Wednesday, February 10, 2016

follow up on the Mars Hill and B-50 Investments, LLC transactions. B-50 Investments, LLC was party to a deal with MH back in 2014.

As has come up in comments, some wonder what B-50 Investments, LLC is.  Well ... perhaps there's a document or two that could shed a shaft of light or two (if only that) on the matter.

You may want to scroll along down here and open up this post after the break.

The docs are presented in a large format and so, as has become potentially usual, you'll want to collapse the menu on the right hand side.

It will aid reading.

So, B-50 Investments, LLC got the remaining Ballard lot.  What's conspicuous here is that the real estate formerly known as Mars Hill U-District isn't in the transaction Lot listings.  But in order to establish that we have to look at the 2014 document.

Which is below the break:

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

the end of Mars Hill's Ballard corporate headquarters, acquired formally 12-2005, deed in lieu of foreclosure and contract forfeiture in Dec 2015

For those who have kept tabs on real estate transactions to do with Mars Hill there's been a few sales from the 2015 period.  But conspicuous by absence of a closed formal sale was the Mars Hill headquarters.

Well ...

there might be an update here.

The sale of the actual Mars Hill Ballard campus in Ballard has been established.  Being in Seattle, WtH heard word of that before it was possible to really confirm it in a documentary way.

But now, of course ...

But the headquarters lot itself ...

it looks like it was kind of given away.  Back in December 2015.

the technical phrasing is "deed in lieu of foreclosure and contract forfeiture"

For people who never attended Mars Hill or only attended since about 2008 it might be impossible to convey the significance of the Mars Hill real estate that became its corporate headquarters.  Ten years ago Driscoll announced a bold plan for it.
Confessions of a Reformission RevMark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

page 176

Our current facility cannot accommodate much growth beyond our current four Sunday services. Additionally our kids' ministry is bursting at the seams, our Capstone classes are in desperate need of space, and our cramped, windowless office space would be perfect if we were a third-world sweatshop.

So the elders voted to purchase a 43,000-square-foot dumpy warehouse Jamie found one block away from our current building. When the project is completed, we will have two buildings only a block apart, each hosting church services, with 1,300 seats in one location and a projected 1,000 seats in the other. We will be able to grow to more than 10,000 people per Sunday through multiple services in multiple locations. Each service will have live worship teams, but I will only be live in some services and in video in others.

Ten years later the project was never completed. 

The remarkable thing is mere months after Confessions of a Reformission Rev was published ... we can observe a lengthy statement Mark Driscoll made in a sermon in the 1 Corinthians sermon series that "might" not make it into the re:vival of its web presence at Mark Driscoll Ministries. 

in his July 30, 2006 sermon in 1 Corinthians Driscoll said several things about the property mentioned in Reformission Rev:
Part 26: One Body, Many parts
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Pastor Mark Driscoll
July 30, 2006
There is the building a block away. We purchased it a year ago. It was heading into foreclosure. We purchased it for under market value. It has increased in value since that time, and this is just some interior and exterior shots of the space, and our plan was to turn that into a large room to see maybe 800 to 1,000 people. And so, what we have instead decided to do, first, we’re going to keep that building – and it’s been great – ‘cause according to King 5 television, they had a report that said that 98105, which is this zip code, is one of the five fastest, increasing valued zip codes in the State of Washington. Since we bought that building, as it was going to foreclosure, we already have gained a million dollars in equity in that building. We have no intention of getting rid of it, but here’s what we do want to do with it. We want to knock half the building down and just turn it into parking to increase our parking capacity. Secondly, the other half of the building – we don’t feel that we have to use right now because of some other things that have come available that we’re gonna tell you about – but we’re gonna keep it. We’ll rent it out with the hopes that a tenant will pay most of our mortgage. We can keep it then, and then if we ever do wanna build on it, we can develop it and do whatever we want with it but we feel it’s important right now to watch and see what happens with this neighborhood, particularly what happens to parking, and then make a determination down the road as to best use.
And the reason that we don’t need to develop it as we had thought is because of some other things have come available. Among those is Shoreline and these are some shots from the Shoreline campus and where we are meeting at Christa Ministries, at [Schirmer] Auditorium. Four hundred seats, plus a full daycare. It’s amazing kid space. Huge gym for the kids to run around in. Lots of parking. They’re letting us use that on Sunday and now this fall for beginning, for midweek programming for nothing. It’s free. We don’t even pay for janitorial, we don’t even pay for utilities. It is a savings of over $100,000.00 a year. We can be there for two more years. It’s a savings of 200 plus thousand dollars. We love Christa. We’re very, very grateful for their kindness to us. Eventually, we will need to purchase a permanent site for our Shoreline. We’ll need to get them a permanent purchase campus, ‘cause we can only be there for two years. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if somebody let you how the house for two years for free? I mean that’s a very kind gift, so we are actively looking for another place to buy….

By 2007 ... it started to look as though one of the problems was not just "when" but even "if" the real estate that became Mars Hill headquarters could EVER become what was promoted in Mark Driscoll's 2006 book.  The subject came up again amidst concerns about other controversies like by-laws revisions and pastor terminations in 2007, and was addressed by Jamie Munson (who, as Mark Driscoll recounted it, was the one who scouted out the real estate in the first place).

Page 72/145 from Mars Hill: A miracle of Jesus
November 9, 2007

Section: Stewardship

Answers submitted by Pastor Jamie Munson
Q: What is the status and future plans for the property M.H. owns just north of the Ballard campus?
We purchased the building on 50th with the intention of performing a massive renovation, and by connecting it with our Leary building, to create a large campus in the middle of the city. Since the 50th building dedication, our renovation plans were delayed by our attempt to obtain a change of use permit. [emphasis added] During the permitting delay we were gifted a building in West Seattle and undertook renovating and opening that building as our next campus. At the time of these changes we communicated this to the members of the church openly and honestly as we wanted to be faithful to the stewardship and generosity of the body. Also, each quarter a letter is sent to members, along with their donor statement, urging faithful stewardship and giving updates to vision and building strategies. In addition, Pastor Mark wrote a lengthy letter that was sent to members electronically, and handed out at all campuses explaining the shift to a multi-campus church before the West Seattle campus opened.  Due to the restrictions and expense of building a single large building in our city our focus has shifted from one large campus to becoming a multi-site church of smaller campuses.  Your elders feel this will enable a more effective and cost-efficient spread of the Gospel throughout Seattle and beyond.  It will still take capital campaigns and the purchasing of facilities but allows us to spread and grow more quickly as Jesus leads. [emphasis added]

We are leasing part of the 50th building to generate some revenue. We are also performing a minor renovation of portions of the building to alleviate our current office and production space needs.  This will eliminate the need for leasing office space for our use.  In addition the property provides some much needed parking relief for our Ballard campus and also needs such as storage.  An average church of our size functions with about 4 times as much square footage as we do with our Ballard campus.  Storage, meeting rooms, office space and parking are greatly needed and this property serves those with purposes in the mean time. Future development options are being considered as well but there are no firm plans for these.  This is further complicated as the city is considering further zoning changes and restrictions in industrial areas of the city.  Until this legislation is decided it hangs property owners up as the future possibilities of the property are unclear.  We are hanging on to the property and using it to the fullest extent possible in the mean time. [emphasis added]

And then ... well ... the rest is history ... just not the history of ever getting those renovations done, apparently.

Of course had the leadership of Mars Hill gone straight for multi-site because they thought of that first perhaps they'd have never bought the lot to begin with.  As famous as Mars Hill became for being a multi-site church a detailed history of its real estate development and publicly accessible statements made by its leadership over the years suggests the possibility that multi-site was essentially a pragmatic plan B.

And as of 2016 it turns out, based on King County records, that what the dissolving Mars Hill leadership ended up doing was giving the real estate away. 

Considering the grand vision Mark Driscoll cast for the real estate a decade ago in Confessions of a Reformission Rev it seems impossible to not consider the fate of that real estate. Anyone want to contribute a (moderated) comment about how a deed in lieu of foreclosure and contract forfeiture might work?


