The .01% that supports the 99%. Hail Mary?

Hail Mary

In its 2012 annual report, Mars Hill Church reports that .01% out of 12,172 attendees gave over $100,000 to the church in the 2012 fiscal year. That means just one person gave that much or more. This is the same year that executive elder, Sutton Turner, stated in a recently discovered memorandum, that the church’s finances were in a “big mess” (link).  Turner also said that every December, the organization commences a “Hail Mary” giving push.

2012 giving range

The push likely does result in some additional giving from members, but there is no doubt that the real “Hail Mary” is a single donor who gives over $100,000 per year that the church relies on.

If the stats in the 2012 report from Mars Hill Church are correct, there is only a single donor who gives over $100,000 per year. The report shows the percentage of every level of giving. It gives the reader the percentages of attendees that give nothing, as well as the percentage of each giving range. The report gives the exact percentage of each category. The following tables show what the numbers look like. The first table assumes a high average giving for each category (75% above median) in order to reduce the single donor contribution. So the 0 to $500 range is assumed to average $375 (as opposed to $250 which is more likely statistically).

2012 giving analysis above average

If the 2012 financial report is correct, and .01% of donors out of 12,162 people (which is 1) gave above $100,000, then that single donor gave $4,574,991.  Total campus giving, according to the report, was $19,709,462. The giving percentage chart doesn’t specify what total is being used, so it is possible, using this high average, that the single donor gave $229,698.

Of course, the likelihood is that the numbers average out normally. In such a case, the single donor gave a lot more.

2012 giving analysis average

In order for the percentages given to us by Mars Hill Church to be accurate, a single giver gave as much as $8,958,432 toward the total amount given. If the pie chart from the report reflects campus giving, then that lone donor likely gave $4,613,139.

It is clear that there is a single donor who has propped up Mars Hill Church significantly. Without this donor, the burden of promoting Mark Driscoll as “the brand,” and the burdensome costs promoting Mark Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage, that Sutton Turner mentioned in his memo, would have been crushing.

This mystery donor is very vested in Mars Hill Church.

Historically, members have been aware of a single donor who has donated sound systems that are worth over $100,000 in value. There have also been revelations of a single donor who has flown elders around in private jets and hosted elder retreats that would amount to over $100,000 per year. Statistically, if there is only a single donor who gives over $100,000 per year, then the above mentioned gifts likely come from that single donor.

It would seem then that a donor, with private jets and expertise in musical equipment, has donated substantially toward the branding and success of both Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll. He or she is likely very close to Mark Driscoll and has been a significant help and influence in his life and his success.

Imagine the sense of loyalty of that donor to Mark Driscoll.

What must that donor think as the independent (according to ECFA standards) members of the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) consider whether Mark Driscoll’s days as the lead pastor and “The Brand” are over?

There is nothing more sacred when charges are made against a person then to have an impartial and independent panel of adjudicators reviewing the evidence. This safeguards the verdict and makes it fair, credible and honorable.

Let us all pray that the BOAA has the independence to render a fair and just verdict once the Board of Overseers has completed its investigation of the numerous charges against Mark Driscoll.

 

 

The big E’s on the Mars Hill org-chart

Big E on the eye chart 1

Everyone has now seen the memo that Sutton Turner wrote to his fellow executive elders, whom we shall refer to as the big E’s on the org-chart. (link)

While Turner’s memo discloses many troubling issues, including a transparent look at what was actually happening behind the scenes versus what was reported to the church congregation and the public – which I am sure will be further analyzed in other and future blogs – the big E on the org-chart was missed.

Most noticeable is how Turner is very critical of employees who used church resources for their personal benefit. He is not critical, however, of the biggest E on the org-chart, Mark Driscoll, who used $220,000 of church monies to deceptively buy himself a spot on the New York Times bestseller list and used substantial church resources to promote his book, Real Marriage.

Turner repeatedly mentions the cash flow burden of promoting Real Marriage, but he mentions this because of the heavy cost to Mars Hill Church and not out of concern that the promotion of Driscoll’s book was wholesale use of church resources to personally benefit Mark Driscoll.

The Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) insisted that “all monies from the sale of Pastor Mark’s books at Mars Hill bookstores have always gone to the church and Pastor Mark did not profit from the Real Marriage books sold either at the church or through the Result Source marketing campaign.”  (link)

Given the fact that the “Noble Nine” elders who called for Mark Driscoll to step down also accused the BOAA of being misleading (especially board chairman Michael van Skaik) (link) and of being non-transparent, one has to examine the BOAA’s statement very carefully.

