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

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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.

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.

More lies from Mars Hill Church leadership.

The truth please

To say that someone has lied is using very strong language.  Since the deceitful and coercive way that Mark Driscoll and former executive elder, Jamie Munson, along with former elders Tim Belz and Scott Thomas, changed the bylaws in 2007,  it seems that being deceitful is something that occurs with routine frequency at Mars Hill Church.

Mars Hill Church leaders seem to lie whenever a scandal hits the news. In almost every case there is no repentance at first. Eventually, if the stories they tell do not stick, they finally offer a statement that shifts blame but states that the events that led to the scandal were not good but some outsiders fault, or that there are regrets that people are hurt and an assurance that God is at work in the hearts of the leaders.

Why keep pointing out the lies, you might ask? What axe is there to grind? The answer is simple. There are hurting people, including the still shunned Petry family, that are bleeding emotionally and spiritually because of the abuse they received at the hands of the Mars Hill Church culture. Injustice leaves a wound that simply does not heal until repentance and restitution occur.

I find no joy in digging up the discipline case that hit the news in early 2012.

The attached article in Christianity Today recaps the basic story (link). A young man named Andrew sinned against his fiancé, felt convicted and confessed. Confession was not good enough for his leaders and he was given hurdles he had to jump to “prove” his repentance – which was never good enough. Eventually, after being asked to document and share his entire sexual history with Mars Hill leaders, he had the sense to walk away from such treatment and leave the church.

He was then publicly shunned. I happen to know the young man, and his story is similar to many of us who have been shunned. The sudden isolation, the immediate lack of community, not knowing where you stand with all of your close friends, is humiliating, isolating and very painful. It is also not biblical if you have repented of your sins as this young man had.

You may ask, what has this to do with Mars Hill Church and lies?

Well, the headline of the Christianity Today article is the lie. “Mars Hill Says It Released Leaders Over Church Discipline Cases”.  The initial implication was that two leaders got fired over the handling of this particular case. Mars Hill Church stated that the men were fired before the story broke, again implying that they were engaged as soon as they saw the abuse and immediately fired the elders responsible.

I remember the story, and I actually felt deep sorrow for the abused young man. I also, however, felt sorry for the elders who were merely patterning themselves after what they were learning from Mark Driscoll’s abusive style. They themselves have now been ruthlessly fired rather than taught a better way.

Well, I have since met the young man, and met with three of the elders and community group leaders involved. It is they who were quick to tell me that Mars Hill simply lied in their statement regarding elders being fired. The truth is that nobody was fired as a result of the case that hit the news.

So why the lie from Mars Hill Church? My guess is that it is because it is what they thought needed to be said to settle down the raucous in the press.

The lie shifted blame to two elders that overstepped their authority and therefore were fired. So the fault was not the leaders of Mars Hill Church, it was these two rogue elders who were immediately terminated. Problem solved. (Side note: remember two elders getting fired in 2007?) (Link)

The sad part is not just that Mars Hill lied in that two elders were not fired as a result of this particular abusive episode, but that Mars Hill Church scrambled to fabricate a story to pacify the questioning and criticism, but did not scramble to make things right with the young man.

So Mars Hill Church actually recognized that two elders overstepped their authority (euphemism for “were abusive to a member”) and failed reach out to the abused members and put things right.

This is the pattern. The leaders lie to explain and deflect responsibility. Even when it is clear people are hurting, there is no addressing the hurt bodies that have been thrown through the wood-chipper and left under the bus. Here is Mark Driscoll delighting in the fact that, “by God’s grace, there will be a mountain of bodies under the bus” (link)

On final note… in this particular case, Mars Hill statements also progressed and changed. It seems that if the first “story” is not effective, Mars Hill will make further statements that are contradictory to the earlier statements. We have seen this lately with the three differing statements relating to the deception and misspending of church finds to manipulate book sales in trying to secure a Bestseller spot on the New York Times list.

