There has been a significant outcry nationwide about Mark Driscoll resigning without repenting for the abuse and other sins with which he was charged. There is grave concern that as a result he will just rebrand himself and just keep on trucking rather than repent and take the needed time off to seek help as a part of his restoration to brotherhood.
Less noted by those watching the cascading events surrounding Mars Hill Church, is the sad reality that before Mark Driscoll left without a sign of genuine repentance, a long list of elders, all parties to the abuse in one way or another, also left the church without genuine repentance for their sin of abusing members and their culpability in bringing about the demise of Mars Hill Church.
Since I have taken a more open role in calling Mark Driscoll to repentance, I have received countless stories of abuse from ex-Mars Hill members. Most of this abuse was dished out by ex-elders and community group leaders, some of whom are on the list of elders who charged Mark Driscoll with similar sins.
Take, for example, the 22 elders who participated in the unjust firings and trials of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. Of the 17 who have left Mars Hill Church, a large number have not openly repented of the pivotal role they played in creating the abusive environment that governed the church, and the devastating effects their actions had on these families and the entire church.
Most of the elders on that list who have left the church have continued in some form of ministry. Five of those elders remain as elders at Mars Hill Church. They continue to minister, while Paul Petry, the elder whose firing and unjust trial is now common knowledge, and his family remained shunned by the church.
I received a lengthy email today about a family who was abused at the Portland campus. But I have heard no confession from the Portland campus, whose lead pastor voted to shun Paul Petry in 2007.
Now we get news of recently departed elders starting new churches. Again, these are “pastors” who appear to be doing what every one has criticized Mark Driscoll of doing. Leaving without repenting. They voted to shun Paul Petry, and now leave while failing to repent in a public way, and then move on and remain in ministry.
Paul Tripp stated that Mars Hill Church “… is without a doubt, the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with,” Every elder that has recently left Mars Hill Church was a part of that “most abusive ministry culture” and complicit in helping create it. The elders who voted to shun Paul Petry in 2007 ushered in the bylaws that have led to the abuse.
Yet they move on to continue in professional ministry as if they had nothing to repent of, while they point to the lack of repentance on Mark Driscoll’s part.
I would love to see genuine repentance on the part of Mark Driscoll. But I have little confidence I will see such from Driscoll based upon the lack of repentance we have seen on the part of the many Mars Hill Church elders who have also left and simply found another place of ministry, while the Paul Petry shunning continues and countless members and ex-members still suffer.
There have been a handful of ex-elders that have openly repented. These are men that truly understand the gospel and have an understanding of the amazing healing that true repentance brings – both in the lives of those that were abused as well as in their own life as an elder.