Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wenatchee The Hatchet was not at the protest ... and a few thoughts about the blogging reactions to William Wallace II


and has been considering for a while now writing about why Wenatchee didn't show up.  The first simple reason is there were better things to do on a Sunday than head out to Bellevue where the protest was. Wenatchee The Hatchet went to church. 

Now for those who went, that's fine.  If you went, dear reader, you went and that's fine. The liberty to do so is part of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  Since someone asked in the wake of the protest if Wenatchee The Hatchet was at the protest it might be pertinent to answer that question--no.  Wenatchee The Hatchet went to church instead.

There are a couple of reasons Wenatchee The Hatchet didn't go (no disrespect intended to those who did):

First, Wenatchee is not the sort of activist type to get near protests or even parades if other options are available. 

Secondly, what other options are already available to Wenatchee?  This blog, chiefly.  A protest is a protest and a document is a document.  It seems more useful for Wenatchee The Hatchet to document the history of Mars Hill and the way that history has kept changing over the years than to be at a protest.  Preserving the history of Mars Hill and of Mark Driscoll's public statements and teachings is simply too important a task for WtH to set aside to participate in a more activist event, especially considering the astonishing rate at which Mars Hill has been purging content, almost as fast as Wenatchee The Hatchet has managed to quote it as accurately and in-context as possible. Given that set of circumstances, attending a protest would not really add anything to what Wenatchee is trying to achieve.  To put it in terms that are more "Christianese" or theological, the body has many parts.  Wenatchee the Hatchet is not necessarily one of the parts of the body, if you will, that shows up at protests covered by media.

Believe it or not, just keeping on top of the shifting sands of Mars Hill common narrative is not always easily done.  It hardly helps that historically there are incentives for those to the left and right of Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll on matters of religion or politics to run with in-group identity concerns and shortcuts.  There's almost as much groupthink in opposition to Mars Hill as there is within the social unit known as Mars Hill Church.

In light of the numerous shortcomings in factual accuracy when secular/progressive bloggers and journalists try to field the history of Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll and their associated controversies, sometimes doing what some call watchblogging involves correcting factual errors and popular misrepresentations of Driscoll and Mars Hill when it seems necessary.  There have been some popular but erroneous tales and assumptions floating around about Mars Hill, most of which coalesced into an article published by Valerie Tarico earlier this year.  Wenatchee the Hatchet took some time to fact-check and correct some factual errors in the piece.


Tarico came by and clarified that the factual errors in the articles did get fixed in the following comment.


In the last year there have been more angry comments at this blog from Driscoll critics than from Driscoll supporters and this has tended to be in reaction to WtH clarifying by reference to primary source statements quoted in context that, no, in fact, Mark Driscoll didn't say some of the things that have been credited to him.  Mark Driscoll has certainly said many silly things that he regrets, his entire career as William Wallace II deservedly being among them, but the idea that he said anything about Gayle Haggard letting herself go has yet to be proven more than half a decade later.  On the other hand, as Warren Throckmorton has been slowly and steadily documenting, it's beginning to look like from Mark Driscoll's first published book he's been using the ideas of others without being particularly fastidious about giving credit where it was due. 

Now, after all that, there is a third reason Wenatchee didn't go to the protest.

In the midst of accomplishing a task there can be a wide variety of alliances.  Protests can occasionally be coalitions of convenience in which the only uniting variable is opposition rather than sharing a positive, unified vision of what a group is working toward.  People can be united in pressing toward a common goal without necessarily sharing common values or sharing the same concerns about what methods may be accepted. 

Along the way toward that, whatever "that" may be, we should be careful of alliances of convenience and opportunity when we could aim for something better, alliances that are formed through shared principles.  There were some positive things about my time at Mars Hill that I look back on and one was the sheer diversity of political and social conviction that existed in the community around a shared evangelical confession.  Not everyone who has opted to sound off on things at this point has any significant familiarity with what has been going on. Not everyone who offers solidarity to former Mars Hill members of staff has evinced any familiarity with what has transpired. 


One of the things that obviously came to pass was Matt Rogers taking a chance to lament that good men were slandered by protesters.  This was the sort of thing Wenatchee anticipated happening.  The term "professing Christian" that Rogers used was dubious since as documented by coverage not everyone who was at the protest even self-identified as theistic.  But that, too, could simply play into a sweeping generalization about the generally less-than-truly-Christian nature expected by some at Mars Hill of those who protested.  Sure, you could point out that this is just another example of "No true Scotsman" but that won't matter.  Depending on who was at the protest there were probably complementarians and egalitarians, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives on theological issues, and the like.  The protest might have been unified in what it was against and perhaps what it was for, but what it was for could be thought of as an alliance of convenience, one that could easily already be over.  Given the post that Jim Henderson wrote about why he protested and why he was done, the alliance may have already served its purpose and former Mars Hill members are tackling whatever may be coming next. 

And that's as would be expected.  But the protest emerged in the wake of the publication of "Pussified Nation" and some other writings by William Wallace II.  It is Wenatchee's opinion that most commentary offered by outsiders in the wake of that publication has been generally lazy and opportunistic. 

Specific examples come to mind.

Christian Piatt, for instance, decided to write about how Mefferd seemed to be going for the jugular obsessively.  In a November 28, 2013 piece called "Mark Driscoll's Plagiarism Witch Hunt" Piatt took Janet Mefferd to task:


My greater concern here is that it seems Ms. Mefferd  was mining for a juicy story and, when she did not get the dramatic response from Driscoll that she had hoped for, she pressed on in an attempt to create drama where there was none. Ultimately, she ended up wrongly accusing Driscoll of  talking during the interview and insulting her by hanging up, which he did not apparently do.

Chances are that Mark Driscoll and I will not be starting a bowling team together anytime soon. I probably won’t make it onto his Christmas card list, and that is just fine. I don’t care for much of what he stands for, how he treats women or the visceral anger he demonstrates on a regular basis toward those who disagree with him.

But he is a human being. He is an imperfect one at that, as we all are. And I would hope that, if he was in Mefferd’s position and I was in his,  he would offer some modicum of dignity and grace toward me, especially if I offered an apology for any offense I may have committed.
Stealing intellectual property is no small transgression, but neither is aggressively attempting to humiliate another person in the public eye in a desperate attempt to grab ratings to be the first to break a juicy new story.  Mark Driscoll deserves better.

- See more at: http://www.redletterchristians.org/mark-driscoll-plagiarism-witch-hunt/#sthash.YLrNUTsX.dpuf

How juicy was that plagiarism story?  Maybe three to four gallons of Dole orange juice. 

By August 6, 2008 Christian Piatt looked to be singing a very different tune.  It was no longer about asking that the witch hunt by Mefferd against Driscoll stop.  Piatt published "Five Reasons Progressive Christians Secretly Love Mark Driscoll."

Anyone who reads my stuff with some regularity probably already knows that Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll isn’t exactly on my speed dial list, and I’m probably not in his. From his misogynistic quips to his hellfire hyper-Calvinist rants, he and I see almost all social and theological issues as differently as two people could and still call themselves Christians.

Add to that the recent plagiarism scandal, compounded by the fact that he effectively bought his way onto the New York Times bestseller list (and it turns out he may have used church money to do it), and I question the man’s fitness for ministry. ...

So once the "witch hunt" turned out to reveal that Driscoll has made use of the works of others without giving adequate citation in at least seven or eight books Piatt has started singing a different tune.  Whatever "better" Piatt thought Driscoll deserved in 2013 doesn't seem to come out much in 2014. 

Piatt doesn't miss a beat plugging a new book of his along the way.  Self promotion is the way of authorship ... but still ... plugging the book at least twice in a piece ostensibly addressing the topic of Mark Driscoll is a generous sample.  The recent protest that happened at Mars Hill might itself belie  Piatt's sentiments "He gives us causes to rally around." and "He gives us a common enemy." don't make sense.  The reason they don't make sense is that while John MacArthur and Christian Piatt might agree Mark Driscoll is a problematic public figure this does not mean the two would agree on much else.  An anti-charismatic conservative Protestant and a progressive aren't really going to be truly united by Driscoll's public career and it is not a given that even progressives would be given a common enemy in the form of Mark Driscoll.  Rallying around Driscoll merely proves Driscoll has been adept at getting people to react to him, not that the people who rally around or react to Driscoll have any shared history or goals, whether those on the "left" or the "right". 

After last year's lament about Mefferd's "witch hunt" Piatt's tune this year seems too abrupt a change to be convincing. 


