Psalm 51 and the recent confessions of Mars Hill Elders.

a broken man 2

Since everything has come crashing down, we are and will continue to see repentance coming from men who should have confessed and repented of their sin and failure of leadership at Mars Hill Church years ago. The reactions to these confessions and acts of repentance range from anger, skepticism and disappointment, to accolade and great rejoicing.

This brings us to Psalm 51.

This psalm is by far the most recognized statement of repentance in history. It is an amazing example of how to deal with sin.

It would do us good to review the raw facts leading up to King David’s repentance.

  • David becomes the kind of leader that no longer goes into the battle with his men. He is the King, and he delegates his leadership to others.
  • He sees Bathsheba bathing, and uses his position as King to violate her. She was a young woman, he was the king.
  • She becomes pregnant, and he calls for Uriah, her husband, to return from the battlefield so that he can sleep with Uriah’s wife and keep the adultery hidden.
  • When Uriah acts like a true soldier, and refuses to leave his men, David plotted and carried out his murder.
  • David marries Bathsheba, and prepares for the birth of a son.

David’s sin was calculated and tactical. He was not coerced or surrounded by peer pressure. He was not a young man, but a mature man who loved God and desired and experienced a profound walk with God.

Yet his repentance did not come until Nathan risked his life by confronting the King and calling for his repentance.

Psalm 51 was the result.

I am sure that Psalm 51 was no comfort to the family of Uriah the Hittite. I am sure they struggled with the wording. “It was not specific enough… David did not take enough personal responsibility… He failed to name his sins clearly… he seems to blame others…”

But his cry was sincere and pleasing to God.

So as I read recent confessions from the elders, I accept the words as from men who have been convicted by the crushing circumstances around them, and I will accept them at face value.

As the reality of David’s sin came into view, he was crushed with the consequence of his sin. The depth of the tragedy of the loss of Uriah, a good man. The crushing loss of his son. I am sure the pain of that never left King David. The negative consequences of his sin are legion.

But his confession was real.

I am sure David had to make matters right and repent and offer restitution to the family of Uriah. Psalm 51 was not his wording to that grieving family, nor was this how he faced his own family. So I trust we will see more from the Mars Hill elders as well. Having spoken to them personally, I am sure of such coming over the days ahead.

But I do accept their confessions, past and present, and I encouraged all to do so. They are being expressed as the reality of their sin against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, and the tragic consequences of the sin of those 22 elders are beginning to be seen and understood.

I will also pray for these men, and pledge to help them in their walk of repentance. There is newness of life in true repentance and I long for such in the lives of every repentant man.

So help us God.

Mars Hill Church – please drop the religious talk.

religious talk

Seeing that most of the leaders at Mars Hill Church grew up around normal churches, it should not be too difficult, now that Mark Driscoll is gone, to go back to using normal terms and drop the manipulative religious talk.

Religious talk only has one purpose and that is to bind the hearer with a false sense of duty and obligation. True gospel talk leaves the listener free and without bondage.

Let us review some of the religious talk and show why it is just that – even though it sounds so right and holy.

“We love you Mars Hill Church.”

What is wrong with this religious saying? Well, the way that Mars Hill elders have grown accustomed to using it, is typically before a confession that is in incomplete and insincere. It is uncomfortable in a strange sort of way. We know that God loves us, and he proved that love by sending His son to die for us. But we are being told by a pastor that he loves Mars Hill Church, which is usually followed by a partial admission of wrongdoing, and a continued lack of transparency.

“We love you, but will not tell what Mark Driscoll earned even though many of you members have asked. We love you, but we are not willing to show our love by answering your questions about the Global Fund. We love you, and we want to say the Global Fund that 6,000 donors gave to never was a fund. Don’t think about our dodging the issues being asked about because, after all, we love you.”

I have never, in a “normal” church, heard the pastor or elders repeatedly say that they love the church, even though they probably do. It is not common pastoral speak, at least not to the entire body as an impersonal brand name, and repeatedly. When I was sitting in the Everett campus on Sunday, the “lead pastor” told us people sitting in the pews that he loved us. What exactly did he mean? Did he mean that he loves me, Rob Smith, personally, or did he love the members as a collective whole? If the latter, what does that even mean?

