Thursday, August 07, 2014

The old Mark Driscoll "Stepping Up" video as a direct apologia for the 2006-2007 re-org as done for the sake of his wife. The 2013 presents some puzzles for the 2007 and 2008 and 2012 narratives

Real Marriage
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)

from pages 16-17
As Grace began working on her root issues, I hit the wall physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I had been working way too many hours a week for more than a decade as the church exploded and became one of the largest and fastest growing in the nation, in one of the least-churched cities. I wrote books and spoke at conferences, traveling to make extra income so Grace could stay home with our children.

My pay was still low, we had nothing in savings, and we accrued a bit of debt— in a city where the cost of living was high. I preached as many as seven times a Sunday for more than an hour each time, year in and year out, nearly every week of the year, until my adrenal glands and thyroid fatigued, and I finally came to the end of myself in my midthirties. I was breaking, and it seemed there was no help, relief, or sympathy. My veneer of tough, self-reliant husband without any needs was gone. I really needed my wife in ways I had never told her and she was surprised to hear. I needed a new life. I did not need a new job, but a new plan for that job . I also needed a new marriage, but wanted to have a new marriage with the same spouse. So we cleaned up the church, lost around one thousand people due to changes amid intense criticism, laid off a lot of people (many of whom were great), and decided everything would change or we would walk. I refused to die from stress or destroy my marriage and family for the sake of “religious” people and outgrown organizational systems. I found a good doctor and did what I was told to rebuild my health.


I needed a new life. I did not need a new job, but anew plan for that job. I also needed a new marriage, but wanted to have a new marriage with the same spouse. So we cleaned up the church, lost around one thousand people due to changes amid intense criticism, laid off a lot of people (many of whom were great), and decided everything would change or we would walk. I refused to die from stress or destroy my marriage and family for the sake of "religious" people and outgrown organizational systems. I found a good doctor and did what I was told to rebuild my health. Grace and I pulled back from many commitments, got some help, including someone to help her one day a week and someone else to clean the house every other week, and carved out some time to intentionally work on our relationship with Jesus and each other.
pages 207-208

... I (Mark) had been pushing myself hard for more than a decade since Mars Hill Church opened up, and I had overextended myself so much that I had worn out my adrenal glands and gotten an ulcer.

Some Sundays were brutal. I would sneak in a back door, avoiding any human contact because I simply did no thave the emotional wherewithal to spend an entire day hearing of trauma in people's lives and arguing with religious types. At times I actually found myself nodding off on the side of the stage before one of the five services I preached lived. So I foolishly started drinking energy drinks all
day to power through Sundays. After preaching I would go home to sit in the dark and watch television, obviously depressed. Before long I was stressed each night at bedtime as the anxiety over whether or not I could sleep became constant. I felt like a car that could not turn off. I had multiple stress-related symptoms--heartburn, headaches, nervous eye twitch, aggressive driving, constant low-level anger, high blood pressure, and self-medicating with food and drinks packed with fat, sugar, and simple carbohydates, along with caffeine.

Perhaps a few months after things had reached this level, a godly friend in the church, named Jon, scheduled a meeting with me. God had laid it on his heart to speak some wisdom into my life. He did so with great humility, and in that meeting he gave me some insights that were life changing.

Jon had been taking notes on how he organized his life, things he had learned, and what he felt the Holy Spirit had asked him to tell me. His wisdom was a priceless gift. He called it "Reverse Engineering." The big idea was to anticipate life forward and live it backward.

