Mike Cosper: Maker of ‘The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill’

Episode 622: Podcaster Mike Cosper’s groundbreaking series, “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill,” takes you inside the story of Mars Hill Church in Seattle – from its founding as part of one of the largest church planting movements in American history to its very public dissolution – and the aftermath that followed. In this first of two episodes, host Trevin Wax asks Cosper to discuss the origins of the podcast, explore the wisdom of even making such a podcast and explain what he hopes the outcome of its production will be.

In This Episode, You’ll Discover: 

  • The “Rise and Fall” podcast reveals that God was doing a life-transforming work at Mars Hill Church, but interviews with people who lived the story also expose an environment that “left a lot to be desired” in terms of faithful biblical leadership. 
  • The zeitgeist of our age has caused this particular story to resonate far and wide. Nevertheless, this narrative, long-form, storytelling podcast is going to be a great resource and story-telling example for the church for many years to come. 
  • Churches have become very centered on the personality of their lead pastor, but the role of the pastor is not to primarily put themselves on display, but to be a servant of the Word. 
  • Pastors must focus on telling the heart of the gospel story but also have to realize they can’t control how their people take it in or what they do with it. When people go off in unintended directions, a pastor must have trustworthy, good critics and continue to be faithful with the work. 

Shareable Quotes (#NewChurches): 

  • Catch Part 1 of #NewChurches’ interview with podcaster Mike Cosper, whose “Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Church” takes you inside that fascinating story.
  • In the podcast, you hear from people who directly lived the story and recognized God was doing a life-transforming work but it also was an environment with a lot to be desired when it comes to what it means to faithfully lead. – @trevinwax 
  • I definitely believed from the beginning that doing narrative, long-form, storytelling podcast was going to be a great resource for the church. – @MikeCosper 
  • There’s something about the zeitgeist right now where this particular story is resonating far and beyond. – @MikeCosper 
  • The pulpit attracts a certain kind of narcissistic personality and pastoral narcissism is an expanding phenomenon because of social media, sermon podcasting and the like. – @MikeCosper 
  • Because church has become so personality-centered, churches identify so much with the personality of their lead pastor. – @MikeCosper 
  • The role of the pastor is not to primarily put themselves on display. It’s to be someone who’s a servant of the Word, a servant of the gospel. – @MikeCosper 
  • My hope is the greater legacy of the podcast is that it invites people to use the medium to tell all kinds of stories. The church has all kinds of beautiful stories to tell. – @MikeCosper 
  • The danger of a lot of Christian storytelling is that we are so focused on getting to the redemptive part of the story that we end up skimming on the suffering or failure part of the story. – @MikeCosper 
  • You have to focus on telling the heart of the story, but you know you can’t control how your audience takes it in or what they do with it. – @MikeCosper 
  • As a pastor, you pour your heart into your church and love your people. But when people go off in weird directions, you can’t internalize that too much. You try to be faithful with the work.  – @MikeCosper 
  • You have to have good critics you trust and then you put it in the Lord’s hands and go, “OK, I did the best I could with this.” – @MikeCosper 

Helpful Resources: 


Published November 30, 2021