The BOAA stated that “all monies from the sale of Pastor Marks’ books at Mars Hill Bookstores have always gone to the church…” The church bookstores? The bookstores are in each campus and of course the sale of those books would go to the campus. But the books bought by the Result Source contract were not sold through the Mars Hill bookstores. Furthermore, the books at the bookstore would have been purchased wholesale, and any royalties would be a part of the cost.

The royalties of the book actually go into various trusts. The BOAA did not say that trusts received the royalties from the sale of the books. What they said was that Mark Driscoll himself did not profit from books sold at the church or through the Real Marriage contract. According to the Noble Nine elders, the BOAA has proven to be less than transparent. The BOAA statement is technically correct because the trust, On Mission, LLC, got the royalties and not Mark Driscoll himself. (link)

Any Real Marriage book sales not through the Mars Hill bookstores or through the Real Marriage campaign would likely profit Mark Driscoll. Yet according to Sutton Turner’s memo, the church was bearing the heavy cost of promoting Driscoll’s book,Real Marriage, while the copyright is not in the church’s name and it is likely that Driscoll owns the intellectual property rights as well.

Mark Driscoll said “Mars Hill gets half of all the royalties…[of] the books that I publish.” (link) 

So church resources being used for the personal benefit of the lead pastor – the big E on the org chart – is acceptable? But it is not acceptable for anyone else to use church resources for their personal benefit?

Big E on the eye chart 5

 

Finally – an ounce of transparency from within Mars Hill Church.

emperors_new_clothes

Today a letter from Sutton Turner to the fellow executive elders Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas was posted by Warren Throckmorton (link).

It is stunning. It will momentarily give you some respect and sympathy for the newly-hired-at-the-time Sutton Turner.

There is much to process as a former Mars Hill member reading of the extravagance of eating at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and treating wives to the spa using church funds.  But there are two things that stand out.

  1. The extravagant spenders Sutton was concerned about were not Mark Driscoll or the executive elders. The culture of using the church to further their own personal benefit that was pointed out was at the level of the rank and file elders. These are the same men that are calling for the disqualification of Mark Driscoll.
  2. Sutton claims that there was a “culture of using the platform created by Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church to build a staff member’s own personal ministry”. He seems to gloss over the many times he repeated the Real Marriage Campaign which clearly used church funds to build Mark Driscoll’s personal ministry (and fortune). It is clear that to Turner the ministry of Mars Hill Church and the personal ministry (and the personal inurement that resulted) were one and the same. It reminds me of the reports where Mark Driscoll said to his elders, “I am the brand” (link).

Bear in mind that the elders who have charged Mark Driscoll with various sins and are calling for his head were elders who were employed by Mars Hill Church in 2011 and 2012, and who were using church monies to eat and live lavishly. It is no wonder then, that so very few of these elders have added their names to the repentantpastor.com site.

It would seem that now that this letter is out, we should see many of the elders step up to the plate and show repentance for their misuse of church funds and the neglect of other pastoral duties, including the support of the firing of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, the shunning of the Petry family (which is still in force) and the changing of the bylaws that created this culture of runaway unaccountability.

The MH wounded… where are Acts 29, TGC, T4G, and real shepherds?

“The credibility of the church will rise and fall on how it treats the weak and wounded. Mark Driscoll called former friends and former pastors ‘bodies under the bus’ and was hoping for a mountain of them. I know of no high-profile pastor who has publicly called for prayer for those bodies.” Matt Redmond writes in an excellent post (link).

The sheep continue to hurt as men who propped up, enabled, supported, lauded, and benefitted from Mark Driscoll make comments about praying for and supporting Driscoll while they have no words of concern for the sheep.

As the discussion continues within the church analyzing how the Mars Hill Church rise and fall happened, certain men are going to have to speak. It would be healing to all if they spoke words of comfort and prayer for the thousands who have been harmed in so many countless ways.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some of the men we need to hear from:

Pray 2  pray 4pray 5   Pray 8

Pray 7   pray 11 dacarson 2pray chan 1   pray dever 2pray keller and piper 1   Pray rick warren 1pray tripp 2   pray wilson 1

 

pray breshears 1   pray breshears 2

pray darrin ed   pray stetzer

 

and finally… just for the sake of a little humor…..

