Mars Hill Church thanks Rob Smith for partnering with them in the gospel in 2014

working together

Mars Hill Church just said “Thank You” for all that I had done for the kingdom of God during the year. This at the same time that they refuse to meet with me.

The letter thanking me was accompanied by my giving receipt for the year. I faithfully gave to Mars Hill Church every week that I attended between Mark Driscoll’s resignation and the decision to dissolve the church (two weeks).

In the letter, which suggests that we can “celebrate 2014 as an incredible year” and says that my gift has helped “sown a great harvest.”

The letter outlines some of what I and other donors paid for in 2014. Here are some of the items:

5 Mars Hill Churches were launched/planted in January of 2104.

5 sermon series were taught from the Bible.

67 evangelists were supported in Ethiopia.

33 church planters were supported in India.

11 independent churches planted in January 2015 (the remaining campuses).

Looking at that summary, the largest number is those who received the least amount of money: the Ethiopian evangelists and Indian church planters. The costs of supporting these 100 evangelists and church planters was about 5% of the deceptively promoted Global Fund, and far less than one half of 1% of the budget of the church.

Missing from the cheerfully worded letter was what happened to the $3 million raised for the Jesus Festival, and answers to questions that I and others have asked about the amount of our donations that paid for massive severance packages for the three Executive Elders, and, who now owns all the intellectual property paid for by my and other donors’ money.

Also glaringly missing was any attempt to take responsibility for the deep systemic abuse that led Paul Tripp to resign his position as Board Director and refer to Mars Hill Church as the most abusive that he had ever worked with.

Also missing was any attempt to reach out to those who were abused, including any comment regarding the still-in-effect shunning order against Paul Petry. To their shame, the leaders of Mars Hill Church want to shut down all operations while still leaving the Paul Petry shunning orders in place, and not retracting their official defamatory statements about him and Bent Meyer.

We may never get answers to our questions regarding the finances, and we may never see justice done for Paul Petry, but seeing that my questions throughout 2014 have been so warmly recognized as being a part of building Christ’s kingdom, I shall keep asking that we see full transparency and a redress of the grievances of so many of us donors and members.

Mars Hill Thanks Rob

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ECFA President Dan Busby warns bloggers that making comments angers God.

Angry God

After Mars Hill Church members turned to the internet having exhausted all other attempts to dialog with Mars Hill Church leadership, and after Paul Tripp characterized Mars Hill Church as the “most abusive and coercive church” he had every worked with, and after numerous elders filed charges against Mark Driscoll and called for financial transparency (all in vain), guess what the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability was doing?

ECFA was warning that those who criticize the church will anger God.

According to Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), blogging about your local church prevents people from getting to see God.

There is a new wild card today. Until recently, churches did not have to contend with hate websites, scathing blog posts, nasty comments on reader forums, online petitions, or spoof social media accounts. All such attacks on churches and their leaders may be based on scanty facts and occur using code names to hide true identities.

Churches are often left without any positive way to respond to incorrect perceptions—especially in the blogosphere. Attackers generally say they want more transparency, but the more information a church provides, the more it is attacked. This is as close to an unresolvable grievance in God’s work as I can imagine.

Those who make derogatory comments about churches and their leaders apparently haven’t learned what it means to anger God. Want to anger God? Get in the way of people who want to see Him. Want to anger God?”  Link

So while former elders of the church call for financial transparency, ECFA pulls out the “God will be angry at you bloggers” card. To the last day of the existence of Mars Hill Church, ECFA continued to certify the church for its integrity, accountability and transparency while former members, elders, and donors were crying out for answers that were not forthcoming because of the church’s determination to avoid transparency – the very thing that ECFA assured donors they would get.

Dan Busby seems to suggest that all internet bloggers and commenters are haters filled with nasty comments. This even though his own comments were from someone’s blog. Busby gives no indication that bloggers and commenters may have good motives and have been perhaps calling for the type of accountability that ECFA is supposed to certify.

Some of the former members of Mars Hill Church have sought to have financial questions answered, but have been thwarted on every attempt. They have tried to meet in private, only to be rebuffed. They have appealed to ECFA via private letter and via petitions, only to be rebuffed. They have appealed using the internet, not only to be rebuffed, but now warned by Dan Busby that to do so will anger God. Watch out, you pesky bloggers, God will get you!

