It also turned out that Mark Driscoll stated at marshill.fm he had a dream in which Brad Currah was leading worship and repeatedly informed Brad that this was what was going to transpire. That will be the subject of another post. What we'll visit here in this post is the transition from Brad Currah to Tim Smith in leading music.
CONFESSIONS OF A REFORMISSION REV
(C) 2006 BY MARK DRISCOLL
CHAPTER FIVE, 350-1,000 PEOPLE
We had to quickly reorganize all of our systems and staff. Our administrative pastor, Eric, left, which we all recognized was God's call on him. And our worship leader was a great guy and great musician but was unable to coordinate the multiple bands in the three locations, so we let him go. This was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made because he was a very godly man who had worked very hard and would have been fine if the church had not gotten so crazy so quickly, and he and his very sweet wife were both close personal friends of mind. But I needed a worship pastor who could lead mltiple bands, coordinate multiple services in multiple locations, and train multiple worship pastors while keeping up with a church that was growing so fast that we had no idea exactly where it was going. I had no one who could possibly fill this role but felt compelled to wait until God let me know, so I just left a gaping hole in our leadership to create a crisis that would force a leader to emerge.
So this would suggest that Driscoll and other leaders at Mars Hill found Brad Currah to have been inadequate to the task of organizing multiple bands at three campuses and he was let go. Currah would eventually be replaced with Tim Smith.
Tim Smith came to Mars Hill Church in the summer of 1999, never having owned an electric guitar, been in a band, or written a song. Somehow, by God’s grace, he became the worship pastor there and has been able to hang on and give shape to a movement of well over 30 worship bands leading many campuses. Tim is the husband of Beth and the father of three daughters. He also leads Re:Sound, a missional network of music and artists here on the Resurgence.
There's no a sign of Re:Sound anywhere save through visitations by means of a cache or The WayBack Machine.
In fact Re:Sound was not the talk of the town within Mars Hill by March 2012. Driscoll wwas talking with Jon Dunn about Mars Hill starting a record label.
By this time Smith was transitioning into being a campus pastor at Mars Hill Portland, if memory serves, and by the start of January 2013 what Mark Driscoll had said was going to be the launch of a Mars Hill music label turned into Mars Hill partnering with Tooth & Nail Records.
But let's backtrack to how Tim Smith transitioned into leading music and worship at Mars Hill because while Mark Driscoll mentioned in Confessions that he and other leaders decided to let the former worship leader go there's no account of how Tim Smith was brought in and who was involved in that in books. There is, however, a video interview between Mark Driscoll and Tim Smith.
October 4, 2008
Pastor Mark Driscoll here from Mars Hill Church and President of The Resurgence with my good buddy, dear friend, and fellow elder at Mars Hill Tim Smith.
So in 2008 there was The Resurgence and Mark Driscoll described himself as the president. Whether it's the thing that became Resurgence Publishing Inc is something that can be left to the initiative of others to clarify for now. Whatever The Resurgence was, Mark was it's president and in this interview he refers to Tim Smith having been at Mars Hill or connected to it for ten years.
starting around 02:36
I ended up in St. Louis, MO, of all places. I had a friend there who asked me if I wanted to come work for a church and a Lutheran church, actually, over there. And halfway through my 18 months there I went to a conference in Santa Fe, NM where I met you for the first time.
MD: [speaking while TS is still speaking] That's where we met.
MD: Yeah, I was teaching at a con, and that was how many years ago? ... Nine?
TS: Ten. Ten, because I showed up at Mars Hill in August of `99.
MD: Yeah, and you and Beth lived with Grace and I for a couple months. You guys were relocating to Seattle
TS: Yeah ... has anyone else just moved here, moved into your house?
MD: It's happened before. [TS laughs] Usually we have to get a restraining order. It worked out pretty good, uh, so you guys moved up to Seattle just to hang out, just to serve. We didn't have a staff position, we didn't have any money. Mars Hill was what, 150, 200 people then?
TS: It was two years old, 200 people. The height of my ambition was to come and get back to the Northwest. I wanted to get out of the Midwest. I wanted to be at a church with people that loved Jesus that were my age because I wasn't around that in the Midwest. ...
The last thing I thought I would be when I came here was a pastor. I was not in good shape, my marriage was not in good shape. I had no idea what it meant to be a husband, biblically. There was a lot of hidden sin in my life, it was just a mess. ...
So far the narrative is pretty standard fare, man comes to the Northwest with a troubled marriage and no clear sense of how to be a proper man until he witnesses the example of proper manliness at Mars Hill. What seems to have happened, according to Tim Smith, was he and Mark Driscoll met at a conference in 1998 in New Mexico. For those who may not remember this detail, 1998 up through the start of 1999 seems to have been, by Mark Driscoll's account the eighth season in the history of Mars Hill:
Seasons of Grace: The Story of Mars Hill
By Pastor Mark Driscoll
... In the eighth season, our worship ministry was in great disarray and I had a dream that Brad Currah, who had been a member of our core group before the launch, was leading worship. I repeatedly informed Brad that he was to be our worship leader and after numerous conversations he began volunteering time overseeing the worship and arts ministries. Brad had spent a few years playing the club scene with his band Springchamber, but was quickly overwhelmed with the demands of his first time pastorate and quit his job at Microsoft to free up time for ministry and hoped to live off of his wife Devonna's salary. But, she soon became pregnant and needed to quit her job. I then got a call from a pastor in Florida who had a network that funded church plants. Grace and I met with Pastor David Nicholas at Spanish River Church, and his church planting network agreed to help us financially. This gift allowed us to bring Brad on full-time, which has culminated in a fantastic independent worship album, multiple worship teams, and an aggressive set of new songs written by some of our many gifted artists.
