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

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

ecfa 2

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.

In a classic showdown, Mars Hill Church leaders want to see lawsuit first, then may allow Matthew 18

showdown 1

Mars Hill Church leaders are forcing aggrieved members to spend the money to prepare a lawsuit, and then want to see the lawsuit before deciding if they will meet in a biblical way.

When Dave Kraft, while still a Mars Hill Church elder in 2013, filed charges against Mark Driscoll, I was contacted by one of the aggrieved elders who appealed to me to reach out and speak with Michael van Skaik, the chairman of the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA).

Michael van Skaik refused to see me. That was in June 2013.

Since that time, I and others have attempted repeatedly to engage the leadership of Mars Hill Church. They simply refuse to talk. The only time I have pulled off a meeting was with the BOE where the focus of the meeting was largely instruction to me that both I and the aggrieved members, ex-members and donors of Mars Hill Church should simply agree to be defrauded in accordance with 1 Corinthians 6. The abusers were telling the abused to suck it in and walk away.

I have recently appealed to Executive Elder Dave Bruskas several times that we meet face-to-face and talk. I have repeatedly appealed to the lead pastor of MH- West Seattle, David Fairchild, who tells me he cannot meet because he is working “70 to 80 hours a week” preparing for the new church to open. I have reached out to the lead pastor of MH–Everett. All are “too busy” to sit down as brothers in Christ.

Despite the call in 1 Corinthians 6 for brothers to avoid legal action against one another, Mars Hill Church Leadership, led by Executive Elder Dave Bruskas and Chairman of the Board Matt Rogers, is insisting that we prepare a legal action before they will consider talking to their aggrieved brothers.

So while their Pastors Ed Choi and David Fairchild are instructing us that rather than take legal action the aggrieved should agree to be defrauded, the leadership of Mars Hill Church is demanding that we prepare a legal action in order to sit down as brothers and work out our grievances.

It would appear as if we are not dealing with brothers in Christ. It appears that we are dealing with corporate executives who are being governed by their lawyers.

So the leadership is forcing aggrieved brothers and sisters in Christ to prepare a legal action. They block all attempts to sit and talk, refuse to be defrauded themselves by seeking the protection of their lawyers while expecting the aggrieved members they have abused to just walk away being defrauded, and now make the aggrieved spend legal fees in order to prepare for legal action.

The aggrieved do not want to file a lawsuit, but the leadership of Mars Hill Church is insisting that we move forward to do so in order to work out our grievances.

At this stage, days from the dissolution of the church, these men are still not willing to come to the table and be transparent about the use of millions of dollars of donors’ money, as well as identify the widespread abuse that has been alleged.

Surely a Matthew 18 mediated airing of grievances, something that Mars Hill Church preaches while refusing to practice, is the right thing to do. It seems only two scenarios will hold these men accountable for their actions. Either a civil lawsuit is filed – which Mars Hill leadership requires before they will take the time to sit down and try to resolve grievances, or Attorney General Ferguson steps in.

 [I edited the 5th paragraph – it was pointed out to me that Dave Fairchild works 70 to 80 hours per week, not 80 to 90 hours per week. My apologies/]

“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

It is a shame to sue… 1 Corinthians 6. What a shame!

law book and gavel

http://www.gofundme.com/hj69t0

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” — Micah 6:8

Despite many appeals to Mars Hill Church leadership to address several grievances, it now appears that it will be necessary to take legal action to see that these grievances are addressed – since the leaders of Mars Hill have unilaterally announced their intention to dissolve the church by the end of the year and divide the assets amongst themselves with no apparent accounting or transparency. Donors, ex-members and members are preparing to pursue this alternative only because all other avenues for resolution of grievances have been futile. These donors, ex-members, and members are setting up a fund which would be used to pay for the legal costs of such a pursuit.

Mars Hill Church has also used non-disclosure agreements to silence ex-employees with valid grievances. This fund would also be used to defend any ex-employee that is sued by Mars Hill Church for violating the terms of their non-disclosure agreement.

Once all matters are settled, the balance of this fund, if any, will be shared between the advertised recipients of the Mars Hill Global Fund (Ethiopian and Indian pastors) and with Agathos International. That portion of any donor’s gift to this legal fund will be tax-deductible.

We are attempting to schedule a meeting with  Mars Hill representatives in an effort to avoid litigation, and it appears that this meeting may take place.

In discussion with former Mars Hill Church member Brian Jacobson regarding those times when Matthew 18 fails to settle matters, or when the offending party insists that the offended party should agree to be defrauded, as Mars Hill Church leadership has insisted thus far, Brian offered the following thoughts:

There will be much pushback from the Christian community regarding the lawsuit. The following are several responses to this.

