Thank you Wartburg Watch! You nailed it!

It takes a village 1

Wartburg Watch is spot on!

If you have an interest in seeing the damaging “shepherding” movement within the neo-Reformed groups like Acts 29 get the whipping it deserves, you must read this excellent piece: Lessons Learned From The Village Church and Matt Chandler on Membership, Abuse and Repentance – by Wartburg Watch.

Rather than write a blog saying essentially the same thing, let me highlight a few of the many excellent observations and lessons pointed out by Dee Parsons.

  • The threat of a lawsuit should not interfere with an apology; in fact, it could stop a lawsuit in its tracks. If I were the leadership of Mars Hill Church I would be taking copious notes! (link…. at 32 second mark)
  • Matt Chandler’s apology meant the world to victims of church abuse. He did not apologize to anonymous victims. He apologized specifically. Take note, Mars Hill leadership.
  • Victims should not have to seek out media and lawyers to be heard. To this day, despite trying since early 2013, senior Mars Hill leaders have refused to speak to me and many other victims, members and donors. Arrogant leaders staunchly refuse to engage their victims, then they criticize them when they eventually turn to media and lawyers.
  • Matt Chandler provides a template for other pastors and churches to follow. Perhaps that fact that Matt Chandler is being honored for reflecting a repentant heart, as is, to a lesser degree, Sutton Turner, the only talking ex-Executive Elder or member of the Mars Hill Board, will encourage other leaders to follow Matt Chandler’s example.
  • A failure for the plurality of elders concept. As one who has always respected the “plurality of elders” form of church governance, I am equally convinced that it should be the sheep that pick the elders and affirm them with regularity, and not the elders themselves. Self-appointed (often young) so-called “elders” who then appoint the rest of the elder team ultimately view the sheep as irrelevant. Eventually the sheep speak with their pocket books and feet.
  • Reports of Acts 29 churches promoting harsh discipline. As my part in the Mars Hill Church abuse story became more visible, I have had members of Acts 29 churches across the country send in stories of abuse. It is sad, and there is no doubt that there needs to be a frank discussion and understanding of the reality that Mark Driscoll’s form of leadership is deeply ingrained within the thinking of many Acts 29 churches. It is critical for the sake of avoiding abuse as well as the sake of the gospel that Acts 29 discuss this openly and honestly. The younger the “assessed” church planter, the deeper I would look. 1 Timothy 5:22 should not be disregarded because a talented youngster passed a Myers-Briggs test.
  • Since when is it biblical to not do the right thing because an attorney says a lawsuit is possible? This is the mother of all questions of these so-called Pastors who refuse to the right thing. Perhaps this has been the biggest obstacle that led to Mars Hill Church leadership allowing the church to collapse rather than to do the right thing. It is not only sad, but it is a reflection of the character of the players. Simply, we are being told that repentance cannot take place because lawyers are being obeyed rather than the Word of God.

Thank you Wartburg Watch. Thank you for caring for those that you do not know. Thank you for listening to me in 2012 and caring. I remember sitting with Dee eating Cheetos outside Cracker Barrel in rural North Carolina and being amazed to see you tear up as a total stranger told you of what his family went through at the hands of Mark Driscoll and his leadership. You have acted like true shepherds. Thank you.

You have been giants in drawing attention to the abuse that is rampant within so many neo-Reformed churches. I had to think of you and chuckle when I saw this cartoon.

it takes a village 2

Mars Hill Church – Behold your King!

Driscoll 6

On December 1, 2014, Mark Driscoll registered for a new 501(c)3 in the great state of Texas called “Living for Learning.” He has launched a new ministry, just weeks after resigning from a church which under his leadership has been described as “the most abusive and coercive” church.

The work of several hundred of Mars Hill Church volunteers and employees, and millions of dollars’ worth of sermons, video productions, and other property, along with a likely lucrative severance package paid at a time when the church was on its knees financially, has apparently all gone to Mark Driscoll.

