Bullies and their cohorts laugh at the pain of others.

bully 1

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

power 1

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.”

Seriously?

Seriously 1

It seems that we have heard the word “seriously” a lot from the leadership of Mars Hill Church.

Seriously :

Adverb

  1. in a solemn or considered manner. “the doctor looked seriously at him”
  2. with earnest intent; not lightly or superficially.

First it was Michael van Skaik, whose integrity has been seriously challenged (along with Sutton Turner), who told us that the charges against Mark Driscoll had been taken seriously, the matter decided once and for all. He along with Sutton are been charged by nine pastors with being deceptive (i.e. lying).

Then we have repeatedly been told that the BOAA takes matters seriously, and of course they also cleared Mark Driscoll. No charge rose to the level of “disqualification.” Their decision was final. After all, they tried very hard to find witnesses, and only a handful spoke up, and these were mostly good reports. (Of course, this deceptive statement has now been challenged by the “noble nine” pastors).

Now we have the next level of seriously motivated men. These men are elders and pastors who are taking everything seriously, especially the seriousness of the leaks at Mars Hill Church. These leaks are very serious!

After all, unlike the numerous and well established sins of Marl Driscoll, and unlike the deception of Sutton Turner and Michael van Skaik, the leaks “tarnish” the gospel. Therefore they must be taken seriously. Very seriously.

Of course, we have already looked at the Mars Hill leadership’s understanding of the word “yearn”, where Michael van Skaik said that he and the BOAA “yearned for reconciliation.” (Of course, neither he nor they had actually tried to reconcile with any offended ex-member that we know of.) Just saying these words make them to be true.

Kind of like the name-it-and-claim it gospel. If we say we are serious, or if we say that we yearn, it makes it so.

Seriously?

It would appear that the Mars Hill leadership took charges against Pastor Mark Dunford’s role in the actions of the “noble nine” seriously. He was removed from office on Tuesday, just days after his “serious” actions. Surely if the clearly established charges against Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner and Michael van Skaik are taken as seriously, we should see action very soon.

A last thought. How about considering that those who are telling everyone about the repeated and well-documented sins of the Mars Hill leadership, collaborated by Acts 29 and men like Paul Tripp, are taking 1 Timothy 5:24 & 25 seriously:

“The sins of some people are obvious, leading them to judgment. The sins of others follow them there.  In the same way, good actions are obvious, and those that are not cannot remain hidden.”

…and take 1 Timothy 5:20 very seriously:

“Those who sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. “

…the word “all” comes from the Greek word meaning “all…everyone…” (using social media if necessary).

Furrowed brow 2

What Mark Driscoll actually said on Sunday

Deaf translation

To fully understand what Mark Driscoll was saying, you must read this! This blog post saved me a lot of time. It is excellent and worth the read. Thanks to this excellent interpreter for the following article! Note… I did not write this piece.. please see the link below for the source 🙂

Translating Mark Driscoll

Translating Mark Driscoll

This morning I watched the 17 minute videoed announcement from Mark Driscoll this weekend that he is stepping down as Pastor of Mars Hill for a minimum of six weeks. You can watch the video and read the transcript here.

 

Within the announcement Mark speaks of the “court of public opinion” not being useful in addressing issues in a Biblical manner and suggests online conversations, like this blog for instance, are unhelpful. I can see that everyone having OPINIONS can be problematic, but without the courageous tenacity of bloggers across the internet raising the issues, Mark Driscoll would not have taken the very necessary and welcome step that he has.  So I’m not going to apologise for adding the OPINIONS in the public space and as I would suggest that his denigration of the “court of public opinion” is a tactic to silence the hurting, and as a book we Christians honour states, “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.”

 

I have recently begun working with perpetrators of domestic abuse. I am facilitating a Respect accredited programme with men who have chosen to be violent and abusive to their partners.  And if there is one thing that perpetrators are “gifted” in, it is avoiding responsibility and manipulating people’s views of them.  I would suggest that some of what we see in Mark’s announcement uses those same tactics, whether intentionally or not, whether orchestrated by a PR plan or by the man himself.  I would like to clarify that I am not suggesting Mark is perpetrator of domestic abuse, but that his words and actions mirror those of abusers.

 

During the announcement Mark was emotional, at points he seemed very close to tears. It is interesting to note that domestic abuse perpetrators who visibly show remorse change at about the same rate as those who don’t.  In our wider context of power based masculinity, men crying, or being close to tears brings out a specific response for many.  That act of vulnerability in a society that states the only appropriate emotions for men are humour and anger can change perceptions of an offender in an instant.  I’m not for one minute suggesting they were “crocodile tears” but that we must be careful to not equate an emotionally remorseful delivery as a litmus test for repentance.

