Godly sorrow leads to repentance

repentance 0

by Wendy Alsup   (link)

Bonhoeffer writes in his Cost of Discipleship:

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

This week, Pastor Mark Driscoll published on the Mars Hill Church website a public 30 minute video on what he calls a “season of learning” in his life during which he is sorrowful and lamenting. Since he made this video public beyond his own church membership and many people are discussing it, even affirming it, I feel a strong need to address it. Because what Pastor Mark does in this video is one of the clearest examples I’ve ever seen of what the Apostle Paul calls “worldly sorrow.”

For godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly sorrow produces death. — 2 Corinthians 7:10

When it comes to our personal responses to our own sin, these are the only two options. When faced with confrontation or other natural consequences of your sin, you can mourn your sin in a way that leads you to confess to God, change your direction, and repair with those you have hurt. And that response allows you to get up and go forward without regret. I’ve never once in my life met someone who REGRETTED bringing their sin into the light, confessing it honestly, and repairing with those they had wronged. Godly sorrow producing repentance is beautiful.

The second option when faced with painful consequences of your sin is worldly sorrow, grief and lament in response to the consequences of one’s sin that does not understand and appropriate Christ’s payment for it. Pastor Mark is not the first person who can (over)use Jesus’ name in proper context who does not appropriate how the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection speaks into the consequences of sin he is now facing at Mars Hill. Such people often want forgiveness. They want grace extended to them. And, in Christ, there is no condemnation according to Romans 8:1! Yet, the same Paul who wrote Romans 8:1 instructs us in Ephesians 5 to bring our sin into the light, because the light of Christ is a disinfectant. Expose the sin. Own the sin. Not to bring shame and condemnation but to bring restoration and healing! Any hope of “forgiveness” without clear, specific repentance is exactly what Bonhoeffer labels cheap grace. It’s continuing in sin that grace may abound, to which Paul says, “God forbid!”

The indication for any one of us of godly verses worldly sorrow is summed up in one word – repentance. True repentance always starts with a specific naming of your sin, and it always includes a change in your ways. I love the definition of the Greek word for repent according to Strong – “to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.” Godly sorrow that produces repentance will include statements along these lines – “I sinned against God and (name redacted). I have asked their forgiveness and am seeking to repair with them in the ways that I can. I am taking these steps to guard myself from doing the same in the future.” It always comes with a hearty desire to amend your ways with an abhorrence for how you sinned against God and others in the past.

I am writing this post because it is of utmost importance that people (believing and unbelieving) hearing Jesus’ name understand the difference in worldly and godly sorrow. I am very grieved that Mars Hill Church uses the name of Jesus over and over in their materials (even linking to this latest video with the url jesus.to), yet the lead pastor models a worldly sorrow without repentance that Paul says leads to death. It is irresponsible (for those of us who know these things from first hand experience and are in a position to address them) to turn away as Jesus’ name is used in empty, cheap ways. Thankfully, in this area, many of God’s children are rising up to confront these things privately as well as publicly. This is good for the Church.

Long before Pastor Mark released this week’s video, I wrote about godly versus worldly sorrow in The Gospel-Centered Woman. I felt that many women, myself included, often linger in this sorrowful place over our sin without understanding how repentance in the shadow of the cross heals and repairs. I’ll close with these thoughts from the book.

Worldly sorrow is characterized by feelings of shame, pain, or embarrassment that you got caught in sin. Along with that shame, you may feel hopelessness over ever being cleansed from your sin or your ability to repair the relationship with the person you sinned against. Such worldly sorrow may be relieved by someone else doing something for you or you doing something for yourself. Maybe you seek out someone to affirm you or distract you. You may try to manipulate how others think of you and look to them to make you feel better about yourself. If one relationship is broken, you may manipulate other relationships to replace the one you harmed.

In contrast, godly sorrow is sorrow that directs you to Christ. You do not need someone else to do something for you. You do not need to do something for yourself. Instead, you fall flat on your face before God alone, for godly sorrow points you directly to Him. Godly sorrow is relieved by repentance and faith in what Christ has already done for you. Then, resting in what God has done for you, you can lay down your attempts to justify yourself to others. You can simply ask their forgiveness and repair with those you have hurt.

Many of us spend years of our lives mistaking worldly sorrow on a wide range of sin issues for authentic repentance and then wonder why we never change or why our relationships never heal. Feeling bad about what you have done is not the same as a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. God calls us to recognize our wrongdoing and need for forgiveness and then turn to God to forgive and correct it. We do not have to live in a perpetual state of regret and shame. Christ bore our shame and condemnation on the cross. His sacrifice for us equips us to face our sin head-on without fear that it will forever define us.

Mars Hill Global (non) Fund… really…there is nowhere to run.

Global Fund Confusion

Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll have gone from soliciting funds from Mars Hill members for the Global Fund, to now saying there has been no Global Fund since 2009, and that “Mars Hill Global” refers only to donors that are global who give to the general fund.

