Mark Driscoll claims to be “world-class at truth-telling” (I kid you not!)

that is a whopper

On page 16 of “Real Marriage”, Mark Driscoll asserts that he is world-class at truth telling.

While most of us would agree that he is an excellent orator, many of us would not agree with his claim of being world-class at truth telling.

Have we heard the truth from Mark Driscoll after each scandal over the last several months? Perhaps we should go through them so that the reader can judge whether these reflect the world-class truth telling that is claimed.

  1. Rampant plagiarism in several of the books Mark Driscoll has written. Plagiarism is wrong because it represents that the work is your own, when in fact it is not. It misrepresents the truth.
  2. Using church funds to deceptively buy a position on the New York Times Bestseller list. This deed may be world-class, but of course is far from telling the truth.
  3. Not only is what he did deceptive and hardly telling the truth, but there were three different explanations given as the scandal unfolded.  The first was basically that what was done was not unusual and that in so doing more people would come to Jesus. The second spin was that it was unwise to have followed outside counsel, and then the third was that it was wrong and he is sorry. In the apology, it took seven lengthy paragraphs to get to admitting that it was wrong. Perhaps a world-class truth teller would rush to tell the truth, not take two attempts at avoiding the truth, and then crafting paragraphs of building up to argue that he is now moving fron having been an angry prophet to a spiritual father before he finally ekes out the fact that what he did was wrong.
  4. He preached for years that he was accountable to his elders. This was true before he coercively changed the bylaws in 2007. Yet after 2007 he continued to preach and say that he accountable to his elders, while at the same time reportedly tells the same elders that he does not “give a s—t” what the elders think.
  5. He cancelled the membership of all the church in 2007. Yet this self-acclaimed world-class truth teller has given several different accounts of this. He has said that it was because he raised the bar for membership,  he has also said that he “cleaned up the church, lost about one thousand people due to changes amidst intense criticism” (Page 16 “Real Marrige”), and others. What was the truth? Does he not know that 1000 ex-members left because he defrauded them of the church they were a member of? The so-called “replant” of Mars Hill Church (that the members had no say in) was both deceptive and defrauding.

I could go on. Needless to say, Mark Driscoll, a world-class orator, sadly does not appear to be a world-class truth teller.

The Trial of Paul Petry – Part 2 (and why it was unjust)


The trial of Paul Petry was conducted without impartiality. Therefor it was unbiblical and unjust.

The most significant charge to elders from the apostle Paul is the charge to be impartial. In other words, if you are going to put someone in trial, in order for a fair outcome there needs to be impartiality.

While this seems quite obvious, my strong email appeal to the twenty four elders before the trial was rejected. I also personally appealed to Scott Thomas, Tim Quiring, and Dave Kraft, as well as the man who would become “Lead Pastor” under the yet to be approved proposed bylaws, Jamie Munson.

Jamie Munson, who is now co-president of Storyville Coffee, told me that I was trying to bring in worldly thinking, and pointed out that I was not a lawyer. When I said it does not take a lawyer to interpret the old bylaws, he responded with the notorious Mark Driscoll line of rebuke, “You are pissing me off”.

The reason for my appeal was that in the trial of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, the accusers were also the prosecutors, and they were also on the jury. Impartiality was therefore impossible.  I found that stunning, which is why I appealed to all the elders the day before the unfair trial.

The most impassioned charge to elders in the Bible happens to be when Paul talk about the process of dealing with a charge against another elders. In Timothy 5:19-21 “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.  I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”

The call for impartiality is clear and to emphasize its importance, Paul made the charge in the presence of God, Christ Jesus, and His chosen angels.

The leadership of Mars Hill Church, under Mark Driscoll and Jamie Munson, ignored this charge, and placed me under discipline for appealing to the elders to please be impartial.

This is yet another reason why the verdict should be thrown out, Paul Petry exonerated, and the shunning ended.

The Trial of Paul Petry – Part 1 (and why it was unjust)



On the day before the trial of Paul Petry I learned a few startling facts about how the elders were planning to conduct the trial. I was concerned so I thought I would reach out to the elders and appeal to them.

