Brian Houston, interview those under the bus, not the abusive bus driver!

Crashed Bus

Dear Brian Houston,

To interview Mark Driscoll, the man who led “the most abusive and coercive church” that Mars Hill Board member Paul Tripp has ever worked with, while ignoring those that Driscoll abused, is to minimize the abuse and re-victimise those who were viciously and deliberately harmed by him.

Seven years before Mark Driscoll resigned his position without repentance, Paul Petry and Bent Meyer were treated shamefully and abusively.

As we look back, the evidence is clear that these two elders, along with a host of other abused voices, were voices of clarion warning. They predicted the eventual collapse of the church if the folly of avoiding accountability were to be allowed to run to its course.

Mark Driscoll has never reconciled with these men. The so-called “pastors” who took over the remaining 11 congregations have never reconciled with these men. Acts 29 leadership has never reconciled with these men.

Basically, the shunning is still continuing while these many men leading congregations bearing both Driscoll’s and Acts 29’s DNA, and still in an insidious way led by Mark Driscoll, claim that it is “all about Jesus.”

Jesus is all about reconciliation. Yet these men, including Mark Driscoll, simply will not reconcile and name the abuse that was meted out to hundreds of families that went to Mars Hill Church and was personified in how Paul Petry and Bent Meyer were treated.

Brian Houston, please interview Paul Petry and Bent Meyer.

Do not interview the bus driver who boasted about the bodies under the bus. Interview those under the bus.

From under the bus,

Rob Smith

Do not interview the bus driver 1

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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.

“I am Spartacus!” Let us stand together to end the Mars Hill Church abuse redemptively.

Sparticus 1

In a pivotal moment in the movie Spartacus, all the slaves stood up one by one, and each declared that they were Spartacus.  It is time for members, ex-members and donors of Mars Hill Church to rise and call for a just and righteous dissolution of the church.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8h_v_our_Q

We need to band together for one last time! Please support the legal fund effort to cover upcoming legal fees that will be incurred in an attempt to prevent Mars Hill Church in its determination to rush to dissolve and disburse its assets without justly addressing the many grievances expressed and the massive call for transparency.

A week after the leader of the “most abusive and coercive church” that former Board member Paul Tripp “had ever worked with,” declared that he could not reconcile with people who have been hurt because they “remain anonymous.” on a beautiful sunny August 3, 2014, former members of Mars Hill Church stood up to say,We are not anonymous!”

Had there been a single voice, the protest would have had no effect. Because of the many voices, the abuse Paul Tripp referenced has been exposed and Mark Driscoll has resigned in an apparent effort to avoid the proposed verdict of the Board of Elders.

The current Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) have decided to dissolve the corporation called Mars Hill Church, sell all of its assets (of which the net value is over $20million), and whatever is left after dissolution will be given to the campuses that will survive the crash and continue as “new” churches – none of which are allowed to be branded “Mars Hill Church” in any way.

The dissolution date is set for December 31, 2014.

In planning to end the church, the BOAA has shown no inclination to take action to correct many of the wrongs that members, ex-members, and donors have called to be addressed.

This includes

  • Disclosing to donors exactly how the Global Fund monies raised were spent.
  • Full disclosure of the compensation for Executive Elders.
  • Ending the shunning of Paul Petry and his family.
  • Acknowledging the shunning and the emotional and psychological mistreatment of hundreds of families.
  • Being transparent about the current liquidation of assets.
  • Expressing repentance and providing restitution to the many harmed members and ex-members of the church.
  • Fully investigating and being transparent about the use of church assets and money to inure its own lead pastor and possibly other executives.

Should the church dissolve without addressing these and other issues, the many who have been harmed will have unresolved wounding and harm for many years to come. It is repentance and restitution that brings healing, not burying the truth by dissolving and running.

The countless efforts to encourage the BOAA to respond to the grievances of its members, former members, and donors continue to be ignored. Even most of the current elders of the church have no idea what is happening, especially as millions of dollars is created  and dissipated through the selling of church assets.