Madonna loves her fans, but in reality she doesn’t even know their names or who they are. They adore her, yet have no idea who she is as person. That kind of love is infatuation and impersonal. Mark Driscoll, in a similar way loved his fans, but didn’t like individual people. He really didn’t even love the church. He used it, and then left it in perhaps the worst way possible.

In the New Testament, the encouragement to love is always “one another” in a brotherly way. It is an active love, not an emotive love, and it never is used to set the church up for a confession or rebuke.

It would be closer to the truth for the current elders to say “Mars Hill Church, we have failed to love you”.

“Jesus is our Senior Pastor.”

This saying also seems so right. It gets said in a lot of abusive churches as well as good churches. But it is not a biblical teaching. Jesus is our prophet, priest and king (sorry Sutton Turner), but he has entrusted the role of pastors to us mere mortals whom he, by the Holy Spirit, has selectively equipped. He is no more the senior pastor than he is the senior evangelist or the senior janitor. These are tasks that he has given to us as members of his church.

I do not expect Jesus, the “senior pastor” of Mars Hill Church, to knock on Pastor Paul Petry’s door and repent of the way he was treated. But I would surely expect that of any Mars Hill pastor worth his salt. I do not expect Jesus to set pay for the staff at Mars Hill Church or to suggest that the music is too loud.

So why is this term which doesn’t mean much in practical terms or understanding used by churches that end up with unhealthy and abusive cultures? It is because there is a strong undertone of hierarchy when it is emphasized that Jesus is the Senior Pastor, and then under Jesus is the next level, getting their marching orders straight from Jesus. Under those men, totally submitted to Jesus of course and totally in charge of everyone else, comes the next layer of heirarchy. So everyone else ends up being required to submit to men who are carrying out the “senior pastor’s” wishes.

This is just pure manipulation. And it is even worse when everyone must submit to the “vision” that Jesus, the “senior pastor”, gives to a select elder, like Mark Driscoll or Steven Furtick. The vision must now be served, and so must the keeper of the vision, the pastor next in line to Jesus. So buck up and submit.

“First among equals”

While I appreciate what Alexander Strauch was teaching in his excellent book, “Biblical Eldership”, there is no teaching in bible that one of the elders is “first”. I understand that Strauch said the “firstness” was in gifting, not authority, but the reality is that first is first, and the bible does not teach this firstness. Jesus taught the opposite, that the first shall be last. The whole argument between John and James was who would be first.

If there is in fact a first among equals, no matter how much you may try to argue that it does not mean that he is really first, the reality that he is. We have seen that sad end result at Mars Hill Church.

Again, I understand that not all elders are equally gifted, but in teaching about biblical leadership let’s use that terminology as its meaning is clear. Being the most gifted in a particular area just simply does not mean that you are therefore first. It is a bad term that leads to bad outcomes.

“Lead Pastor”

This seemingly benign term is also not found in the bible. In fact even the term “pastor” as we use it (“Pastor John”) is foreign as a title in the bible. Jesus suggests that we do not call each other “rabbi”, saying that we have but one teacher, and we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.” — Matthew 23:8

Paul mentioned many different people in his epistles, including men that were likely to have been pastors and leaders, but he mentions only their name. He never included a title, even when referring to the apostle Peter. He does say that he is an apostle, so I would have no issue with a pastor saying, “Hi, I am John, I am a pastor.” But that is different to expecting everyone to refer to you as “Pastor John”.

Hopefully, as we look at the factors that made Mars Hill Church a church with a problematic culture, we will learn to identify those code words that sound good, but reflect the seeds of the authoritarianism that ultimately led to the demise of the church.

 

 

 

Mars Hill Church – Déjà vu?

On no not again

Seven years ago 22 elders lacked the character and leadership skills to stand up and stop bad mistakes from being made. As a result the by-laws were changed to reflect a form of church goverance that not only flew in the face of everything the church believed and had been taught, but set in motion the destruction of Mark Driscoll’s ministry, reputation, and the church he claimed he loved.

Now we are facing a similar daunting situation. Sadly, it appears that once again the church is left with leaders who seem to be unable to lead with courage, strength and openness.

Despite telling the church how much they are loved, and promising to be more open with members, news and information from Warren Throckmorton or Wenatchee the Hatchett’s posts is more reliable and far more credible than the updates coming from Dave Bruskas and his leadership team.