 

This is my translation of some parts of the announcement:

 

“When a small group of us started what would become Mars Hill Church in 1996, we could not have dreamed it would be what it is today. Thousands upon thousands of people have become Christians as the gospel of Jesus Christ has proven powerful over and over. Every day, it seems, I hear of someone whose life has been transformed by the power of the Word of God taught in this place and modeled by so many who call this their church home.”

I’m going to start by reminding you of all the 1000s of people my ministry has saved from hell, so that when I get to my bad choices, we’re all feeling that is insignificant compared to all the people I have helped. So many people’s lives have been transformed by my teaching of God’s Word and you all living out my teaching.

 

“Today, we are blessed with lead pastors who love Jesus and the people He gave His life for. These men faithfully serve the Mars Hill family.”

Though there are 21 ex-leaders of the our church who are publically stating that I have behaved in horrendous ways and were either sacked or left due to their strong convictions, the current leaders are supportive of me.

 

“While I’m still young, I suspect when I’m old I’ll be known for many things—some good, and some not so good.”

I am a 43 year old grown up, but I am going to describe myself as “young” in order to suggest that my young-ness mitigates the bad choices I have made. I would also like to remind you that I have done good things and not actually say that I have done bad things, but just things that are “not so good”.

 

“I may be an author, a speaker, and a thought-provoker; but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’m a local church pastor, and that’s what I want to give the rest of my life for.”

I would like to remind you all of the powerful man I am and the many successes I have had in my career so far, but that I also want you to know that I am humble local church pastor, even though I have intentionally and ruthlessly built a large megachurch over the last 18 or so years.”

 

“It is because of my deep love for the local church in general, and Mars Hill Church in particular, that it grieves me to see anything come against it or threaten to harm it. It also grieves me greatly when something I say or do results in controversy and publicity none of you signed up for when you decided to be a part of this church family.”

I get upset when my choices, actions and words result in people challenging me. I am so totally uninterested in the people I have hurt that I’m not even going to mention their hurt in my announcement.  I don’t want to accept the consequences of my actions as the leader of a large church which I am paid large amounts of money to lead and rather than say this, I am going to make it about the peripheral hurt of the church family, which I am actually responsible for not those who have challenged me.

 

“Over the years, as I have grown and as the Lord has been molding and pruning me, I have, on many occasions, shared with you some of the lessons I’ve been learning. Some of these have been painful, and some I’ve been slow to learn. I’ve acknowledged and confessed many of my sins, shortcomings and missteps, and God has been more than faithful with His forgiveness. Most of our Mars Hill family has been forgiving as well, and for that I’m grateful and blessed. By God’s grace, I want to always be humble and teachable.”

I would like to remind you all of the times I have said sorry for what I did over the years. The fact that at no point have I actually changed my behaviour is something I’m going to try and ensure you don’t think about by making it all about the ways I’ve learned.  I’d like to also remind you that before God I am forgiven.  Rather than mention how much I appreciate and value all those who have tried to stop it coming to this point, I’m going to validate all those who collude with my behaviours by honouring those who keep forgiving me.  Although I have proven that over the last 18 years of ministry that I am not willing to be taught and am not humble, I am going to say that I am both of those things.

 

“A central theme in my personal walk with Jesus in recent times has been to follow the Apostle Paul’s charge to Believers in Romans 12:8: If possible, so far is it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. God is not honored by conflict, strife, disunity, arguing, slander, gossip or anything else not consistent with the fruit of the Spirit, and I am deeply sorry for the times I have not done my part to living peaceably with all men.”

By quoting Scripture I can reduce my ongoing hurtful behaviour to the term “not living peaceably with all men”. I am going to use the term “my part” so as to suggest that it is not all my fault, but that it is a reciprocal thing where both I and every other person involved are partly to blame for the hurt I have caused.

 

“I want to thank those who have come directly to an Elder, lead pastor or me to tell us of an offense they are carrying. This allows us to deal with it head-on between the two affected parties, rather than in a court of public opinion and public media. I believe God is honored by this approach—the approach He prescribed for us in Matthew 18 and other Scriptures.”

All those who have used public spaces to challenge me are wrong and dishonour God and only those who have come to me and the leadership of the church are right and honour God. I am going to use the term “offense they are carrying” so as to avoid saying that I had hurt people.  The fact that when people tried to come to me I refused to listen, sacking them, threatening them and destroying their lives and livelihoods is of absolutely no relevance.  God is not honoured by anyone who publically holds me to account.  I am going to mention the first bit of Matthew 18 where Jesus tells us to approach other Christians who we have been hurt by, but I am going to conveniently ignore the bit Jesus says that’s someone who fails to listen should be treated like a non-believer.

