Thank you Wartburg Watch! You nailed it!

It takes a village 1

Wartburg Watch is spot on!

If you have an interest in seeing the damaging “shepherding” movement within the neo-Reformed groups like Acts 29 get the whipping it deserves, you must read this excellent piece: Lessons Learned From The Village Church and Matt Chandler on Membership, Abuse and Repentance – by Wartburg Watch.

Rather than write a blog saying essentially the same thing, let me highlight a few of the many excellent observations and lessons pointed out by Dee Parsons.

  • The threat of a lawsuit should not interfere with an apology; in fact, it could stop a lawsuit in its tracks. If I were the leadership of Mars Hill Church I would be taking copious notes! (link…. at 32 second mark)
  • Matt Chandler’s apology meant the world to victims of church abuse. He did not apologize to anonymous victims. He apologized specifically. Take note, Mars Hill leadership.
  • Victims should not have to seek out media and lawyers to be heard. To this day, despite trying since early 2013, senior Mars Hill leaders have refused to speak to me and many other victims, members and donors. Arrogant leaders staunchly refuse to engage their victims, then they criticize them when they eventually turn to media and lawyers.
  • Matt Chandler provides a template for other pastors and churches to follow. Perhaps that fact that Matt Chandler is being honored for reflecting a repentant heart, as is, to a lesser degree, Sutton Turner, the only talking ex-Executive Elder or member of the Mars Hill Board, will encourage other leaders to follow Matt Chandler’s example.
  • A failure for the plurality of elders concept. As one who has always respected the “plurality of elders” form of church governance, I am equally convinced that it should be the sheep that pick the elders and affirm them with regularity, and not the elders themselves. Self-appointed (often young) so-called “elders” who then appoint the rest of the elder team ultimately view the sheep as irrelevant. Eventually the sheep speak with their pocket books and feet.
  • Reports of Acts 29 churches promoting harsh discipline. As my part in the Mars Hill Church abuse story became more visible, I have had members of Acts 29 churches across the country send in stories of abuse. It is sad, and there is no doubt that there needs to be a frank discussion and understanding of the reality that Mark Driscoll’s form of leadership is deeply ingrained within the thinking of many Acts 29 churches. It is critical for the sake of avoiding abuse as well as the sake of the gospel that Acts 29 discuss this openly and honestly. The younger the “assessed” church planter, the deeper I would look. 1 Timothy 5:22 should not be disregarded because a talented youngster passed a Myers-Briggs test.
  • Since when is it biblical to not do the right thing because an attorney says a lawsuit is possible? This is the mother of all questions of these so-called Pastors who refuse to the right thing. Perhaps this has been the biggest obstacle that led to Mars Hill Church leadership allowing the church to collapse rather than to do the right thing. It is not only sad, but it is a reflection of the character of the players. Simply, we are being told that repentance cannot take place because lawyers are being obeyed rather than the Word of God.

Thank you Wartburg Watch. Thank you for caring for those that you do not know. Thank you for listening to me in 2012 and caring. I remember sitting with Dee eating Cheetos outside Cracker Barrel in rural North Carolina and being amazed to see you tear up as a total stranger told you of what his family went through at the hands of Mark Driscoll and his leadership. You have acted like true shepherds. Thank you.

You have been giants in drawing attention to the abuse that is rampant within so many neo-Reformed churches. I had to think of you and chuckle when I saw this cartoon.

it takes a village 2

Giving Mark Driscoll a platform props up his abuse.

DRISCOLL Cartoon 6-5-2015

Pastors who give Mark Driscoll a platform are adding to the abuse of those of us who were abusively treated by Mars Hill Church.

Dan Kellogg, from Gold Creek Community Church, said that he had done his homework on Driscoll before he invited him to speak at his church recently. I am not sure what homework he did, but Dan Kellogg contacted none of the abused ex-members or pastors. Driscoll spoke of how he is learning to forgive those who hurt him. He did not speak of the hundreds of families hurt by his abuse.

Robert Morris, who gave Driscoll his first public appearance where Driscoll skillfully made the audience feel sorry for him, said that he knows the “behind the scenes story“, yet failed to speak to any of his accusers or those shunned by Driscoll’s abusive church.

Ray Johnston, of Bayside Church, gave Driscoll a platform where he was able to again repeat the lie that he moved from one house to another because of fear – the second to the last move being simply across the street from his previous home.

Now we see Driscoll about to be hosted by John and Debbie Lindell from James River Church. The church was informed that Mark Driscoll would be preaching this Sunday as if the collapse of the most abusive church in recent history had not occurred.