In order to get the information that is needed to know how to pray, how to give, and how to move forward with their lives, members and donors learn more of value from the comments section of Throckmorton’s and Wenatchee the Hatchett’s posts than they do the flaccid leadership of the church.

Take the current financial picture for example.

We have learned that several campuses are for sale. Where did we learn this? From social media.

We have heard that Mark Driscoll had a recommended salary and benefit package that was at least $850,000 per year, not counting perks. Where did we hear this? From social media.

We have heard of a million-dollar home being purchased in a gated compound and placed in a trust that listed the same address as Mars Hill Church. Who told us this? Social media.

We have heard that Mars Hill Church does not own the rights to the sermons and intellectual property its members and donors paid for. We have heard of a scandalous severance package for Mark Driscoll, the man who fired elders without severance unless they signed restrictive non-disclosure agreements. Where did we hear of all this? Social media.

Through social media, we donors and members are hearing that the current leadership is considering filing for bankruptcy. How can this be the case? How insulting that we are not given the exact picture of the condition of the church!

Does the current leadership not love the church enough to shoot straight with its members and donors?  How can any of us pray about our giving if we are kept in the dark? Yet, the leadership warns us not to read reports in the social media.

I could go on.

Sadly, what we have not heard, even via social media, is a call for a heartfelt attempt to make matters right with Paul Petry, Bent Meyer and Lief Moi. No attempt to say we are deeply sorry. No rumors of reconciliation, restitution, or restoration.

Mars Hill Church needs men like those men right now. They had the foresight and backbone to do the right thing seven years ago. These men are sorely needed at this time. Mars Hill Church needs leaders that have the clarity and conviction to lead the church back to a solid footing.

Many of us leaders and former leaders would roll up our sleeves and help if called upon.

In my case, my emails to Dave Bruskas remain unanswered.  Paul Petry’s phone (the same number since 2007) has not rung.

Sadly, unless something changes, we will see weak men repeat the mistakes of the elders of 2007, and fail to stand up and lead in full transparency and open reconciliation with the real men who were thrown out years ago, but who have what it takes to help Mars Hill Church recover in the wake of Mark Driscoll’s departure.

 

Mars Hill Church, are you listening to your own? Release the report on Driscoll!

hello

This following is from a former Mars Hill elder and extracted from the comment section of Warren Throckmorton’s latest blog post regarding the proposed changes at Mars Hill Church.

A few interesting things to note that may help people understand why so many contrary reports are coming out, and why any change is going so slow:

1. Mark owns the rights to many things at Mars Hill including his sermons. He’s insistent they take them down (and they’re more than happy to oblige). But a complication is that Mars Hill will now have to do a whole redesign of the Web page while also recognizing there will most likely be more redesigns in the near future.

2. They’re seriously considering filing bankruptcy because of the amount of debt facing the church.

3. Ballard may become the “hub” once again. In fact, it might be the only church left with the name and legal ownership of Mars Hill.

4. Several of the LP’s on the BOE felt Mark was disqualified. In fact, they felt it was obvious once they heard the stories. Unfortunately, they chose to “submit” (read: cowardice) to the overseers and read the collective statement. They violated their own consciences in doing so, but many of them are still submitting to the false view of “submission” to leaders that Mark taught.

5. Several more elders are set to resign. They are disheartened with the cowardice they see displayed by the LPs.

6. Lastly, people should insist - INSIST the BOE release their findings. Every CG leader at every sync should insist on this. Every member should demand this. Every LP (but specifically those on the BOE) MUST be asked why they did NOT declare Mark DQ’d. They are violating their own consciences and most of these men will not be able to stand up and answer pointed questions about something they themselves do not believe. In particular, talk to Ed Choi, Alex Ghioni, Miles Rhode, Alex Early, and even (surprisingly) Tim Smith and AJ Hamilton.

This is VERY important. Especially if you are a CG leader. They cannot handle more people leaving and they realize that now more than ever they are going to be held accountable by the members. So stay. Pray. And don’t stop demanding transparency and answers. It is having an effect. [emphasis added]

“Triperspectival Leadership” – the insidious spark that is burning down Mars Hill Church!

raging fire

Before 2007, no one had heard about this twisting of Reformed ecclesiology. It seems to have begun at David Fairchild’s and Drew Goodmanson’s Kaleo church in San Diego, and, like a grassfire, quickly spread to Acts 29, fueled by the convenient gas thrown upon the fire by Mark Driscoll, who used the teaching to consolidate power into the hands of a few handpicked “kings.”

