CNLP 079: Mars Hill 2 Years Later: An Insider’s Account of What Happened with Justin Dean

In late 2014, Mars Hill closed its doors as Pastor Mark Driscoll and all the key staff left and disbanded the church as it then was.

What happened at Mars Hill, though, was not all bad.

I interview Justin Dean about the good that happened, what he learned, what could have been better, and what it feels like to be on the inside of a collapsing organization.

Welcome to Episode 79 of the Podcast.



Guest Links: Justin Dean


Justin Dean on Twitter

Links Mentioned in this Episode

The Young Messiah

5 Early Leadership Lessons from the Dissolutions of Mars Hill

Andy Stanley; Episode 1

Aussie Dave; Episode 70

3 Takeaways From This Episode

Despite the controversy surrounding Mars Hill, there other ways Christ’s work was thriving. Justin tells us what was going well during the dissolution of their ministry and how he handled the pressure.

  1. God was still using the church. Though others were talking about the reputation of Mars Hill, you couldn’t deny that God was ultimately at work because of those who were positively impacted. God was still using the church to change lives thanks to a Biblically-based foundation that wasn’t compromised. It was the focus of the mission that drove people to the church and to God.
  2. Be candid and transparent. While issues among leadership and the church were being discussed, Justin says that transparency with others salvaged integrity. Aside from legal things that couldn’t be disclosed, he emphasized that you can still maintain relationships by disclosing information that was helpful and relevant. And be tactful! “You can show them the respect they deserve to have, but you don’t have to disclose everything.”
  3. Show grace in criticism. In the midst of controversy, there will be trolls. Justin says he learned to show them grace, regardless of the situation. When someone has genuine criticism, those people have a particular context that shapes their opinion, and it will be something different than what you’ve experienced. When you converse with them, the best approach is to address them with understanding of their point of view, and then move on. You don’t have to engage back and forth.

Quotes from this Episode

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CNLP 079: Mars Hill 2 Years Later: An Insider’s Account of What Happened with Justin Dean


  1. Murther on April 9, 2016 at 10:01 am

    “God was still using the church.”

    Is a slightly tendentious point. God can use everything ultimately – God could even use Balaam, which is of little comfort to Balaam himself in light of the way his conduct was judged.

    Ultimately, this does little to justify any behavior and so it properly has to be considered apart from complaints about a person or institution.

  2. Marc Jolicoeur on March 20, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    As always, truly appreciate these discussions and the insights they raise. Just a note: In light of part of the content of this podcast (wherein the desire to “control the message” was raised), it may have been wise to have actually given a little more info about the events that precipitated Mars Hill’s closure. I do not know the details, and now I’m forced to Google it. So, only God (and… Google?) knows what I’ll find. Just a thought.

  3. PastorDow on March 16, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    This episode was great and timely, considering Andy Stanley’s recent misstep, and subsequent open, honest apology. So much to be said for being as transparent as possible.
    Thanks, Carey

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