Tuesday, August 05, 2014

two BOAA resignations at a go, a brief overview of Tripp's short time on the BOAA and MacDonald's piggyback resignation. What future direction for redemption ministries may come now that Wilkerson and Noriega are both gone?


That headline spoke for itself and back earlier this year some folks at Mars Hill Huntington Beach might have even seen something like this on their City feeds in May 2014.

The event was scheduled for mid-June.

Now not quite a year since Tripp joined the BOAA there's this:
Throckmorton reported the resignation of Paul Tripp on July 30, 2014.  Then on August 4, 2014 Mars Hill published this.

Upcoming Changes to the BOAA

Dr. Paul Tripp joined our Board of Advisors and Accountability in November 2013 and has been an immense help to our leaders over the past year. Dr. Tripp has extensive experience in discipleship and biblical counseling. Earlier this month, we made the decision together to open the opportunity for him to work with greater focus on issues directly related to his expertise, namely the continued development of our community and redemption ministries. Because simultaneously being a board member and a consultant does not allow for the required definition of independence, Dr. Tripp graciously submitted his resignation from the BOAA in early June so that he can more extensively serve our church as a consultant. We are excited to continue this work with him, and are thankful for his continued support of Mars Hill Church.

Similarly, Pastor James MacDonald informed the board at the July meeting of his decision to transition from his current role on the board pending his replacement. Pastor James has been a great help in forming the current board’s direction, and we are very grateful for his time and wisdom over the last several years. He said about this transition, “I have great love and affection for Mars Hill Church and I want to make clear this change is not because I am unhappy with Mark’s response to board accountability. On the contrary, I have found him to be exemplary in his current readiness to live under the BOAA oversight. I am not resigning because I doubt Mark’s sincerity in any way. I believe in Mark Driscoll and his heart to leverage difficult lessons in service to Christ and his church in the years ahead. I am excited to continue to support that trajectory as Mark’s friend, as I focus my efforts on Harvest Bible Fellowship.”

Considering these transitions, Pastor Mark shared, “I am thankful for the service of both Paul and James, two men I admire and respect. Their service on our board has been a blessing to me and Mars Hill Church in countless ways. The amount of hours they have given as volunteers is extraordinary, especially in light of their other ministry demands.” Candidates are currently being interviewed to replace these open board positions. They will be submitted before the Full Council of Elders for their approval as soon as possible.

Exactly what Tripp would be consulting with Mars Hill about might remain to be seen.  It's certainly established that Mike Wilkerson has left Mars Hill.


With Wilkerson's departure the last of the two pastors who formerly co-led the Redemption Group Ministry and handled biblical counseling have departed.  Mike Wilkerson left Mars Hill earlier this year.  James Noriega disappeared from the pastor listings of Mars Hill somewhere around September 2011.  That would have put his disappearance from leadership in rather broadly the zone of time in which MH claimed to have let two staff go for having a pattern of overstepping spiritual authority but that claim couldn't have legitimately applied to Noriega despite his vanishing from listed pastoral work for two reasons.  The first was that the by-laws drafted by Jamie Munson placed no upper limit on pastoral authority in church disciplinary settings and no appeals process was made available to members so it couldn't even be theoretically possible to have "overstepped spiritual authority" in formal or informal terms.  The second reason is that the glowing recommendations of Noriega from Mars Hill deacons and pastors suggested that however Noriega transitioned out of employment at Mars Hill Pastors Andy Phipps, Pastor Gary Shavey, Pastor AJ Hamilton,  Mars Hill Church Biblical Living Director Mike Davis (Federal Way), and Deacon Brett Webster were people from Mars Hill Church who have been willing to commend Noriega's ministry activity after his departure. That's quite a few commendations, actually. 

But in any event, with both Wilkerson and Noriega gone it's possible that with both of the co-founding pastors of the old biblical living/redemption group program being gone there may be an occasion for Mars Hill to reassess community groups and redemption groups.

To be rather blunt about this, why on earth would Mars Hill have any need to bring Tripp on as a consultant if they'd spent years working with CCEF and others to invent Redemption Groups about five or six years ago?  It's not that Tripp couldn't have some kind of contribution to make, it's that the axiom "if it ain't broke don't fix it" would seem to apply here. 

On the other hand, as Warren Throckmorton has posted recently, there's this image of what looks like City content that was published August 2, 2014:


Now that is fascinating, "Full Council of Elders" suggests that someone on the Full Council of Elders at Mars Hill either leaked content to Throckmorton or to someone who may have leaked content to Throckmorton.  It by now may be well enough known Wenatchee The Hatchet occasionally publishes material that is made available at The City.  Rest assured Mars Hill has been aware of this fact for more than a year.  Scooping Bill Clem's resignation the day it was announced might have gotten their attention, but if this image above is material from Turner made available to the Full Council of Elders it opens up the possibility that the leadership team is reacting to events that are understood as surprises while presenting them as meditated and natural transitions to outsiders.  Perhaps, as Mark Driscoll has so often noted, the speed of change at Mars Hill is so swift that these sorts of things just happen. 

The common thread between the two missives seems to be recently deciding that Tripp would get an opportunity to work with more focus on the development of community and redemption ministries in some consultancy role.  Being able to switch from external advisor to potentially profitable consultant makes it seem as though the BOAA is, well, it's curious.  What is it about Mars Hill community groups and redemption groups that would require a consultant such as Tripp?  Can Tripp and ministry associates confirm that this is actually the reason for the transition? 

As for MacDonald, it is open to question whether a man who was joining Mark Driscoll in crashing The Strange Fire conference in the midst of having his own set of past controversies related to real estate debt and some past gambling activity was going to be ideally suited to be on a Board of Advisors and Accountability.  Per Throckmorton's materials, one message seems to suggest the decision of MacDonald to leave after his term runs out was a surprise, while the message presented to Mars Hill and the public does not mention the element of surprise. 

What has been striking about the Board of Advisors and Accountability this year has been that when the Result Source story broke the BOAA stood by the executive elders as good men who were being wrongly accused, even while admitting that the gag orders were real, that Result Source was a real thing, and that in the 2011-2013 period a massive turnover in staff took place.  Sutton Turner, a member of the BOAA, personally signed the Result Source contract.  Turner and Bruskas and MacDonald were documented by cameras as crashing the Strange Fire conference with Mark Driscoll.  MacDonald has his own set of controversies to deal with and while Tripp may be getting offered a chance to be a consultant to renovate Mars Hill ministries this only highlights the turnover in the leadership at the biblical living division of Mars Hill.  It further underscores that Mike Wilkerson and James Noriega are no longer at Mars Hill and that the leadership of the biblical living branch at Mars Hill may simply be in flux. 

Two resignations of men who are supposed to be on the independent side of the BOAA announced at the same time is profoundly weird.  Exactly what Tripp will do to help Mars Hill continue to develop community group and redemption ministries SHOULD be something Tripp should be able to speak to now since Mars Hill has gone to the trouble of announcing a pending consultancy role.  What will be different for Mars Hill Redemption Groups in the future?  Anything? Could Mars Hill clarify why there would be any need for any consultant input on community groups and redemption groups? 

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