I cannot describe the teaching in a nutshell better than my learned and wise friend Paul Petry, who, as everyone knows, ended up being the brunt of this perverted teaching when he opposed it and was duly expunged from Mars Hill Church in what has become the most documented ecclesiastical trial of the decade:

It is a mutation of a theological theory promulgated by John Frame in his analysis of Jesus being Prophet, Priest, King, and then applied to analysis of church ministries. If a ministry has a preponderance of one type of function, rather than a balance of all three – it is dysfunctional/imbalanced. That is an EXTREMELY condensed version. Frame’s theoretical analysis is really very intriguing. The problem is when megalomaniacal leaders get ahold of it and apply their own perverted version of the theory and make it a practical reality to strengthen their abusive hierarchical control and authority over the flock of God’s sheep entrusted to their care.

If the Reformed resurgence of the last decade is going to avoid imploding, it will need to fully understand why Mars Hill Church is smoldering in the aftermath of Mark Driscoll. Rather than throw him out and pretend like he never existed, groups like Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition need to dig deep into what they have embraced and identify, extract, and destroy the little Driscoll DNA foxes that have been destroying the vineyard.

These men would be wise to seek outside help in this, as they have tended to be “the blind leading the blind.” There are young restless men all over the world embracing “Triperspectival Leadership” after attending an Acts 29 boot camp or downloading such from the lofty websites of these and other groups in the neo-reformed camp.

If they do not expunge this unbiblical and certainly unreformed view of leadership, we will see ten thousand abusive Mark Driscoll clones follow in his wake. Sadly, rather than bad ecclesiology getting the blame, the blows will land on those beloved and time-tested doctrines that define the great gospel and the abundant life that it promises.

No repentance from Mark Driscoll…and his many elders. Birds of a feather?

Birds

There has been a significant outcry nationwide about Mark Driscoll resigning without repenting for the abuse and other sins with which he was charged. There is grave concern that as a result he will just rebrand himself and just keep on trucking rather than repent and take the needed time off to seek help as a part of his restoration to brotherhood.

Less noted by those watching the cascading events surrounding Mars Hill Church, is the sad reality that before Mark Driscoll left without a sign of genuine repentance, a long list of elders, all parties to the abuse in one way or another, also left the church without genuine repentance for their sin of abusing members and their culpability in bringing about the demise of Mars Hill Church.

Since I have taken a more open role in calling Mark Driscoll to repentance, I have received countless stories of abuse from ex-Mars Hill members. Most of this abuse was dished out by ex-elders and community group leaders, some of whom are on the list of elders who charged Mark Driscoll with similar sins.

Take, for example, the 22 elders who participated in the unjust firings and trials of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. Of the 17 who have left Mars Hill Church, a large number have not openly repented of the pivotal role they played in creating the abusive environment that governed the church, and the devastating effects their actions had on these families and the entire church.

Most of the elders on that list who have left the church have continued in some form of ministry. Five of those elders remain as elders at Mars Hill Church. They continue to minister, while Paul Petry, the elder whose firing and unjust trial is now common knowledge, and his family remained shunned by the church.

I received a lengthy email today about a family who was abused at the Portland campus. But I have heard no confession from the Portland campus, whose lead pastor voted to shun Paul Petry in 2007.

Now we get news of recently departed elders starting new churches. Again, these are “pastors” who appear to be doing what every one has criticized Mark Driscoll of doing. Leaving without repenting. They voted to shun Paul Petry, and now leave while failing to repent in a public way, and then move on and remain in ministry.

Paul Tripp stated that Mars Hill Church “… is without a doubt, the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with,” Every elder that has recently left Mars Hill Church was a part of that “most abusive ministry culture” and complicit in helping create it. The elders who voted to shun Paul Petry in 2007 ushered in the bylaws that have led to the abuse.

Yet they move on to continue in professional ministry as if they had nothing to repent of, while they point to the lack of repentance on Mark Driscoll’s part.

I would love to see genuine repentance on the part of Mark Driscoll. But I have little confidence I will see such from Driscoll based upon the lack of repentance we have seen on the part of the many Mars Hill Church elders who have also left and simply found another place of ministry, while the Paul Petry shunning continues and countless members and ex-members still suffer.