For those who might even possibly care what B-50 Investors, LLC is
UBI Number 603448660
Category LLC
Active/Inactive Active
State Of Incorporation WA
WA Filing Date 11/03/2014
Expiration Date 11/30/2016
Inactive Date 
Duration Perpetual

Then there's ... a potentially not necessarily related ...
B-50, LLC
UBI Number 603447982
Category LLC
Active/Inactive Inactive
State Of Incorporation WA
WA Filing Date 10/30/2014
Expiration Date 10/31/2015
Inactive Date 02/01/2016
Duration Perpetual

Mark Driscoll's old Christians Gone Wild coming back as Good News for Bad Christians, the 2006 era 1 Corinthians sermons, an excerpt from part 22 to keep in mind, Driscoll on his idol being victory

Driscoll has announced that the old 2006 1 Corinthians sermons are coming back.  Formerly titled "Christians Gone Wild" the re:branded title is Good News for Bad Christians.

In keeping with the topic of recycling old stuff, Driscoll's also offering a History of Dating, which sounds like stuff that could date back as far as 2005 for that singles ministry kick-off event he spoke at.  The short version, for those who weren't there, was that contemporary dating is basically just prostitution with a veneer of social acceptability and that courtship is the way to go.  There might be a few modifications and provisos added in the last decade but on the whole it seems that Driscoll's been content to bring back a lot of stuff without adding very much and with a penchant for excising things that smack too strongly of Mars Hill financial updates.

For years Mars Hill had a 2001 era Proverbs series available to download without the "Lovemaking" sermon.  It's not as though there hasn't been a precedent even from the Mars Hill days for audio being held back that might be considered a bit racy or flamboyant.

Anyway, when the time for part 22 comes along for the re:cycled 1 Corinthians series, see if this quote is in there:
RESISTING IDOLS LIKE JESUSPart 22 of 1st Corinthians
Pastor Mark Driscoll | 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 | June 18, 2006

Here’s the tricky part: Figuring out what your idols are. Let me give you an example. Let’s say for example, you define for yourself a little Hell. For you, Hell is being poor. For you, your definition of Hell is being ugly. For you, your definition of Hell is being fat. For you, your definition of Hell is being unloved. For you, your definition of Hell is being unappreciated. That fear of that Hell then compels you to choose for yourself a false savior god to save you from that Hell. And then you worship that false savior god in an effort to save yourself from your self-described Hell. So, some of you are single. Many of you are unmarried. For you, Hell is being unmarried and your savior will be a spouse. And so you keep looking for someone to worship, to give yourself to so that they will save you. For some of you, you are lonely and your Hell is loneliness, and so you choose for yourself a savior, a friend, a group of friends or a pet because you’ve tried the friends and they’re not dependable. And you worship that pet. You worship that friend. You worship that group of friends. You will do anything for them because they are your functional savior, saving you from your Hell. That is, by definition, idolatry. It is having created people and created things in the place of the creator God for ultimate allegiance, value and worth.

So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get incredibly personal. This will get painfully uncomfortable if I do my job well. I’m going to ask you some probing questions. We’re going to try to get to the root of your idols and mine and I am guilty. I was sitting at breakfast this morning. My wife said, “So what is your idol?” I was like, “Hey, I’m eating breakfast! Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk about that.” I’m the pastor. I preach. I don’t get preached at. Eating bacon. Don’t ruin it. You know, it’s going good., And I told her, I said, “Honey, I think for me, my idol is victory.” Man, I am an old jock. More old than jock, lately, but I – I’m a guy who is highly competitive. Every year, I want the church to grow. I want my knowledge to grow. I want my influence to grow. I want our staff to grow. I want our church plants to grow. I want everything – because I want to win. I don’t want to just be where I’m at. I don’t want anything to be where it’s at. And so for me it is success and drivenness and it is productivity and it is victory that drives me constantly. I – that’s my own little idol and it works well in a church because no one would ever yell at you for being a Christian who produces results. So I found the perfect place to hide.

And I was thinking about it this week. What if the church stopped growing? What if we shrunk? What if everything fell apart? What if half the staff left? Would I still worship Jesus or would I be a total despairing mess? I don’t know. By God’s grace, I won’t have to find out, but you never know. [emphasis added] So we’re going to look for your idols, too. Some questions. Think about it. Be honest with me. What are you most afraid of? What is your greatest fear? See, that probably tells you what your idol is. Sometimes your idol is the thing that you’re scared of not having, not being, not doing. What are you scared of? You scared that you’ll be alone? Are you scared that no one will ever love you? Are you scared that you will be found out that you’re not all that smart? Are you scared that you’ll be stuck in the same dead-end job forever? What are you afraid of?

By God's grace he'd never have to find out, huh?

What about now?  Would giving Mark Driscoll another shot at planting another church simply feed into his idolatry, if we go by what Driscoll said about himself a decade ago?  Would battling the idol of victory for Mark Driscoll look less like helping him launch a church in Phoenix without having addressed what happened in Seattle and more like asking that he spend five years or so out of ministry to learn what it means to be the kind of submitted church member he spent almost two decades telling other people to be?  Maybe ... .

Mark's read the Bible so he's got to remember that the God of the Bible promised that Israel would sin in a way that would compel them into exile for a good long time.  When Abraham asked for some assurance how he would know he would be father to many the proof was what?  Something about hw Abraham's descendants would be enslaved in Egypt for centuries.  The trouble with Mark's idol of victory is not just that his real idol behind victory might be prestige, but that Jesus embraced the cross, and God has a history of sending His people into exile.  You don't get to choose the terms of your exile. That exile gets providentially chosen for you and delivered to you.  That Driscoll has had so much control over how he's been able to leave and how he intends to come back might be a providential argument against the possibility that his idolatry of victory has really taken a blow. After all, Driscoll opted to quit as membership declined. 

Mark Driscoll Ministries has the old Mars Hill Doctrine series from 2008, replete with the egregiously inaccurate bunk scholarship on the Targum Neofiti (misdated date, misrepresented content)

Yes, regular readers of Wenatchee The Hatchet probably know this already, but we've discussed the wildly irresponsible claims made by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears regarding the Targum Neofiti as allegedly presenting a Jewish proposal of a Trinitarian conception of Yahweh predating the birth of Christ by centuries, and we've done this before.

However ... since Mark Driscoll Ministries has seen fit to bring back the old debunked garbage it's worth revisiting.  The MDM team has had at least a year to fix this and hasn't, obviously.  So ... since Drsicoll let the posse bring back the content the same way it was presented back in 2008 ...
Starts about 23:00 in

Now, what I want to share with you now is super exciting to me ‘cause I’m a total – I’m kind of a geek. And I really like – I really like the Bible and I like learning things I did not know. And I learned something this week that I did not know. It comes from Dr. Gerry Breshears, who’s a dear friend of mine and my co-author on Vintage Jesus and some other books. He’s the head of theology at Western Seminary in Portland. And what he showed me was – he sent this to me, it’s called the Targum Neofiti. It’s from roughly 200 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Now, let me tell you what a targum is, okay? A targum was an accepted Jewish translation and reading of the Old Testament, okay? And the Jewish scholars would translate, read the Old Testament and they would write them down as accepted targums. Now this targum – again, think is through – is 200 years before the birth of Jesus, more than 200 years before the Christian church in its present form came into existence, 500 years before something we’ll get to call the Council of Nicea where the Christian theologians officially declared the doctrine of the Trinity as true orthodoxy. Hundreds of years prior, here is the Targum Neofiti.

Genesis 1:1-2, it declared, “In the beginning, by the Firstborn” – who’s that? That’s Jesus. That’s the same language we find in the New Testament. Paul says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and he is the firstborn – that’s preeminence. That’s prominence. That’s rulership over all creation. “In the beginning, by the Firstborn” – Jesus – “God” – that’s the Father – “created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” I can show that there were Jews who were waiting for the coming of Jesus Messiah who loved and studied the Bible – 200 years before the coming of Jesus interpreted Genesis 1, the opening line of the Bible, and Genesis 2 to be Trinitarian. That the Father through Jesus Christ, the preeminent firstborn Son, along with the Holy Spirit created everything. Trinitarian.

To all that the scholars Robert Cargill, Christian Brady, and Scott Bailey could be said to have replied "No", "No" and "Hell no" respective to their usual blogging tones. Brady, in particular, as an Aramaic targum scholar, has been in a good position to point out that Driscoll (and Breshears) claim the rabbinical commentary on Genesis was written in the second centure BCE when it is generally accepted as written in the second century CE.  I.e. 2 centuries BC is four centuries too early for something scholars agree was written in the 2nd century AD, for folks who are old school.  Driscoll opens out the gate misrepresenting (at best) or lying (at worst) when the commentary on Genesis was written. 