We have also seen it in the various attempts to explain away the fund that Mars Hill leaders had been heavily soliciting donations for with clear implications that the fund was to be used for international outreach (with solicitations all set in an impoverished Ethiopian village). As it has become clear that a minuscule amount of the millions raised actually want to international outreach (maybe $300k), the story went from Global Fund including the U.S. plants and campuses, to the fund not actually existing and Global actually meaning global donors.

The retelling of the story is so obvious and non-believable to anyone paying attention, that I commented that it appears that they are being outwitted somehow (link).

It is my prayer that the level of lies and corruption within the leadership forces the remaining members and elders to bring the changes that are needed to ensure that Mars Hill Church recovers from its current implosion and troubles.

Who is outwitting Mars Hill Leadership?

devil made me do it 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why can they not be forthright and open?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our church was deceptively taken from us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Satan is defeated by the walking in the light.

Mars Hill Church disses both the 99% and the 1% and points to the fund that they claim does not exist!

We are the 99 percent 2

Despite belittling 99% of the petitioners, Mars Hill Church leadership responded hastily to the petition these people participated in over the past week (link).

In a post to members, Mars Hill Church leadership has made some things quite clear, and also added to the confusion that they have already admitted.

As we strive to communicate the vision of Mars Hill Church, there has been an outside petition asking questions of Mars Hill. However, of the nearly 400 signers, only four have ever given to Mars Hill Global. We sent letters this past week to over 6000 Global donors giving them the option to designate their funds solely for international work if they wish. We received many replies of encouragement, as well as a few people who asked to change their designation, and we have gladly made those changes.

Here is what is clear:

It is clear that this issue is a serious one.

Deceptively raising money for a non-existent Global Fund is a violation of ECFA standards, and, like using church funds to deceptively purchase a spot on the NYT bestseller list, is something that is clearly immoral. Despite belittling the petition, it certainly got the Executive Elders’ attention..

It is clear that Mars Hill Leaders can provide exact numbers when it serves their purpose. They spent time and effort to go through the list of petitioners to show that only 1% gave to Mars Hill Global.

It is clear that the leadership failed to respond to the request of the 4 donors to Mars Hill Global as well as the remaining 99% who were members, ex-members and friends. The petitioners asked what was actually spent on international mission. They were quick to spend time researching how many actually gave to the fund called Mars Hill Global, yet simply ignored the donors’ request. Four petitioners gave to Mars Hill Global… but I thought Mars Hill Global were the global donors out there. Ah….. so there is a fund – despite the latest explanation that there is no fund.

It is clear that the leadership appears to imply that the petition is of lesser value because “only” four of the petitioners have ever given to Mars Hill Global.  This disregards the 1% that actually gave to the fund, and disregards the 99% that were members, ex-members and friends, many, if not most, of whom gave to the general fund.

It is clear based upon this communication that the Global Fund did exist recently and that donors to the fund are seen as such. This flies in the face of the recent spin from Sutton Turner that Mars Hill Global is not a fund but is in fact global donors to the General Fund. If Mars Hill Global is simply global donors giving to the general fund, and if that includes everyone, including Mars Hill members (as Turner stated), then it seems that they would not say that four of the petitioners gave to Mars Hill Global. Based upon the latest explanation from Turner, the four would be global donors to the general fund, as he claims that since 2009 the Global Fund has not existed. So it appears that Mars Hill Global does exist as there is data available to identify four donors to the fund who made up 1% of the petitioners asking Mars Hill to make clear how much Global Fund money was actually spent on international outreach.

It is clear that the 99%, made up of members, former members and friends did not give to Mars Hill Global – a fund that supposedly does not exist. Obviously the fund does exist as four of the petitioners were identified as having given to it.

It is clear that in 2010 Mars Hill Global was listed as a restricted fund in footnote 5 of the abridged version of the Annual Financial Statements.

 

Report Showing Global Fund restricted in 2010

It is clear in this video that the fund exists (link).

It is clear that in 2014 almost all promotions for giving “to” Mars Hill Global was set in an African setting, deceptively implying that the fund was intended to go toward international church planting (link).

It is clear that a preponderance of the money that was raised in that fund went to U.S. Mars Hill church plants and not to Ethiopia or India as implied.