There have been a handful of ex-elders that have openly repented. These are men that truly understand the gospel and have an understanding of the amazing healing that true repentance brings – both in the lives of those that were abused as well as in their own life as an elder.

Mars Hill Church’s Justin Dean – Straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

camel

 KING 5 News report by Alison Morrow spotlighted former members calling for ex-members to return to Mars Hill Church to work together as brothers and sisters now that Mark Driscoll has left our church.

Justin Dean quickly responded.

Did he acknowledge the wide spread abuse of Mark Driscoll or the victims themselves, including the members mentioned in the report? Did he respond to the call to be reconciled and move forward with ex-members who left due to Driscoll’s abuse? Did he warmly accept the ex-members back with brotherly love?

No.

In a series of phone calls to Alison Morrow, Justin Dean challenged the reporter’s facts as to whether I was ever an elder. He stated that I was never more than just a member.

At a time of crisis and a time of opportunity to reconcile with ex-members willing to return to the church, he “strained at gnats while swallowing camels.”

Of course, being a member at Mars Hill Church has historically meant that you are among the least. Paul Petry was charged with disqualifying sin and endured a humiliating trial for discussing the bylaw changes with a lowly member. That member was me. Talking to a member like me cost Paul Petry his job.

What kind of elder would deign to discuss such matters with a member? He failed to realize how little being a member meant, and thanks to Justin Dean, we are being reminded again of the insignificance of the member. Rob Smith, he assured Alison Morrow, was nothing more than a member. A mere member.

Alison Morrow added this to her report:

Editor’s note: After this story aired, Mars Hill told KING 5 that Rob Smith was never an elder or pastor at Mars Hill. According to Smith, he was asked to serve as the pastor of community groups for Wedgwood campus, a position he accepted and started two weeks before he was placed under church discipline for asking that another pastor have a fair trial. Soon after, Smith left the church.

After the 2007 bylaw change, even being an elder meant very little. Once those bylaws were changed, an elder could be dismissed by an arbitrary decision of the Executive Elders. An elder was nothing more than an “at will” employee of the church.

So according to Justin Dean, Rob Smith was nothing more than a member – the lowest in the social order caste at the church: A person who had no say, no relevance other than to obey the rules, be a faithful giver of time and money, and submit to the elders, who, after 2007, themselves had to submit to Mark Driscoll and the revolving door of cohorts he handpicked to carry out his abuse.

So just for the record, I will correct Justin Dean, who along with most of the current leadership of Mars Hill Church, were not at Mars Hill Church in 2007 when my wife and I last attended.

Merle (my dear wife of 36 years) and I joined the church in August of 2002.

In December of 2002 I founded a ministry called Agathos that began to care for orphans in South Africa. The work of Agathos continues to this day (link).

In 2003, Mars Hill Church began to send members to the orphan village on short-term mission trips. There are relationships between members that participated and the children (some now adults) that we cared for.

In 2005, Mark Driscoll endorsed an Agathos Initiative called “One Church One Village” and I began to talk about this at Acts 29 conferences.

In 2005/6, my dear wife began to counsel women at the church 25 hours a week as a volunteer, and she was made a deacon.

In 2005 through 2007, Agathos hosted Acts 29 boot camps in South Africa and Zambia with Acts 29 pastors. Included in that number was co-founder of Mars Hill Church, Mike Gunn, and current lead pastor of the Mars Hill West Seattle campus, David Fairchild.

In 2006, I was made a deacon. I had no duties and the title was because of the orphan care and African pastoral care I was involved in through Agathos and Acts 29 in Africa. Mars Hill Church founder, Lief Moi, was a factor in this decision. Lief Moi was an avid and faithful supporter of Agathos.

In 2007, as Mars Hill Church became multi-campus focused, Mars Hill Church decided that the Ballard campus would commit to be the One Church One Village connection with Kwethu Village in South Africa. This meant that within the campus, $625,000 would be raised to support the village over a six-year period. Over one hundred members got involved in awareness and support. Kabyn Vykesland, now ministering to troubled youth in St. Louis, led the effort.

The Vine church in Redmond also committed to raise $625,000 to a One Church One Village relationship under the pastoral leadership of Jesse Winkler, now a pastor in San Diego, California. As some may know, The Vine Church became Mars Hill Bellevue in late 2007, and was therefore the second campus to embrace One Church One Village. Pastor Jesse became a Mars Hill pastor shortly before the trial of Paul Petry.