Brady closed his friendly post with:

Feel free to offer other comments on the video. For the first time I have actually left comments on a YouTube video because I think this is so egregious. And for those who don’t know me as well and to be open and clear, I do believe in the Trinity, I just abhor bad sermons and errors.  [emphasis mine]

That Driscoll's been recycling stuff is hardly a surprise, even if he at one point warned from the pulpit against those guys who only have a few years' worth of preaching in them, move on, and start recycling content.  But, even if we take the most generous approach here about his time away to get "healed up", he had time to cut out some of the most ridiculous, dishonest and irresponsible pseudo-scholarship in works published with his name on them.  Simply not providing a transcript of the sermon (anymore) is not the same as having retracted stupid pseudo-scholarship and admitting you said garbage that proved you didn't know what you were talking about.

Throckmorton posts an old video interview question from Tim Gaydos to Mark Driscoll, a few thoughts on risk liability variables

Driscoll said in the interview, for those who listened to it, he was concerned he'd gum up the works through pride.  Well, no worries about whether that was going to be an issue, it seems, here in the first official year without a Mars Hill to speak of.

But what's interesting is that Driscoll mentioned the next level of risk was the campus pastors.  If the campus pastor was "a good guy" then there was no trouble but campuses and their leadership could, as Driscoll put it, go rogue. The year of the interview wasn't specified but it'd be interesting to verify whether Mars Hill had campus budgets distinct from central operational activity at the date of the interview.  One of the things people attested to over the years to journalists was that the farther along Mars Hill got the more centralized everything became. 

Historically speaking, it seems that within the culture of Mars Hill worries about a potential rogue campus went back as far as at least 2007.  Jonna Petry's account of her last years at Mars Hill indicates that an executive elder from 2007 indicated that the nascent Wedgwood campus could be a prime candidate for a campus that could split off because of the popularity of people in leadership.
Then something happened in late January or February. There was a shift. Mark had been seeking all kinds of information and strategy help for another reorganization plan in order to “grow the church to the ‘next level’” and had recently had meetings with Larry Osborn[e] in California amongst others. Paul had one meeting with the executive elders about taking on the lead pastor role at Wedgwood. One Executive Elder, Steve Tompkins, insinuated that Paul had many people who looked up to him in the church and that could potentially lead to a church split. Steve asked Paul what he had to say about that. Paul was really shocked and hurt at the poison of this remark and no doubt this had something to do with the outcome. [emphasis added]

Many drastic changes occurred in the spring of 2007. Mark pressured all the elected executive elders [with the exception of Jamie Munson] to resign their posts, saying a new structure was necessary.
Jonna Petry's account went on to clarify that Petry was bumped from being pastor at Wedgwood and James Harleman was made campus pastor there, instead.  Whether or not that assuaged any concerns that Wedgwood could be a rogue campus has never been clarified because the campus, obviously, closed years ago.  Still, ,in the trenches, so to speak, there were some surmises that if any of the campuses was capable of being financially self-sufficient enough to be its own church the Wedgwood/Lake City campus seemed like a candidate.

For as  long as Driscoll was telling Gaydos he worried about himself going off the rails the history of Mars Hill seems to have more cases where top level leadership was worried that campus pastors could have enough influence and popularity to defy the executive level leadership.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

revisiting claims there was an "internal struggle" at the late Mars Hill, Driscoll mentioned it in the Brian Houston interview that post-dated Sutton Turner's blog post about how the BoAA split on whether to scapegoat him over Result Source

Since some people who weren't involved in the situation at Mars Hill have mentioned there was some kind of "internal" thing, let's revisit some stuff Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner had to say about internal struggle.

But first ... let's look again at the Thrive presentation:
From Mark Driscoll's 2015 Thrive presentation

And I don’t want to take this opportunity to talk a lot about me, I want to take an opportunity to serve you. We had an eight year conflict that really went public the last year, but it’s been eight years, and some of you struck shepherds know what that’s like.  By the time everybody else knows, you’ve already been dealing with it for a long time.

Joyful Exiles, a site dedicated to discussing the firings and trials of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, went public March 2012.  For Driscoll to have presented that conflict as if it had been ongoing or unresolved and only becoming a public matter in 2014 is a fundamentally inaccurate depiction of the situation even if we were to only look at stuff on the internet from things documented as having been written by Mark Driscoll himself.  Driscoll's 2007 account was available since 2012.

But there's no evidence that after the firing of Meyer and Petry that Driscoll considered the matter ongoing.  "There's a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus", for those who heard that audio clip, did not sound like the chuckling of a man who considered the issue to be anything other than resolved in the fall of 2007.
I never got to say good-bye to the church and the people and so what went public was actually the resignation letter that went to the legal governing board that was in authority over me and so, uh, i uh, I know under the circumstances there wasn't a way to do that that would have been, uh, clean or easy. I don't have any criticism of the board. I think that, for the people, that there wasn't closure and I didn't, we didn't get to say anything.

And we didn't expect to resign. I met with the board. There was a whole list of things that were charged by current and former leaders and there was an internal governance struggle and threats of legal action that it got very complicated. And a lot of it was anonymous through the internet so you don't know who is saying or doing what. And so I invited the board to do a full examination, interview anybody, anything, and we woud submit to whatever verdict that they determined.

... When I think about eight weeks we met Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11. I remember because the 11th was my birthday and so Grace and I were present with the board and they said: "We see in your history of leadership, less in more recent years but particularly in the past, pride, anger and a domineering leadership style." That would be the exact words they used.  "We don't see anything disqualifying. These are areas we want you to grow. We want you to leadership at the
church soon." They wanted to do some clean up internally. "We want you back on January 4 in the pulpit, give you time to heal, things to cool down, and for some changes to be made."
Notice that the three things don't have to be the same.  That set of charges made by former and then-current leaders in 2014 didn't have to be the same as the internal governance struggle OR the threats of legal action.  These were distinct.  They also weren't complicated for anyone who was in Seattle and able to read about them.

There's been no clear evidence the BoAA ever took Dave Kraft's formal charges very seriously.
The threat of legal action was a headline unto itself.  Those two topics are boring.

The interesting topic is the reference to an internal governance struggle.  Why?  Because it seems that Mark Driscoll didn't mention that in 2015 discussions of the last year of Mars Hill until someone else had already publicly mentioned there was an internal governance struggle.

Who mentioned an internal governance struggle?  Former executive elder, Sutton Turner.
Posted by Sutton Turner on April 24, 2015
...When the criticism of Mars Hill Global began in the Spring of 2014, I wanted to communicate about what happened with Global, its history, the financials, and my mistakes. Unfortunately, I was not permitted to discuss these things just as I was not permitted to discuss the ResultSource situation in the detail that I felt it deserved. There was actually a division on the Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) as some men wanted to put all the blame for both Global and ResultSource on me, but I am thankful for men who did not allow that. [emphasis added]

Eight difficult, grievous months have passed since I resigned; four sad, yet hopeful months have passed since Mars Hill held its last service. I began to work on each of these topics through blog posts several months ago with the wisdom, counsel, prayer, and blessing of many friends who are former elders and staff members at Mars Hill.
It seems as though Mark Driscoll's account of the last year or two at Mars Hill didn't mention internal governance struggles in narratives before Turner's mention of the same.  Unless people have access to fixed statements made by Mark Driscoll between January 2015 and the date of the Brian Houston interview to share ... .

So by Sutton Turner's account the split in the governing board at Mars Hill was over the topic of whether or not to scapegoat him over Result Source and problems to do with Mars Hill Global.  Say ... Larry Osborne was on the Mars Hill BoAA around that time that RSI was a controversy.  Would Osborne be willing to address this topic for the record?  If Osborne was one of the men who would not allow Turner to be scape-goated it might be a great thing to speak up on the matter. 

So if people have heard that there was some kind of internal thing going on which internal thing is being indicated could be important.  It can't be an investigation into Mark Driscoll's fitness for ministry, can it?
starting about 3:45

The investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll has revealed patterns of persistent sin in the three areas disclosed in the previous letter by the Board of Overseers. In I Tim 5:20, it requires that an elder be rebuked for persistent sin. Our intention was to do this while providing a plan for his eventual restoration to leadership. The Board of Elders in agreement with the Board of Overseers are grieved, deeply grieved, that any process like that was lost to us when Mark Driscoll resigned in position and left the church. [emphasis added] Now is the time to move on and consider what God is calling us to next as a church as we participate in Jesus’ mission to make disciples in His name. Today begins a new chapter in the history of our church which has proceeded in one direction under one leadership for many years now, but I want you to understand this, God is our Father. That does not change. Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church and that has not changed.
Unless, of course, the BoAA members (including Osborne) were disappointed Mark Driscoll decided to quit rather than comply.