It is clear that Mars Hill leadership does not want to tell donors how much of the Global Fund money was spent on Ethiopia and India. Are they embarrassed about how little that amount was, perhaps?

Was it more than the $210,000 spent on deceptively buying a spot on the NYT Bestseller list?

Was it less that the annual salaries of any one of the Executive Elders?

Now that it is clear that there is a fund in to which at least 6000 donors gave, four of which petitioned Mars Hill Church, will the leadership now simply respect the 1% that donated to the fund and answer their question?

We are the 99 percent 4

MHC Pastors to hurting members – “quit social media and agree to be defrauded and abused.”

Agree to your suffering - says MHC

If you have been abused by Mars Hill Church leadership, one of the key pastors is suggesting that it is biblical to agree to be “defrauded” than to take public action to prevent such abuse.

Pastor David Fairchild, lead pastor of Mars Hill Church’s west Seattle campus, uses Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 6 about Christians settling disputes through secular lawsuits as the basis for his argument that “Paul would rather have us suffer wrong and be defrauded than air our grievances before a technological tribunal. I’m sure this teaching was most difficult to receive by those who felt they were wronged.” (From Fairchild’s facebook page)

So even though your life may in turmoil as a result of being abused by the leadership, one of the lead pastors of the abusive church is saying that although it is tough to accept, it is better to suffer this wrong than to air the grievance on social media (of course, he airs his view about this on social media!)

In a similar way, churches will thwart and hide sexual abuse by arguing that it should be handled in a quiet manner more akin to Matthew 18 versus taking the matter to law enforcement. Some churches (Mars Hill Church included at times) have encouraged abused wives to stay in the marriage despite the abuse – claiming that such is the bible’s teaching on the matter.

Pastor Brad House, after Paul Petry had been ruthlessly fired, unfairly tried, and badly mistreated (as has been clearly documented in many places), argued that it was Petry’s duty to respond in a godly way and in so doing “pour coals on our heads” and that “mistreatment” by himself and the other elders was no justification for Petry acting in a defensive way (link).

So both pastors David Fairchild and Brad House are arguing that people who have suffered abuse at the hands of the leadership of Mars Hill Church, where they both have or had a key role, should act in such a way as to pour coals on “our” heads. They should simply agree to the abuse.

I cannot imagine that the Apostle Paul was teaching that an abusive pastor should reach out to the members of his own church and suggest that to defend oneself from the abuse is ungodly and that the abused member should “pour coals on the abusive pastor’s head” by being quiet and kind.

What a distortion of the teaching.

Romans 12: 19 & 20: Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD”

Those of us who are arguing that Mars Hill Church leadership is corrupt, dishonest, deceptive and abusive do not view Mars Hill Church or its leaders as enemies. We view them as sinful brothers who have refused to allow anything resembling a Matthew 18 form of dealing with sin and dispute to occur.

Were Brad House and David Fairchild, in suggesting verses referring to lawsuits and enemies, representing the position of the Mars Hill Church leadership?

We prefer a different verse.

Proverbs  27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”

From a personal point of view, if I were the only member thrown under the bus, I would consider simply being defrauded and seek specific opportunities to be kind to my abusers, and in so doing pour coals on their heads. But what kind of man would I be to stand by and watch others get systematically abused?

I am saddened that pastors like David Fairchild and Brad House are willing to allow the abuse to go on and then tell the abused member to be defrauded and act in a way that pours coal on their own heads.

Their perspective is callous and abusive. It protects the abusers and not the sheep that these pastors are supposed to care for and protect.

We promise to tell the truth, some of the truth, but not the whole truth…

Ten Commandment--9

Mars Hill Church leadership has admitted to confusing donors about the Global Fund and Mars Hill Global.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/07/01/major-mars-hill-global-admission-and-offer-to-direct-donations-to-international-missions/

After admitting fault in confusing donors on Mars Hill Global, the leadership proceeded to tell some of the truth, but clearly avoided telling donors what they wanted to know.

Donors were told that $22.48 million was spent on church planting in the US, India and Ethiopia. Donors are also told that over $10 million was donated by the Mars Hill Global family.