In the ensuing months I sought to add to his wisdom as much insight as I could.  For the church, I met with some of the pastors of the largest churches in America to see what I could learn about how we needed to reorganize. For my health, I found a doctor named John who was a naturopath and ordained pastor and started doing what he told me to do, which has changed my life. For my awareness, I started reading and studying material written by doctors and counselors on stress and adrenaline. For my marriage, I started spending more energy than ever to connect with Grace and get our time together. I also met a bible-based counselor a few times to inquire what I needed to learn and how I could best serve Grace as her friend.  I limped along through the winter and spring making adjustments along the way.
The above narrative seems to posit that Mark Driscoll determined that his health was at stake in how things were going at the church.  By 2006-2007 there were about two dozen elders in place and Mark Driscoll was holding on to a number of roles that he later described as divesting himself of.
A letter from Pastor Mark Driscoll
November 8, 2007
For me personally, everything culminated at the end of 2006. Despite rapid growth, the church was not healthy and neither was I. My  workload was simply overwhelming. I was preaching five times a Sunday, the senior leader in Mars Hill responsible to some degree for literally everything in the church, president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network which had exploded, president of The Resurgence, an author writing books, a conference speaker traveling, a media representative doing interviews, a student attending graduate school, a father with five young children, and a husband to a wife whom I have adored since the first day I met her and needed my focus more than ever. I was working far too many hours and neglecting my own physical and spiritual well-being, and then I hit the proverbial wall. For many weeks I simply could not sleep more than two or three hours a night. I had been running off of adrenaline for so many years that my adrenal glands fatigued and the stress of my responsibilities caused me to be stuck “on” physically and unable to rest or sleep. After a few months I had black circles under my eyes, was seeing a fog, and was constantly beyond exhausted.

Nonetheless, the demands on me continued to grow as the church grew. We added more campuses, gathered more critics, saw more media attention, planted more churches, purchased more real estate, raised more money, and hired more staff. It was at this time that I seriously pondered leaving Mars Hill Church for the first time ever. I still loved our Jesus, loved our mission, loved our city, and loved our people. However, I sunk into a deep season of despair as I considered spending the rest of my life serving at Mars Hill Church. I simply could not fathom living the rest of my life with the pace of ministry and amount of responsibility that was on me. Furthermore, the relational demands of the church and its leaders depleted me entirely. In short, I had lost my joy and wanted to lose my job before I lost my life. Tucking my children in bed at night became a deeply sorrowful experience for me; I truly feared I would either die early from a heart attack or burn out and be left unable to best care for my children in the coming years. I have met many pastors who have simply crossed the line of burnout and never returned to health and sanity and that was my frightful but seemingly inevitable future.

One of the problems was that Mars Hill had essentially outgrown the wisdom of our team and needed outside counsel. The church had grown so fast that some of our elders and other leaders were simply falling behind and having trouble keeping up, which was understandable. To make matters worse, there was a growing disrespect among some elders who were jockeying for and abusing power. The illusion of unity our eldership had maintained over the years was kept in part by my tolerating some men who demanded more power, pay, control, and voice than their performance, character, or giftedness merited. While this was a very short list of men, as elders they had enough power to make life truly painful.
Driscoll described the sheer enormity of burdens he voluntarily took upon himself up to that point.  The 2007 narrative had it that Mark Driscoll was so burdened by so much responsibility he thought he might die and was told by a number of advisors (one of whom was Larry Osborne) that the church was not architected well for multi-site.  We'll turn to that later.  Let's turn to Throckmorton's recent post about an old video.

Throckmorton has recently posted something about a Driscoll video.
transcript of Mark Driscoll statement in a video called "Stepping Up", discussed over at Warren
Throckmorton's blog:

I don’t know what the most courageous thing I’ve ever done is. I know the one thing that was one of the hardest was, the church was growing, it had exploded, it had grown to, I think, maybe six thousand. So it made it one of the largest, fastest growing churches in America in one of the least churched cities, and in a conversation one night it was just up in our bedroom on a couch we were visiting, Grace and I were talking about past relationships and just kind of a casual conversation and we’d been together at that point for maybe seventeen, eighteen years or something. [WtH, i.e. either 2005 or 2006] I mean we’d been together a while between dating and marriage. And she just explained to me a few occasions where she had been sexually assaulted, raped, and abused [prior to my meeting her, (WT's transcript differs from what is presented here and this is punctuation that WtH believes makes more sense of Driscoll's actual words)]. I just broke and I just started weeping, thinking that I had not known that about my wife, and she just said it matter of factly, like she was just reading the script of someone else’s life. And there was no emotion in her, and I could tell she didn’t even really understand what she had just explained. That sort of led to a season of me really getting to know her, and her getting to know her past, and us getting to know Jesus in a deeper way.

It was around that time I could just tell that she’s gonna need me available more.

