Saturday, May 17, 2014

in early May 2014 Driscoll advises to be careful when people say "God told me", a review of Good for Bellevue's divine mandate and Senior Pastor Jesus stuff


EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT FOR MINISTRY
Pastor Mark Driscoll
ACTS (5:12-42)
May 04, 2014

http://marshill.com/media/acts-chapters-6-11-empowered-for-jesus-mission/acts-12-6-1-7
http://download.marshill.com/files/2014/05/04/20140504_acts-12-6-1-7_sd_audio.mp3
http://download.marshill.com/files/2014/05/04/20140504_acts-12-6-1-7_vodcast.m4v
http://download.marshill.com/files/2014/05/04/20140504_acts-12-6-1-7_tv_sd_progressive.m4v
http://download.marshill.com/files/2014/05/04/20140504_acts-12-6-1-7_tv_hd_progressive.m4v
http://marshill.com/en/transcript/acts-chapters-6-11-empowered-for-jesus-mission/acts-12-6-1-7

41:26ish
...
So I want to be careful with this because this can be an opportunity for spiritual abuse. Because sometimes people say, “God told me.” Well, we’ll see, OK? You can’t just pull out the “God told me” card. [emphasis added] Ladies, let’s say you meet a guy and the guy says, “God told me to marry you.” “Interesting, he didn’t tell me or my dad, you know, so I don’t have to just assume that because you say the Lord says that the Lord in fact has spoken.”

You need to be very careful. Somebody comes along, “God told me to plant a church.” Let’s check that. All right, you can’t—I mean, 1 Corinthians 14 is clear. If you think you got a word from the Lord, you’ve got to check it by the leaders. So what we’re looking for, if you believe God has told you something, especially to do something that is difficult like this, we’re looking for a godly person—Peter’s a godly person. In godly community—it says he’s with the apostles, they’re all agreed. Under godly authority—they all agree on this. With a godly motive—to talk about Jesus. Doing a godly thing—wanting to minister to people. In a godly way—by being open in public and not hiding anything. So if you believe the Lord has told you something, he may have, but I would ask, “Are you a godly person in godly community under godly authority with a godly motive doing a godly thing in a godly way?” ... [emphasis added]

With all that in mind, let's revisit how Mars Hill Church broached the matter of their interest in getting the International Paper Building in later 2013.

http://web.archive.org/web/20131026120216/http://goodforbellevue.marshill.com/about/

About
  

Letter from Pastor Thomas Hurst

At the heart of every church plant is a “core group” of committed individuals who are always driving toward the mission of Jesus – making disciples and planting churches. This committed core sacrifice with great passion so that the church might grow and that more people would have their lives changed by Jesus. Much like the church elders, the members of a core group are able to see the vision of how the Gospel can change people, neighborhoods, even cities.

Through much prayer and consideration, the Executive Elders and I believe strongly that Jesus wants us to set down deep roots here on the Eastside by owning our next location [emphasis added] and planting a large healthy church that would include a training center. This location would serve as Mars Hill’s central operations center and regional hub for making disciples and planting churches.

Why Now?

God’s plans have far exceeded our own and, for his glory, He has given us fruit that has outgrown our current facility.

Our current location at the Danz building is a leased space and has been sold to the Rockefeller Group. They have announced plans to demolish the building and develop the entire block. Over the next few years our church would be situated in the middle of a major construction project, and ultimately we would be forced to move at the end of our lease in 2017.

The bottom line is this: God has had bigger plans for Mars Hill Bellevue all along, bigger than we could have ever imagined. When we moved into the Danz building we prayed for growth, and by God’s grace, the growth we’ve seen in Bellevue makes us one of the single fastest growing churches in America today. We need a larger location to accommodate what God is doing in our church.
We believe the right location is in Bellevue and that this church and training center will be the epicenter from which the Gospel will ring out around the world.

We’re Still in Core Group Phase
 
As we walk down the path God has laid out for us, we want to share with you a bit of a paradigm shift: Bellevue is now in “core group” phase. [emphasis added]

While many churches plant with a core group of 25 people, or 250 people, Mars Hill Bellevue is currently a core group of 2,500 people. As we look ahead, the Bellevue elders and the Executive Elders are not just praying for 1,000 people, or 5,000 people on a Sunday, we’re praying for 10,000 people to worship on a Sunday at Mars Hill Bellevue…10,000 individuals whose lives are forever changed by the Gospel. To this end, we need to think, act and pray differently, starting today.  If we wait until tomorrow, a year from now or three years from now when our lease is up, it will be too late.

With this in mind, we have found a site in Bellevue that meets these needs. I’m asking you to pray with us as we explore what it will take to move Mars Hill Bellevue to this new location, and how you can be a part of the mission.

The International Paper Property on 120th St.

After many months of searching and narrowing down our choices, only one building in Bellevue is available that meets the needs of the church that God is building on the Eastside. A few weeks ago we made an offer on a property in the Bel-Red corridor on 120th St. which is currently owned by the International Paper Company.[all emphasis added]

The space is about 180,000 sq. feet on 10.5 acres of property, located directly on the new light rail line being developed in 2017. The City of Bellevue has plans to develop the area immediately surrounding this site with retail, restaurants, and urban housing.

After renovations the property could feature:
Seating for 3,000+ per service
Local Bellevue Church office space
Central Operations office space
Media & Communications space
Much larger Kids Ministry area
Space for Mars Hill Students
Training classrooms for a future Bible college
Ample parking space on-site
Large common areas


Mars Hill Bible College
Part of this vision includes opening a Bible college. Recently we sent out proposal requests to the best Bible colleges in the U.S. with the intention of partnering with one of them to establish an accredited Bible school at Mars Hill Bellevue. We want to provide sound theological training for your children as we raise up the next generation of leaders and church planters.

We’re Not Done Yet
Upon submitting our offer for this property, we’ve hit a snag.

Sound Transit, the government agency responsible for building and operating the light rail transit system, has purchased this property to protect their interests, even though we offered to outbid any other offers.

Sound Transit intends to use this property to build an Operations & Maintenance Satellite Facility (OMSF), basically a large barn they will use to maintain the light rail trains, much like the one located in Georgetown just south of downtown Seattle. They have five locations in mind for this facility, and this property on 120th St. is currently their top choice.

“Good for Bellevue”
We believe, though, that this property is the location that God wants us to use to further the mission of the Gospel through Mars Hill Church [emphasis added], so we are continuing to pursue this property and work with Sound Transit to come to an agreement that works well for everyone involved.

We believe a Mars Hill church at this key location is far better for the church, better for the City of Bellevue, and better for the community and local economy than a transit maintenance barn. We will provide:

Immediate benefit to local commerce (restaurants, hotels, transit and more).
More jobs to Bellevue (150+ employees).
Much needed conference/multi-use space to Bellevue.
Ridership for Sound Transit will increase due to our large events and regular attendees because we will be located directly on the transit line.
We plan to use the existing structure, which supports local green initiatives and the development plan for the Bel-Red corridor.


The City of Bellevue can benefit greatly by having both Mars Hill Church’s largest facility and the Sound Transit OMSF located in the city. While Sound Transit has several options for their maintenance barn, we only have one option for our church. Our intention is to work with Sound Transit as they decide by the end of the year whether to use this location or choose one of the other locations that they have available to them.

Unfortunately we find ourselves in a position where we are going up against the government. Given the perspective, we are a small church with little chance of being able to make the government change their decision. However, we will continue to move forward with faith in a God who is bigger than any government. [emphasis added]

Notice that the added emphases aren't even to all the spots where Hurst implies that God's will for Mars Hill Church is a given with respect to a very specific piece of real estate. 

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022117927_marshillbellevuexml.html

For those who have followed this story it's worth noting that early on MHC was proposing that Sound Transit seized the real estate under eminent domain.

