Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Announcement from Mark Driscoll that Bill Clem is resigning leadership of Mars Hill Ballard, Alex Early replacing him.

For those of you who've read the earlier blog posts about Bill Clem's role in getting Doxa to Mars Hill where it became Mars Hill West Seattle; and for those who read the earlier blog posts about Clem's salary and hours compared to those of co-founding pastor Lief Moi; this update may be of some interest. You can search for all Clem-related posts earlier in this blog at your leisure. 

Ballard | Priority Topic
Pastor Mark Driscoll
From Pastor Mark Driscoll:
Dear Mars Hill Ballard,
I look forward to seeing you at the members meeting tomorrow night. I’ll be present with the other Mars Hill executive elders (Pastor Dave Bruskas and Pastor Sutton Turner) and the Ballard leadership team to announce the transition of my friend Pastor Bill Clem. Obviously this is a very significant meeting, and I hope you can join us from 7–8 p.m. at Mars Hill Ballard (childcare provided). Before we get together in person, I wanted to write you this letter to convey the details and help you prepare.
My friendship with Pastor Bill began before he joined the staff at Mars Hill. He was part of our Acts 29 church-planting network. I witnessed Pastor Bill care for his first wife, Jeanne, as she died of cancer. It was a devastating experience that lasted for years.
Pastor Bill has taught me a ton about suffering, faithfulness, and how to be a pastor through the darkest of days. He was planting a church in West Seattle while caring for his wife when he joined Mars Hill and his church plant became Mars Hill West Seattle. Pastor Bill has since made a huge deposit in our church, particularly through the content in his Disciple book that we published. He is well loved and respected. Therefore, it is with many mixed emotions that I announce my friend’s resignation.
To be absolutely clear, Pastor Bill’s transition is not the result of any conflict or sin (in fact, we will honor him publicly at all services on January 27). Mars Hill Ballard is in a season of major change. After sending out dozens of leaders, thousands of members, and millions of dollars as the longtime launching pad for a church that now spans 15 locations in four states, it’s time for Ballard to find out what the next season of fruitfulness looks like as a local church. It’s going to be a big project that takes a lot of years, energy, and effort. After months of prayerful consideration, God’s made it clear to Pastor Bill: he’s not the man to lead whatever’s next for Ballard.
I would gladly have Pastor Bill serve in another position at Mars Hill Church, but he is feeling called to something new in his next season of life. He has my full support in this decision, and though I am sad to see him go, I am forever grateful for his service. He remains my friend and should remain yours.
To help make this announcement, I asked Pastor Bill to share some thoughts from his perspective:
Dear Ballard Family,
My heart is torn as I write this joint letter with my friend and pastor, Mark Driscoll. While I look forward to what God has in store next, there is sadness in closing a chapter of my life that has been so rewarding. I have enjoyed so many relationships and profound experiences at Mars Hill.
At the very time our churches merged, Shoreline was just launching, and a third location in West Seattle immediately catapulted Mars Hill into the multi-site world. I came to Mars Hill at a time of major expansion, I served on the team that developed our Redemption Group ministry, I helped design our training for Community Group leaders, and I was also given the opportunity to be on the launch team for the ReTrain—all of this in addition to the privilege of shepherding the flock at Ballard as lead pastor. I am truly grateful. I have never felt more loved or respected than I have by you. I have needed a grace-filled family to process the loss of a spouse while trying to stay in step with Jesus and starting my new life married to Sue. More recently, I was responsible for shepherding the Ballard church through our transformation from Mars Hill hub to local ministry focus. We have made the shift from audience to army.
These assignments have been challenging to me and clarifying for me. As Mars Hill Ballard moves into a new chapter in its life, I realize I am best suited for the design and launch aspects of ministry. This has led me to believe that God is asking me to join a church team where I can serve in many of the ways I have served here. Mars Hill Ballard needs a leader who can mobilize the people as well as engage Ballard’s changing culture and growing population. I am grateful and believe that God provided just such a leader for Ballard in bringing Pastor
Alex to us.
As Pastor Bill mentioned, Alex Early will be the new lead pastor of Mars Hill Ballard, effective this month. Pastor Alex and his family are new to Seattle in the past year, but he has a proven track record and many longstanding relationships at Mars Hill Church from his years as a church planter in Georgia with Acts 29.
