Profit, priest and king

The King of Id

Mars Hill Church’s “triperspectival” version of leadership was challenged by ousted and shunned pastor Paul Petry. Rather prophetic, I would say.
 
Everyone seems to be surprised by Sutton Turner referring to himself as “King” yet the terminology has been used by the leadership of Mars Hill Church for years. It has only been recently that the Mars Hill leadership web page no longer mentions Driscoll as “the prophet” or Bruskas as “the priest” (possibly because Driscoll now envisions himself referred to as “Father.” Father Mark?). But the Mars Hill web page still states that Sutton Turner is “kingly.”
 
Anybody who has been paying attention should not be surprised by the titles bestowed on the three executive elders – the result of hierarchical teaching that started infecting leadership prior to 2007, and which Pastor Paul addressed in his 10/25/2007 “scathing letter” to the elders just five days before they voted to pass the new bylaws which stripped them of all legal authority and permanently changed the entire governance of the church:
 
My greatest sins, however, are not what I have said and done but what I have failed to say and do. I failed to speak up to confront and resist the abusive spiritual authority and false teaching about authority that has infected the hearts and imaginations of Pastor Mark, the Executive Elders, and other elders who have bought into it, even though several of you have privately expressed grave reservations – namely, the “domineering over” (1Peter 5:2) which has grown increasingly worse, which is clearly forbidden of elders who are called to serve like Christ, laying down their lives for the sheep.

The sins I am accused of, “disrespecting and distrusting spiritual authority and improperly handling confidential information,” are they not the sins Mark and the EE team are guilty of because they assume some spiritual preeminence they do not have – not delegated by our by-laws, nor by God Himself? Have they not “distrusted and disrespected” the shared leadership biblical eldership model that is clear from Scripture and that is functionally laid out in our current by-laws? Have they not failed to be open, honest, forthright and willing to hear dissenting opinions about their “confidential” plans to lead this flock, but have instead worked with a heavy hand in secret, taking matters into their own hands to get the control and power they want and believe they should have?

I sinned by failing to speak up months ago when the false doctrine/teaching of “Prophets, Priests, and Kings” was embraced and adhered to as if it were Scripture and utilized to further justify a false/sick authoritarian leadership model. Did not the embracing of this false teaching set into motion a whole string of sinful behaviors, starting with elevating or subjugating and valuing elders based on gifting? Does the Scripture make these value distinctions? My understanding of 1 Corinthians chapters 1-4 clearly negates this teaching and commands us to end all such boasting.
 
Does not God put the body together as He determines, commanding us to consider others better than ourselves? And, can “one part of the body say to another part, I don’t need you?” (1Corinthians chapters 12 and 13) Is what is currently being referred to as a “kingly” gifting, as though this grants someone more authority and more importance/value than other giftings, not simply referred to as those having gifts of administration according to1Corinnthians 12:28?

This church started out with a clear commitment to biblical eldership. Where is that commitment now? Is not the way the new EE team was installed, the way it operates, and the new proposed by-laws, a clear shift away from a biblical model of authority and leadership to a corporate/militaristic model where power is centralized, autonomous, and authority is not to be questioned? Are we now to follow a leadership model that more closely aligns with “the divine rite of kings?” 
 

Burn your Non Disclosure Agreement

Burn the NDA

Refusing to walk in the light because of foolishly signing an NDA is not unlike King Saul’s actions in 1 Sam 15.

In Acts 19 the church saw amazing things happen under Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. In Acts 19:19 we read that among the many that came to Christ were sorcerers. As they came to Christ, they took their books about magic arts and burned them. The cost to them was significant. Some modern translations suggest it was equivalent to millions of dollars in today’s currency.

So what has this to with the NDA’s that are keeping elders and pastors from speaking the truth?

Well, in 1 Sam 15 we read about King Saul disobeying the command of Samuel and receiving a stiff rebuke with severe consequences.

King Saul justified his sin, blamed others, made it all about himself, and stated that he had done it all in obedience to God. At this point of King Saul’s reign God had had enough. Through Samuel he delivers a harsh rebuke to Saul:

Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices. As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” 1 Sam 15:22-23

In giving this awful rebuke to Saul, in which Samuel tells Saul that God has rejected his kingship, he also links the sin of rebellion to the sin of witchcraft.

In the current scenario, men who believe they are called by God and qualified to be elders, church planters, pastors and leaders are refusing to bear witness to the abuse of power that they have witnessed and been a part of because they have signed Non-Disclosure Agreements and are afraid of being sued and do not want to go against the terms of the NDA.