 

“Others have chosen to air their grievances with me or this church in a more public forum. As is often the case, some of what is said it true, some is partly true, and some is completely untrue. Lately, the number of accusations, combined with their public nature, makes it much more difficult to know how to respond appropriately. Indeed, many times we have chosen not to respond at all, which probably raises even more questions in some people’s minds, and I understand that.”

I am going to use the term “air their grievances” rather than talk about people being hurt. I am going to talk about truth, half-truths and lies without distinguishing between them so that I subtly cast aspersions on all that everyone has accused me of.  I am going to talk about “the number of accusations” increasing which makes the issues external to me, rather than about my own choices and hurtful actions.  I am going to reinforce my criticism of people holding me to account publically, but will use it neutral language like “public nature” to hide that.  I am going to mention that we haven’t addressed the issues, acknowledge that is problematic but continue doing it.

 

“In other cases, some have publicly brought up issues that were long ago addressed and resolved, adding to the understandable confusion many of you may be experiencing recently. For example, nearly 15 years ago I wrote some things on a Mars Hill discussion board on our website using a pseudonym. I quickly realized what I wrote and how I did it was wrong. We removed the entire section of the website a few months later and I addressed it publicly in a book I wrote six years later—calling it what it was: wrong.”

The only accusation I am going to address during my announcement is the one that relates to historical actions. I am going to manipulate the facts to suggest that a book I wrote six years later dealt with what I had done, when in actual fact, that book mentioned that I thought it was funny how I had a man turn up at my house to challenge me; that I talk of things “going crazy”.  I’m not going to mention that at no point in the book do I actually own or apologise for my misogynistic, homophobic behaviours and attitudes.  I am also not going to mention that for the past almost 15 years I have continued to use similar language and ideology in my preaching and writing.  I am going to use language that distances me from my actions by saying “what I wrote and how I did it was wrong” rather than saying “I was wrong and I have hurt people”.

 

“I have taken full responsibility for those actions and will forever be ashamed by what I did, even as a 29 year-old preacher. What I did in this case back in 2000 is indefensible. It is also forgiven; and thank God, I’m not the man I was back then. I have learned hard lessons from this situation, as I have from other situations where I have done wrong things and God has had to deal with me.”

I am going to talk of taking full responsibility for something while still using language that distances me from my choices and actions. When talking about what I did I will mention the age I was in order to justify it as related to being young (like I did earlier in my announcement).  Although at 29 years old I had been an adult for over ten years, I will suggest my age made me immature, though I was a married father entrusted with the leadership of a church.   I will remind everyone that this happened in 2000, keeping people focused on the historical accusations and not the current ones. I will talk about learning hard lessons which will allow me to suggest I have changed, when the way I have behaved and the choices I have made since then have continued to hurt many people.

 

“Storm clouds seem to be whirling around me more than ever in recent months and I have given much thought and sought much counsel as to why that is and what to do about it. The current climate is not healthy for me or for this church. (In fact, it would not be healthy for any church.)”

I will again talk about the consequences of my actions using language which distances me from any responsibility by talking of what “storm clouds seems to be” doing. I will talk of how unhealthy this would be and subtly place myself as a victim.  I will then restart talking of Mars Hill Church as the main victim of the issues, keeping my audience feeling like they are the centre of this and their interests and hurts are cared about while continuing to completely ignore the hurt and pain of the people I have hurt throughout my ministry.

 

“Some have challenged various aspects of my personality and leadership style, and while some of these challenges seem unfair, I have no problem admitting I am deserving of some of these criticisms based on my own past actions that I am sorry for. In recent years, I have sought to apologize to people I have knowingly offended in any way. I’m grateful that God has honored many of these encounters and granted true reconciliation and restoration.”

I will start addressing criticisms by saying that some have been unfair. I will not use language which states that my critics are right, but will instead say “I am deserving of” some criticisms.  This sounds like I’m taking responsibility, but subtly avoids doing so.  I will use the term “past actions” to suggest that this isn’t related to my ongoing behaviour, thereby subtly connecting it to my previous comments on my actions in 2000.  I talk of seeking to apologise to people even though those who have been hurt report being shunned and destroyed by me.  I will talk about God honouring these encounters without specifics.

 

“But I’m particularly sorry that any of my past actions or decisions have brought distraction to the mission of Mars Hill Church, and therefore, to those who call this their church home. Part of this is no doubt a function of the media age we live in—anyone can write anything, anywhere, anytime. As a public figure, I recognize and accept this, even if I don’t like it; for this is one of the paradoxes of being a pastor in a media age—the same media channels that can be used to carry a sermon to virtually anyone around the globe can also be used by anyone around the globe to criticize, attack or slander.”