Considering others on the progressive-ish side Rachel Held Evans had an opportunity to sound off on Driscoll's plagiarism as far back as 2012 if she had read the book and found things in the book problematic.  She didn't seem to evince having spotted any of the plagiarism and focused on Driscoll the bully and misogynist.  Meanwhile, 2012 came and went and both Mark Driscoll and Rachel Held Evans published what amounted to stunt books under the banner of Thomas Nelson.  It's hard to see the two writers as actual opposites of each other regardless of the public posturing either might take about a variety of issues.  Had Evans wanted to make a difference with a public critique of Driscoll she could have tackled the plagiarism head on.  Then again ... not many Christian progressives read the sorts of things Driscoll writes for personal edification so the plagiarism scandal was one that had to erupt into the news cycle and the public sphere from within the evangelical/conservative Protestant camp which is, in fact, how things played out.

The progressive Christians have distinguished themselves largely by failing to have even kept up with the scope of the scandals.  Evangelicals and conservatives broke the scandals dealing with plagiarism and sales rigging.  It's convenient for Rachel Held Evans to have sounded off on the circulation of "Pussified Nation" but where was she in 2012 when Real Marriage first came out?  Promoting her own book published through Thomas Nelson A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  For those of us who were networking for years to compile and present the materials written by William Wallace II to preserve an interesting and colorful part of Mars Hill history the contributions of writers like Evans and Turner have made a show of understanding that is largely just show. These are not people who have shown much evidence of being familiar with the history and people of Mars Hill and it matters when an Evans or Turner attempt to address Mars Hill from their platforms.


Aka, after spending an entire year refraining from identifying Andrew Lamb to the world via internet, it would have been nice if Turner had acknowledged that Wenatchee The Hatchet published the contents of "Pussified Nation" two days before he did.  Selling books is what authors do and all but basking in the glow of calling attention to "Pussified Nation", material that he may not even have known existed unless Wenatchee The Hatchet referred to it, is a little ... disappointing.

Why?  Simple, Turner tried his best to make the story of Andrew Lamb as anonymous as possible but one solid weekend on the internet visiting the social media feeds of a number of Mars Hill staff and the Mars Hill website and blogs by a few people connected to the place made it pretty simple to establish what basic connection Andrew Lamb had to the family of James Noriega.  It was also possible to establish that by the time James Noriega had joined the elder team at Mars Hill he was a convicted felon who was newly into a second marriage in 2006 when he joined the elder team  after having agreed to let Mars Hill assimilate the Doxa real estate into becoming what is now Mars Hill West Seattle.  Once Matthew Paul Turner mentioned the words "Ballard" and "stepfather" everything else fell into place quickly.  If Turner lacked the familiarity with Mars Hill history to realize that even the most skeletal telling of Andrew's story was going to broadcast the identity of Lamb to the world then he got quite a story, but he may not have realized how impossible it would be for everyone to go back to what once was. For particularly alert readers it may come to mind that the story of "Amy" was one that Wartburg Watch actually opted to not run with for reasons they have not explained to the public.  Turner's role in discussing anything to do with Mars Hill can be chalked up at this point to the sheer circumstance of two former members deciding to share their stories with him.  That has something to contribute to the public discourse ...

but Wenatchee The Hatchet made a point of not discussing the mountain of information pertinent to Andrew Lamb and the Noriega family during the entirety of 2012 even though it was easily available for public discussion because it was apparent Lamb was making an effort at anonymity even if Turner's writing had made this impossible.  So, finally, we get to Turner mentioning Pussified Nation on July 29, 2014.  Readers may already be alert to the fact that Wenatchee The Hatchet initially published the contents of Pussified Nation on July 27, 2014 and reverted to draft for a day or so to try to solve some formatting problems (the massive composite screen caps got reduced to postage stamp lesser images by blogger, alas). 


Not just at my blog. But at lots of places. You can read the backstory about “William Wallace II” here.

The material has since been restored to original publication format.  It would have been nice if Turner had phrased things in some way besides "Not just at my blog" since Wenatchee The Hatchet published not only the contents of "Pussified Nation" but also provided a substantial background for the social and real estate history surrounding the material and the pen name.   Seeing as Wenatchee The Hatchet was willing to not publicly ID Andrew Lamb for the entirety of 2012 and Turner knows this ... it would have been ... polite ... for Turner to have mentioned that Wenatchee The Hatchet has referenced the existence of "Pussified Nation" as far back as 2010. 


While there's been a storm on the net in the last month about the writings of Mark Driscoll as William Wallace II very little of that storm has included any attempt to frame the rants in a social or historical context.  The aim was not to try to understand where Driscoll might have been coming from but to sound off on the existence of the material.  Whether defenders saying Mark said he was sorry years ago (which isn't, technically speaking, actually true) or detractors saying it was proof of how unsettled Driscoll's mind was the substance of what Driscoll was saying was not necessarily ever getting engaged.  Wenatchee The Hatchet is of the opinion that the reason publishing the William Wallace II writings was necessary and useful was to establish that there is a continuity of theme and substance between the Mark Driscoll of 2000 and the Mark Driscoll of 2012.  Compare "Can We _____?" from Real Marriage to William Wallace II's "Using Your Penis" and you may find that though the tone has been toned down core concepts have remained steady. 

For instance, for those who actually read Real Marriage and read the part where Driscoll said he tended toward sex as a god or who read Grace Driscoll's words about how she wondered if Mark had made an idol of sex, the writings of William Wallace II might lend some colorful and illuminating background to these rather cryptic statements in the 2012 book. 

How many people from the left who opted to sound off on "Pussified Nation" even know that there was a thread called "Using Your Penis"?  Or that it features this content from William Wallace II:

William Wallace II
Member   posted 01-18-2001 11:13 AM             
Christian pornography. Christian phone sex. Christian cyber-sex. Christian lap dances.
Someone recently asked me about these issues. And, they are quite valid.

The problem with many unfaithful unmanly unmen is that they have heads filled with desires and dreams, but they marry a Christian women raised on a steady diet of gnosticism (so she hates her body) psychology (so she thinks too much before she climbs into bed) and guilt ridden don't have sex because it's a dirty nasty thing that God hates and makes you a slut youth group propaganda from hell/Family Books.

So the poor guy is like a starving man who is told he can only eat once ever couple weeks and his restaurant only has one crummy unspiced bland item on the menu and he either eats it or starves to death.

Bummer for that guy.

What the guy wants is to see a stripper, a porno, and have some phone and cyber sex. What the guy needs is a good Christian woman. The kind of woman who knows that men like unclothed and sexually aggressive women. Why? Because they are breathing. As long as a man is alive he is ready for sex every minute of every day.

Ladies, listen closely. The guy will never get the big dreams out of his head. He can either explore them with his wife, become bitter and sexually repressed, or sneak off to Deja Vu or log on to the net and escape in a moment of adventure. Birds fly, ducks float, dogs bark, and men think about sex every minute of every day because they have a magical ability to continually think of two things at one time, one of which is always sex. Any man who denies this is a liar or has broken plumbing.
So it would behoove a good godly woman to learn how to strip for her husband. Some nice music, a couple of drinks, candlight and a wife who has thrown her youth group devotionals to the wind would be nice. Most women do not do this because they are uncomfortable with their bodies. Know that for a man there are two variables with a woman's body. One, what does she have to work with? Two, how does she use it? Now I will tell you a secret, number two is the most important.

How about a Christian guy who wants to watch porno? Maybe his wife should get a Polaroid and snap a few shots of her in various states of marital undress and bliss and sneak them into his Bible so that when the guy sits down to eat his lunch at work and read some Scripture he has reasons to praise God. Or, maybe if the lady would plug in a camcorder and secretly film herself showering, undressing, making love to her husband etc. she could give it to him when he's on the road for weeks at a time, or maybe just so the poor guy can see his wife as some undressed passionate goddess. I have yet to find a wife take me up on this be rebuked by her husband.

And what guy breaking his stones on the job every day wouldn't like a hot phone call from his wife now and then telling him in great detail what awaits him when he gets home. Or how about the occasional instant explicit message from his wife rolling across his screen giving him some reasons to expect that dessert will precede dinner that night.

Do you know why the adult entertainment industry is raking in billions of dollars? Because people like to have sex and have fun. Does it lead to sin? Yes. Can it lead to worship. Of course. If you resist this message, please stay single until you get your head straightened out. If you are married and fully constipated, bummer for you and your upcoming divorce.


It's not that progressives have no reason to sound off on Driscoll.  Evans, Turner and Piatt can write what they want.  The problem, coming at all of this as a Seattleite who spent a decade inside the church, is that nothing they say is going to amount to more than a perfunctory and even opportunistic occasion to sell books and expand their respective brands.  Whatever may be said of the protesters who went to Mars Hill Bellevue weeks ago, those were people with a reason to be there.  While Wenatchee didn't join the protesters those protesters were very likely across the board people who saw from the inside things they wanted changed or have enough roots in the Seattle area to have an incentive.  Though the protest itself may have been an alliance of convenience it's unlikely those who were there treated Driscoll as the kind of convenient shibboleth progressive Christians have found Driscoll to be recently.