Pastor Alex brings a ton of experience and education to his new role. At the age of 32, he already has three degrees, two kids, three years of church planting, and eight years of marriage to his wife, Jana. He just finished up his first book, which is due out next year, and he’s currently a doctoral candidate at Reformed Theological Seminary. In 2009, Pastor Alex planted Four Corners Church in a bar with a core group of 14 people, and the church grew to 400 in three years. He is a man who loves people, loves the church, and loves the Bible because he loves Jesus very much.
We’re incredibly blessed to have Pastor Alex on the Mars Hill team. He joined us last year as a member of our Lead Pastor Residency program. Since then, Pastor Alex and his family have moved to the Ballard area and built strong relationships with many people at Mars Hill Church, especially the Ballard leadership team. His original plan was to head back to Georgia to plant a new Mars Hill Church in Atlanta, but God gave him a heart for Mars Hill Ballard instead. I asked Pastor Alex to share what that process has been like:
I love Mars Hill Ballard for a number of reasons. For starters, we share a history together. In 2006, it was from Pastor Mark’s podcasts distributed from Mars Hill Ballard that I first learned about what a missional Christian life actually is supposed to look like. This led to my decision to quit my cushy church job and become a barback at a gay bar with the intention of becoming a friend of sinners and sharing Jesus. That experienced snowballed into a church plant, which began in that very bar where the lesbian owner converted and gave us the meeting space for free.
In addition to Pastor Mark’s preaching, Mars Hill Ballard launched Acts 29 and Resurgence, ministries which helped me define my convictions and gave me a tribe to belong to (I’m more “Ballard” than “Southern”).
In 2009, I got on a plane and came to Mars Hill Ballard, right after I planted our church and my father suddenly passed away. I came here to go to an Acts 29 Boot Camp and just escape and seek encouragement. I bumped into Pastor Dave Bruskas, and he prayed over me. That moment, God filled my heart with love for his people and this place in a way that I can’t quite articulate.
While living in London, my wife and I would download Mars Hill podcasts, transcripts, and music and listen to everything we could coming out of Mars Hill Ballard. I became well acquainted with the church while commuting on the tube and finishing my second Master’s degree.
Mars Hill Ballard has been used significantly by Jesus to literally impact the whole world! It doesn’t make any sense outside of the fact that Jesus loves Ballard and continues to confound the world by using unlikely people in unusual places for his unrivaled kingdom. From obscurity like Nazareth to hot spots like Ballard, Jesus has his fingerprints all over the world and his presence is seen and felt everywhere!
The Ballard neighborhood is on the verge of a massive influx of new families, new people, new opportunities. Businesses will boom and our church is PERFECTLY poised to welcome thousands to our city and thousands to the family of God!
Many cities are struggling to survive. Ballard is the opposite—bracing for the impact of thousands of incomers. Historically, one slogan that has marked the neighborhood is “Free Ballard.” That’s exactly what Jesus has come to give: true freedom. Freedom from sin, death, self, and Satan.
Our family moved here on August 26. Since then, I have had numerous opportunities to share the gospel with people all over our city. In pubs, the gym, coffee shops, at Rudy’s barbershop, in the park—you name it. I’ve been able to connect with many people that are far from God, and I’ve been able to become friends with them and share with them how Jesus has changed my life.
After a church event a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I walked into a pub in Ballard for dinner and were invited by two other couples walking in at the same time to sit with them. We had never met! We sat down with them, and I had the opportunity to tell the group about how Jesus changed my life. Everyone else in the group was agnostic, and they looked at me totally shocked and asked to know more about my faith and why I trust Jesus. I had the great privilege of telling them about him. Since then, I’ve been texting with one of the guys and plan to meet up soon to talk more.
I’m genuinely humbled and excited to be here. I never dreamed that I would get to be part of such a significant church that so loves Jesus, his people, and those who have yet to become his people.
I hope you can see it, Mars Hill: God cares deeply about the people of North Seattle. Though he has called Pastor Bill to a new season of ministry, he has provided an excellent leader to carry on with the mission. What that means is there is still work to be done. God has people he wants to save in Ballard, Crown Hill, Loyal Heights, Northgate, Greenwood, Maple Leaf, Phinney Ridge, Green Lake, Broadview, Fremont, and beyond.
All across the city there is new life about to take place, and Jesus has uniquely prepared and called this church for the harvest. Pray for Pastor Bill. Pray for your new leader, Pastor Alex. Then, follow the Holy Spirit boldly as he calls this congregation to step out in faith and share Jesus with a people in great need.
I love you very much, Mars Hill Ballard. Thank you for all you’ve done for the sake of our church and the cause of Christ.