Mars Hill Church has raised over $10 million through solicitations to donors to the Global Fund, and yet it is estimated that less than $350k of this went to Ethiopia or India, despite Mars Hill’s media blitz that employed videos showing scenes in Ethiopia and India to solicit donations to “Mars Hill Global.” Mars Hill Church has apologized for confusing donors, yet the confusion is a result of changes in their story of the fund itself.

Mars Hill Church has admitted that the preponderance of the money was spent on local campuses and within the general fund, and not on international outreach as was made clear in Mark Driscoll’s solicitations of 2012 (see the video below).

There is no doubt that the fund has existed as a restricted fund after 2009, and there is no doubt that Mars Driscoll pitched the fund as a “beyond your tithe” gift from members of Mars Hill Church in 2012. There is no doubt that Sutton Turner did the same in late 2013/early 2014 (Link).

That both Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll have solicited Mars Hill Members to donate to Mars Hill Global as a fund that is separate from the general fund is without question.

Now they are saying that the fund either never existed or ceased to exist years ago, and that since 2009 “Global” merely meant donors around the world who follow Mars Hill online.

Mars Hill Church leaders, rather than admitting that they solicited donations for one purpose – a Global Fund for global outreach – and then spent the preponderance of the $10m raised on another purpose, the general fund for local campus expansion and other expenses like lucrative compensation packages for themselves, choose to now say that the fund was not a fund.

As mentioned, based upon their own statements, it is likely that less than $350k has been spent on Ethiopia and India, not much more than the $210k spent on another story that kept changing, the deceptive manipulating of the sales of Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage, to secure a New York Times Bestseller spot.

Mars Hill Church leadership is determined to stick to its new line, and is removing all recent solicitations from the web to the Mars Hill Global (link).  Why are they so anxious? Are they just embarrassed at the fact that they have been caught, or are they afraid of the consequences of being caught?

Either way, they have been caught.  Rather than rushing to spin the story, it would be so refreshing (and, sadly, surprising) if they would just admit the truth and seek forgiveness. Is that not what the gospel is all about?

THE CURRENT STORY LINE:

 “During fiscal years 2009-2014, over $10M dollars has been given to Mars Hill Church by the Mars Hill global family.” (link)

“WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GLOBAL FUND?

Since 2009, we have used the term ‘Global’ to help us distinguish between donors who attend our churches and donors around the world who follow us online.”

“During fiscal years 2009-2014, over $10M dollars has been given to Mars Hill Church by the Mars Hill global family.”  (link)

(emphasis added)

YET IN 2012 THE LINE FROM MARK DRISCOLL:

Mark Driscoll: “we want to start Mars Hill Tacoma, and up and around Bothell/Kirkland…In addition, I want to tell you some things that are going on with Mars Hill Global...we’ve been working in a partnership to help plant churches in India…support 23 church planters in India…in Ethiopia…we are now funding over a dozen church planters.” [Clearly presented as something in addition to local campus plants. “In addition” – this is what the Global Fund is pitched to support] (link)
(emphasis added)

AND IN 2014 THE SAME LINE FROM SUTTON TURNER:

Sutton Turner, “We encourage you to give above and beyond your tithe, to Mars Hill Global” (link)    
(emphasis added)

Mark Driscoll, in this learning season, learn to tell the truth.

mark-Driscoll-learning-season

There is nothing that has marked this season of Mars Hill Church leadership more than its determination to hide the truth. Any sign therefore of genuine learning and growth would be demonstrated by a keen willingness to be truthful.

From hearsay presented in convicting Paul Petry in the show trial used to create fear and pressure when forcing the new bylaws on an unwilling church in 2007, to statements made in Mark Driscoll’s 30 minute speech made to members this week, avoiding the truth seems to be what Mars Hill Leadership has learned to do well in this season. Most of the scandals of the last six years have included some level of deception or truth avoidance.

My last conversation with Mark Driscoll was on August 18, 2009. It was after The Seattle Times published a front page article about a ferry that my company was building for Lake Victoria in East Africa (link). Toward the end of the article, the reporter wrote the following:

Smith split from Mars Hill Church in Seattle two years ago after he opposed a change in bylaws and crackdown on dissenters. Starting new churches was the focus, not helping the poor, he said.

The statement was true, although it did seem a little out of place. If you pick up the article from sources other than the Seattle Times, that line is removed. It is as if the reporter added the comment for readers in Seattle.

Well, I had two reactions to this statement. The first was an email from a dear friend warning me never to say something negative about the church in a public forum. This impacted me quite significantly although, as most would know, the statement was not made by me – it was made by the reporter.

The second reaction was from Mark Driscoll. My previous conversation with him had included him berating me as “the worst trouble maker in Mars Hill’s history” and his threat to destroy me and make sure that I could never be in ministry again (along with words that only a “cussing” pastor would use). A week earlier I was well on my way to becoming an elder under then Pastor James Harleman, and was coaching the community group leaders for the new Wedgwood campus. I had suddenly become a pariah for suggesting that Paul Petry and Bent Meyer needed to have a fair trial (link).

