Friday, September 05, 2014

reasons for the 2007 re-org at Mars Hill part 3: 2013 "Stepping Up" video, Driscoll explains "... so I got to change the church ... I have to rewrite the constitution, by-laws, I got to let some people go, I have to put in place some hard performance reviews ... "
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.

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. [emphasis added]

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.

Paradoxically, in light of recently released documents collected by former Pastor Bent Meyer, there were some concerns about performance reviews and a need for clarity but some of those concerns concerned Driscoll and Munson.
from page 16 of 110

There has been a lack of clarity regarding performance reviews for Pastor Mark and Pastor Jamie. A formal process is being developed for their future annual reviews with a temporary system being put in place for this years review. Mark and Jamie have conducted self assessments, received feedback from their MCI coaches and have had 360 degree feedback conducted on each of them. These documents will be reviewed by Tim Beltz who will complete a formal assessment to be shared with the other members of the executive team. Going forward a pre-determined process will be put in place for their reviews and will be based on their goals for next year compared against actual performance, 360 degree feedback and a formal review team

MCI in this context seems to refer to Ministry Coaching International (cf blog posts discussing Michael Van Skaik and the BoAA). 

In contrast to the 2007 narrative in which Driscoll explained that the church was poorly architected to be a multisite church, the emphasis in 2012-2013 was salvaging, basically, the Driscoll marriage.  But there has never been any evidence produced to establish why the by-laws and constitution of Mars Hill Church had to be rebuilt from the ground up to begin with.  Driscoll had the option of vacating any number of roles, which is what he did with the presidency of Acts 29 Network (the role was taken up by Scott Thomas circa 2007).  Driscoll simply did not need to do the lion's share of preaching and teaching but he kept on doing that.

For that matter, given the gap between what Driscoll promised for the 50th street building and what the real estate that has since become Mars Hill corporate headquarters has actually become, there was some room to question whether Driscoll and the elders had adequately investigated land use, permits and zoning issues with real estate within King County before making a $1.5 million dollar real estate purchase.  Multi-site began to be embraced as the future of Mars Hill chiefly after the would-be second campus within Ballard turned out to be a problem because of permit and licensing issues.  That Mars Hill was growing faster than the competency of its leadership team could successfully navigate was, on balance, a more plausible corporation-centered narrative than the 2012-2013 "we needed to work on our marriage" narrative the Driscolls have presented in the last few years. 

In fact, Driscoll's narrative from 2013 about how he had to rewrite the constitution and the by-laws flies in the face of most things stated in the 2007 documentation published by Mars Hill Church about the termination and trials of Petry and Meyer respectively. Go back and consult Munson's grounds for immediate termination of both men.  If you cross reference the 2013 video narrative to the November 9, 2007 document ...
from pages 3 through 5 of 145
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.

The consensus was that Mars Hill was poorly architected to be a multi-campus, multi-elder, multithousand person church. My administrative gifts had simply reached their capacity and the church needed to be re-organized so that campuses could be led by elder teams to ensure  that our people were best cared for, our doctrine best taught, and our mission best led. This meant that I needed to give up a great deal of power and trust other elders, deacons, and members to care for the church with the same passionate affection that I have for our people.

The newly formed Executive Elder team began working on proposed new bylaws that would serve as the architecting document for a better Mars Hill. The big issue was empowering our campus pastors to lead elder teams. This would ensure the best care for the people at each campus by being accessible and able to make decisions quickly. Simply, we could not care for our people across multiple campuses with one large and fast-growing elder team that had to meet to make decisions across campuses many of us had never even attended. So, the bylaws had to be rewritten to break the elders into teams with campus areas of oversight as well as accountability. As an aside, the rewriting of our governing bylaws is something we had done on other occasions throughout the history of Mars Hill, so this was not a new experience.