Sadly, the last resort is to appeal to the civil court. It appears that this is the only vehicle that is left hold the leaders of Mars Hill Church accountable – something that their ECFA certification assured its members and donors of.  Given the brazen lack of accountability that Mars Hill Church leaders have portrayed, one begins to wonder who ECFA is protecting, the donor, or the defiant leaders of Mars Hill Church?

It seems that Dan Busby has gone a long way toward holding bloggers accountable, putting a heavy burden on their backs while failing to hold churches that are not transparent and who abuse their members and donors accountable. Will ECFA slowly lose its credibility, accountability and transparency in the process?

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Are the Lead Pastors of Mars Hill Campuses Lions or Hyenas?

Lion surrounded by Spotted Hyenas

Being from Africa, I know a little about lions and hyenas.

Hyenas eat what the lions leave behind. The lions feed until they are satisfied, and the hyenas will wait patiently until the lions are done, and then they eat the leftovers.

The current lead pastors of Mars Hill Church campuses are all standing by quietly while waiting for the spoils from the upcoming dissolution of the church. Rumors abound that they have been told that they will not get any spoils if they do not fall into line. That means they must wait patiently and quietly like hyenas and not rock the boat.

The pastors that have spoken to me or others are posturing as being “very busy” tending to “their” flock. They are too busy to talk. They claim to not really know what is going on behind the scenes and act somewhat confused. These are men who are poised to become the leaders of their new “replant” in a few weeks time. They are about to transition from being quiet followers into pastoral leaders. They are currently ineffective leaders who are somehow going to transform into true shepherds that effectively care for their sheep.

Do these men not currently care for the many sheep that have been forced out of their campuses and hurt under their watch?

I personally know members who have left the Everett, West Seattle, Downtown and Bellevue campuses. I have also spoken to some of the pastors. They insist they are caring for “their” sheep. They act as if the widespread problems of abuse and coercion were mainly at the other campuses.

And so they currently demonstrate no regard for the members under their care who have left – many hurting deeply and with unanswered questions.

Why do these men not rise and demand closure for their members? Why are these so-called shepherds not rising up and insisting on full transparency from the remaining leaders of Mars Hill Church? Why are they not insisting that Paul Petry and others who have been unjustly shunned be fully restored and the public shunning order lifted immediately?

Is it because they think that by acting like hyenas for the rest of this month it will allow them to enjoy the spoils of the carcass of the dissolved Mars Hill Church? Do they think that after they have received their portion they can finally roar like lions in their “replanted” status?

I implore the lead pastors to stand up and protect the sheep that have been harmed. If the dissolution takes place under your watch and you remain silent, you will be participating in allowing wounds inflicted by the “most abusive and coercive” church, to use Paul Tripp’s words, to never be fully healed.

It is time to speak up.

lions and hyenas 2

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

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Mr. van Skaik…”TEAR DOWN THE BYLAWS”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” – My prayer for the elders at Mars Hill Church.

father forgive them

Mark Driscoll has resigned and nobody is happy.

Seven years ago there were twenty four elders who were responsible for ruling Mars Hill Church. As is now common knowledge, Mark Driscoll fired Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in a coercive move that enabled him to force the remaining elders to vote in new bylaws that consolidated power in Mark Driscoll.

By abdicating their biblical responsibility they laid the groundwork for all that has happened at Mars Hill Church.

Those 22 elders who voted to remove biblical accountability from Mark Driscoll created the environment that has led to the tragedy of the situation we now see at Mars Hill Church.

Despite all the emotion, the anger, the grief, and heartbreak of this journey, it is time to pray the prayer of Jesus and forgive these men for their incompetence and abandonment of their duties.

“Father, I forgive the elders of 2007, for they did not know what they were doing.”

I do forgive them, and sadly, I do believe that they had no idea what they were doing.

Then there is the current leadership.

18 months ago, Dave Kraft filed credible charges against Mark Driscoll. Michael van Skaik essentially ignored any reasonable due process in looking into the charges and a statement was issued that basically told the church that nothing he discovered disqualified Mark Driscoll from ministry.

At that time the church appeared to be strong. Had Mark Driscoll either resigned or been suspended at that time, the church would have been impacted, but it was in a good condition to weather the severe impact of Mark Driscoll’s departure. It would have been tough, but the church was in a strong position to survive it.

Instead, under the leadership of Michael van Skaik, James MacDonald, Paul Tripp, and Larry Osborne, the charges against Mark Driscoll have escalated.