When the plagiarism scandal began to gain momentum there were progressives who opted not to comment about the plagiarism but about Mark Driscoll's views on women and gays.  Okay, so it goes, again, but after nearly two decades in the public sphere to bring things back to views that however objectionable are still views that are within First Amendment rights to express are not the same thing as the questions that have emerged about Mars Hill Global, the reams of citation errors in Driscoll's published books, the consolidated powers in the by-laws granted to executive eldership, the Result Source contract issue, the gag orders, or the history of purging media content and of Mars Hill taking steps to enforce copyright claims while having spent about a decade being more cavalier about the intellectual property of others.

What can be lost in the shuffle of recent commentary about the plagiarism scandal is that there was exactly one book connected to Mark Driscoll where it was admitted there were citation errors and MH PR attempted to shift the blame for those citation errors passive-aggressively onto Mark Driscoll's research aids.  But, crucially, the Trial study guide differed in one vital respect, it was the book with a copyright owned not by Mark Driscoll as an individual but by Mars Hill Church as a corporation.  To date neither Mark Driscoll nor Mars Hill have public said anything about the use of Dan Allender's work by the Driscolls in Real Marriage without so much as a single footnote's credit in the first edition of the book. Given Driscoll's boasts about the power of his long-term memory and twitter activity showing he and Grace were working on the book back in 2010 it simply beggars belief that all along that process nobody at Thomas Nelson could have gotten the idea to include a footnote even if against all general self-witness from the Driscolls they forgot to make a nod to one of Grace Driscoll's favorite authors.

And, again, for these controversies we would do well to note they were reported not by a Turner or an Evans but by Warren Cole Smith and Janet Mefferd and Warren Throckmorton. 

The reason that many (though not all) Christian progressives are simply not in a strong position to sound off on Driscoll on women and gays yet again is that they were simply not the ones breaking the stories about plagiarism, sales-rigging, real estate, gag orders, by-laws revisions, and the like.  In fact the voices that have seen fit to sound off on Driscoll in the wake of the circulation of "Pussified Nation" sometimes seem to have been more committed to shilling their own wares then doing any diligence to keep track of what has been going on.  Not all, mind you, but there has been more heat than light from progressive Christian authors than should be where journalism about Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll is concerned.  A history of Driscoll saying contentious things about women is old news, it isn't even news.  A history of Mars Hill real estate acquisitions and associated leadership appointments ... ?  No one has bothered to tell that story so far so Wenatchee The Hatchet has made that a project.  Let's just say for now that it wasn't until WtH opted to start sharing that story that leadership at Mars Hill began to take notice. 

What we don't need more of now are alliances of convenience.  Far preferable would be actions taken not out of pragmatism but principle.  It's not that a protest is inherently a bad thing, it's that if protests are taken up pragmatically by those who are just against Driscoll but not united by anything else that's not something Wenatchee The Hatchet would sign on for.  It is also too easy for the anti-charismatic Team Pyro crowd to congratulate themselves for things that are also not necessarily getting to the substantial troubles besetting the culture of leadership at Mars Hill.  As a certain irascible writer quipped, if there's a John MacArthur study Bible that's not the best precedent for complaining about Mark Driscoll having a cult of personality around him. 

Given the tenor of public discourse there's the same kind of wagon-circling from the "left" and the "right" that Wenatchee The Hatchet objected to in a rambling guest piece at Internet Monk.  It's too easy for the echo-chamber and groupthink of the respective groups that want to sound off on Mars Hill to stick with what they think they know.  That Mark Driscoll did not in fact ever actually say Gayle Haggard let herself go is something progressives don't want to be corrected about, just as some Christian conservatives who had considered Driscoll okay up until recently were mortified by "Pussified Nation".  That was relatively tame compared to "Using your penis" as discussions of moving body parts went.

There are people who find it useful to sound off on Driscoll now because doing so lets them sound off on things they've already been wanting to talk about.  That's what Driscoll did with the Haggard scandal, used it as an opportunity to sound off yet again on subjects he was going to talk about anyway. 

What we have an opportunity for now if we choose alliances of convenience would be an alliance that is pragmatic and opportunistic; an association of temporary convenience because of a common opposition rather than a unifying shared ethical or social vision.  What would be likely to happen after the nebulous goals of such a movement were even possible to achieve?  The coalition would devolve back into the disparate streams of activism that were never united about anything except being critical of what Mars Hill currently is and has been for about seven years. 

Pragmatic alliances of convenience should probably be avoided for another reason, if as some have worried over the years, Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll have been characterized by a pragmatic willingness to align with whatever might have the best payoff for long-term growth then an alliance of pragmatic convenience in the pursuit of shared protest goals paradoxically exemplifies the kind of ad hoc coalition-making-of-convenience some have privately or publicly worried that Mars Hill has a history of doing. 

We should avoid taking the approach of saying the ends justify the means.  In the past Wenatchee the Hatchet has mentioned that there have been some questions about the credibility of some of the public critics of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church.  Comments in the "oh please, shoot the messenger" vein were left up but those comments reflect a problem, a pragmatic opportunistic commitment to the notion that anyone at all who has bad stuff to say about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill must be accepted at face value.  The problem with that is that it may well embody the same mentality of those devotees of Driscoll who are willing to defend him in spite of a decade of preaching in which the Driscoll sermons of ten years ago could be interpreted (and have been interpreted) by former Mars Hill members as paradoxical warnings of the kind of public figure leading a religious corporation Mark Driscoll has become. 

What we could attempt to do at this point is not continue the echo-chamber reinforcement of our respective teams, whether left or right, whether mainline or evangelical, whether theist or atheist, but to look at how and why entities like Mars Hill come into existence.  Getting to the bottom of what the facts are regardless of whether they go where we want them to go or not should be more important than a particular partisan commitment.  Just because in the last year progressive Christian writers have all but completely missed the boat on news of controversy with Driscoll doesn't mean they don't have things to contribute.  But if they're going to contribute they have to contribute something besides self-congratulatory bromides and the same can be said about the anti-charismatics who have sounded off on Driscoll in the past.  We're dealing with a community that has a history that is not strictly reduceable to a bullet-pointed list of ideological or doctrinal talking points. Even if everyone could possibly agree that Mars Hill displays a cult of personality merely noting that in a Captain Obvious moment does nothing to further conversation about how a personality cult can be impeded or diminished or prevented.  Phillip Zimbardo's proposal that the continual appeal of cults and their popularity in the United States should not be seen as signs that Kool-aid drinkers will always drink Kool-aid but that cults appeal to genuine social desires and needs in ways that "normal" society doesn't. 

Let's look at the drum Mark Driscoll has kept beating, get the young men and get them to man up and become husbands and fathers who live for a legacy.  By appealing directly to young men who have anxieties about their, uh, let's just call it socio-economic utility to whatever place they find themselves in society, Driscoll and company offer a social meaning for individuals that extant individualism has been incapable of providing.  Let's face it, if individual agency alone were good enough young guys wouldn't join athletic teams or go on dates. The question is not if there is someone who won't drink the proverbial Kool-aid, absolutely everyone will drink gallons of Kool-aid for the cause or person they find suitable.  As Wenatchee has written in the past, if you cannot diagnose within yourself how you are yourself a symptom or capable of being a symptom then it is imprudent to diagnose the disease you presume to be in someone else.  It's not just people inside Mars Hill who can have this problem, it's a problem we all have, every last one of us. 

What will happen to Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll remains to be seen but if we don't ask questions that go beyond just Driscoll and Mars Hill that also go into how star systems work in our culture and what things we'll condone or condemn in our stars if they embody the ideals we admire then we won't get very far in understanding Mars Hill or Driscoll--this is a case study not simply of a particular type of hero-worship, but an opportunity to explore the apparatus through which such a hero or public figure has taken shape.  It would be wrong to assume that there isn't a progressive Christian equivalent of a Mark Driscoll, whose foibles and flaws are as forgiven by the religious left as they are condemned by the religious right.  We should consider reaching for the point where we don't just consider the heroes of the "other" team capable of being monsters but of "our" team as well whatever our team may be.

HT Phoenix Preacher: D. G. Hart notes that Driscoll's enablers need to take some of the blame


... What is intriguing is to see the way that Driscoll’s allies seem to be unwilling to own up to their own errors in judgment. Paul Tripp, for instance, wrote a letter of resignation to the Mars Hill board:


Is it really a problem of distance? What did it take not to see even from Philadelphia that Driscoll was an accident not waiting to happen but already an accident? I don’t write this necessarily to congratulate myself (only Jonathan Edwards’ powers of introspection can tell for sure). But why did folks like Tripp give Driscoll such a long leash for so long?