In Driscoll's interview with Brian Houston he even stated that he agreed to comply:
There was a whole list of things that were charged by current and former leaders and there was an internal governance struggle and threats of legal action that it got very complicated. And a lot of it was anonymous through the internet so you don't know who is saying or doing what. And so I invited the board to do a full examination, interview anybody, anything, and we woud submit to whatever verdict that they determined. [emphasis added]

... When I think about eight weeks we met Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11. I remember because the 11th was my birthday and so Grace and I were present with the board and they said: "We see in your history of leadership, less in more recent years but particularly in the past, pride, anger and a domineering leadership style." That would be the exact words they used.  "We don't see anything disqualifying. These are areas we want you to grow. We want you to leadership at the
church soon." They wanted to do some clean up internally. "We want you back on January 4 in the pulpit, give you time to heal, things to cool down, and for some changes to be made."

We agreed to that. I sent in a go-forward plan and then we went home [emphasis added] to have birthday cake with the kids. I think it was on Monday night. I was in the bedroom. Grace was in the living room. And so we told the board and told the kids, you know, we come back and ["will do"? garbled] preaching and try and love and serve and, and fix what was a struggling church and God had provided a way for us to do that as volunteers. And so our plan was to come back as volunteers. 

Except, of course, that's not what happened.  Days after agreeing to the restoration plan, Mark Driscoll quit.

So whatever the internal conflict within the governance of Mars Hill was, it seems that it couldn't have been about investigations into Mark Driscoll.  By Mark Driscoll's own account the Board thought he could be restored to ministry if he took a break and some things were cleaned up in house.  It was Driscoll's account that he got a date, which seems to have been January 4, 2015 by which time he could have been back preaching at Mars Hill.  Driscoll's account to Brian Houston was that the investigation was HIS idea.  So Mark Driscoll's own testimony makes it impossible to accept without external confirmation that any internal conflict in the governance of Mars Hill at the upper levels necessarily involved him.

However, since Sutton Turner indicated there was a split in the Board over whether to scapegoat him over Result Source and Mars Hill Global THAT could fit the "internal" stuff Driscoll only started mentioning in tales of his last days at Mars Hill on the road or for cameras in 2015.

So if some Jimmy wants to say there were internal things going on and Driscoll felt a need to resign those internal things were apparently not about whether or not the Board felt Driscoll was permanently disqualified from ministry. This isn't simply some matter of speculation, it's a best inference from direct statements made by Mark Driscoll himself.  Now, sure, that there are at least six narratives of how and why Mark Driscoll resigned might lead people to wonder how reliable Driscoll's accounts are but that's a separate matter for the purpose of discussion here.


Amarillo--Trinity reverend to serve on controversial pastor's church board
Posted: February 5, 2016 - 9:19pm

Trinity Fellowship Church Lead Pastor Jimmy Witcher said Driscoll and Evans met at a Gateway Church conference shortly after Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill. The pair soon after formed a spiritual bond.

Evans said Driscoll’s past did not deter him from serving on the board of the new church.

“When I first met Mark, he was very broken and honest about his shortcomings in his previous church,” Evans said. “I ministered to him a lot about those issues, as did some of my friends. We all see a great heart and tremendous potential in him.”

Also serving on the new church’s board is Gateway Church Senior Pastor Robert Morris, and Randal Taylor, vice president of television at Dunham+Company.

Taylor, Evans, Morris and Larry Osborne, a senior pastor at North Coast Church in California and a one-time board of advisers member to Mars Hill, are listed in the role of “wise counsel” to The Trinity Church.

“As far as offering wise counsel, it is just a role of being there to help Mark process issues as they come up,” Evans said.

“Related to being on the governing board, we help Mark make the larger decisions related to the direction, finances, governance and legal issues of the church.”

Evans stressed his new responsibilities in Driscoll’s church will not interfere with his duties in Amarillo.

Taylor was tough to pin down because of the common name factor.  His LinkedIn profile has subsequently vanished but thanks to journalists being journalists, which Taylor has been confirmed. 

It's worth repeating that Larry Osborne was not only on the Mars Hill BoAA during 2014 he was also one of the men who played an advisory role to Mark Driscoll in the 2006-2007 period during which there were those by-laws revisions and the termination and trials of Meyer and Petry.  If Osborne's willing to let his name be publicly attached to Driscoll as "wise counsel" can he field a few questions from members of the press about his now close to decade-long association with Driscoll in media terms?  Osborne was wise counsel to Driscoll a decade ago and Driscoll turned around and by 2008 was figuratively and literally regarding dissent against executive eldership as demonic.

Should you wish to read the mountain of transcript from that 2008 teaching seminar ...

Wenatchee The Hatchet was part of a ministry in 2008 that was required to listen to the whole thing so as to be able to field questions about it if those came up.  There were a lot of nails in the coffin for membership at Mars Hill and that multi-hour marathon in which Driscoll talked about spiritual warfare was one of them. 

The Trinity Church website has a FAQ section that scrupulously avoids the elephant in the room about Mark Driscoll's time at Mars Hill--what's the point of telling guys to live for a legacy if you're going to resume ministry in another state without a mention of your own legacy?

After much prayer and wise pastoral and professional counsel, the Driscolls believed and agreed that a move to Phoenix was the Lord’s will. Pastor Mark and Grace have had a growing burden for Phoenix and, even though ministry options emerged from other cities, their interest in Phoenix was greatest.

Prior to moving, the Driscolls spent months scouting the valley and meeting with dozens of local pastors who were warm and welcoming.

Since moving to Phoenix, Pastor Mark and Grace have deepened their love of the city, grown their vision to serve its people, and are glad to call Phoenix home.


Nothing about God telling Driscoll he was released from ministry at Mars Hill?  That was the story on the road throughout 2015, after all. If you want to review the six different accounts of how and why Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill we've got them compiled here at Wenatchee The Hatchet:

The most frequently asked question that seems to come up that isn't being addressed at all at the FAQ is how Mark Driscoll has managed to turn his back so blithely in the new web presence on the thing he spent his 18 earlier years in ministry telling everybody who would listen, but especially young guys, to live your life toward, legacy.  For a guy whose ministry could be summed up as focusing on getting guys to live in terms of legacy Mark Driscoll sure doesn't seem to be in any hurry to mention the legacy of his 18 years in ministry at Mars Hill these days. Way to lead by example there.

Mark Driscoll starts up the morning with a partial proverb about mockers and a city, a reflection on the half-verse meditations of Driscollian twitter theology
“Mockers stir up a city…” Prov 29:8
7:20 AM - 6 Feb 2016  

He's got that first part but why not quote the second half about the wise turning away anger?  Is that implied automatically? Does Driscoll hope that in wisdom he can turn away anger?  Can it be turned away without admitting something, at least, about the previous 18 years of ministry he had at Mars Hill? 

It's the nature of twitter to try to traffic in wit but in order to traffic in wit you need a track record of reliable observation; and the limit of witticism is that it frequently goes just for the punchline rather than serious observation.

Proverbs warns that not everyone who invokes a proverb isn't a fool.  Consider a few chestnuts from Proverbs 26 (ESV)

7. Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools.

9. Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
When the fool uses a proverb it is at best useless or at worst causes harm when used.  One of the ways this can happen is to mistakenly suppose that proverbs, observations about life compiled by sages, can be interpreted as actual promises of any sort from God.  Another way an axiom can be abused is by wresting it from its larger literary context and treating it as if it were a generalized observation.  Driscoll shared the following back in 2015 ...
The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil. Eccl 9:9
5:09 AM - 5 Nov 2015

Of course we've looked at the problem with such an atomized application before.  For those guys who would insist that the wife is a gift from God and a sign of God's favor, Proverbs can't be read separated from the rest of the Bible where Hosea was told to marry a prostitute; where Job's wife advised him to die; where Lot's wife became a pillar of salt; and where Ezekiel was ordered to not mourn publicly the death of his beloved wife.  We discussed a bit of that over here. In cultural settings in which you didn't necessarily get to choose if you were married proverbs could have different encouraging roles.  If you were arranged into a marriage to someone you weren't in love with but with whom you were to inherit a family estate the wisdom could be in making the best of a situation not entirely in your control and developing mutual good will. 