But of course, since 22 elders voted away their authority in 2007, Mark Driscoll consolidated his power. This is what Paul Petry and Bent Meyer warned against before they were ruthlessly fired and slandered. As a result any agreements made in recent years between Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll increasingly became agreements made by Mark Driscoll, the president of Mars Hill Church, and Mark Driscoll, the person, so it seems.

It is no wonder that the “replanted” churches were told that they could not use the name Mars Hill Church. That name and its brand probably also belongs to Mark Driscoll. Despite the reality that the church was started by three men, Mike Gunn, Lief Moi, and Mark Driscoll, and built by the hard work of hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours from members, plus millions of dollars of their donations, it now seems to all belong to Mark Driscoll.

And the distribution of the remaining assets?

The debt will go to the new replants (if the debt-holder agrees). Some sort of dollar amount may go to the eleven replants as long as their lead “pastors” stay quiet, it appears.  But they could also go to a like-minded not-for-profit. One formed in Texas perhaps?

Therefore it is no wonder that Mark Driscoll’s new organization is formed one month before the dissolution of the corporation known as Mars Hill Church.

This is why there needs to be full transparency. Please support the Mediation Fund.

Psalm 51 and the recent confessions of Mars Hill Elders.

a broken man 2

Since everything has come crashing down, we are and will continue to see repentance coming from men who should have confessed and repented of their sin and failure of leadership at Mars Hill Church years ago. The reactions to these confessions and acts of repentance range from anger, skepticism and disappointment, to accolade and great rejoicing.

This brings us to Psalm 51.

This psalm is by far the most recognized statement of repentance in history. It is an amazing example of how to deal with sin.

It would do us good to review the raw facts leading up to King David’s repentance.

  • David becomes the kind of leader that no longer goes into the battle with his men. He is the King, and he delegates his leadership to others.
  • He sees Bathsheba bathing, and uses his position as King to violate her. She was a young woman, he was the king.
  • She becomes pregnant, and he calls for Uriah, her husband, to return from the battlefield so that he can sleep with Uriah’s wife and keep the adultery hidden.
  • When Uriah acts like a true soldier, and refuses to leave his men, David plotted and carried out his murder.
  • David marries Bathsheba, and prepares for the birth of a son.

David’s sin was calculated and tactical. He was not coerced or surrounded by peer pressure. He was not a young man, but a mature man who loved God and desired and experienced a profound walk with God.

Yet his repentance did not come until Nathan risked his life by confronting the King and calling for his repentance.

Psalm 51 was the result.

I am sure that Psalm 51 was no comfort to the family of Uriah the Hittite. I am sure they struggled with the wording. “It was not specific enough… David did not take enough personal responsibility… He failed to name his sins clearly… he seems to blame others…”

But his cry was sincere and pleasing to God.

So as I read recent confessions from the elders, I accept the words as from men who have been convicted by the crushing circumstances around them, and I will accept them at face value.

As the reality of David’s sin came into view, he was crushed with the consequence of his sin. The depth of the tragedy of the loss of Uriah, a good man. The crushing loss of his son. I am sure the pain of that never left King David. The negative consequences of his sin are legion.

But his confession was real.

I am sure David had to make matters right and repent and offer restitution to the family of Uriah. Psalm 51 was not his wording to that grieving family, nor was this how he faced his own family. So I trust we will see more from the Mars Hill elders as well. Having spoken to them personally, I am sure of such coming over the days ahead.

But I do accept their confessions, past and present, and I encouraged all to do so. They are being expressed as the reality of their sin against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, and the tragic consequences of the sin of those 22 elders are beginning to be seen and understood.

I will also pray for these men, and pledge to help them in their walk of repentance. There is newness of life in true repentance and I long for such in the lives of every repentant man.

So help us God.