The first time that I start a sentence with “I am sorry” it is related to the impact on the church community which yet again reinforces to the audience that their feelings are validated, but the actual victims of my offences are not mentioned. I make my sorry focused on the mission of Mars Hill, reminding everyone that is the priority, not the reality of the people who have been hurt.  I will then yet again criticise people who have publically challenged me and place myself as the victim by talking of myself as a “public figure”.  This makes the situation more about my position than my choices and actions.  That I have used media channels to criticise and attack is irrelevant, and I will suggest my detractors are “criticizing, attacking and slandering” without actually stating that is what those who challenge me are doing.

 

“However, another part of it is simply my fault and I will own it, confess it and move on from it as God continues to redeem me. I will seek to resolve unresolved issues with others, and will seek to avoid such conflict in the future; at least to the extent I have any control over it.”

After spending time being negative about my detractors I will now talk about my fault. Yet I won’t take responsibility for any of it, I will just accept partial fault, which essentially means the other people involved are also at fault.  Essentially I am blaming everyone else while using the language of responsibility.  I will talk of God redeeming me to remind everyone that God is okay with me, having previously inferred that others have dishonoured God by challenging me.  I will use the term “avoid such conflict” which essentially distances me from fault and focuses the issues as conflict based rather than founded in power and abuse.

 

“There is a well-documented list of past actions and decisions I have admitted were wrong, sought forgiveness, and apologized for to those I hurt or offended. I will not review them here, as it is my prayer we can, together as a church, move on as Paul writes in Philippians 3:13—But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead.”

I will talk about admitting I am wrong when what I have done previously is apologise but continue to do the same things over and over. I quote Philippians and use the word “forget”; this infers that forgetting is the option for the church community.  That forgiveness and forgetting are not in any way related and that forgetting is impossible when we have been hurt badly is something I want to avoid people being aware of.

 

“These are serious times we are living in and people all around us are dying every hour without Jesus. It is this reality that drives me and motivates me to keep learning God’s Word, and teaching God’s Word to His people so that together, we can continue to reach people with the saving grace and love and mercy of Jesus. I hope that regardless of whatever else is swirling around us, we never lose this perspective on why Mars Hill exists in the first place – Jesus loves people and people need Jesus.”

I will now spend time explaining how people’s souls are at risk of burning in hell and that in comparison these issues that have been raised are really not a big deal. I will talk about my purpose and call and will talk of the current issues that have resulted from my actions and choices as “swirling around us” yet again distancing myself from being the instigator of the issues.

 

“I realize the vast majority of you just want to come to church and hear God’s Word taught. You want to feed your families spiritually just as you feed them physically, and Mars Hill should be a safe place to do just that. As your pastor, I want that for you more than anything. All of our lead pastors want that for those under their care as well.”

I will keep the audience supportive of me by yet again talking about them as the primary victims in the situation. I will talk about the consequences of my choices and actions in a way that acknowledges the struggles of people are going through without taking responsibility for them.

 

“I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church Bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire Eldership for addressing accusations against me. I invite this process, rather than debating accusations and issues in social media or the court of public opinion. A report on this process will be presented when it has been completed.”

I will not mention that one of the accusations against me relate to changing the bylaws of the church to make it very difficult for the church to hold me to account. I will talk of inviting the process even though it has taken enormous public pressure to essentially force me to take action.  Book shops are withdrawing my books from sale, I am being removed from church networks and others and although there have been issues throughout my entire ministry, I have shut down all criticism to the point of changing church bylaws and sacking employees, yet I will state that this is a process that I have invited.  I will again reinforce that challenging me publically is wrong.  I mention that a report will be presented, but I haven’t mentioned who that report will be presented to, and I have called it a “report on the process” not inferring whether the outcomes will be made public.

 

As a general rule, I will respond to little if any criticism of me in the media, on social media, blogs, open letters, etc. Conducting church business and biblical conflict resolution through media channels is not healthy and is more likely to prove unproductive at best, and destructive and dishonoring to the Lord at worst.

I will now categorically state that media channels are unproductive, destructive and dishonouring to God. That without these media channels I would be able to continue behaving in hurtful and damaging ways without any accountability or negative consequences.  This places anyone who comments publically about what I have said as unproductive, destructive and dishonouring God.  The hurt I have caused people should be compounded further by me attempting to silence and denigrate their attempts to heal.

 

“I have asked our Board of Advisors and Accountability to strengthen our board by adding members to it, and they are in the process of doing so with local members being our first choice.”