Their word is what is needed at this time.

If more than eight men voted against their conscience due to the pressure and threats seven years ago when changing the bylaws, then the truth will be out that the vote was manipulated. If these men know of facts behind the misuse of church funds in the NYT Bestseller scandal, the truth should be heard. If they have seen the repeated abuse of employees in recent years, the light of truth is critical. They can shed light on the repeated scandals now plaguing Mars Hill Church.

To be silent when hundreds of members and ex-employees are deeply wounded by the abuse created by a governance model where it is all but impossible to hold the abusers to account is a dereliction of a shepherd’s duty. The fact that an NDA has been foolishly signed does not mean that an ex-elder can walk away from hurting sheep. Repent of signing the NDA and speak the truth.

For an elder to say that he cannot speak up because he signed an NDA means that the truth remains hidden.

Burn the NDA! Pay the price! Be like the early Ephesian Christians. Trust that God will protect and bless you.

But please do not hide your testimony.

Anger Bitterness and Revenge.

Angry Fist

 

“To accuse those of us are who bloodied and wounded after being thrown under the bus of bitterness is just a continuance of the abuse that has become part and parcel of the leadership style at Mars Hill Church”

A common perception among many who are still at Mars Hill as well as some that have left is that those of us speaking up are bitter and angry people who desire revenge.

Here is an example.

“Rob, The bottom honest line is that you are perceived as a bitter, angry man and some I know want to keep their distance from you. I know it hurts to hear this, but that is the perception.  That plus it appears that you are a one trick pony not really interested in the well being of the church or of its leadership but of primarily exercising revenge for what happened to you, Bent and Paul. ”

(Interesting fact is that I received this note after over six years of silence relating to Mars Hill leadership.)

So let’s talk about anger, bitterness and revenge.

Anger

Anger is not necessarily sin, as well all know the admonition to “be angry, and do not sin” (Eph 4:26)

I can acknowledge that in many ways I have been angry. I was angry that Mark Driscoll threatened to destroy me and my ministry. I was angry that he used me and my precious wife’s talents with such little regard or respect. I was angry that he manipulated the ouster of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in such a way as to coerce twenty four elders to vote away governance by a plurality of elders. I am angry that he, Jamie Munson and Scott Thomas lied to me, about me and slandered my name. I could go on.

There are many valid reasons that those of us thrown under the bus can point to that have made us angry.  Every time we hear of another spin, another lie, another abuse or excuse, it can rekindle anger.

But anger itself is not sinful. Jesus was angry (and that was not one of Jesus’ mistakes the Driscoll’s teaching implied last week). http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/05/19/mars-hill-church-deletes-mark-driscolls-teaching-on-jesus-making-mistakes/

Righteous anger leads to righteous action. Anger, if not channeled well, can lead to bitterness.

Bitterness

This is an interesting one. A bitter person is one who carries deep animosity from excessive grief and hurt. It often comes as a result of being treated unjustly where the victim feels helpless and rather than turning to Jesus or others for help, they just let the injustice fester and fester until they are consumed by the pain and resentment.

Talking about excessive grief. 2 Cor 2:6 & 7 comes to mind. This verse has significance in the light of the years of abuse at Mars Hill, and particularly in the light of over years of seeing members being shunned without recourse or an end to it. Bear in mind, that the man whom Paul is talking about was punished for sleeping with his step-mother in open defiance of Scripture. He was not accused of trivial “sins” such as the ones that Paul Petry, Bent Meyers or others have faced.

“ The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.” 2 Cor 2:6-8

So we see that Paul taught that failure to end the punishment would lead to the man being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. This could cause bitterness, or at the very least look like bitterness.

So perhaps those that accuse the bodies that are under the Mars Hill bus of bitterness, are not seeing bitterness, but excessive sorrow.  In the case above, fair punishment and rebuke that continued too long was seen as wrong. Contrast this to Paul Petry’s shunning. It has been almost seven years (and was unjust in many people’s opinion). Yet it has not been lifted despite calls for such by many.  www.joyfulexiles.com

The way to end the excessive sorrow is not to rebuke the person for being bitter, but to forgive, comfort and reaffirm one’s love. What a contrast to what we have seen from the leaders and ex-leaders at Mars Hill Church.

So those that are accusing me and others of being bitter may be inaccurate in what they are seeing as it could be excessive sorrow. Furthermore, they just might be a part of the reason that the excessive sorrow exists as I shall show in the case of the example above.