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Church-Boasts-God-on-Their-Side-in-Property-Dispute-229184911.html

What MHC had claimed via Justin Dean to have offered above and beyond Sound Transit ended up being moot given that the Sound Transit purchase of the International Paper Building seems to have been finalized before Mars Hill even expressed interest in the real estate.

Well, despite the repeated statements to the effect that God wanted Mars Hill Church to have the International Paper Building is it possible God has changed His mind?  More recently Warren Throckmorton has mentioned newer discussions emerging from within Mars Hill leadership bout another piece of real estate that may or may not be God's will for Mars Hill Church to own now.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/05/09/mars-hill-church-wants-40-million-to-buy-bellevue-college-building-and-build-new-church/

So as useful as the observation from Mark Driscoll from the pulpit happens to be about not taking as given that God really wants something just because a person tells you "God told me ... " it's begun to seem in just the last year that this warning can apply, paradoxically, to the announcements and statements made by Mars Hill Church's executive and campus leaders. 

Are there are contexts in which an executive leader at Mars Hill has directly invoked God?  Well ...


http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2014/03/MHCletterMD.png
...
In the last year or two, I have been deeply convicted by God that my angry-young-prophet days are over, to be replaced by a helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father.  Those closest to me have said they recognize a deep change, which has been encouraging because I hope to continually be sanctified by God's grace.  I understand that people who saw or experienced my sin during this season are hurt and in some cases have not yet come to a place of peace or resolution. I have been burdened by this for the past year and have had private meetings one at a time to learn from, apologize to, and reconcile with people. Many of those meetings were among the most encouraging moments in my time at our church. Sadly, not all of those relationships are yet mended, but I am praying that God is gracious to get us to that place of grace.  Now that others have come forward, my desire is to have similar meetings with those who are willing.

The thing that is worth noting about the use of the term "spiritual father" is that for those who were at Mars Hill Church in 2007 the most commonly reported response to enquiry into why Bent Meyer and Paul Petry were fired was summed up as "When dad and mom are having an argument the kids don't need to know all the details."  The invocation of a superior, fatherly role relative to rank-and-file members was explicit, the dad didn't have any obligation to explain to the kids what was happening between him and their mother.  I.e. direct questions about why Meyer and Petry had been fired were not going to get answered and the dad role was invoked.  So Driscoll's proposal that he's been convicted by God that the angry-young-prophet days are to be replaced by a helpful Bible-teaching spiritual father could be a potentially very poor choice of words since in the wake of the 2007 firings the "dad" role was invoked as the basis from which to stonewall members asking about why two pastors were fired.  If the "dad" role was invoked to not have to explain why two men were fired back in a period that could ostensibly be the "angry young" phase it's hard to see the use of the phrase "spiritual father" as in itself establishing anything about anything.

The second thing to be observed about the paragraph quoted above from Driscoll's reported letter to members that was published on The City is that he leans heavily on a lot of private reconciliation.  The trouble with that is that in a variety of cases the things Driscoll and Mars Hill said and did with respect to former leaders or members ended up becoming a matter of public discussion.  Andrew Lamb went on record a while back, for instance, and it was his disciplinary case that ended up making headlines.  Paul Petry published the website Joyful Exiles a bit more than two years ago.  Let's bear in mind that it's been SINCE the publication of the Driscoll apology internally to Mars Hill that the website repentantpastor went up.  If repentance is so important to Mars Hill in general or to Mark Driscoll in particular and if there's more than a decade of teaching from the pulpit to the effect that repentance involves confession that is specific rather than generic and involves restitution then why has Driscoll and the rest of Mars Hill taken the approach of pushing for all "reconciliation" to be as private and secretive as possible?  It is impossible to even establish that ANY private meetings or conversations have ever even happened unless someone that isn't Mark Driscoll can confirm having actually met with Mark Driscoll in the last year or so to have patched things up.

And most striking is this quote, " I understand that people who saw or experienced my sin during this season are hurt and in some cases have not yet come to a place of peace or resolution." The passive voice so permeates this sentence it's a bit of a wonder to behold.  Well, what "sin" was Driscoll referring to?  Hasn't he said confession of sin should be specific?  What sins did he commit against whom?  There are people in "this season" (when?) who are (currently) hurt and in some cases have not yet come to a place of peace or resolution?  Well, put that way it makes everything seem as though coming to a place of peace or resolution depends entirely on people who saw or experienced Mark Driscoll's sin, whatever that may have been.  But what sins were being referred to?  And hasn't Mark Driscoll begun to speak, since the on-air accusations made by Janet Mefferd that Mark Driscoll plagiarized, in terms of there being a distinction between a "mistake" and a sin?  The wording in Driscoll's apparently March 2014 letter (which is hard to construe as an apology so much as an announcement of policy for Wenatchee The Hatchet) suggests that the burden of finding a place of peace or resolution depends on someone else other than him.  Other readers may have a different impression of course.

So ... then, we get to this articulation of the basis for policies outlined in the earlier body of the letter:
...

To be clear, these are decisions I have come to with our Senior Pastor Jesus Christ. I believe this is what He is asking of me, and so I want to obey Him. [emphasis added] The first person I discussed this with was our first, and still best, church member, Grace. 
...
I have also submitted these decisions to the Board of Advisors and Accountability. They have approved of this direction and are 100 percent supportive of these changes. It's a wonderful thing to have true accountability and not be an independent decision maker regarding my ministry and, most importantly, our church.

So if you say "I believe God told me" that means everything must be taken at face value in a way that doesn't apply to "God told me"?  Let's bear in mind the letter Throckmorton published was an internal communication posted to The City, it seems, that was not formally intended (so far as can be known) to be a public apology about anything.  And in this missive Driscoll states he came to a series of decisions WITH JESUS CHRIST.  A more direct invocation of divine approval would be more difficult to come by apart from claiming to actually be divine one's self. 

And yet from the pulpit Driscoll has said to not assume that just because anyone says "God told me" that it is so.  Test things out.  See if what a person wants to do is being done by a godly person under godly authority in a godly way (i.e. honest and not hiding anything).  It's particularly difficult these days for Wenatchee The Hatchet to get the sense that Mars Hill has been completely open and not hiding things these days when about a decade of sermons have been purged from the media library; when Mars Hill PR in the last two years has made statements that have been directly and actively disputed as not an honest account of events; and when it has come to light that half a dozen of Mark Driscoll's books featured content that was not adequately acknowledged or credited.

It's also worth noting, awkward though it may be, that Grace Driscoll was a co-author of Real Marriage.  It was her chapter 7 that made use of Dan Allender's work without any attribution in spite of the fact that it was easy to document Grace Driscoll's public advocacy for the work of Dan Allender over the years.  If Grace Driscoll herself has been part of the plagiarism controversy that has more commonly named Mark Driscoll alone in the coverage of the controversy Grace Driscoll's name is not out of this set of questions about what's been going on just because everyone else has ignored the elephant in the room.  When Mark Driscoll did his A Blog Post for the Brits in early 2012 he leaned on the fact that both he and Grace Driscoll got communications degrees from a top program in the US.  Remember that on January 12, 2012 Mark Driscoll published a post that featured a few statements: 

There is reportedly an article coming out in a British Christian publication that features an interview with me. As is often the case, to stoke the fires of controversy, thereby increasing readership, which generates advertising revenue, a few quotes of mine have been taken completely out of context and sent into the Twittersphere. So, I thought I would put a bit of water on the fire by providing context.

...

I have a degree in communications from one of the top programs in the United States. So does my wife, Grace. We are used to reporters with agendas and selective editing of long interviews. Running into reporters with agendas and being selectively edited so that you are presented as someone that is perhaps not entirely accurate is the risk one takes when trying to get their message out through the media. [emphasis added]

With the release of our book, Real Marriage, we have now done literally dozens of interviews with Christians and non-Christians. But the one that culminated in the forthcoming article was, in my opinion, the most disrespectful, adversarial, and subjective. As a result, we’ve since changed how we receive, process, and moderate media interviews.  

