Church After Mars Hill Season Epilogue | Podcast Season 04, Episode 09

by Aug 8, 2023Transforming Engagement: the Podcast


Catch the final episode in this season of Transforming Engagement, the Podcast, where we’ve been considering Church After Mars Hill and using The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill as a case study. We’ve considered a number of aspects of that story: Patriarchy and mutuality.   Whiteness and diversity. Violent imagery and peace making. Toxic cultures  and psychological health. Models of church. Art as transaction and transcendence. The move toward a Tov culture.

But as we come to the close of this conversation and the end of this season of the podcast, what are we to do now?

Join us for the final installment of Season 4 of Transforming Engagement, the Podcast, as host Joel Kiekintveld shares his insightful perspectives.

Thank you for listening! If you’ve enjoyed this season of Transforming Engagement, the Podcast, please spread the word and share it with your friends! We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas for future topics you’d like to hear us engage. Please click here to let us know what you think.

About this season’s host:

Joel Kiekintveld is the Co-Director of the Anchorage Urban Training Collaborative. Street Psalms Senior Fellow, and an adjunct professor at The Seattle School of Theology and PsychologyFor 17 years he served Parachutes Teen Club and Resource Center (Anchorage, AK), which he helped found in 2003, as Executive Director and Founding Director. Parachutes serves teens ages thirteen to eighteen years old. Many of the active members of the drop-in center were high-risk and street-involved. Joel has served as a pastor and youth pastor in both Michigan and Alaska.  

Joel holds a PhD in Practical Theology from the University of Pretoria (South Africa), a Master of Arts in Global Urban Ministry degree from Bakke Graduate University, a Bachelor of Religious Education degree from Reformed Bible College (now Kuyper College), and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from The Foraker Group/ University of Alaska Fairbanks. He was ordained as a Commissioned Pastor by the Christian Reformed Church in 2008.

Joel lives, works, and plays in Anchorage, AK, with his wife Stacey, and has three daughters Naomi, Emma (and wife Kelsy), and Sydney. Joel lives in intentional community in the Dimond Estates trailer park.

Cited Resources:

  3. Hauerwas, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Howard Yoder,” 221.
  4. Tickle, P., 2012. The great emergence: How Christianity is changing and why. Baker Books. p. 16 &17
  5. West. Cornell West, “Hope on a Tightrope,” lecture delivered 07 April 2009, Calvin College Festival of Faith and Music, Grand Rapids, MI.
  6. West. Cornell West, “Hope on a Tightrope,” lecture delivered 07 April 2009, Calvin College Festival of Faith and Music, Grand Rapids, MI.

Listener resources:

  • If you are a Christian leader or pastor seeking a space for support, growth, and transformation for yourself or for your team, we invite you to participate in one of our cohort programs, called a Circle. To learn more and to get on the waitlist to be notified when our next Circle is offered, click here.
  • Don’t miss an episode: Subscribe to Transforming Engagement, The Podcast on AppleSpotify, or Amazon Music (Audible)

Episode Transcript:

Joel Kiekintveld: This is Transforming Engagement: the Podcast, where we host conversations about change that serves the common good and a higher good. This season we are discussing Church After Mars Hill and considering how we build healthy faith communities using the fall of Mars Hill as a case study. I’m your host, Joel Kiekintveld.

Last year just before Christmas I was writing a series on my blog about Advent. In one post I wrote about Luke 1:46-56, a passage that contains Mary’s song. A passage often called the Magnificat. I wrote,

“Mary is not just quietly introspective, she is a using her voice to announce that God is using his strength to scatted the proud, bring down rulers from their thrones, lift the poor and humble, and accomplish his plan of salvation, redemption, and the restoration of all things. Mary is boldly proclaiming that the revolution is here! Now!

In a sermon a number of years ago I stated that Mary is not the silent, peaceful woman in a blue and white robe with her head tilted just so, gazing at the baby Jesus in the manger, but rather a young girl wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt kicking off the rebellion against the powers of this world and the spirit world. She is defiantly declaring what Jesus was and is bringing.

This time of year we hear a song often that often says, “Mary did you know?” The answer is YES, she knew!!! She knew exactly what was taking place and was the first one to sign up for the for the movement. She gave the first rally speech. Mary was not the meek and mild women of the hymns, but rather a revolutionary.”[1]

 After I preached the sermon I referenced in that post, a friend said to me that he thought the image of Mary in a Che Guevara T-shirt was interesting and that he’d wear a T-shirt with that image on it. So I made him one, and one for myself too. 

However, I got a different response to my blog post. One person on social media was upset that I used the word revolution in connection to Jesus. His understanding was that revolutions are turbulent, violent, political upheavals and that Jesus didn’t come to lead anything like that. While it is true that revolutions can be violent and political, Webster’s dictionary offers a series of definitions – including this one, which I find compelling:

Revolution: “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm”[2] 

Throughout this season we have been considering Church After Mars Hill and using The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill as a case study. We’ve considered a number of aspects of that story:

         Patriarchy and mutuality

         Whiteness and diversity

         Violent imagery and peace making

         Toxic cultures  and psychological health

         Models of church

         Art as transaction and transcendence

         And the move toward a Tov culture.