Not too much to add there except that Hart has directly articulated a point Wenatchee The Hatchet has not managed to convince some bloggers out there to take to heart, which is that at length Mark Driscoll's antics and loyalties were going to show a distinction between the New Calvinist and the Old Calvinists and that non-Calvinists would do well to understand that those distinctions actually matter.  It's not that the neo-Calvinists have exactly turned on each other, it's that many of them were just barely Calvinist to begin with in historic terms.  One might even ask at this late date whether Driscoll's endorsement of Calvinism came as much from the necessity of being Reformed enough to get funding from David Nicholas' networks as by personal convictions and study. A man who could shake hands with T. D. Jakes in 2012 and then let his posse scrub away any significant testament to that handshake might have a ... pragmatic streak.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Save the Date for the Jesus Festival" is 404 now. follow up on the apparently cancelled Mars Hill Jesus Festival



The Jesus Festival looks like it's been cancelled and recent comments suggest it was cancelled quite a while back, after the Result Source scandal broke.  Over in things Malachi ... there's still hints of what was hoped to come.


2) Jesus Festival
In the summer of 2014, Mars Hill will be hosting an evangelistic, outdoor outreach, aptly titled The Jesus Festival, at Marymoor Park in Seattle. This will be a family friendly event with activities for the kids, music, and amazing gospel preachers. This will be a great opportunity for outreach in the community and to build unity among the Bible-teaching churches in the Seattle area.

And in a January 13, 2014 post Sutton Turner wrote:
... Christmas Eve was an incredible night. We were able to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with over 9,549 people at our live services. And 5,226 people watched online from Tuesday through Friday of that week. We are now looking forward to Easter 2014, an amazing day of celebration and victory!

... In August we have the Jesus Festival, an outdoor event in Seattle that will boldly proclaim the name of Jesus and clearly announce the good news of grace. We are praying for a work of the Spirit that would lead many, many people to Jesus that day.

with the by now obviously dead link.

The continual rise of Mark Driscoll's Twitter following, a short story in screen captures

As noted earlier, Sutton Turner's Twitter following has only grown this year in spite of the fact that his signature was on the Result Source contract Mars Hill entered into to buy a #1 spot for Real Marriage on the NYT bestseller list.

But Turner's Twitter following is a mere drop in the bucket compared to Mark Driscoll's.  Though Driscoll's documentable Twitter following doubled within about a year.

about 102,000 followers in February 2011 followed by ...
About 201,000 followers in January 2012, just a few weeks after the release of Real Marriage.

The Twitter following has continued to rise since then.  Just about a week or so before Janet Mefferd would go on to accuse Mark Driscoll of plagiarism on the air, Driscoll's Twitter following was in the zone of 433,000.

And, perhaps most curious of all, in the midst of scandal about plagiarism, Result Source, Pussified Nation, and the admission on the part of the BoAA that gag orders existed the number has kept going up.  Just about a week after the BoAA issued it's early March defense of the executive elders of Mars Hill Mark Driscoll's Twitter following had climbed up into the 465,000 region.

As recently as August 5, 2014 ...

480,000 followers on Twitter.

There's been nothing since 2011 that has been like the explosive growth in Driscoll's Twitter following.  And even that 100,000 from early 2011 was a big jump from even earlier dates.

For a story in statistics proceed ...
  • Following 399
  • Followers 199
  • Favorites 1
  • Updates 39
  • http://web.archive.org/web/20081005042048/http://twitter.com/pastormark



    We're looking at relatively modest numbers in the 2008 period.

    4,562 Following 65,590 Followers 2,673 Listed

    65,590 followers in August 2010 is quite a bit more.


    4,558 Following 91,335 Followers 3,576 Listed

    This one was worth a screen cap for the peculiar twitter joke about Mark and Grace Driscoll working on a book about sex and marriage together with a joke about the working title being Your Best Wife Now. 

    Then we skip ahead and The WayBack Machine has curious results for the period between September 2011 to November 2011.  It's not exactly a conventional screen capture but mileage may vary.  Anyway, Skipping ahead to December 2011.

    we're in the zone of 190,000 followers.

    The jump from 100k to 190k seems pretty big and while one can establish correlation without any basis for causation, there might be something that correlated to the expanding media presence.  Driscoll was preparing for the roll-out of Real Marriage in a variety of media platforms and there was new blood in the Mars Hill communications department.  Dean has since come to be described as Communications and Editorial Manager. Slate described Justin Dean in early 2012 as Mars Hill's PR and marketing manager.


    Communications & Editorial Manager

    Mars Hill Church

    Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
    November 2011Present (2 years 10 months) seattle, washington
    I currently oversee the communications & editorial teams, including public relations, social media, and content strategy for Mars Hill Church, Resurgence, and Pastor Mark Driscoll.

    Founded in 1996 by Pastor Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church is one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the America, with 15 locations in 5 states. Headquartered in Bellevue, WA, the church also hosts teaching sites for Corban University and Western seminary, both beginning classes in the fall of 2014. Visit marshill.com to learn more.

    Resurgence hosts the largest Christian leadership blog at theresurgence.com, publishes a half-dozen books annually through Resurgence Publishing, and holds conferences around the country.

    So, a question that has been brewing in the last month here at Wenatchee The Hatchet is how Mark Driscoll's Twitter following has only grown amid the pile-up of controversies.  Not being particularly a user of Twitter or knowing how one gets followers on Twitter Wenatchee The Hatchet must defer to the wisdom and insights of others about this, but in a period when there are rumors that Mars Hill attendance has been dropping and when Wenatchee The Hatchet has been able to establish from annual reports that Mars Hill average attendance dropped while membership grew slightly, it's interesting to see how Mark Driscoll's Twitter following seems to have kept on growing without any apparent connection to any of the controversies he's been embroiled in or associated with in the last year.

    UPDATE 08-18-2014

    Let's frame the question more directly, in light of Mars Hill leadership admitting to use of Result Source to game the NYT bestseller list, why wouldn't it be possible to game Twitter?  How many of the followers of Mark Driscoll on Twitter are active Twitter users?  Are there any fake accounts following Driscoll's twitter feed?  Adam's recent comment about how some follow people they disagree with is appreciated ... but that alone couldn't account for about 490k followers.  :)

    Supposing someone sent Wenatchee The Hatchet some links like:


    UPDATE 08-19-2014
    How active and real would the following look?  Someone sent this along to Wenatchee The Hatchet.

    Saturday, August 16, 2014

    Jim West notes it is the anniversary of the birth of Adolf Schlatter today


    Jim West observed it is, once again, anniversary of the birth of Adolf Schlatter today (of course he did).  Amid all the expected and unexpected blog activity at Wenatchee the Hatchet the commentary Schlatter wrote on Romans is still being very slowly digested.

    a question about Article 12, section 12.1 of the Mars Hill Church amended bylaws from 11-08-2011 does Mark Driscoll even have an employment agreement with mars Hill Church?

    pages 18-19
    Article 12
    Board of Overseers

    Section 12.1. Constitution. In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church that, if investigated and found to be true, would disqualify him from his position as an elder in the Church based on the Biblical requirements of an elder, the board of elders shall refer the charge and/or accusation to the board of overseers. The board of overseers shall have authority to investigate any such charge and/or accusation. If the board of overseers determines that the charge and/or accusation is true, the board of overseers can vote to rebuke the primary preaching and teaching pastor or, if warranted, remove the primary preaching and teaching pastor as an elder of the Church (in which case he shall automatically be removed as a member of the board of elders and his employment with the Church shall be terminated for cause under the terms and condition set forth in any employment agreement entered into between the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church and the Church) [emphasis added]

    Okay, so here's a question. That highlighted section looks interesting.  It says that if the board of overseers determines that if a charge or accusation against the primary preaching and teaching pastor of Mars Hill Church turns out to be true then a rebuke will be made or, if warranted, the Board of Overseers will removed said pastor as a member of the board of elders and his employment with the Church shall be terminated for cause UNDER THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS SET FORTH IN ANY EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTED ENTERED INTO BETWEEN THE PRIMARY PREACHING AND TEACHING PASTOR for the Church and the Church.

    That is a potentially a very big "if".   Driscoll can be thought of as basically self-employed.  It is evident by now that not only is he not planning to quit but nobody can fire him.  In spite of the evidence of plagiarism, in spite of the admission that Result Source was hired, in spite of the admission that a lot of firings happened and that gag orders were used, in spite of all those things there has apparently not been a single thing that has come to light in the last two or three years that either Mark Driscoll or the executive elders or the Board of Advisors and Accountability considered problematic enough to raise any concerns.  Nevertheless "if" there were such charges and such evidence, even what the Board of Overseers could do appears to be entirely contingent on the terms and conditions set forth in any employment agreement entered into between Mark Driscoll as primary preaching and teaching pastor for Mars Hill Church and ... Mars Hill Church. 

    Let's revisit that for a bit.  Filing date was back in 1995. 

    UBI Number 601677819
    Category                            REG
    Profit/Nonprofit                Nonprofit
    Active/Inactive                 Active
    State Of Incorporation     WA
    WA Filing Date               12/22/1995
    Expiration Date               12/31/2014
    Inactive Date 
    Duration Perpetual

    Driscoll, Mark
    1411 NW 50th Street
    SEATTLE, WA 98107
    1411 NW 50TH ST
    SEATTLE, WA 98107

    1411 NW 50TH ST
    SEATTLE, WA 98107
    Vice President
    Bruskas, Dave
    1411 NW 50th Street
    SEATTLE, WA 98107

    So he's had nearly nineteen years since the filing date to have some second thoughts.

