Friday, October 10, 2014

Dave Kraft "What I have learned and am learning from my experience at Mars Hill"---the possibility of a corporation addicted to the "dream" stage at the expense of the "reality" stage.

Kraft outlines a few basic problems in the culture:

1. lack of accountability in practice (vs on paper) for leadership
2. leadership culture characterized by lack of real confession and a lot of blame-shifting
3. a culture in which top level leaders were not honestly open to outside input or dialogue
4. commitment to an unsustainable pace of growth

While Mars Hill Church seems more and more like it's in the death stage, and more and more like a corporation that may really need to die in light of the systemic problems outlined by so many, it may be worth suggesting something here about the history of Mars Hill as a corporate culture and about Mark Driscoll.  For those who read the linked post discussing the stages 3 and 4 consider that Driscoll described stages 1 and 2 as the "dream" stage and the "reality" stage respectively in Confessions of a Reformission Rev.  That got discussed a tiny bit over here:

Let's propose for sake of consideration that Driscoll has been hooked on keeping Mars Hill in stage 1 as long as possible and only staying in stage 2 long enough to get back to a grander version of the "dream" stage.  Suppose, perhaps, Driscoll is in some sense hooked on the social system/corporation known as Mars Hill always and ever existing in the dream phase.  This is one of the only ways to make sense of how someone like Thomas Hurst could say Mars Hill Bellevue was in a "core" stage after 8 years.  That suggests a culture in which no matter how old the organization really is its leadership keeps convincing itself it is still in the "core" stage are should be in the "core" stage, regardless of what reality may have in store.

A commitment to always being in the dream stage could also potentially explain why Mars Hill has stayed committed to starting some kind of school and a music label repeatedly over the last ten years and since the dawn of the church.  The problem with the "not even close" statement Driscoll made about how what MH has been in 2014 isn't close to what he imagined is that it has only been in the last year or two with the nascent Mars Hill Schools, Resurgence Publishing, and the apparently former Mars Hill Music that Mars Hill was truly getting close to pulling off the things that Driscoll had envisioned Mars Hill doing since before the formal launch in 1996.

To have claimed "not even close" in March 2014 Mark Driscoll had to play so fast and loose with the history of Mars Hill it was pretty much begging to get a corrective.  Of course Wenatchee The Hatchet obliged.  It's simply not acceptable to let such a revisionist form of Mars Hill history go without any corrective at all.  It's important to establish that since the start of Mars Hill Mark Driscoll has wanted it to set up a publishing company, host conferences, start a music label, and a Bible school.  Driscoll and company have stayed committed to these dreams regardless of whether or not reality was on their side in terms of finances or infrastructure. 

Whether Mars Hill is in the "failure" or "death" stage remains to be seen.  Death seems more and more likely.  But it seems to Wenatchee The Hatchet, as already explained, that Mars Hill and Driscoll in particular might just be hooked on the "dream" or "vision" stage.  The reality is that you can't stay there and you can't keep going back to it as though when you've hit 10k attenders you're still somehow this scrappy start-up church with a dream.  Mars Hill may not survive long enough to reach a full twenty years at this point.  If it fails it may be in part because the leadership from the top down committed to a growth strategy that may ultimately have just been a variation on "too big to fail". 

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