The ECFA has purged their web-site of Mark Driscoll, but still certifies the integrity of Mars Hill Church.

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The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability is still giving its stamp of approval to Mars Hill Church. They correctly show the lead pastor as being Dave Bruskas.

Mark Driscoll has been purged from the ECFA website. There is not a single reference to him. Nothing.

Until recently Driscoll was highly featured in their advertising. An attempt to go to the WayBack Machine to see when the change occurred was blocked. It appears that the ECFA uses robot.txt to block its history to the public.

So some time recently, Mark Driscoll was purged in a similar way to the way that Mars Hill Church would purge any reference about or sermons and writings of departing (and sometimes shunned) pastors such as Lief Moi and Mike Gunn, both co-founders of Mars Hill Church.

But despite the decision to purge Mark Driscoll from its website and advertising, and despite the reality that former Mars Hill board member Paul Tripp has called Mars Hill Churchthe most abusive and coercive churchhe has ever worked with, and despite the numerous financial scandals, the ECFA continues to certify Mars Hill Church’s adherence to transparency, integrity, and accountability.

One might ask why a church would need the ECFA certification, an entity that we now know bases their certification of a church on seemingly little information plus a few statements from the staff of that church. Surely, if a church was doing a good job being transparent with its donors, the ECFA certification might seem rather unnecessary. We now know that it is somewhat meaningless, or, perish the thought, even an indication that the church the ECFA certifies needs the certification in order to overcome its lack of transparency. So that when a donor asks questions, rather than be transparent, the church can merely point to their ECFA certification. This was how Mars Hill Church leadership has repeatedly used the certification.

The ECFA itself has been very non-transparent and slow to communicate with the public about its removal of Mark Driscoll and its continued certification of Mars Hill Church. This despite the church collapsing in a stunning and spectacular way largely due to financial pressure. They have been so slow that one has to ask whether the ECFA was trying to protect Mars Hill Church and not the donors to Mars Hill Church?

When one sees that the ECFA certifies other churches with similar financial non-transparency, like Stephen Furtick’s Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Chapel, one has to wonder what sort of transparency the ECFA is certifying. Both of these churches have been added in the last 14 months, and both have had significant financial scandals prior to their certification where lack of transparency was a factor in the scandal.

Mars Hill Church members, former members, and donors are crying out for financial transparency. Mars Hill Church leadership continues to ignore them, while the ECFA continues to certify the church.

It would appear that the ECFA itself has lost its integrity. What was once a badge of excellence appears to have become a part of the problematic “Evangelical Industrial Complex” that we Evangelicals are now contending with. Rather than the ECFA certification leading to a donor feeling confident about an organization, it now seems that the certification will cause a donor to doubt and wonder.

While Mars Hill Church shepherds fleeced their flocks by night….

 

shepherds

A blessed Christmas to all!

Two thousand years ago, shepherds were tending to their sheep on a winter’s night. Today the world celebrates that night – the night when the God of glory descended to earth as a baby. What a glorious night it was!

Some two thousand years later, the shepherds of Mars Hill Church appear to have been fleecing their flocks by night.

Over the years members and donors of Mars Hill Church have put tens of thousands of dollars into a lot of valuable assets. Some of the money bought tangible assets, like buildings. The rest of the money was largely put into the development of intangible assets like websites, branding, sermon videos and related paraphernalia, and related ministries like Resurgence, re-Train, re-Lit, etc.

All in all, the total value is substantial. It is valuable to own, and valuable to sell.

Let us take just one example.  Resurgence and everything related to it is in and of itself an asset. It has some 60,000 subscribers, all of whom could be potential customers for the products and message of Resurgence. It owns a twitter account with over 90,000 followers and a FaceBook page with 77,000 likes. It also owns about 80 website names, multiple trademarks, and a lot of content.

All paid for by Mars Hill Church donors.

So to whom do all the assets relating to Resurgence belong? While the Mars Hill shepherds have been tending their sheep, it seems they may have quietly stood by while the BOAA and the Executive Elders appears to have fleeced their sheep. Mars Hill Church was a church that existed largely because of its robust internet and technology based infra-structure.