First, I would point out that when Jesus saw religious leaders harming His people or leading them astray, He did not gently lead anyone to vague conclusions. He entered full-on attack mode and spoke His mind very clearly. We are to have the mind of Christ and His empathy toward those who are abused.

Second, in Galatians 1:8-9, Paul said if anyone preaches a different gospel, let him be accursed. Mark Driscoll perverted the gospel of Christ by making Mars Hill all about him. He used bullying and slander to maintain control of the church and he misappropriated resources for personal gain.

Third, it is possible that criminal acts occurred at Mars Hill that will only be revealed by a lawsuit such as this.

Fourth, there is a God-given role for civil authorities to play. They exist for the benefit of society – to protect the general public by maintaining good order. Romans 13 speaks to this. Summarizing the first few verses of that chapter, the Westminster Confession states, “God ordained civil magistrates for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers.” The actions of the Mars Hill Church leadership put them in the category of “evil doers.”

Fifth, regarding 1 Corinthians 6, this scripture is related to settling personal disputes – disputes between individuals. The lawsuit would be against the Mars Hill Church corporation and its officers. 

The following paragraphs are from Larry Burkett’s website:

Since there were no corporations in existence when the Bible was written, the best we can do is relate the principle to the closest parallel of that time: a government agency.

It seems clear from the book of Acts that Paul recognized both the authority and the responsibility of the government of Rome. Twice, when he was falsely arrested, he relied on application of Roman law to regain his freedom. He also clearly used the implied threat of that law to punish his antagonists (Acts 16:37).

When he was falsely accused by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and jailed by the Roman authorities, he appealed to the law of Rome to defend himself. The Roman government was an entity, not a person, so Paul felt he was clearly within his rights to use Roman law against that entity.

A corporation or a business is also an entity, not a person. Although the entity may be controlled and often is solely owned by a person, it appears that a corporation or a business has no rights under biblical guidelines, except the rights of prevailing law. Therefore, to sue a corporation in order to require that it meet its legal responsibilities is not unbiblical.

 

By their leaders’ own words, Bellevue Church is simply Mars Hill Church continued…

Lipstick on a pig

In announcing the formation of Bellevue Church, Matt Rogers (who sat on the board that did not want Mark Driscoll to resign and deems him to be qualified for ministry) said the following:

“This Bellevue church is known around the world for the way you have served and loved one another and the broader church of Jesus Christ.”

So, world, this is the same church.

Other than the fact that Mark Driscoll has resigned, what has changed?

We will know what will change by what has been confessed and corrected. Other than an “unhealthy culture” there has been almost nothing confessed and no transparency forthcoming.

The dissolution of Mars Hill Church means that Bellevue Church has no need to answer questions that its own members and donors have. As Matt Rogers said, “We are establishing a new 501c3 corporate entity, creating new bylaws, selecting a new name, establishing a new structure and setting up new financial accounts.”

Bellevue Church is moving forward with the only two active members of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability (Matt Rogers and Dave Bruskas) and the only remaining Executive Elder (Dave Bruskas). These men are the only elders who have the answers to the many questions being asked by us donors or members.

Rather than answer the demand for transparency, their choice is to dissolve Mars Hill Church in an apparent attempt to permanently bury the truth, and then merely continue the same church with a different name.

So the many questions that still trouble donors or members are not likely to come from these leaders of Mars Hill Church/Bellevue Church. These questions are well articulated by the best source of telling the truth emerging from the dark bowels of the Mars Hill Church inner leadership sanctum, Dr. Warren Throckmorton. He has outlined the questions that hound Mars Hill Church and will hound Bellevue Church and its leadership as they continue to fail to provide transparent answers.

  • Question: How exactly was the Global Fund money spent? Over $10 million was raised. Where is that money?
  • Question: What were the salaries, compensation and severance package deals made for Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner?
  • Request for transparency: Release the Driscoll Investigation Report.
  • Request for transparency: Release the many ex-elders and ex-employees that signed onerous NDAs.
  • Questions about Paul Petry and Bent Meyer: Now that 18 witnesses to the firings and trial of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry, and the removal of eldership and shunning of Paul Petry, have profoundly born testimony and established the violent sins of the church against these men:
    —–        When will they be exonerated and restitution be made?
    —–        How will this testimony impact the sinful actions of A.J. Hamilton, Tim Smith and Bubba Jennings, all elders in good standing at Mars Hill Church?
  • Question: How will either Mars Hill Church or Bellevue Church process the charges of deception leveled by Mars Hill Church elders against Michael van Skaik and the other members of the Board of Advisors and Accountability?
  • Question: What charges will be brought against Dave Bruskas for his role in the various scandals that have humiliated Mars Hill Church?
  • Question: Matt Rogers has said that those who have accused Mark Driscoll (such as those that participated in the August 3rd protest) were slanderers. Will Mars Hill Church or Bellevue Church call for Matt Rogers to clearly explain his accusation of slander? Who were the slanderers, and what was the nature of their slander?

