Thursday, February 13, 2014

pariahs and Valentines Day

http://www.theologyforwomen.org/2014/02/biblical-womanhood-for-pariahs.html
http://www.theologyforwomen.org/2010/11/pariahs.html

Wendy has written a bit about pariahs in the past, and given the focus of her blog she's written about women who are pariahs in church settings.  It might be a woman who is divorced or who has never been married or who has miscarried in a setting where most of her friends are expecting, or expecting again. A pariah might be someone whose spouse has left her or never found a spouse.

It's also possible, of course, for men to be pariahs.  One of the singular memories I have of the old stomping grounds was that single men were considered near the bottom of the pecking order.  The older and more reliably single the lower the status was likely to be.  Even over at Wendy's blog I saw a number of women essentially explain the "epidemic of singleness" as the fault of the single men who weren't manning up to take wives.  It sometimes seemed as though the epidemic of singleness and the men who didn't man up to take wives had a very specific, localized diagnosis but that temptation is understandable enough to forgive.  :) 

But there were times when I would hear a single guy say at Mars Hill, when a woman might broach the question of standards of beauty and attraction, "It's only ever the less attractive ones who keep bringing that up."  That could begin to seem very much like the pot calling the kettle black in a number of cases but let's not dwell on that too long.

Having seen a couple of decades of dead end jobs and having a disability or two I do think that the unmarried Christian male can be a sort of pariah, particularly as age advances.  There are worse things to be, of course, and the status may not always exist as firmly for others as it might in the mind of the perceiver.  But once you feel like you're there, you can sure feel it--one of my longest standing friends was a Christian once and long ago became an atheist and he shared with me the miserable observation that he felt like a loser on either side of the great divide.  He felt like a loser when he was a Christian for not having landed a wife yet and then after he became an atheist and cast off the various moral restraints customarily expected of practicing Christians he still felt like a loser in the company of fellow atheists and agnostics for not having managed to steadily pair up with someone.  As we approach Valentine's Day I can think of the hand wringing some people will do simply because it's that day, the handwringing that single Christians may have about that day being here and not having a special someone.

It's just another day, people.  You know this already.

There's a pretty decent chance I'll spend time visiting with a couple I've been friends with now for, what, a decade.  The husband and wife are precious friends and at no point have I ever felt that my being single was ever some problem to be solved.  Now if they were to recommend a woman for me to spend time with then I'd spend time with that woman but they've never seen my singleness as a problem, in itself, that had to be fixed.  And for my part I have not necessarily envied married life.  I've grown up in extended family settings where seeing the challenges of children with health problems and the difficulties of affording housing and food gave me the impression that marriage and family life was a collossal amount of work and that while some people extolled "date night" and "wifely stripteases" these were at most a tiny fraction of what actual shared life would be about. 

We live in a society in which sexual relationships are entered into through mutuality and consent.  This is great, but what we may not so readily observe, Christian or no, is that there will always be losers.  When Jesus said "The poor you will always have with you" there are a variety of ways in which someone can be a loser in the game of life.  What seems most striking about American evangelicalism in the last twenty years on the subject of marriage and singleness is a propensity to imagine that the way things ought to be is to be straight, married, and reproductively prosperous for the sake of ploughing a counterculture for Jesus.

Not everyone gets that lot in life and if Christian ethical teaching cannot account for those who lose out the gate for some reason or another then Jesus' comment about how there are eunuchs born eunuchs, eunuchs who are made eunuchs by men, and people who choose to be eunuchs will remain one of those passages that never preaches in the average American evangelical church.  There aren't supposed to be eunuchs because they're all supposed to go get married.

Now I've particularly seen and heard some silly proposals as to how one may know one is going to stay single.  One is that you're called to some deadly ministry smuggling Bibles into China (that it is so often white people imagining that a life-threatening ministry to non-whites is reason white Christians in America should consider singleness is a whole separate annoyance I don't feel like getting into in a blog post).  Anyway, if God's somehow called you to smuggle Bibles into another country, then you should stay single but otherwise God's design is for you to marry. 

Another proposal is that if you're called to singleness you'll be at peace about that.  Go back and read the book of Jeremiah and explain to me where it was that the prophet was told not to take a wife and what the reason for it was.  The reason was not because the prophet was given a ministry that would end in death.  Didn't Paul write that the apostle Cephas (aka Peter) was able to travel with a wife?  Didn't the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel mention wives?  David was described as a prophet in the NT and had many wives. 

No, the reason the prophet Jeremiah was given to not take a wife is that everyone was about to face slaughter and war, so there wasn't any point in pursuing a wife or rearing children.  Why work to find the wife and children who were about to be slaughtered anyway? Let's keep in mind that the prophet got this idea, somehow, and apparently acted on it.  There probably aren't any conferences for American Christians about how if you observe how much disaster is about to befall the United States that's a reason to not marry or have children.  The prohibition was grounded not necessarily directly on the level of danger in the prophet's activity but in the desolation that was planned for a disobedient Israel.  As for Ezekiel and his wife, God ordered the man to not weep for the death of his own wife.  As for the prophet Jeremiah, he wouldn't take long within the pages of his book regret the day he was born and lament that everyone hated him.  This was not a guy who was at perfect peace with his singleness. 

So why would Christians today in the United States take seriously some ideas about singleness that are so swiftly and readily debunked?  Not sure.

Another curiosity I have encountered is what I might call the straight biological destiny of horniness.  A single guy once shared that he knew he needed to be married because he wasn't gifted for singleness and the reason he wasn't gifted for singleness was obvious, that he ever felt horny in his life, ever, basically.  But this is hardly prima facie evidence that one must be married.  And yet among Christians there is a sense in which sexuality is only a positive if it is within marriage.  The double bind this can put men and women in who aren't married probably needs no explanation. 