Sadly, it was during the bylaw rewriting process that two of our elders, who curiously were among the least administratively gifted for that task, chose to fight in a sinful manner in an effort to defend their power and retain legal control of the entire church. This included legal maneuvering involving contacting our attorney, which was a violation of policy, one elder who is no longer with us disobeying clear orders from senior leaders about not sharing sensitive working data with church members until the elders had arrived at  a decision, which has caused much dissension, and that same elder accusing Pastor Jamie Munson, who was the then new Lead Pastor of Mars Hill, of being a deceptive liar in an all-elder meeting with elder candidates present, despite having absolutely no evidence or grounds because it was a lie. This was heartbreaking for me since I have seen Pastor Jamie saved in our church, baptized in our church, married in our church, birth four children in our church, and rise up from an intern to the Lead Pastor in our church with great skill and humility that includes surrounding himself with godly gifted older men to complement his gifts.

To make matters worse, this former elder’s comments came after my more than one-hour lecture in that meeting based on a twenty-three-page document I gave the elders as a summary report about what I had learned from the other pastors I had met with in addition to months of researching Christian movements. I had just explained the cause of the pains we were experiencing as a leadership team as largely tied to our growing number of elders and campuses, as well as ways that my research indicated men commonly respond by sinfully seeking power, money, preference, control, and information as ways to exercise pride and fight for their interests over the interests of the team, church, and mission of Jesus Christ.

The elder who sinned was followed up with following the meeting by a rebuke from a fellow Executive Elder, but repentance was not forthcoming. To make matters worse, some vocal church members ran to that elder’s defense without knowing the facts, made demands upon the elders, acted in a manner that was not unifying or helpful, and even took their grievances public on the Ask Anything comment portion of our main website for my forthcoming preaching series. Of course, this was done under anonymous names to protect their image in the eyes of fellow church members while maligning the elders publicly. Some church members even began accusing the other elders of grabbing power and not caring for the best interests of our people, which is nothing short of a lie and contradictory in every way to the entire process we were undertaking. It broke my heart personally when amidst all of this, a member asked me on behalf of other members if the elders really loved our people. Now having given roughly half my life to planning for and leading Mars Hill Church, the questioning of my love and the love of our elders, some of whom even got saved in our church, for our people was devastating.

Today, I remain deeply grieved by and for one man, but am thrilled that what is best for Jesus and all of Mars Hill has been unanimously approved by our entire elder team because I do love Jesus and the people of Mars Hill. Furthermore, my physical, mental, and spiritual health are at the best levels in all of my life. Now having joy and working in my gifting I am beginning to see what a dark and bitter place I once was in and deeply grieve having lived there for so long without clearly seeing my need for life change.

So between 2007 and 2013 the narrative shifted from "Mars Hill was poorly architected to be a multisite" (which itself was potentially a plan B direction taken by the leadership when the 50th street real estate purchase turned out to be a boondoggle) to Mark saying "I really needed to be there for my wife" in spite of the fact that people can go back to audio from 2007 and observe that during that period he was telling people in teaching sessions and interviews that he needed his wife to be there for him.  And while recent narratives since 2012 have emphasized that, as Mark has put it, his wife needed him to be there for her, sermons purged earlier this year from the 2007 period suggest that Grace had no problem, when asked which character in the book of Ruth Mark Driscoll most resembled, could say "Elimelech" without hesitation.  The sermons and audio may not be available from the main Mars Hill pages but ... over here you can read the transcript from the pertinent Ruth sermon for yourself.  

This was during the period in which, according to Mark Driscoll circa 2013 Grace really needed him to be there for her.  And surely she did but as previously noted, Grace was willing to inform Thor Tolo in early 2008 that her husband was a short-fused drama queen and in early 2007 compared him to Elimelech.  When Driscoll did his pre-emptive strike on the character and doctrine of Justin Brierley in 2012 he noted that not only did he have experience as a media professional but his wife, Grace, did too.  The narrative that Mark had to rebuild Mars Hill from the ground up for the sake of Grace Driscoll sounds appealing as a narrative for people who believe that one man should be able to re-architect a burgeoning multi-site church ... but the problem with the emphases in these shifting narratives is that they can't all gel.