The interview in question had nearly nothing to do with the book or its subject matter, which in my understanding was supposed to be the point of the interview. My wife, Grace, was almost entirely ignored in the interview, and I felt she was overall treated disrespectfully. The only questions asked were about any controversial thing I’ve ever said in the past 15 years with a host of questions that were adversarial and antagonistic. It felt like a personally offended critic had finally gotten his  chance to exercise some authority over me. [emphasis added]

Things got particularly strange near the end of the interview. I was asked a question about, if a woman was the pastor of a church which that pastor’s husband attended, would that be emasculating to him. The question was asked in such a pointed way that it was odd.

At the end of the interview, I started asking questions of the interviewer. He admitted that his last questions were really about himself and his wife. Apparently his wife is the pastor of their church, he’s strongly committed to women as pastors, disagrees strongly with our complementarian position, and takes it to some degree personally.

He then admitted that he very much struggles to believe in penal substitutionary atonement—that Jesus Christ died in our place a substitute for our sins—and that he does not believe in a literal hell. In short, the reporter is a very liberal Christian, and on these issues I am not.  

Subsequently, I am not surprised that after a very long interview, which took the better part of an hour, that I may be selectively edited and presented in a way that is not entirely accurate. In particular, the quote about cowardice may not fit all British men, but for men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda, it seems applicable.

For those so inclined, you can go listen to the entire interview.  What's striking about this blog post for the Brits was that it was a pre-emptive strike on a specific journalist.  What's worth noting is that Driscoll leaned on the credentials of both himself and his wife Grace as having communications degrees and being shrewd about reporters.

One of the things that someone like Mark Driscoll is going to have to get used to is the reality that sometimes when people have critical things to say about a person or that person's sought-after public role this will involve 1) quoting people accurately 2) quoting them in context 3) showing that they have flip-flopped on a variety of things and 4) may have reached a point where what they have said and done that can be publicly documented seems to fly in the face of the things they publicly said they didn't and wouldn't do.  Some bloggers may believe that the sign of a successful blog is that hundreds of comments erupt in the wake of some posting.  Other bloggers may wonder if the sign of a blog having a significant impact on at least some readership can be measured in terms of sweeping retroactive media purges of material that has been quoted accurately and in context. 

But if Mark Driscoll says from the pulpit that a person who seeks to do something that's really of God will do so in a way that is open, honest, and not hiding anything then it can sure look as though there's room for improvement in light of all the controversies and questions that have come to light about Mars Hill Church in general and its leadership culture in particular.

If people are to follow what Mark Driscoll counsels from the pulpit about not taking as given that someone who says "God wants this", then the first place to start for a Mars Hill member might, unfortunately, have to be just about anything Mars Hill leadership says about what Jesus supposedly wants for Mars Hill Church. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

HT Jim West: Collin Garbarino takes Tim Challies to task for using a wikipedia entry without crediting it in a post about Theresa of Avila

http://reflectionandchoice.org/2014/05/15/having-standards-makes-you-a-troll/

Garbarino shows how it seems as though blogger Tim Challies summed up Theresa of Avila via Wikipedia entry and fisked her work without giving credit to the Wikipedia entry.

What's been weird here at Wenatchee The Hatchet in the last three months is that after scrupulously documenting statements made by Mark Driscoll and others down to the minute indications in sermons and quoting materials directly Mars Hill and its extensions have spent the last few months obliterating sermons and teaching content from their media library and introducing robots.txt to their various websites.   Sometimes it seems as though Mars Hill Church doesn't want people to be able to directly and accurately quote Mark Driscoll and other people within Mars Hill Church. 

When Mark Driscoll says from the pulpit that there was no kids' ministry at Mars Hill Church when it started because there weren't any kids in a 2013 sermon over against his explicit written testimony that the co-founders of Mars Hill Church (Mike Gunn and Lief Moi) were men he approached to help him found Mars Hill Church because they were both good fathers (documented here) there seems to be a problem.  If quoting Mark Driscoll accurately now and then to show how he has either directly contradicted himself, or to show how actions taken in the last three years seem to contradict positions articulated from the pulpit about what he didn't do and found troublesome.  There are at times commenters who complain about this blog only ever having critical things to say about Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll.  That's provably not true.  Go scour this blog in search of anything Wenatchee The Hatchet has said about Bill Clem that could be considered negative.  Or James Harleman.  Or even Lief Moi.  For that matter, being critical of executive leadership cannot even be taken to mean that Wenatchee The Hatchet has actually been critical of Mars Hill as a whole.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has never actually said "don't ever attend Mars Hill Church".  Wenatchee The Hatchet has also never condemned Mars Hill attenders or members as "kool-aid drinkers". 

Instead what Wenatchee tries to do is quote people as accurately as possible and yet over the last few months it's been surprising what has been eliminated.  There may merely be correlation without causation here, but it seemed that mere days after this blog post went up (comparing Mark Driscoll on the generally satanic nature of bitterness in general to his bitterness toward his wife over the lack of sexual intercourse he felt there was in his marriage in particular) that the Spiritual Warfare 2008 teaching was unceremoniously pulled.  From March 17 to March 22 is slightly less than a week. 

If you'd like to see how far back the menu has been trimmed down from what it once was ...

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/03/mars-hill-church-scaling-back-homiletic.html

Possibly just a coincidence, one of the sermon series post-dating 2008 that got pulled was the 1 & 2 Peter series, the one that had that study guide that Intervarsity Press said had not properly cited material they published.  More notably, the sermon series was also the one in which Mark Driscoll screamed "How dare you!?" [dead link, of course]

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/03/on-driscoll-stating-angry-young-man.html

In years past many of Mark Driscoll's supporters have said that he has been misunderstood or misquoted or misrepresented.  Ten years ago Wenatchee the Hatchet was one of those and even now there are a few occasions in which popular misunderstandings or misrepresentations of Driscoll circulate that need correction.  Wenatchee The Hatchet tackled that in April 2014.  Sometimes it seems as though Mars Hill doesn't WANT people to be able to quote Mark Driscoll accurately and in context over the course of some seventeen years in ministry these days.  Why purge so much material if, as the BOAA so confidently stated, the executive elders of Mars Hill had been patiently enduring false accusations?  Which accusations were false?  The ones the BOAA basically admitted to?  The BoAA itself as a whole or constituent members have admitted that:

1) there are nondisclosure agreements and that these are appropriate
2) that a contract with ResultSource was set up with MHC (advised from anonymous "outside counsel"
3) that formal charges were made against Mark Driscoll

In the last few months it seems the BOAA has basically CONFIRMED most of the accusations that have emerged in the last eight months while not addressing, at all, the allegations that Mark Driscoll plagiarized the works of others.  Now it's possible to propose that that whole controversy may reflect poorly on the entire popular Christian publishing industry and that editors at Thomas Nelson and Tyndale and elsewhere should have caught things regardless of whether or not the authors themselves "made a mistake".

Could be.  When Driscoll himself can't remember while he's preaching from the pulpit that the co-founding pastors of Mars Hill were dads back in 1995 mistakes seem to be getting made.  Perhaps this could be explained by simply proposing that Mark Driscoll hasn't talked to Mike Gunn or Lief Moi in so long he somehow forgot these men are fathers?  If so what happened to Mark Driscoll's self-described formidable memory?