But as we come to the close of this conversation and the end of this season of the podcast, what are we to do?

Well, I propose a revolution. But don’t grab your pitchfork just yet, I’m not talking about a bloody revolution, but rather something else.

Stanley Hauerwas’ definition of nonresistance gives us a clue about how we must fight this revolution. Hauerwas says that nonresistance is

“the refusal to respond to evil in kind, but to resist evil by using the weapons provided by the Sermon on the Mount,”[3]

What weapons does the Sermon on the Mount offer?

         Humbly knowing we are spiritually in need



         Hunger and thirsting for Righteousness


         A pure Heart

         Making Peace


         Being persecuted.

In that the first thing I hear that we might do to lead this revolution is to take a personal inventory of how we have participated in toxic church structures that endorse and perpetuate oppressive, violent, abusive, racist, and sexist church cultures. We need to confess the places we – each of us – have been a part of toxic faith communities and religious cultures either actively or passively.

Once we can see our own involvement clearly and are able to seek forgiveness, then we can enter into calling for this revolution, but we enter knowing it will be hard and we will get persecuted. We begin knowing that opponents may very well insult us and say all kinds of false things about what we are doing, but in that persecution there is blessing. 

Following that, we have a yard sale.

Yep, you heard me right. We don’t need violent weapons for this revolution, but rather a yard sale.

The yard sale idea isn’t mine, it belongs to Phyllis Tickle, sort of. Tickle in her book The Great Emergence shares and observation from The Right Reverend Mark Dyer that

“about every five hundred years the Church feels compelled to hold a rummage sale.” And he goes on to say, “we are living through one of those five-hundred-year sales.”

She continues noting that Dyer adds,

“About every five hundred years the empowered structures of institutionalized Christianity, whatever they may be at the time, become an intolerable carapace that must be shattered in order that renewal and growth may occur.”

 The section ends with Tickle noting that when this happens “there are always at least three consistent results or corollary events”

1) a new, more vital form of Christianity emerges

2) the existing organized expression if Christianity becomes a more pure less ossified version of itself

3) the faith spreads[4]

In a lecture back in 2009, Cornel West described churches like Mars Hill as being “Materialistic, hedonistic, narcissistic, and individualistic” with “greed running amuck, indifference toward the poor… [and] politics of fear.” A “chamber of commerce religion.” A “market spirituality.” [5]

That seems like a good list of things to get rid of at the yard sale. What if we got rid of the materialistic, hedonistic, narcissistic, individualistic and fear-driven parts of our churches? What if we got rid of the patriarchy, Whiteness, violence, and the transactional and toxic ways of being, leading, and worshipping that are cluttering up our faith communities? Imagine what it would look like if that was the church after Mars Hill.

My young friend Gavin recently sold all his Paw Patrol toys at his family’s yard sale. He turned around and spent some of his profit on a bike at another yard sale. I propose that in addition to selling off the toxic and destructive parts of the church that we buy into something new.

Cornel West, in that same lecture, says it this way, “Don’t confuse gigantism with greatness. If you’ve got a mega church – Where’s your mega love? Where’s your mega justice? Where’s your mega courage? Where’s your mega sacrifice?”[6]

Perhaps love, justice, courage, and sacrifice should be on our shopping list as we think about what the church could be.

We also have the list of Tov – or goodness – traits that Scot McKnight and Laura Berringer shared with us. So let’s add to our shopping list as well: empathy, grace, a people-first culture, truth, service, and Christ-likeness.

But if that list is too long, maybe we can boil it down to one thing – love.

The Beatles sang “all you need is love” but they might have just been channeling Jesus who said in John 15,

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you…

This is not the only time Jesus speaks of love. Just two chapters earlier we see Jesus put love into the middle of his summary of the law and prophets.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:30 and 31a)

The bottom line is that the followers of Jesus are to be known by love. Jesus tells his disciples in the book of John and elsewhere:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

So in response to our discussion of Church After Mars Hill I propose “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing church: a change of paradigm” – in other words, a revolution.

Let’s get rid of the materialistic, hedonistic, narcissistic, individualistic and fear-driven ways of being the church. Let’s remove the sicknesses of patriarchy, Whiteness, violence, and the transactional and toxic ways of operating and seek love.

What if love is how the church is known after Mars Hill?


If you are enjoying this conversation and you want to concentrate more thought on your community and context, I invite you to check out the low-residency Master of Arts in Theology & Culture (MATC) programs at The Seattle School. Those programs are designed for artists, activists, and ministry leaders who want to serve God and neighbor. More information at:

I also invite you to check out the Center For Transforming Engagement. We know that church leadership has never been more difficult and that 1 in 3 pastors is at risk of burnout. That’s why the Center for Transforming Engagement offers support to leaders like you. Through cohort groups, coaching, and consulting, they equip leaders and their teams to transform their service of God and neighbor in their local contexts – and in the process, to be transformed. You can learn more and get connected with a cohort group or a coach at


Until Next Time, I’m Joel Kiekintveld. Grace & Peace.