We will strengthen the board of advisors and accountability by inviting people who are still in the church and have stood by me throughout all that I have done. Anyone who has had the courage to challenge me has talked of how they were sacked or abused by me.  By saying this I yet again focus on my audience, enabling them to feel they are being given power to change things and trusted with that.

 

“I have agreed to postpone the publication of my next book until a future season, to be determined.”

Bookshops have removed my books from sale and due to the current climate I would probably not sell many books if I did publish my book, plus I am no longer able to pay a PR company to unethically get my books onto bestseller lists.

 

“I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help further my personal development and maturity before God and men. I have never taken an extended focused break like this in my 18 years as your pastor, and it is not a vacation but rather a time to focus on deep work in my soul in the areas of processing, healing, and growing.”

I will talk of meeting with a professional team of mature Christians but will not mention any of their names. The fact I haven’t taken an extended break in 18 years will be used as an opportunity to be applauded for my commitment rather than concern that I have not had a healthy work life balance.

 

“As I look forward to the future—and I do look forward to it—I believe the Lord has shown me I am to do two things with the rest of my life: love my family, and teach the Bible. I deeply love my family and our church family and am seeking the Lord for how to have a godly and loving future that is not just sustainable but fruitful.”

I will now talk about my family which reminds everyone I am a human being with good priorities. I will establish that I plan to continue teaching the Bible for the rest of my life which suggests I will continue be seeking to influence and lead people.

 

“Finally, I want to say to our Mars Hill family—past and present, I’m very sorry. I’m sorry for the times I have been angry, short, or insensitive. I’m sorry for anything I’ve done to distract from our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention.”

Having spent over 15 minutes talking I will finally say that I am sorry, not to those I have direct hurt, but to my church family. I talk about inviting criticism rather than behaving abusively and focus on the actions of the commentators rather than my own actions.

 

“God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day. The gospel is powerfully at work in me, your pastor, thanks to the faithfulness of our Senior Pastor Jesus Christ, and the best thing for us each to do is look to Him and point others to Him. Thank you Mars Hill. I love you.”

I talk of “falling short” and doing things “I am not very proud of” yet still do not quantify that in terms of identifying what I have actually done. I make this last section about what God is doing in me and still do not mention anything about the people I have damaged who are no longer in Mars Hill church.  After this I am given a standing ovation by the church and my wife and children all come onto the platform to embrace me.  This reminds the audience that there are children involved in any decisions made about me.  The image of them embracing me will be used on the Mars Hill website alongside my statement.

Are Mars Hill Church elders elders in name only?

Puppet 2

The ruthless firing and unfair trial of Paul Petry, which in 2007 was used to bully and coerce twenty two shocked and mostly young elders into passing new bylaws without due process, is the most clear example of the current charge of bullying that has been brought against Mark Driscoll by twenty one former elders, along with an additional twenty one unidentified elders that will testify as witnesses as needed (link).

This act of bullying, and the resultant bylaws, ushered in the current era of Mars Hill Church governance whereby Mark Driscoll’s own elders cannot hold him to account. In fact, subsequent “rules” call for an elder to submit a letter of resignation before he can even bring charges against Mark Driscoll.

Mark Driscoll, prior to the bullying in of new bylaws, taught that the elders were men who had equal authority in the church. These elders were men who went through a rigorous evaluation, including the fact that they managed their own household well. This is a biblical standard as well as one called for in the bylaws of Mars Hill Church:

1 Tim 3:4 and 5:  He must manage his own family well and have children who are submissive and respectful in every way. For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?

Elders are to take care of the church, and that care is similar to managing one’s household. This implies that the elder has the authority to carry out such management or care.  Some elders rule better than others, and the ones that rule well are worthy of double honor.

Elders rule.

So how on earth do the men who are called elders under the current by-laws actually rule? The current bylaws do not allow the office of elder to rule the church, even though this is what Mars Hill Church was taught, and is implied, even recently by Mark Driscoll in his statement made on Sunday, August 24, 2014.

Driscoll made a point that the bylaws which spell out the process for dealing with his discipline were approved by the entire eldership:

I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church Bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire Eldership for addressing accusations against me (link) (emphasis added).

If Driscoll was talking about the 2007 bylaws, then he is not telling the truth. The Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) did not exist under the bylaws that were passed by his bullying in 2007. After the 2007 bylaws were changed, subsequent bylaws did not need the elders’ vote in order to be changed.