Donors are not told how much of the over $10 million that Mars Hill received through the deceptively marketed “fund” actually was spent on Ethiopia and India.

Also, the current story is that the global “fund”, which is now called Mars Hill Global, is and always was simply the global donors. Yet clearly local Mars Hill members have been pitched to give over and above their tithe to the fund. So it appears that the fund did exist, and that it was a specific fund as this video clearly points out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4EFX3-RXyg

So after saying that Mars Hill Global is all the people who are throughout the world listening in and supporting the church, and that their money, given to the Global Fund, was simply placed into the general fund of the church, Mars Hill leaders are now including the members of Mars Hill Church in Mars Hill Global.

Now everyone, including local church members, are and have always been a part of Mars Hill Global. So the story has changed once more. The Global Fund, a designated fund prior to Sutton Turner’s arrival at Mars Hill Church, morphed from meaning a fund to meaning the global Mars Hill community of podcasters and supporters out there, and has now morphed again to include members as well.

Everyone is now Mars Hill Global.

Clearly the confusion that the leadership of Mars Hill Church refers to is the blatant implication that monies received through the Global Fund were to be used for international purposes as I pointed out in my last post. https://musingsfromunderthebus.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/while-ecfa-looks-away-mars-hills-deceptively-marketed-global-fund-is-certainly-getting-the-attention-of-everyone-else/

If in fact the money has always gone into the general fund of the church (even though designated by the auditors as restricted in earlier years), then why not ask donors to merely help support the church? The confusion seems to have been borne out of deception.

But more troubling, is that the leadership simply will not tell donors how much money was spent in Ethiopia and India. It would be an easy question to answer from a pure accounting point of view. But I suspect that it is a very hard question to answer because the numbers would show the level of exploitive marketing in attracting donors to give.

I say this because Mars Hill leaders say the following:

In 2009-11 over 80% of funds given by the Mars Hill global family went to Acts 29 church planting and funds were consistently spent in India for church planting in each of those years. In 2012- 2014 expenditures for church planting efforts in India and Ethiopia were increased with the preponderance of expenses related to church plants and replants in the U.S. [emphasis added]

Donors are told that the preponderance of the money received via the Global Fund was spent on plants and replants in the U.S. Preponderance could mean 70% or 80%. So even though 95% of the solicitations to give appear to be pitching an Ethiopian setting, the preponderance of the money was spent in the U.S.

Of course, other ex-members or employees might have some idea of the actual percentage spent in Ethiopia and India, but let’s examine what the leadership says.

They tell donors that funds going to India and Ethiopia have been consistent over the years, with an increase in 2012 to 2014.

Well, what I learned as a member of Mars Hill while travelling with certain Acts 29 leaders in Africa, was that the Indian pastors were given a monthly stipend to assist them. If my memory serves me correctly, it was about $75 per month per pastor.

So if Mars Hill is being consistent, which they claim, then prior to 2012 they supported no more than 33 Indian pastors at a cost of about $2,475 per month. In 2012, Sutton Turner attracted Mars Hill to support Ethiopian pastors, and 40 evangelists are being supported. To be consistent, they would also get a monthly stipend. So perhaps from 2012 t0 2014 the total Indian and Ethiopian ministers being supported totaled 73, which at $100 per month amounts to $7,300 per month.

Under this consistency, the total amount spent from 2009 to 2014 would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $350,000.  This amounts 0.35% of $10 million.

It is no wonder it is so hard for the truth to be told. Given the “confusing” but otherwise blatant implication that donors are giving to the poor, needy Africans in Ethiopia, it would be a shocking truth to discover that after the preponderance of money spent locally buying U.S. buildings and paying U.S. salaries, the remainder that went to India and Ethiopia was less than 1%.

Some donors might be encouraged that the amount that was consistently given probably exceeded the $210,000 spent on the similarly deceptive manipulation of the NYT bestseller listing. Of course, it pales when compared to the salaries of the Executive Elders that were paid out of the same fund into which Global donors gifts were directed….

So sorry for the confusion, folks.

