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

Advertisements

Bearing false witness: Does repeated slander disqualify an elder?

Does Lying Disquilify and Elder

There are few more destructive and simply “mean” sins than that of slandering another person. Slander is a violation of the eighth commandment. Slander is lying in order to damage the good name of another person.

In the current Mars Hill Church debacle, the term has been used frequently to silence critics and those who ask questions. Do those who use the term realize the seriousness of the sin?

One can be sued in civil court for defamation: which may be slander, and if the slander is put in writing, it is called libel. Of course, making a false statement about a person while under oath can land you in jail for perjury. It is a serious sin.

Recently, Matt Rogers, the man who is heading up the “investigation” of the charges against Mark Driscoll, has accused unnamed persons of slandering good men’s names. Rogers neither named the alleged slanderers nor did he say who was slandered or what the slander was. Nevertheless he made the accusation against either all or some of the protesters at the August 1 silent protest, and against protesters using social media.

Fortunately for Matt Rogers, he neither named who he leveled his accusation against, nor identified what the slander was. So Roger’s accusations are meaningless as their truth cannot be verified. Without naming anyone, if his accusation is false, no one specific can say they have been slandered. There were estimates of between 60 to 100 people at the protest. Very few of us spoke out as it was a silent protest. So Rogers was probably stating that the few (perhaps three or four) of us that spoke to reporters were slanderers. I wonder who he was referring to and what slander occurred? Telling the truth is by definition not slander.

Mark Driscoll has been accused of slander by various individuals and groups, including Dave Kraft, the 21 elders who left Mars Hill Church, and the “Noble Nine” elders from within the church. Last Wednesday, I added myself to the list when I met with four members of the investigation team and in accordance with 1 Timothy 5:19 brought four specific charges of slander against Mark Driscoll dating from 18 years ago to as recently as six months ago. My desire was not to merely add more accusations to the mountain of charges already leveled against Mark Driscoll, but to demonstrate that the sin has repeatedly occurred for years, has not been repented of, and is still occurring.

There has been no repentance by “the young angry prophet” nor by “the older fatherly” Mark Driscoll.

There has been no change. It appears that both the admittedly angry young prophet and the newly posturing fatherly Mark Driscoll is a serial slanderer.

In the last several months it appears that Mark Driscoll slandered a former elder who was cleared of misusing church resources. Even after the former elder was cleared of the charge, Driscoll repeated the accusation that the former elder had embezzled from the church. This would be slander of the worst kind. At the trial of Paul Petry, it has been reported that Mark Driscoll slandered several people, including me. 18 years ago, some of us have recently discovered, Mark Driscoll is accused of slandering an ex-employee. All of these acts of slander can be verified by witnesses in accordance with 1 Timothy 5:19.

Slander is often done behind the scenes. It is malicious. The one being slandered has no idea of it occuring or the damage inflicted to his or her name. It is devastating to the innocent party.

In Mark Driscoll’s case, he most often seems to slander men with whom he has worked, and in some cases, as in my case and other former elders’ cases, he threatened to harm the reputation of men with whom he became angry. In my case, he threatened to end my ministry and make sure I would never be in ministry again. He appears to have attempted to do this by slandering my name and my ministry behind my back.

Reports are that he has also done this to other men with whom he has worked. He appears to have slandered them and harmed their good names.

Consider that the process for becoming a deacon or elder at Mars Hill Church has always been touted as rigorous. The men whom Mark Driscoll has slandered were men who passed the test of character that is required by the Mars Hill process and promulgated by Mark Driscoll over and over again.

Slander is despicable.

It harms a man’s name and can destroy his reputation, sometimes permanently. It can harm the person who is slandered significanltly, including the loss of income, as the harm causes people to mistrust the victim. Many of the men leaving Mars hill Church are trying to find jobs or rebuild their source of income. Slander can be devasting to these men.

To slander men in this position is literally attempting to rob them of their ability to rebuild their lives and their ability to provide for their families.

Mark Driscoll’s slander of me and of Agathos, the ministry he said he would destroy, brought great harm to me and to Agathos.  The Agathos staff and I simply chose to be defrauded and not pursue a lawsuit (I Corinthians 6), but as I have discovered allegations of slander from 18 years ago, and which have continued to occur even within in the last six months despite the heightened scrutiny of the church and the public, I can no longer avoid drawing attention to this disqualifying sin.