On the Monday morning after the article ran, I received repeated calls from an “unknown” number. Typically I ignore these calls, as I get calls from all over the world because of my work in Africa. It was clear that the caller was not giving up so I answered.

It was Mark Driscoll.

He said that he had been contacted by the Seattle Times reporter and was asked for his side of the story. He proposed that we have a truce and neither of us talk about or tell our side of the story. The conversation was shortened when I asked Driscoll, “Why don’t we just both walk in the light?” After an awkward pause he said goodbye and the conversation ended.

Why tell this story now?

Well, it shows the same pattern as we are seeing now. “Let’s not tell the truth” is what I was hearing. Let’s just agree to hide parts of the truth. This is what we have seen in almost every scandal.

But the rest of the story here needs to be told. I was interviewed by both the reporter that wrote the article, and by one other reporter that at the time was the religion reporter. I asked both reporters if it was true that the Seattle Times was calling Mars Hill Church for their side of the story. I was told that in fact exactly the opposite had occurred. They had been contacted by either Driscoll himself or by Mars Hill (my memory is fading) offering his side of the story.

Mark Driscoll had simply lied to me.

I filed this away. But of course it made me that much more wary and guarded. This man who had threatened to destroy me, destroy my ministry, and make sure that I could never minister again was willing to flat out lie to me as well. It gave his threat to destroy me credibility. It played a role in my long silence following the incident as I was responsible to both investors in my ferry business and donors in my work with African orphans. It helps me be patient with others that are afraid to speak out.

So now we listen to Mark Driscoll talking about this being a “season of learning” for him (link).

While telling us this, he tells the members the following (link):

As well one of the things that has been complex is the fact that a lot of the people that we are dealing with in this season remain anonymous. And so we don’t know how to reconcile or how to work things out with people because we’re not entirely sure who they are. And so that has made things a little more complex and difficult as well.

My reaction to this, as well as the reaction of many ex-members (reflected in comments in the “Repeal the bylaws” and “Mars Hill Reconnect” groups of Facebook), was that his statement conveys more dishonesty and deception.

As demonstrated in the call that I received in 2009, Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church do know the names of the hundreds of members that are bleeding. They know the names of those that they view as those with whom they should reconcile, or at least work things out with. This statement is intended to show a willingness to do the right thing, when in fact Mars Hill Church has shown no such willingness.

In fact, they are unwilling to attempt reconciliation and are showing no signs of trying to work things out.

There are many other statements made by Mark Driscoll in his 30 minute video that are also deceptive. But perhaps others will point them out.

I ask the reader, especially the current leadership and current members the following: Is it possible that the lesson during this season of learning is that of simply learning to tell the truth?

And I still have the same phone number as I had in 2009. Reconciliation and working things out are quite possible. After all, is it not true that “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with the other”?

More lies from Mars Hill Church leadership.

The truth please

To say that someone has lied is using very strong language.  Since the deceitful and coercive way that Mark Driscoll and former executive elder, Jamie Munson, along with former elders Tim Belz and Scott Thomas, changed the bylaws in 2007,  it seems that being deceitful is something that occurs with routine frequency at Mars Hill Church.

Mars Hill Church leaders seem to lie whenever a scandal hits the news. In almost every case there is no repentance at first. Eventually, if the stories they tell do not stick, they finally offer a statement that shifts blame but states that the events that led to the scandal were not good but some outsiders fault, or that there are regrets that people are hurt and an assurance that God is at work in the hearts of the leaders.

Why keep pointing out the lies, you might ask? What axe is there to grind? The answer is simple. There are hurting people, including the still shunned Petry family, that are bleeding emotionally and spiritually because of the abuse they received at the hands of the Mars Hill Church culture. Injustice leaves a wound that simply does not heal until repentance and restitution occur.

I find no joy in digging up the discipline case that hit the news in early 2012.

The attached article in Christianity Today recaps the basic story (link). A young man named Andrew sinned against his fiancé, felt convicted and confessed. Confession was not good enough for his leaders and he was given hurdles he had to jump to “prove” his repentance – which was never good enough. Eventually, after being asked to document and share his entire sexual history with Mars Hill leaders, he had the sense to walk away from such treatment and leave the church.

He was then publicly shunned. I happen to know the young man, and his story is similar to many of us who have been shunned. The sudden isolation, the immediate lack of community, not knowing where you stand with all of your close friends, is humiliating, isolating and very painful. It is also not biblical if you have repented of your sins as this young man had.

You may ask, what has this to do with Mars Hill Church and lies?

Well, the headline of the Christianity Today article is the lie. “Mars Hill Says It Released Leaders Over Church Discipline Cases”.  The initial implication was that two leaders got fired over the handling of this particular case. Mars Hill Church stated that the men were fired before the story broke, again implying that they were engaged as soon as they saw the abuse and immediately fired the elders responsible.