“Triperspectival Leadership” – the insidious spark that is burning down Mars Hill Church!

raging fire

Before 2007, no one had heard about this twisting of Reformed ecclesiology. It seems to have begun at David Fairchild’s and Drew Goodmanson’s Kaleo church in San Diego, and, like a grassfire, quickly spread to Acts 29, fueled by the convenient gas thrown upon the fire by Mark Driscoll, who used the teaching to consolidate power into the hands of a few handpicked “kings.”

I cannot describe the teaching in a nutshell better than my learned and wise friend Paul Petry, who, as everyone knows, ended up being the brunt of this perverted teaching when he opposed it and was duly expunged from Mars Hill Church in what has become the most documented ecclesiastical trial of the decade:

It is a mutation of a theological theory promulgated by John Frame in his analysis of Jesus being Prophet, Priest, King, and then applied to analysis of church ministries. If a ministry has a preponderance of one type of function, rather than a balance of all three – it is dysfunctional/imbalanced. That is an EXTREMELY condensed version. Frame’s theoretical analysis is really very intriguing. The problem is when megalomaniacal leaders get ahold of it and apply their own perverted version of the theory and make it a practical reality to strengthen their abusive hierarchical control and authority over the flock of God’s sheep entrusted to their care.

If the Reformed resurgence of the last decade is going to avoid imploding, it will need to fully understand why Mars Hill Church is smoldering in the aftermath of Mark Driscoll. Rather than throw him out and pretend like he never existed, groups like Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition need to dig deep into what they have embraced and identify, extract, and destroy the little Driscoll DNA foxes that have been destroying the vineyard.

These men would be wise to seek outside help in this, as they have tended to be “the blind leading the blind.” There are young restless men all over the world embracing “Triperspectival Leadership” after attending an Acts 29 boot camp or downloading such from the lofty websites of these and other groups in the neo-reformed camp.

If they do not expunge this unbiblical and certainly unreformed view of leadership, we will see ten thousand abusive Mark Driscoll clones follow in his wake. Sadly, rather than bad ecclesiology getting the blame, the blows will land on those beloved and time-tested doctrines that define the great gospel and the abundant life that it promises.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” – My prayer for the elders at Mars Hill Church.

father forgive them

Mark Driscoll has resigned and nobody is happy.

Seven years ago there were twenty four elders who were responsible for ruling Mars Hill Church. As is now common knowledge, Mark Driscoll fired Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in a coercive move that enabled him to force the remaining elders to vote in new bylaws that consolidated power in Mark Driscoll.

By abdicating their biblical responsibility they laid the groundwork for all that has happened at Mars Hill Church.

Those 22 elders who voted to remove biblical accountability from Mark Driscoll created the environment that has led to the tragedy of the situation we now see at Mars Hill Church.

Despite all the emotion, the anger, the grief, and heartbreak of this journey, it is time to pray the prayer of Jesus and forgive these men for their incompetence and abandonment of their duties.

“Father, I forgive the elders of 2007, for they did not know what they were doing.”

I do forgive them, and sadly, I do believe that they had no idea what they were doing.

Then there is the current leadership.

18 months ago, Dave Kraft filed credible charges against Mark Driscoll. Michael van Skaik essentially ignored any reasonable due process in looking into the charges and a statement was issued that basically told the church that nothing he discovered disqualified Mark Driscoll from ministry.

At that time the church appeared to be strong. Had Mark Driscoll either resigned or been suspended at that time, the church would have been impacted, but it was in a good condition to weather the severe impact of Mark Driscoll’s departure. It would have been tough, but the church was in a strong position to survive it.

Instead, under the leadership of Michael van Skaik, James MacDonald, Paul Tripp, and Larry Osborne, the charges against Mark Driscoll have escalated.

Scandal after scandal emerged. Charges of plagiarism first trickled in, then showed up in multiple books. Stories of abuse and bullying began to be told. Lots of stories of abuse and bullying. Then the Result Source scandal rocked the church. Then the Global Fund scandal and the accompanying spin to explain the deceit. The sad story of the treatment of Pastor Ron Wheeler. Add to that the William Wallace II rants.