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 .01% that supports the 99%. Hail Mary?

Hail Mary

In its 2012 annual report, Mars Hill Church reports that .01% out of 12,172 attendees gave over $100,000 to the church in the 2012 fiscal year. That means just one person gave that much or more. This is the same year that executive elder, Sutton Turner, stated in a recently discovered memorandum, that the church’s finances were in a “big mess” (link).  Turner also said that every December, the organization commences a “Hail Mary” giving push.

2012 giving range

The push likely does result in some additional giving from members, but there is no doubt that the real “Hail Mary” is a single donor who gives over $100,000 per year that the church relies on.

If the stats in the 2012 report from Mars Hill Church are correct, there is only a single donor who gives over $100,000 per year. The report shows the percentage of every level of giving. It gives the reader the percentages of attendees that give nothing, as well as the percentage of each giving range. The report gives the exact percentage of each category. The following tables show what the numbers look like. The first table assumes a high average giving for each category (75% above median) in order to reduce the single donor contribution. So the 0 to $500 range is assumed to average $375 (as opposed to $250 which is more likely statistically).

2012 giving analysis above average

If the 2012 financial report is correct, and .01% of donors out of 12,162 people (which is 1) gave above $100,000, then that single donor gave $4,574,991.  Total campus giving, according to the report, was $19,709,462. The giving percentage chart doesn’t specify what total is being used, so it is possible, using this high average, that the single donor gave $229,698.

Of course, the likelihood is that the numbers average out normally. In such a case, the single donor gave a lot more.

2012 giving analysis average

In order for the percentages given to us by Mars Hill Church to be accurate, a single giver gave as much as $8,958,432 toward the total amount given. If the pie chart from the report reflects campus giving, then that lone donor likely gave $4,613,139.

It is clear that there is a single donor who has propped up Mars Hill Church significantly. Without this donor, the burden of promoting Mark Driscoll as “the brand,” and the burdensome costs promoting Mark Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage, that Sutton Turner mentioned in his memo, would have been crushing.

This mystery donor is very vested in Mars Hill Church.

Historically, members have been aware of a single donor who has donated sound systems that are worth over $100,000 in value. There have also been revelations of a single donor who has flown elders around in private jets and hosted elder retreats that would amount to over $100,000 per year. Statistically, if there is only a single donor who gives over $100,000 per year, then the above mentioned gifts likely come from that single donor.

It would seem then that a donor, with private jets and expertise in musical equipment, has donated substantially toward the branding and success of both Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll. He or she is likely very close to Mark Driscoll and has been a significant help and influence in his life and his success.

Imagine the sense of loyalty of that donor to Mark Driscoll.

What must that donor think as the independent (according to ECFA standards) members of the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) consider whether Mark Driscoll’s days as the lead pastor and “The Brand” are over?

There is nothing more sacred when charges are made against a person then to have an impartial and independent panel of adjudicators reviewing the evidence. This safeguards the verdict and makes it fair, credible and honorable.

Let us all pray that the BOAA has the independence to render a fair and just verdict once the Board of Overseers has completed its investigation of the numerous charges against Mark Driscoll.

 

 

Mark Driscoll and his two executives do not trust the elders of Mars Hill Church

broken trust

[UPDATE: Within minutes of this post from Musings – coincidently, Mars Hill Church posted their bylaws on their website. This is a change – hopefully for the positive (link).]

The elders of Mars Hill Church cannot see their own bylaws, according to the latest departing elder, Pastor Dustin Kensrue (link).  As it now turns out, the bylaws of a church that handles millions of dollars can be simply rewritten by the three executive elders at will – without church members or elders even knowing about it.

How can anyone be held accountable if they can simply rewrite the bylaws at will?

This is beyond a joke.

Here is how it happened.

  • The entire membership was betrayed in 2007 with a rogue change in the bylaws. The church that we joined, because it had a plurality of elders (i.e.: a safe church) and had given millions of dollars to and countless hours of effort toward, changed its bylaws in a coercive and despicable way.
  • The new bylaws became repeatedly changed despite church members being required to agree with them. As the bylaws changed, members were not notified and the bylaws become increasingly hard to find.
  • The current bylaws are now withheld from the elders of the church. So who is responsible, and who reports to whom? How is the church governed?