For a guy like Mark Driscoll, it seems, a passage from Ecclesiastes might as well be about the rationale for a white guy in America having a trophy wife.

Yes, on twitter it's easy to share the pious bromide version of a Bible verse.
…my God will hear me. Micah 7:7
7:25 AM - 30 Jan 2016  

The pattern so far, however, can look like pulling just the half of the verse that seems emotionally resonant to a dude.  Just paraphrase half of one verse from Micah 7 misses out a few parts.

How about verse 9?

I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause
and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.

It'd be easy to focus on the latter two thirds, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me; he will bring me out to the light and I shall look upon his vindication.  That part could be appealing.  What about "I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him"?  Did Mark Driscoll wait and bear the indignation of the Lord because of his sin? Or did Driscoll decide to take matters into his own hands and resign?  Let's consider that we can take at face value the assertion that God said "a trap has been set" but why did Driscoll ignore so many passages in scripture in which the Psalmists asked God to deliver him from traps rather than talk about how he needed to deliver himself?  What about the detail that in many cases when God warned that a trap had been set it was a trap that could not be escaped?  Ironically even when warning Ahab a trap had been set Ahab's disobedience to God meant he marched into the trap anyway and met his end.

Over the years at Mars Hill Mark Driscoll would occasionally prepare to launch into a joke but include a proviso, "My wife told me I shouldn't tell this joke but I'm gonna tell it anyway." Mark Driscoll spent more than just a few minutes here and there playing the role of a mocker who stirred up the city of Seattle.  Back in those days he'd say we all need to stop taking ourselves so seriously.  For whatever reasons Mark Driscoll seems to be aiming for the earnest, sincere and serious thing this time around. 

As optimism for a new year goes ... Driscoll tweeted ...
Surely there is a future… Pr 23:18
8:24 AM - 24 Jan 2016  

Well, there's only a future in that one verse in connection to instructions from preceding verses.  These include:

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
14 If you strike him with the rod,
you will save his soul from Sheol.

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
my heart too will be glad.
16 My inmost being will exult
when your lips speak what is right.
17 Let not your heart envy sinners,
but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.
18 Surely there is a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.

Would Driscoll consent to being the child who gets struck with a rod? Unpleasant as it's described as being that rod is described as saving a child's soul from the grave.  Driscoll might insist that Sheol is better interpreted as Hell.  Okay, then. If so, then Driscoll gets to be the one who can consider whether avoiding the rod of discipline because he's claiming a trap has been set could have been done in a way that imperils his soul (for those who believe he has one, at least).

Then there's the 15-18 segment.  You have a future and your hope will not be cut off if you have gained wisdom and your lips speak what is right and your heart does not envy sinners and continues in the fear of the Lord.

How well does someone who went along with Mars Hill contracting with Result Source to rig a place on the New York Times bestseller list for Real Marriage fit that?

None of this is to say it's impossible for even a Mark Driscoll to have some shot at restoration to a ministry of some kind.  I wrote a few times that if he'd chosen to be a regular rank and file tithing member of a church, one he didn't start, and submitted to just being a normal guy for half a decade before being reinstated to a ministry capacity that would be a good thing. 

He didn't do that.  He not only bailed on participating in a restoration plan he said was proposed by the board at Mars Hill, he retroactively claimed it was at the behest of God.  If so that would have been information to have lead with in his resignation letter, not something to share repeatedly on the conference circuit in 2015.  That's easy for people with no intimate sense of the history of Mark Driscoll's leadership style to accept at face value in a charismatic scene.  But for anyone who heard Mark say in 2014 that you can't just take at face value any claim from some guy who says "God told me" it looks like Driscoll's new career depends on ignoring just about everything he spent 18 years at Mars Hill advising people to do.

Can Driscoll say that having the NYT rigged for Real Marriage didn't even possibly reflect a heart envying the success of sinners?  Or is rigging a best seller list not a sin?  Would there be a defense to be made for that?  The BoAA tried making a defense that the Result Source plan was not technically illegal. 

But if Driscoll wants to keep going with one-liner Bible tweets, how about this golden oldie from the NAS reading of Proverbs 13:11
Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it.

Or the NIV
Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

If Driscoll wants to do theology by way of twitter Proverbs 13:11 seems like a great verse. He won't even have to cut out half the verse.


Of course someone noted the following:

He who is often reproved,
yet stiffens his neck,
will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
-- Proverbs 29:1

Friday, February 05, 2016

Chris Rosebrough discusses Perry Noble's opinion on whether Mark Driscoll should be able to start a church after having left Mars Hill.

Rosebrough discusses Perry Noble's recent attempt to talk about whether Mark Driscoll should be trying to plant a new church.

mention also made of former MH pastor Dave Kraft responding to Noble's video

Perry, I appreciate your heart in all of this, but do wish you had done your homework and exercised due diligence by finding out what really happened at MHC! I'm afraid you are in the dark about the truth of what transpired and why The Acts 29 network, Paul Tripp and 30 former elders believe that Mark Driscoll disqualified himself and needs to make some things right before stepping back into pastoral ministry! I appreciate your ministry, read your books and value your leadership wisdom.

(WT has a post over here, too If the history of things connected to Driscoll getting taken down persists it can be good to have redundant preservation of statements.)

over at Old Life DG Hart asks whether Peter Leithart's polemic about Protestant writes can make sense of all the not-religious writers who were widely considered "good".

With the inevitability of "Luke, I am your father." for soeone watching Episode V in 2016 ... Hart goes straight to Mencken.

Perhaps the way the game can proceed is to never define what "great" is.  There are, of course, some who deny there is any such thing as greatness while still being willing to say X's work saved my life.  But there's "almost" no point trying to interact with people who get that way except to hope that we can recognize that superlatives and love are nearly as inseparable as eating food and defecating. There are settings in which these can be cast in twain but those settings tend to be rare and perhaps a bit unpleasant or unhealthy. :)

Thursday, February 04, 2016

over at Calvinist International Steven Wedgeworth points out that Peter Leithart has refined an argument that wasn't any smarter or more historically competent the first time when it was published

Leithart's recent contributions on the reasons Protestants can't write over at First Things was impressive but mainly in the worst sort of way.  Instead of writing a more direct "Why I like Flannery O'Connor" series, what we got was why Protestants can't write.  As though John Donne's poetry and sermons weren't touchstones in English language literature?  Steven Wedgeworth has written about the peculiarties of Leithart's assertions before but he's managed to sum things up eloquently recently.
Dr. Leithart’s essays on “Protestantism” 1 fall into this tradition of high-church nostalgia and historiographical storytelling. As such they are engaging and imaginative, but they suffer from the same weaknesses as the other storytellers. In the case of the “Protestants Who Can’t Write” dilemma, the majority of the difficult work of argument is actually done by the preliminary assumptions and assertions, as Dr. Leithart seems to admit in his follow-up qualification.

But even admitting this, there are some very basic problems which permeate the entire essay. The definition of great writing is never demonstrated, and one gets the impression that the “sacramental poetics” being valorized really only represents a narrow slice of what others would consider great literature. Various examples of great Protestant writers are also discounted as either outliers or holdovers from an earlier “culture,” giving the reader the impression that the playing field can be tilted in any number of possible directions in order to influence a certain conclusion. Zwingli, for his part, is not treated fairly. He serves instead as a sort of placeholder for “all of the bad things.” Perhaps most serious of all, the expression “sacramental” is used in a very particular way, not necessarily having much or anything to do with the actual sacramental debates of the 16th century. As such, the various characters in Dr. Leithart’s story are really only symbols of ideas, and they have little connection to the historical realities whose names they bear. 

The most remarkable part is pointing out that post-Trent Catholicism on the Eucharist posited that you had to affirm it was the blood and body only and not "also" wine and bread makes Leithart's proposal that "Marburg" is to blame for Protestants not wanting something to be both real and a symbol; if that's the problem then post-Trent Catholics have the same problem Leithart insists Protestants have had.

In some ways, this response to Dr. Leithart has been playing his same game. You see, it isn’t merely a discussion of Dr. Leithart or his specific arguments, but it is also an attempt to reorder the larger conservative search for history, identity, and meaning. The nostalgic search for a high-church aesthetic always ends in fiction—not the fiction of great literary prowess, but instead stories about history that are not true. In Dr. Leithart’s story, “Protestantism” does not mean the Protestant Reformation, “Zwingli” does not mean the Reformer of Zurich, and “Sacramental” does not mean a sign and seal of the covenant of Grace. Instead these words are symbols and bare ones at that, not connected to reality. And this is true for all of the “Road Not Taken” stories.