Persecuting truth-seekers…Persecuting Jesus. (The conversion of Saul in Acts 9)

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“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest…” (Acts 9:1)

Saul was on a mission. He passionately believed in church as he knew it: a highly organized system, very biblically based, with a strong focus on the future coming of a messiah. You could say that Saul’s church pointed to the messiah.

But when Jesus showed up on the scene, he shook that highly organized system to its core. He said things that were earth-shattering. He challenged the church leaders about almost everything. He repeatedly told them that they had things all wrong. They had added tradition upon tradition, law upon law, program upon program – completely losing sight of what God had actually said. And on top of that, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah.

The church pointed to the messiah, but when the Messiah came and dwelt among them, they didn’t recognize him. In fact, they despised him. Saw him as an enemy. A terrible threat.

The church leaders hated how right Jesus was all the time. Over and over they were left speechless and fuming, unable to respond to the charges he brought against them without losing face in front of the crowds. And they were quickly losing credibility. They grew more and more angry with Jesus, to the point of plotting to kill him. And they succeeded.

But Jesus had followers. The truth that he had shared grew and spread, and more and more people came to see that he was the Messiah that the prophets had foretold long ago. He was the one Israel was waiting for. More and more of the flock began to hear the voice of the true shepherd. And now they were living different lives. No longer were they bringing sacrifices to the priests. No longer were they coming to the synagogue to hear the Rabbis preach. They were teaching that Jesus fulfilled the law, and that the Temple would end up being destroyed. And they were holding their own meetings! And they called one another “brother” and “sister” – no one was called Rabbi or Teacher, not even the leaders. It was radical!

It was trouble!

The church leaders – the wolves – were of course nervous and angry. They thought killing Jesus would solve everything. But now the problem was growing and multiplying. So they tried to kill the apostles, but they somehow always managed to slip out of their grip. Finally they killed Stephen, a disciple of Jesus.

After they killed Stephen, the wolves started persecuting all the believers. The people scattered. They ran for their lives. But the persecution was only fuel for the fire, because the scattered ones took the truth wherever they went. They spread the word. They talked. Maybe they wrote. And more and more people came to faith in Jesus. More and more people walked away from life – and church – as they knew it. They too started doing things differently.

The threat to the church was growing.

Saul oversaw the stoning of Stephen. It was part of his mission. Threats to the church must be eliminated. And eliminating threats was Saul’s forte. He was bloodthirsty. And here he is breathing out murderous threats against those troublemaking followers of Jesus.

And he went to the high priest. The high priest was a man who was supposed to be deeply trustworthy. He was to handle the most sacred of tasks: seeking forgiveness for all of Israel’s sins, keeping peace between God and Israel. And it is this man that Saul seeks out. With murder in his heart and on his lips he seeks an alliance with the very man who is supposed to cleanse Israel of all sin.

“..and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:2)

Murderous Saul asks the high priest of Israel to give him written permission to round up the followers of Jesus. The high priest, after all, pointed the way to God. He had to eliminate these people who were rocking the boat, who were spreading this heresy that Jesus himself was the Way. How can a person be the way to God? No! The way to God was through systems, structure, law, rituals, programs. Not a person.

Besides, the high priest knew that the messiah was supposed to be a glorious king. Not this humble carpenter with calloused hands and a face that didn’t stand out in a crowd. No, the Son of Man would sparkle. He’d be a rock star. He’d be rich and powerful. He’d have big money and great power at his disposal, and he’d use his might to fix all of Israel’s problems. He’d rally the troops, declare a holy war, and he’d win. He’d make Israel mighty and powerful!

The real messiah wouldn’t live such a humble life as Jesus lived, and then die young. This the high priest knew for sure. This Jesus guy was a fraud. A false prophet. And his followers were continuing to spread his false teachings. They had to be stopped. Israel had to be protected from going off track. The flock had to be protected from going astray following this dead guy who clearly was not the messiah.

And these followers of Jesus who claimed that he had risen from the dead – that everything he had said was true – they were pure trouble. They had to be eliminated.  Wiped out. The high priest was sure of it.