Garbarino closes his recent blog post with, "It’s no wonder my undergraduates think that it’s okay to steal other people’s ideas and pass them off as their own. They’re just doing what their pastors model for them."  But to go by what Mars Hill Church has been doing with Driscoll content in the last few months the policy is sweeping retroactive removal of materials quoted directly and in context.  The only way Challies could fully mimic what MHC seems to be doing these days would be to pull down the entirety of the blog post Garbarino has taken to task. 

in light of the recent CT article on A29 ... remembering Driscoll's very brief 2012 tenure resuming presidency of A29

Let's recall that on February 7, 2012 Mark Driscoll wrote a letter to Acts 29 members explaining how with the encouragement of Scott Thomas and the approve of the board Mark Driscoll was going to resume presidency of Acts 29. 

http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/dear-acts-29-members/
February 6, 2012
...
With Pastor Scott’s encouragement and the board approval, this means I am resuming the presidency of Acts 29. I want to invest every resource and relationship at my disposal to serve our church planters. Consider this primarily the “Prophet” board. This board is not closed and other men may join it in years to come. This board will be meeting soon in California, long before our annual retreat, so that we have a clear battle plan for the next season of Acts 29.

And then ...
http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/a-note-on-some-transitions/

March 21, 2012
...
For the first years, the network offices were housed in Florida, as David served as our president. Then the offices were moved to Seattle when I assumed the presidency. Since that time, David has passed on to see the Jesus he loved face to face, and Acts 29 has grown rapidly, now totaling more than 400 churches in the U.S., as well as international church planting involvement. Since then, other qualified men have taken the reins of Acts 29 and run with the vision David and I had years ago.

Recently, I sensed that not all was well in Acts 29. As my concerns grew, I recently resumed the presidency of Acts 29 to work directly with our network captains, most influential pastors, and staff. It seemed to me that some of our relationships, board size and structure, communication, systems, and such were not as effective as we needed, which is to be expected to some degree in a large, complex, fast-growing entrepreneurial network such as ours. 

Seeking wise counsel, I asked Darrin Patrick and Matt Chandler to fly to Seattle in order to meet with the executive elders of Mars Hill for a full day to decide a course of action. They graciously did so, and in our time together was a rich, true brotherhood, a renewed and deepened commitment to Acts 29, and a Spirit-lead unity.

Together, we decided, in light of all the complexity we’re facing, that the best thing for Acts 29 going forward would be for Matt Chandler to assume the presidency, move the network offices to Dallas, and select his Acts 29 staff.

So that was a resumed presidency that didn't even last two full months, from the look of things. 

Since 2012 the make-up of the board of Acts 29 has looked a lot different from what it was in early 2012.  You can read about that elsewhere at this blog at your leisure.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A history of publicly listed City accounts of Mars Hill leaders and homework for readers at home

Earlier this year Wenatchee The Hatchet made a few observations about the statement of the MH BOAA.

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/03/mars-hill-board-of-advisors-and.html

You can consult the statement itself here:

http://marshill.com/2014/03/07/a-note-from-our-board-of-advisors-accountability

Former Staff
In a 2 year period ending in the fall of 2013, Mars Hill Church endured significant turnover of key staff members that made many wonderful contributions to the development of Mars Hill Church during their tenure. A number of these staff transitions were acrimonious. Pastor Mark and the other executive Elders own their part in any discord that could have been avoided with a better process or a more patient interaction.

During the Spring of 2013 the BOAA mandated that a thorough review be conducted with all former staff from that period, soliciting their feedback so that no needed lessons for a healthier future would be neglected. In the summer of 2013 the BOAA reviewed that report, and needed corrections to policy and detrimental management patterns had been made. A former staff elder, Dave Kraft, whose disagreements with Mars Hill policies have recently been made public, had previously communicated with the BOAA numerous times that he was satisfied with the steps we have taken to address his concerns.

The BOAA supports the policy of requiring staff to commit their signatures to a mutual agreement, such as a separation agreement, that private matters of the church learned during a season of employment not be divulged outside the organization. We have seen this practice as wise for stewarding the resources entrusted to the church while engaging in common human resources practices.

So the BOAA verified that in a two year period ending in the fall of 2013 Mars Hill Church endured a significant turnover of key staff members.  A number of the staff transitions were acrimonious.  Over at Warren Throckmorton's blog it seems someone made available a letter from Michael Van Skaik of Mars Hill's Board of Advisors and Accountability.  In the letter attributed to Van Skaik are the following words:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/03/27/leadership-board-at-mars-hill-church/

... On May 10, 2013, a now former elder filed formal charges against Pastor Mark Driscoll and other leaders at Mars Hill. While stating that he had not personally been sinned against by Pastor Mark, he had at least seven unnamed witnesses who would testify to the offenses and hurts he claimed, which if found to be substantiated, could result in disqualification. We requested the names of the witnesses to exercise Matthew 5:23-25, but he refused to disclose them. While the issues cited as evidence from these charges came from anonymous sources, the issues all revolved around the theme of mistreatment of fellow leaders and staff. As the governing body responsible for the accountability of Mars Hill’s senior leaders, the Board took these charges extremely seriously.

In an effort to substantiate the validity of the anonymous charges, we immediately sent out over one hundred letters to former elders and staff at Mars Hill Church from the previous two years, inviting their feedback and perspectives regarding their time on staff at the church, particularly their interactions with Pastor Mark and the Executive Elders. We received eighteen responses.

What those letters may have actually looked like and what they requested of former staff was the subject of a blog post here:

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/03/mhc-boaa-sent-letters-in-2013-inviting.html

But what has not really been made open for discussion on enquiry is the scale of the transitional period.  If more than 100 letters were sent to former elders and staff by the BOAA this meant that more than one hundred people were fired, resigned, or laid off inside of a two year period.  That seems like a catastrophic level of turnover.  What changed in 2011 that might precipitate such a vast shift in employment?  The only significant, observable event was that Sutton Turner joined the executive leadership group. 

Now Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed over the last two months how thoroughly Mars Hill Church has obliterated about a decade of material preached or taught by Mark Driscoll from its sermon and media archive.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has also discussed how robots.txt has been introduced to Mars Hill affiliated sites that precludes the use of The WayBack Machine.

Unfortunately for Mars Hill there's actually been a significant loophole in the application of robots.txt.  It's worth mentioning so that readers who have access to The City can be in a position to get a clearer sense of what transitions may have happened across the entire corporation known as Mars Hill Church in the last three years.  In other words, Mars Hill Church has not managed to deploy robots.txt so thoroughly as to preclude public accessibility (for now) of what is about to be listed below.  Assume for the sake of precedent that the loophole will be fixed by the end of the week, perhaps, if not in the next couple of days.  We'll just give you a clue by way of a single word ... "prefix". 

So ... the following information has been available and accessible for months to anyone who has known where to look for it.  We'll introduce you to a simple tutorial on the format in question.

Let's say you got an account on The City.  You might get something that looks like this:

http://marshill.onthecity.org/users/[insert user # here]

So, for instance, who might you find if you plugged in this if you had access to The City yourself?
http://marshill.onthecity.org/users/67

Read the text here at the very bottom left.
It's what you get when you scroll over the highlighted button "The City" for someone you may have heard of before.

Now you see, dear readers, Wenatchee The Hatchet noticed years ago that MHC was eager to promote The City as its homegrown social networking platform and during 2011 the MHC web presence openly listed the user numbers of a lot of staff.  This means that in theory a current member of Mars Hill should be able to take the above formulation (assuming it still works) and plug in any of the below numbers as the closing extension to see if these people are still members, staff, or pastors at Mars Hill Church in any capacity. 

These are all old listings from the MH website circa later 2011. How Wenatchee The Hatchet found all of this has already been given away earlier in the body of the blog post.    Take one of the numbers below, paste it to the end of the http://marshill.onthecity.org/users/ ... and see (if you happen to have access to the system) who comes up or if you get nothing.

