This material was originally published in November 2013 but in light of the recent Mark Dunford dismissal, documenting the early role of Tim Smith in the history of Mars Hill may be worth revisiting
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006Excerpts from page 146-148
I first met Tim [Smith] while teaching at a conference in New Mexico for Leadership Network. He had been raised in a Baptist home in Portland and was working as a youth worship leader at a Lutheran church in Missouri. Tim and his wife, Beth, moved to Seattle simply hoping that Tim would become a guitar player in one of our worship teams. Tim and his wife lived with Grace and me for a few months until they got settled, and I saw in Tim some very strong leadership qualities that had not been cultivated. So I spent a lot of time investing in Tim, as I was with Jamie. Tim had never played in a band, written a song, or played an electric guitar. Additionally, he did not know how to sing, and it sounded like he'd been hit by a car when he tried to hit high notes.
But I really liked Tim because he is one of the few manly men whom I have ever seen leading worship. I am not supposed to say this, but most of the worship dudes I have heard are not very dudely. They seem to be very in touch with their feelings and exceedingly chickified from playing too much acoustic guitar and singing prom songs to Jesus while channeling Michael Bolton and flipping their hair. Tim was a guy who brewed his own beer, smoked a pipe, rock-climbed, mountain biked, river rafted, carried a knife on his belt, and talked about what he thought more than what he felt.
We clicked because I drive a 1978 Chevy truck that gets single digits to the gallon and has a bacon air freshener and no functioning speedometer and because I fashion myself as the self-appointed leader of a heterosexual male backlash in our overly chickified city filled with guys drinking herbal tea and rocking out to Mariah Carey in their lemon yellow Volkswagen Cabriolets while wearing fuschsia sweater-vests that are perfectly matched with their open-toed shoes. Anyways, Tim learned quickly, took vocal lessons, and soon assumed leadership over the entire worship department. Like Jamie, he started by firing most everyone and starting over from scratch.
As opportunity seeking leaders well-suited for the creative phase, Jamie, Tim, and I began envisioning what the next phase of the church should look like if we hoped to stay on mission. I decided to never view our church as a church but rather always to view it like a church planter with a core group launching out to reach the city.
So I began to reverse-engineer a plan for our church to grow to more than three thousand people with help from Jamie and Tim. In the end we decided that what was in the best interest of our mission to the city was not in the best interests of each of our elders. I knew God was compelling me to state the vision to the elders. And I knew that vision would quite possibly split the church three ways between the founders--Lief, Mike, and me. Nonetheless I met with our elders to seek their input on the recommended changes, knowing it could undo all that we had worked so hard to accomplish. We spent a lengthy day going over the proposal, and things were tense.
Mike and two elders chose to take their church service out as a separate church plant. ...
The above citation is extensive but necessarily so because Driscoll devoted a strikingly large number of words to present Tim Smith as the manly antidote to the chickified Seattle scene. Tim Smith was the dudely dude antidote to what Driscoll saw Seattle culture and normal Christian worship music as being.
It is also worth noting from this extensive sequence of excerpts that Tim Smith and Jamie Munson were two hand-picked fledgling leaders Driscoll recruited and invested a significant amount of time and money into. Around 2000-2002 they were in some way involved in brainstorming with Driscoll how to grow Mars Hill to 3,000 people. Jamie Munson, in 2007, would go on to be an executive elder and Lead Pastor, drafting by-laws that appointed him to this position.
Tim Smith eventually went from leading worship to also being a pastor and an executive pastor, right up through some time in June 2007.
from page 114 of the 145 page document available at Joyful Exiles that was distributed to members of Mars hill during the 2007 re-org in the wake of the termination of pastors Bent Meyer and Paul Petry
From Regrouping for Jesus' fame, previously sent to members on June 23, 2007
Tim Smith shifts from being an executive elder to focus on: theology, music, arts, band development, leading corporate worship in Ballard, training worship pastors for other campuses, and launching a worship music brand line for professional distribution. [Wenatchee The Hatchet does not recall if this was Re:Sound, and Re:Sound would be an entirely separate but related line of enquiry]
Now with all that established, let's get to Tim Smith describing how he arrived at Mars Hill from the film God's Work, Our Witness. We're finally at the stuff that dreams are made of, or the stuff that is made from dreams. But here, too, patience is required, because we need the stage set for us with a description of the Driscoll house in the very late 1990s when Tim Smith appeared.
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.
We had just picked up Pastor Tim in Albuquerque, New Mexico, around that time and he had never played an electric guitar. He’d never sung in a band. He’d never written a song, and he couldn’t sing, man. When he sang, it actually sounded like he got captured by Al-Qaeda. So we had to pay for vocal lessons and go buy him an electric guitar.
Pastor Tim: [The kind of worshipers that he is seeking are those that will worship in spirit and truth, and that is a thought that has changed every aspect of how I think.] When I came to Mars Hill, I had never really been in a band. I played a lot of acoustic guitar with hand drums, but I hadn’t really been in a band. I hadn’t ever really written a song, and I’d never owned an electric guitar—a lot of acoustic, a lot of flannel, a lot of sandals.
Tim and his wife moved out from Missouri to live in my basement and go work Joe jobs and give it a shot because we met him for twenty minutes at a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Pastor Tim: Because you weren’t at that conference.