I remember the story, and I actually felt deep sorrow for the abused young man. I also, however, felt sorry for the elders who were merely patterning themselves after what they were learning from Mark Driscoll’s abusive style. They themselves have now been ruthlessly fired rather than taught a better way.

Well, I have since met the young man, and met with three of the elders and community group leaders involved. It is they who were quick to tell me that Mars Hill simply lied in their statement regarding elders being fired. The truth is that nobody was fired as a result of the case that hit the news.

So why the lie from Mars Hill Church? My guess is that it is because it is what they thought needed to be said to settle down the raucous in the press.

The lie shifted blame to two elders that overstepped their authority and therefore were fired. So the fault was not the leaders of Mars Hill Church, it was these two rogue elders who were immediately terminated. Problem solved. (Side note: remember two elders getting fired in 2007?) (Link)

The sad part is not just that Mars Hill lied in that two elders were not fired as a result of this particular abusive episode, but that Mars Hill Church scrambled to fabricate a story to pacify the questioning and criticism, but did not scramble to make things right with the young man.

So Mars Hill Church actually recognized that two elders overstepped their authority (euphemism for “were abusive to a member”) and failed reach out to the abused members and put things right.

This is the pattern. The leaders lie to explain and deflect responsibility. Even when it is clear people are hurting, there is no addressing the hurt bodies that have been thrown through the wood-chipper and left under the bus. Here is Mark Driscoll delighting in the fact that, “by God’s grace, there will be a mountain of bodies under the bus” (link)

On final note… in this particular case, Mars Hill statements also progressed and changed. It seems that if the first “story” is not effective, Mars Hill will make further statements that are contradictory to the earlier statements. We have seen this lately with the three differing statements relating to the deception and misspending of church finds to manipulate book sales in trying to secure a Bestseller spot on the New York Times list.

We have also seen it in the various attempts to explain away the fund that Mars Hill leaders had been heavily soliciting donations for with clear implications that the fund was to be used for international outreach (with solicitations all set in an impoverished Ethiopian village). As it has become clear that a minuscule amount of the millions raised actually want to international outreach (maybe $300k), the story went from Global Fund including the U.S. plants and campuses, to the fund not actually existing and Global actually meaning global donors.

The retelling of the story is so obvious and non-believable to anyone paying attention, that I commented that it appears that they are being outwitted somehow (link).

It is my prayer that the level of lies and corruption within the leadership forces the remaining members and elders to bring the changes that are needed to ensure that Mars Hill Church recovers from its current implosion and troubles.

Who is outwitting Mars Hill Leadership?

devil made me do it 5

2 Cor 2:10 -11 warns that Satan can outwit the church. Mars Hill Church has not only failed to reconcile with the many members abusively thrown under the bus over the years, but after almost seven years they are still shunning Paul Petry.

They are also seemingly hapless in their attempts to deal with the current scandals, choosing to cover up and hide the truth rather than “man-up” and be accountable.

This was demonstrated again yesterday in their attempt to remove videos posted on YouTube where in 2012 Mark Driscoll clearly asked the members of Mars Hill Church to consider giving to the Global Fund or Mars Hill Global (link).

If you are following the scandal, the new spin from Sutton Turner is that since 2009 Mars Hill Global was not in fact a fund, but was global donors that were giving to the general fund. Most of the organization’s solicitations for designated donations were made through the videos with an Ethiopian backdrop, clearly implying that the funds would be used for international outreach. Rather than admit the truth, that only a very small percentage of the money went to Africa and India, Mars Hill Church leaders are trying to re-spin the story.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have been focused on exonerating Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, and demanding a repeal of the 2007 bylaws that were changed in an improper manner.

It would seem, based upon understanding the Apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 2, that it would be in the interest of Mars Hill Church to reconcile with Paul Petry and stop the almost seven years of shunning. Being too harsh with members invites Satan to outplay you.

The scripture passage is referencing the punishment of the man who was thrown out of the church in 1 Corinthians 5 for gross sin. Apparently he had repented, but the Corinthian church had not yet ended the punishment. Paul exhorts them that failure to forgive would cause Satan to outwit them.

2 Corinthians 2: 7 -11 “so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ,  so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”

There are two warnings. The first is that failure to affirm love and forgiveness will cause the victim to be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow. I can identify with that warning. The second is that failure to forgive and affirm the member will mean that Satan can take advantage of the church or, as some translations say, outwit the church.

The Apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Cor 2 applied to a case where the punishment was completely warranted but simply went on for too long.  In Paul Petry’s case, it is well documented that his show trial was a farce and merely a way of getting rid of a reasoned voice opposing the awful changes in the bylaws. Seven years of shunning is excessive by any reasonable measure. The Apostle Paul’s warning is particularly relevant in this case.