    Even the technical language of Section 12.1 is predicated on the conditional option of removing Mark Driscoll from employment for cause under the terms and conditions set forth in any employment agreement entered into between Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church that we cannot be sure even exists. Does such an employment agreement exist? Then let Justin Dean publish it somewhere for the world to see. If there isn't a formal employment agreement between Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll the conditional wording in the by-laws  of section 12.1 might as well be about the proper way to marinade the meat of a unicorn.

    Mark Driscoll January 22, 2006 "And if you forget this, this'll be archived".

    For those who may still be at Mars Hill, it may go without saying the blog  Wenatchee The Hatchet would be on the "don't read negative stuff on the internet" list.  Given the lengths to which Wenatchee The Hatchet has gone to quote primary sources, particularly Mark Driscoll, it may be worth pointing out that Mark Driscoll in 2006 made a point of saying his preaching and teaching would get archived for future reference so that if, God forbid, he ever went off the rails, his earlier warnings and teachings could be cited as a reference and a precedent to not follow him later. 

    Now, as noted earlier this year, this material is no longer publicly accessible from the Mars Hill website, but if you should have the chance to find the transcript:


    Part 3 of 1st Corinthians
    1 Corinthians 1:10-17
    Pastor Mark Driscoll
    January 22, 2006:


    That’s what Paul’s saying. “I don’t remember atoning for the sins of the world. I don’t remember living a sinless life and dying as a substitute in your place and rising to forgive your sins. Was I crucified for you? No!” And his third question: “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” Is your ultimate allegiance to me, or Jesus? This is so important. I want you guys to respect me, the pastors and the leaders in this church. I don’t want you to have too low a view of leadership, too high a view of leadership – the extremes that we see in the church in Corinth. At the same time, your primary and ultimate allegiance is not to me, and it is not to the pastors in this church. I will say this publicly: I am one of the pastors. They can out-vote me and fire me. They have total freedom to do so. [emphasis added]

    And if at any time in the history of this church the elders discipline me, do not be loyal to me. Be loyal to them; be loyal to Jesus. And if at any point – God forbid – I should say or do something that would disqualify me from being your pastor – and I have no intentions of, and I do live a life above reproach. And I’m not a sinless man, but I do love Jesus and I do love my family and I do love you. And if by – I just shudder to say this, but if I should ever say or do anything that the elders would need to fire me, do not be loyal to me. Be loyal to Jesus; be loyal to your elders. Be loyal to the pastors in your church. Trust them. Follow them.

    And if you forget, this’ll be archived. [emphasis added] Pull it down and listen to it again, and say, “Mark, you told us to ignore you and follow the leaders in the church and Jesus.” Do that – because at the end of the day, you’re not baptized in my name. You’re not ultimately loyal to me. You are not ultimately devoted to me. My job is to point you to Jesus. He was crucified for your sins. He forgives your sins. He is your God and Savior. He’s the one when you are buried in baptism and raised in newness of life that you are celebrating and honoring – that the focus and heart and the devotion and commitment and the passion in the church must be for Jesus; no one else; no one else.

    That sure is helpful, knowing that it's archived.  So where might one go to download the sermon to give it a listen?


    Any sign of 1 Corinthians? Here's a composite screen cap of what their media library for sermons looked like earlier today in case it ever changes again.

    So where is the 1st Corinthians sermon media archive these days?  How can people recall that Driscoll preached from the pulpit in 2006 that if he ever went off the rails to not follow his lead and that Mars Hill would archive the sermon for posterity if it's not even available to the public anymore?
    Since Driscoll 2006 seemed to be saying that an archived sermon and sermon archives were intended by 2006-era Driscoll as a testament against him if he ever one day did go off the rails why prevent anyone from being able to listen to that sermon for themselves?  To be sure there is a history of someone clipping woodchipper anecdotes from Driscoll teaching content and even of a sermon  transcript changing language used by Driscoll from the pulpit that was preserved in audio but in theory if the old sermon audio files were made available and the full transcripts anyone could read for themselves what was said.  They can't really do that so easily right now, not without some help.

    Wenatchee The Hatchet has been documenting what Driscoll and others at Mars Hill have been saying on record for years now.  The 2006 Driscoll sermon where he said that things would be archived used to be true.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has been documenting how much material Mars Hill has been scrubbing from the sermon archives for the better part of this year


    UPDATE:  08-16-2014 02.40pm

    Try these.  They're clearly not the Mars Hill media library but Mars Hill spent so many years spreading the message far and wide Mulder would remind us the truth is out there.


    WORLD magazine does a rundown on recent resignation by Tripp and Resurgence conference cancellation


    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    Mars Hill bylaws on select male deacons receiving licensure for sacerdotal functions by the executive elder team, just males?

    For those familiar with the Reformed world it might easily spring to mind that there are a few churches out there that do not permit women to be deacons.  There are some that do, of course, but what is of note here with respect to the Mars Hill by-laws is that while Mars Hill has a history of having women serving as deacons the newer by-laws feature material Wenatchee The Hatchet has never noticed in earlier copies of by-laws.  The thing is this, that some male deacons may be licensed by the executive elder team to perform sacerdotal functions ... but not the women.  Why not?  Would the capacity to perform sacerdotal functions by those on paid staff differ in terms of tax benefits, for instance? 

    Commentary so far on Mars Hill by-laws past and present has tended to focus chiefly on enumerated powers and protocols for discipline of members or elders for obvious and understandable reasons.  But this section from Article 10 introduces a bit of relatively recent Mars Hill governance that may not have been discussed at all. 

    Article 10
    Section 10.4

    Licensure to Perform Sacerdotal Functions: Certain male deacons who meet additional requirements may be determined by the executive elder team may be licensed to perform sacerdotal functions by the executive elder team, the specifics of such licensure to be determined on a case by case basis. Licensure may confer the authority to administer all ordinances of the Church and qualify the deacon to be a minister of the gospel for purposes of secular law. 

    If any Mars Hill deacons past or, if exceptionally bold, present of any gender want to chime in on this?  Given that Mars Hill has a history of stating it is complementarian but that men and women can serve equally as deacons would the extension of licensure apply only to select male deacons because sacerdotal functions would be considered normally restricted to elders in terms of formal employed clergy?

    Tripp's resignation in light of public statements about board roles and membership in assessing formal charges against Mark Driscoll

    Something that Paul Tripp's recently announced resignation from the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability highlights is his statement that he did not believe the BoAA could do what it was designed to do. 
    It's because of this love that I accepted the position on Mars Hill Church's BoAA. But it became clear to me that a distant, external accountability board can never work well because it isn't a firsthand witness to the ongoing life and ministry of the church.

    Such a board at best can provide financial accountability, but it will find it very difficult to provide the kind of hands-on spiritual direction and protection that every Christian pastor needs. Unwittingly what happens is that the external accountability board becomes an inadequate replacement for a biblically functioning internal elder board that is the way God designed his church to be lead and pastors to be guided and protected.

    To get some sense of what Tripp was referring to, we might have to go consult the by-laws of Mars Hill Church.  Fortunately, Warren Throckmorton has published those.

    First of all, noting that as civil membership in the corporation known as Mars Hill Church is concerned, since 2012 at least (with the amended by-laws published by Throckmorton) only elders are members of Mars Hill Church.  All other members should be considered more in terms of a spiritual status that has no bearing on voting rights and the like.  It is also worth noting that eldership is established at the discretion of the executive elders.  The executive elders have absolute and sole discretion regarding the removal of any man from eldership at Mars Hill (Article 5, section 5.7). So we're looking at a Mars Hill where all the members of Mars Hill look to  be the elders and the elders remain elders at the discretion of the executive elder board.  This could be construed as the members being at will members given the decisions of the executive elders.  This alone might suggest Tripp has had some reason to believe that an external board would not be able to do the work an internal board could do ... and that would be assuming that an internal board would even be able to wield any countervailing influence on the executive elders at all if the executive elder board reserves to itself sole and absolute discretion about the removal of elders as civil members of Mars Hill Church.