Members of the BOAA who have stood by and have been accused by sitting elders of the church for being deceptive, are now dividing the spoils of the church that crumbled under their corrupt and incompetent watch. It is time for good and godly men and women to stand up and say with me with loud voice:

I AM SPARTACUS ! 

We will do this together as we go to the only venue that the BOAA cannot ignore, the civil court. Please consider standing up and supporting the legal costs that will be incurred. The GoFundMe fund has been created to cover these costs.

Our prayer and hope is that the leadership of Mars Hill Church will come to the table and settle matters as members of the body of Christ. Despite the overwhelming body of evidence supporting Paul Tripp’s claim of abuse, the loud call for redress of grievances, and constant plea for financial transparency, they have not allowed any form of reasonable discourse to occur.

Thank God that we live in a country where the civil courts create a just and civil environment where all the facts are laid out in the open through the discovery process, and an independent jury, made up of peers of the church, are able to see the truth and render a binding decision.

If this is the only way to obtain transparency and closure, then the process will be of great value and bring healing to many. If the BOAA remains defiant and non-repentant, the process will bring rebuke.

Please pray that the better path to reconciliation and repentance is chosen in the last days of the church. Please consider supporting the effort to see this happen.

Let us stand together.

Sparticus 2

Mars Hill Church – Shunning members is like recruiting Satan on to your side.

Shunned 1

Shunning is evil and flies in the face of the Gospel. As a church, there is no quicker way to sow the seeds of your own destruction than to treat brothers and sisters with such a cruel and heartless “punishment”.

Paul warned us in II Corinthians 2 that this is the case. Treating brothers and sisters too harshly simply invites Satan to outwit you.

For such a one [this man was openly having a sexual relationship with his mother-in-law] this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.                                      — II Corinthians 2:6-11

Not only does the Scripture warn the church, I also tried to. I did so repeatedly in private and in public.

But the outwitting of Satan had taken ahold of the men who led Mars Hill Church.  The Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability seem to be reasonable and good men. Why would they be so stubborn and mule-headed in the way they treated people?

Perhaps it was because their failure to end the harsh treatment of Paul Petry and hundreds of other members simply gave Satan the ability to outwit them.

It is my prayer that true repentance, the glorious antidote to Satan’s tactics, is applied to their hearts and minds very soon. It is not too late for these men to begin to end the havoc that their actions have allowed Satan to have.

I pray, for their sake and the sake of their dear families, that they will fall at the foot of the cross and cry out to Jesus to forgive them for the shunning of Paul Petry. Jesus, who is full of mercy, may reach out and wipe out the foothold these men allowed Satan to have in the life of the Mars Hill Church and (even they may think to the contrary) in their own lives.

God, may you intervene in the lives of these men, and lead them to a genuine understanding your gospel, your forgiveness, and your abundant life.

Change.org: Mars Hill Elders (and ex-Elders) REPEAL THE BYLAWS – For the Gospel’s sake!

Reagan 1

Mr. van Skaik…”TEAR DOWN THE BYLAWS”

The survival of Mars Hill Church needs a clear declaration by the elders at Mars Hill Church that the 2007 bylaws are invalid. They were coerced into existence by and for a man has now left Mars Hill Church, and the current bylaws, crafted to allow that man to run amuck without accountability, are not only meaningless without that man, but are confusing, inappropriate and harmful to the church.

Join me and sign this petition to the elders of Mars Hill Church.

With regard to my involvement in the saga of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church I was once called a “one-trick pony”. If it because of my incessant call to repeal the 2007 bylaws then that characterization is totally accurate.

The 2007 bylaws are like the Berlin Wall. The bylaws led to the collapse of Mark Driscoll’s ministry and the crippling of Mars Hill Church.

“Elders of Mars Hill Church: TEAR DOWN THE 2007 AND SUBSEQUENT BYLAWS!”