Than came Mark Driscoll lying to the camera saying he would reconcile, but said that those with whom he should reconcile “remained anonymous.”

21 former elders filed credible and serious charges against Mark Driscoll. Acts 29 threw him out of the organization he co-founded. And, nine current elders called for his suspension and filed new charges against him.

The church, under the watch of the Board of Advisors and Accountability, has been crippled by the abusive leadership of Mark Driscoll. Under the watchful eye of the BOAA, hundreds, then thousands of members leave. Elders are fired. The stories they tell are stunning in their combined voice against the abusive leadership of Mark Driscoll and the awful culture of Mars Hill Church.

Mars Hill Church falls to its knees as these men lead. Hundreds call for Mark Driscoll to be suspended and to be removed from being able to continue his abuse.

These men had opportunity after opportunity to remove Mark Driscoll. Yet they wait until the church is in shatters, and then they deliver the results of their investigation into the multiple charges against the pastor of the church that Paul Tripp said was the most abusive and coercive church he had ever worked with.

They declare that he is still fit for ministry.

As angry as I feel emotionally at these incompetent and pathetic men, I am choosing to forgive them.

“Father, I forgive the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Déjà vu – A warning (and appeal) to give Mark Driscoll a fair trial.

Fair trial

Mark Driscoll deserves a fair trial. Those who have accused Mark Driscoll deserve a fair trial. The members of Mars Hlll Church deserve a fair trial.

Sadly, a fair trial for Mark Driscoll is not likely. There is no impartiality, and the jury will not hear from the witnesses themselves.

If you do not like the term “trial”, let me say that Mark Driscoll will not have the charges against him deliberated fairly.

Exacty seven years and seven days ago, before the lynching of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in 2007, I implored the “elders” at the time for a fair trial for the men. I had no idea whether the two men were guilty of the charges against them, but I was certain that unless they received a fair trial, the verdict would haunt Mars Hill Church for years. Such has been the case (link).

I argued, in 2007, that the trial must be impartial, and that the evidence must be fairly heard by the jury directly from the witnesses. Sadly, it appears that neither will be true as the supposedly “independent” members of the Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) adjudicate the charges against Mark Driscoll.

In the case of Paul Petry, the failure to have a fair hearing harmed him, and sadly harmed the verdict and in the long run it harmed the church. Its impact is as fresh today as it was seven years ago. At Paul Petry’s trial it was not in Mars Driscoll’s interest to conduct a fair trial.

In the case of the current charges against Mark Driscoll, exactly seven years after the trial of Paul Petry, an unfair hearing or trial will hurt the accusers, and of course, hurt the verdict.

A verdict from an unfair trial simply does not stick. If the verdict cannot be trusted, it will further harm the already beleaguered members of Mars Hill Church. The reputation of the BOAA will sink even lower than it is at present, and more members will leave the church discouraged and disillusioned.

While it seems obvious to anyone who desires to truthfully adjudicate accusations against anyone, let me go through why those deciding the matter must be impartial, and why the testimony of the witnesses is critical.


The people who are going to adjudicate the charges must be impartial. This is not only common sense, but also required by one of the most impassioned instructions from the Apostle Paul to Timothy when giving instructions regarding how to deal with charges against an elder.

Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.  I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. (1 Timothy 5:19-21)

If you are the largest donor to Mars Hill Church (by far) and have invested millions of dollars helping brand Mark Driscoll, helped him brand “Reverse Engineering,” and your contributions have been a significant part in developing his ministry, then you cannot be impartial in your judgment. A man of integrity would simply have to recuse himself.

If you were involved on the board of a company hired to coach Mars Hill elders over a period of years for fees that accumulatively added up to several hundred thousand dollars, then you cannot be impartial. A man of integrity would simply have to recuse himself.