A little interruption here, to show what is being referenced.

The Church has no widely accepted theology of history to speak of, just a stream of papal encyclicals that reflect the shifting moods of this or that pontiff. Thinking modern history has largely been left to lay Catholic intellectuals, who have had to sail upwind alone in their little boats.

Well, for the pessimillenialists ...

The golden age of lay Catholic historiography was the nineteenth century, when Counter-Revolutionary thinkers such as Bonald, the young Lamennais, de Maistre, and Donoso Cort├ęs refined the World We Have Lost narrative that has nourished reactionary political movements ever since. But in the twentieth century lay and clerical writers developed a kinder, gentler variation of it that has not lost its appeal among Catholics. Let’s call it The Road Not Taken.

Those who recount this kind of story tell us that at some point in medieval or early modern history the West took a momentous wrong turn, putting itself on the path to our modernity with all its attendant problems. ...

Ostensibly presented as a temptation for Catholic historians ... this narrative arc could "also" be construed as the basis for Francis Schaeffer's trilogy, except it's possible to propose that in Schaeffer's case what would have been a Catholic polemic of the road not taken could be reinterpreted as a legend of WASP decline, maybe?

Well, let's get back to Wedgeworth here, who concludes with:

Nothing that has been written above should be taken as a denial of the fact that there is a real crisis in the modern world of arts, letters, and religion. There is. But this crisis is not the legacy of the Protestant Reformation’s ideals being faithfully carried out. Instead, it is the legacy of, among a myriad of decisions and events, the abandonment of those ideals. Especially, we have departed from the robust Christian humanism of Luther, Calvin, and even, yes, Zwingli. Mid-century Protestants hardly recognize the names of their fathers in the faith or the key doctrines to which they are supposed to be adhering. Before we decide which branches of the family tree to cut off, we should first make sure that we have actually identified them all.

Thankfully, in our day, the future is not entirely dim. Modernity has not proved wholly bad at all, but instead has given us new tools by which we can solve toward truth, in less time than any generation before us. We can discover if “Zwingli” is really Zwingli, and we can begin answering those very complicated questions of reception, modification, and revolution, and we can do so with the concrete data rather than just master narratives. The conservative Christian mind has many gifts and talents, but it has to get over its nostalgia and penchant for “Road Not Taken” stories. There is a better way to have this conversation, and encouraging that better way is the first step in beginning to solve our most serious problems. 

I've been mulling over Schaeffer's trilogy lately, it's fiftieth anniversary is coming up, after all.  Having admired it when I was in my teens (long ago, in other words) I've come to view its overall narrative with some skepticism.  Schaeffer managed to recount a fragmentation and a decline.  But as a musician with a sometime interest in music history there's more that could have been said about the Renaissance and the Reformation or how the Baroque era developed.  There was the old style and the new style and in the 1600s you could learn either style but might well have to know both.  The German, Italian, English, and French styles and forms were not thought of as being all that congruent and yet by the high Baroque era some Bach family had members able to synthesize a variety of ostensibly contrasting styles.  But that's getting into something that might be best saved for later. 

For some reason it just feels like it's worth mentioning that Manfred Bukofzer wrote a history of Baroque music (1947) in which he mentioned that the Pietists were opposed to the cantata while the orthodox Lutherans were okay with it. The paradox here was that the theoretically "new" school was against formal innovations such as assimilating secular musical forms and styles into liturgical music while the "old" school in Lutheranism was okay with it.

Wedgeworth's aside about hip hop practically deserves a separate post because he raises some points that seem worth discussing ... but maybe we'll get to a potentially fun comparison between the condemnation of hip hop as not "real" music to early negative reactions to recitative as being unmusical in 16th and 17th century operatic evolution later.

Driscoll tweet on how real friends are like socks, might be lost a while but they show back up. So ... what about Driscoll's old friend and doctor John Catanzaro?
Real friends are like socks. You might lose them for a while but eventually they show back up.

6:45 AM - 1 Feb 2016

Well ... in the interest of considering a sock ... what about Mark Driscoll's friend naturopath John Catanzaro?  For those who don't remember him, he was the subject of a few blog posts here.

how about Driscoll's little forward on page 4 of this?

"With the legalization of marijuana in Washington State I wrote a free ebook on the issue theologically and pastorally. I did not address the medical issues because that was beyond my scope of expertise. However, my doctor and friend Dr. John Catanzaro was kind enough to research the medical aspects of marijuana usage and write them up. We genuinely hope this helps Christians make wise decisions and provide wise counsel--especially parents and ministry leaders."

Mark Driscoll
Pastor Mars Hill Church

Well ... turns out there's robots.txt for Catanzaro's actual articles still, after all.

RNS--Laura Turner notes Driscoll's return with some former Mars Hill staff sans any mention of Mars Hill, revisiting how a decade ago Driscoll said he thought of bailing on Mars Hill in a 2007 letter to MH


Supporting Driscoll in his new endeavor are two other former Mars Hill staffers, Andy Girton and Brandon Andersen. As the Seattle Times pointed out, none of the three men mention their time at Mars Hill in their bios–all of which refer to their experience working in churches–which is a curious omission, because it would be difficult to find an evangelical Christian in the demographic Trinity Church is targeting who had not head of either Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill. - See more at:

What's particularly striking is how back in 2010 Driscoll emphatically declared there were six reasons he wasn't going anywhere and wasn't going to leave Mars Hill. Of course a lot happened in the last five years and the following statement has been deleted as of this year.

If you want to read that 2010 statement go over here for another copy of the screen cap and the full text:

Then again, in a letter dated from the year 2007, in the wake of the controversial terminations and trials of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry, Mark Driscoll indicated that he was stressed and in poor health.

In fact it was about a decade ago, according to a letter Mark Driscoll wrote to Mars Hill members in late 2007:
A letter from Pastor Mark Driscoll
November 8, 2007
For me personally, everything culminated at the end of 2006. Despite rapid growth, the church was not healthy and neither was I.
I was working far too many hours and neglecting my own physical and spiritual well-being, and then I hit the proverbial wall. For many weeks I simply could not sleep more than two or three hours a night. I had been running off of adrenaline for so many years that my adrenal glands fatigued and the stress of my responsibilities caused me to be stuck “on” physically and unable to rest or sleep. After a few months I had black circles under my eyes, was seeing a fog, and was constantly beyond exhausted.
Nonetheless, the demands on me continued to grow as the church grew. We added more campuses, gathered more critics, saw more media attention, planted more churches, purchased more real estate, raised more money, and hired more staff. It was at this time that I seriously pondered leaving Mars Hill Church for the first time ever. I still loved our Jesus, loved our mission, loved our city, and loved our people. However, I sunk into a deep season of despair as I considered spending the rest of my life serving at Mars Hill Church. I simply could not fathom living the rest of my life with the pace of ministry and amount of responsibility that was on me.
... The illusion of unity our eldership had maintained over the years was kept in part by my tolerating some men who demanded more power, pay, control, and voice than their performance, character, or giftedness merited. While this was a very short list of men, as elders they had enough power to make life truly painful.

At the same time I began receiving other lucrative job offers that would allow me to study, preach, and write without all of the administrative duties and burdens for which I am not sufficiently gifted to be responsible for. For the first time in my life, the thought of leaving Mars Hill sounded very relieving. Since I had given ten years of my life to the church and love the people desperately, it was obvious to me that something was deeply wrong that such offers would even be intriguing. [emphasis added]

So in spite of years of saying otherwise, that he wasn't going anywhere and had no plans to leave, it would appear the history of Mark Driscoll privately thinking of hitting the eject button and taking more financially lucrative work elsewhere had been going on since ... well ... ten years ago.