    Now for Article 12 of those bylaws, which outline the Board of Overseers and its role in assessing any formal charge and/or accusation made against the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church (that is, Mars Hill).

    pages 18-19
    Article 12
    Board of Overseers

    Section 12.1. Constitution. In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church that, if investigated and found to be true, would disqualify him from his position as an elder in the Church based on the Biblical requirements of an elder, the board of elders shall refer the charge and/or accusation to the board of overseers. The board of overseers shall have authority to investigate any such charge and/or accusation. If the board of overseers determines that the charge and/or accusation is true, the board of overseers can vote to rebuke the primary preaching and teaching pastor or, if warranted, remove the primary preaching and teaching pastor as an elder of the Church (in which case he shall automatically be removed as a member of the board of elders and his employment with the Church shall be terminated for cause under the terms and condition set forth in any employment agreement entered into between the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church and the Church)

    Section 12.2. Composition. The Board of Overseers shall consist of five (5) members; one (1) non-paid elder serving on the board of elders, one (1) member of the executive elder team (who is not the primary preaching and teaching pastor) and three (3) non-Church members selected by the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church and approved by the board of elders.  Each member of the board of overseers must agree with the Church doctrinal statement and must have an impeccable reputation for honesty, character, and judgment. Except as otherwise provided in any employment agreement entered into between the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church and the Church, the board of overseers shall be responsible for establishing its procedure for conducting the investigation and rendering a decision.

    Since Tripp's resignation the BoAA currently consists of Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas, Sutton Turner, Michael Van Skaik, and Larry Osborne.  So there are two non-Church members on the BoAA right now.  Does there need to be a third?  MacDonald would have previously had that role, wouldn't he?  As for one member of the executive elder team who isn't the primary preaching and teaching pastor, that's covered by either Bruskas or Turner, whichever of the two is not a non-paid elder.  Which gets to a question, which non-paid elder of Mars Hill serves on the Board of Overseers?  In the past this could have been answered pretty clearly because it was shared with the world that Jamie Munson had resigned from paid eldership and was a non-paid elder.  He was formerly listed back in 2012 as one of those who would assess formal charges made against Driscoll.  Because of the significant revisions and redactions made on the Governance page by Mars Hill Wenatchee The Hatchet is in the somewhat awkward position of having to requote from Wenatchee The Hatchet's earlier research.  Then again, someone on behalf of Driscoll is recycling a bunch of his Spiritual Warfare stuff this last month while he's technically still supposed to be on that sabbatical from social media.  Wenatchee The Hatchet having no such sabbatical can proceed .... :


    June 29, 2013, WtH posted the following:

    Last year, before it was scrubbed away, the Mars Hill Church Governance page included the following. Keep in mind that none of this may even apply any longer.  Nevertheless, since it was available for about half of 2012, it can be considered as a hypothetical from last year.

    In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against Pastor Mark that, if investigated and found to be true, would disqualify him from his position as an elder in Mars Hill Church, a group of five men consisting of both elders within Mars Hill Church and Christian leaders outside of Mars Hill Church, will investigate the charge or accusation and determine if it is true. This group currently consists of Jamie Munson, Dave Bruskas, James MacDonald, Darrin Patrick, and Larry Osborne. If the charge or accusation is found to be true, this group can rebuke Pastor Mark or, if warranted, remove him as an elder at Mars Hill Church. If Pastor Mark is removed as an elder, he automatically ceases to serve on the Board of Elders, on the Executive Elder Team, and as president of Mars Hill Church.”

    Clearly MacDonald just left the BoAA and Darrin Patrick seems to have gone from such a group as the Board of Advisors and Accountability or the Board of Overseers for a while.  The old line up makes sense of what the by-laws require.  The newer line-up has some open-ended questions aobut which elder on the BoAA is an non-paid elder at Mars Hill, for instance. 

    At this point it remains to be seen what formal charges have ever been made against Mark Driscoll.

    Did this count?

    Sort of ... it seems.

    To compare what was stated by Mars Hill in earlier 2012 compared to 2013 go here.

    Now as reported by Warren Throckmorton on March 26, 2014 Michael Van Skaik issued a letter explaining that formal charges had been made in the past.


    Dear Mars Hill Leaders,

    I wanted to take the opportunity to give you, the current leaders of Mars Hill Church, an update as to the status of some of what we’ve been working on as a board over the course of the past year. Thank you for all that you do. We know it is extra difficult right now, but good fruit is coming out of these trials!

    On May 10, 2013, a now former elder filed formal charges against Pastor Mark Driscoll and other leaders at Mars Hill. While stating that he had not personally been sinned against by Pastor Mark, he had at least seven unnamed witnesses who would testify to the offenses and hurts he claimed, which if found to be substantiated, could result in disqualification. We requested the names of the witnesses to exercise Matthew 5:23-25, but he refused to disclose them. While the issues cited as evidence from these charges came from anonymous sources, the issues all revolved around the theme of mistreatment of fellow leaders and staff. As the governing body responsible for the accountability of Mars Hill’s senior leaders, the Board took these charges extremely seriously.

    In an effort to substantiate the validity of the anonymous charges, we immediately sent out over one hundred letters to former elders and staff at Mars Hill Church from the previous two years, inviting their feedback and perspectives regarding their time on staff at the church, particularly their interactions with Pastor Mark and the Executive Elders. We received eighteen responses. While some were very positive, every response was read and reread, looking for anything that would disqualify Pastor Mark and any other Mars Hill leaders from serving, or that would require further investigation. Additionally, the Board looked for repetitive patterns that may also lead to potential disqualification. After a thorough review, the charges were determined to be non-disqualifying. However, the Executive Elders were individually and corporately given corrective direction by the Board. Those corrective actions have been followed and have been bearing fruit over the last seven months. We have been very encouraged to see the Executive Elders learn, grow, and repent where needed. [emphasis added]

    However, we are hungry for reconciliation and are continually grieved that many offenses and hurts are still unresolved. We want to seek out and hear the hurts in a biblical manner. A Board-approved reconciliation process is currently underway and is being overseen by Dr. Paul Tripp who flew to Seattle and recently spent a day with the Executive Elders. He has also been in conversation with a person who is very capable of facilitating these reconciliations. Additionally, each of the Executive Elders has taken the initiative to reach out to people with whom they may need to reconcile. Our prayer is that as a church we can learn from this experience as we continue to grow in love and grace.

    You need to know that I and the other Board members have witnessed the Holy Spirit’s work in Pastors Mark, Dave and Sutton as they’ve grieved deeply over the hurts and sorrows that they’ve been the source of. Their hearts yearn for repentance and reconciliation with those that have been hurt and offended.

    By God’s grace, the reconciliation process will continue to move forward one person at a time.

    Michael Van Skaik
    Board of Advisors and Accountability

    Precisely what was in the more than 100 letters that were sent out never got an explanation.  Wenatchee The Hatchet was given a post-employment follow-up survey that invited feedback about positive and negative experiences and that got discussed in a blog post over here.  According to Van Skaik, after a thorough review the charges were found to be non-disqualifying.

    Now that Kraft's formal charges have been made available it's actually not at all difficult to see why the Board of Advisors and Accountability would consider the charges to be non-disqualifying because no evidence for any of the charges, such as they were, was ever provided by Kraft.  Now if Kraft had gone so far as to say there was an ethical objection to be made about the use of Result Source that might have been something, but Kraft wasn't that specific.  It's not that the concerns were not (or are not) serious, as made by Kraft, as that the concerns were not really worded in a way that the Board of Advisors and Accountability could have found anything all that specific to assess--at the very least, had Kraft anchored the formal charges to something specific more could have been, in theory assessed.  Then again, readers may no doubt already be ready to comment that gag orders might preclude anyone from adding more details to flesh out Kraft's formal charges.  Point noted. 

    Van Skaik's explanation quoted above withstanding is there any indication Driscoll has reached out to Petry or Meyer? Not on vacation, of course, but at other times?

    If Mars Hill could clarify who the non-paid Mars Hill elder who is on the BoAA these days actually is that would be helpful.  Without doubt Justin Dean could clear that one up but if Tripp in his resignation has stated he does not believe that the BoAA (which appears to be called the Board of Overseers in the amended by-laws) isn't capable of doing the job it is formally supposed to do then there may be some room for debate as to whether it matters if there is currently a non-paid Mars Hill elder on the BoAA. 

    Considering that of the members of the BoAA Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas, Sutton Turner and the lately former BoAA member James MacDonald were crashing Strange Fire while Driscoll was sharing on social media how security confiscated his books, Tripp may have had some reason to doubt that the BoAA was capable of doing the job set out for it.

    For a review of what was probably the first statement by the Board of Advisors and Accountability:

    One of the things that has not yet been addressed is whether formal charges would be accepted by Mars Hill's BoAA from only inside of Mars Hill or outside.  As there are reports of formal charges being formulated by a former member (and at this point does any regular reader of this blog even need to ask who?) it remains to be seen whether the Mars Hill BoAA would take any formal charges made by former members or outsiders seriously to begin with.  It's possible, but it is a matter that could be clarified by the BoAA, if they wish, at a suitable time. Meanwhile, Tripp seems to have publicly expressed a vote of no-confidence in the BoAA and Acts 29 seems to have said they leaned on the BoAA to no avail while two of five members of the BoAA claim A29 hadn't really contacted them (the two) or Driscoll.  It remains to be seen what may happen next.

    via Throckmorton: Resurgence 2014 conference cancelled

    Earlier this year Wenatchee The Hatchet noted that there might not be a Jesus Festival this August 2014.  Warren Throckmorton has spotted another thing, an official cancellation



    2014 Resurgence Conference Cancellation Notice

    The Resurgence Conference has always been born out of our love of Jesus and the church, and the desire to support efforts to grow leaders to grow churches. Unfortunately, we have decided to cancel this year’s conference due to unforeseen changes to our speaker line-up and other challenges we believe would make it difficult to provide the quality of conference people have come to expect from Resurgence. Anyone who has already purchased a ticket will be receiving a prompt refund. Thank you for your support of Resurgence and the ministries of Mars Hill Church.

