Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
JESUS, TODAY WE VOTED TO TAKE A JACKHAMMER TO YOUR BIG CHURCH
1,000 to 4,000 people
from pages 143-144
Phase 3--Defensive justification, the failure stage. In the defensive justification phase, something has gone terribly wrong and has failed at the management stage. [emphasis added] Or the church succeeded at the management stage, but never returned to the creative phase and got stuck with a bunch of well-organized managers running the church but not creative and visionary new ideas to move the church forward. When this phase sets in, the church begins to stall, plateau, and slowly decline. People are less motivated to serve, money is less generously given, and a cloud of lethargy and complaint begins to settle in. This is because some leaders in the church start to act defensively and justify their failures rather than finding creative or management ways to overcome them. In this phase, time, money, and energy are spent to explain problems rather than to fix them, which is the primary clue that organization death is on the horizon unless changes are made. [emphasis added] Because the church is in a defensive posture, people start to leave the church, and the best and brightest people are no longer attracted to the church because it has lost sight of any risk mission that calls people to rise up in faith. The peculiar truth of the defensive justification phase is that many of the excuses provided in this season are in fact valid. But whether or not they are valid, the fact remains that they need to be overcome
Phase 4--blaming, the death stage. An organization that remains stuck in the defensive justification phase for too long inevitably then declines to the blaming phase. [emphasis added] In the blaming phase, it is obvious that the church or ministry is going to die, and excuses and explanations for the death have been devised. This does not necessarily mean the church will be closing its doors; effectively dead churches have been known to keep the doors open on Sundays for many years to welcome a handful of people who have no mission. In this phase, the focus of the church is determining who will be blamed for the failure so that another group of people can escape responsibility for the failure. [emphasis added] Some churches blame the pastor and fire him, others blame Satan and spiritualize everything, and still others blame the outside culture as being too dark for a church to thrive. Rarely does the leadership of a church in this phase rise up to repent of the things that are preventing the church from returning to the life-giving creative phase, and eventually the church dies. It is precisely this kind of church that gave us the free building after they died [WtH, this would have been the old Earl building, for those who didn't already know that]
Driscoll went on in the chapter to explain on page 145:
I could not lead the church to the next level by myself. I needed another opportunity seeker and another goal setter on my elder team to help instigate the strategic chaos of yet another creative phase. So I chose two of our best emerging leaders to prepare them for eldership to lead the next season of our church.
Those two men were Jamie Munson and Tim Smith.
The likelihood that Mars Hill Church is in Phase 3 seems relatively high and there are even signs of Phase 4.
It is your continued support that is needed now more than ever. While we were able to end the fiscal year strong, giving and attendance have declined significantly since January. Specifically, we have seen a substantial decrease in tithes and offerings these past two months, due to the increase in negative media attention surrounding our church. [emphasis added]
We have done much this year to prepare for a decline in giving, such as two rounds of staffing reductions and the cancellation of various events and projects, but we now find ourselves in a tougher financial position than we expected. The drop in giving revenue has exceeded what we have been able to cut in expenses. This has required us to now consider further ways we can reduce expenses, such as additional staffing reductions. The reality is that just because we are a church does not mean we can defy economic gravity—we can only operate the ministries and programs our members and attenders provide the resources for. We simply cannot spend money we do not have; this is true for any church.
Please pray for your church as we make some tough, but needed, financial decisions. If you consider Mars Hill your church home, now is the time to pray, serve, and give. As we head into the fall, we need your support more than ever, and we are trusting Jesus to continue his good work through you and Mars Hill Church.
For some recent coverage at World Magazine ...
Let's recall that to date no one at Mars Hill Church has addressed the full scope of the plagiarism controversy that preceded the Result Source controversy. While Thomas Nelson has amended Real Marriage the initial problem of, for instance, Mark and Grace Driscoll having never credited Dan Allender with ideas from his published work in the first edition of Real Marriage has not come up in any discussion. The fact that Mars Hill had an agreement with Result Source to secure a #1 spot on the NYT bestseller list was given both an explanation and an apology but that apology was not, strictly speaking, a public one made by Driscoll but one that was leaked by some eager bloggers from content supplied from The City. If Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll would like to generate some good will a public address of the full scope of the books discussed in the plagiarism controversy would be a good start. Not just the Trial study guide or the way Mars Hill handled that specific case, or just A
Call to Resurgence, the other books, too.
Meanwhile, while readers may debate whether Mars Hill is already in Phase 4 there is probably nearly universal agreement that it is probably in Phase 3.