In his book Propaganda, Jacques Ellul proposed that they most worship peace who prepare for war, ,perhaps a parallel could exist for those men who profess their loyalty while they privately consider abandonment? 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Driscolls announce The Trinity Church launch, share the Martin family backstory associated with the name, and revisiting Real Marriage to observe Grace Driscoll's description of Mark's unhappiness about the Martin family
Video 2:40
Gib Martin founded Trinity church. Grace Driscoll described the church.  Mark Driscoll, for his part, described how Gib Martin's church was where he was allowed to preach his first sermon.
This is interesting. What's interesting is to compare this warm and affable account of the Martin family with the account Grace Driscoll shared in Real Marriage, where there seemed to have been an undercurrent of resentment on Mark Driscoll's part toward the Martin family, at least from the following passage from Real Marriage (earlier edition):

Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Thomas Nelson
copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0

pages 10-11
Making issues even worse, I (Grace) realized I hadn’t really followed the Genesis command to leave my family and cleave to Mark as my new family. I still called my mom daily and complained when Mark and I were fighting; we spent all our holidays, birthdays, and vacations with my side of the family, rather than starting some of our own family traditions. My parents had keys to the house and would stop by at any time unannounced, so we lacked privacy and I didn’t see it as a problem. I called them “my family” which made Mark feel as if he and I weren’t family. I had to learn to pray and work through our conflict differently, plan some of our own traditions and memories, set healthy boundaries of privacy, and refer to Mark as “my family” and others as our “extended family.”

Learning to others "extended family" ... did that, say, apply to Grace Driscoll's parents or sibling? The passage suggests that early in the marriage Mark Driscoll had some significant issues with his wife calling her actual blood relatives "my family" as if that somehow implied that he was just ... the husband? 

So by Grace Driscoll's account in Real Marriage from 2012 it seemed that in the early years there were some issues Mark had with how close she was to her family verses how close he felt she was to him or him to her.

It's also worth remembering that by 2006 and 2008 Mark Driscoll's ideas of healthy boundaries of privacy and access to Grace may have evolved a bit.
Shortly before Paul was confirmed as a pastor/elder, I was invited to a dinner to celebrate Grace’s (Mark’s wife and my friend) birthday. There were a dozen or so women in attendance and I ended up sitting next to Karen Schaeffer, who was Mark’s administrative assistant - a lovely, older, godly woman whom I greatly respected. Sitting next to us was an elder’s wife who was close in age and who also had quite a bit of previous ministry experience. The three of us enjoyed great conversation – alive, encouraging, as iron sharpens iron. We ended up being the last three to leave the restaurant and as we walked to the car decided we should  pray together for some of the things that had been shared. We got in the car and ended our time together praying for many things, including the elders, our families and the church.

The next morning I heard from the elder’s wife, the one Karen and I had so enjoyed - that she had shared our conversation with her husband and he felt that it showed “disloyalty” on Karen’s part, was gossip, and that it needed to be brought to Mark, which he did. Karen was fired. The gist of what she shared that was branded “disloyal” was a heart of thankfulness that my husband, Paul, was being made an elder because Mark needed strong men around him who could handle and stand up to push-back. When I found out what this elder and his wife had done, I called Mark immediately in tears and asked him to forgive me for my part in that conversation. Looking back, I’m not sure that Karen or I really did anything wrong, but I was sure afraid.

For those who don't remember Mark Driscoll's marathon session teaching staff about spiritual warfare from early 2008, it stands as a landmark in the history of what was once Mars Hill as Mark Driscoll's instruction not just on spiritual warfare but also on things like the generally satanic nature of women who have wanted to be friends with pastors' wives.  Since you probably will not find this content anywhere else Wenatchee The Hatchet has to quote content transcribed and published here. The odds that the Driscolls will bring this content back seem remote.

February 5, 2008
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Part 2: The Devil


I'll tell you, in the history of Mars Hill, I mean, I have had to put up a firewall, a moat, guard dogs, and a high wall with barbed wire on top, and snipers behind it, around my wife. There are certain women who, they just need to know what Grace is doing and they are determined, they say things like, uh, "Hey, we need to have dinner with your family." [slight chuckle] No you don't. "Hey, we need to have coffee." No you don't.  "Hey, phone number." What? Nope. "Email." Nope.  Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.
"Oh, come on." Nope.
"But I thought you were our pastor."
I am and my first lesson is to tell you you're Satanic.
"Oh, come on, in our last church the pastor's wife [sob] she was my best friend and I got to talk to her all the time."

Well, she was Satanic, too.  Give me her number, I'll call her and tell her. We'll help her out.
Sometimes womens' ministry is the cesspool that this kind of activity flourishes in. Some have asked, "Why don't you have womens' ministry?" The answer is we do, but it's, you have to be very careful, it's like juggling knives. You put the wrong women in charge of womens' ministry, the drama queen, the gossip mama, all of a sudden all the women come together, tell her everything, she becomes the pseudo-elder  quasi-matriarch; she's got the dirt on everybody and sometimes the women all get together to just rip on their husbands in the name of prayer requests. Happens all the time. Happens all the time. We have worked very hard so that the women who teach here are like Wendy Alsup who I really love and appreciate and respect. She's not like that.

Womens' ministry was like juggling knives?  Is Grace Driscoll absolutely sure Mark Driscoll never, ever said anything that could be construed as even possibly misogynistic? 

Now perhaps the Driscolls have taken a more open approach in Phoenix that lets Grace have some friends in comparison to what Mark Driscoll was saying in 2008.

But the recent presentation Mark and Grace Driscoll gave about the connection that Gib Martin's family had to Mark Driscoll's earliest attempts at ministry is a bit different.  To go by the gritty narrative of Real Marriage from 2012 it seems Grace's account (assuming no ghostwriting happened) was that Mark could almost be understood to have resented the Martin family. Grace got presented as not feeling there was any problem of a lack of privacy and that it was okay for family to make unannounced visits that, by implication, Mark seemed to have some significant problems with.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

looks like we've reached ten years of Wenatchee The Hatchet

The tenth anniversary of the first post at Wenatchee The Hatchet was a week or so back, a riff on Roger Scruton's writing about music.

Ten years ago when I started the blog I was fairly content here in the Puget Sound area in terms of location.  Not maybe happiest about everything across the board but I felt very confident I would be at Mars Hill the rest of my life.

Obviously things changed in a decade. This still isn't really a watchblog as far as I'm concerned.  That said, when the blog "has" been a watchblog here's hoping it has been of a high quality. As far as possible I've tried to source and cite primary sources and statements and document things as accurately as possible.  When things have been incorrect I try to issue a correction as soon as practical. 

You may have noticed over the years how rarely comments are allowed.  That''s been on purpose.  Yep, I have actively stifled commentary at this blog because the number of people who have wanted to contribute information and historical context have been fewer than those who have already made up their minds one way or another. As long-time readers over this last decade probably already know the crankier comments often came from people against Driscoll or Mars Hill who were not happy about a failure here to take the desired tone.

One of the temptations of a watchblog is to attempt to infer motives on the part of people who say and do things.  As an effort toward journalistic standards of some kind, try to avoid that.  Should you say that the"media" doesn't do this so why care about that?  Well, if you don't care about aspiring to a higher standard than mainstream reporters who butcher the topic of religion you're welcome to stay at that level ... somewhere else.

This isn't intended to be a watchblog but it's unavoidable that the "reality" seems to be the blog has come to be known as a watchblog dealing with the history of Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll and other figures in the history of the recently split up church.

There's still a lot that can and should be said about the rise and fall of Mars Hill and about Driscoll's course as a public figure.

I have seen, from time to time, atheists and agnostics suggest that in the long-run Driscoll's just another right-wing fundy type and that there wasn't anything "that" unusual about what happened at Mars Hill.

Well ... since we're in an election cycle let's propose an idea that will be explored further--Mark got his degree in speech communications and Grace got training in public relations; Mars Hill was a church plant started in the Puget Sound area during a tech phase in the 1990s and had a leadership core that actively sought out young people interested in innovations in the arts, media and tech. Since somebody has to invoke Jacque Ellul at some point, what made Mars Hill unusual was the intensity with which the leadership culture, even possibly from its inception in the mid-1990s featured people trained explicitly in the techniques that Ellul wrote half a century ago were characteristic of propaganda.  Now sure, some of you may say, what else does a preacher do but use speech and propaganda?  Isnt that a fact of life? 

Yeah, but the level of mastery of integrated media and tech to transform the culture of the megachurch into an instrument of propaganda may be the "one" thing that was unique about Mars Hill.  Not it being ostensibly Reformed.  Not it being hipster.  Not it being evangelical.  Not it being innovative as such.  No, perhaps the thing about the founding couple that is most noteworthy compared to other couples who have stories of being called into ministry is that in the case of Mark and Grace Driscoll the formal credentialing into the career techniques of propaganda is explicit.  Ellul, after all, in his book Propaganda, wrote that human relations and public relations were instruments of propaganda. 