In mid 2007, a new campus was formed in Wedgwood, in northeast Seattle, under the leadership of James Harleman, currently a pastor at Refuge Church. Pastor James asked me to take the role of “Pastor of Community Groups” at the Mars Hill Wedgwood campus, a position that I accepted. All the other pastors of community groups were elders, and I was asked to become an elder, which I agreed to. Pastor Dave Kraft, a Mars Hill elder, began to coach me weekly through Ministry Coaching, Inc., a business entity that was coaching the elders and chaired by the current chairman of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accoutability (BoAA), Michael van Skaik. Upon my introduction to the church in my new capacity, Brad House, the lead pastor of community groups, stumbled when introducing me as I was a pastor but was a couple of weeks away from completing the elder candidacy process. He called me something that those attending at the time still chuckle at. He introduced me as “Super Deacon Rob Smith.”

I attended elder coaching along with other elder candidates Tim Gaydos, Jon Krombein, Cliff Low, and Kerry Michaelis. They all became official elders immediately after the 2007 bylaws were passed.

So I was pastor of community groups and acting in that capacity, and was approved to the elder track, when everything hit the fan exactly seven years ago.

It hit the fan for me because I realized that Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, who had been fired and falsely charged with sins against the church, were not going to get a fair trial. I sent a private email to the elders appealing for a fair trial.

For that I was placed under church discipline. That process was most interesting, but thanks to a major donor in the church, I was spared the final humiliation of leaving the church with a bad standing.

Merle and I left the church in good standing, although Mark Driscoll, in the process, threatened to destroy me, Agathos, and ensure that I would never be able to be in ministry again.

At my last meeting, Jamie Munson and Scott Thomas assured me that they would not abandon the orphans that were being supported by Agathos through the One Church One Village commitment.

Three months later, Scott Thomas sent me a letter ending the Mars Hill Church/Agathos relationship.

So, I trust that this clear laying out of the facts makes Justin Dean happy.

I am most willing to describe in detail the painful and scandalous way that Merle and I were treated after being placed under discipline. It involves Mars Hill Church trying to get the largest donor to Agathos to influence our decision to leave.  This donor is a friend and a major member of the Lucas Group. If Dean would like me to get into those details, I will do so. It is quite a story.

If any reader would like to learn more about Agathos, here is a link. If any reader is inclined to support Agathos, here is the link to do so.

So Justin Dean, meet Super Deacon Rob Smith, More than a lowly member, more than a deacon – but less than an elder, but without a doubt a pastor.

Currently at Mars Hill Church there is the full Council of Elders, the Board of Elders, the Board of Overseers, the Board of Advisors and Accountability, and of course, the Executive Elders. Quite confusing. I am not sure where Super Deacon would fall within these lofty-named groups. But whatever that title means, it is not as belittling a title as “just a member.”

I suggest that rather than strain at gnats, we tackle the camels that have strangled the church we love, and work together. This will take humility and strength of character, something even a lowly member can reflect without even having a title as deacon, pastor, or elder.

Mars Hill Church – What would Nelson Mandela do?

 

mandela - forgiveness

I had strong reactions from both “camps” after my post calling for everyone to rise up and support our wounded brothers and sisters from Mars Hill Church – a church “reeling” in crisis and pain.

Those calling for Mark’s resignation and an end to the shunning of Paul Petry and his family were stunned by my call. There are still so many unanswered questions and such a distrust for the remaining leadership, which I share. Most spent a large part of the day yesterday making their case for continued resistance.

Then there are the members who are staunch Mark Driscoll supporters who are equally stunned. “How dare I you even think of showing up to gloat – do you not even have a heart?” Within 20 minutes of posting a call for a massive show of support on the FaceBook site, Let us Encourage one another – Mark Driscoll, I was removed and banned. I have been a member of that group since the day it started.

It seems that if we cannot learn lessons from what Jesus would have done, perhaps we can learn lessons by asking, “What would Nelson Mandela do?”

Nelson Mandela forgave his prison guards. I forgive the elders of Mars Hill Church, who have ignored and rebuffed me for seven years, and who watched Mark Driscoll withdraw the support of Mars Hill Church to the orphans and widows that they had committed to in 2007.