Emotionally present more, we just had our 5th child. So the timing’s not great. We just decided to go multi-site in video, cause we had outgrown our location and everybody’s looking and all the critics are around and is this gonna make it? A couple of things combined at that season as well, overwork and stress and everything else. I fatigued my adrenal glands, I was in a bad place health-wise, was not sleeping. It was a pretty dark time for me, and I told Grace, “For me to recover, for you to recover, for us to build our friendship, I feel like we’re kind of at that watershed moment where our marriage is gonna get better or it’s gonna get colder, and you’ve really opened yourself up and I need to love and serve you better and pursue you more.”

I said so I got to change the church. I mean all the way down, I have to rewrite the Constitution, bi-laws, I got to let some people go. I have to put in place some hard performance reviews. I’ve got to be willing to lose a lot of relationships, endure criticism, preach less times, hand off more authority, and I said I don’t know if the church is going to make it and I don’t know if I’m going to make it.

I told Grace, I said “I’m going to give it one year, and if it doesn’t get fixed, I’m going to quit, because you’re more important to me than ministry, and I feel like if I quit right now, the church will probably die, and there’s all these thousands of people that met Jesus.” I said “So we’re either going to change it or I’m going to quit, but we’re not going to do this forever and you’re my priority,” and that led to everything that I feared, quite frankly. [emphasis added]

It was really brutal, and I couldn’t tell the story at the time of and here’s why- because Grace is really hurting, and I love her, and I’m broken, and we need to pull back and make some course corrections because it’s Grace’s story to tell, and she wasn’t ready at that point to tell that story, and I had no right to tell that story for her.

And so everybody got to speculate for years what the motive was, “oh he’s power hungry, he’s controlling, he wants to take over, he doesn’t love people, you know he’s just a bully.” And no, it’s actually he’s broken and his wife is hurting and the church is gonna probably literally kill him or put him in the hospital and his wife needs him right now, so he’s gotta make some adjustments. So, you know, by the grace of God, we weathered that storm.

Read more:

A few things of note about this variation of the narrative. 

First, about that first paragraph set off in blue font, let's recall that Grace Driscoll publicly listed Dan Allender as one of her favorite authors as far back as 2000 when she was publicly listed as a Mars Hill deacon at  Dan Allender is so generally known as a specialist dealing with sexual abuse and particularly adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse Wikipedia mentions this.  For Mark Driscoll to have not put two and two together about Grace Driscoll's history in spite of having to have at least once or twice seen her public statements of regard for Dan Allender's work strains credulity. 

And in Real Marriage the story was that Mark and Grace threw themselves into ministry as a distraction from their respective resentments and anxieties about sex in their marriage.  There was no indication from chapter 7 of the 2012 book that either Driscoll felt any need to pull back from the maelstrom of activity so that Mark could focus on spending more time with his wife.  In fact in a 2004 sermon Driscoll seemed to convey pretty clearly that everything was pretty peachy.

It's not entirely impossible Grace could have used some help with things like cleaning dishes or other parts of the house. 

God's Work, Our Witness
December 4, 2011
about 27:33
The Driscolls’ Basement
Once we got kicked out of that building, literally everything moved back into our house. So offices in our house across from our bedroom, interns in the basement.

Pastor Matt: Poor Grace. Like, it was so ghetto down there because, I mean, you know bachelors. There’s like three guys living down there, and the dishes would just stack up, stack up. I remember they’d start stinking real bad. And every couple of weeks, like, we’d see the dishes done. I’d come home from work, and I’d say, “Hey, man, did you do the dishes? Thanks.” He was like, “Nah, I think Grace did them again.”

Grace: We shared laundry facilities and so, yeah, I just ended up cleaning half the time, because it was—I couldn’t even stay down there to do laundry. It was so disgusting.
Pastor Matt: Sorry, sorry, Grace.

As other astute readers have already noted, Mark Driscoll got the idea that helping Grace out could take the form of hiring someone else to help her tackle housecleaning rather than ... maybe ... doing some of that stuff himself? 