When Driscoll resigned in 2014 William Vanderbloemen proposed that Driscoll's resignation "changed everything".  Nothing, in fact, has particularly changed in terms of how the business gets done, has it?  But what "could" change is for Christians and non-Christians alike to take an opportunity to see how branding and propaganda techniques work in a multi-media tech-savvy church culture. 

What the promotion of Real Marriage revealed, at length, was that it was possible for the executive leadership of a church such as the late Mars Hill to explicitly and systematically transform the media tools that could be used to spread the teachings of Christ were simply transformed into a fully integrated apparatus to promote a Driscoll book. After all those years of Mark Driscoll giving, say "Six Reasons I'm Not Going Anywhere"

content removed?  Oh, well ...  that's why we have the full text and a screen cap over here ...

After years of promising over and over that he'd never leave Mars Hill that's exactly what Mark Driscoll did.

One of the things Jacques Ellul wrote in Propaganda was that nations who prepare for themselves for war venerate peace. It may well be that in the case of Mark Driscoll his years of declaring what he wouldn't do turned out to be protesting too much on the eve of his turning around and doing precisely what he said he didn't or wouldn't do.

Let's not anchor too much on the assumption that Driscoll will stay Reformed or even complementarian.  The opportunities that open up by rejecting both are too great.  If he spurns complementarianism Grace can have more of a ministry role--the thing that Driscoll wrote ten years ago in Confessions he resented about her, spending time on ministry and neglecting him

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

page 101-102
Shortly thereafter, Grace gave birth to our first child, my sweetie-pie Ashley. Up to this point Grace had continuously poured endless hours into the church. She taught a women's Bible study, mentored many young women, oversaw hospitality on Sundays, coordinated meals for new moms recovering from birth, and organized all of the bridal and baby showers. Grace's dad had planted a church before she was born and has remained there for more than forty years. Her heart for ministry and willingness to serve was amazing. But as our church grew, I felt I was losing my wife because we were both putting so many hours into the church that we were not connecting as a couple like we should have. I found myself getting bitter against her because she would spend her time caring for our child and caring for our church but was somewhat negligent of me.

I explained to Grace that her primary ministry was to me, our child, and the management of our home and that I needed her to pull back from the church work to focus on what mattered most.  She resisted a bit at first, but no one took care of me but her.  And the best thing she could do for the church was to make sure that we had a good marriage and godly children as an example for other people in the church to follow.  It was the first time that I remember actually admitting my need for help to anyone.  It was tough. But I feared that if we did not put our marriage and children above the demands of the church, we would end up with the lukewarm, distant marriage that so many pastors have because they treat their churches as mistresses that they are more passionate about than their brides. 

You'd never be able to guess from that what was going to get revealed in 2012's Real Marriage, that up through about 2006 the Driscoll's were kind of miserable in their marriage. Then again, this is a quote from the first print edition of Confessions that was published a decade ago.  Things can change in ten years, including print editions.

So, occasionally, maybe this blog will still track stuff like that.

What's been remarkable about the press coverage and the video statements Team Driscoll's been making about the prospective church in a UPS mailbox that's launching later this year is that they don't seem all that eager to talk about Mars Hill.  Greater love hath no one than a guy who quit being a pastor at the only church he said he'd ever been a member of so that he could go "heal up" and start another one somewhere else after having spent the previous decade saying over and over he wasn't planning on going anywhere.

Something Ellul mentioned repeatedly in Propaganda seems worth repeating here and not "just" because it's been time for the two party system to make use of the propaganda that's inevitable in a technological society.  Ellul stated that while many people have worked with the assumption that propaganda consists of spin and lies this is not the case.  Frequently propagandists care a great deal about facts, details and accuracy in informational claims.  Ellul proposed that the real deceit was in the narrative used to interpret the information that was presented. The lie was not in the facts themselves but in what the propagandist would say the facts meant. 

Anyone remember FY2012 at Mars Hill?  The one Mark Driscoll said was their best year ever?

Our fiscal year, our budget year, runs from July through June, so we just finished our fiscal year, and those who are administratively gifted and allow us to steward the resources that God has given us, have put together a final year-end report, and I’m really excited to share it with you.

Before I get into the details, let me just say, we have just completed the greatest year in the history of Mars Hill Church, any single way you measure it: number of people, number of baptisms, number of Community Groups, number of people in Community Groups, number of Redemption Groups, number of people in Redemption Groups, number of weddings, number of children, number of services, number of locations. Whatever variable you would take a look at, it’s the highest it’s ever been.

In the fifteen years of Mars Hill Church, we’ve just completed the greatest year we’ve ever had, and I can say with full confidence, it’s firstfruits and there’s much, much more to come. So, I want to start by saying thank you, Lord Jesus, for loving Mars Hill Church. And I want to thank you who love Mars Hill Church, and some of Jesus’ love is coming through you as you give, as you serve, as you pray, as you care.
Yet raw statistics need context.

Turned out that based on a memo Sutton Turner sent in earlier 2012, it seemed that even if Mark Driscoll would later say FY2012 was the greatest year ever, prior to that announcement it appeared someone in the top brass thought Mars Hill was on the brink of financial disaster.

Then there's correspondence from Dave Bruskas from May 2012, documented by Warren Throckmorton.
From Pastor Mark:

These are tough seasons. Personally we love our staff. Pastorally we are concerned for our staff. Practically we grieve for our staff. Professionally we don’t have a choice but to reduce our staff. We simply have to live within our means. If we reduce staff now we can provide lead time for people to find an option while receiving severance. Had we not done this we would have had to reduce staff without severance this summer. We know this is hard but it is better than the alternative. The various leaders making these decisions across four states have prayed and labored over these tough calls. Your Exec Elders have cut first and deepest. Central is reduced 40% and working double time. We are vacating our offices reducing our staff and in contact nearly every hour every day pulling together and seeking Jesus’ wisdom. Your Executive Pastor Sutton is up at 4am everyday praying for our church. Now is a time for everyone to pray and love a lot. Lastly, without being improper we’ve frankly been through tougher times and deeper cuts before. After 15 years i can say this is not the worst storm we’ve weathered. We will get through it together by Gods grace. Trust me on this fact.

That was just a few days after Mark and Grace Driscoll, using the financial instrument Future Hope Revocable Living Trust, purchased a roughly one million dollar home in Woodway.

You might remember it, that house that Russ Bowen visited for a news report, from inside which someone who kinda sounded like Mark Driscoll said "wrong address"?  The address about which, apparently, Driscoll was willing to admit that it was, in fact, his home to share a story about one of his kids being afraid of a chopper flying overhead?  That one.

Driscoll simply declared FY2012 was the greatest year ever in the history of Mars Hill.  There were stats from earlier in the calendar year showing that giving was less than hoped-for. There were even references to a series of layoffs.  But when it came time to sum things up, those statistics were glossed over for "greatest year ever".  If there was a lie in there in all that it wasn't likely in the statistics but in a remarkably bold declaration of how great the year was regardless of what the actual facts on the ground were.  Ellul would propose that that's precisely the way propaganda works.  In 2013 Driscoll would regale Mars Hill with the claim "We're not a wealthy church" as if about 24.6 million dollars in net income for 2012 was small potatoes in the non-profit scene.

Now, sure, perhaps could say that spin-masters and politicians and preachers excel in this sort of thing.  Maybe it's their bread and butter.  But if it is, if what we're looking at is nothing short of propaganda then it behooves us all to study the details.  Yeah, yeah, we can consider the dubious master narrative but we also consider the details. 

When I started blogging a decade ago I certainly never imagined this blog would end up being thought of as a watchblog.  I also didn't imagine that I wouldn't be at Mars Hill. 

It would be nice to shift the blog entirely back to things like music and animation and stuff like that.  It would appear some guy is determined to keep on keeping on.  So, if intermittently, we'll keep tabs on some stuff but this year maybe we'll get to discussing Ellul's ideas about propaganda and see how they may be able to explain everything from media/tech use in the culture of Mars Hill to the relevance of small groups in Ellul's explanation of propagandistic dynamics. 

So for those who have slogged through the last ten years, thanks for reading Wenatchee The Hatchet.  Here's hoping for a few more years of being able to write about music, theology, the arts, and maybe sometimes the history of the Puget Sound church scene. 

Thanks for reading. This certainly has turned out to be what I envisioned for the blog when I started it back in 2006.