Beth: No, no, it was just him.
Pastor Tim: You hadn’t met these people. You hadn’t read these things. I just came home from New Mexico from this conference and said, “Hey, what if we moved to Seattle now?”
Beth: That was a little harder sell for me. We had to pray about that for a while.
Pastor Tim: Yeah, because we didn’t know anybody here.
Beth: No, no.
Pastor Tim: So in August of 1999, we rolled into the Driscoll family’s driveway. It was the second time I’d ever seen Pastor Mark. We talked on the phone a time or two and exchanged a couple of e-mails. I think we both met Grace here in this basement while she was doing the laundry.
Beth: We had a dining table right here and some chairs, and there was a futon right here. It was a little nicer.
Pastor Tim: The bathroom was nice, right?
Beth: Oh, yeah. I’m not going to—I’m not sharing that part.
Jeff: Matt lived in the basement, and I was over there a lot, and I did silk screening. I cleaned off my screens in his shower downstairs and totally stained it. I think that was permanent. And so I wrecked his basement.
Beth: That’s the first thing I cleaned. I’ll just say that. It was okay for a period of time. We knew it wasn’t forever, so—
Pastor Tim: Years later, I would ask Mark, I asked him, “Why in the world did you do that? Because I’m pretty sure you haven’t just taken anybody else in, and I’m not sure I would exactly the same way, either.” And he said that he had a dream that God told him that I was moving here, and we were supposed to work together. I had no idea what was in store, but apparently God did.
This last detail is very striking because Tim Smith was not the first man to whom or about whom Mark Driscoll said he had a dream. With a little help from The WayBack Machine we can learn who the other man was.
December 10, 2000
Seasons of Grace: The Story of Mars Hill
By Pastor Mark Driscoll
In the eighth season, our worship ministry was in great disarray and I had a dream that Brad Currah, who had been a member of our core group before the launch, was leading worship. I repeatedly informed Brad that he was to be our worship leader and after numerous conversations he began volunteering time overseeing the worship and arts ministries. [emphasis added] Brad had spent a few years playing the club scene with his band Springchamber, but was quickly overwhelmed with the demands of his first time pastorate and quit his job at Microsoft to free up time for ministry and hoped to live off of his wife Devonna's salary. But, she soon became pregnant and needed to quit her job. I then got a call from a pastor in Florida who had a network that funded church plants. Grace and I met with Pastor David Nicholas at Spanish River Church, and his church planting network agreed to help us financially. This gift allowed us to bring Brad on full-time, which has culminated in a fantastic independent worship album, multiple worship teams, and an aggressive set of new songs written by some of our many gifted artists.
In our ninth season in the beginning of 1999 ...
So it was Brad Currah that Driscoll saw in a dream leading worship at Mars Hill, and that dream was what Mark Driscoll said was the basis on which he repeatedly informed Currah that Currah was to be the Mars Hill worship leader. Currah went so far as to quit his job at Microsoft to free up time for ministry, as Driscoll recounted things. This is the point at which we see David Nicholas mentioned, providing a financial gift that Driscoll stated let Mars Hill bring Brad Currah on full-time in his first-time pastorate.
Let's keep in mind that the "eight seasons" span from just 1996 to 1998. The ninth season kicks in in 1999. It is during this period that Smith arrives but by Smith's account of Driscoll's account of Driscoll's dream about him, Driscoll's dream would have to have happened before Smith's arrival in August 1999 but also after the end of 1998, the period by which Driscoll himself has recounted recruiting and installing Brad Currah as worship leader at Mars Hill.
Tim Smith came to Mars Hill Church in the summer of 1999, never having owned an electric guitar, been in a band, or written a song. Somehow, by God’s grace, he became the worship pastor there and has been able to hang on and give shape to a movement of well over 30 worship bands leading many campuses. Tim is the husband of Beth and the father of three daughters. He also leads Re:Sound, a missional network of music and artists here on the Resurgence. [we'll leave Re:Sound for later]
So, given what Driscoll said about the eight seasons that dream about Tim Smith, if it happened, would have had to have happened in 1999, wouldn't it? Hadn't Driscoll detailed how a dream was the reason he repeatedly told Brad Currah he would be Worship Pastor at Mars Hill? Yep, by Driscoll's own account. Hadn't Currah's salary been made possible thanks to financial assistance from the church planting network of David Nicholas? That's how Driscoll told it. All that time, effort and money and then by 1999 Tim Smith arrives and for the 2011 fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness, Tim Smith recounts how when he asked Driscoll why he acted as he did, Driscoll said God told him in a dream Tim Smith was coming. Did God specify in the dream where Brad Currah was going to end up? Or did Tim Smith have that covered by "firing most everyone and starting from scratch"?
And like everyone else in the roster of 24 elders at Mars Hill in 2007, Tim Smith voted that Bent Meyer and Paul Petry needed to be removed from eldership. Tim Smith is currently Lead Pastor at Mars Hill Portland. Munson announced the transition of the Smiths from Washington to Oregon on August, 16, 2011. In April 2011 we were given an introduction to Dustin Kensrue, who arrived on the Mars Hill scene and became a deacon. It's Dustin Kensrue who is Worship Pastor now. Kensrue moved up from Orange County to Bellevue in 2012 and became Worship Pastor.