In fact, the bylaws that were passed that included the BOAA are mentioned in the charges brought by the twenty one former elders. Here is the 7th charge they brought against Mark Driscoll:

7 . May 8, 2012—In a meeting of the Full Council convened to vote on the slate of nominees for the new board of advisors and accountability, Mark was explaining to the elders that under the newly revised bylaws, the Full Council would have the right to review any changes by the board. One elder corrected Mark with his own understanding that the new bylaws, in fact, allow the board to make decisions without running it by the Full Council. Mark’s response to that elder was bullying, with some elders present recalling language to the effect of: “I don’t give a sh-t what you think. I’m trying to be nice to you guys by asking your opinion. In reality, we don’t need your vote to make this decision. This is what we’re doing…”  (link)

As the reader can see, Mark Driscoll did not need or ask for the bylaws that created the BOAA to be voted upon by the full council of elders. Driscoll not only did not need them, but he rubbed this fact in the face of his elders. Driscoll simply did not “give a sh-t” about their opinion. This is the charge against him – for crying out loud!

What Mark Driscoll was really doing was showing the church (and the current men who are elders in name only) that the bylaws that neutered the elders in 2007 were passed overwhelmingly by the then twenty two elders in 2007. Many of them are among those that have now brought charges against Driscoll. He was not referring to the bylaws that set forth the process of dealing with the current charges.

This shows that Mark Driscoll sees the significance of that 2007 vote. Almost any observer of the current mess traces it back to that vote. Even The Stranger has correctly noted that the bylaw changes of 2007 are at the root of the current problems (link).

Almost every time Driscoll speaks, he reinforces the “need” for the change in the bylaws that occurred in 2007. Over the years he has told different stories as to what motivated the change, the last being that he did it for his wife, Grace (link). Perhaps some other blogger can go through the multiple reasons given over the years.

At the end of the day, Mark Driscoll may apologize and say he is sorry, for this and that, but he will not repent of bullying the 2007 bylaws into place.These bylaws removed his accountability to the elders of the church. His bullying included harming, shaming, shunning and slandering Paul Petry. Yet Driscoll will not repent of that act. By repenting he would have to admit that the entire bullying episode occurred so that he could change the bylaws without due process.

The bylaws that were put in place in 2007 are illegitimate because they were passed only because of the bullying tactics of Mark Driscoll and then lead Pastor Jamie Munson.  Due process was thrown out the window. A future post will go through this in more detail.

Asking the elders to vote-- 20 out 24 were highly paid eldersAsking elders to vote after firing two elders for merely questioning

Suffice it to say that under the current bylaws there are men who are called elders, yet these “elders” have no ability to rule the church as elders.

However, this does not mean that they are not elders in the biblical sense. They have been called by God to be elders, and have passed the test of character that the bylaws call for. All they lack is the ability (if the bylaws are legitimate) to actually function elders. They cannot manage the church as they manage their homes.

But they are elders.

They should rise up and fulfil the role that God has called them to, and declare the 2007 bylaws that were passed through bullying and coercion to be unlawful and therefore unenforceable. They need to conduct their eldership duties under the bylaws that preceded the 2007 bylaws as they were properly and lawfully deliberated and voted upon without duress and bullying tactics.

The charges against Mark Driscoll should be reviewed and adjudicated by the elders of the church as per the legitimate bylaws. The current bylaws, which call for the lead pastor to be tried by a hand-picked sham of a board, which cannot be impartial, should be repealed.

While this is clear to almost everyone, even secular journalists, the question is whether this is clear to the current men of character who have answered the call to manage the church.

Or are these men elders in name only?

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

Charges Against Mark Driscoll and Church Executives Delayed After Ouster from Acts29

change of course

By: Rob Smith
August 8, 2014

Seattle, WA – In the light of the announcement today by the Acts 29 Board removing Mars Hill Church and Pastor Mark Driscoll from its membership, and calling for his removal as pastor, a group of over 75 members and ex-members have chosen to delay the filing of 53 new charges against the pastor and his Executive Elders.

Spokesman for the group of 75 members and ex-members bringing formal charges, Rob Smith, said, “It is with a mix of sadness and relief to see that Acts 29 has taken these actions. We hope and pray that the call for Mark Driscoll to step down from ministry is heeded. We would therefore rather wait and withdraw our plans to file new charges if he steps down, or file them in due course if he chooses to ignore the call of the Acts 29 board. We are in prayer for Mark and his family. We pray that he will find comfort, restoration, and hope in the Christ that he loves. We are committed to love him well and stand ready to support him and his family through these difficult days. We echo the call of the Acts 29 board.”

One of the charges that was to be filed today is that the current bylaws were passed in a sinful and unlawful manner that violated both the text and spirit of the 2006 bylaws under which the new bylaws were passed. If found to be true, the church’s current bylaws may be deemed invalid and repealed.

Smith called on the church’s current leadership to examine the manner in which the current bylaws were passed, and to take the bold move to declare them invalid and reinstate the 2006 bylaws that govern the church by “a plurality of equal elders. A return to a classically Reformed church governance model, preached and taught so well by Pastor Mark Driscoll, will serve the future of Mars Hill Church well.”

