.  So as I began to prep and get everything ready, I was tempted to take little bites here and there.

When I cook in the kitchen, I usually would eat bits and pieces of the meal that I am making.  If I’m making meatloaf, I’ll sample some of the beef, and onions.  If I’m making grilled cheese, I’ll take a pinch of the shredded cheese and eat it.  So when it came time to make the eggplant, I wanted to eat it.  take a sample of the finished eggplant product to eat, eat a sample of fresh mozzarella, and the fresh grated Parmesan.

The thing that really tempted me was the smell.  It was that smell that really wanted to dive right into it or make another batch for myself.  It was in that moment that I began to really pray hard. Not praying for myself to not dive into the meal, but I began to pray for people, the church, wisdom, direction.  But the main thing I prayed for was to be still and wait.  As I mentioned earlier in this journey I am a bit impulsive, and waiting is not my strong suit.  But waiting is a discipline that must be mastered to wait on the Lord.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Daniel Fast – Day 10: Minister’s Meeting


The third Tuesday of every month, I have a minister’s meeting where all the ministers in the area get together for some fellowship.  As I was getting in my car to go to this meeting, it occurred to me that there is always a meal provided.  Would there be anything that I can eat?  I get to the meeting and they have a lot of great looking food.  Broccoli and Cheddar Soup (Can’t eat), Salad (can eat, but with caution), garlic bread (can’t eat), cookies (Can’t eat) Cheesecake (can’t eat), and cheesecake toppings (can eat the strawberries and blueberries as they are not in a sugary syrup like the cherries).

So I get a salad and a side of fruit.  During the salad, I had to combat the chunks of chicken, cheese shavings, and croutons, while I ate the lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and olives.  After the meal, the topic to discuss was, “what spiritual disciplines are you participating in?”  The hosting pastor knew about my fast and asked me to share my experiences.  I talked about everything that I mentioned on Day 8 of my fast.  Other pastors talked about vision planning, prayer journaling, and even sitting in silence. As I listen to each pastor share what discipline they are practicing I thought, “Can these other disciplines be heightened during a fast?  My goal for this second week is to try a spiritual discipline and see how it goes.

Daniel Fast – Day 6: Early Morning, Carbon Monoxide, & The Bin of Shame


4:00 am.  My wife wakes me up because she hears beeping downstairs.  A few weeks ago, our Carbon Monoxide detector was defective and I replaced it right before Christmas.  My wife thought that the beeping was another defective unit, but in fact, it was warning us that the furnace was producing CO.  So I shut off the heat (luckily we were having warmer weather in VA), moved the kids to our bedroom and I got the last few winks on the couch after I called the furnace repair company to send a worker out.

Since the workers would be coming soon, I went and cleaned up the furnace room a tad bit.  One of the items was to empty out the trash can downstairs where there was just a bunch of packaging from junk food.  As I was looking at each item, I was beginning to think about all the times I had put junk into my body.  As the fast has begun to purge my body of any unhealthy eating habits I have partaken in, I began to search my heart and pray for the Spirit’s guidance to remove any bad habits that have been inhibiting me spiritually.  As the spirit continued to search my inmost being, I have seen how my attitude, impulses, and anger has to lead to unhealthy choices on a spiritual, physical, and emotional level.  It is through revelation that leads to repentance and through repentance is a renewed sense of self.

Daniel Fast – Day 5: Cranky Pants, Prayer Awareness, and Blood Loss.


5 days in, and I have noticed that I am beginning to be cranky.  Sometimes I can be a bit cranky when there are big stressors in my life, but for the most part, I have a level head and pretty patient.  Today, I was just getting quickly annoyed with the smallest issues.  My prayer is that this does not become the norm during the fast.

One of the most interesting things about doing this fast is that I have had a heighten prayer awareness.  Multiple times throughout the day, I would be in prayer.  Most of the time, my mind would think about a situation or an individual and automatically, I stop what I am doing and began to pray.  Not just a quick prayer, but a focused, precise prayer.

The one thing I was nervous about was my blood donation appointment.  With a few days into the fast, I was curious how my body was going to respond the giving blood.  Typically, after I give, I usually will leave and drive back without feeling light-headed.  But with my fast, I thought it would be best to wait the 15 minutes before I attempt to leave.  It was not until some hours after, where just the simplest of the task would make me a bit light headed.  I also began to crave sugar.  I was beginning to think about sweets, and every sweet item that was in the house was a big temptation.  I was glad that I had church responsibilities to divert my mind from being consumed with cotton-candy fantasies.

Daniel Fast – Day 4: Routine, the root of all evil?


I’m an extrovert.  I thrive when I am around other people whether I am sitting in a crowded room reading a book, or having conversations with new and familiar faces.  When my son has preschool, sometimes I will go to a coffee house and do work having a nice cup of coffee and soaking in the atmosphere.  So when I dropped him off at school, I drove to the local Starbucks, ordered a drink, and sat down and began working.  The problem?  I’m not supposed to have coffee during my fast.  But the troubling thing was I didn’t realize it until I had to figure out what I was going to eat when I had to take my son to the doctor.  Luckily Panara had some items I can eat, so we stopped there, ate, and took my son to the doctor’s office.

I have had difficulty with fasting, due to my unhealthy relationship with food.  Throughout my family history, we have been a family of emotional eaters.  An emotional eater (EE) is someone who uses food as a way to comfort from any emotional distress or pain they endure.  Going through a break-up? an EE will eat a tub of ice cream.  Bad grade? a trip to McDonald’s is in order.  I didn’t realize I was an EE until my Junior year in college where I went through a battle of depressions and ate out taco bell every night.  So when I do a fast, I tend to subconsciously grab some food and eat it and it takes me a few moments to realize, “oh crap, what am I doing?”  The same thing happened at Starbucks.  Dropping of the kid, drive to the coffee shop, get some coffee, write up reports, read my devotional, leave the coffee shop, go to the office, leave the office, pick up kid, etc.  It’s in those moments of failure, where I decide, “should I give up? I broke the fast!”

Routines are evil.  I am convinced of this due to how repetition can lead to bad habits.  When that bad habit has been established, it then becomes part of the routine.  For those who smoke, we may assume that it is the nicotine that causes people to light up.  But for some, it is part of the routine.  stressed out? smoke a cigarette.  9:45? time for a smoke break.  Even when one tries to quit a habit, more times than not the difficulty is not only the “good feelings” that habit gives him/her, but a routine is also a big cycle to break.

Even though I messed up with the coffee, I continued on track with the fasting for lunch and dinner. Giving up has been part of my routine, but not any longer.