Josh Harris on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

April 30, 2023

If you were like me, you anticipated every episode of Christianity Today’s series ‘The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill’ podcast. I was impressed with the thoughtful way the producers approached complex topics like power, trauma, leadership, ambition, church growth, honesty, toxicity, and abuse of leadership helped illuminate just how stories like this one were able to unfold.

I’m very honest in this conversation and hope that my participation in such an important project helped to piece together a few of the puzzle pieces of my own story for listeners. As courageous members of the evangelical and ex-vangelical community seek to grapple with the fallout of churches like Mars Hill, I hope that my story can remind listeners that they are not alone.

When I listen back to this episode, I find myself wishing that the producers of this podcast had left a little more space to meet me in the place I was right then in my journey. From experience, I know that it can be difficult to resist the urge to “evangelize” or “defend” formal church structures and more traditional streams of faith. But I can’t help thinking that a true reckoning with the North American Church’s past and present requires a willingness to stop and sit in discomfort, trading our instinct for immediate response with a new reflex of reflection and even, a willingness to change our minds, structures, and the way we think about faith in general.

Here are a few pieces of what we covered in the course of this hour plus podcast:

  • The evangelical cultural moment during which the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” book was realized.
  • What happened at Covenant Life Church and what inspired my family’s eventual move to Vancouver. 
  • The importance of finding space to reflect and grow.
  • The process through which the “I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye” film was conceptualized. 
  • The way in which my partner on this film project grappled with my announcement that I had left the church entirely. 
  • The importance of asking questions that pastors are often afraid of asking.
  • Unpacking what the term ‘deconstruction’ might actually mean.

To access this episode and the rest of this important series, go anywhere podcasts are hosted. You can access the show notes to this particular episode here: The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill | Podcasts | Christianity Today