Saturday, March 29, 2014

Warren Throckmorton reprints recent MH BOAA statement, a few observations

A few brief comments about a number of statements:

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

So charges got made.  As in, at all.  And the person who made the charges wouldn't identify the seven parties. Given even the occasional anonymous comments here at Wenatchee The Hatchet one guess as to the common theme of the complaints might be the leadership styles of Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner in particular.

Let's set aside the seven and the charges for the time being, and go back to see what we found earlier about what was regarded as the process to follow in the event that formal charges got made against Mark Driscoll.

Because at one point in 2012 (May 31, 2012) the statement at the Mars Hill Governance page looked like this:

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

That wording was discussed over here in a blog post on June 29, 2013.  A more general discussion of documentable changes in the governance page for Mars Hill Church is over here.

Now if you want to stroll through captures to see how drastically the wording on the Governance page would change from 2012 to 2013 go through all the capture dates.  It's a slog, to be sure, but informative in its way.  That Chris Pledger was still mentioned as an officer of Mars Hill Church for THIS screen capture from November 25, 2012:

When his last Sunday was ...
Chris Pledger@ChrisPledger 27 May 12
Last church service . Very thankful for the ministry and mission of Mars Hill and the privilege to have been part of it.
7:26 PM - 27 May 2012 via HootSuite ·

Meant that the site was overdue, by months, for some updating.  So that may have been simply necessary in any event.  So, again, there were charges.  Since the person who made the charges didn't name the seven what Michael Van Skaik, on behalf of the BOAA appears to have recently stated is:

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

So 100 people were contacted and 18 responded and of those 18 no one came up with any feedback or comments that were considered evidence for any of the leaders being disqualified from ministry.

Since none of the eighteen are any less anonymous than the seven how does any of this mean anything just yet?  Treating an 18 percent response rate in a 100+ survey to be significant seems statistically implausible, even if we assume that such things could be statistically meaningful anyway.  But the response rate being so small should be a concern in itself.  A guy who claims that only three of fifteen previous girlfriends were willing to address the issue of whether his behavior might have been troublesome enough for a woman to issue a restraining order would not be making the most compelling case for himself.  By this analogy, the BOAA relying on the fact that only 18 responded and that of those 18 nobody came up with stuff the BOAA considered grounds for executive elders being disqualified from ministry seems, well, like a potentially grand-scale case of cherry-picking.  Would Van Skaik and company be willing to reconnect with those 100+ again, just in case, to see if they can get more responses?  It might be a good idea.

There's something worth quoting from Michael Van Skaik from the statement republished by Throckmorton:

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

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

Michael Van Skaik

Since the BOAA includes Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner how surprised will anyone be that the BOAA has seen fit to stand by their men? 

Now if it were possible to review any of the content from even one of the 18 of the 100+ who responded that might be informative. 

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