Smith also called for “an end to the order given to the Mars Hill Church members to shun Pastor Paul Petry, and for a complete exoneration of both Pastor Paul Petry and Pastor Bent Meyer for their valiant attempts to protect the church in 2007.”

The church has frequently been in the news lately, rocked by various scandals involving its coarse-tongued, “tough-guy” persona pastor, including allegations of plagiarism, libel, using church funds to manipulate sales of his sex book onto the New York Times bestseller list, posting vulgar online rants demeaning to women under an assumed name, and most recently the revelation that solicited donations to the church’s global fund for missions to Africa and India were misappropriated and spent on acquisitions of real estate in Spokane and Everett, Washington.

Last week, church members, ex-members, and members of the community showed up for a protest in front of the church’s main campus after Driscoll declared in a video to church members that he wanted to “reconcile” with people he has “hurt” but was unable to do so because “they remain anonymous.” The video sparked the startup of a Facebook group called “Dear Pastor Mark: We Are Not Anonymous” and large signs carried by protesters at last week’s demonstration repeated the theme.

Who is outwitting Mars Hill Leadership?

devil made me do it 5

2 Cor 2:10 -11 warns that Satan can outwit the church. Mars Hill Church has not only failed to reconcile with the many members abusively thrown under the bus over the years, but after almost seven years they are still shunning Paul Petry.

They are also seemingly hapless in their attempts to deal with the current scandals, choosing to cover up and hide the truth rather than “man-up” and be accountable.

This was demonstrated again yesterday in their attempt to remove videos posted on YouTube where in 2012 Mark Driscoll clearly asked the members of Mars Hill Church to consider giving to the Global Fund or Mars Hill Global (link).

If you are following the scandal, the new spin from Sutton Turner is that since 2009 Mars Hill Global was not in fact a fund, but was global donors that were giving to the general fund. Most of the organization’s solicitations for designated donations were made through the videos with an Ethiopian backdrop, clearly implying that the funds would be used for international outreach. Rather than admit the truth, that only a very small percentage of the money went to Africa and India, Mars Hill Church leaders are trying to re-spin the story.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have been focused on exonerating Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, and demanding a repeal of the 2007 bylaws that were changed in an improper manner.

It would seem, based upon understanding the Apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 2, that it would be in the interest of Mars Hill Church to reconcile with Paul Petry and stop the almost seven years of shunning. Being too harsh with members invites Satan to outplay you.

The scripture passage is referencing the punishment of the man who was thrown out of the church in 1 Corinthians 5 for gross sin. Apparently he had repented, but the Corinthian church had not yet ended the punishment. Paul exhorts them that failure to forgive would cause Satan to outwit them.

2 Corinthians 2: 7 -11 “so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ,  so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”

There are two warnings. The first is that failure to affirm love and forgiveness will cause the victim to be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow. I can identify with that warning. The second is that failure to forgive and affirm the member will mean that Satan can take advantage of the church or, as some translations say, outwit the church.

The Apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Cor 2 applied to a case where the punishment was completely warranted but simply went on for too long.  In Paul Petry’s case, it is well documented that his show trial was a farce and merely a way of getting rid of a reasoned voice opposing the awful changes in the bylaws. Seven years of shunning is excessive by any reasonable measure. The Apostle Paul’s warning is particularly relevant in this case.

How much more then, if Paul Petry’s shunning is undeserved, will Satan be in a position to outwit Mars Hill Church leadership? They ought to take heed. We are seeing the consequence playing out before our very eyes.

More than one casual observer has expressed surprise at the seeming gaffs by Mars Hill Church leadership in reacting after being exposed for deceit and spin relating to the many scandals that they are facing. Historically Mars Hill has had excellent PR skills. But not recently. Are they being outwitted?

It seems obvious to the average Christian that to simply tell the truth is by far the easiest and most righteous thing to do when caught in a lie. Members will forgive a genuine plea for forgiveness. This is not happening at Mars Hill Church, where instead every scandal is addressed by new spin and explanation.

Three changing explanations for the shameful spending of $210,000 of church money to deceptively manipulate sales to ensure a spot on the NYT Bestsellers’ list. Apologies and conflicting stories to explain how the global fund spent a “preponderate” percentage of  money in the US and not in Ethiopia and India, while concurrently saying that the fund has not existed since 2009. The more appropriate word should be a “preposterous” amount.