Pray - humor

I have a dream! [With enormous respect to the great Dr. King.]

I have a dream

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Gospel.

I have a dream that one day this church will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all elders are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of Mars Hill shunned members and the sons of Mars Hill members will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the Bellevue Campus, a church sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day belong to a Mars Hill church where they will not be judged by the nature of their questioning but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Ballard, with its vicious shunnings, with its pastor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Ballard, little shunned boys and disciplined girls will be able to join hands with little elder’s boys and lead pastor’s girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the church with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our church into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to coffee together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning,

Come thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise!

And if  Mars Hill Church is to be a great church this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening buildings of Bellevue!

Let freedom ring from snowcapped Mount Ranier over looking Tacoma!

Let freedom ring from the Sandias’ slopes of Albuquerque!

But not only that; let freedom ring from downtown Seattle!

Let freedom ring from Leary Street in Ballard!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of  Huntington Beach. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s Mars Hill Church children, members and ex-members, employees and ex-employees, elders and ex-elders, executive elders and board members, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Mark Driscoll and his two executives do not trust the elders of Mars Hill Church

broken trust

[UPDATE: Within minutes of this post from Musings - coincidently, Mars Hill Church posted their bylaws on their website. This is a change - hopefully for the positive (link).]

The elders of Mars Hill Church cannot see their own bylaws, according to the latest departing elder, Pastor Dustin Kensrue (link).  As it now turns out, the bylaws of a church that handles millions of dollars can be simply rewritten by the three executive elders at will – without church members or elders even knowing about it.

How can anyone be held accountable if they can simply rewrite the bylaws at will?

This is beyond a joke.

Here is how it happened.

  • The entire membership was betrayed in 2007 with a rogue change in the bylaws. The church that we joined, because it had a plurality of elders (i.e.: a safe church) and had given millions of dollars to and countless hours of effort toward, changed its bylaws in a coercive and despicable way.
  • The new bylaws became repeatedly changed despite church members being required to agree with them. As the bylaws changed, members were not notified and the bylaws become increasingly hard to find.
  • The current bylaws are now withheld from the elders of the church. So who is responsible, and who reports to whom? How is the church governed?

Mars Hill Church has members who are expected to agree with the bylaws, but the bylaws have become as secretive as the lucrative salaries being paid to the three Executive Elders. The last bylaws we did see (link) show that members are “members” in name only. Under the terms of the 2012 bylaws, the only “actual” legal members of the church were the elders. Church members were defined as “members only in a spiritual and theological sense,” but not actually members in a civil sense.

In classic Orwellian doublespeak, members are not actually members, except for the purpose of giving their dollars and time to the actual members (the elders) to spend as they choose.

It would appear that there are now new bylaws where the elders at Mars Hill Church are not actually elders from any Reformed point of view. They have no say in how the church is run and have no right to see the bylaws or to change them.

Because the bylaws are hidden from almost everyone now, this raises serious questions. Questions like the following:

- Who actually owns the property that the church keeps buying with the members’ (non) donations?

- How does the money get spent? What happened to the money that was raised for the Jesus Festival?

- While employees are getting laid off, are the Executive Elders still getting their full salaries?

- What are the cash reserves of the church?

- Who decides to buy new property?

- Who owns the church properties if the church locks its doors?

None of these questions are likely to be answered under the present bylaws, because the Executive Elders are the only actual members of the church. Non-members, who think they are members, and non-elders who think they are elders, have no right to information like this.

And the ECFA continues to endorse the financial accountability of Mars Hill Church.

Yup!! That is what I was thinking too.

Radically change the bylaws…they represent a “deft grab for power.” — Dustin Kensrue

power 1

Pastor Dustin Kensrue, in his letter of resignation from Mars Hill Church, says that the Mars Hill Church “bylaws need to be radically changed…” (link)

These bylaws were changed to consolidate power in 2007, following the ruthless firing and “trials” of  two elders – part of a manipulative scheme to coerce young elders to vote for the change or lose their jobs. There is broad consensus and substantial evidence that this was essentially a power grab by Mark Driscoll and his designated “lead pastor” Jamie Munson.

Dustin Kensrue had the courage to say what many of us have been saying for years:  That there was a theological shift that reflects “a deliberate and deft grab for power.”