    Per Throckmorton, the originally planned line up can be observed at the following link

    So it kind of looks like Mars Hill beat budget again for the last fiscal year but there were still layoffs and it looks like both the Jesus Festival and the Resurgence 2014 conference got cancelled.  Mars Hill Schools would be the collaborative project to commit to amongst the expansion work being pursued and since Corban and Western Seminary already have the infrastructural and administrative cultures that don't need to be made from scratch this would be the project least apt to be negatively effected by either shifting donation levels or unanticipated changes in membership on the Board of Advisors and Accountability.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Mark Driscoll in 2004 and Tim Beltz in 2008, "we have an open book policy", Driscoll in 2012 not so much

    Recently, Roraback was in the same meeting I described here and raised some pointed questions:

    But probably the worst thing I did was asking the questions listed below. They are as follows, word for word:

    I have two questions that I’d like to humbly and respectfully submit in advance as I imagine it will require some research ahead of time.

    1. What are the salaries of the Executive Elders?  And if we are not allowed to know this, why not?

    2. At least once a year, the On Mission CRUT must distribute a percentage of its assets to what is termed the “non-charitable beneficiary”.  Since this is tied directly to the Real Marriage finances, who is the beneficiary of this CRUT? I would imagine much of the backlash against Mars Hill could be deflated if it could be shown that this was paid out to Mars Hill, instead of an individual or individuals who benefit directly.” [emphasis added]

    I asked these questions on The City, Mars Hill’s website, in the Bellevue Leadership forum and posted them in advance of the CG Sync so that all the meeting participant could see them in advance and there would be no option for MH leadership but to address the questions.  As it turned out, someone else brought up my questions during the latest CG Sync and the response from the elder was, ‘Why is that important?’

    The answers in the room from at least three people were some form of ‘because we pay their salaries with our tithes.’  The elder who was in the hot seat on this one pushed back on this response, continuing to suggest that this is not important, but when he realized the people in the room were not in agreement, he turned to another elder who got up to explain how the process of setting the Executive Elder salary worked.  It was a nice speech, and it made it sound like there were multiple layers of oversight – just not from the thousands of members who pay their salaries, of course. Mars Hill members are not allowed to know something that any church with integrity should be willing to share, especially during times when the members have lost trust in the Executive Elders.

    With respect to Roraback's questions, there's another reason it was important, because in 2004 and in 2008 Pastor Mark Driscoll and Pastor Tim Beltz respectively said from the pulpit that Mars Hill financials were open books to members

    Now of course the sermons that are about to be quoted have been gutted from the Mars Hill media library since earlier this year.  All the more reason to share what was previously available to be listened to and read by millions.

    February 8, 2004
    Pastor Mark Driscoll

    And the last one, not a lover of money. I love what money can do. I love the fact that we can pay the bills and have heat and light and chairs and sound. I love what money can do but the problem is when you love money. When you love money. When you’re greedy. Addicted to money. Pursuing money. All your thinking about is the money. And isn’t that weird? Because in most jobs, you get promoted for that. They tell you, “Work over time. Work ten times the hours. Work more, more.” Why? Because you could get more money. Well, it’s gonna cost me my family and I’ll never see my kids. Well, that’s okay, you’re gonna make more money. And the pastor it’s like, wait a minute, there’s something more important than money. People. Money is what we use to help people but the people are the most important thing, not the money. Not the money. The money’s the means to the ends.

    Do you guys know I have a church credit card? What if I was a lover of money? Do you know that most pastors have a church credit card? A lot of them have petty cash accounts. I have to turn in my receipts to our Accounting Nazi every month. I have to account for everything. So I keep all my receipts in my wallet. I open it and just like a receipt-in-the-box, they go flying but I got all my receipts and I gotta note everything. Gotta account for, “Okay, I took this person out to coffee. Bought this person a Bible. They became a Christian.” I need to account for how we spend our money. Because you know what? Whose money am I spending? I’m spending your money and I’m spending God’s money. And so, it’s really important that somebody looks at that and say, “What’s he spending it on?” [emphasis added]

    There was a really well-known, prominent, national leader who just got into big trouble because he was spending a lot of the ministry’s money and it was for personal use. Got a new car, hard wood floors in his home, new wardrobe for his wife. Kept billing it to the church, or to the ministry account. You go, “What the?” You know, your tithes shouldn’t be used for personal things. I get a salary for that. But if I feel like this is my church and this is my money, then you put this money in the pot then I just get what I need, I start treating your money like petty cash.

    It’s really important that you know how we handle our money. You guys give your money – a group of people collect it. Another group of people count it. Another group of people deposit it. Another group of people pay the bills. Another group of people balance the books, and then a CPA who’s a Christian that doesn’t attend this church, comes in and does a full external audit every year, to give us a full write-up on how we did with our finances. We take it incredibly seriously. I am none of those guys. I don’t touch the money. I don’t. Judas touched the money. You know, that’s a good lesson. Don’t touch the money. I don’t touch the money. I don’t go anywhere near the money. Okay, so in a church, though, you need to know – you guys are gonna give. Some of you are gonna give real generously. You gonna give large amounts of money. For members of the church, we keep an open book policy. If you have questions, come in. We’ll explain how all the money’s disbursed. We’re not going to hide anything from the members of the church. [emphasis added]


    Here’s how it works at this church. We are in elder-lead church, an elder-governed church. I’m one vote on the board. I – I can get fired. I can get censored. I can get disciplined. I mean, I’m one of seven guys who vote. First of all, if you want to be an elder in this church, you need to become a member of the church. That means you’re a Christian who has been baptized, gone through a basic theological training. That you’re giving, that you’re serving, that you’re mature, that you’re doing a good job with your family and your ministry and you’re rising up. Quite frankly, in the future, most of our leaders are going to come from our community groups. They’re gonna do a good job taking care of people and they’ll be able to take more people.

    December 21, 2008
    Generous Part 2B

    Pastor [Tim] Beltz: That’s a tough act to follow. Thank you. Just a couple of real quick points. We take this really seriously, the financial controls of the church. Our generosity as a – I’m a members of Mars Hill Church, obviously, and so it’s our generosity that really gives us an opportunity to be great stewards here at Mars Hill Church.

    And so, just walking through this, the financial controls piece, it’s as simple as the two people that count the money and then deposit it. We have a chain of custody for that money, to make sure that there’s no opportunity for making errors or mistakes or having any problems.

    It’s as complicated as having budget and expense reports that are reviewed at multiple levels of management. It’s also a system where Pastor Mark and Pastor Jamie, they don’t sign any checks. Their names aren’t on any of the accounts so that we can keep them above reproach, and that we can allow those who really enjoy doing those kind of things, and who are good at it, that we can.

    It also means that we periodically, quarterly and annually, we talk to outside professionals, independent of our church, and we show them our financial records so that they can provide oversight, and that provides accountability for me and the financial team.

    The second, on salary determinations. We have – we had about a hundred staff. We’ve had to lay off some folks at Ballard, and there may be some more. But from a salary standpoint, about 18 months ago we came up with a very comprehensive and integrated system for compensation and for performance management.

    Our performance counts as staff members, and we use a lot of extensive research – national and local data – to be able to identify what’s the right salary for a particular job. We have an audit committee of the board of directors. And this audit committee does a couple things, but primarily they’re the ones who take that research data and they build the compensation tables for our staff.

    It’s pretty complicated, and I won’t go into it. It’s more detail than you’re probably interested, but it’s something that other churches are really interested in getting from us. But that’s approved annually.

    And then the salaries of the executive elders are something that’s recommended and approved by the audit committee of the board, so that we can provide, again, that extra objectivity.

    The chairman of the audit committee is an unpaid elder – not a staff member here at Mars Hill Church. And again, that helps provide some oversight and objectivity to the process.

    The third point, the annual external audit. We contract with an independent external auditor. And each year, we have our financial records – it’s about a four-month-long process, but they audit our books. And I have to tell ya, we just finished it, and again, we got a sterling report. It’s like bringing home an A year after year after year. And it’s a pretty hard, extensive process.

    The annual report. We really like to be, and we are, open and want to shed light on everything that we do. And part of that is our philosophy. We have an open books policy to our members. If any of our members want to see financial details, it’s there for them.