If you have been accused of misleading (lying) and failing to be transparent to the church members, or if you have cleared earlier charges against Mark Driscoll without a thorough investigation and have shown a continued unwillingness to take previous charges seriously, you cannot be impartial. A man of integrity would simply have to recuse himself.

If you have accused those bringing charges against Mark Driscoll of slandering and falsely accusing “good men,” then you are demonstrating that you have made your mind up already. You cannot be impartial. A man of integrity would simply have to recuse himself.

I could go on, but it is clear that only one man on the BOAA can actually be impartial in adjudicating the charges against Mark Driscoll, and that appears to be Larry Osborne. But the total lack of transparency, the secret behind-the-scenes meetings and financial arrangements, leave even Osborne’s objectivity open to question. There must not be even a hint of impropriety. A man of integrity would have to recuse himself.


In processing charges, hearsay is not credible. The bible calls for witnesses, and their testimony must be heard. A fair process will go out of its way to hear from any witness in person. This allows the accused and the accusers the opportunity to question the witness. This allows the testimony the witness brings to be tested and to be put into context.

Paul Petry was charged with discussing the proposed bylaws of 2007 with a member. Apparently sharing proposed new bylaws with a member is a sin. I happened to be member that Paul Petry shared the document with. He wanted to review the section regarding the discipline of a member. The proposed bylaws gave the members no rights, and Paul wanted my opinion on proposals to the bylaws – namely to propose an appeals process for any church member who may have been treated unfairly or falsely accused. No such process existed at the time. After discussing the matter, Paul proposed changes that I had suggested (link – see page 13).

Despite asking to appear at the trial as a witness by asking the members of the Elder Investigation Team, I was not asked to appear as a witness. They knew that Paul had talked to me, but they never questioned me other than to ask if Paul talked to me. I implored one of the members, Dave Kraft, to allow me to speak for myself and to allow cross-examination of my testimony. This request was denied, and Paul was found guilty of sharing the proposed bylaws with me.

Mark Driscoll set up the hearsay. According to two elders that were at the trial, Driscoll said “Rob Smith is the biggest trouble maker in the history of the church!” he told the elders and others Driscoll had stacked the gallery with at Paul’s trial. “Did you know that he has been kicked out of 4 churches before?”

Neither statement by Driscoll was true. I was a deacon and had been approved to be an elder. The rest of the elders-to-be that were being processed at the time were at the trial. But what Mark Driscoll said was hearsay, and had I been at the trial I would have borne witness to the truth. I have never been thrown out of a church, and I would have challenged the charge that I was a trouble maker.

Furthermore, I had already seen the bylaws prior to my visit from Paul Petry. They were left on a side table in the office of one of the other elders earlier in the week when I had discussed an unrelated matter with that elder. Had I been a witness, the truth would have been clear, and the accuser, Mark Driscoll, would have been shown to have been untruthful.

If the process of adjudicating the numerous charges against Mark Driscoll is adjudicated by the current members of the BOAA, there will be no impartiality.

If the current process does not allow witnesses to appear before the BOAA in person, there will be hearsay.

The verdict will be invalid. It simply will not stand. Whether Mark Driscoll’s sins do or do not disqualify him to be an elder, no one will take the verdict seriously. And, like the previous show trials of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, the lack of due process and biblical safeguards will lead to a result that will carry unforeseen consequences that will haunt the church for years.

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“Negative Media Attention” and Mars Hill Church


Mars Hill Church leadership has decried “Negative Media Attention” and blamed it for a decrease in both attendance and giving.

For us ex-members and perhaps many members we see the following “trustworthy table”. The most untrustworthy from our perspective would be considered negative, and the most trustworthy would be considered positive. We consider truth as positive, and self-serving spin and obfuscation as negative.  We will look at the media spin about the current Mars Hill mess from negative to positive.

News source
General Characterization

Mars Hill Church  communications
Very untrustworthy
Full of accusation to dissenters and bloggers, lack of transparency, hides truth often.