Conversely, in some circles, it was possible to define and condone any sexual desire for one's spouse as above board by definition. In my Mars Hill days I recall seeing people say that it was simply not possible to lust after a person's spouse because lust was sinful sexual desire.  Reframe the entire concept as inordinate desire beyond the value of the subject of desire (or object) and lust is entirely possible for one's spouse.  In fact even among practicing evangelicals lust might even be considered a kind of prerequisite for marriage. 

But the thing that has stuck with me in the last year or so is that what Christians may not stop to consider, what anyone in the modern United States may not stop to consider, is that there's a trade-off in everything, there's a loser in any criteria we might pick.  In the past a sexual relationship might be socially acceptable if it was codified by two clans for the sake of a good business arrangement and it brought together a man and a woman who might not have any romantic or erotic affections for each other.  Cue the great Monty Python joke, "Why wouldn't you want to marry her!?  She's got ... huge ... tracts .... of land." We don't want that these days.  We want a mutual spark.  We want both parties to want to be together in a hot and heavy kind of way.

But lately it seems as though we don't quite get what price may come with that.  When the measure of a proper pairing is mutual sexual admiration then how surprised should we be that a brand of lingerie will take up as its tagline "What is sexy?"  Still less that it may become one of the cultural arbiters of defining "hotness".  We should not be entirely stunned that our society disproportionately rewards the sexy, whoever may meet that cultural definition.  If in the past an injustice of socially endorsed sexual pairing was that good business was not necessarily true romance we may have another culturally ingrained and equally unavoidable inequality, that in the genetic lottery not all people are born with the same level of "sexy".

What's particularly striking to read in feminist criticism of evolutionary psychology is how so many of the proposals for what males find desirable look astonishingly-but-inevitably like just-so stories about what straight men find sexy right now.  That is a point worth considering, really.  But it's also worth considering that it's not just women who are considered hot who may be disproportionally compensated for simply looking a certain way and meeting a certain standard.  What kind of money do professional athletes rake in these days?  The Superbowl star, the supermodel and the megachurch pastor may all be separately symptomatic of rewarding a particular extremity that exemplifies what we aspire to in one quarter or another for male and female. 

What may be different about our society compared to the societies of the past is that if you were considered unmarriageable material because of a physical defect, a lack of financial or social standing, or want of opportunity, there might actually be things for you to do.  Sure, you might get consigned to a monastery or the military but there'd be some role within the culture found for you to play.  There might not have to be an existential crisis over the simple fact that for whatever reasons you have not said "I do" or have not gotten laid.  Your destiny might not have been your own but that had some consolation to it, in its way. 

As we approach Valentine's day there may be any number of single Christians who want to know why they don't have that special someone and may rail against the injustice of the way things are.  Ecclesiastes, after all, has warned us not to be shocked by the sight of injustice because, after all, one lord is under another who is under still another.  Don't be surprised that in the realm of the sexual there are losers because in any metric of success there will always be a failure.  Tom Petty has a song with a chorus that says even the losers get lucky sometimes.  But the song resonates because "sometimes" is the highest rate we usually see.

We might not harm ourselves if we keep in mind that every society will have its losers and that the definition of the loser may vary but that this doesn't mean we don't define someone out when we define who's in.  Single people on Valentine's day wishing they had a special someone may or may not think past the lonely night itself to trials of other sorts. Parents who watch their children die or deal with untreatable physical limitations are probably not feeling like they won the lottery just because at least THEY'RE married and at least THEY get to have sex.  There's a kind of heartbreak that's possible in married life and as a parent that's inconceivable (or nearly) to many a single person.  Those who covet married life and romance for what they perceive to be its rewards may be oblivious to its burdens.  And those who may see the burdens in one sphere may not recognize how far-reaching a desire can be in having a life of its own.

An old college friend of mine told me she visited a college reunion, of sorts.  She saw few people there, most of whom were mothers.  She was considering how sad it was that these women had dozens of children in tow and they all had careers that could have amounted to something.  Perhaps being too cynical I replied that once these people crossed the threshold of wanting a romantic partner of any kind their fate was sealed.  There is a kind of narcissistic sentimentality to erotic attachment we can have in our culture.  If you want a special someone for how you feel then you want that feeling for yourself and "maybe" for "them".  This friend of mine has had a boyfriend for quite some time, which is fine, and yet to be a bit of a gadfly I thought I would point out that the boundary between wanting a boyfriend or girlfriend at all and wanting to be a parent is not necessarily impermeable.  We cross one threshold and may find that we are not content to stay on the side of what turns out to be the gateway to a new threshold.  A man or a woman who seeks happiness in the arms of another may seek the happiness of the arms of another, a child rather than a lover.  Desire may be all the more merciless a master if we always insist it must be obeyed.

But being wanted, obviously,  has its price. What we're less able to celebrate, in any of these spheres of relationship, is that the moment you become truly needed is the moment and space in which that relationship can and will feel like a prison to you.  When someone needs you, literally or figuratively, that's when you may feel you've become stuck and by then you may be stuck, imprisoned in the embrace of who and what you most eagerly sought out.  It may well be that we want the opportunity without having to pay its costs.  For many an evangelical single I've begun to suspect that this may flare up most pointedly and poignantly on Valentine's day when many a single wishes he or she had that special someone or perhaps would settle for some variation of constituent fragment of the perceived benefits thereof.  Plenty of people feel stymied by how, now that they've got someone, they should best celebrate the day.