    So for that person who asked Roraback why his questions mattered enough to get answers, there's a pretty simple reason.  Roraback had been at Mars Hill so long he could have (whether he technically actually did this or not) cited the public statements of executive leadership at Mars Hill from 2004 and 2008 as establishing a precedent that members could ask to see any of the financials of Mars Hill. 

    This next quote is gigantic but it is presented to provide a more recent (namely 2012) explanation from the pulpit by Mark Driscoll about financial accountability as practiced by Mars Hill at the time.  Read it carefully (or listen carefully):


    Jesus Loves His Church
    Part 11: Jesus Gives Through Us
    Pastor Mark Driscoll
    September 9, 2012
    About 32:40 in

    So, the next question is if Jesus is a generous giver and good steward, and you are aspiring to be a generous giver and a good steward, are you giving Jesus’ resources to a church that’s a generous giver and a good steward? It’s not just enough to give. You’ve got to make sure that what you’re
    giving to is actually stewarding the resources well.

    That’s fair, right? I mean, some of you would have questions. You’re like, “Well, what do you guys do with the money? You know, do the kids count it? Like, where’s the accounting department? What do we—you know, what do we do?” That’s a fair question, and Paul brings it up, and here’s what he has to say. He says Jesus cares about stewardship.

    He says it this way, in 2 Corinthians 8:20–21: “We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us.” There’s the stewardship issue. Paul’s saying, “You’ve given this generous gift. We’re the administers, we’re the stewards, we’re the ones who receive the gift and then we want to wisely, humbly, in a way that is godly, take care of the resources that have been entrusted to our care.”

    “For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” So, when it comes to a church or a ministry, receiving tithes, offerings, gifts from God’s people, it’s really important that, number one, the way that the resources are stewarded is pleasing in the Lord Jesus’ sight, that Jesus would look and say, “That’s okay. That’s pretty good right there. You know, I’m encouraged by that,” and in the sight of man, meaning you obey the law, right? There’s nothing worse than a pastor doing prison ministry from the inside because of tax evasion, right? There’s nothing worse than that. And so it’s not just—it has to be that Jesus says that things are taken care of well and that the government agrees. That the government agrees.

    So, here’s what I’m going to do at this point. I’m going to talk a little bit about how we steward our resources, and this is important. On more that eight hundred occasions, the Bible talks about wealth, finances, possessions, tithing, and stewardship. Twenty-five percent of Jesus’ parables or more are about stewardship, what somebody did with something that they received. So, it’s super, super important. And I’ll answer some of the general questions that come up.

    First of all, people ask, “Well, who oversees the finances at the church?” Well, there is a finance team of elders and deacons. It’s a team of eight. Their tasks are broken down into income, expenses, purchasing, and then financial reporting.

    Overseeing that team is Pastor Sutton Turner, your executive pastor. He felt called of God to take a significant pay decrease. He was actually working for a royal family, now he’s just working for the King of kings. He has decided to take a significant discount in his income to come and serve at Mars Hill Church, and so he has built the finance team.

    Now, working with him, under him is your CFO, Kerry Dodd, B.A. in business with an emphasis in accounting from the University of Washington, ten years working for Deloitte and Touche, a very well-known national accounting firm, three years experience as the CFO of another large church. He and his wife moved back to the area. She is, in fact, from the Puget Sound area.

    The other members on this team, the six of them, they all have degrees in business, at least a B.A., and in addition, they all have experience in human resources, or accounting, or whatever their specialization might be in the workforce for large, successful, for-profit companies. Okay, so that’s the essence of the finance team. You know, none of us pastors can sign a check, none of us are present when the offering is counted, none of that.

    The way this works, as well, some of you will ask, “What about the collection of the finances?” Well, we say the easiest way to give is to go online to MarsHill.com and click under give and give online. But for those of you who mail your check in during the week, or you give cash or a check on Sunday, you ask, “Well, what happens to that?”

    Well, first of all, it’s collected, and it’s collected by teams of people that we do a background check on because we don’t want, you know, criminals collecting our offering. And they’ll take the offering and count it immediately, and it’s always a team, and that team is never a couple, like Bonnie and Clyde. Okay? So, we never let a couple count the offering. And then we take the offering, and it is, in fact, deposited.

    And then some of you will ask, “Well, how do we know that the money is well spent?” Well, first of all, we don’t hand out a lot of credit cards. I mean, you can imagine in your family if you gave credit cards to all the kids and said, “I trust you. It you feel like you need it, go for it.” You’d be like, “That’s a lot of Xbox and they’re swimming in Mountain Dew.” You know? So, we don’t hand out a lot of credit cards, and for any purchase, I think it requires two levels of approval. So, someone can’t just go buy something. They need oversight and supervision so that it can be cleared.

    Also, the way it works is we have a purchasing department. So, with fourteen churches and growing, not only do we want to ensure that we’re only spending the money that is necessary, but that we’re getting the best deal. How many of you are like my wife and if you can get a deal, that’s a happy day? Full price? You’re like, “No.” It becomes a personal mission, like, “I’m going to find the best price.” I married that girl, okay? There’s a whole bunch of reasons I love her. That’s one. She’s always looking for a deal.

    The church needs to behave just like your personal budget. If we need something, then the requisition is made, and if it’s approved by the finance department, they will go shopping for the best deal, lowest price, because the church should conduct itself like you do, get the best deal.

    And so you know as well, as soon as our bill comes in, we have a practice of immediately paying our vendors, because there’s nothing worse than, “Yeah, I sold something to Mars Hill and they didn’t pay me, and they quoted a verse about not suing, but I think they’re very suspicious people, those Mars Hill people.” So, if we do business with you, our goal is as soon as you send the invoice, we send the check because we want to have a good reputation with our vendors and with those that we purchase from.

    Then the question often gets asked, “Well, what about salaries?” I’ll say a couple of things on this. Just like your profession if you’re in the workforce, there are national job descriptions and then pay ranges and scales for certain levels of responsibility. Everybody gets a job description. We do twice a year annual 360 performance reviews. People are weighted according to their responsibility and duties, and then this national scale is used to set the pay scale. And we tend not to be anywhere near the top. We’re not at the bottom. We’re somewhere in that reasonable middle as a general rule, and the salaries and the salary ranges are not set by the paid employees.

    So, unpaid leaders in the church and unpaid leaders outside of the church oversee the establishing of the salaries of the employees. So, it’s not like somebody is a pastor at one of the churches and sets their own salary. You could go to jail for that. It’s illegal. So, part of this is not only acceptable in the eyes of God, but also acceptable in the eyes of government.

    And what this means practically as well, we tend to have a very small staff. If you include, I don’t know, thirty-some services a Sunday, fourteen locations, five residents getting ready to be sent out to plant, plus the Resurgence and everything else we’re doing, the fact that we only have 136 employees is very, very, very small. I was meeting with pastors of somewhat larger churches recently. One had 750 employees, the other had 800, okay? One of the churches owns 500 acres of real estate. We call that Seattle. Like—so, for us, we tend to use very small square footage for the number of people, and we tend to have a very, very, very small staff for the size of our church.


    In addition, then, we are finalizing our application to the Evangelical Christian Financial Accountability Association. It’s like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to also provide all of our finances for outside oversight. And in addition to that, we have an external board of leaders, godly people, some of them pastors in other churches, that also have access to our finances and all of our reporting, just to make sure that we have internal and external, we have Christian and non-Christian oversight and accountability.

    And we also have contracts with the banks for certain real estate that we own, and the banks give us additional requirements, like you have to keep this much in cash reserve, you have to keep your finances at this kind of level so that we don’t default on any of our loans.

    So, between the banks, the internal and external controls, the external audit, and now joining another accountability organization, it’s our way of saying, “By the grace of God, we are good stewards, and if you are a good steward who gives generously, we want to be, and are, by the grace of God, good stewards stewarding wisely.”

    I think it’s fair to ask those kind of questions. I really do. I really do, and so I’m glad to answer them. But that’s what he says. It’s a generous gift, it’s a grace, and it needs to be stewarded well.

    That is a very lengthy excerpt and there's something that didn't get mentioned in 2012 that got mentioned by Mark Driscoll in 2004 and Tim Beltz in 2008 and that would be the open book policy where any member could simply ask where all the money actually went. 

    As for the external board of leaders ... it turns out Paul Tripp has resigned from the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability
    Specifically, Tripp wrote, "But it became clear to me that a distant, external accountability board can never work well because it isn't a firsthand witness to the ongoing life and ministry of the church."

    Mark Driscoll could roll out an explanation of all the internal and external accountability structures until he's blue in the face, it's not a substitute for opening up the books to any member who asks what Mark Driscoll's annual salary actually is.  If Mark Driscoll said ten years ago that there were open books to any members with questions and Tim Beltz repeated the sentiment in 2008 then if Driscoll didn't explicitly repudiate that sentiment from the pulpit in 2012 why would Dalton Roraback have gotten the response he reports he  got in 2014?