So who owns that infra-structure?

Someone from Texas is selling Resurgence and all its parts. It has an asking price of $100,000. Was giving that intangible asset a part of a severance settlement? Or was there self-dealing during the time period that the Executive Elders had no one holding them to account?

Did the massive volume of all the intangible assets that Mars Hill Church members paid for with their tithes all get negotiated away?

Who owns the donor list of donors that gave to the Global Fund? That list alone may be worth millions. That property was paid for by the members and donors of Mars Hill Church.

Dave Bruskas, your sheep, the Mars Hill Church members, ex-members, and donors need and want transparency.

“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.”

A change.org appeal to the ECFA to remove its approval of Mars Hill Church.

GlobaL Fund 3

Join this Change.org petition to ECFA.

WE APPEAL TO THE ECFA to suspend its approval of the Financial Accountability and Transparency of Mars Hill Church.

Despite scandal after scandal, and repeated calls from Mars Hill elders, ex-elders, members and ex-members for transparency, Mars Hill Church refuses to open its books to answer questions raised by both members and donors.

Recently it seems that every month more evidence of financial deception is revealed, yet the ECFA continues to certify to donors that Mars Hill Church has met the ECFA requirements of transparency and accountability.

IN THE LIGHT OF of the calculated deception revealed in the appeal for donors to give to the Mars Hill Global Fund, renamed Mars Hill Global, and more recently Mars Hill Go, the fact that donors gave over $10 million for purposes that were deceptively pitched, leading donors to believe that the monies would be spent on oversees missions, especially in Ethiopia and India,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF the admission by Mars Hill Church that the preponderance of the money raised was simply added to the General Fund and used in the US,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF the memo where Mars Hill Church senior leadership laid out the intent and methodology to deceive donors, a memo with clear instruction to be vague about the exact amount of monies that were going to foreign missions, and clearly laying out that the amount needed to be merely a token amount not to exceed a relatively small amount in relation to the total monies projected to be raised (less than 5%) so as to deceive donors and potential member churches or placate critics,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF over 50 former elders calling for the leadership of Mars Hill Church to repent of failing to be transparent in its financial dealings,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF the dishonest and changing statements of Mars Hill Church regarding the Global Fund, impacting 6,000 donors, and regarding use of $210,000 of donor money to purchase 11,000 copies of Mark Driscoll’s book “Real Marriage” at retail price to deceptively manipulate the New York Times Bestseller list into believing that the book was in fact a bestseller,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF many other scandals, including the rumored exorbitant salaries of the senior leadership of Mars Hill Church, a million-dollar home being paid for in cash, substantial remodeling of the home being paid for in cash, and other scandals that keep circulating due to the lack of financial transparency and accountability,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF the massive turnover of elders, including over 60 in the last 24 months, as well as the resignation of Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) member Paul Tripp, who called Mars Hill Church “the most abusive and coercive church” he has “ever worked with”, along with the resignation of James MacDonald from the BOAA,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF 30 elders filing formal charges against Mark Driscoll along with an additional 21 elders willing to testify to corroborate those charges,

WE THEREFORE APPEAL TO THE ECFA to suspend its approval of the Financial Accountability and Transparency of Mars Hill Church.

All of the Mars Hill Church senior leadership need to resign!

 

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How is it possible that the senior leadership at Mars Hill has not yet resigned?

It is no wonder that Paul Tripp, James MacDonald, and now Sutton Turner have resigned from the senior leadership of Mars Hill Church.

The more the truth comes out, the more it is clear that the senior leadership, the Executive Elders in particular,  knew about and actively participated in the planned deception of donors, members, and the New York Times Bestseller list.

First, the leaked memo which revealed that elders within the church were alarmed and warned that the scheme to use church monies to purchase 11,000 copies of Mark Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage, at $20 per copy (versus a wholesale price of $7), might attract the IRS because of the personal inurement of the author, and “muckrakers” who would see through the deception and draw public attention to it.

Keep in mind that it was at this time that the author of Real Marriage was able to pay for a home costing well over a million dollars in an exclusive, upscale suburb outside of Seattle. The home is fully paid for.