The 2007 bylaws are meaningless. We have seen behind the curtain and all that is left are the tatters of the so-called Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) under whose watch this calamity has occurred.

By rising up and exercising their biblical role, the elders must simply tear up the ever-changing and useless bylaws that the beleaguered BOAA has to now interpret to figure out a way forward, and revert to the 2006 bylaws, which although might need adjustment, are sound and give the elders equal authority to rule the church.

For months, Mike Wilkerson and Scott Thomas have been telling me that they are working on a document signed by a majority of the elders who were coerced under duress into unlawfully changing the bylaws in 2007. They intend to acknowledge that they were coerced and that they wish to exonerate Pastor Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, whose ruthless and firings and subsequent trial were the tools used to carry out that coercion.

I am not sure why we have not seen that statement, but I can tell you that a vast majority of the elders at that time attest to the grave mistake of not following their conscience during those events.  We know, from none other than former BOAA member Paul Tripp, that Mark Driscoll led and created a church that was “the most abusive and coercive” church that Tripp had ever worked with.

Not only are the current bylaws rather useless now, as they were designed to prop up, protect, and reward Mark Driscoll, but they are invalid because they were abusively coerced into existence.

Nothing will help create the governance required and action needed to save Mars Hill Church from total collapse more than the elders rising up and reinstating the rightful bylaws of the church.

By declaring the 2007 and subsequent bylaws as invalid the following benefits can occur:

  1. The actions of the BOAA and the reigning Executive elders can be immediately stopped.
  2. Six-figure severance packages for men who are millionaires can be stopped – at least until a full analysis of the finances can be assessed and members and donors be assured that no personal inurement has taken place. (This would prevent a court injunction to that end which is quite probable at this stage. It might also placate a growing crowd that is calling for the Attorney General of the State of Washington from starting its own investigation).
  3. The elders can not only exonerate Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, but all shunned elders and members. These men got it right, and need to be exonerated.
  4. All previous elders ought to be implored to return and be immediately reinstated to help Mars Hill Church recover. Some will be willing and they are sorely needed.
  5. The Noble Nine should be asked to be the Executive Elders (under the 2006 bylaws).
  6. An advisory council should be put together of local pastors to provide counsel and their protective hearts as Mars Hill Church rises from the ashes. I am sure there are many more, but these are some that would I would invite onto that council.
    1. Bill van der Merwe (Pastor – WestGate Chapel, Edmonds)
      Pastor Bill knows how to minister to the shunned and hurting.
    2. Rose Madrid-Swetman (Pastor – Vineyard Community Church, Shoreline
      Pastor Rose has actively cared about the crisis at Mars Hill Church.
      (don’t get your knickers in a knot.. even complimentarians recognize that Israel needed Debra at a time of crisis.)
    3. Dean Hellekson (Pastor – Redeemer Church, Lynnwood)
      Pastor Dean has had a lot of bruised ex-members come to his church and he knows how to minister to them.
    4. Pastor Dave Kraft
    5. Pastor Mike Howerton (Pastor – OverLake Christian Church)
      Pastor Mike knows the journey of a church from the ashes.
    6. Pastor Sam Ford (Pastor – Restoration Road, Sonohomish)
      Pastor Sam knows the details well, and deeply cares to see restoration.
    7. Pastor Alec Rowlands (Pastor – WestGate Chapel, Edmonds)
      Pastor Alec preaches Jesus and has led a mega-church for enough years to offer solid help and guidance.
    8. Pastor Wes Johnson (Pastor – Bethel Baptist Church, Everett)
      Pastor Wes loves the ordinary person and faithfully served in a downtown Everett church for decades.

Join me and call for the 2007 bylaws to be repealed (link to petition).

“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.”

Where is the credibility of ECFA?

 

no credibility

Will the ECFA* have any credibility left after staunchly standing by Mars Hill Church?

What are open and transparent ministries that pay the ECFA for its stamp of approval thinking as they see the ECFA continue to declare to donors that Mars Hill Church meets the transparency and accountability standards that ECFA supposedly requires?