Here is the email I sent them:

The subject line was : Please hold a fair and impartial trial – from Rob Smith

I included my name as most of the elders knew me, or at least knew who I was. I was not a stranger, and although I had several minor skirmishes with both Mark Driscoll and some of the other elders my reputation at Mars Hill was decent. Decent enough to be on the elder track – something that I did not actively seek out.

My skirmishes were almost always over how the elders treated members that they were trying to correct. I will review on or two of those on a future post. They were warning signs of Mars Hill Church moving in a bad direction. The reason for the skirmish would consistently be the elders or Mark Driscoll kicking back against my concerns. Usually the reaction was not kind.

But we always landed on our feet as brothers and I certainly did not feel rejected or humiliated. A part of that was probably my temperament, and a part was me realizing that the men I were interacting with were young at the post of being an elder and needed time to mature.

So I added my name to the title page in the hopes that they would at least read the email before the trial.

It did have some positive effect. Mark Driscoll told me that while they could not accept what appeared to be good counsel because the email was sent in arrogance, they did change their minds with regard to allowing Paul Petry to attend his own trial.

The trial was on October 15th, 2007. Note that my email appeal was sent on October 14th, one day before. Up until the evening of October 14th, Paul Petry was not invited to his own trial.

On the evening of October 14th, with the schedule of the trial less than 24 hours away, Paul was called by Scott Thomas who informed him that they had changed their minds and he was expected at his own trial.

In other words, Paul Petry, who had hardly slept for several days, was given less than 24 hours to prepare for his own trial.

While the right to a fair trial is embedded in our constitution as a part of a just and fair society, the right to prepare for a defense is also just as fair and just.

Paul Petry did not know what the charges were, and was given less than 24 hours to prepare to defend himself.

That is the first reason that the verdict should be discarded and subsequent shunning ended. We will look at more on the next post.

Michael van Skaik – demonstrating the “yarn” of “yearn”


Yearn:   to feel a strong desire or wish for something or to do something.

Yarn:     a tale, especially a long story of adventure or incredible happenings, sometimes hard to believe.

Michael van Skaik, chairman of the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability,  gives us another lesson in Christianese.  He demonstrates the use of the word “yearn”. This word, not used very much in normal speech, is almost always used when elders are trying to tell the sheep that despite much evidence to the contrary, they really, really, really want the exact opposite of what their actions are saying.

Does Mr. van Skaik and the members of the Board of Advisors and Accountability not know that actions speak louder than words?

When elders are scrambling to explain themselves, they will use the word “yearn” when they should use the word “yarn”. It means that the reader should perhaps read the tale with a grain of salt.

I personally tried to meet with Mr. van Skaik during the same time period that he was trying to determine anonymous sources that could bear witness to being personally sinned against by Mark Driscoll. Despite informing him that Mark Driscoll used abusive and vile language when talking to me, lied to me, slandered me, threatened to destroy me and my ministry, and despite clearly identifying myself to him, he showed no evidence of taking the charges seriously, despite what he claimed in his yarn to Mars Hill leaders recently.

Apparently the witnesses to the abuse of Mark Driscoll were anonymous? What planet do these men live on? I could round up multiple witnesses in one day!

While reading the following the flowery excerpts, keep in mind that the Petry family (also not hardly anonymous) are still being shunned – almost seven years of zero attempts to resolve matters by the leadership at Mars Hill Church. Also bear in mind that over 100 employees left in the last two years. In 2012, over 1000 members left. Notice the spiritual spin:

“…the Board took these charges extremely seriously.”

“However, we are hungry for reconciliation and are continually grieved…”

“We want to seek out and hear the hurts in a biblical manner… ”

“You need to know that I and the other Board members have witnessed the Holy Spirit’s work in…”

“…Pastors Mark, Dave and Sutton as they’ve grieved deeply over the hurts and sorrows that they’ve been the source of….”

“Their hearts yearn for repentance and reconciliation with those that have been hurt and offended.”

I ask the Board of Advisors and Accountability the same thing I have asked each member of the council of elders who voted against Paul Petry in his unfair trial in 2007. “How is it possible, if they have an inkling of the gospel, that they have not been reconciled to Paul Petry?”