This shift happened in 2007. Up until 2007, the elders were the highest authority in the church. The church was ruled by a plurality of elders who had an equal vote in all church matters. The executive elders were delegated limited authority by the full council of elders and were completely accountable to these elders.

Mark Driscoll and Jamie Munson, in a 145-page document defending the new bylaws (after many members complained and ultimately over 1000 members left the church) accused Paul Petry and Bent Meyer of “jockeying for power.” This is fascinating, as after Driscoll argued that he was giving up power, even though he had no more power than any other elder, ended by saying that “it has…been absolutely amazing to see all but one of those men humble themselves and give up what is best for them [power] to do what is best for Jesus and our entire church.”

So for opposing the bylaw changes, Mark Driscoll accused Paul Petry and Bent Meyer of  jockeying for power. What these men were opposing was what Driscoll was amazed at by his own words, that the elders were giving up their power.  Driscoll said he was giving up power in the new bylaws – bylaws that gave him more power and totally stripped the elders of any power whatsoever and then he told us that he is amazed that the elders gave up power. So everyone was giving up power with the new bylaws  – according to Mark Driscoll. The wordsmithing is subtle and Pastor Kensrue hit the nail on the head. The Executive Elders made a deft grab for power.

The end result was that the new 2007 bylaws ended up leading to a situation wherein Mark Driscoll and his two executives, Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas, have all the power and the elders at large have no power.

Pastor Kensrue is correct. There was as theological shift that reflected a deliberate and deft grab for power. Sadly, it was significantly misrepresented to the members in a 145-page document full of half-truths and untruths (link).

In defending the firings of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in 2007, Mark Driscoll, along with the pliant elders at the time, stated the following:

- To make matters worse, there was a growing disrespect among some elders who were jockeying for and abusing power.

- The illusion of unity our eldership had maintained over the years was kept in part by my tolerating some men who demanded more power

- This meant that I needed to give up a great deal of power and trust other elders, deacons, and members to care for the church with the same passionate affection that I have for our people.

- To begin this process I had to go first and divest myself of a great deal of power.

- Sadly, it was during the bylaw rewriting process that two of our elders…chose to fight in a sinful manner in an effort to defend their power and retain legal control of the entire church.

- …my research indicated men commonly respond by sinfully seeking power, money, preference, control, and information as ways to exercise pride and fight for their interests over the interests of the team, church, and mission of Jesus Christ.

- … some church members even began accusing the other elders of grabbing power and not caring for the best interests of our people, which is nothing short of a lie and contradictory in every way to the entire process we were undertaking

- It has been painful to see a few men whom I loved and trained as elders become sinful, proud, divisive, accusatory, mistrusting, power hungry, and unrepentant.

- It has, however, been absolutely amazing to see all but one of those men humble themselves and give up what is best for them [power] to do what is best for Jesus and our entire church.

- There are two groups of elders that are giving up “civil authority” (not biblical authority) in the adoption of the new bylaws. The first is the Full Council of Elders which consists of every elder from every campus.

. What actually happens in a system like that is that fewer and fewer people continue to get power because with so many elders you can’t get anything done and as a result the red tape increases, bureaucracy ensues and shortcuts begin to be developed so that things can actually happen.

In specific Pastor Mark is giving up the most individual authority and power. Previous to these organizational changes he was the Lead Pastor, Preaching Pastor, Head of the Elder Board and the President of the non-profit corporation. With these changes the only current role he holds of those previously held is Preaching Pastor. The intention is to not hoard power but rather share it so that many elders and many leaders can hold positions of influence based on their individual gifts and callings.

Pastor Mark has stepped down on his own initiative as lead pastor as an example for us all. He has less power and has more accountable systems around him. There is a growing sense of health among the elders as we wrestled with the Bylaws and the recent investigations. The new bylaws provide less chance of an individual elder or a small group of elders thwarting the mission of the church.

The 145-page document is a masterpiece of obfuscation and spin-doctoring. Simply put, the 2007 bylaws are at the root of the current problems facing Mars Hill Church, where brutal leaders cannot be stopped by qualified elders who have been called to serve, protect and rule the church. It is simply a recipe for corruption and abuse. Or as Bent Meyer prophetically noted in 2007, they are “a formula for mischief.”