This was when Mark Driscoll said he had a dream of Brad Currah leading worship and repeatedly informed Currah he was to be the Mars Hill Church worship leader. But apparently during this same season Mark Driscoll met Tim Smith at a conference in New Mexico.
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006Excerpts from page 146-148
I first met Tim [Smith] while teaching at a conference in New Mexico for Leadership Network. He had been raised in a Baptist home in Portland and was working as a youth worship leader at a Lutheran church in Missouri. Tim and his wife, Beth, moved to Seattle simply hoping that Tim would become a guitar player in one of our worship teams. Tim and his wife lived with Grace and me for a few months until they got settled, and I saw in Tim some very strong leadership qualities that had not been cultivated. So I spent a lot of time investing in Tim, as I was with Jamie. Tim had never played in a band, written a song, or played an electric guitar. Additionally, he did not know how to sing, and it sounded like he'd been hit by a car when he tried to hit high notes.
So Driscoll had met Smith at a conference for Leadership Network some time in 1998.
For sake of review, let's go back to what Tim Smith said in the film God's Work, Our Witness about how and why Mark Driscoll literally and figuratively invested in his being a leader at Mars Hill:
Pastor Tim: Years later, I would ask Mark, I asked him, “Why in the world did you do that? Because I’m pretty sure you haven’t just taken anybody else in, and I’m not sure I would exactly the same way, either.” And he said that he had a dream that God told him that I was moving here, and we were supposed to work together. I had no idea what was in store, but apparently God did.
Now let's get back to the 2008 interview where Mark Driscoll talks with Tim Smith about the period in which Tim Smith ascended to leadership of music at Mars Hill Church:
from about 5:30
MD: At the time we were at a place as a church that things were very disorganized, very loose. We had a number of good musicians but we didn't have any good leadership to really put it all together. I remember you came into my office one day and said, "Give me the whole department, music and worship [TS smiles and nods] Let me give it a shot and if I do a good job then bring my on staff and if I don't do a good job then don't bring me on staff. [emphasis added] But at that point ... I don't think you ever played an electric guitar.
TS: Hnn-nn [shakes his head]
MD: You had never played in a band
TS: [smiling] No
MD: And, dude, I love you but you know you could not sing.
TS: Yeah, I was not a good singer.
MD: You know it sounded like you got captured by al-Qaeda [TS laughs] It was terrible. So I was, like, "Okay, you want to run the music department
... but you were a really good leader and I had a really, really, I loved you and had a good friendship with you and just felt like we were brothers right off the beginning of the relationship, and saw in you good teaching ability, love for the Bible, good leadership, you do have a sweet wife and you guys were getting your life put together. And so you took it and the first thing you did was fire everybody and cancelled everything. [TS laughs], bought an electric guitar, got vocal lessons [TS laughs], put some things together. So you've been with us, then, for ten years.
So Tim Smith, by Mark Driscoll's account in a 2008 interview with Tim Smith, directly petitioned Mark Driscoll to give him complete control over the entire music department. At precisely this point, however, Mark Driscoll noted that Tim Smith had virtually no demonstrable musical competence. What Driscoll knew about Smith from their first meeting at a conference in New Mexico with Leadership Network, was that Tim Smith was, well, interested in leadership stuff. People who attend leadership conferences could be construed as self-selectively being interested in leading people. And both Smith and Driscoll seem clear that by October 8, 2008 Tim Smith had had some connection to Mars Hill for a full decade. Tim Smith also stated that when he arrived Mars Hill Church was two years old. That would have required an official launch of 1997. But ...
In the fourth season, we launched the church in October 1996 at 6pm with an attendance around 200, which included many friends and supporters. The attendance leveled off shortly thereafter, somewhere around 100 adults, and we continued meeting until the Christmas season.
Mark Driscoll said the church launched in October 1996. Perhaps Tim Smith misremembered things.
About 7 minutes into the 2008 interview Mark Driscoll tells Tim Smith, "The church has really grown with you and, in large part, I think, because of you." We know that Driscoll credited Tim Smith and Jamie Munson as the two guys with whom he worked to reverse-engineer Mars Hill Church to the size of 3000 people. As in from Confessions p 147-148"
So I began to reverse-engineer a plan for our church to grow to more than three thousand people with help from Jamie and Tim. In the end we decided that what was in the best interest of our mission to the city was not in the best interests of each of our elders. I knew God was compelling me to state the vision to the elders. And I knew that vision would quite possibly split the church three ways between the founders--Lief, Mike, and me. Nonetheless I met with our elders to seek their input on the recommended changes, knowing it could undo all that we had worked so hard to accomplish. We spent a lengthy day going over the proposal, and things were tense.