Now moving along to "we just had our fifth child".  By Mark Driscoll's own account in a letter/chapter addressed to his son Gideon, Driscoll wrote the following:

Copyright (c) 2008 by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Published by Crossway Books
PDF ISBN: 978-1-4335-0423-5
ISBN-10: 1433501295
ISBN-13: 9781433501296

page 164

My wife, Grace, and I love Gideon and thank God for him often. My wife is petite, and I have a big head, which resulted in C-sections with the birth of each of our children. Having endured one miscarrage and four C-sections, Grace was ready to be done with pregnancies. But I was not yet ready to do anything to prevent God from giving us a child. So, we left it in God's hands and we were given Gideon, whom I affectionately refer to as Guppy, for being the youngest, and as Flip Flop, because at a very young age he decided he only wanted to wear flip-flops on the wrong feet for the rest of his life.  To her credit, Grace often gives me a hug and thanks me for not stopping at four children, because Gideon has been an absolute blessing and a joy to our family.
So while on the one hand Mark Driscoll in one account cites the birth of the fifth child as a reason, it seems, he needed to reorganize the entire church to be more emotionally available to his wife,  in the 2008 book Death By Love (which was actually mainly complete as far back as 2006 according to a long-since purged Resurgence post published by MD) Driscoll mentioned that after four C-sections and a miscarriage Grace was ready to be done with pregnancies but Mark Driscoll was not yet ready to do anything to prevent God from giving them a child.  They're grateful for the fifth kid but, technically, if the birth of the fifth child was a stressor for Grace that's by Mark Driscoll's own account Mark Driscoll's decision.  William Wallace II's sentiments on stress in family life was, for those who read "Headship", to proclaim that whatever problems you had as a man in your marriage come down to your headship because the strife and trauma in your marriage is stuff you let happen.  Over here if you're curious.

For a sampler:
William Wallace II
Member   posted 02-01-2001 05:25 PM     

... If your children are wild and rebellious, it is your fault. If your kids scream at you, it is your fault. If your kids hit you, it is your fault. If your kids are so bad that you hate to take them in public, hate to have other people watch them, and hate to go to church because they continually embarass you, it is your fault.

Have your kids sinned? Of course. And, they should repent of their sin to God and those they offend.
But, so should the father. He should repent also. Why? Because he is the head of the home. Men, these are your children and their sin is also your sin.

Pages 54-56 of Real Marriage indicate Driscoll's views on headship have evolved a bit and that the husband shares responsibility with the wife for what the wife may be dealing with.  Bearing a fifth child would certainly be one such thing.  So there's no two ways about it, Mark Driscoll ended up being father to child #5 because while Grace was ready to be done being pregnant Mark didn't want to do anything on his side to preclude the birth of another child.  Conventional and traditional interpretations of pastoral epistles tend to argue that before a man is even given the role of shepherding a congregation he's already figured out how to manage a household well, not reverse-engineer a new ecclesiology for a local Christian community SO THAT he can more effectively manage his household.

By contrast, the general narrative of MH statements from 2007 was that MH was growing faster than the infrastructural competence and gifting of its leadership culture.  That sounds like the more plausible explanation than one that insists the entire church had to be reorganized so that Mark Driscoll could be a better husband to his wife. 

Then there's:
It was really brutal, and I couldn’t tell the story at the time of and here’s why- because Grace is really hurting, and I love her, and I’m broken, and we need to pull back and make some course corrections because it’s Grace’s story to tell, and she wasn’t ready at that point to tell that story, and I had no right to tell that story for her.

So Driscoll couldn't give the purportedly real reason for the tumultuous 2007 re-org at the time because Grace was really hurting and Mark didn't have the right to tell her story for her?

In Confessions of a Reformission Rev, the closing chapter shows Driscoll recounting a 2004 meeting with Larry Osborne that forced him to reassess his attentions.  He wanted to grill Osborne about growth strategies and logistical concerns and Osborne ignored all those questions and asked Mark Driscoll what his family life and marriage were like.  So, certainly as far back as 2006 Driscoll was sharing that the idea that he'd need to tend to his family life over against obsessing about church growth strategies was a bit of a surprise and a wake-up call for him.

But compare what the vision cast in that final chapter was to what has actually happened in the history of Mars Hill real estate. 

Instead of withdrawing from public ministry while retaining a governing role on Mars Hill Church Mark Driscoll did what?  Well, depending on which account we're listening to he rewrote the constitution and the by-laws of Mars Hill or Jamie Munson revised the by-laws (which is the story conveyed in the wake of the 2007 terminations and trials).  Maybe it was a team effort but in that case what was Driscoll doing working with Munson on drafting new by-laws that reduced the minimum size of the executlve elder board, eliminated daylight clauses to require notification of major real estate purchases to the full council of elders, and explicitly designed a disciplinary process with no upper limit on what any two pastors might decide that also had no appeals process for members under church discipline?  The 2007 era explanation that the old by-laws did not properly address multi-site multi-campus governance simply wasn't the case.  Or, you can go compare by-laws to by-laws for yourself.