Brian Houston of Hillsong also is giving Mark Driscoll a platform. He plans to interview both Mark and Grace Driscoll to “learn from their mistakes.” Never mind that Driscoll has yet to confess his sins to hundreds of members that he abused, including Paul Petry and Bent Meyer.

Sadly, these men are simply adding to the abuse that so many Mars Hill members endured. I am sure they mean well. But every time Mark Driscoll is given a platform while he is still non-repentant and not reconciled, these church leaders are acting without any regard to the reality that Mark Driscoll resigned without repentance and left a trail of brokenness in his path. Mark Driscoll boasted that before he was done, he would leave a “mountain” of dead bodies behind his Mars Hill bus. He made good on that boast and has never repented or shown the least bit of contrition or remorse – at least not to those who were ruthlessly dealt with by him.

Most of us ex-members would delight to see true repentance from Mark Driscoll. This would surely begin by joining the vast majority of the elders who have repented of their ruthless treatment of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in 2007. They have repented from subjecting Paul Petry and his family to an unfair trial and public shunning. That shunning was never lifted, and none of the leaders of the Mars Hill Church-spawned church “plants” have repudiated such horrendous treatment of the beloved former elders.

I implore pastors who are keen to see Mark Driscoll return to the ministry. Until he deals with his abusive past, you are simply propping up an abusive man, and in so doing you add to the abuse.

The Gospel is about reconciliation. It ought to be that only after Mark Driscoll has genuinely reconciled with those that he has abused, that pastors who claim to love the Gospel begin to allow him a voice.

Otherwise those that give him a voice are pretending that there are no bodies under the Mars Hill bus and risk harming already bruised and shattered people.

Sermons from Nehemiah, and one worth listening to!

Prosper

In the last sermon at Mars Hill Church–West Seattle, which has now been renamed “Trinity West Seattle” and is off to a new start, Pastor David Fairchild preached from the book of Nehemiah.

The sermon is worth listening to.

Fairchild

It was seven years ago that Mark Driscoll preached from the book of Nehemiah. When he began the series of sermons in 2007, the church was governed by a plurality of elders. On September 30, 2007, Driscoll preached the notorious “I break their noses” sermon, then walked off the podium and within minutes fired Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. Within a month, the remaining 22 elders gave up their fiduciary duties as overseers and voted in bylaws that neutered themselves.

Break Their Noses

It was at that time that the walls began to crumble.

The clear contrast between Fairchild’s sermon this last Sunday and Driscoll’s sermon seven years ago, was that unlike Driscoll, who presented himself as Nehemiah, Fairchild does not weave his own image into the story, except for seeking out ways that he and his fellow elders could see their own sin of complicity, and having done so, repent. He promised his members more of this. This is very encouraging.

There are parallels in the story that might be of note.

  • Complicity means that it was not the exiles that brought the walls down, but the very elders themselves. As readers have noted in my writings (to some of their frustrations) I hold the elders responsible for the abusive side of Mars Hill Church more than I hold Mark Driscoll responsible. The elders willingly gave him what he wanted.
  • It was the exiles that, in coming back to Jerusalem, brought hope and effective rebuilding back to Jerusalem. Could it be that there are many “Jeremiahs” that God will use to rebuild the broken church, and they have last names like Petry, Meyer, Krombein, Smidt, Kraft, or Bettger, to suggest just a few?
  • The city that needed rebuilding housed a few remaining and broken Israelites. The vast majority had been scattered as a result of the exile. When God warned Israel of the coming destruction he called Nebuchadnezzar his “servant.” It was God’s plan to scatter Israel, and then rebuild Jerusalem with the hands of both exiled Jews as well as those that never left Jerusalem. What rejoicing there will be when the 11 churches that represent the broken walls of Mars Hill Church, will welcome with joyful arms those who have been shunned, and those who have been calling for the abuse – which crumbled the walls in the first place – to be addressed.

So, dear reader, pray for the rebuilding of Trinity West Seattle, and for the leaders of the other 10 churches that now exist. Pray that they call for and welcome the exiles that could help them rebuild.

So help us God.

Psalm 51 and the recent confessions of Mars Hill Elders.

a broken man 2

Since everything has come crashing down, we are and will continue to see repentance coming from men who should have confessed and repented of their sin and failure of leadership at Mars Hill Church years ago. The reactions to these confessions and acts of repentance range from anger, skepticism and disappointment, to accolade and great rejoicing.

This brings us to Psalm 51.

This psalm is by far the most recognized statement of repentance in history. It is an amazing example of how to deal with sin.

It would do us good to review the raw facts leading up to King David’s repentance.