BALLARD
PASTORS
bill clem 551
mark driscoll 67
bubba jennings 69
joel brown 550
brad house 2
mike wilkerson 64
eric stark 366
phil smidt 61
justin holcomb 15138
matt johnson 78
elliot grudem 114129
adam christiansen 365
STAFF
katie allen 47
brandon anderson 1526
matt kelly 18823
lynne wilson  7820
mitch miller 42171
david ginn 7631

BELLEVUE
thomas hurst 692
gary shavey 482
alex ghioni 18541
michael van skaik 2722
tim zion 651
sam delay 2359
jason skelton 18541
seth winterhalter 116391
brian mccormack 110859
dustin nickerson 721
rachelle peck 138

DOWNTOWN
PASTORS
tim gaydos 83
will little 17
caleb davis 312
cam huxford 1114
colin day 100
steven kwan 27473
gareth best  943
justin ashurst 2559
brandon olsen 1713
jeff bettger 403
willie wilson 51061
MINISTRY LEADS
paul freed 88
rachel freed 98
jordan gwyther 18481
shandel slaten 1689
david katz 3408
amanda hightower 624
maurice morales 22467
chris bristol 1743
jevon washington 61254

EVERETT
hard to spot the leader listings

FEDERAL WAY
samuel choi 4718
dave harris 1214
mike davis 1804

OLYMPIA
steven mulkey 156
bruce ensign 1984
kyle van tine 4483
susan ensign 2193
laurie mcnally 2216
travis matthews 1997
jenny matthews 1887
justin watilo 8417
walter cunningham 4606

U DISTRICT
matt jensen 334
steve sakanashi 2237
alex berg 3796
devin deuell 2949
jason murray 6015

SHORELINE
steve tompkins 377
james harleman 104
justin schaeffer 94
kerry michaelis 446
dick mckinley 109
chad toulouse 163
joe day 79
jim tomisser 5714
reagan north 204

WEST SEATTLE
david fairchild 328099
cliff ellis 2519
cliff low 420
tim beltz 80
bill simmonds 2685
fred choi 1777
justin gillebo 4463
toby morrell 512370

ORANGE COUNTY
nick bogardus 15463
kyle firstenberg 338
dustin kensrue 301748
dave kraft 84

PORTLAND
no particularly useful listings

ALBUQUERQUE
aj hamilton 63 (not at this campus any longer, obviously)
donovan medina 15711
matt wallace 17936

While not publicly listed as a pastor any longer members of Mars Hill may know whether or not the person who has this username is 1) still a part of Mars Hill Church and 2) in some kind of leadership role.
http://marshill.onthecity.org/users/66

Finally, while more than 100 staff and elders transitioned out of Mars Hill Church between 2011 and 2013 it's been indicated only that some of the transitions were acrimonious.  It is possible many of them were not, though without people being will to say things on record (and non-disclosure agreements apparently could account for this) we can't be sure of anything.

But what does seem to have been attested by members of the BOAA is that a lot of people left between 2011 and 2013 under circumstances of some kind.  Some of the transitions were rough.  We've also been informed that some time in 2013 formal charges were made and that more than 100 letters were sent out to former staff and, allegedly, the aim was to discern whether there was a basis for the formal charges that were made.  It remains to be discovered whether the letters that were sent out clearly stated what the intent of said letters was.  It also remains to be discovered by those who may be able to make sense of the numbers and configurations above how many of the names listed above still have any affiliation with Mars Hill Church.

Every once in a while someone has asked where on earth Wenatchee the Hatchet finds stuff.  The answer is pretty simple, sitting around in plain sight in places people may just not have bothered to look yet.  If the goal of Mars Hill Church in introducing robots.txt to prevent the use of The WayBack Machine for archiving information was to prevent the discovery of something like this then, well, it was a failure.  Mars Hill for a short time was advertising the City user profile numbers for a lot of their elders and staff for anyone to go see.  And this might provide a starting point for getting some sense of how drastic the changes in leadership at Mars Hill have been since 2011. 

If people who are new to Mars Hill or not so new to Mars Hill want to get some sense of what has or hasn't changed this blog post "may" give them some information that could be the start of a process of discovery. 

Christianity Today discusses Acts 29, which is 16 years old. An overview of old materials

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/may/matt-chandler-preacher-stung-by-joy.html

... And just as Mohler became president of the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) flagship seminary at the young age of 33, Chandler has now become the president of the Acts 29 Network. The 16-year-old "gospel-centered" band of churches aims to write the next chapter of the missions described in the Book of Acts' 28 chapters. Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll cofounded the network with late Presbyterian pastor David Nicholas in 1998. In March 2012, during a meeting with board members present, Driscoll tapped Chandler to succeed him, shifting the offices to Dallas. (Driscoll remained on the board for a time, but is no longer listed as a member of Acts 29 leadership.)

But in the Spring 2000 Leadership Journal

http://web.archive.org/web/20010308211949/http://www.a29.org/about_us_history.htm
Leadership Journal, Spring 2000
 MAKING DEVOTED DISCIPLES
 Generation to generation
 How mentoring works for pastors
 Mark Driscoll


I'm a 29-year-old church planter in Seattle. A couple years ago I met David Nicholas, who lives in Boca Raton, Florida. He pastors a large church, Spanish River Presbyterian, that he planted 35 years ago, and he still has a heart for church planting. We developed a close mentoring friendship. I fly down to see David about four times a year, and he visits me each summer. We talk on the phone a couple times a week. He has walked me through some major issues in my life and ministry.

 I am now mentoring other church planters who have launched three daughter congregations out of our church. One is Ron Wheeler, a 23-year-old church planter with a congregation of 200 that already has had a daughter church, our granddaughter, as it were. That daughter church is led by a young man being mentored by Ron.

 David has interacted with all of these young planters. We've put together an entire network of church plantersÑfrom Omaha, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, and other places. Each March, we gather with David in Florida for training and friendship.

 David and I are now partnering to launch a mentoring organization for young church planters called the Acts 29 Network. We began with 11 churches in the U.S., some overseas, and we're getting several requests weekly from young pastors wanting to join. David and I invest in them theologically, financially, and personally.

 All of this came out of a friendship between an older man and a younger man who share a love for church planting.

 Mark Driscoll

So if in a 2000 edition of Leadership Journal Driscoll wrote "David and I are now partnering to LAUNCH a mentoring organiation for young church planters called the Acts 29 Network" [emphasis added] then by Mark Driscoll's account circa the year 2000 the Acts 29 Network wasn't officially launched yet, was it?

Or maybe it was.

For some reason when Tom Telford broached the subject of Acts 29 Network in a 2001 book he didn't mention Driscoll at all and focused quite a bit on David Nicholas. 

TODAY'S ALL-STAR MISSIONS CHURCHES: STRATEGIES TO HELP YOUR CHURCH GET INTO THE GAME

Tom Telford
copyright 2001 by Tom Telford
Published by Baker Books

ISBN 0-8010-6381-7

Spanish River Church has listed as its "Most valuable missions agency: Acts 29 Network"
from page 63

page 66 David Nicholas' "Acts 29: Churches planting Churches" gets a reference from Telford.  Is that message still accessible for consultation?

from page 69

Acts 29 Network. With things moving well with the network of church-planting pastors, Pastor Nicholas felt led of God to start a new network of churches that wasn't directly part of the denomination. He decided to call it the Acts 29 network and wrote up guidelines: the planted churches should be theologically Reformed, have a heart for church planting, and prmoise that when they become self-supporting, theyw ill pay back the amount that was given to them to initially begin, and put 10 percent of their income into new church plants.

As he shared the idea with the church and others, almost right away, ten established churches responded enthusiastically and committed to the Acts 29 Network, agreeing to sponsor church plants. A Network agreement was drawn up to show the relationship between Spanish River Church and the church plant. The agreement requires reports for financial and leadership accountability.

For whatever reason, when Telford's book was published in 2001, David Nicholas was noteworthy and Driscoll wasn't.  The recent CT article states that Mark driscoll co-founded the Acts 29 network sixteen years ago as of 2014, which makes for a year of 1998. 