How much more then, if Paul Petry’s shunning is undeserved, will Satan be in a position to outwit Mars Hill Church leadership? They ought to take heed. We are seeing the consequence playing out before our very eyes.

More than one casual observer has expressed surprise at the seeming gaffs by Mars Hill Church leadership in reacting after being exposed for deceit and spin relating to the many scandals that they are facing. Historically Mars Hill has had excellent PR skills. But not recently. Are they being outwitted?

It seems obvious to the average Christian that to simply tell the truth is by far the easiest and most righteous thing to do when caught in a lie. Members will forgive a genuine plea for forgiveness. This is not happening at Mars Hill Church, where instead every scandal is addressed by new spin and explanation.

Three changing explanations for the shameful spending of $210,000 of church money to deceptively manipulate sales to ensure a spot on the NYT Bestsellers’ list. Apologies and conflicting stories to explain how the global fund spent a “preponderate” percentage of  money in the US and not in Ethiopia and India, while concurrently saying that the fund has not existed since 2009. The more appropriate word should be a “preposterous” amount.

How can there be only four donors to the fund that petitioned MH and ECFA for answers in a recent change.org petition (link), while at the same time the fund hasn’t existed since 2009? How can six thousand total donors to the fund be contacted to explain the matter and at the same time the fund doesn’t exist?  (link)

Does the Mars Hill Leadership think that we donors, members and ex-members are fools? Do they think that their shifting explanations will outwit us?

Or is it the Mars Hill leadership that is being unwittingly outwitted (2 Cor 2:10)?

Changing the story is a form of lying. Mars Hill keeps changing the story. This is disturbing as truth telling is being avoided in favor of cover-up. This is foolish and certainly a possible demonstration of the leadership being outwitted. It seems that the attempts to correct the scandals are being so badly spun that anyone who is paying attention can see it.

Why can they not be forthright and open?

Members are asking how much of the Global Fund money was spent on international outreach. Instead of answering the question, and despite clear evidence that the solicitation was for the Global Fund and in addition to normal giving, Mars Hill has chosen to say that there is no Global Fund, and that since 2009 it refers to global donors. Abundant evidence exists to show that this is simply not true. Donor receipts after 2009 reflect their donations to the Global Fund.

By refusing to be truthful, the leadership is playing a game where they are just hurting themselves. This is the warning of 1 Cor 2:10.

A reminder to the reader to some of the sad scandals that all reflect failure to be truthful or a desire to hide the truth.

– Purging the history of who founded Mars Hill Church.
– Plagiarism in multiple books authored by Mark Driscoll.
– Deceptively manipulating sales of “Real Marriage” to ensure a New York Times Bestseller title.
– Requiring gag-orders from departing employees in order to get severance pay – thus attempting to silence truth-tellers.
– Requiring an employee that files a charge against Mark Driscoll to submit their resignation first.
– Repeatedly soliciting Global Fund money using an African backdrop implying the funds were to be used for International Outreach.
– Removing and purging the names of members who helped build the church, including founders Lief Moi and Mike Gunn.
– Removing hundreds of sermons and other content from accessibility to members and the general public.

But before these recent examples, let me talk about the mother of all deceptions.

For years Mark Driscoll preached that he was one of a plurality of elders of equal authority. He preached that this was the biblical pattern for church leadership. He said he could get fired by his elders. This made Mars Hill members like myself feel secure and safe.

Little did we know that Mark Driscoll, while preaching this with great frequency and fervor, was reverse engineering a plan to change this form of governance and accountability. While preaching this line, and getting the support of our tithes, offerings, and volunteered effort as a result, he and former executive elder Jamie Munson rewrote the bylaws to usher in a church governance structure that was the antithesis to what Mark Driscoll was concurrently preaching.

Then, in an effort to ward off opposition at the elder level, they accused Bent Meyer and Paul Petry of opposing the new bylaws because they wanted to grab power. After ruthlessly firing the men and subjecting them to a show trial full of hearsay and pettiness, they told the church that the men demanded power.

As unsettled members were trying to understand what had happened, every member covenant was torn up, and a seemingly healthy church of over 1,600 members and over 3000 attenders was shut down and Mars Hill Church was “replanted”. Over 1,000 members did not join the replant.

Our church was deceptively taken from us.

Mark Driscoll told an interviewer that he lost over 1,000 members because he raised the bar for membership by publishing his book – “Doctrine”. Yet the truth was that the only change was the new bylaws that consolidated power in Mark Driscoll’s hands (link). So few ex-members were signing up for the replant that attendees were recruited to become members more fervently than the local fitness club tries to sign you up.

In addition, Bent Meyer was found to be not guilty on all counts but one. Mark Driscoll and Jamie Munson were his accusers. The outcome of the trial of Bent Meyer clearly demonstrated that the accusations were false. In other words, they were lies.

The seeds of deceit in 2007 have born the fruit of repeated deceit since then as we are all seeing.