Everyone now knows that the contract with Result Source was intended to deceive the New York Times Bestseller list, and therefor intended to deceive the public that Mark Driscoll is a bestselling author.

Sadly, the three explanations that were given to church members now appear even more deceptive than they were at the time they were released. One must review them in light of the recently leaked internal memo warning the senior leadership of the shenanigans.

Second, the recently leaked memo that laid out the scheme to use global backdrops to trick donors to give to global missions but used the money for local Mars Hill expenditures brought a new wave of outrage and disgust. The deception is blatant and clearly calculated. The overt strategy was to raise millions for global missions, but to actually give as little as 1.5% to 2% of the money received to actual global missions, with almost all the money going to fund business as usual in the US. The memo specifically strategizes that the amount actually spent on global mission should not be made public, and that the outlay for global missions should be about $10,000 per month – a fraction of the total take. The recent financial reports of Mars Hill Church reflect this strategy was used, with not a single dissenting voice within senior leadership to call attention to the impropriety.

This means that the 6,000 donors who gave a total of over $10 million to global missions in recent years ended up giving well over $9.5million to fund Mars Hill Church in the U.S. and hardly any money to global missions.

The wording of the memo evidences an unconscionable breach of trust and a callous intent to deceive donors. Such a violation by church leaders brings disgrace upon the church and dishonor upon the name of Christ. “As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'” — Romans 2:24

In the light of these deceptions, why are the senior leaders still in office?

Given the speed of which eight of the “Noble Nine” elders who recently called for accountability from the BOAA and the Executive Elders were either fired or resigned, and given the large number of elders and employees who were fired for merely questioning senior leadership, surely now that the calculated deception of the senior leadership has been well established, they should follow the lead of Paul Tripp, James MacDonald, and Sutton Turner and tender their resignations.

As Mars Hill Bellevue Pastor Thomas Hurst stated just a month ago, “In the end there are only two outcomes I will continue to partake in – seeing our church faithfully rebuilt…from the top down, or turning off the lights and locking the doors…”

Bullies and their cohorts laugh at the pain of others.

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If Mark Driscoll is a pathological narcissist and a bully (as many have alleged), then he and his closest elders are probably never going to empathize with those he has hurt through the documented abuse at Mars Hill Church.

Former Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability member Paul Tripp stated that Mars Hill Church was the most abusive and coercive ministry that he has ever been involved with (link). 21 ex-elders have accused Mark Driscoll of being a bully (link).

It seems that even in their quest to investigate the charges against Mark Driscoll, the various boards involved fail to understand that ex-members who have been shunned or discarded are in deep pain – many in crisis. While there may be a growing desire to honestly investigate the charges of abuse or understand the abusive culture at Mars Hill Church, there seems to be no desire to understand the level of pain endured by those who have been abused.

In trying to understand how there can be a heightened sense that something is wrong, and that what is wrong is not the fault of “negative media attention” but rather the result of the sinful and abusive culture within Mars Hill church, the elders, to one degree or another, are reflecting the same lack of empathy as their leader.

The pathology of a narcissist is that he cannot feel anyone’s pain but his own. I was always stunned when watching a bully beat up a weaker kid at school, and once the kid was crying and hurt, the bully walked off snickering. Stand up to that bully and give him a bloody nose, and then he starts to cry and call for his mother.

At no point does the bully feel the pain of the kid he just beat up. Sadly, that pathology only allows the bully to feel his own pain – to feel sorry for himself when he is hurt.

If Sutton Turner, in his leaked internal memo (link) is correct, Mars Hill Church’s top leaders set the culture, and so elders and staff reflect the problems that cascade down from the top. This would at least help to understand why, despite the many stories at websites like www.welovemarshill.com of wounded ex-members, the current elders simply do not care very much.

They are reflecting the norm of the classic narcissistic bully.

Perhaps this is why Mark Driscoll can talk about beating up members of the church (link) and talk about breaking the noses of his fellow pastors (link), and members of his audience chuckle and find it amusing (link).

Perhaps once there is a clean slate of executive elders, they will begin to show a shepherd’s heart to the scattered sheep that have been thrown under the bus (link).