“As he [Saul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?'” (Acts 9:3-4)

Saul believed he was fighting for God. He thought he was persecuting those who were trying to lead the church astray. He thought God would be pleased with him. He thought he was on mission. So imagine his surprise when the voice from heaven says, “Why do you persecute me?”

When you attack truth-tellers and truth-seekers, you attack the one who said, “The truth shall set you free.”

When you shun people for asking reasonable questions about things that the Body of Christ has a right to know, you are shunning Jesus.

When you fire someone for proposing that the church is heading in an unbiblical direction, you are firing Jesus.

When you threaten to destroy someone just because he pleads with church leaders to treat one another with impartiality and fairness, you threaten to destroy Jesus.

And Jesus takes it very personally.

The church is the bride of Christ. All of us who follow him are his bride. We are one Body. And we are one with him. And when any of us is treated unjustly, Jesus responds like a protective husband. It doesn’t matter who is doing the attacking – it can be the high priest of Israel himself!

So here Jesus confronts Saul on the road to Damascus. And Saul is confused about whose voice is coming out of the cloud. He thought he was fighting for God, killing off threats to the church, but this voice from the cloud sounded an awful lot like what you would expect God to sound like.

“‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.

“‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'” (Acts 9:5-6)

Jesus!? But…he was supposed to be dead! You mean those truth-telling troublemakers were right? What! Jesus is alive? Saul’s mind must have been racing.

He must have been shaken to the core. So much of what he thought was right and true…wasn’t.

“The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” (Acts 9:7-9)

Saul needed some time to grasp what was going on. Jesus had confronted him with the truth, and Saul was floored. Maybe his mind was racing with possible ways to deny what he had just experienced, to erase what had just happened. But the blindness! It was undeniable proof that Saul’s mission was terribly off track.

Saul was stuck. Like an animal caught in a trap, just laying there panting.

“In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’

“‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered.

“The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.'” (Acts 9:10-12)

Saul, like any church leader, was a man of prayer. He had likely prayed countless prayers in his lifetime. And here he is calling out to God for answers, for help. And God answered him with a vision of a certain man. A man who would help him to see clearly again. And God tells Ananias: it’s you who will open Saul’s eyes.

“‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, ‘I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.'” (Acts 9:13-14)

Ananias is scared. He’s heard reports about Saul’s violence and the abuse he’s put so many Christians through. And he knows that Saul is backed by the authority of the highest spiritual leaders in Israel. This is not someone that Ananias wants to encounter. And it’s certainly not someone that he wants to help.

“But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.'” (Acts 9:15-16)

But God assures Ananias that he has chosen Saul to preach the gospel to many people. He would be God’s tool to spread the news of Jesus – that he is the Messiah, that he died and rose from the dead, that he is Kind of kings, and he will change the world. All the broken ways of men – all the corrupted systems, the tainted priesthoods, the oppressive kingdoms – will fade away. And in its place will be the kingdom of heaven. And it’s here now! It’s in the heart of every true believer! It’s in our midst when we fellowship in spirit and in truth!

And Saul would suffer. Jesus offers forgiveness and an amazing fresh start; a truly new life. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to suffer, especially if we have sinned against God and his true followers like Saul did.

There is no cheap grace with God. You really want to repent? Great! But you still need to face the real-world fruit of your sin. And you may need to go through a great deal of suffering as you work to undo the damage you’ve done.

Saul would go on to become an incredible stone in the foundation of Christianity. He would author most of the New Testament. But despite being an amazing teacher, church planter, and a highly gifted writer, God did not give Saul a large salary, a beachfront house and a pampered life with lots of bling. No! Despite his great talent, God had in mind that Saul would suffer greatly, that he would work a blue collar job to pay his own way, and that his ministry would not last very long.

“Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.” (Acts 9:17-19)

Saul’s eyes were opened. He could see again, physically. And he was forever changed. He would see for the first time spiritually. He would repent. And he would embrace God’s plan for him with his whole heart – suffering and all. And the new life he would lead, the new ministry he would devote himself to, would leave an incredible legacy for us all.

A legacy worth dying for.

Shaun Smith