Nevertheless, Driscoll's early 00's account may square the circle here:

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. [emphasis added] 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 we were forced to move from our Laurelhurst location. Five days before the end of our lease we still did not have a location to meet in and were dreading the move. Then, pastor Rick Hull and First Presbyterian Church in downtown Seattle graciously welcomed us in. So, we shut down the 7pm service, and ran the 5pm service in their 1300 seat sanctuary. The move was nothing new, in three years we have had services in four locations and at four different times, and the office has had six different phone numbers due to all the moves. It was also during this season that we launched our first daughter church, The Gathering, one hour north of Seattle in Mount Vernon. A family, the Tackels, I had met while teaching at a conference purchased an RV to begin taking their children and their friends to our church. Their 23 year old son Ron Wheeler had returned from a one year missions trip in Africa and resonated with much of our ministry philosophy. He began a Bible study in his community that continued to grow until they launched their church at 6pm on Easter of 1999 in a beautiful old brick church in downtown Mount Vernon. Funding for Ron was generously given by Dr. David Nicholas and our Acts 29 church planting network, and funding for his worship leader Micah Kelly was given from Ken Hutcherson and Antioch Bible Church. [emphasis added] It was also at this time that we hired Janet Sawyer and Eric Brown, both members of our church, to come on staff full-time as administrators who have very much helped organize and stabilize our chaos. [emphasis added]

It would appear that by 1999 some Acts 29 Network organization existed through which to provide support for a church, by Mark Driscoll's account.  In this case Driscoll's comments from a spring 2000 journal could be explained by the possibility that some journals are quarterly and take months to assemble.  By the time the copy hit print the present-tense description Driscoll gave at Leadership Journal would have been past-tense.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/fall/6.44.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/fall/6.44.html?start=2


How do you do this over such long distance?
 
Driscoll: We talk all the time. David is my pastor [emphasis added]. He prays for me. He invests in me. He doesn't tell me what to do, but when he sees things in my character or theology that need to be challenged, he speaks to that very directly. I desperately need that. I tend to be stubborn and aggressive. I need someone strong speaking into my life, saying, "Think about this." But it has to be predicated on friendship and love.


http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/fall/6.44.html?start=3
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/fall/6.44.html?start=4
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/fall/6.44.html?start=5

And yet in Real Marriage Mark Driscoll took pains to explain that during the early years of his marriage before and after the birth of the Driscoll's first child that he DIDN'T have a pastor. 

Now by February 2008 at a Q&A Driscoll also said the following:

http://theresurgence.com/2008/04/07/question-and-answer-with-mark-driscoll-video
http://www.theresurgence.com/mark_driscoll_2008-02-27_video_tnc_qa
http://www.acts29network.org/sermon/qa-with-mark-driscoll/

Some of my dearest friends today are not at Mars Hill. They're also pastors at other churches.  Darrin Patrick is here. He's the vice-president of Acts 29. I love him. He's a brother. He's the guy I call. ... He's a pastor to me, you know? [emphasis added]

It has been axiomatic that David Nicholas and Mark Driscoll co-founded the Acts 29 Network.  Perhaps Tom Telford didn't mention Driscoll because of a particular perspective or because back in 1998-2000 Driscoll was not particularly important yet, Mother Jones coverage withstanding. 

But by all the early accounts, including those of Driscoll, Acts 29 Network seems to have begun as a collaboration in which Nicholas was the older, well-established man in ministry helping the young buck and yet by about 2002 Nicholas' name seems to vanish from anything to do with Acts 29 Network.  How and why David Nicholas transitioned off the board and presidency of Acts 29 Network has never been addressed in public discussion or enquiry so far as Wenatchee The Hatchet knows.  The transition of Acts 29 from being dominated in funding and staffing by Mars Hill to being a kind of denomination that doesn't concede it's a denomination could use some further investigation. 

To go by a survey of Mars Hill FY reports in the last few years donations to church planting seemed to take a big dive after 2012.  This might have coincided with an abrupt change in leadership at Acts 29 Network in which the board at the top no longer consisted of four men who were then or had been executive elders at Mars Hill Church.  Acts 29 leadership and history has been only an occasional topic of discussion at Wenatchee The Hatchet:

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2012/04/chandler-on-mars-hill-a29-was-so-kind.html

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2012/04/mars-hill-acts-29-and-enough-boards-for.html

Seeing as Acts 29 has been in the news (sort of) it seemed worth revisiting some earlier material that's been blogged about here at Wenatchee The Hatchet.  An anonymous comment in the past indicated that Driscoll no longer really associates with Darrin Patrick.   Though it wasn't verified independently at the time the comment seems borne out by the reality that Jamie Munson is no longer publicly even listed as a pastor at Mars Hill and neither Munson nor Patrick have any role on the BOAA.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mark Driscoll in 2004 (1 Timothy 6:1-10 sermon) on the evils of liberal denominations and the God Box in Manhatten--bureaucrats you never see own your local church

http://web.archive.org/web/20111017082141/http://marshill.com/media/1-timothy/1-timothy-6-1-10
1 Timothy
Part 12: 1 Timothy 6:1-10
Pastor Mark Driscoll
March 21, 2004
About 32:53 along
...
Satan robbed these people. They don’t even have the tools and the framework to come to the truth. They’ve been robbed. They are theologically, morally, spiritually vacant. There is nothing there.
 Here’s the bottom line. They think that godliness is a means to financial gain. You want the sick, hard, cold truth, friends? Every time there’s heresy, error, church splits, divisions, factions, fighting, trace the money, and you’ll find the taproot. It’s always, it’s always, always financial. It’s money. It’s power. It’s control. It’s wealth. It’s affluence. That’s what it is.


These silly, stupid, little denominations, what they do is this. Hank in Dubuque, Iowa, is a union farmer. He goes to his local church, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, whatever mainline liberal denomination it might be. Hank loves Jesus. Hank gets radically saved. Hank takes 10 percent of all the money from his plumbing job, and he gives it to his church 'cause his pastor there loves Jesus, and he doesn’t know any different. The pastor’s a good guy, and Hank’s a good guy, so Hank gives 10 percent to the church. Hank thinks it’s going to the church.

Well, it doesn’t go to the church. Hank’s 10 percent goes into some fund that’s far away from Hank in some bureaucrat’s office. And that bureaucrat’s paid by Hank to sit around and make decisions and write silly little books that’ll govern Hank’s church. And if Hank doesn’t agree with it, that’s just tough 'cause Hank doesn’t have a Master’s degree. [emphasis added]He only loves Jesus. He’s just a plumber. He should shut up. He’s like Jesus. He’s a blue collar guy, not really fit to do doctrine.

And so this guy over here and his bureaucrat friends who get their salary paid by Hank’s 10 percent and his buddy’s 10 percent from the union hall, they decide that all the sudden Hank’s gonna have a homosexual pastor. All of the sudden, Hank’s not gonna believe that the Bible’s the Word of God 'cause they took a vote.

All of the sudden, they’re gonna send theologians in to do a conference telling Hank that maybe Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. And Hank wonders, “Why do I gotta put up with this? Am I not paying your salary? You don’t seem to love Jesus.”

And then those guys say, “Well, you know what, Hank? We own your building. You and your kids and your grandkids and your friends, you guys worked really hard, and you’ve given sacrificially to pay off that building? Ultimately, Hank, we own your real estate, so Hank, you gotta put up with this, meaning you gotta keep paying our salary to abuse you. And if you try to rebel, we’ll steal the real estate that you paid millions of dollars for, Hank.” That’s how mainline denominations work. You wonder why people don’t leave their denomination? Because the denomination – the liberal ones – own the property. Guys, think about that.