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

Radically change the bylaws…they represent a “deft grab for power.” — Dustin Kensrue

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Pastor Dustin Kensrue, in his letter of resignation from Mars Hill Church, says that the Mars Hill Church “bylaws need to be radically changed…” (link)

These bylaws were changed to consolidate power in 2007, following the ruthless firing and “trials” of  two elders – part of a manipulative scheme to coerce young elders to vote for the change or lose their jobs. There is broad consensus and substantial evidence that this was essentially a power grab by Mark Driscoll and his designated “lead pastor” Jamie Munson.

Dustin Kensrue had the courage to say what many of us have been saying for years:  That there was a theological shift that reflects “a deliberate and deft grab for power.”

This shift happened in 2007. Up until 2007, the elders were the highest authority in the church. The church was ruled by a plurality of elders who had an equal vote in all church matters. The executive elders were delegated limited authority by the full council of elders and were completely accountable to these elders.

Mark Driscoll and Jamie Munson, in a 145-page document defending the new bylaws (after many members complained and ultimately over 1000 members left the church) accused Paul Petry and Bent Meyer of “jockeying for power.” This is fascinating, as after Driscoll argued that he was giving up power, even though he had no more power than any other elder, ended by saying that “it has…been absolutely amazing to see all but one of those men humble themselves and give up what is best for them [power] to do what is best for Jesus and our entire church.”

So for opposing the bylaw changes, Mark Driscoll accused Paul Petry and Bent Meyer of  jockeying for power. What these men were opposing was what Driscoll was amazed at by his own words, that the elders were giving up their power.  Driscoll said he was giving up power in the new bylaws – bylaws that gave him more power and totally stripped the elders of any power whatsoever and then he told us that he is amazed that the elders gave up power. So everyone was giving up power with the new bylaws  – according to Mark Driscoll. The wordsmithing is subtle and Pastor Kensrue hit the nail on the head. The Executive Elders made a deft grab for power.

The end result was that the new 2007 bylaws ended up leading to a situation wherein Mark Driscoll and his two executives, Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas, have all the power and the elders at large have no power.

Pastor Kensrue is correct. There was as theological shift that reflected a deliberate and deft grab for power. Sadly, it was significantly misrepresented to the members in a 145-page document full of half-truths and untruths (link).

In defending the firings of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in 2007, Mark Driscoll, along with the pliant elders at the time, stated the following:

– To make matters worse, there was a growing disrespect among some elders who were jockeying for and abusing power.

– The illusion of unity our eldership had maintained over the years was kept in part by my tolerating some men who demanded more power

– This meant that I needed to give up a great deal of power and trust other elders, deacons, and members to care for the church with the same passionate affection that I have for our people.

– To begin this process I had to go first and divest myself of a great deal of power.

– Sadly, it was during the bylaw rewriting process that two of our elders…chose to fight in a sinful manner in an effort to defend their power and retain legal control of the entire church.

– …my research indicated men commonly respond by sinfully seeking power, money, preference, control, and information as ways to exercise pride and fight for their interests over the interests of the team, church, and mission of Jesus Christ.

– … some church members even began accusing the other elders of grabbing power and not caring for the best interests of our people, which is nothing short of a lie and contradictory in every way to the entire process we were undertaking

– It has been painful to see a few men whom I loved and trained as elders become sinful, proud, divisive, accusatory, mistrusting, power hungry, and unrepentant.

– It has, however, been absolutely amazing to see all but one of those men humble themselves and give up what is best for them [power] to do what is best for Jesus and our entire church.

– There are two groups of elders that are giving up “civil authority” (not biblical authority) in the adoption of the new bylaws. The first is the Full Council of Elders which consists of every elder from every campus.

. What actually happens in a system like that is that fewer and fewer people continue to get power because with so many elders you can’t get anything done and as a result the red tape increases, bureaucracy ensues and shortcuts begin to be developed so that things can actually happen.

In specific Pastor Mark is giving up the most individual authority and power. Previous to these organizational changes he was the Lead Pastor, Preaching Pastor, Head of the Elder Board and the President of the non-profit corporation. With these changes the only current role he holds of those previously held is Preaching Pastor. The intention is to not hoard power but rather share it so that many elders and many leaders can hold positions of influence based on their individual gifts and callings.