There's a puzzle here about Mark Driscoll's claim that he had revise the whole church because Grace recently birthed a fifth baby (that came about because Mark didn't want to stop at four by doing anything on his part to preclude another child) around the time Grace also shared some experiences she'd gone through prior to meeting Mark (and Driscoll somehow didn't guess in the previous 17-18 years he'd known Grace that she could have had any secondary symptomology that might signal sexual abuse?)--Grace was a public relations professional before she settled into being a stay-at-home mom.  The Driscolls have recounted in a number of places how Grace was in public relations and it was a stressful job that had adverse effects on her health but she was making more money than Driscoll could have made being a part-time bookstore clerk at a few bookstores.  Well, of course the PR/marketing executive was going to be making more money than the clerk.

The other thing to consider is that while Driscoll in the video account recently discussed by Throckmorton leans on the idea that Grace was going through a lot (and that has no doubt been the case) in his pre-emptive strike on Justin Brierley's theology and character Mark Driscoll sang a decidedly different tune:

I have a degree in communications from one of the top programs in the United States. So does my wife, Grace. We are used to reporters with agendas and selective editing of long interviews. Running into reporters with agendas and being selectively edited so that you are presented as someone that is perhaps not entirely accurate is the risk one takes when trying to get their message out through the media.

For a local individual perspective:

If you were so unfortunate to have subjected yourself to the whole series on Song of Songs at Mars Hill last year it would have been easy to over look some really serious distortions of the New Testament because you were overwhelmed by the truly breath taking exegetical abuse of the Song of Songs.

I have it on very good authority that Grace Ann Driscoll is an intelligent and highly capable person who was on her way to a stellar career in the secular job market when she decided to say home and be a mom. So when I listened to the opening remarks in this clip from the
Stay at Home Dads Q&A session, I was suffering some cognative dissonance when she made an allusion to 1Tim. 5:8 to support the Driscoll view on gender roles.

Grace Ann Driscoll is certainly smart enough to understand this. If she had sat down with her English bible and taken the time to read a chapter or so of the context it would have been very plain that the issue here is how to minister to widows in the early church. There is no mention of bread winners or housewives. The two groups involved are widows and family. The only gender roles in this passages are widows and the pressing question is what qualifies a woman to become an official widow in the church, supported by the church.

So I suspect that what goes on in these Q&A sessions after Mark Driscoll's sermon is a sort proof texting of the party line. We have an official MHC position on house husbands and we have our list of proof texts. No one dares to actually do any exegesis. That would be dangerous. You might come up with the wrong answer.
So if anything in the earlier years of Mars Hill history Driscoll had a series of dead-end joe jobs doing clerk work while Grace had training in public relations. 

What no one has bothered to address much so far is that by now Mark Driscoll has not only been embroiled in controversy about plagiarism in his books, with Real Marriage he finally dragged his wife's name into the midst of his published works as a co-author, though not a co-owner of the actual copyright to the book.

For those who spent a decade inside Mars Hill it is simultaneously touching and baffling that by Mark Driscoll's account Grace had to deal with the fifth child when she had to deal with the fifth child because Mark didn't want to stop having kids by doing anything on his end.  By Mark and Grace Driscoll's account in their 2012 book the resentments and anxieties about sex where a catalyst in them turning toward their respective ministry roles or their particular roles as parents. 

Somehow, against all conventional and traditional interpretations of the pastoral epistles Mark Driscoll got the idea that the ecclesiology of Mars Hill needed to change so he would have more time to dedicate to his wife.

That's being a respecter of persons even if it may be dressed in the hallowed verbiage of the greatness of Christian matrimony. 

The older narrative that Mars Hill was growing faster than the competence of its leadership set makes more sense than the claim that the controversial 2006-2007 re-org had to be done to improve Mark and Grace Driscoll's marriage.  And revising the by-laws to shrink the size of the executive elder team and invest it with more power and fewer infrastructural restrictions hardly seems like it would have been necessary for Mark and Grace Driscoll to have a better marriage or for Mark Driscoll to have more sex. 

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