Nelson Mandela forgave his enemies. I forgive Mark Driscoll, who slandered my name and who slandered my organization’s care of orphans in such a way that the support from both Mars Hill Church and the broader community of my orphan care vanished, leaving me with debt and a struggle to care for our orphans, orphans who loved and looked up to Mars Hill Church.

Nelson Mandela went back into a white dominated economy and society that had harshly discriminated against minorities, and said to both blacks and whites in South Africa “We need each other. It is time to forgive and create a new South Africa.” I am willing to go back to Mars Hill Church and encourage a thousand hurt ex-members to join me.

Mars Hill Church, we need each other and I am willing to put the past behind me and put my effort and influence toward seeing Mars Hill Church rise up and become a healthy and safe church, where sinners like me, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore, can see Jesus ready to save me, full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Yes, Seattle, it is all about Jesus.

Change.org: Mars Hill Elders (and ex-Elders) REPEAL THE BYLAWS – For the Gospel’s sake!

Reagan 1

Mr. van Skaik…”TEAR DOWN THE BYLAWS”

The survival of Mars Hill Church needs a clear declaration by the elders at Mars Hill Church that the 2007 bylaws are invalid. They were coerced into existence by and for a man has now left Mars Hill Church, and the current bylaws, crafted to allow that man to run amuck without accountability, are not only meaningless without that man, but are confusing, inappropriate and harmful to the church.

Join me and sign this petition to the elders of Mars Hill Church.

With regard to my involvement in the saga of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church I was once called a “one-trick pony”. If it because of my incessant call to repeal the 2007 bylaws then that characterization is totally accurate.

The 2007 bylaws are like the Berlin Wall. The bylaws led to the collapse of Mark Driscoll’s ministry and the crippling of Mars Hill Church.

“Elders of Mars Hill Church: TEAR DOWN THE 2007 AND SUBSEQUENT BYLAWS!”

The 2007 bylaws are meaningless. We have seen behind the curtain and all that is left are the tatters of the so-called Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) under whose watch this calamity has occurred.

By rising up and exercising their biblical role, the elders must simply tear up the ever-changing and useless bylaws that the beleaguered BOAA has to now interpret to figure out a way forward, and revert to the 2006 bylaws, which although might need adjustment, are sound and give the elders equal authority to rule the church.

For months, Mike Wilkerson and Scott Thomas have been telling me that they are working on a document signed by a majority of the elders who were coerced under duress into unlawfully changing the bylaws in 2007. They intend to acknowledge that they were coerced and that they wish to exonerate Pastor Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, whose ruthless and firings and subsequent trial were the tools used to carry out that coercion.

I am not sure why we have not seen that statement, but I can tell you that a vast majority of the elders at that time attest to the grave mistake of not following their conscience during those events.  We know, from none other than former BOAA member Paul Tripp, that Mark Driscoll led and created a church that was “the most abusive and coercive” church that Tripp had ever worked with.

Not only are the current bylaws rather useless now, as they were designed to prop up, protect, and reward Mark Driscoll, but they are invalid because they were abusively coerced into existence.

Nothing will help create the governance required and action needed to save Mars Hill Church from total collapse more than the elders rising up and reinstating the rightful bylaws of the church.

By declaring the 2007 and subsequent bylaws as invalid the following benefits can occur:

  1. The actions of the BOAA and the reigning Executive elders can be immediately stopped.
  2. Six-figure severance packages for men who are millionaires can be stopped – at least until a full analysis of the finances can be assessed and members and donors be assured that no personal inurement has taken place. (This would prevent a court injunction to that end which is quite probable at this stage. It might also placate a growing crowd that is calling for the Attorney General of the State of Washington from starting its own investigation).
  3. The elders can not only exonerate Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, but all shunned elders and members. These men got it right, and need to be exonerated.
  4. All previous elders ought to be implored to return and be immediately reinstated to help Mars Hill Church recover. Some will be willing and they are sorely needed.
  5. The Noble Nine should be asked to be the Executive Elders (under the 2006 bylaws).
  6. An advisory council should be put together of local pastors to provide counsel and their protective hearts as Mars Hill Church rises from the ashes. I am sure there are many more, but these are some that would I would invite onto that council.
    1. Bill van der Merwe (Pastor – WestGate Chapel, Edmonds)
      Pastor Bill knows how to minister to the shunned and hurting.
    2. Rose Madrid-Swetman (Pastor – Vineyard Community Church, Shoreline
      Pastor Rose has actively cared about the crisis at Mars Hill Church.
      (don’t get your knickers in a knot.. even complimentarians recognize that Israel needed Debra at a time of crisis.)
    3. Dean Hellekson (Pastor – Redeemer Church, Lynnwood)
      Pastor Dean has had a lot of bruised ex-members come to his church and he knows how to minister to them.
    4. Pastor Dave Kraft
    5. Pastor Mike Howerton (Pastor – OverLake Christian Church)
      Pastor Mike knows the journey of a church from the ashes.
    6. Pastor Sam Ford (Pastor – Restoration Road, Sonohomish)
      Pastor Sam knows the details well, and deeply cares to see restoration.
    7. Pastor Alec Rowlands (Pastor – WestGate Chapel, Edmonds)
      Pastor Alec preaches Jesus and has led a mega-church for enough years to offer solid help and guidance.
    8. Pastor Wes Johnson (Pastor – Bethel Baptist Church, Everett)
      Pastor Wes loves the ordinary person and faithfully served in a downtown Everett church for decades.