We bought this building a year ago. You guys are giving sacrificially. We’re paying for this building. Can you imagine working very, very, very hard as a church to pay this off and we don’t own it? Some bureaucrat in office somewhere that you never met, that doesn’t know you, that when you get sick won’t be at the hospital laying hands and praying over you, won’t baptize your kids when they get saved, won’t officiate your wedding, won’t sit down and study the Bible with you? A guy you can’t even meet with, you’ll never know, just some guy pushing paperwork somewhere who’s not your pastor, he control your building that you paid for. [emphasis added]

And if he decides that Jesus is not God, tough. Tough. And if you want, he’ll sell you the building, and this happens all the time, and you buy the thing twice. It’s the sickest thing I can think of. It’ s unbelievable.
...

So who owns the real estate that is identified as Mars Hill Church these days?  The church as a corporation?  The executive elders?  The Board of Elders?  Who owns the real estate? 

For that matter, when Driscoll inveighed against distant denominational bureaucrats states away from regular tithing members ... well, how many people today in Arizona or California or New Mexico have any idea where Mark Driscoll even lives?  How many people attending the Ballard campus even know where Mark Driscoll actually lives? 

Driscoll went on:
...

I got a buddy locally. He’s a wonderful guy, loves Jesus. His church loves Jesus. They’re in a wack  job denomination that has totally left the farm. And I said, “Well, why don’t you leave?” He said, “Well, if we leave, we lose the building. I lose my salary. I lose my pension, my retirement. I lose my ordination. Some of these people are third, fourth generation in the church. Their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents literally carved the pews that we sit in. If we leave, we lose everything.” [emphasis added]

I said, “Well, you better else or you’re gonna lose Jesus, and the church isn’t a place. It’s a people. And it’s not a business. It’s a family. I don’t care what the false teachers say and vote and do. You stick with Christ. And if they wanna go the way of Judas Iscariot and put their hand in the till, then you let God deal with them.”

I’ll tell you guys a dirty, little secret. There’s a place in Manhattan called The God Box. I went there a few years ago. I was doing some consulting in Manhattan, take me to The God Box, this huge building in downtown Manhattan, expensive real estate. [emphasis added] Each floor in the building is the headquarters for a different liberal mainline Protestant denomination: American Baptist, Evangelical Lutherans, Presbyterian Church USA, United Methodist, Episcopalians. Everyone’s got their floor.

I’m thinking that’s weird, and it’s all filled with bureaucrats. It’s weird. It’s like the house on Scooby Doo, you know? It’s just a lot of weird things in there. It’s all kind of nefarious, you know, like, “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! We have a concord. We wrote a little book.” You know, it’s just all this weird stuff comes out. And I went into it, and I remember meeting with one of the guys there 'cause we got a tour, and then we went down to lunch.

And all the guys from all the denominations come down like the United Nations, and they all have lunch together, and they all sit around and they all have these – this is how they come up with these agreements and all these joint resolutions and all this stuff, and I wondered how this all happened. Well, they’re all sitting in The God Box in Manhattan.

And I remember sitting there with this guy, and I’m like, “So what do you do?” He says, “Well, I’m blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” I said, “Well, you know, are you in a church? Are you a pastor? You baptize people, teach the Bible, officiate weddings?” “No, no, no, no, no. I work for the denomination.” “Well, what do you do?” “Well, I sit here in The God Box, and they pay my salary, and then I come up with decisions, me and my other guys on this team, and then we enforce it on all the other churches in the United States of America.” I’m like, “So you get to tell everybody what to do?” It’s like yeah.

Most people don’t know that. Most people don’t know that it’s really not their pastor and their brothers and sisters in the seat next to them that controls the destiny of their church but somebody in The God Box, who’s a bureaucrat trying to get on CNN or get a book deal or be the next rock star for whatever silly little academic nonsense is going on in pop culture. And he’s sitting there having lunch with a couple other guys who are bored as well, and they’re tired of shuffling paperwork so they dream up some nut job scheme that destroys everything. [emphasis added]

So ten years ago Driscoll was preaching against denominations in which bureaucrats in some God Box states away from regular churchgoers made bureaucratic decisions that people at the local church level couldn't possibly appeal against or overturn.  These bureaucrats would be trying to get on CNN or land a book deal or be the next rock star for whatever silly little academic nonsense is going on in pop culture. 

And yet for someone who was at Mars Hill Church ten years ago it can look suspiciously as though Mars Hill Church has its own God Box now in which people who aren't even members or attenders of any Mars Hill Church get to make statements in public defending leadership that has been involved in controversial and even questionable activity.  That group appears to be called the Board of Advisors and Accountability that stood by the executive elders after it was revealed Mark Driscoll's books made use of the published works of others without citation and after it was revealed that Sutton Turner signed a contract with ResultSource on behalf of Mars Hill Church to secure a #1 spot for Real Marriage on the NYT bestseller list.  Let's not forget that in the wake of a controversy over Driscoll posting about effeminate technically male worship leaders over on his Facebook page that Mark Driscoll decided to explain what he believed was the real issue under a lot of issues.  Driscoll wrote:

... I then put a flippant comment on Facebook, and a raging debate on gender and related issues ensued. As a man under authority, my executive elders sat me down and said I need to do better by hitting real issues with real content in a real context. And, they’re right. Praise God I have elders who keep me accountable and that I am under authority.


So, we are working on a new website where I can speak to these real issues in a fuller context. Lord willing, sometime in September, after my trip to Europe with my family and a lot of other people, and then some recovery time, we will launch a new website. 
 
In the past, I’ve not had a regular place to work out personal commentary on social issues, and so I’ve erred in sometimes doing so in places like Facebook, Twitter, and the media, where you can have a good fight but don’t have the room to make a good case.
 
The first content on the new website will be about gender, and much of it will be around a book my wife, Grace, and I have completed together called Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together, to be published by our friends at Thomas Nelson in January. 
 
Both Grace and I will be blogging at the new site on issues related to gender and marriage, including mistakes we’ve made, sins we’ve committed, and convictions we agree on. And, we’ll have lots of other content on other issues as well. Until then, have a great summer, and a sincere thanks to all my critics who sometimes have good wisdom that helps me out. 

Apparently that website was ... PastorMarkTV.  Wasn't there a time when Driscoll made fun of Casey Treat and said that if the pastor has a ministry website with his own name on the domain there was something amiss?  Maybe that didn't really happen.

Now seeing as Mars Hill Church has been purging its media library of sermons from before 2008 and has introduced robots.txt to its various websites to preclude web crawls from The WayBack Machine perhaps the buddies of Mars Hill in the past, The Gospel Coalition, maybe be of some help.  They happen to have the audio for the sermon available for download.  Download it while you can, though.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/listen.php?file=http://assets.marshillchurch.org/media/2004/03/21/20040321_1-timothy-6-1-10_audio.mp3

The 2011 film/sermon series God's Work, Our Witness as a context for the MH/RSI deal regarding Real Marriage

http://marshill.com/media/gods-work-our-witness/gods-work-our-witness
http://download.marshill.com/files/2011/12/04/20111204_god-is-faithful_sd_audio.mp3
http://download.marshill.com/files/2011/12/04/20111204_god-is-faithful_vodcast.m4v
http://download.marshill.com/files/2011/12/04/20111204_gods-work-our-witness_tv_sd_progressive.m4v
http://download.marshill.com/files/2011/12/04/20111204_gods-work-our-witness_tv_hd_progressive.m4v
http://download.marshill.com/files/2011/12/04/20111204_gods-work-our-witness_en_transcript.pdf
http://download.marshill.com/files/2011/12/04/20111204_gods-work-our-witness_es_transcript.pdf

God's Work, Our Witness
Pastor Mark Driscoll
December 04, 2011
01:04:28ish

...
All right, here’s the bottom line. The sun’s going down. I’ve been out all day. I want to go home and kiss Grace and eat dinner with the kids. Mars Hill has often really just, quite frankly, stunk at giving, and I think the last thing to be saved is a person’s wallet. And so I’m just going to tell you that most of the people in the church need to be giving a whole lot more.