For Mars Hill Church to survive and recover from its current implosion, the deceitful and coercive changing of the bylaws and the shameful treatment of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer and their families will have to be dealt with. If the 2 Cor 2:10 warning means anything, it seems to warn that even subsequent confession and apologies will not thwart the injustice of failing to affirm love for the brother whose punishment has become harsh.

So confession and repentance must, for the sake of Mars Hill Church, start with the unjust treatment of Paul Petry. It also needs to be a full attempt at learning to tell the truth and transparently walking in the light on all matters.

True reconciliation and fellowship will be the result. It will involve forgiveness and restoration, and despite the pain of the process will bring true joy and freedom. It will be “all about Jesus” in a way that Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church has not experienced in some time.

The alternative is to continue to walk in the dark, continue to shun not only Paul Petry, but the many bodies under the bus, and we fail to realize that the consequence of this is to allow Satan to continue to outwit.

He is an angel of darkness and the source of spin, deceit and lies.

Satan is defeated by the walking in the light.

Mars Hill Church disses both the 99% and the 1% and points to the fund that they claim does not exist!

We are the 99 percent 2

Despite belittling 99% of the petitioners, Mars Hill Church leadership responded hastily to the petition these people participated in over the past week (link).

In a post to members, Mars Hill Church leadership has made some things quite clear, and also added to the confusion that they have already admitted.

As we strive to communicate the vision of Mars Hill Church, there has been an outside petition asking questions of Mars Hill. However, of the nearly 400 signers, only four have ever given to Mars Hill Global. We sent letters this past week to over 6000 Global donors giving them the option to designate their funds solely for international work if they wish. We received many replies of encouragement, as well as a few people who asked to change their designation, and we have gladly made those changes.

Here is what is clear:

It is clear that this issue is a serious one.

Deceptively raising money for a non-existent Global Fund is a violation of ECFA standards, and, like using church funds to deceptively purchase a spot on the NYT bestseller list, is something that is clearly immoral. Despite belittling the petition, it certainly got the Executive Elders’ attention..

It is clear that Mars Hill Leaders can provide exact numbers when it serves their purpose. They spent time and effort to go through the list of petitioners to show that only 1% gave to Mars Hill Global.

It is clear that the leadership failed to respond to the request of the 4 donors to Mars Hill Global as well as the remaining 99% who were members, ex-members and friends. The petitioners asked what was actually spent on international mission. They were quick to spend time researching how many actually gave to the fund called Mars Hill Global, yet simply ignored the donors’ request. Four petitioners gave to Mars Hill Global… but I thought Mars Hill Global were the global donors out there. Ah….. so there is a fund – despite the latest explanation that there is no fund.

It is clear that the leadership appears to imply that the petition is of lesser value because “only” four of the petitioners have ever given to Mars Hill Global.  This disregards the 1% that actually gave to the fund, and disregards the 99% that were members, ex-members and friends, many, if not most, of whom gave to the general fund.

It is clear based upon this communication that the Global Fund did exist recently and that donors to the fund are seen as such. This flies in the face of the recent spin from Sutton Turner that Mars Hill Global is not a fund but is in fact global donors to the General Fund. If Mars Hill Global is simply global donors giving to the general fund, and if that includes everyone, including Mars Hill members (as Turner stated), then it seems that they would not say that four of the petitioners gave to Mars Hill Global. Based upon the latest explanation from Turner, the four would be global donors to the general fund, as he claims that since 2009 the Global Fund has not existed. So it appears that Mars Hill Global does exist as there is data available to identify four donors to the fund who made up 1% of the petitioners asking Mars Hill to make clear how much Global Fund money was actually spent on international outreach.

It is clear that the 99%, made up of members, former members and friends did not give to Mars Hill Global – a fund that supposedly does not exist. Obviously the fund does exist as four of the petitioners were identified as having given to it.

It is clear that in 2010 Mars Hill Global was listed as a restricted fund in footnote 5 of the abridged version of the Annual Financial Statements.

 

Report Showing Global Fund restricted in 2010

It is clear in this video that the fund exists (link).

It is clear that in 2014 almost all promotions for giving “to” Mars Hill Global was set in an African setting, deceptively implying that the fund was intended to go toward international church planting (link).

It is clear that a preponderance of the money that was raised in that fund went to U.S. Mars Hill church plants and not to Ethiopia or India as implied.

It is clear that Mars Hill leadership does not want to tell donors how much of the Global Fund money was spent on Ethiopia and India. Are they embarrassed about how little that amount was, perhaps?

Was it more than the $210,000 spent on deceptively buying a spot on the NYT Bestseller list?

Was it less that the annual salaries of any one of the Executive Elders?

Now that it is clear that there is a fund in to which at least 6000 donors gave, four of which petitioned Mars Hill Church, will the leadership now simply respect the 1% that donated to the fund and answer their question?

We are the 99 percent 4

MHC Pastors to hurting members – “quit social media and agree to be defrauded and abused.”