Scandal after scandal emerged. Charges of plagiarism first trickled in, then showed up in multiple books. Stories of abuse and bullying began to be told. Lots of stories of abuse and bullying. Then the Result Source scandal rocked the church. Then the Global Fund scandal and the accompanying spin to explain the deceit. The sad story of the treatment of Pastor Ron Wheeler. Add to that the William Wallace II rants.

Than came Mark Driscoll lying to the camera saying he would reconcile, but said that those with whom he should reconcile “remained anonymous.”

21 former elders filed credible and serious charges against Mark Driscoll. Acts 29 threw him out of the organization he co-founded. And, nine current elders called for his suspension and filed new charges against him.

The church, under the watch of the Board of Advisors and Accountability, has been crippled by the abusive leadership of Mark Driscoll. Under the watchful eye of the BOAA, hundreds, then thousands of members leave. Elders are fired. The stories they tell are stunning in their combined voice against the abusive leadership of Mark Driscoll and the awful culture of Mars Hill Church.

Mars Hill Church falls to its knees as these men lead. Hundreds call for Mark Driscoll to be suspended and to be removed from being able to continue his abuse.

These men had opportunity after opportunity to remove Mark Driscoll. Yet they wait until the church is in shatters, and then they deliver the results of their investigation into the multiple charges against the pastor of the church that Paul Tripp said was the most abusive and coercive church he had ever worked with.

They declare that he is still fit for ministry.

As angry as I feel emotionally at these incompetent and pathetic men, I am choosing to forgive them.

“Father, I forgive the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability, for they do not know what they are doing.”

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

GlobaL Fund 3

Join this Change.org petition to ECFA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A smidgen of empathy for Sutton Turner.

smidgen 1

Try to understand things from Sutton Turner’s point of view.

He was hired from out of the blue after years of listening to Mark Driscoll online. Turner had a reasonable resume’ from a business standpoint, and is a young Christian. He is in a setting where “church planting” is the ultimate stated purpose of the organization. (If anyone actually makes a biblical case for that – I would be interested in seeing such.)

In that setting (I am sure many of you recall such a setting), there is such a tension between doing what God wired you to do versus doing what you are hearing from the pulpit. In this tension, Turner gets invited to use his executive skills which are very effective in a business in Texas. That business was a church.

So a bigger business, also a church, recruits and hires him (I would put money down that a head hunter “found” him) and a young Christian, skilled in business, gets that call.

In amazement, a young Christian man gets a call to hold a senior position in a church business called Mars Hill Church. What a call from God! (cough) It is not unlike the call that Paul Tripp received inviting him onto the board of one of the most exciting churches in America.

We have a glimpse of how Mark Driscoll treated Paul Tripp. Even when Tripp brought seven helpful suggestions to the Board, Mark Driscoll cut him off at two and refused to hear the rest. I have had that experience with Mark Driscoll. That is a story yet to be told.

While Sutton Turner has an enormous amount of responsibility for the climate he created, he did so at the bidding of a man who would turn on you in a heartbeat, then verbally beat the living daylights out of you – not to mention the behind-the scenes character assassination and slander.

So have a smidgen of empathy for Sutton Turner. A smidgen means a small amount. I actually have a smidgen of a smidgen, but still more than zero.

The real test is whether Turner signed an non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and slinks off somewhere like most of the other elders have. When Turner does talk, will he add his name to those that are accusing Mark Driscoll, like the twenty one elders have? Or will he have the courage of the Noble Nine? Or will he be like the ex-elders of character, Dave Kraft, Jesse Winkler, Lief Moi, Jeff Bettger, Kyle Firstenberg and Scott Mitchell who have added their public repentance to their words of accusation?

Will we see Turner’s confession at repentantpastor.com, or will he remain silent and be numbered among those who brought disgrace upon the church?

The jury is out.

Let us look forward to see what God can do with a smidgen of empathy. By His grace, it will be a mountain of empathy as we embrace a brother, deeply shamed by his actions, and offer him total forgiveness and in so doing, enable him to walk in newness of life without having to scrub Mars Hill from his resume while rebuilding his life in the shadows. Pray that Sutton Turner will have the courage to stand up, speak up, and have his place in history besides men like Paul Tripp, Lief Moi, Dustin Kensrue, and others – who after realizing their own errors, did the right thing and spoke up.

We will now see if Sutton Turner truly loves the gospel. My bet is that we will hear from him, and when we do he will need our love, forgiveness, and practical brotherly gospel-driven help.

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“I hired you to clean up this mess. They
all need to be fired!!!”

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

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.