For instance, if it was really somehow Mark all along rewriting the by-laws and constitution for the sake of his wife in 2007 what was the point of Jamie Munson issuing so many reasons to terminate Paul Petry and Bent Meyer that revolved largely around concerns that they weren't respecting or trusting Jamie Munson's spiritual authority as Lead Pastor?  The earlier narrative from 2007 simply makes more sense as a narrative about the history of Mars Hill, and even that has left a number of questions dangling, such as why on earth it was "necessary and inevitable" to fire two of twenty-four elders for disagreeing with the direction of alterations of by-laws?  And if after all of the 2007 documentation it turned out that the real reason the constitution and by-laws had to be revised was because of some stress in Mark and Grace Driscoll's marriage then, if true, that newer narrative casts even more doubt upon the transparency of the process as it was explained to members in 2007.

Particularly problematic is that seven years after the 2006-2007 re-org happened there has yet to be a single page of documentable evidence that Mark Driscoll played any active role in rewriting the constitution and by-laws of Mars Hill Church.  The thing that most struck Wenatchee The Hatchet about the sea of documents and correspondence made available via Joyful Exiles when it was first published was how thoroughly insulated Mark Driscoll was from both the firings and the trials as well as having any observable role in re-architecting Mars Hill from the ground up.  If in 2013 Driscoll was willing to take sole credit for rebuilding the church during one of its most controversial periods it is a belated form of credit-taking that retroactively casts doubt on the veracity of almost every statement made about the terminations and trials of Petry and Meyer with respect to who they were described as not trusting (Munson) at the time clarifying statements were being made about who got fired and why in 2007.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

About 2001 I became a member of a mid sized church (about 2000) in North Seattle. Within a year I found myself attending a very large church meeting. Two main things were on the agenda. To choose a new pastor (the old was called elsewhere), and to vote on proposed changes to the by-laws. It was expected that if you could you would attend. Every member. Information on the candidates and by-laws was distributed well ahead of time.

The first notice of change at Mars Hill for me was a movement away from Bible text and toward ad lib. Were a bible and notebook would have sufficed to attend a home group meeting now you carried a “workbook” as well. Doctrine became fuzzy.

Then came the papers demanding that if I wanted to remain a member I needed to sign up – again - agreeing to a brand new membership covenant. What! How on earth did that happen? And frankly after reading it I had decided that I would pass on remaining a member under those conditions. I could not sign the new covenant. I hear I was not alone.

What a striking contrast in procedure!

While chatting with people on the “repeal the by-laws” facebook site it became clear to me that the things that happened during the time of the reorganization and by-law rework had been set in motion years, perhaps many many years before. It was a game of Dominoes. I have come to believe that they knew who was going to be fired and how they were going to fire them and that they needed to fire someone to establish order and confusion to sneak in the new by-laws.

But to understand why all of this was done I think we need to work backward. What do we have now. According to, if memory serves, KING-TV we have Mark Driscoll in a million dollar home. With CRUT trusts. As well as well hidden reportedly high salaries for those reporting directly to Mark Driscoll.

In every other church I have been part of Pastor's salary is always a big issue. It is very clear to the members who pays him and how much. Pastor's tend to live slightly above the average of the incomes of those he serves.

So could it be that Mark Driscoll intended not to be average in that way and knew that in order to do that he would need the secrecy and power afforded by the by-laws he and his henchmen forced into place?

That works for me.

To publicly bring up his wifes extremely personal struggles is reprehensible in the first place. To attempt to use them as an excuse to hijack a Church is both ridiculous and obvious distraction. When I saw that one what little respect I had left for Mark Driscoll fell through the floor.

If the skeleton of Mars Hill Church is to ever grow flesh it will need to be upon the structure of the original – likely still legal by-laws - and not “using” the ill gotten gain brought forth through what they now call the by-laws.

But frankly it seems the foundations are gone.