I wanted to write this post about a month ago, but something about it wasn’t right. I’m glad I didn’t because a few new developments have changed the dynamics of our church and made it all the more interesting.
This past week at Mars Hill Church Downtown Seattle, our Lead Pastor Tim Gaydos unexpectedly resigned. The immediate reaction of course is to look for scandal as our leaders well know. I’m fully expecting this from the usual Mars Hill internet trolls. Unfortunately for them there’s nothing sinful or scandalous to uncover. Pastor Gaydos is simply being called to something else, which I suspect will involve a great deal of preaching and teaching, two things with which he is richly blessed. The only people who knew about his impending resignation were Pastor Gaydos and his wife. Even our Executive Elders, Pastors Mark, David and Sutton, were all surprised, which was plainly visible on their faces at our member’s meeting on March 11th.
Now Wenatchee does not self-identify as a Mars Hill internet troll in any fashion, though perhaps there are people out there who will insist on such an identification, erroneous as that is. Even if that label is chosen that would be from ignorance of the number of conspiracy theories Wenatchee has publicly shot down within the comments sections at this blog for want of any evidence.
Now if Gaydos is being called to some other capacity in which teaching and preaching are things he gets to do then more power to him. :) May it go well for him. Anywhere in any church capacity would likely provide more opportunities to preach and teach than heading a multi-site installment at Mars Hill at this point.
In addition to Pastor Gaydos, both Pastors Tim Beltz and Will Little are also resigning and will exit over the next couple of months. Pastor Beltz announced his resignation at the same meeting. Following a recent trip to an Acts 29 church plant in Louisville, KY, Beltz witnessed a great need for an Executive Pastor there. The elders of that church have asked him to come serve in that capacity and after much prayer Beltz accepted. This occurred over the previous two or three weeks.
How recently the trip to an Acts 29 church plant in Kentucky took place could be fleshed out.Tim Beltz' role in the 2007 re-org and connection to notifying Mars Hill of Moi's transition out of leadership got discussed at some length here. Why Beltz stopped being an executive elder within Mars Hill has never really gotten much explanation and if the author at Event Horizon can clear that up that'd be great.
In the case of Pastor Little, from what I understand he has his fingers in several projects within our community, in addition to caring for his family and raising his children. After seeking counsel from several elders within the church, he’s decided to step down so he can focus his attention on some of these other responsibilities. Again, this took time to develop and was likely building over several months.
This is another as yet unsourced statement. Little's going to be a remarkably obscure name for anyone who wasn't actually inside the culture of Mars Hill. Wenatchee hasn't seen Will or his wife in a few years but Wenatchee sincerely hopes they're both well and in good health. If Little isn't even listed as a pastor in the pastors roster anymore it's unclear what responsibilities within the Mars Hill community Little would be taking part in. Whatever those responsibilities are would not appear to involve any formal pastoral role and what formal role Little will be playing within Mars Hill, if any, remains unclear.
In other words, neither of these resignations have anything to do with Pastor Gaydos stepping down.
Some of us don't know or care if three elders resigning in such close proximity at a single campus in such a short space are connected in any way.
Then after all the above, there's this....
Why waste so much time on this? Because it’s tempting to ignore the facts and pretend this is all connected; that it’s some grand conspiracy. We, as members, don’t need to speculate in such a way because all it does is cause harm. Quite frankly, we don’t need to do it because there are plenty of haters out there who will do it for us. Those people are either ignorant, dumb or aligned with the Enemy. If you find yourself agreeing with them, stop and examine your motives. I would question whether you truly love our church.
Who's tempted to ignore what facts? Now if things have been documented, wonderful, document. Wenatchee has seen plenty of people assert plenty of things but documentation is not always produced. Consider the old case, blogged about at some lengthy here, in which a Jeremy Echols asserted that the reasons for Moi being "de-eldered" were explained in a document that had been made available on The City to anyone who was a member of Mars Hill. What that document was was never explained and what it said could not even be established unless one had access to it, but Echols was confident of the statements in the document.
The author at Event Horizon may well be able to document all of the claims pertaining to Gaydos, Beltz and Little and producing video or documentary evidence of those claims, should he manage to do that, would be great. It would go far in laying to rest the speculation he seems to be concerned about.
From what he's written so far, the author at Event Horizon seems to be relatively new to Mars Hill or he wouldn't wonder why Driscoll has joked about eschatology fans in the way he has. If he was around about 11 years ago when the theonomists were doing their thing more than Secret Rapture fans were then he'd have a bit more perspective. Driscoll and the elders at Mars Hill have deliberately avoided committing either to something like historicist postmillenialism or futurist premillenialism. Wenatchee has no truck with millenarianism in general and a survey of Church history will show that many splinter movements have tended to well up from millenarianist views. Pick some of the Protestant-derived cults in the last two centuries in the United States and peculiar variants of millenarian thought are often to be found, particularly in movements that propose that their movement will get back to the vitality of the early, apostolic period.
The reference to Ephesus with connection to Mars Hill may be apt, though, because while in the epistle to the Ephesians there's commendation in Revelation Ephesus is described as having lost its first love. Some of us who were once members might find the comparison of Mars Hill to Ephesus to be disappointing given the larger trajectory of Ephesus within the canon ... but perhaps also apt. It's not exactly the same church it was ten years ago back when Mark was preaching through Ephesians the last time.