In my case, the person who said above that I was perceived as bitter was former elder of Mars Hill Church – Dave Kraft. He was representing the view of the twenty elders and ex-elders who have filed grievances against Mark Driscoll.

Dave Kraft was a part of the Executive Investigation team that put together the evidence against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. His statement above represented the feelings of men who also voted against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer.

When I was placed under church discipline for appealing to the elders for a fair trial Dave Kraft, along with former Mars Hill elder Tim Reber, were at the side of Pastor James Harleman laying out the unfair charge against me. http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/mars-hill-rob-smith-email-to-elders-10-14-2007.pdf

Dave Kraft was a co-perpetrator of the abuse against me, and supported the elders’ actions toward Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. His harsh words above represent the position of many of the men who are currently filing charges against Mark Driscoll. What we are seeing is that the perpetrators of abuse against me , Paul Petry and probably hundreds of other bodies under the bus are pointing to the excessive sorrow they have help create, and calling it bitterness.

Since sending me that note above, Dave Kraft and his merry men have essentially cut me off.  They are either intentionally or unintentionally shunning me.  This is the very thing that Mars Hill Church leadership has supported, and ostensibly what he and the other nineteen elders are accusing Mark Driscoll of. They all ought to face the very charges that they are accusing Mark Driscoll of.

To accuse those of us are blowho odied and wounded after being thrown under the bus of bitterness is just a continuance of the abuse that has become part and parcel of the leadership style at Mars Hill Church

A final thought regarding bitterness. How on earth can you say someone else is bitter? It is hard enough to identify it in oneself, let alone be sure that another person is bitter. I am sure I am bitter at times. For that, I need to repent. But for me to say that you are bitter is a guess, because you may not be bitter at all. You may be just be carrying excessive grief, especially if the injustice you feel is not dealt with.

Revenge

This is an interesting one.

Revenge is actually a righteous thing. But because we are sinners, we are encouraged to leave revenge to God. This verse below seems to suggest that if we take revenge, we are interfering with the pouring out of God’s wrath.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

So to the dear Mars Hill leader, member, ex-leader, or ex-member who are accusing those of us that are speaking out: why would we even want revenge? Surely, if what we are accused of is true, is it not based upon an injustice done in the first place? And to be honest, earthly revenge may be better than God’s wrath. It may be unwise to reject our revenge if it were what we are up to. The alternative might be far worse.

No one would want revenge if there was not harm done in the first place. And certainly speaking out and calling for justice is not an indicator that our words or actions are motivated by revenge.

This accusation, that we are exercising revenge is an easy one.

As for me I do not even know what kind of revenge I would want – even if I did want it.  I will leave room for God’s wrath. After all, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb 10:31

The lawyer is preventing me from doing the right thing

My lawyer won't let me tell the truth

Good men are avoiding doing the right thing by blaming the possibility of lawsuits.

While most Christian are appropriately loathe to sue other Christians, it is interesting to note that because of the threat of lawsuits, people are not willing do the right thing.

I noted this in what was otherwise a very moving and excellent first ten minutes of Josh Harris’s sermon preached Sunday 18th, the Sunday after the trial of Nate Morales exposed the fact that three of the pastors of Covenant Life Church admitted that they knew of the sexual molestation that had occurred, knew they should have gone to the police, yet failed to do so. As a result the church is facing a civil lawsuit.  http://tinyurl.com/Harris-Sermon-May-18

As Harris was stating that he desired to be transparent and putting everything on the table so that the members’ questions could be answered, he said something that does not surprise me, but should. He told his congregation the following (4:48 in the sermon): “But trying to answer questions now before the civil lawsuit is resolved would greatly endanger the church.”

So the truth would endanger the church? How so? I Cor 6:7 suggests that even if wronged, a Christian has the option of just being defrauded. In this case, it appears that the church’s failure harmed their fellow Christians. Telling the truth may help make the case of those that were harmed – I agree. But if that is the truth, one would think that there is harm to the victims if the church remained tight-lipped. Surely no harm can come, unless godly restitution that should be paid to the victims is considered harmful.

In the case of Mars Hill Church, under whose bus this writer speaks, doing the wrong thing because of legal implications appears to the order of the day. Ex elders who were supposedly men above reproach, thus allowing them to be elders, are blaming having NDA’s which were forced on them for their failure (or inability) to speak the truth. They will not walk in the light and do the right thing because of the threat of lawsuits. Why do they not trust the scriptures and walk in the light?