Or are the new leaders of Bellevue Church, who are the current leaders of Mars Hill Church, hope that all these questions disappear with the so-called dissolution of Mars Hill Church?

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.

Mars Hill Church leadership – giving members the finger to the very end.

giving members the finger

In a telling move, the final acts of the leaders left at the now defunct church have echoed Mark Driscoll’s words to his own elders and basically told members and donors that they simply “do not give a sh-t.”

After watching a lack of accountability and transparency bring Mars Hill Church to its knees, the leaders have decided to dissolve the church.  This decision was done without any consultation or input from the thousands of members and donors who have been implored to continue giving to keep Mars Hill Church going.

As was the case with Mark Driscoll and the way he and his executive elders ran the church, the members and donors have no say whatsoever.

Members and donors have been calling for an exoneration of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, whose firings and the subsequent bylaws change in 2007 led to the current debacle at Mars Hill Church.

Members and donors have been calling for accountability and answers regarding several financial scandals, including full disclosure of where the Global Fund money went, and exactly how much personal inurement did Mark Driscoll get from the his activities at the church, and what were the salaries of the executive elders of the church.

In its place, the pleas of members and donors are disregarded and the decision to dissolve the church that many thousands of us gave years of our money and effort to build is made without any attempt to reach out to us.

Even more stunning, is that despite totally disregarding the input of members and donors in the decision to dissolve Mars Hill Church, and in the face of a willful stubbornness to continue to operate in the dark, Dave Bruskas asks members to continue to give to Mars Hill Church.

Is he serious?

Why any member or donor would give another cent to Mars Hill Church after such a mule-headed display of utter disregard of both its members and donors is beyond me.

Mars Hill Church’s Justin Dean – Straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

camel

 KING 5 News report by Alison Morrow spotlighted former members calling for ex-members to return to Mars Hill Church to work together as brothers and sisters now that Mark Driscoll has left our church.

Justin Dean quickly responded.

Did he acknowledge the wide spread abuse of Mark Driscoll or the victims themselves, including the members mentioned in the report? Did he respond to the call to be reconciled and move forward with ex-members who left due to Driscoll’s abuse? Did he warmly accept the ex-members back with brotherly love?

No.

In a series of phone calls to Alison Morrow, Justin Dean challenged the reporter’s facts as to whether I was ever an elder. He stated that I was never more than just a member.

At a time of crisis and a time of opportunity to reconcile with ex-members willing to return to the church, he “strained at gnats while swallowing camels.”

Of course, being a member at Mars Hill Church has historically meant that you are among the least. Paul Petry was charged with disqualifying sin and endured a humiliating trial for discussing the bylaw changes with a lowly member. That member was me. Talking to a member like me cost Paul Petry his job.

What kind of elder would deign to discuss such matters with a member? He failed to realize how little being a member meant, and thanks to Justin Dean, we are being reminded again of the insignificance of the member. Rob Smith, he assured Alison Morrow, was nothing more than a member. A mere member.

Alison Morrow added this to her report:

Editor’s note: After this story aired, Mars Hill told KING 5 that Rob Smith was never an elder or pastor at Mars Hill. According to Smith, he was asked to serve as the pastor of community groups for Wedgwood campus, a position he accepted and started two weeks before he was placed under church discipline for asking that another pastor have a fair trial. Soon after, Smith left the church.

After the 2007 bylaw change, even being an elder meant very little. Once those bylaws were changed, an elder could be dismissed by an arbitrary decision of the Executive Elders. An elder was nothing more than an “at will” employee of the church.

So according to Justin Dean, Rob Smith was nothing more than a member – the lowest in the social order caste at the church: A person who had no say, no relevance other than to obey the rules, be a faithful giver of time and money, and submit to the elders, who, after 2007, themselves had to submit to Mark Driscoll and the revolving door of cohorts he handpicked to carry out his abuse.

So just for the record, I will correct Justin Dean, who along with most of the current leadership of Mars Hill Church, were not at Mars Hill Church in 2007 when my wife and I last attended.

Merle (my dear wife of 36 years) and I joined the church in August of 2002.

In December of 2002 I founded a ministry called Agathos that began to care for orphans in South Africa. The work of Agathos continues to this day (link).