What we have gained through a society in which mutuality and consent becomes the basis for normalized sexual relationships is a great deal of good that comes with a different price than the norms in which reproduction and sustainability of family estates were of primary value; the price for that good gained through mutuality and consent is that anybody, at any time, can tell you no.  There's a sense in which the critique of a rape culture as one predicated on the idea that men have a right to sex must be a critique of the more fundamental idea that anyone has a reproductive "right" at all.  If consent and mutuality are the foundation for sexual relationships we endorse and embrace (and they should be) then all sex that isn't forced will necessarily be a negotiated privilege rather than a right, a privilege that we must continue to renegotiate in spite of what might appear to be rights, and it will necessarily be contingent.  We have gained a society in which people who don't wish to marry won't be forced to marry each other for the sake of preserving family estates and trades but we've gained it at the price of a society in which a lot of single people will feel miserable because they haven't yet convinced someone to voluntarily spend Valentine's Day with them and this is what would be the highest emotional state in human experience, maybe.  Let's playfully suggest that the injustice inherent in this trade-off is that those people are the ones who are not only considered the losers in this game but who will self-identify as losers for precisely that reason. And the striking thing is that nobody who has "won" the game ever needs to identify the losers as losers for the losers to self-identify themselves. 

So when we celebrate the successfully negotiated mutual erotic bond on a certain day, we're going to see that not everyone can or will win that lottery.  Or even if a person wins, time and gravity defeat us all.  In the end the flower of youth, however dazzlingly beautiful, will inevitably fade.  Everyone dies at some point. The star athlete or model who exemplifies the impossible standard of beauty won't be able to embody that standard for long and probably couldn't even do so without a huge support team that may or may not be observed when someone is beholding a subject or object of desire alone.  When we prize mutuality and consent we do prize good things, of course, but with that prizing we may not always be happy with the reality that once we extoll the greatness of two people getting together who find each other sexy that institutions and individuals are capable of arbitrating the public imagination about what sexy is and may come up with answers that may leave us out in the cold.  If Ecclesiastes is even half right about this particular matter of injustice we may be offended but we should not be shocked.  It's not like it was going to be any other way. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mark Driscoll's eye twitch, naturopath and reverse-engineering life since 2005

In chapter 11 of Real Marriage Mark Driscoll recounts how preaching five services a Sunday took a toll on him. He refers to having worn out his adrenal glands and gotten himself an ulcer and how he was preaching up to five services a Sunday (that would have been most likely for holiday services since on average it seemed that four was more usual, though around 2004-2005 there could have been up to two or three Good Friday services and probably five Easter services for an Easter weekend, so the number of services Driscoll and all the other staff and volunteers were at could and did get ridiculously high).

Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship & life together
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Thomas Nelson
(c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (ie)
page 208

I had multiple stress-related symptoms--heartburn, headaches, nervous eye twitch, aggressive driving, constant low-level anger, high blood pressure, and self-medicating with foods and drinks packed with fat, sugar, and simple carbohydrates, along with caffeine.

Perhaps a few months after things had reached this level, a godly friend in the church, named Jon, scheduled a meeting with me. God had laid it on his heart to speak some wisdom into my life. He did so with great humility, and in that meeting he gave me some insights that were life changing.  [emphasis added]

Jon had been taking notes on how he organized his life, things he had learned, and what he felt the Holy Spirit had asked him to tell me. His wisdom was a priceless gift. He called it "Reverse Engineering." The big idea is to anticipate life forward and live it backward. 

... For my health I found a doctor named John who was a naturopath and ordained pastor and started doing what he told me to do, which has changed my life. 

So let's consider exactly when "Reverse Engineering" got developed. 
http://wbmason.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/reverse-engineering_your_life.pdf
Reverse-Engineering Your Life
(c) 2005 by Mark Driscoll and Jon Phelps.

So Mark credits Jon Phelps with the idea but gets first billing in the copyright?  Interesting.  Let's keep in mind that date because Reverse-Engineering Your Life ended up being the first session at the 2005 Mars Hill Men's Training Camp:

http://marshill.com/files/theology/1/Mens%20Training%20-%20Mars%20Hill%20-%202006%20Reverse%20Engineering.pdf



A portion of this reverse-engineering process involves managing physical health. So it's possible that from 2005 on there began a process of Mark Driscoll seeking medical advice for his health.  As noted before, in an interview at Christianity Today Mark Driscoll mentions how he found a second naturopath after the first one told him he needed to quit his job and how got to that first naturopath:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2014/january/survivor.html

...  Put my head down, worked seven days a week. I preached, gosh, 48 or 50 Sundays a year, five or six times a Sunday, an hour or more per sermon. And I traveled to speak, to make ends meet, because I was still supplementing my income. I didn't even have a full-time assistant until we hit 6,000. And by then my wife and I had five kids.

It was go, go, go, and at some point my body just couldn't go anymore. I once had an old car and the ignition would get stuck. You'd have to literally pop the hood and disconnect the battery to make it stop. I was like that car. I couldn't shut down. I couldn't sleep. I'd fall asleep for an hour, wake up, and then be up all night. I'd be exhausted but unable to sleep. I had adrenal fatigue.

What finally happened?

First I went to a conventional doctor, who told me I needed blood pressure meds, heartburn medicine, sleep medicine, anxiety medicine. I'm like, Man, I'm in my 30s. That's a lot of medicine! [emphasis original] So I went and found a naturopathic doctor, who said, "You need to quit your job and find a different vocation."
 