The latest and rather sad example was something I was told by a community group leader close the Andrew Lamb case in 2011/12 http://tinyurl.com/A-Lamb-case

This community group leader told me that he was talking to one of the main elders involved in the mishandling of Andrew Lamb’s repentance. What he said was stunning. The elder stated that he wanted to repent and apologize to Andrew, but he could not because the Mars Hill lawyers would not allow him to. In other words, he will not do what is right because of the threat of legal action. Yet his own heart knows that Andrew actually has a case. What about Micah 6:8? Does the threat of a lawsuit mean that you cannot do what you should do as a Christian?

And if there is a threat of a lawsuit, even in the mind of the alleged perpetrators of the abuse (in this case Mars Hill), shouldn’t the church leadership heed Matt 5:25? “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.”

Surely the lawyer, in a Christian environment, should say to this elder, “…settle this as quickly as you can. Apologize! Make it right! Make amends! Win the offended brother over.”

Instead, the lawyers tell offended parties to avoid each other. (Of course, they make no money if the matter is settled 🙂 )

I appeal to the leaders and former leaders at Mars Hill Church. Walk in the light. Set aside the fear of being sued. You are less likely to be sued if you heed the scripture to settle matters quickly.

No more blaming the lawyers for your silence.

Two Scandals – Two Pastors – Two opposite reactions

King Saul and King David

The tales of two leaders: both dealing with scandals.

Both Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA and Josh Harris of Covenant Life Church is Gaithersburg, MD have dealt with both local and national scandals.

In sermons and communications to their churches, we have witnessed two totally contrasting responses from the senior pastor of each church.  One is willing to step down and be an interim janitor, the other wants to step up from being an angry young prophet and become a Bible teaching spiritual father.

http://www.covlifemedia.org/dl_dialog.php?filename=v4.0//2014_05_18–Hold_Fast_to_the_Gospel–Joshua_Harris.mp3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2k4nmD0GTp0

Here is a summary of how each pastor responded.

Taking responsibility for the scandal:

Josh Harris:
“I will take full responsibility.” (2:54 in sermon noted above)

Mark Driscoll:
“Mistakes were made…”
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/slices/mark-driscoll-issues-apology-plagiarism-controversy-%E2%80%98mistakes-were-made%E2%80%99

“Even Jesus makes mistakes (3:13 of clip) but did not sin”. Driscoll projects himself into the sermon… the listener is led to believe that Driscoll is trying to love the widows, and all the critics can see is mistakes. (0;40 in the clip), but as in the case of Jesus, there was no sin.

Questions from the members:

Josh Harris:
The scandal has “Stirred many understandable questions.” (2:20 in sermon)
“No matter how painful it is, we want everything to be known and addressed. We will put it all on the table”. (4:15 in the sermon)
Mark Driscoll:
“Many members are guilty of the sin of questioning….”
“Shut up and do what you are told”,

“Members are sinning through questioning”

“Questions come with prideful hearts, therefore cannot be heard.”

Transparency:

Josh Harris:
“There is nothing that we want more to do right now than to open up our actions up to scrutiny.” (4:42 in sermon)

Mark Driscoll:
“This is the Elders’ official statement regarding the matter and we do not intend to engage in further discussion because that would lead to gossip.” Jamie Munson on behalf of the elders (including Driscoll)
http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/10-16-2007-statement-of-the-elders.pdf

Posture after scandal broke:

Josh Harris:
“And what I want you to hear (broken voice) is that I am ready to do whatever is best for the church. (6:20 in sermon)
“I asked the.. board of elders that I be placed on administrative leave until this issue can be fullt addressed. (6:40 in sermon)
“I am willing to do whatsoever is necessary to remove any obstacle, including stepping down, because God’s glory is more important that any person, or my position” (8:30 in sermon)
“.. whether the elders ask me to step aside, or keep serving, or becoming an interim janitor” (10:17 in sermon)

Mark Driscoll:
“.. my angry-young-prophet days are over, to be replaced by a helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father.” http://www.vaux.net/angry-young-prophet-becomes-father-figure-driscoll-and-tragedy-of-prodigal-son/

I could go on.

Please. Give me the interim janitor over the Bible-teaching spiritual father.

The Trial of Paul Petry – Part 3 (and why it was unjust)

Determining the charges against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer

The charges against Mark Driscoll, deemed to be non-disqualifying, were far more serious than the petty charges leveled against Paul Petry. Yet they cost him his job, his eldership and a shunning order.