Some of you are being generous. I’m not talking to you. For those people, we’ll have a separate conference for you in a phone booth.

For everybody else, the sad, cold, hard truth is about 24 percent of people at Mars Hill this year have given nothing. In addition, another 41 percent have given $500 or less. So that’s 65-ish percent of Mars Hill, two-thirds of Mars Hill’s twelve thousand people who are giving nothing or nearly nothing.

And I get it. I get, “Hey, what about the single moms? Hey, what about the college kid who’s, you know, eating Top Ramen? Hey, what about the kids that just got saved? Hey, what about the guys that are non-Christians?” Great, understood. Sixty-five percent? That doesn’t count. There can’t be 65 percent of people that are unemployed or in dire circumstances. We’re not asking people to give what we are demanding them to give. We’re asking them to give what God convicts them to give.
And I want you to ask this question of yourself. At the end of the year, how much do you anticipate that God wants you to give? We’re at that place now where it is going to take everyone being very generous to open up an opportunity to welcome nine thousand more people, all the new churches, seats, opportunities.

So is it about the money? Yes, it’s about spending the money to reach people for Jesus. Everything costs something. And we think that if you love Jesus and you believe people are going to hell, you should give at least as much money to that as toilet paper, and many of you aren’t.

Bottom line: you can do better. We love you and we trust in the grace of God. You will be more generous. ...

Others have blogged about this fundraising film in the past but have not written about it with the information provided this year through the coverage of World Magazine. Warren Cole Smith broke a news story in March that confirmed that Mars Hill Church and Result Source Inc signed a contract that would ensure a place for Mark and Grace Driscoll's Real Marriage on the NYT bestseller list.


http://www.worldmag.com/2014/03/unreal_sales_for_driscoll_s_real_marriage
"Mars Hill would not say whether the funds for the purchase of these books, which would total approximately $123,600 for the individual sales and $93,100 for the bulk sales, came from church funds"

http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2014/03/RSIMHCContract.png
Contract dated October 13, 2011

That's old news and it's also old news that in later 2011 Jamie Munson stepped down from being Lead Pastor.  During this transitional period Mars Hill Church distributed the fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness in mailings enjoining contracted members to continue to give to the church. Mark Driscoll's closing statements, quoted extensively above, declared that Mars Hill has generally stunk at giving.  It is not clear how many people inside Mars Hill Church (formerly listed as Mars Hill Fellowship) knew about the Result Source contract but it seems important to bear in mind that John Sutton Turner signed the contract that was dated October 13, 2011 and this was obviously a month or so before God's Work, Our Witness began to be a sermon series at MHC.

When the news of the MH/RSI contract broke the Mars Hill Board of Advisor's and Accountability issued a response. 

http://marshill.com/2014/03/07/a-note-from-our-board-of-advisors-accountability
By: Board of Advisors & Accountability
Posted: Mar 07, 2014
...

Result Source

In 2011, outside counsel advised our marketing team to use Result Source to market the Real Marriage book and attain placement on the New York Times Bestseller list. While not uncommon or illegal, this unwise strategy is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again. The true cost of this endeavor was much less than what has been reported, and to be clear, all of the books purchased through this campaign have been given away or sold through normal channels. All monies from the sale of Pastor Mark’s books at Mars Hill bookstores have always gone to the church and Pastor Mark did not profit from the Real Marriage books sold either at the church or through the Result Source marketing campaign.

To correct a statement in a recent article, Pastor Sutton Turner was the General Manager, not the Executive Pastor or Executive Elder as reported, at the time he signed with the referenced agreement with Result Source. In the time since this campaign we have established a new Executive Elder team, new Board of Advisors and Accountability, as well as a new marketing team.
...
The BOAA stands unreservedly behind Pastors Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas as the Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church. We deeply appreciate their endurance through false accusation, their submission to authority, and their humility where regrettable decisions from the past have come to light. We are thankful to God for His grace, which is evident in all that he allows for our good and his glory. We are confident that God is preparing Pastor Mark and the ministry of Mars Hill Church for a great harvest of souls in the days ahead.

In a letter apparently addressed to Mars Hill Church, apparently on March 14, 2014 or close to it, Mark Driscoll reportedly wrote the following regarding ResultSource:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/03/14/mark-driscoll-addresses-mars-hill-church-about-best-seller-issue-church-discord/

http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2014/03/MHCletterMD.png
...
First, a marketing company called ResultSource was used in conjunction with the book Real Marriage, whichw as released in January 2012. My understanding of the ResultSource marketing strategy was to maximize book sales, so that we could reach more people with the message and help grow our church. In retrospect, I no longer see it that way. Instead, I now see it as manipulating a book sales reporting system, which is wrong. I am sorry that I used this strategy, and will never use it again. I have also asked my publisher to not use the "#1 New York Times bestseller" status in future publications, and am working to remove this from past publications as well


What Driscoll did not address were the allegations and evidence presented toward the claim that Mark Driscoll plagiarized the work of others.  While in an on-air interview with Janet Mefferd Mark Driscoll said he might have made a mistake and that a mistake was not a sin the steady changes being made to Driscoll publications documented by Warren Throckmorton seem to suggest that the case that Mark Driscoll actually used the materials of other authors without proper or adequate citation spanned about half a dozen books, books that have been getting revised in the last few months in the wake of Janet Mefferd's on-air allegations.

What is worth noting is that in addition to Mark and Grace Driscoll's book Real Marriage not adequately citing or acknowledging the work of Dan Allender and others in the first printing; in addition to the controversy that came to light regarding the fact that Mars Hill Church contracted with ResultSource to land a #1 spot on the NYT bestseller list for Real Marriage, there is the additional context of Mark Driscoll, from the pulpit and in the 2011 fundraising film, was telling Mars Hill members that they frankly stunk at giving and could do better.   The full context of this filmed rebuke seems to be that Mark Driscoll was scolding the congregation for their lack of financial generosity months after MHC and RSI inked a deal to rig a #1 NYT bestseller spot for a book that seems to made use of Dan Allender's work without giving him any credit.  Newer editions of Real Marriage have remedied this but only, it seems, after the double whammy controversy regarding alleged plagiarism on the part of Mark Driscoll and of the contract to rig a place on the NYT bestseller list for the book.

And on top of all that, during the months of securing that place with help from ResultSource, Driscoll was regaling the congregation about their lack of adequate generosity toward the cause.  In 2011 at the time of the film's release Driscoll mentioned that 24% of Mars Hill attenders gave nothing.

What's interesting is that according to the FY2012 annual report that was made available to the public in FY2012 the number of attenders/members who gave nothing was 23.9%.  For FY2013 the number that gave $0 was listed as 35.1%.  Go to the following link for documentation of those numbers.

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/01/mars-hill-church-comparing-fy2012.html

There's time yet to find out what FY2014 has brought for MHC and what may yet be reported but since 2012 MHC seems to have been in numeric decline in average attendance and the percentage of those who gave absolutely nothing yet attended Mars Hill seems to have jumped ten percentage points since the late 2011 rebuke via film from Pastor Mark Driscoll. 

Mark Driscoll rebuking the congregation during the late 2011 season in which executive leadership at Mars Hill had signed a contract with ResultSource to buy a place for Real Marriage on the NYT bestseller list when the book made use of Dan Allender's work without giving credit to him seems ... ironic.  Driscoll was rebuking a flock for not giving generously enough during a season in which Sutton Turner had just earlier signed a contract to rig a place on the NYT bestseller list for a book that seems to have plagiarized Dan Allender's work.  It seems more than just a teensy bit hypocritical for a megachurch pastor to scold his congregants about not giving generously enough to the cause if the cause turned out to include manipulating book sales to get a book that seems to have had plagiarism in it on to the NYT bestseller list.