How can there be only four donors to the fund that petitioned MH and ECFA for answers in a recent change.org petition (link), while at the same time the fund hasn’t existed since 2009? How can six thousand total donors to the fund be contacted to explain the matter and at the same time the fund doesn’t exist?  (link)

Does the Mars Hill Leadership think that we donors, members and ex-members are fools? Do they think that their shifting explanations will outwit us?

Or is it the Mars Hill leadership that is being unwittingly outwitted (2 Cor 2:10)?

Changing the story is a form of lying. Mars Hill keeps changing the story. This is disturbing as truth telling is being avoided in favor of cover-up. This is foolish and certainly a possible demonstration of the leadership being outwitted. It seems that the attempts to correct the scandals are being so badly spun that anyone who is paying attention can see it.

Why can they not be forthright and open?

Members are asking how much of the Global Fund money was spent on international outreach. Instead of answering the question, and despite clear evidence that the solicitation was for the Global Fund and in addition to normal giving, Mars Hill has chosen to say that there is no Global Fund, and that since 2009 it refers to global donors. Abundant evidence exists to show that this is simply not true. Donor receipts after 2009 reflect their donations to the Global Fund.

By refusing to be truthful, the leadership is playing a game where they are just hurting themselves. This is the warning of 1 Cor 2:10.

A reminder to the reader to some of the sad scandals that all reflect failure to be truthful or a desire to hide the truth.

– Purging the history of who founded Mars Hill Church.
– Plagiarism in multiple books authored by Mark Driscoll.
– Deceptively manipulating sales of “Real Marriage” to ensure a New York Times Bestseller title.
– Requiring gag-orders from departing employees in order to get severance pay – thus attempting to silence truth-tellers.
– Requiring an employee that files a charge against Mark Driscoll to submit their resignation first.
– Repeatedly soliciting Global Fund money using an African backdrop implying the funds were to be used for International Outreach.
– Removing and purging the names of members who helped build the church, including founders Lief Moi and Mike Gunn.
– Removing hundreds of sermons and other content from accessibility to members and the general public.

But before these recent examples, let me talk about the mother of all deceptions.

For years Mark Driscoll preached that he was one of a plurality of elders of equal authority. He preached that this was the biblical pattern for church leadership. He said he could get fired by his elders. This made Mars Hill members like myself feel secure and safe.

Little did we know that Mark Driscoll, while preaching this with great frequency and fervor, was reverse engineering a plan to change this form of governance and accountability. While preaching this line, and getting the support of our tithes, offerings, and volunteered effort as a result, he and former executive elder Jamie Munson rewrote the bylaws to usher in a church governance structure that was the antithesis to what Mark Driscoll was concurrently preaching.

Then, in an effort to ward off opposition at the elder level, they accused Bent Meyer and Paul Petry of opposing the new bylaws because they wanted to grab power. After ruthlessly firing the men and subjecting them to a show trial full of hearsay and pettiness, they told the church that the men demanded power.

As unsettled members were trying to understand what had happened, every member covenant was torn up, and a seemingly healthy church of over 1,600 members and over 3000 attenders was shut down and Mars Hill Church was “replanted”. Over 1,000 members did not join the replant.

Our church was deceptively taken from us.

Mark Driscoll told an interviewer that he lost over 1,000 members because he raised the bar for membership by publishing his book – “Doctrine”. Yet the truth was that the only change was the new bylaws that consolidated power in Mark Driscoll’s hands (link). So few ex-members were signing up for the replant that attendees were recruited to become members more fervently than the local fitness club tries to sign you up.

In addition, Bent Meyer was found to be not guilty on all counts but one. Mark Driscoll and Jamie Munson were his accusers. The outcome of the trial of Bent Meyer clearly demonstrated that the accusations were false. In other words, they were lies.

The seeds of deceit in 2007 have born the fruit of repeated deceit since then as we are all seeing.

For Mars Hill Church to survive and recover from its current implosion, the deceitful and coercive changing of the bylaws and the shameful treatment of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer and their families will have to be dealt with. If the 2 Cor 2:10 warning means anything, it seems to warn that even subsequent confession and apologies will not thwart the injustice of failing to affirm love for the brother whose punishment has become harsh.

So confession and repentance must, for the sake of Mars Hill Church, start with the unjust treatment of Paul Petry. It also needs to be a full attempt at learning to tell the truth and transparently walking in the light on all matters.

True reconciliation and fellowship will be the result. It will involve forgiveness and restoration, and despite the pain of the process will bring true joy and freedom. It will be “all about Jesus” in a way that Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church has not experienced in some time.

The alternative is to continue to walk in the dark, continue to shun not only Paul Petry, but the many bodies under the bus, and we fail to realize that the consequence of this is to allow Satan to continue to outwit.

He is an angel of darkness and the source of spin, deceit and lies.

Satan is defeated by the walking in the light.