Join me and call for the 2007 bylaws to be repealed (link to petition).

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” – My prayer for the elders at Mars Hill Church.

father forgive them

Mark Driscoll has resigned and nobody is happy.

Seven years ago there were twenty four elders who were responsible for ruling Mars Hill Church. As is now common knowledge, Mark Driscoll fired Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in a coercive move that enabled him to force the remaining elders to vote in new bylaws that consolidated power in Mark Driscoll.

By abdicating their biblical responsibility they laid the groundwork for all that has happened at Mars Hill Church.

Those 22 elders who voted to remove biblical accountability from Mark Driscoll created the environment that has led to the tragedy of the situation we now see at Mars Hill Church.

Despite all the emotion, the anger, the grief, and heartbreak of this journey, it is time to pray the prayer of Jesus and forgive these men for their incompetence and abandonment of their duties.

“Father, I forgive the elders of 2007, for they did not know what they were doing.”

I do forgive them, and sadly, I do believe that they had no idea what they were doing.

Then there is the current leadership.

18 months ago, Dave Kraft filed credible charges against Mark Driscoll. Michael van Skaik essentially ignored any reasonable due process in looking into the charges and a statement was issued that basically told the church that nothing he discovered disqualified Mark Driscoll from ministry.

At that time the church appeared to be strong. Had Mark Driscoll either resigned or been suspended at that time, the church would have been impacted, but it was in a good condition to weather the severe impact of Mark Driscoll’s departure. It would have been tough, but the church was in a strong position to survive it.

Instead, under the leadership of Michael van Skaik, James MacDonald, Paul Tripp, and Larry Osborne, the charges against Mark Driscoll have escalated.

Scandal after scandal emerged. Charges of plagiarism first trickled in, then showed up in multiple books. Stories of abuse and bullying began to be told. Lots of stories of abuse and bullying. Then the Result Source scandal rocked the church. Then the Global Fund scandal and the accompanying spin to explain the deceit. The sad story of the treatment of Pastor Ron Wheeler. Add to that the William Wallace II rants.

Than came Mark Driscoll lying to the camera saying he would reconcile, but said that those with whom he should reconcile “remained anonymous.”

21 former elders filed credible and serious charges against Mark Driscoll. Acts 29 threw him out of the organization he co-founded. And, nine current elders called for his suspension and filed new charges against him.

The church, under the watch of the Board of Advisors and Accountability, has been crippled by the abusive leadership of Mark Driscoll. Under the watchful eye of the BOAA, hundreds, then thousands of members leave. Elders are fired. The stories they tell are stunning in their combined voice against the abusive leadership of Mark Driscoll and the awful culture of Mars Hill Church.

Mars Hill Church falls to its knees as these men lead. Hundreds call for Mark Driscoll to be suspended and to be removed from being able to continue his abuse.

These men had opportunity after opportunity to remove Mark Driscoll. Yet they wait until the church is in shatters, and then they deliver the results of their investigation into the multiple charges against the pastor of the church that Paul Tripp said was the most abusive and coercive church he had ever worked with.

They declare that he is still fit for ministry.

As angry as I feel emotionally at these incompetent and pathetic men, I am choosing to forgive them.

“Father, I forgive the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability, for they do not know what they are doing.”