So as Driscoll put it in 2008, Tim Smith directly advocated to be in charge of music at Mars Hill Church. The 2011 fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness features Tim Smith saying Mark Driscoll told him that he'd had a dream where God told him Smith was coming there. Of course in the 2008 account Mark Driscoll says Tim Smith openly sought the role of running worship and music at Mars Hill in spite of the fact that by Driscoll's own account Tim had no obviously demonstrable competence in anything musical. But we've established that Mark Driscoll knew by this time from having met Smith in 1998 at a conference with Leadership Network that Smith had an interest in leadership of some kind, and Driscoll surmised Smith's leadership potentially vastly outweighed his lack of musical competence. So Driscoll paid for Smith to have music lessons and get his first electric guitar.
What Driscoll tells Smith about 7 minutes into the 2008 interview is this, "The church has really grown with you and, in large part, I think, because of you."
So let's review, by Driscoll's account he let Brad Currah go (though he didn't directly name him) because it was believed Currah was not keeping things organized once Mars Hill had gone multi-site. Rather than directly appoint a replacement Driscoll decided to intentionally leave the music situation in chaos to see who would rise to the top. That's the Confessions version.
But in the 2008 interview Mark Driscoll tells Tim Smith that Smith directly petitioned to run music for a short period of time and that if things went well to bring him on staff. Driscoll then states that the first thing Tim did when he was put in charge was fire everybody and cancel everything. Was this during the period after which Tim Smith was formally put on paid staff or did Tim Smith do all this firing as a volunteer? By whose authority? In any case, both Smith and Driscoll agreed in October 2008 that they had known each other for ten years, which means the two would have met in 1998. Driscoll's dream about Smith coming to Seattle would have happened between that Leadership Network conference in 1998 and the Smiths' arrival in 1999. Roughly during this period of time, it seems, Driscoll was grooming Brad Currah to be worship leader at Mars Hill and Mark and Grace Driscoll even went so far as to petition David Nicholas to provide funds through which Brad Currah would be able to be paid a salary. And during this time, it seems, Mark Driscoll had some dream about Tim Smith, at least according to Tim Smith's account of Driscoll's words in the 2011 film God's Work, Our Witness.
Smith's account in the film is quite a bit more passive than Driscoll's account of his activity in the 2008 interview. The fundraising film features Smith giving an account in which he wonders why Driscoll would have invested so much in him being a leader at Mars Hill when he had no musical background. By contrast, the account Mark Driscoll gives Tim Smith in the 2008 interview, with Tim Smith nodding and laughing at regular intervals, is that they met at a conference in 1998 and that Tim took a considerable amount of initiative to seek control of music and worship at Mars Hill and this before he had any competency in music yet.
So there you have it. It forms a cohesive narrative with different emphases depending on time and place and is vetted directly by the two primary participants, Mark Driscoll and Tim Smith. Now while there are no doubt those who might have reasons to doubt the veracity of what Driscoll and Smith might say that's not really what is germane to this post, which is to establish what Driscoll and Smith have cumulatively said about Smith's rise in the period in which Brad Currah was apparently let go.
It would seem that by Tim Smith's account in a video posted September 28, 2013 that he was the first worship pastor at Mars Hill Church, as though there was never a person named Brad Currah in the history of Mars Hill and that if there was he wasn't a worship pastor.
... I first came to Mars Hill in August of 1999. That was almost fourteen years ago. At that point in time it was about 200 people in a rented space and has grown to be an amazing movement since then. I was the first worship pastor at the church and I served for many years. ...
Tim Smith arriving in August of 1999 meant he arrived shortly after Mark Driscoll had recruited Brad Currah to lead worship (by at least one of Driscoll's accounts) and after Mark and Grace Driscoll had sought aid from David Nicholas to ensure Currah would have a salary to lead worship.
In the eighth season, our worship ministry was in great disarray and I had a dream that Brad Currah, who had been a member of our core group before the launch, was leading worship. I repeatedly informed Brad that he was to be our worship leader and after numerous conversations he began volunteering time overseeing the worship and arts ministries. Brad had spent a few years playing the club scene with his band Springchamber, but was quickly overwhelmed with the demands of his first time pastorate and quit his job at Microsoft to free up time for ministry and hoped to live off of his wife Devonna's salary. But, she soon became pregnant and needed to quit her job. I then got a call from a pastor in Florida who had a network that funded church plants. Grace and I met with Pastor David Nicholas at Spanish River Church, and his church planting network agreed to help us financially. This gift allowed us to bring Brad on full-time, which has culminated in a fantastic independent worship album, multiple worship teams, and an aggressive set of new songs written by some of our many gifted artists.
Whether or not Tim Smith was the first worship pastor at Mars Hill might depend on how literally and stringently one defines titles.