Sophia Grace said...


Anonymous said...

I could very well be wrong, but i get the impression that when the numbers (donations, attendance, baptisms) don't come out favorably, then that pastor who formerly headed that particular campus is suddenly "not called" there. Possibly under some persuasion to resign.

Anonymous said...

Do you find it odd that House left Mars Hill and is now a pastor at Sojourn Community Church, Louisville? I wonder which A29 or former A29 church Clem will end up? Is Mars Hill just trading out old A29 guys for new A29 guys?

Anonymous said...

Rev. Driscoll announced, "I’ll be present with the other Mars Hill executive elders (Pastor Dave Bruskas and Pastor Sutton Turner) and the Ballard leadership team to announce the transition of my friend Pastor Bill Clem."

Makes one wonder if the Rev. Driscoll's "friend" was actually there to announce his "transition" to the members. Do you know?

Anonymous said...

And the wheels on the bus go round and round! All over pastors! And the people of the idol Driscoll said "amen".

One less watchman on the wall. He's free of their blood. A good man who stayed too long.

Anonymous said...

well acquainted with Alex, nothing bad to say about him, but when I read his description of his history with 'Mark Hill,' was reminded of 1 Corinthians 1:11-17.
which is to say I think MHC and A29 make disciples all day long, but sometimes maybe not of Jesus, exactly.

11For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. 12Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ." 13Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. 16Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Clem's resignation is significant in light of his being mentioned as one of two pastors brought on through church assimilation in Driscoll's April 2012 pitch "Is Your Church Interested in Becoming Part of Mars Hill?"

In mid-2012 Driscoll shared from the pulpit that Mars Hill leadership had been pursuing an economic model that was not sustainable for the future. The older method was to buy real estate and send out existing interested church-planting cores to the newly acquired real estate.

Clem is now officially out and so last year's pitch that some great leaders have come in through transfer growth is now reduced to Bruskas. More careful study of how Bruskas got involved may suggest Bruskas was already sitting on some prime real estate valuable for MH expansion outside WA. Former MH pastors Bill Clem and James Noriega were sitting on real estate Driscoll had wanted for MH for a decade. Driscoll approached Clem about MH making use of Doxa, an A29 church plant, when Jeannie Clem (Clem's deceased first wife) had been diagnosed with cancer. Clem offered the real estate to Driscoll, by Clem's own account. He found out his wife was going to die of cancer and he was being approached by the man who was the A29 church planting scout of 2002 who was in A29 with David Nicholas when Clem wwas sent out as an A29 church planter. All that stuff is available to read in the rest of the real estate series for those interested in that background.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Anonymous from 1/11/13 at 7:30pm

I hadn't heard of Alex Early before but he sounds like a decent enough guy. I'm willing to accept that up front. My worry for him and other guys who are brought into MH leadership without knowing much of the internal history of the place is they'll be happy and useful for as long as the honeymoon stage within the leadership culture lasts or they remain useful. If Alex Early is fortunate (or not?) he'll be useful for a long time.

Anonymous said...

WTH: Alex kept a low profile for someone in the network who's church grew very rapidly and who had a reputation among a29 guys as a Bible guru. He's well educated, and was affable the few times we talked. He never tooted his own horn that I could tell. You couldn't find him on social media until maybe a year ago. I hope he will be a good addition to MHC, and not another yes man. Hopefully he's not starry-eyed about getting a seat at the big boy table, but that's how the announcement sounds to me. Thanks for all your work here, it's hugely beneficial. More than you may know.

Anonymous said...

He is no longer at Ballard