Mars Hill Church – What would Nelson Mandela do?


mandela - forgiveness

I had strong reactions from both “camps” after my post calling for everyone to rise up and support our wounded brothers and sisters from Mars Hill Church – a church “reeling” in crisis and pain.

Those calling for Mark’s resignation and an end to the shunning of Paul Petry and his family were stunned by my call. There are still so many unanswered questions and such a distrust for the remaining leadership, which I share. Most spent a large part of the day yesterday making their case for continued resistance.

Then there are the members who are staunch Mark Driscoll supporters who are equally stunned. “How dare I you even think of showing up to gloat – do you not even have a heart?” Within 20 minutes of posting a call for a massive show of support on the FaceBook site, Let us Encourage one another – Mark Driscoll, I was removed and banned. I have been a member of that group since the day it started.

It seems that if we cannot learn lessons from what Jesus would have done, perhaps we can learn lessons by asking, “What would Nelson Mandela do?”

Nelson Mandela forgave his prison guards. I forgive the elders of Mars Hill Church, who have ignored and rebuffed me for seven years, and who watched Mark Driscoll withdraw the support of Mars Hill Church to the orphans and widows that they had committed to in 2007.

Nelson Mandela forgave his enemies. I forgive Mark Driscoll, who slandered my name and who slandered my organization’s care of orphans in such a way that the support from both Mars Hill Church and the broader community of my orphan care vanished, leaving me with debt and a struggle to care for our orphans, orphans who loved and looked up to Mars Hill Church.

Nelson Mandela went back into a white dominated economy and society that had harshly discriminated against minorities, and said to both blacks and whites in South Africa “We need each other. It is time to forgive and create a new South Africa.” I am willing to go back to Mars Hill Church and encourage a thousand hurt ex-members to join me.

Mars Hill Church, we need each other and I am willing to put the past behind me and put my effort and influence toward seeing Mars Hill Church rise up and become a healthy and safe church, where sinners like me, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore, can see Jesus ready to save me, full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Yes, Seattle, it is all about Jesus.


7 thoughts on “Mars Hill Church – What would Nelson Mandela do?

  1. What too many people fail to understand is that it has never been about sides and who is against whom. This has always been about the message and making sure that it is preached in it’s purest form. We have all seen so much garbage out there about who’s doing what to whom and why and most of it is purely an emotional response birthed from hurt, anger and fear. Rob Smith has always been for Mars Hill which is why he spoke out. He has never been against MH only against a leadership that was destroying what God has been doing through it. His heart has NEVER been against MH, it has been for the people of MH. He rightly discerned that the present leadership was toxic for the people and, because he loves the people, called for change and the resignation of MD. His heart is still for the people which is why he seeks to rejoin the people that MD and the leadership had, for all practical purposes, banned him from. I for one applaud him and agree that the people of MH need to be loved and supported.
    This is the tough road as so many will see him as the enemy that brought about the removal of their beloved pastor. Most will never come to understand who the real MD is (I use the present tense as I do not believe that there has been any real evidence of change) and will continue to harbor resentment and even hate against Rob. That’s not exactly a fun way to go to church. It’s also the right thing to do.

  2. Forgiveness is truly divine, it is a great start, and more power to you, but much more is needed in situations like this. Forgiving offenders does not mean trust is, or should be, restored. It does not mean the relationship is reconciled. Forgiveness without accountability (e.g. confession, repentance) often leads to further offenses, abuse, and manipulation, which leads to even more harm, more victims, and more power to the offender(s).

    This all points to another tragic reason why the ambiguous resignation leaves so much compounded confusion, hurt, unreconciled relationships, and the potential for more abuse, minimizing of sin, minimizing of victims, etc.

  3. First of all, you are not going to be their Savior. And, second of all, can’t you find anywhere else to go and get out of the drama?

  4. I think Rob is right. Into the whirlwind we need to step. I believe the tide is running strong to make MH what it used to be. Do not underestimate the chastised and re-energized lead pastors. I’m going to risk it, and give it my all, for Him (God).

  5. Rob I love your heart I love mendella and the power of the reciociliation story of South Africa and yet the terror continues there as well. As I read your blog daily I am intrigued much the voice of the abused are missing. Yes you and other white straight men were wronged however there were others that have been abuses bullied and it happened in the very spaces you are calling people have experienced this pain. Forgiveness is important and I would love to hear your forgiveness story as related to MHGC.

  6. It’s too bad you didn’t like what people were doing at Mars Hill, and they didn’t like you. But a church is a voluntary social association, and it’s a basic lesson of life nobody has to like you and you don’t have to like them. Mars Hill was, as far as I know, a fairly unique church, where growth and challenge were put ahead of comfort. Most Protestant churches I think put a premium on providing a nice social environment. Progressives despise mainstream evangelical churches as bourgeois Republican social clubs, but their own churches are just bourgeois Democratic social clubs.

    I don’t see how Mars Hill can continue, or why it should. It was for better or worse a vehicle for Mark Driscoll and his vision. I don’t see that any of the leadership there has any vision, other than they want Mars Hill to be a nice evangelical bible church. But there are plenty of churches like that already. People not comfortable with Mars Hill might like Seattle Quest, for example. Or if you want a gay-marriage supporting, progressive church there is a United Methodist or ELCA church with a rainbow sticker on the sign just about every block in Seattle.

    Really the people not liking Mark Driscoll should just start there own church, it’s very easy, and see if anybody comes.

  7. Actually everyone should return to the churches they abandoned before they were assimilated into the MH franchise. Your growth was at the expense of many good and faithful churches. You took the sheep while mocking the efforts of the churches in the puget sound. I see no good reason why mh should continue but I can see massive good by people returning to the churches in their neighborhoods.

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