The charges against Paul Petry were petty or simply made up, and pale in comparison to the non-disqualifying charges against Mark Driscoll by Dave Kraft and other former elders of Mars Hill Church.

The BOAA of Mars Hill Church recently determined that the serious charges leveled at Mars Driscoll were not serious enough to disqualify him from leadership. Instead they are standing “unreservedly behind Pastors Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas as the Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church.” They further suggest that there were false accusations leveled against the three men. http://www.christianpost.com/news/charges-against-mark-driscoll-and-mars-hill-church-executive-elders-non-disqualifying-says-advisory-board-116924/

The charges against Paul Petry were trivial and hardly even sin, let alone a charge. Here are some of the charges leveled at Paul Petry, for which his career was upended and ultimately a shunning order issued when he failed to repent of these “sins” (joyfulexiles.com).

  1. He shared a confidential document with a member. The document was the proposed bylaws, and the member was none other than me. More on this later
  2. He violated elder protocol in that he spoke to the church attorney without permission.  Never mind that there was, according to the bylaws, no higher authority than that of elder. Only under the new bylaws did some elders have authority over other elders.
  3. He wasn’t submissive to leadership. Again, the elders were the highest authority.

These were grievous sins that got Paul Petry fired, removed as elder and shunned.  Despite Jamie Munson affirming that there were no sexual or moral sins included in the charges against Petry.

Compare Paul Petry’s sins to those that have been leveled against Mark Driscoll:

  1. Not being self-controlled and disciplined
  2. Being domineering
  3. Being verbally violent
  4. Being arrogant
  5. Being quick-tempered
  6. Leading Mars Hill with a culture of pride, fear, and intimidation.
  7. Preaching grace from the stage but don’t extend that same grace to the staff you lead.
  8. Developing a culture where sin is not tolerated, therefore it is not confessed.
  9. Leading the staff in bitterness and rage for years because of your unforgiven sin that Grace committed against you. (This was very obvious in the abusive tone during staff meetings and trainings for several years, leading to demoralization and fear.)
  10. A thirst and ambition to see the church grow have coming at the cost of the very pastors and leaders that God has put in Driscoll’s care.
  11. Lying: There is not honesty in why key leaders are leaving the church. It is always spun to be a politically correct “calling” vs the truth of why they are leaving.
  12. Ignoring the fact that one member of the EE, Pastor Sutton, has been breaking the law and tarnishing the name of Jesus to unbelievers, thus disqualifying him from being a pastor of Mars Hill Church.
  13. Using threats and intimidation tactics to produce results.
  14. Preaching a requirement for living a balanced life of God, Family, Ministry, but requiring staff to work 70+ hours a week, neglecting the very things you preached about.
  15. Forcing anyone who needs to get a severance package when leaving to sign a gag order, preventing them from being able to speak about why they left Mars Hill.

http://davekraft.squarespace.com/posts/2014/3/21/dave-kraft-mars-hill-church-and-mark-driscoll.html

http://sinrepentancegraceforgiveness.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-official-charges-against-mark.html

The formal charges leveled against Mark Driscoll, charges that appear far more severe and articulated than those against Paul Petry, were deemed non-disqualifying by the BOAA. Add to those charges the concurrent scandals that resulted in the BOAA in standing unreservedly behind Mark Driscoll after paying “close attention to the accusations”.

http://marshill.com/2014/03/07/a-note-from-our-board-of-advisors-accountability

I remind the reader of some of the scandals:

  1. Using church money to deceptively buy a spot on the NYT Bestseller list.
  2. Numerous counts of plagiarism in several of Mark Driccoll’s books.
  3. Misleading and incomplete statements to the church on these matters.
  4. Claiming in numerous places that Mark Driscoll was the founder of the church and other re-writing of the history of the church.
  5. Conducting leadership in such a way that over 100 employees and over 1000 members have left since the beginning of 2012.

Contrast these with charges that were totally silly and invalid. Paul Petry have every right as elder to seek counsel regarding the new bylaws from whomever he thought prudent, including advice from the church lawyer and a member who was a deacon and chosen to become an elder. To accuse him of violating some hastily trumped up “elder protocol” (that required no discussion amongst the elders about the proposed bylaws) is hardly a sin.

If the charges against Mark Driscoll have been deemed to be non-disqualifying, how it possible that Mark Driscoll and his Executive Elders at the time found the petty charges against Paul Petry to be grievous and disqualifying?

The trial was a farce and Paul Petry should be exonerated and the shunning order lifted immediately!