Pastor Mark has stepped down on his own initiative as lead pastor as an example for us all. He has less power and has more accountable systems around him. There is a growing sense of health among the elders as we wrestled with the Bylaws and the recent investigations. The new bylaws provide less chance of an individual elder or a small group of elders thwarting the mission of the church.

The 145-page document is a masterpiece of obfuscation and spin-doctoring. Simply put, the 2007 bylaws are at the root of the current problems facing Mars Hill Church, where brutal leaders cannot be stopped by qualified elders who have been called to serve, protect and rule the church. It is simply a recipe for corruption and abuse. Or as Bent Meyer prophetically noted in 2007, they are “a formula for mischief.”

Where are the “Real Men” at Mars Hill Church?

Real Men

Mark Driscoll and Acts 29 are reputed to teach men to stand up and be men. One of the recent conferences to give Mark Driscoll the boot was a conference aptly called “Act Like Men”. Who better, in their opinion, to have as a featured speaker than the “dude of dudes”, Pastor Mark Driscoll?

Listen to the call… (link)

Mark Driscoll has been removed as a speaker. The remaining men that will encourage men to “Act Like Men” include “manly men” like the current leader of Acts 29, Matt Chandler, and recently departed Mars Hill Church “Board of Advisors and Accountability” (BOAA) member, James McDonald. These real men both have strong historic ties to Mars Hill Church.

Both have distanced themselves from Mars Hill Church in the last week or two.

Matt Chandler, who, along with the Acts 29 board, has known for years about the abuse and sinful behavior of the leadership of Mars Hill Church, has finally developed enough of a backbone to stand up, “act like a man” and be counted.

About 105 men, all called to be “elders/pastors” at Mars Hill Church (45 left recently and 60 are still elders) all are well aware of the abusive practices and sins that have hurt so many at Mars Hill Church. What are these “manly men” doing? Except for a handful, they are failing to speak out against the abuse. They remain silent. They fail to “act like men.” Real men anyway.

Now comes the Mars Hill BOAA, forced to deal with the reality that Acts 29 has finally taken action. The BOAA now admits that there have been “unhealthy culture issues” that have been a part of Mars Hill Church for “way too long”.

Given this knowledge, what are the “manly men” on the Board of Advisors and Accountability doing? These strong men, who are speaking at conferences instructing how men can learn to “Act Like Men” slink off and fail to stand up and address the abuses that they are well aware of.

The manly James McDonald is gone. No words to correct the unhealthy culture that he has known about. Just an excuse and a solid affirmation that the leadership that caused the pain to be “exemplary in …. current readiness”.  He said he was staying on the board until his replacement could be found. Yet the response to Acts 29 only listed Michael Van Skaik and Larry Osborne on the BOAA. McDonald is gone (link). And the BOAA response fails to address the wounded. It chides Acts 29 for failing to speak to Osborne first.

Paul Tripp, another “manly man” (so we are led to believe), is gone. Tripp resigned from the BOAA sometime before we all found out about it.  Tripp publically admitted that the BOAA cannot do what it is designed to do (thank you….. seems like the whole world sees that except for the remaining members of the BOAA) but he has failed to address the fact the culture within Mars Hill Church has been unhealthy for years.

Matt Chandler and the board of Acts 29 knew of significant abuse within Mars Hill Church for years, yet only after Ron Wheeler wrote his letter (link) and the disgusting comments by Driscoll written under a false name on the church’s formerly public online forum were published, did Acts 29 finally do what they should have done years ago. Rather than speaking out years ago to protect the sheep, they were seemingly moved (thank God) to at least protect themselves.

Which brings me back to the question of the 105 elders and former elders that are or have been leaders in the most ”manly” church in the nation. How come they cannot be men when it counts? Are they going to follow the example of Acts 29, and not speak out for years to come? Will they continue waiting until association is so repugnant that they are forced to speak out?

Or will they stand up and be the real men that they claim to be?

Are there any men left at Mars Hill Church?

Real Man