In 2003, Mars Hill Church began to send members to the orphan village on short-term mission trips. There are relationships between members that participated and the children (some now adults) that we cared for.

In 2005, Mark Driscoll endorsed an Agathos Initiative called “One Church One Village” and I began to talk about this at Acts 29 conferences.

In 2005/6, my dear wife began to counsel women at the church 25 hours a week as a volunteer, and she was made a deacon.

In 2005 through 2007, Agathos hosted Acts 29 boot camps in South Africa and Zambia with Acts 29 pastors. Included in that number was co-founder of Mars Hill Church, Mike Gunn, and current lead pastor of the Mars Hill West Seattle campus, David Fairchild.

In 2006, I was made a deacon. I had no duties and the title was because of the orphan care and African pastoral care I was involved in through Agathos and Acts 29 in Africa. Mars Hill Church founder, Lief Moi, was a factor in this decision. Lief Moi was an avid and faithful supporter of Agathos.

In 2007, as Mars Hill Church became multi-campus focused, Mars Hill Church decided that the Ballard campus would commit to be the One Church One Village connection with Kwethu Village in South Africa. This meant that within the campus, $625,000 would be raised to support the village over a six-year period. Over one hundred members got involved in awareness and support. Kabyn Vykesland, now ministering to troubled youth in St. Louis, led the effort.

The Vine church in Redmond also committed to raise $625,000 to a One Church One Village relationship under the pastoral leadership of Jesse Winkler, now a pastor in San Diego, California. As some may know, The Vine Church became Mars Hill Bellevue in late 2007, and was therefore the second campus to embrace One Church One Village. Pastor Jesse became a Mars Hill pastor shortly before the trial of Paul Petry.

In mid 2007, a new campus was formed in Wedgwood, in northeast Seattle, under the leadership of James Harleman, currently a pastor at Refuge Church. Pastor James asked me to take the role of “Pastor of Community Groups” at the Mars Hill Wedgwood campus, a position that I accepted. All the other pastors of community groups were elders, and I was asked to become an elder, which I agreed to. Pastor Dave Kraft, a Mars Hill elder, began to coach me weekly through Ministry Coaching, Inc., a business entity that was coaching the elders and chaired by the current chairman of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accoutability (BoAA), Michael van Skaik. Upon my introduction to the church in my new capacity, Brad House, the lead pastor of community groups, stumbled when introducing me as I was a pastor but was a couple of weeks away from completing the elder candidacy process. He called me something that those attending at the time still chuckle at. He introduced me as “Super Deacon Rob Smith.”

I attended elder coaching along with other elder candidates Tim Gaydos, Jon Krombein, Cliff Low, and Kerry Michaelis. They all became official elders immediately after the 2007 bylaws were passed.

So I was pastor of community groups and acting in that capacity, and was approved to the elder track, when everything hit the fan exactly seven years ago.

It hit the fan for me because I realized that Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, who had been fired and falsely charged with sins against the church, were not going to get a fair trial. I sent a private email to the elders appealing for a fair trial.

For that I was placed under church discipline. That process was most interesting, but thanks to a major donor in the church, I was spared the final humiliation of leaving the church with a bad standing.

Merle and I left the church in good standing, although Mark Driscoll, in the process, threatened to destroy me, Agathos, and ensure that I would never be able to be in ministry again.

At my last meeting, Jamie Munson and Scott Thomas assured me that they would not abandon the orphans that were being supported by Agathos through the One Church One Village commitment.

Three months later, Scott Thomas sent me a letter ending the Mars Hill Church/Agathos relationship.

So, I trust that this clear laying out of the facts makes Justin Dean happy.

I am most willing to describe in detail the painful and scandalous way that Merle and I were treated after being placed under discipline. It involves Mars Hill Church trying to get the largest donor to Agathos to influence our decision to leave.  This donor is a friend and a major member of the Lucas Group. If Dean would like me to get into those details, I will do so. It is quite a story.

If any reader would like to learn more about Agathos, here is a link. If any reader is inclined to support Agathos, here is the link to do so.

So Justin Dean, meet Super Deacon Rob Smith, More than a lowly member, more than a deacon – but less than an elder, but without a doubt a pastor.

Currently at Mars Hill Church there is the full Council of Elders, the Board of Elders, the Board of Overseers, the Board of Advisors and Accountability, and of course, the Executive Elders. Quite confusing. I am not sure where Super Deacon would fall within these lofty-named groups. But whatever that title means, it is not as belittling a title as “just a member.”

I suggest that rather than strain at gnats, we tackle the camels that have strangled the church we love, and work together. This will take humility and strength of character, something even a lowly member can reflect without even having a title as deacon, pastor, or elder.

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).