What sort of financial scandal has to become public before the ECFA decides that it will no longer give its once esteemed stamp of approval to Mars Hill Church?

How is it possible that the Mars Hill Global Fund deception has been clear and obvious to many church members, ex-members, news reporters and bloggers, yet not to the ECFA? This includes the hasty repackaging of the Global Fund by MH leadership stating that the Global Fund was never a fund that was intended to fund overseas mission work in places like Ethiopia and India, but rather a fund that could be used for any purpose that the top leadership at Mars Hill Church desires, including the general fund.

The recently leaked memo about the Global Fund confirms the intent to deceive and withhold information from donors. Subsequent supportive figures and statements from the church demonstrate that church leaders intended to raise monies using the sympathetic African backdrop implying where the money would go – yet spent it locally, not on overseas missions as implied. It begs the question: is this sort of blatant deception and “cooking of books” enough for the ECFA to realize that its stamp of approval should be removed?

The 2012 and 2013 financial statements and the open admission by church leadership confirm that a preponderance of the money raised was spent in the US for local expenditures. The memo confirms the blatant intent to deceive donors. The memo reveals a calculated scheme by church leadership to “pull the wool over the eyes” of donors, as well as other churches considering joining the Mars Hill franchise, by using a trifling percentage of funds raised to be spent on the appearance of supporting overseas mission work.

The memo proposed limiting the amount earmarked for overseas missions to about $10k per month to buy the silence of critics (which is a pittance, a mere five percent or less of what was raised), and then using the lion’s share of the funds for whatever domestic spending church leadership desires – in effect co-mingling the Global Fund with the general fund to pay for salaries, real estate acquisition, etc. Yet the ECFA stands by its approval of Mars Hill Church.

In the light of this latest revelation of financial shenanigans at Mars Hill Church, will the ECFA choose to keep its stamp of blessing on the church, like it did despite knowing of the deception by church leadership using $210,000 of church funds to hire a company to “game” the system and buy books in a manner intended to deceive the New York Times bestseller list?  And, as that deception worked, deceive the public that Mark Driscoll was in fact an author that deserved to be listed among that elite number?

Add to that the plagiarism found in several of Mark Driscoll’s books, which of course is deceiving readers that the uncited work was the work of the author. And add to that the refusal to open up the books of the church to members, thus keeping hidden the allegedly exorbitant compensation packages of the Executive Elders or the exact amount of the overseas mission expenditures of the Global Fund.

The so-called Global Fund raised over $10million. Repeated pleas to donors were made via 20 or more videos utilizing backdrops of impoverished Ethiopian villages.  Church members were repeatedly solicited both online and from the pulpit to give over and above their tithes to help build churches globally. When it was discovered that hardly any of the money actually was spent on overseas missions, Mars Hill leaders came back saying the fund was actually “international givers” as opposed to an international fund.  

Then came the hasty removal of the Global Fund videos showing Mark Driscoll asking members in Seattle to give to the fund in addition to their normal giving, as well as videos showing executive elder, Sutton Turner, standing in front of a thatched hut in Ethiopia soliciting viewers for donations to the Global Fund.

Such blatant deception.

Such calculated exploitation of poor Africans.

Such intentional suckering of donors.

Yet the ECFA still creates the deceptive illusion that there is transparency and accountability of the finances at Mars Hill Church by putting the ECFA stamp of approval on the organization. If Mars Hill Church qualifies for ECFA approval, then ECFA approval is meaningless. Every church which bears the ECFA stamp of approval becomes suspect of financial shenanigans.

What does the ECFA stand for these days? Surely their approval is losing its value. Every organization that pays its annual dues to the ECFA should start wondering if those days are numbered. If Mars Hill Church is still being approved by the ECFA, what does this tell donors who have been trusting the ECFA as they ponder where and how to be good stewards of their giving?

* Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)

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…”

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.

IMPARTIALITY

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.

NO HEARSAY.

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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