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2014/january/survivor.html?start=2

I said, "Well, Jesus said to do this, so that's not really an option."  So I found another naturopathic doctor. He gave me supplements, vitamins, minerals, IV treatments for adrenal support, and custom tailored vitamins. He put me on a regimen for wellness and recovery. His approach was to naturally rebuild the body, to not just treat the symptoms. He told me, "You've got to work really hard to change your lifestyle and your organization, everything."

So it looks like by Mark Driscoll's account when his health was in trouble he went to a conventional doctor, was disappointed at the level of medications he would be prescribed and opted to consult a naturopath instead.  When the naturopath told him he needed to quit his job Mark Driscoll opted to consult another naturopath who diagnosed him as having adrenal trouble.

Now it may be this second naturopath Mark Driscoll makes reference to in early 2007:

http://web.archive.org/web/20070320075759/http://theresurgence.com/md_blog_2007-03-17_of_brokenness_and_buddies

I write this blog while flying somewhere over the United States late on a Thursday night heading home from a conference in the great nation of Texas. I have blogged very little thus far in 2007 as I have been playing hurt in terms of my health. I have been pushing it for ten years since Mars Hill Church opened up, and the end of last year was a particularly rough patch. I was looking forward to a few weeks off after Christmas to catch up on sleep. Sadly, what happened is that I would be very tired and go to bed at a decent hour only to wake up a few hours later, unable to return to sleep. I was not stressed out or thinking, but it seemed something was physically wrong. Even sleeping pills were of little to no help and by the end of the holidays I was exhausted, having slept an average of perhaps three hours a night. A naturopath said I had overextended myself and worn out my adrenal glands (which regulate my sympathetic nervous system). [emphasis added]

This would probably have had to have to transpired somewhere between April 2006 and we'll get to an account from Mark Driscoll that says things reached a low ebb in 2006 later.  There's no mention of the concept adrenal failure in Confessions of a Reformission Rev, which was published in April 2006, and no mention of naturopaths that spring to mind.  The phrase "reverse-engineer" does show up in reference to Jamie Munson and Tim Smith so it would make sense that this term could show up in the 2006 book if Driscoll and Phelps had copyrighted "reverse engineering your life" in 2005.

Now, finally, we get to the eye twitch.  Driscoll mentioned in Real Marriage that one of his symptoms was an eye twitch.  While a reader could infer this happened when Driscoll was preaching five services a day, Driscoll has provided ample evidence that the eye twitch significantly predates services in Ballard in 2003.  That he was running ragged and in poor health for a lengthy period of time could be easily established and it was, by Driscoll's own account, he had many of the symptoms he described in chapter 11 of Real Marriage going as far back as 1999.

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll
Zondervan
(c) copyright 2006 by Mark Driscoll

pages 122-123

...  During this difficult season, I was burned-out, overworked, out of shape, stressed, and had picked up a nervous eye twitch in my eye along with ongoing acid reflux and high blood pressure. I was not sleeping much [emphasis added], and my sleep was often interrupted due to stress that kept me awake, thinking. I would also often wake up after a prophetic dream or spiritual attack to pray strategically, which only contributed to the fatigue. ...

This would have been in the period of about 1999, and was also what was happening in Driscoll's health before he had the worst experience of his life, the nightmare discussed elsewhere at this blog.
The health problems Driscoll mentions as showing up at the time when he was preaching up to five sermons a Sunday were showing up significantly earlier before Mars Hill was even in the property now known as the Ballard campus.  So Mark Driscoll's account should not be construed as being very picky about details and linearity.  It is also possible, since Driscoll and Jon Phelps copyrighted "reverse-engineering your life" in 2005.

And yet for that copyrighted document by November 8, 2007 Mark Driscoll was informing Mars Hill Church:
http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/elders-response-to-questions-11-9-07.pdf

A letter from Pastor Mark Driscoll
November 8, 2007


By the age of twenty-four we were gathering the core group for the church plant while I was working part-time at Antioch Bible Church and a Christian bookstore that was open in Greenwood at the time.  Joining me in the plant were two godly men named Mike Gunn and Lief Moi who were very much devoted to the work and, although young and inexperienced, I praised God for the support of those men who remain friends to this day by God's grace.

At the age of twenty-five I had the privilege of preaching the opening sermon at Mars Hill Church and I have remained the primary preaching pastor ever since. I have learned a lot over the years. Much of that learning has been through mistakes, failure, and pain. The early years of the church, chronicled in my book Confessions, were very difficult in every way. In more recent years, our fast growth has been a wonderful blessing but also fraught with difficulties.

For me personally, everything culminated at the end of 2006. Despite rapid growth, the church was not healthy and neither was I. My workload was simply overwhelming. I was preaching five times a Sunday, the senior leader in Mars Hill responsible to some degree for literally everything in the church, president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network which had exploded, president of The Resurgence, an author writing books, a conference speaker traveling, a media representative doign interviews, a student attending graduate school, a father with five young children, and a husband to a wife whom I have adored since the first day I met her and needed my focus more than ever. I was working far too many hours and neglecting my own physical and spiritual well-being, and then I hit the proverbial wall. For many weeks I simply could not sleep more than two or three hours a night. I had been running off of adrenaline for so many years that my adrenal glands fatigued and the stress of my responsibilities caused me to be stuck "on" physically and unable to rest or sleep. [emphasis added]  ...