I think the BOAA might be amazed at what might happen if they were to practice Matthew 5:23 with Paul Petry before spending months trying to reconcile with anonymous people.  I think most members and ex-members, employees and ex-employees are “yearning” to see that day. And that is no yarn.

Sutton Turner – Please stop the Christianese!

masking the truth

With all due respect to Sutton Turner, we are getting tired of listening and watching the leadership of Mars Hill Church use Christian terms, language, and concepts in their apparent desire to hide or avoid the truth.

The current updates, explanations and apologies are beginning be become somewhat humorous, if they weren’t so obviously deceptive and evasive. Read anything that has emerged from the BOAA or its members in the last three months to see what I mean. They do not want to just talk in plain English and deal with the questions members have.

In the latest release, Sutton Turner, avoids answering members questions about the illegalities of the Orange Country campus by saying “I am hoping and praying to be given the opportunity to speak personally and privately with the person who is raising these issues publicly. I want to discuss these matters brother to brother (Matt. 5:23, 18:15). My prayer is to reconcile with my brother first before responding broadly.””

Knowing how the leadership works at Mars Hill Church, this is not only another attempt to avoid answering the question, but Sutton Turner is implying that he is, as Matt 5:23 states, planning to clear the matter up with Kyle Firstenberg before doing anything else. “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.…”

This sounds very godly, but in fact has nothing to do with telling curious members the truth of the willful zoning violations in Orange County. It is also deceptive, as there has been no indication that Sutton Turner dropped everything a few weeks ago when the story broke in order to pursue reconciliation with Kyle as Matt 5 suggests. .

What has telling the truth to church members got to do with Matt 18? What has reconciliation with Kyle got to do with telling the truth.

The mother of all Christianese was the 140 plus page document answering members questions about the trial and subsequent shunning of Paul Petry

Click to access elders-response-to-questions-11-9-07.pdf

The language is nauseating.

Talks of elders consecrating themselves.. the petty sins of offenders and questioners as “grievous” and oozing of deep love for the members that they are pulverizing with their harsh actions.

Why don’t they just use plain old English and tell us the truth.

Mars Hill Church – Easy to remove a member, all but impossible to remove the lead pastor.


In an otherwise good article, Ed Stetzer shows us the foundation of the double standard in dealing with the sins of pastors versus the sins of members.

“First, the level of proof for accusation is higher– it’s on the basis of two or three witnesses, whereas in Matthew 18 any one believer can go to any one fellow believer when sin arises. This serves as a buffer against unwarranted criticism that can come with pastoral positions (though it’s often abused, but that is for another conversation).”

Ed Stetzer, who is often referred to as a church trend expert, suggests that the Matthew 18 process of believers dealing with each other when sin arises does not apply to someone in a pastoral position.

Perhaps this thinking is why in the new bylaws of Mars Hill Church there is one standard for dealing with the disqualifying sins of members (two elders just have to agree to remove the member) and a different standard for dealing with the lead pastor (the accusing member must submit their resignation, and submit their charge in writing, and the BOAA, which includes the lead pastor, decides if the charge is credible, and if credible, the process of dealing with it is in the hands of the Board of Overseers – made up of the independent members of the BOAA).

Bad ideas have long term consequences.

The notion that dealing with the sins of the lead pastor requires an absurdly high level of standard, while members can be tossed out by two elders (without any due process) is simply not biblical. But it has been seeded and allowed to flourish by “experts” that have promoted this double standard.

Perhaps two elders need to adjudicate the charges of abuse, deception, lies, slander and bullying against Mark Driscoll, and simply remove him from membership. At least they have the testimony of more than three witnesses.

Does the BOAA even care to hear the charges against Mark Driscoll?

i do not want to hear

Last year, when Dave Kraft sent Michael van Skaik, the chairman of the Mars Hill Church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability, a list of charges against Mark Driscoll, I was contacted by a former elder and encouraged to reach out to Mr. van Skaik with my issues with Mark Driscoll.

He clearly had no interest in hearing from me. There was no sense of concern, even after I told him that I had been lied to, slandered, threatened, and my character assassinated. He was only interested in getting me to submit to his newly decided rules of engagement.