Agree to your suffering - says MHC

If you have been abused by Mars Hill Church leadership, one of the key pastors is suggesting that it is biblical to agree to be “defrauded” than to take public action to prevent such abuse.

Pastor David Fairchild, lead pastor of Mars Hill Church’s west Seattle campus, uses Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 6 about Christians settling disputes through secular lawsuits as the basis for his argument that “Paul would rather have us suffer wrong and be defrauded than air our grievances before a technological tribunal. I’m sure this teaching was most difficult to receive by those who felt they were wronged.” (From Fairchild’s facebook page)

So even though your life may in turmoil as a result of being abused by the leadership, one of the lead pastors of the abusive church is saying that although it is tough to accept, it is better to suffer this wrong than to air the grievance on social media (of course, he airs his view about this on social media!)

In a similar way, churches will thwart and hide sexual abuse by arguing that it should be handled in a quiet manner more akin to Matthew 18 versus taking the matter to law enforcement. Some churches (Mars Hill Church included at times) have encouraged abused wives to stay in the marriage despite the abuse – claiming that such is the bible’s teaching on the matter.

Pastor Brad House, after Paul Petry had been ruthlessly fired, unfairly tried, and badly mistreated (as has been clearly documented in many places), argued that it was Petry’s duty to respond in a godly way and in so doing “pour coals on our heads” and that “mistreatment” by himself and the other elders was no justification for Petry acting in a defensive way (link).

So both pastors David Fairchild and Brad House are arguing that people who have suffered abuse at the hands of the leadership of Mars Hill Church, where they both have or had a key role, should act in such a way as to pour coals on “our” heads. They should simply agree to the abuse.

I cannot imagine that the Apostle Paul was teaching that an abusive pastor should reach out to the members of his own church and suggest that to defend oneself from the abuse is ungodly and that the abused member should “pour coals on the abusive pastor’s head” by being quiet and kind.

What a distortion of the teaching.

Romans 12: 19 & 20: Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD”

Those of us who are arguing that Mars Hill Church leadership is corrupt, dishonest, deceptive and abusive do not view Mars Hill Church or its leaders as enemies. We view them as sinful brothers who have refused to allow anything resembling a Matthew 18 form of dealing with sin and dispute to occur.

Were Brad House and David Fairchild, in suggesting verses referring to lawsuits and enemies, representing the position of the Mars Hill Church leadership?

We prefer a different verse.

Proverbs  27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”

From a personal point of view, if I were the only member thrown under the bus, I would consider simply being defrauded and seek specific opportunities to be kind to my abusers, and in so doing pour coals on their heads. But what kind of man would I be to stand by and watch others get systematically abused?

I am saddened that pastors like David Fairchild and Brad House are willing to allow the abuse to go on and then tell the abused member to be defrauded and act in a way that pours coal on their own heads.

Their perspective is callous and abusive. It protects the abusers and not the sheep that these pastors are supposed to care for and protect.

On his Facebook page Pastor David Fairchild argues against airing grievances on social media.

The pot calling the kettle black

So now comes another Mars Hill pastor, David Fairchild, using social media (Facebook) to chide those who use social media to argue their case against Mars Hill Church.

This is similar to Anthony Bradley, who also posts a lot on social media, publicly chewing out Rachel Held Evans for publicly chewing out Mark Driscoll (link).

I have met both these men. They are men that I like a lot. They are actually quite bright. Somehow they missed the big “E” on this eye chart. Clearly they do not believe what they are posting, or perhaps they are not as bright as I thought they were.

I enjoy both these men, not only for their contribution to my life, but because they have shown care for the things that I care about. David and I have traveled together more than once to Africa, and I love the passion that Anthony Bradley shows for the oppressed.

I know David well enough to know that he does not truly believe that posting public grievances on social media is equivalent to filing a civil lawsuit against a brother. If this were the case, then why did he post his grievance against bloggers on a social network, while he works in a public church that has been built largely through social media?

Furthermore, David suggests that the proper approach is that the bloggers follow Matthew 18. Well, you can count the number of bloggers on two hands. Each, including me, are easy to reach. If David has an issue with us, why is he not picking up the phone and beginning to work through Matthew 18 with us if he has a problem?

The truth, already well documented, is that the so-called “Board of Advisors and Accountability” (BOAA) has no interest in any communication with bloggers. Some of us became bloggers because following Matthew 18 is impossible (link).

Can David himself even get an audience with the BOAA?

Then he goes on to suggest that the members who have been harmed simply allow themselves to be harmed, based upon I Corinthians 6. Let me say this another way. Pastor David Fairchild, the West Seattle Campus pastor, is telling members who have been harmed by the church he represents, to simply subject themselves to be harmed and walk away.

This is why we are blogging. The shepherds have forgotten who they are protecting.

I know David understands the scriptures well enough to refute his own crazy interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6, and I know he understands the role of the pastor well enough to know that his role is to protect members, not kick them back them under the bus.