And yet there were by-laws in place that decentralized a lot of activities and accounted for campus activity.  Site elders were accounted for in the by-laws that were available up until the ones Munson drafted in 2007 that got voted through.  If Driscoll was president of The Resurgence how did that become Resurgence Publishing Inc?  Was it a for-profit way back then?  With Driscoll as President of Acts 29, that just raises the question of how and when Driscoll ended up taking over A29 and when David Nicholas departed.  After all, Nicholas was a co-founder.  Driscoll used to joke that guys who went to seminary didn't have real world experience so what was the process through which Driscoll began to care about formal credentialing? The point is that the Driscoll letter lists all the hugely stressful things as though these were not all things that Mark Driscoll voluntarily took on that he either didn't have any real need to do or could have, in some cases, have left delegated to other people in some fashion.  A significant stretch of the end of Confessions detailed how Mark Driscoll entrusted other men in leadership at Mars Hill to take on the things he couldn't handle any longer, like Bent Meyer taking on counseling.  In other words, it's mysterious how and why Mark Driscoll felt any obligation to keep doing all these things, few of which he actually probably needed to do. 

And when Driscoll relates that he went to a convention doctor we can't know precisely when that was.  But we know he decided he didn't want to take so many medications and then turned to a naturopath.  When the naturopath told him he needed to quit his job Mark Driscoll went back to the divine command/calling and then found another naturopath who told him to change his lifestyle and prescribed vitamins, supplements and other things.  Driscoll has practically conveyed to us that when he realized his health was in a bad way he went through at least two medical practitioners before he got to one who told him something he was willing to agree with.  Yes, Driscoll has regaled us for years with stories of his travails but it's worth asking how many of them have been self-inflicted.

And it's worth noting that to go by Mark Driscoll's November 2007 letter, things got to be their worst in 2006, the year after Mark Driscoll and Jon Phelps copyrighted "Reverse-Engineering Your Life" in 2005. And as we've seen, it was a prominent feature in the 2006 Men's Training Event.  And yet while Mark Driscoll was talking to men about how important it was to reverse-engineer life it now appears both from the November 2007 letter and from Real Marriage, that Mark Driscoll himself had not actually pulled off reverse-engineering his own life yet. The method may have worked for Jon Phelps just fine, we can't know for sure, but it looks like Mark Driscoll may have taken up to two years to get it working in a fashion that he came to feel was satisfactory.  For that matter, as we've noted earlier by looking at a 2007 sermon in light of documents that were made available at Joyful Exiles, the stress and controversy weren't over even a month later, it seems. To go by his sermon from December 9, 2007, "The Rebel's Guide to Joy in Anxiety", Mark Driscoll wasn't out of the woods even then possibly two years after copyrighting "Reverse-Engineering Your Life" with Jon Phelps.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Where are they now part 6C: Driscoll interviews Tim Smith in 2008 about his ten years at MH

In the first part of part 6 we looked at how Mark Driscoll informed Tim Smith God gave him a dream that Smith would be coming and this was why Driscoll put so much time and effort into cultivating Smith as a leader.  Tim Smith's account of this is in the 2011 film God's Work, Our Witness and is discussed over at this blog post:

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2013/11/where-are-they-now-part-6-tim-smith.html

It also turned out that Mark Driscoll stated at marshill.fm he had a dream in which Brad Currah was leading worship and repeatedly informed Brad that this was what was going to transpire.  That will be the subject of another post.  What we'll visit here in this post is the transition from Brad Currah to Tim Smith in leading music. 

CONFESSIONS OF A REFORMISSION REV
MARK DRISCOLL
(C) 2006 BY MARK DRISCOLL
ZONDERVAN
ISBN-13:978-0-310-27016-4
ISBN-10:0-310-27016-2


CHAPTER FIVE, 350-1,000 PEOPLE
page 135
We had to quickly reorganize all of our systems and staff.  Our administrative pastor, Eric, left, which we all recognized was God's call on him.  And our worship leader was a great guy and great musician but was unable to coordinate the multiple bands in the three locations, so we let him go. This was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made because he was a very godly man who had worked very hard and would have been fine if the church had not gotten so crazy so quickly, and he and his very sweet wife were both close personal friends of mind. But I needed a worship pastor who could lead mltiple bands, coordinate multiple services in multiple locations, and train multiple worship pastors while keeping up with a church that was growing so fast that we had no idea exactly where it was going. I had no one who could possibly fill this role but felt compelled to wait until God let me know, so I just left a gaping hole in our leadership to create a crisis that would force a leader to emerge. 

So this would suggest that Driscoll and other leaders at Mars Hill found Brad Currah to have been inadequate to the task of organizing multiple bands at three campuses and he was let go.  Currah would eventually be replaced with Tim Smith. 

http://theresurgence.com/authors/tim-smith

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.

There's no a sign of Re:Sound anywhere save through visitations by means of a cache or The WayBack Machine.

http://web.archive.org/web/20110826020521/http://resound.org/
http://web.archive.org/web/20120116185724/http://resound.org/
In fact Re:Sound was not the talk of the town within Mars Hill by March 2012.  Driscoll wwas talking with Jon Dunn about Mars Hill starting a record label.

http://marshill.com/2012/05/02/were-starting-a-record-label-pastor-mark-interviews-jon-dunn

By this time Smith was transitioning into being a campus pastor at Mars Hill Portland, if memory serves, and by the start of January 2013 what Mark Driscoll had said was going to be the launch of a Mars Hill music label turned into Mars Hill partnering with Tooth & Nail Records.

http://marshill.com/2013/01/15/mars-hill-music-is-partnering-with-tooth-nail

But let's backtrack to how Tim Smith transitioned into leading music and worship at Mars Hill because while Mark Driscoll mentioned in Confessions that he and other leaders decided to let the former worship leader go there's no account of how Tim Smith was brought in and who was involved in that in books.  There is, however, a video interview between Mark Driscoll and Tim Smith. 

http://theresurgence.com/2008/10/04/interview-with-tim-smith
October 4, 2008

Pastor Mark Driscoll here from Mars Hill Church and President of The Resurgence with my good buddy, dear friend, and fellow elder at Mars Hill  Tim Smith.