There was no concern at all that I wanted to be heard, even less concern over the fact that I was a member claiming to have been harmed. Sadly, he was more interested in which elder recommended I reach out to him than he was in hearing my story.

If van Skaik is heading the current BOAA’s handling of the charges brought by the 20 anonymous elders, then I have little hope of there being a genuine desire to pursue justice or resolution.

Email and phone calls regarding charges against Mars Hill Church

Will I follow the leadership of an ex Mars Hill elder?


There appears to be a seeming impasse between those who have filed charges against Mark Driscoll and the BOAA who has the responsibility to determine if the charges are credible, and if credible the choice of how to respond.

While we all wait for some sign of progress, I have mused about what kind of leader I would follow.

It is no secret that I hold the 24 men who supported the firings and trials of Pastors Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, and the subsequent shunning of Paul Petry (and his family) responsible for the current mess. These 24 men voted to change the bylaws from the governance model that Driscoll preached and taught, to one that ushered in the current era where Driscoll has no accountabiliy to the elder board of Mars Hill Church.

If I am correct, there are 8 of these men left at Mars Hill Church. Of the 24, as we speak only Mike Wilkerson, Tim Quiring, Dick McKinley, Gary Shavey, Steve Tompkins, Bubba Jennings, A.J Hamilton and Phil Smidt are still at Mars Hill Church. How many are leaving soon remains to be seen. How many are among the 20 that have leveled charges against Driscoll is unknown.

But what interests me is the 16 men who have left. It seems that those who were full time elders at Mars Hill Church disappear and then end up as an elder or pastor elsewhere.

These are men that supported the abusive trial and shunning of Paul Petry.

Their actions were sinful and destructive, and to this day continue to wound and shame. So how is it possible that these men think that they can quietly move on and start or participate in leadership in another church without impunity?

So let me say this, In my opinion, the 24 elders who voted to remove Paul Petry as an elder and who supported his shunning are as disqualified for the office of elder as they now claim Mark Driscoll to be. The men who became elders subsequently but who were aware of the facts yet still supported the shunning of Paul Petry are culpable by their inaction.

So we now have a lot of men who bear the responsibility of the mess we now see who think they can silently exit (with severance pay if they agree to silence) and then just keep on presenting themselves as leaders in some other setting.

These men are not fit to be leaders, yet they march on in various roles of leadership. Often they plant another church or present themselves as experts on leadership. Just Google their names…. they all seem to be in ministry somewhere else.

So, let me tell you what kind of leader I will follow.

The reality is that we are all broken. None of us are above reproach and meet the high standards of en elder. We therefor end up having to follow men who do have sinned, do sin, and will still sin. This does not mean we cannot follow leaders.

It is my opinion that the 24 men who participated in the 2007 trial and shunning, and the subsequent men who supported the actions over the years show themselves to be leaders by openly addressing the sin they participated in.

Several of these men have come to the Petry family in private to repent of a public sin. So some level of healing takes place, but the broader community (the church) is left wondering and in many cases hurting in the dark.

I cannot support such a man taking a place of new leadership in a church plant, or another church, or a para-church ministry as if he had nothing to do with the sin against the Petrys.

I will respect and follow the men that come out into the light, and say in public that they sinned against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. They need to make public the call to end the shunning of the Petry family, and show public repentance for the public sin they participated in. Failure to do this simply continues the abuse and continues to hurt the hundreds of families that were harmed as a result of the 2007 sins of the elders. It also shows that these men lack the courage that a leader needs in order to lead.

In my opinion, failure to address this publicly shows continued disqualification of leadership. If you cannot address your public sin in public, you have no business slinking off starting new churches or ministries and acting like you are a qualified elder or leader.

Confessing in private is great. But if that is your choice, then please do not step back into leadership elsewhere. You are prolonging the harm and you need to heed Paul’s warning to the church in 2 Cor 2:11. Failure to end the punishment of the shunned brother leads to being outwitted by Satan.

Musings from under the bus

I have begun this blog with two purposes in mind. The first is to have a place to share my thoughts regarding dealing with having been shunned by other believers, and the second is to provide avenues for a way forward for both those that have been shunned or impacted by the church that has shunned its members, as well as those that have participated in shunning as either a leader or a church member.