Friday, July 11, 2014

Jamie Munson: Own it and Move On--own and move on from what?

In a somewhat Driscollian fashion, Jamie Munson recounts a story about his son as a way to springboard on to nothing in particular beyond some bromides about leadership and moving on.  Precisely what Jamie Munson could own up to and move on from about Mars Hill in the post is impossible to guess at because Munson's not exactly advertising his career at Mars Hill as much these days as he once did.  Mars Hill, for its part, has gone from Mark Driscoll publicly sharing that Munson was always above reproach to not taking much effort to even mentioning Jamie Munson's name.  And, of course, the link just previously mentioned is utterly dead.

For those who might want to read at least some of that content:

My proposal to the Board of Directors (BOD) is that Pastor Jamie Munson remain an elder at Mars Hill Church Ballard. Following a sabbatical through the end of the year to enjoy his family, rest up, and finish writing a book, he will rejoin us as an unpaid board member at the highest legal level of Mars Hill Church. [Munson ended up on several boards] In God’s providence, the same day that Pastor Jamie made this decision, one of our unpaid BOD members had to resign due to escalating demands at his place of employment. So, while this man will remain an elder at his local Mars Hill Church, it opened a seat on the BOD for an unpaid elder, which Pastor Jamie fills perfectly. We need many more unpaid elders and Pastor Jamie helps us to raise the profile of that service. The plan is simply that Pastor Jamie will remain an elder at Mars Hill indefinitely. He has clearly communicated his desire to stay at Mars Hill and serve as an elder and we welcome this. So, Pastor Jamie is still Pastor Jamie. Also, the door to employment is always open to Pastor Jamie. It has been clearly communicated to him by myself personally and by his performance review team collectively that should he ever change his mind, we would welcome him back on staff at Mars Hill Church. Our bylaws require that our Executive Elder (EE) team have at least three members. Pastor Dave Bruskas and I remain on the EE. Thankfully, Pastor Dave and his family recently moved to Seattle after leading Mars Hill Albuquerque. His leadership, wisdom, and experience come at just the right time and we praise God he is on the team. In God’s providence, the sermon he preached at Mars Hill Ballard will air this Sunday at all our other churches, helping you to get to know him better. To fill Pastor Jamie’s vacancy on the EE, I am recommending that the BOD vote for Pastor Scott Thomas to join the EE for at least the foreseeable future. Pastor Scott has served faithfully for many years as an elder at Mars Hill, is among our most trained and seasoned leaders, is already a BOD member, and has served previously for many years as an EE member while also leading Acts 29.[emphasis added]  Pastor Dave and I both believe Pastor Scott is the best choice for this role in this season. Pastor Scott has been very clear in his love and commitment to Mars Hill and has said he will gladly serve wherever he is needed, which we deeply appreciate. Administratively, Pastor Jamie was our senior "king" and his departure requires very competent leadership to cover his many responsibilities. Thankfully, Pastor Jamie was a great leader and humble man. He surrounded himself with great people.

We are inviting other churches to join us on this big campaign, and in the grace of God I believe 2012 will be the biggest year we’ve ever had. While we celebrate the past and honor the present, we also need to prepare for the future by God’s grace. We’ve been here before, many times before, in fact. As our church grows, we encounter obstacles and hit ceilings of complexity and need to adjust as necessary to get through the next size barrier. This was true at 200, 800, 2,000, and 6,000, just like the experts predicted. At 10,000 we are there again. I’ve been working on the beginnings of a comprehensive plan, as I can see into the future to 25,000 people a week, Lord willing. A finished version of that document will be released once it is revised with input and change from various leaders in the church, as well as wise counsel from leaders of churches larger than ours who have become friends.

For those who are curious, the most significant early event in Jamie Munson's tenure as Lead Pastor at Mars Hill Church was the termination and trial process for Bent Meyer and Paul Petry.  Among the charges Munson formulated for the immediate termination of both men were a couple of points about his authority not being respected.

To date Munson has yet to provide an explanation for why the firings of 2007 were both inevitable and necessary.  The grounds for immediate termination included allegations of nepotism and of disagreement with ministry programs in spite of the fact that none other than Mark Driscoll himself had pilloried some of the kinds of ministries Munson said Petry had been critical of. 

While Munson would eventually explain the bylaws he drafted were needed to architect the church that was Mars Hill Fellowship for a multi-site approach a thorough examination of the 2005 bylaws and the 2007 bylaws does not show that there was more language addressing multi-site.

Munson clearly seemed to consider nothing at all from the 2007 firings and trials to be problematic. 

There is a potential lesson here in Munson's absence from the public face of Mars Hill in spite of Mark Driscoll's accolades, and the lesson is that no matter how important you may think your role is (important enough to decide someone needs to be terminated immediately for not respecting you as you think you deserve) you're still a replaceable cog.  There's not necessarily any reason to even consider Jamie Munson important to the history of Mars Hill now that the guy with "kingly" gifts has been replace with Sutton Turner, who is himself another guy with "kingly" gifts who isn't fundamentally necessary.  Mars Hill is about dudes but what sociologists and psychologists could and have brought to light is that when dudes get together and make systems and organizations those things don't need any one person to survive.  It's been shown true of Jamie Munson, former lead pastor and legal president of Mars Hill, and it may yet even be true of Mark Driscoll himself some day ... assuming at this point that Mars Hill survives Driscoll's bound-to-be-decreasing relevance in the grand arc of human history.

As for what, if anything, Munson would consider worth owning and moving on from his tenure at Mars Hill that would be interesting to consider ... if Munson had said anything other than pious bromides about generic leadership concepts that have no connection to any jobs he's actually had as a leader. Meanwhile, as noted earlier, at this point in the history of Jamie Munson's public career if he doesn't address Joyful Exiles directly at some point it may be the only publicly available witness to his leadership style and substance anyone may be able to consult.

Celebrate the fact that Pastor Jamie is Mars Hill 1.0. He is exactly why Mars Hill exists. A lost young person meets Jesus and grows to be a godly leader, spouse, and parent who loves and leads well by the grace of God with humility and passion. He has given us every day of his life since he was 19 years of age. Mars Hill does not exist as a church of more than maybe a few hundred without God’s grace through Pastor Jamie. If a book were written about what God is doing among us, at least one whole chapter would be devoted to telling the story of God’s grace in Pastor Jamie’s life.
... whether or not a book about Mars Hill gets written remains to be seen but Wenatchee The Hatchet is willing to guess that Mars Hill would not want Wenatchee The Hatchet writing that book.

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