So in 2008 there was The Resurgence and Mark Driscoll described himself as the president.  Whether it's the thing that became Resurgence Publishing Inc is something that can be left to the initiative of others to clarify for now.  Whatever The Resurgence was, Mark was it's president and in this interview he refers to Tim Smith having been at Mars Hill or connected to it for ten years. 

starting around 02:36
TS:
I ended up in St. Louis, MO, of all places. I had a friend there who asked me if I wanted to come work for a church and a Lutheran church, actually, over there. And halfway through my 18 months there I went to a conference in Santa Fe, NM where I met you for the first time.


MD: [speaking while TS is still speaking] That's where we met. 
MD: Yeah, I was teaching at a con, and that was how many years ago? ... Nine?

TS: Ten. Ten, because I showed up at Mars Hill in August of `99.
MD: Yeah, and you and Beth lived with Grace and I for a couple months. You guys were relocating to Seattle
TS: Yeah ... has anyone else just moved here, moved into your house?
MD: It's happened before. [TS laughs]  Usually we have to get a restraining order. It worked out pretty good, uh, so you guys moved up to Seattle just to hang out, just to serve. We didn't have a staff position, we didn't have any money. Mars Hill was what, 150, 200 people then?
TS: It was two years old, 200 people. The height of my ambition was to come and get back to the Northwest. I wanted to get out of the Midwest. I wanted to be at a church with people that loved Jesus that were my age because I wasn't around that in the Midwest. ...

The last thing I thought I would be when I came here was a pastor. I was not in good shape, my marriage was not in good shape. I had no idea what it meant to be a husband, biblically. There was a lot of hidden sin in my life, it was just a mess. ...

So far the narrative is pretty standard fare, man comes to the Northwest with a troubled marriage and no clear sense of how to be a proper man until he witnesses the example of proper manliness at Mars Hill.  What seems to have happened, according to Tim Smith, was he and Mark Driscoll met at a conference in 1998 in New Mexico.  For those who may not remember this detail, 1998 up through the start of 1999 seems to have been, by Mark Driscoll's account the eighth season in the history of Mars Hill:

http://web.archive.org/web/20001210191200/http://www.marshill.fm/who/our_history.htm
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. 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.
This was when Mark Driscoll said he had a dream of Brad Currah leading worship and repeatedly informed Currah he was to be the Mars Hill Church worship leader.  But apparently during this same season Mark Driscoll met Tim Smith at a conference in New Mexico.

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
Excerpts 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.
So Driscoll had met Smith at a conference for Leadership Network some time in 1998. 

For sake of review, let's go back to what Tim Smith said in the film God's Work, Our Witness about how and why Mark Driscoll literally and figuratively invested in his being a leader at Mars Hill:
http://marshill.com/media/gods-work-our-witness/gods-work-our-witness

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.

Now let's get back to the 2008 interview where Mark Driscoll talks with Tim Smith about the period in which Tim Smith ascended to leadership of music at Mars Hill Church:

http://theresurgence.com/2008/10/04/interview-with-tim-smith
from about 5:30

MD: At the time we were at a place as a church that things were very disorganized, very loose. We had a number of good musicians but we didn't have any good leadership to really put it all together.  I remember you came into my office one day and said, "Give me the whole department, music and worship [TS smiles and nods] Let me give it a shot and if I do a good job then bring my on staff and if I don't do a good job then don't bring me on staff. [emphasis added] But at that point ... I don't think you ever played an electric guitar.
TS: Hnn-nn [shakes his head]
MD: You had never played in a band
TS: [smiling] No
MD: And, dude, I love you but you know you could not sing.
TS: Yeah, I was not a good singer.
MD: You know it sounded like you got captured by al-Qaeda [TS laughs] It was terrible. So I was, like, "Okay, you want to run the music department
... but you were a really good leader and I had a really, really, I loved you and had a good friendship with you and just felt like we were brothers right off the beginning of the relationship, and saw in you good teaching ability, love for the Bible, good leadership, you do have a sweet wife and you guys were getting your life put together. And so you took it and the first thing you did was fire everybody and cancelled everything. [TS laughs], bought an electric guitar, got vocal lessons  [TS laughs], put some things together. So you've been with us, then, for ten years.

So Tim Smith, by Mark Driscoll's account in a 2008 interview with Tim Smith, directly petitioned Mark Driscoll to give him complete control over the entire music department.  At precisely this point, however, Mark Driscoll noted that Tim Smith had virtually no demonstrable musical competence.  What Driscoll knew about Smith from their first meeting at a conference in New Mexico with Leadership Network, was that Tim Smith was, well, interested in leadership stuff.  People who attend leadership conferences could be construed as self-selectively being interested in leading people.  And both Smith and Driscoll seem clear that by October 8, 2008 Tim Smith had had some connection to Mars Hill for a full decade.  Tim Smith also stated that when he arrived Mars Hill Church was two years old.  That would have required an official launch of 1997.  But ...


http://web.archive.org/web/20001210191200/http://www.marshill.fm/who/our_history.htm

In the fourth season, we launched the church in October 1996 at 6pm with an attendance around 200, which included many friends and supporters. The attendance leveled off shortly thereafter, somewhere around 100 adults, and we continued meeting until the Christmas season.