Other Christian New Outlets (World Magazine excluded)
Usually are printing puff pieces seemingly written by Mars Hill PR firms and surrogates.

Daily Beast/Huff Post
Moderately Untrustworthy
Seems to like to pick the sensational and skew perspectives toward a biased view.

New York Times
Solid journalism

Solid journalism

The Seattle Times
Solid Journalism – keen to correct any errors

The Seattle Weekly
Solid and caring journalism.

The Wartburg Watch
Written with a heart for abused people

World Magazine
Very Trustworthy
Warren Cole Smith has become the nation’s foremost investigative reporter within Evangelical circles.

Wenatchee the Hatchet
Very trustworthy
A totally accurate narrative with keen observation and a ferocious commitment to accuracy.

Warren Throckmorton
Very trustworthy
Daily reading for most members and ex-members of Mars Hill Church and the rest of the evangelical world

The Stranger
Very trustworthy
No tabloid journalist spent more time to make sure that he understood the context and accuracy of the events at Mars Hill Church than Brendan Kiley (Link)

Who would have thought that the least trustworthy of media would be Mars Hill Church and other Christian outlets, and the most trustworthy The Stranger?

Finally – an ounce of transparency from within Mars Hill Church.


Today a letter from Sutton Turner to the fellow executive elders Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas was posted by Warren Throckmorton (link).

It is stunning. It will momentarily give you some respect and sympathy for the newly-hired-at-the-time Sutton Turner.

There is much to process as a former Mars Hill member reading of the extravagance of eating at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and treating wives to the spa using church funds.  But there are two things that stand out.

  1. The extravagant spenders Sutton was concerned about were not Mark Driscoll or the executive elders. The culture of using the church to further their own personal benefit that was pointed out was at the level of the rank and file elders. These are the same men that are calling for the disqualification of Mark Driscoll.
  2. Sutton claims that there was a “culture of using the platform created by Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church to build a staff member’s own personal ministry”. He seems to gloss over the many times he repeated the Real Marriage Campaign which clearly used church funds to build Mark Driscoll’s personal ministry (and fortune). It is clear that to Turner the ministry of Mars Hill Church and the personal ministry (and the personal inurement that resulted) were one and the same. It reminds me of the reports where Mark Driscoll said to his elders, “I am the brand” (link).

Bear in mind that the elders who have charged Mark Driscoll with various sins and are calling for his head were elders who were employed by Mars Hill Church in 2011 and 2012, and who were using church monies to eat and live lavishly. It is no wonder then, that so very few of these elders have added their names to the site.

It would seem that now that this letter is out, we should see many of the elders step up to the plate and show repentance for their misuse of church funds and the neglect of other pastoral duties, including the support of the firing of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, the shunning of the Petry family (which is still in force) and the changing of the bylaws that created this culture of runaway unaccountability.

The MH wounded… where are Acts 29, TGC, T4G, and real shepherds?

“The credibility of the church will rise and fall on how it treats the weak and wounded. Mark Driscoll called former friends and former pastors ‘bodies under the bus’ and was hoping for a mountain of them. I know of no high-profile pastor who has publicly called for prayer for those bodies.” Matt Redmond writes in an excellent post (link).

The sheep continue to hurt as men who propped up, enabled, supported, lauded, and benefitted from Mark Driscoll make comments about praying for and supporting Driscoll while they have no words of concern for the sheep.

As the discussion continues within the church analyzing how the Mars Hill Church rise and fall happened, certain men are going to have to speak. It would be healing to all if they spoke words of comfort and prayer for the thousands who have been harmed in so many countless ways.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some of the men we need to hear from:

Pray 2  pray 4pray 5   Pray 8

Pray 7   pray 11 dacarson 2pray chan 1   pray dever 2pray keller and piper 1   Pray rick warren 1pray tripp 2   pray wilson 1


pray breshears 1   pray breshears 2

pray darrin ed   pray stetzer


and finally… just for the sake of a little humor…..

Pray - humor