  • David becomes the kind of leader that no longer goes into the battle with his men. He is the King, and he delegates his leadership to others.
  • He sees Bathsheba bathing, and uses his position as King to violate her. She was a young woman, he was the king.
  • She becomes pregnant, and he calls for Uriah, her husband, to return from the battlefield so that he can sleep with Uriah’s wife and keep the adultery hidden.
  • When Uriah acts like a true soldier, and refuses to leave his men, David plotted and carried out his murder.
  • David marries Bathsheba, and prepares for the birth of a son.

David’s sin was calculated and tactical. He was not coerced or surrounded by peer pressure. He was not a young man, but a mature man who loved God and desired and experienced a profound walk with God.

Yet his repentance did not come until Nathan risked his life by confronting the King and calling for his repentance.

Psalm 51 was the result.

I am sure that Psalm 51 was no comfort to the family of Uriah the Hittite. I am sure they struggled with the wording. “It was not specific enough… David did not take enough personal responsibility… He failed to name his sins clearly… he seems to blame others…”

But his cry was sincere and pleasing to God.

So as I read recent confessions from the elders, I accept the words as from men who have been convicted by the crushing circumstances around them, and I will accept them at face value.

As the reality of David’s sin came into view, he was crushed with the consequence of his sin. The depth of the tragedy of the loss of Uriah, a good man. The crushing loss of his son. I am sure the pain of that never left King David. The negative consequences of his sin are legion.

But his confession was real.

I am sure David had to make matters right and repent and offer restitution to the family of Uriah. Psalm 51 was not his wording to that grieving family, nor was this how he faced his own family. So I trust we will see more from the Mars Hill elders as well. Having spoken to them personally, I am sure of such coming over the days ahead.

But I do accept their confessions, past and present, and I encouraged all to do so. They are being expressed as the reality of their sin against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, and the tragic consequences of the sin of those 22 elders are beginning to be seen and understood.

I will also pray for these men, and pledge to help them in their walk of repentance. There is newness of life in true repentance and I long for such in the lives of every repentant man.

So help us God.

An open letter to Mark Driscoll re: understanding repentance – from Gus

he-is-sorry

Dear Mark Driscoll,

You don’t seem to understand repentance.

1. Repentance is not “I’m sorry that some of the things I said led people to attack me and that now I have to eat crow.” Repentance is being sorry for your actions, not for those actions’ consequences that now come back to bite you.

2. Repentance is also specific: you don’t repent of “some of the things that I may have said or done”. If you maligned someone in a public setting (like Meyer and Petry), it could mean using the same setting and declaring: “In 2007, I said such and such. I now understand this was wrong. I retract those words and want to ask the people concerned for forgiveness. Also, we excommunicated this person and shunned that family. That was wrong.” It would also mean asking the victims for forgiveness – which they would be free to grant or not – by acknowledging the wrongness of your actions and their hurt in direct communication.

3. Forgiveness can only be asked for, but never demanded. It’s the essence of forgiveness that it can only be voluntary, not coerced. The victims don’t HAVE to forgive when you ask them for forgiveness, even if I am sure most would forgive if they had the impression that repentance was genuine.

4. You can never ask all the people you hurt for forgiveness – there are just too many of them, many have never spoken up in public, and in some cases maybe did not even realise at the time just how badly you were treating someone. But you can at least try to reach the people hurt the worst and most publicly in person. That would still be quite a number.

5. Repentance is hard work – six weeks just will not be enough time..

6. It’s also not about “vengeance”, about your enemies forcing you to step down. But if you are really sorry for what you DID, and not only for the fact that your actions have come back to haunt you, you may come to the conclusion that in the light of your past behaviour and actions stepping down remains the only alternative to continuing a highly damaged “career” and – let’s for now call it that – “ministry”.

7. In all of the present situation, I feel really sorry for your family, your wife and his kids. It’s no fun for kids to discover that their parent is not only not perfect, but a lot less than very good.

8. I feel a lot less sorry for you than for your family. As the saying goes, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!””, and while you were under the illusion that you were the chef in that kitchen, you stoked the fire and turned up the heat quite a lot.

9. You should really seek professional – not nouthetic – help for your anger issues

(Thanks for Gus who posted this on Wartburg Watch  Link )

Four offended men who have not heard from Mark Driscoll.

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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”.