Mark Driscoll said the church launched in October 1996.  Perhaps Tim Smith misremembered things.

About 7 minutes into the 2008 interview Mark Driscoll tells Tim Smith, "The church has really grown with you and, in large part, I think, because of you."  We know that Driscoll credited Tim Smith and Jamie Munson as the two guys with whom he worked to reverse-engineer Mars Hill Church to the size of 3000 people. As in from Confessions p 147-148"

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.

So as Driscoll put it in 2008, Tim Smith directly advocated to be in charge of music at Mars Hill Church.  The 2011 fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness features Tim Smith saying Mark Driscoll told him that he'd had a dream where God told him Smith was coming there.  Of course in the 2008 account Mark Driscoll says Tim Smith openly sought the role of running worship and music at Mars Hill in spite of the fact that by Driscoll's own account Tim had no obviously demonstrable competence in anything musical.  But we've established that Mark Driscoll knew by this time from having met Smith in 1998 at a conference with Leadership Network that Smith had an interest in leadership of some kind, and Driscoll surmised Smith's leadership potentially vastly outweighed his lack of musical competence.  So Driscoll paid for Smith to have music lessons and get his first electric guitar. 

What Driscoll tells Smith about 7 minutes into the 2008 interview is this, "The church has really grown with you and, in large part, I think, because of you."

So let's review, by Driscoll's account he let Brad Currah go (though he didn't directly name him) because it was believed Currah was not keeping things organized once Mars Hill had gone multi-site.  Rather than directly appoint a replacement Driscoll decided to intentionally leave the music situation in chaos to see who would rise to the top. That's the Confessions version.

But in the 2008 interview Mark Driscoll tells Tim Smith that Smith directly petitioned to run music for a short period of time and that if things went well to bring him on staff.  Driscoll then states that the first thing Tim did when he was put in charge was fire everybody and cancel everything.  Was this during the period after which Tim Smith was formally put on paid staff or did Tim Smith do all this firing as a volunteer?  By whose authority?  In any case, both Smith and Driscoll agreed in October 2008 that they had known each other for ten years, which means the two would have met in 1998.  Driscoll's dream about Smith coming to Seattle would have happened between that Leadership Network conference in 1998 and the Smiths' arrival in 1999.  Roughly during this period of time, it seems, Driscoll was grooming Brad Currah to be worship leader at Mars Hill and Mark and Grace Driscoll even went so far as to petition David Nicholas to provide funds through which Brad Currah would be able to be paid a salary.  And during this time, it seems, Mark Driscoll had some dream about Tim Smith, at least according to Tim Smith's account of Driscoll's words in the 2011 film God's Work, Our Witness.

Smith's account in the film is quite a bit more passive than Driscoll's account of his activity in the 2008 interview.  The fundraising film features Smith giving an account in which he wonders why Driscoll would have invested so much in him being a leader at Mars Hill when he had no musical background.  By contrast, the account Mark Driscoll gives Tim Smith in the 2008 interview, with Tim Smith nodding and laughing at regular intervals, is that they met at a conference in 1998 and that Tim took a considerable amount of initiative to seek control of music and worship at Mars Hill and this before he had any competency in music yet. 

So there you have it.  It forms a cohesive narrative with different emphases depending on time and place and is vetted directly by the two primary participants, Mark Driscoll and Tim Smith.  Now while there are no doubt those who might have reasons to doubt the veracity of what Driscoll and Smith might say that's not really what is germane to this post, which is to establish what Driscoll and Smith have cumulatively said about Smith's rise in the period in which Brad Currah was apparently let go. 

POSTSCRIPT:
It would seem that by Tim Smith's account in a video posted September 28, 2013 that he was the first worship pastor at Mars Hill Church, as though there was never a person named Brad Currah in the history of Mars Hill and that if there was he wasn't a worship pastor.

... I first came to Mars Hill in August of 1999. That was almost fourteen years ago. At that point in time it was about 200 people in a rented space and has grown to be an amazing movement since then. I was the first worship pastor at the church and I served for many years. ...
 
Tim Smith arriving in August of 1999 meant he arrived shortly after Mark Driscoll had recruited Brad Currah to lead worship (by at least one of Driscoll's accounts) and after Mark and Grace Driscoll had sought aid from David Nicholas to ensure Currah would have a salary to lead worship.
 
 
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. 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.
 
Whether or not Tim Smith was the first worship pastor at Mars Hill might depend on how literally and stringently one defines titles. 

Where are they now Part 6B: Mark Driscoll's accounts of Brad Currah's role in MH music

Back in a comment at a blog post that can be read here someone asked how and where Currah transitioned out.  That is a highly relevant question and it would be difficult to find someone more capable of addressing that question than Mark Driscoll himself, since he actually wrote about the transition in his 2006 book.  He also wrote there about how Brad came to have a prominent role in leading music which is ... interesting ... because the Confessions account credits Brad with taking initiative in MH music significantly earlier in the history of MH than the "Seasons of Grace" account Mark Driscoll published at marshill.fm some time around 1999.

CONFESSIONS OF A REFORMISSION REV
MARK DRISCOLL
(C) 2006 BY MARK DRISCOLL
ZONDERVAN
ISBN-13:978-0-310-27016-4
ISBN-10:0-310-27016-2
CHAPTER TWO, 45-75 PEOPLE

page 68

And we finally landed a good worship leader. Brad was a godly guy with a nice wife, who fronted a local band that was big in the club-scene heyday of flannel-wearing grunge gods like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.  Following one particularly dreadful Sunday worship set by a well-intended guy whose singing sounded like he was being electrocuted, Brad had had enough and asked to take over the worship. He soon showwed up with a bunch of guys from his band who smelled like cigarettes, including a guy with long hair and another guy with tattoos.  So things looked very promising.