I am hoping that he was just reacting to the increased pressure that Mars Hill Church is feeling because it is reeling from the consequences of the actions of its leaders.

Until the Mars Hill leadership stops blaming bloggers and starts taking responsibility for the repeated deception, we will probably see more of same.

We promise to tell the truth, some of the truth, but not the whole truth…

Ten Commandment--9

Mars Hill Church leadership has admitted to confusing donors about the Global Fund and Mars Hill Global.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/07/01/major-mars-hill-global-admission-and-offer-to-direct-donations-to-international-missions/

After admitting fault in confusing donors on Mars Hill Global, the leadership proceeded to tell some of the truth, but clearly avoided telling donors what they wanted to know.

Donors were told that $22.48 million was spent on church planting in the US, India and Ethiopia. Donors are also told that over $10 million was donated by the Mars Hill Global family.

Donors are not told how much of the over $10 million that Mars Hill received through the deceptively marketed “fund” actually was spent on Ethiopia and India.

Also, the current story is that the global “fund”, which is now called Mars Hill Global, is and always was simply the global donors. Yet clearly local Mars Hill members have been pitched to give over and above their tithe to the fund. So it appears that the fund did exist, and that it was a specific fund as this video clearly points out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4EFX3-RXyg

So after saying that Mars Hill Global is all the people who are throughout the world listening in and supporting the church, and that their money, given to the Global Fund, was simply placed into the general fund of the church, Mars Hill leaders are now including the members of Mars Hill Church in Mars Hill Global.

Now everyone, including local church members, are and have always been a part of Mars Hill Global. So the story has changed once more. The Global Fund, a designated fund prior to Sutton Turner’s arrival at Mars Hill Church, morphed from meaning a fund to meaning the global Mars Hill community of podcasters and supporters out there, and has now morphed again to include members as well.

Everyone is now Mars Hill Global.

Clearly the confusion that the leadership of Mars Hill Church refers to is the blatant implication that monies received through the Global Fund were to be used for international purposes as I pointed out in my last post. https://musingsfromunderthebus.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/while-ecfa-looks-away-mars-hills-deceptively-marketed-global-fund-is-certainly-getting-the-attention-of-everyone-else/

If in fact the money has always gone into the general fund of the church (even though designated by the auditors as restricted in earlier years), then why not ask donors to merely help support the church? The confusion seems to have been borne out of deception.

But more troubling, is that the leadership simply will not tell donors how much money was spent in Ethiopia and India. It would be an easy question to answer from a pure accounting point of view. But I suspect that it is a very hard question to answer because the numbers would show the level of exploitive marketing in attracting donors to give.

I say this because Mars Hill leaders say the following:

In 2009-11 over 80% of funds given by the Mars Hill global family went to Acts 29 church planting and funds were consistently spent in India for church planting in each of those years. In 2012- 2014 expenditures for church planting efforts in India and Ethiopia were increased with the preponderance of expenses related to church plants and replants in the U.S. [emphasis added]

Donors are told that the preponderance of the money received via the Global Fund was spent on plants and replants in the U.S. Preponderance could mean 70% or 80%. So even though 95% of the solicitations to give appear to be pitching an Ethiopian setting, the preponderance of the money was spent in the U.S.

Of course, other ex-members or employees might have some idea of the actual percentage spent in Ethiopia and India, but let’s examine what the leadership says.

They tell donors that funds going to India and Ethiopia have been consistent over the years, with an increase in 2012 to 2014.

Well, what I learned as a member of Mars Hill while travelling with certain Acts 29 leaders in Africa, was that the Indian pastors were given a monthly stipend to assist them. If my memory serves me correctly, it was about $75 per month per pastor.

So if Mars Hill is being consistent, which they claim, then prior to 2012 they supported no more than 33 Indian pastors at a cost of about $2,475 per month. In 2012, Sutton Turner attracted Mars Hill to support Ethiopian pastors, and 40 evangelists are being supported. To be consistent, they would also get a monthly stipend. So perhaps from 2012 t0 2014 the total Indian and Ethiopian ministers being supported totaled 73, which at $100 per month amounts to $7,300 per month.

Under this consistency, the total amount spent from 2009 to 2014 would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $350,000.  This amounts 0.35% of $10 million.

It is no wonder it is so hard for the truth to be told. Given the “confusing” but otherwise blatant implication that donors are giving to the poor, needy Africans in Ethiopia, it would be a shocking truth to discover that after the preponderance of money spent locally buying U.S. buildings and paying U.S. salaries, the remainder that went to India and Ethiopia was less than 1%.

Some donors might be encouraged that the amount that was consistently given probably exceeded the $210,000 spent on the similarly deceptive manipulation of the NYT bestseller listing. Of course, it pales when compared to the salaries of the Executive Elders that were paid out of the same fund into which Global donors gifts were directed….

So sorry for the confusion, folks.