What Mark Driscoll actually said on Sunday

Deaf translation

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

Translating Mark Driscoll

Translating Mark Driscoll

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This is my translation of some parts of the announcement:

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Godly sorrow leads to repentance

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by Wendy Alsup   (link)

Bonhoeffer writes in his Cost of Discipleship:

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

This week, Pastor Mark Driscoll published on the Mars Hill Church website a public 30 minute video on what he calls a “season of learning” in his life during which he is sorrowful and lamenting. Since he made this video public beyond his own church membership and many people are discussing it, even affirming it, I feel a strong need to address it. Because what Pastor Mark does in this video is one of the clearest examples I’ve ever seen of what the Apostle Paul calls “worldly sorrow.”

For godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly sorrow produces death. — 2 Corinthians 7:10

When it comes to our personal responses to our own sin, these are the only two options. When faced with confrontation or other natural consequences of your sin, you can mourn your sin in a way that leads you to confess to God, change your direction, and repair with those you have hurt. And that response allows you to get up and go forward without regret. I’ve never once in my life met someone who REGRETTED bringing their sin into the light, confessing it honestly, and repairing with those they had wronged. Godly sorrow producing repentance is beautiful.

The second option when faced with painful consequences of your sin is worldly sorrow, grief and lament in response to the consequences of one’s sin that does not understand and appropriate Christ’s payment for it. Pastor Mark is not the first person who can (over)use Jesus’ name in proper context who does not appropriate how the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection speaks into the consequences of sin he is now facing at Mars Hill. Such people often want forgiveness. They want grace extended to them. And, in Christ, there is no condemnation according to Romans 8:1! Yet, the same Paul who wrote Romans 8:1 instructs us in Ephesians 5 to bring our sin into the light, because the light of Christ is a disinfectant. Expose the sin. Own the sin. Not to bring shame and condemnation but to bring restoration and healing! Any hope of “forgiveness” without clear, specific repentance is exactly what Bonhoeffer labels cheap grace. It’s continuing in sin that grace may abound, to which Paul says, “God forbid!”

The indication for any one of us of godly verses worldly sorrow is summed up in one word – repentance. True repentance always starts with a specific naming of your sin, and it always includes a change in your ways. I love the definition of the Greek word for repent according to Strong – “to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.” Godly sorrow that produces repentance will include statements along these lines – “I sinned against God and (name redacted). I have asked their forgiveness and am seeking to repair with them in the ways that I can. I am taking these steps to guard myself from doing the same in the future.” It always comes with a hearty desire to amend your ways with an abhorrence for how you sinned against God and others in the past.

I am writing this post because it is of utmost importance that people (believing and unbelieving) hearing Jesus’ name understand the difference in worldly and godly sorrow. I am very grieved that Mars Hill Church uses the name of Jesus over and over in their materials (even linking to this latest video with the url jesus.to), yet the lead pastor models a worldly sorrow without repentance that Paul says leads to death. It is irresponsible (for those of us who know these things from first hand experience and are in a position to address them) to turn away as Jesus’ name is used in empty, cheap ways. Thankfully, in this area, many of God’s children are rising up to confront these things privately as well as publicly. This is good for the Church.

Long before Pastor Mark released this week’s video, I wrote about godly versus worldly sorrow in The Gospel-Centered Woman. I felt that many women, myself included, often linger in this sorrowful place over our sin without understanding how repentance in the shadow of the cross heals and repairs. I’ll close with these thoughts from the book.

Worldly sorrow is characterized by feelings of shame, pain, or embarrassment that you got caught in sin. Along with that shame, you may feel hopelessness over ever being cleansed from your sin or your ability to repair the relationship with the person you sinned against. Such worldly sorrow may be relieved by someone else doing something for you or you doing something for yourself. Maybe you seek out someone to affirm you or distract you. You may try to manipulate how others think of you and look to them to make you feel better about yourself. If one relationship is broken, you may manipulate other relationships to replace the one you harmed.

In contrast, godly sorrow is sorrow that directs you to Christ. You do not need someone else to do something for you. You do not need to do something for yourself. Instead, you fall flat on your face before God alone, for godly sorrow points you directly to Him. Godly sorrow is relieved by repentance and faith in what Christ has already done for you. Then, resting in what God has done for you, you can lay down your attempts to justify yourself to others. You can simply ask their forgiveness and repair with those you have hurt.

Many of us spend years of our lives mistaking worldly sorrow on a wide range of sin issues for authentic repentance and then wonder why we never change or why our relationships never heal. Feeling bad about what you have done is not the same as a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. God calls us to recognize our wrongdoing and need for forgiveness and then turn to God to forgive and correct it. We do not have to live in a perpetual state of regret and shame. Christ bore our shame and condemnation on the cross. His sacrifice for us equips us to face our sin head-on without fear that it will forever define us.