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

lost sheep 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is in stark contrast to what Jesus taught.

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

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

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

Countless other hurt sheep have had the same experience.

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

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

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

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

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

baby lamb


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

  1. three times Jesus asked him
    do you love me?
    three times to make a point
    if you love me
    then love my sheep
    tend to my lambs
    nurture my flock
    because they are mine
    and I died to save

    no one will snatch them
    out of my hand
    but whoever causes
    one of them to stumble
    will wish he could have
    a millstone around his neck
    and be thrown into the ocean
    rather than what I will have
    in store for him
    so be sure to treat each one well
    even the one you think
    is the least of them all
    because he will be first
    in my kingdom

  2. Real shepherds know that sheep are highly gregarious. They love to be around other sheep; in fact, they cannot stand to be isolated.

    Only a cruel shepherd would force a sheep to be alone for very long.

  3. Ezekiel 34:1-16

    The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

    ‘Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.

    ‘You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured.

    ‘You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost.

    ‘You have ruled them harshly and brutally.

    ‘So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill.

    ‘They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

    ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals,

    ‘and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock,

    ‘therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

    ‘I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock.

    ‘I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves.

    ‘I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.’

    ‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

    ‘I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.

    ‘As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.

    ‘I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.

    ‘I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.

    ‘I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.

    ‘I will shepherd the flock with justice.'”

  4. Greetings Brother,

    My heart goes out to you and the brethren who lives were devastated by apostate leader called Mark Driscoll. I don’t say this as someone who knows not of what you write, but as a fellow brother who along with others have seen the lives destroyed because of reckless leaders who have lost their fear of the Lord. I used to study cults like the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons. Now I and others, as well as you now know the destructive and gut wrenching act of dis-fellowship for unjust reasons those cults go through.

    By the way, I am a recovering Pentecostal from a growing Assembly of God church in the Hudson Valley in New York. I am not a leader though as you are. I am a sheep. They assumed I was a “pew sitter” though and didn’t have a hold on doctrine. They thought I would fall down with bad allegory and “worship” man (not take out a Bible and a W E Vines).

    It was sort of bitter sweet when I saw the title of the post. I used the same scripture in some of my letters, except I counted backwards… 99 sheep… 98 sheep… 97 sheep …etc. I didn’t realize it but others had their own battles and leadership also used the tactic of a Gag order for isolation to not let others know they were not alone.

    I also used another “sheep” metaphor, Yeshua said “Feed my sheep”, not beat them.

    I got overwhelmed when I started reading you thread and others at Mars Hill. It is so complex, which is a common thread in church corruption. It is sin heaped on top of sin to cover up the previous sin until you have a dung heap that will fertilize the whole state of Jersey and half the state of Pennsylvania. And the sin used to cover the stench of the old sin doesn’t smell any better. I had to force myself to read a lot of it because it brought pain back at times of what my family and others went through and are going through.

    I ask the same questions though with your case. And I believe it is a common question throughout the American Evangelical church regarding this. Why are we so blind to it and the pain it has caused as an overall church? We are so quick to point fingers at Roman Catholic corruption and in the liberal ecumenical protestant churches. But we have such a blind eye at our own transgressions. By now we all know it is a scandal from the Reformed Churches to the Pentecostal Churches. Are the sheep of these churches worshiping “men and their organizations” instead of Jesus? Is the American Evangelical churches a bunch of Idolaters? Are we so comfortable sitting in our pews that we have lost the Fear of the Lord? Has “solo Scriptura” and “tota Scriptura” been replaced by “soma scriptura – some of the time” and anchored on rantings of narcissist leaders?

    Without Truth, there is no love. Christ is Truth and Love. When truth is a diminishing commodity more in the “church organization” than “the world”, there should be tears and righteous anger from Yahweh’s people.

    Thank you for what you are writing. It is a needed ministry. Let me leave with you with this fact, Christ admonished false “religious” leaders more than any other iniquity. He did it 14 times in the Gospels. And God had stated the same 18 times in the epistles. You are doing what God has told you to do in His Holy Word. God bless.

    Shalom brother,

    Recovering Pentecostal and sheep

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