Mars Hill Church has members who are expected to agree with the bylaws, but the bylaws have become as secretive as the lucrative salaries being paid to the three Executive Elders. The last bylaws we did see (link) show that members are “members” in name only. Under the terms of the 2012 bylaws, the only “actual” legal members of the church were the elders. Church members were defined as “members only in a spiritual and theological sense,” but not actually members in a civil sense.

In classic Orwellian doublespeak, members are not actually members, except for the purpose of giving their dollars and time to the actual members (the elders) to spend as they choose.

It would appear that there are now new bylaws where the elders at Mars Hill Church are not actually elders from any Reformed point of view. They have no say in how the church is run and have no right to see the bylaws or to change them.

Because the bylaws are hidden from almost everyone now, this raises serious questions. Questions like the following:

– Who actually owns the property that the church keeps buying with the members’ (non) donations?

– How does the money get spent? What happened to the money that was raised for the Jesus Festival?

– While employees are getting laid off, are the Executive Elders still getting their full salaries?

– What are the cash reserves of the church?

– Who decides to buy new property?

– Who owns the church properties if the church locks its doors?

None of these questions are likely to be answered under the present bylaws, because the Executive Elders are the only actual members of the church. Non-members, who think they are members, and non-elders who think they are elders, have no right to information like this.

And the ECFA continues to endorse the financial accountability of Mars Hill Church.

Yup!! That is what I was thinking too.

The “Noble Nine” pastors in the fiery furnace at Mars Hill Church. No wait! There are ten!

1-19-Martin-Luther-King-ftr

“You must do right because it’s right to do right…”
“I am 38 years old, but I am dead if I do not stand for justice…”
“You may lose your job…”

Powerful words of encourgement from a great preacher.

three-men-in-fiery-furnace-39474-tablet

“Ultimately you must do right because it’s right to do right. And you got to say ‘But if not…’
“You must love ultimately because it’s lovely to love.
“You must be just because it’s right to be just.
“You must be honest because it’s right to be honest.

“This is what this text is saying more than anything else. And finally, you must do it because it has gripped you so much that you are willing to die for it if necessary. And I say to you this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

“You may be 38 years old as I happen to be, and one day some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause–and you refuse to do it because you are afraid; you refuse to do it because you want to live longer; you’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you’re afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house, and so you refuse to take the stand.

“Well you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90! And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right, you died when you refused to stand up for truth, you died when you refused to stand up for justice. These boys stand before us today, and I thank God for them, for they had found something.

“The fiery furnace couldn’t stop them from believing. They said “Throw us into the fiery furnace.” But you know the interesting thing is, the Bible talks about a miracle. Because they had faith enough to say “But if not,” God was with them as an eternal companion.

“And this is what I want to say finally, that there is a reward if you do right for righteousness’ sake.

“It says that somehow that burning fiery furnace was transformed into an air-conditioned living room. Somebody looked in there and said ‘We put three in here, but now we see four!’ Don’t ever think you’re by yourself. Go on to jail if necessary but you’ll never go alone.

“Take a stand for that which is right, and the world may misunderstand you and criticize you, but you never go alone, for somewhere I read that ‘One with God is a majority,’ and God has a way of transforming a minority into a majority.

“Walk with him this morning and believe in him and do what is right and he’ll be with you even until the consummation of the ages. Yes, I’ve seen the lightning flash, I’ve heard the thunder roll, I’ve felt sin’s breakers dashing trying to conquer my soul but I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on, he promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone; no, never alone, no, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.

“Where you’re going this morning, my friends, tell the world that you’re going with truth. You’re going with justice, you’re going with goodness, and you will have an eternal companionship. And the world will look at you and they won’t understand you, for your fiery furnace will be around you, but you’ll go on anyhow. But if not, I will not bow, and God grant that we will never bow before the gods of evil.”

____________________________________________________________________________

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 5, 1967. The title, “But if Not”, comes from Daniel chapter 3, verse 18.

Four offended men who have not heard from Mark Driscoll.

discernment 1

Mark Driscoll wants to forget the past. But, as this excellent blog post clearly details disqualifying sins against four men in the past, Mark Driscoll has made no attempt of any kind to reach out to the four men sinned against.

Dr. E.S.Williams does an excellent job outlining the disqualifying behavior that has never been addressed by Mark Driscoll. Surely, in order to press forward, the past sins should be named and attempts to reconcile be hastily sought after.

Here is a link to “A Dearth of Discernment”.

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