Let's keep in mind that it's in the start of Chapter Three, which Driscoll helpfully indexes as attendance of 75-1500 people) that Mark Driscoll mentions, "A few weeks before we launched our little church plant in the fall of 1996, I was perplexed by an older man who had become something of a mentor to me."

In other words, by Mark Driscoll's account Brad asked to take over worship/music for the nascent church plant before it was even officially launched. Let's look back through The WayBack Machine to another account by Mark Driscoll of how Brad Currah ended up being worship pastor.

http://web.archive.org/web/20001210191200/http://www.marshill.fm/who/our_history.htm
Seasons of Grace: The Story of Mars Hill
By Pastor Mark Driscoll


... In the third season, we began a small Bible study in graciously loaned space from Emmanuel Bible Church in Seattle. The original small core of about a dozen people was a Bible study comprised largely of twenty-somethings from the college group, the Gunn and Moi families, and Chris Knutzen who had joined the Campus Crusade for Christ staff at the U.W. We began meeting weekly in an extremely hot upstairs youth room, and after a few months outgrew the space and began meeting in the sanctuary. It was during this season that the rest of our current elders - the Browns, Currahs and Schlemleins - and some singles and families joined us. It was also during this season that Pastor Ken Hutcherson and our friends at Antioch Bible Church began their generous financial support to cover my salary to ensure that I would not be a financial strain on the young church.

[WtH: let's remind readers at this point that Mark Driscoll has recently said there was no childrens' ministry at MH because there were no kids, a point that is so easily disproven by Mark Driscoll's own testimony about Mike Gunn and Lief Moi as fathers being a reason he co-planted Mars Hill with them it bears repeating.]

In the fourth season, we launched the church in October 1996 at 6pm with an attendance around 200, which included many friends and supporters. The attendance leveled off shortly thereafter, somewhere around 100 adults, and we continued meeting until the Christmas season.

... 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. 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. [emphasis added]

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2013/11/where-are-they-now-part-6-tim-smith.html

We've discussed how Mark Driscoll, according to Tim Smith, explained to Smith that he had a dream from God that said Smith was coming elsewhere.  What we haven't gotten to yet is Mark Driscoll's account of concluding he had to let Brad Currah go. 

CONFESSIONS OF A REFORMISSION REV
CHAPTER FIVE, 350-1,000 PEOPLE

page 135

We had to quickly reorganize all of our systems and staff.  Our administrative pastor, Eric, left, which we all recognized was God's call on him.  And our worship leader was a great guy and great musician but was unable to coordinate the multiple bands in the three locations, so we let him go. This was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made because he was a very godly man who had worked very hard and would have been fine if the church had not gotten so crazy so quickly, and he and his very sweet wife were both close personal friends of mind. But I needed a worship pastor who could lead mltiple bands, coordinate multiple services in multiple locations, and train multiple worship pastors while keeping up with a church that was growing so fast that we had no idea exactly where it was going. I had no one who could possibly fill this role but felt compelled to wait until God let me know, so I just left a gaping hole in our leadership to create a crisis that would force a leader to emerge. 
 
From here Driscoll went on to mention insight he was given by his friend Jon Phelps about how in any growing organization there are three types of people, risers, people who attach to risers, and people who don't cut the mustard.  By Driscoll's account he decided to leave a chasm in leadership to create a crisis that would force a leader to emerge. 

This did not, however, preclude Driscoll or others from actively recruiting potential future leaders.
As Driscoll would recount on pages 46-147 the emerging worship leader was Tim Smith who was distinguished by his alleged complete lack of musical competence at every level but whom Driscoll considered to be a dudely dude with leadership potential, and Driscoll decided to literally and figuratively invest in Smith as a leader. 

So it seems that by one of Mark Driscoll's accounts (in 2006) Brad Currah asked to take charge of music at the not-yet-planted Mars Hill Church and that Mark let this happen.  By another account (at marshill.fm via The Wayback Machine) Mark Driscoll declared that in the eighth season music was in disarray (and we see that the church launched in season 4).  Mark Driscoll states he had a dream that Brad was leading worship and recruited him by repeatedly emphasizing this experience. Driscoll even goes so far as to say that he and Grace went to meet David Nicholas to request financial support and that Nicholas' financial support allowed Mars Hill Church to pay Brad Currah a salary.  Then on to the ninth season at the start of 1999.  But by the time of about 2001 it seemed Mark Driscoll concluded that Currah was not able to organize all the bands at the three campuses Mars Hill had at the time and so by Driscoll's account they had to let Brad Currah go.

As for what happened to the other guy about whom Mark Driscoll had a dream, Tim Smith.  Nothing came of the music label Smith was working on called ReSound, it seems.  Tim Smith lead worship and music for years but by 2011 he was a campus pastor en route to Portland.  It's possible that as with other leaders before him, even Brad Currah, the growth of Mars Hill Church may have exceeded Tim Smith's gifts.  By 2006 on The Resurgence Driscoll was beginning to mention the name of someone who would eventually replace Tim Smith, Dustin Kensrue.  But having looked over Mark Driscoll's different accounts of how and why Brad Currah ended up out of leading worship in spite of the apparently divine oracle dream Mark Driscoll had about him, let's turn some attention back to the narrative of the rise of Tim Smith.