Jesus left the 99 sheep and pursued the one – while Mars Hill Church assures the 99 and ignores the one.

lost sheep 1

With both Mars Hill Church and Acts 29, the terms “shepherd”, “chief shepherd”, “pastor” and “elder” are spoken of with frequency. Within the strong DNA of both organizations is the prevalent expectation that the members submit to the shepherds or elders. The last line of the Mars Hill Church membership covenant states:

I understand that this covenant obligates me to the members of Mars Hill and is an acknowledgment of my submission to the elders of the church. I accept the responsibility to notify Mars Hill leadership if at any time I can no longer commit to this covenant, or if I have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding Mars Hill Church.    (link1) [emphasis added]

This is not just a Mars Hill Church requirement, but also is characteristic of Acts 29 churches. The Village Church (Matt Chandler’s church – President of Acts 29) states it this way:

I covenant…to submit to the elders and other appointed leaders of the church and diligently strive for unity and peace within the church.   (link2)  [emphasis added]

These shepherds desire submission from the flock, but when they are questioned by a sheep, they frequently react in such a way that the sheep is then forced out of the flock. When this causes the flock to be flustered, all the attention then is focused on making the flock comfortable, while the lone sheep that has left the flock is abandoned, or worse, slandered and isolated.

This isolation comes in the form of shunning, whether formal (as in Mars Hill Church’s call to shun Paul Petry – now concluding its seventh year) – or informal, as many members of both Mars Hill Church and many Acts 29 former church members have experienced.

This is in stark contrast to what Jesus taught.

 If any of you has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, what will you do? Won’t you leave the ninety-nine in the field and go look for the lost sheep until you find it? And when you find it, you will be so glad that you will put it on your shoulder and carry it home. Then you will call in your friends and neighbors and say, “Let’s celebrate! I’ve found my lost sheep.” — Luke 15:4-6

While hundreds of abused ex-members are crying out, Mars Hill Church leaders are doing all they can to assure the members of the church that this “season” will pass, while ignoring the sheep that have left, injured, strayed, or been abandoned. They are ignoring the lost sheep.

Mark Driscoll, who is claiming that his “angry young prophet” days are over and now his “older spiritual father” days lie ahead, has said that he is reaching out to the sheep he has hurt. There is no evidence that he has or is doing this. In my personal case, my requests to speak with Mark Driscoll get nowhere, and BOAA chairman Michael van Skaik has refused to talk to me, despite my willingness to drive from Seattle to Bend, Oregon to see him.

Countless other hurt sheep have had the same experience.

Elders who knew me well, despite the evidence that I and my family were harmed and slandered, have simply ignored our pain, and in some cases actively spurned us. I say this not to draw attention to Merle’s and my pain, but to point out that this is the experience of most families who have been harmed through the shunning and “discipline” process at Mars Hill and other Acts 29 churches.

Rather than pursue the lost sheep and genuinely try to find reconciliation, the individual sheep is isolated through shunning, slandered through one-sided half-truths, while the perpetrators of the abuse are surrounded with love and affirmation. The remaining sheep are called to submit to these “shepherds” or face similar discipline. They are told to “trust” the shepherds and not the stories that come from the lost sheep via social media – the only means the shepherds have left the lost sheep in their effort to cry out.

There has been no reasonable attempt by Mark Driscoll to reconcile with Bent Meyer, Lief Moi or Paul Petry, not to mention many equally hurt ex-members, staff and leaders from Mars Hill Church. Michael van Skaik has been charged by his own elders of not being truthful about reaching out to victims of abuse. Sadly, the DNA of Mars Hill Church is to keep the hurting bodies “under the bus” and refuse to seek them out as Jesus sought out the one sheep that was missing.

Perhaps the shepherds at Mars Hill Church, and those at churches that carry the Acts 29 DNA, should stop emphasizing submission to the elders, and start emphasizing the true role of a shepherd – a good shepherd. That role is not to lord over the sheep, but to tend to the sheep.

Especially the one sheep who has left the flock in pain.

baby lamb

The “Noble Nine” pastors in the fiery furnace at Mars Hill Church. No wait! There are ten!

1-19-Martin-Luther-King-ftr

“You must do right because it’s right to do right…”
“I am 38 years old, but I am dead if I do not stand for justice…”
“You may lose your job…”

Powerful words of encourgement from a great preacher.

three-men-in-fiery-furnace-39474-tablet

“Ultimately you must do right because it’s right to do right. And you got to say ‘But if not…’
“You must love ultimately because it’s lovely to love.
“You must be just because it’s right to be just.
“You must be honest because it’s right to be honest.

“This is what this text is saying more than anything else. And finally, you must do it because it has gripped you so much that you are willing to die for it if necessary. And I say to you this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

“You may be 38 years old as I happen to be, and one day some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause–and you refuse to do it because you are afraid; you refuse to do it because you want to live longer; you’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you’re afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house, and so you refuse to take the stand.

“Well you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90! And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right, you died when you refused to stand up for truth, you died when you refused to stand up for justice. These boys stand before us today, and I thank God for them, for they had found something.

“The fiery furnace couldn’t stop them from believing. They said “Throw us into the fiery furnace.” But you know the interesting thing is, the Bible talks about a miracle. Because they had faith enough to say “But if not,” God was with them as an eternal companion.

“And this is what I want to say finally, that there is a reward if you do right for righteousness’ sake.

“It says that somehow that burning fiery furnace was transformed into an air-conditioned living room. Somebody looked in there and said ‘We put three in here, but now we see four!’ Don’t ever think you’re by yourself. Go on to jail if necessary but you’ll never go alone.

“Take a stand for that which is right, and the world may misunderstand you and criticize you, but you never go alone, for somewhere I read that ‘One with God is a majority,’ and God has a way of transforming a minority into a majority.

“Walk with him this morning and believe in him and do what is right and he’ll be with you even until the consummation of the ages. Yes, I’ve seen the lightning flash, I’ve heard the thunder roll, I’ve felt sin’s breakers dashing trying to conquer my soul but I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on, he promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone; no, never alone, no, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.

“Where you’re going this morning, my friends, tell the world that you’re going with truth. You’re going with justice, you’re going with goodness, and you will have an eternal companionship. And the world will look at you and they won’t understand you, for your fiery furnace will be around you, but you’ll go on anyhow. But if not, I will not bow, and God grant that we will never bow before the gods of evil.”

____________________________________________________________________________

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 5, 1967. The title, “But if Not”, comes from Daniel chapter 3, verse 18.

Seriously?

Seriously 1

It seems that we have heard the word “seriously” a lot from the leadership of Mars Hill Church.

Seriously :

Adverb

  1. in a solemn or considered manner. “the doctor looked seriously at him”
  2. with earnest intent; not lightly or superficially.

First it was Michael van Skaik, whose integrity has been seriously challenged (along with Sutton Turner), who told us that the charges against Mark Driscoll had been taken seriously, the matter decided once and for all. He along with Sutton are been charged by nine pastors with being deceptive (i.e. lying).

Then we have repeatedly been told that the BOAA takes matters seriously, and of course they also cleared Mark Driscoll. No charge rose to the level of “disqualification.” Their decision was final. After all, they tried very hard to find witnesses, and only a handful spoke up, and these were mostly good reports. (Of course, this deceptive statement has now been challenged by the “noble nine” pastors).

Now we have the next level of seriously motivated men. These men are elders and pastors who are taking everything seriously, especially the seriousness of the leaks at Mars Hill Church. These leaks are very serious!

After all, unlike the numerous and well established sins of Marl Driscoll, and unlike the deception of Sutton Turner and Michael van Skaik, the leaks “tarnish” the gospel. Therefore they must be taken seriously. Very seriously.

Of course, we have already looked at the Mars Hill leadership’s understanding of the word “yearn”, where Michael van Skaik said that he and the BOAA “yearned for reconciliation.” (Of course, neither he nor they had actually tried to reconcile with any offended ex-member that we know of.) Just saying these words make them to be true.

Kind of like the name-it-and-claim it gospel. If we say we are serious, or if we say that we yearn, it makes it so.

Seriously?

It would appear that the Mars Hill leadership took charges against Pastor Mark Dunford’s role in the actions of the “noble nine” seriously. He was removed from office on Tuesday, just days after his “serious” actions. Surely if the clearly established charges against Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner and Michael van Skaik are taken as seriously, we should see action very soon.

A last thought. How about considering that those who are telling everyone about the repeated and well-documented sins of the Mars Hill leadership, collaborated by Acts 29 and men like Paul Tripp, are taking 1 Timothy 5:24 & 25 seriously:

“The sins of some people are obvious, leading them to judgment. The sins of others follow them there.  In the same way, good actions are obvious, and those that are not cannot remain hidden.”

…and take 1 Timothy 5:20 very seriously:

“Those who sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. “

…the word “all” comes from the Greek word meaning “all…everyone…” (using social media if necessary).

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