Saturday, September 06, 2014

in light of Mars Hill financial troubles and fiscal trajectory, campus closures would seem imminent

Longtime readers of Wenatchee The Hatchet will perhaps already know that Wenatchee expressed reservations in 2008 about Mars Hill's commitment to meteoric and constant growth.  Mars Hill had acquired the West Seattle campus in 2006 and the Lake City campus around 2007 and Tabella (former Mars Hill Downtown).  Other campuses have since been added and the real estate and Mars Hill series has taken a backseat to other issues like plagiarism controversy and Result Source and governance issues ... but it was real estate that was of particular interest to Wenatchee The Hatchet as a problem of systemic development, a problem in which Mars Hill seem most likely to get in trouble by trying to expand campus development faster than it was cultivating a viable, stable donor base.  The previous fiscal year summation showed that while giving had increased the ratio of those who have given nothing within Mars Hill has also increased.  The top 20 percent are being relied on to give a bigger 80% for a bigger pie, so to speak.

But this can't keep going and in terms of operational expenses Mars Hill can't keep going the way they've been going without some campus closures, as in closing campuses altogether.  This has happened before, actually, as former attenders of Mars Hill Wedgwood/Mars Hill Lake City discovered circa 2011. At this point the question is not really "if" but when Mars Hill may have to announce closures and which campuses might have to be closed.  To go by the pdf that was made available to Warren Throckmorton earlier this year (hunt for Mars Hill Financial Slides) here are a couple of admittedly speculative guesses. 

Mars Hill is going to have to announce campus closures and likely soon. 

The campus closures are more likely to be for leased rather than owned real estate. 

For instance, the U-District campus "could" close if the net margin since April 2014 was still in the negative by double digits (see the financial slides available via Throckmorton, if memory serves) but the corporation known as Mars Hill technically owns that real estate and turning around giving is conceivable. 

In fact it was only a few years ago the real estate got bought.



But if the campus loses enough money at steady enough of a rate it could conceivably go up for closure.  After all, that's kind of how it played out at Lake City, wasn't it?
But while the U-District campus could be closed there'd still be the matter of selling off the real estate, not exactly a simple task and there's no indications from church advisors that for sure the real estate is going on the market, where as there is a "pending" sale for the MH corporate headquarters.


On the other hand, as prestigious as the real estate Downtown is that's a lease.  The lease could not get renewed.  In fact for those who kept tabs on that lease the lease nearly didn't go through some time earlier during Munson's tenure as legal president of Mars Hill. 

Cutting the lease at Downtown in favor of urging people to move to give and serve at a U-District campus on property that looks like it's owned by Mars Hill Church might not be an entirely bad move, or might it?  Not even saying that's likely, just pointing out that if Mars Hill were to announce campus closures it would be easier to announce the closures of campuses at locations that are leased rather than owned.  Whether or not Mars Hill Downtown sent out as many staff or leaders as Lake City did in its short tenure is a bit difficult for Wenatchee to track at the moment but when Beltz, Gaydos and Little all vanished inside of the same brief season in 2013 it's extremely unlikely Downtown could just keep on trucking in the wake of that level of departure.  Downtown is a mere sliver of what it once was in terms of publicly listed staff. Again, it seems that if their talent and resources could get absorbed into the U-District the way Lake City people and resources were siphoned back toward Ballard or Shoreline there might be a way to make lemonade from what could have been a lemon on the donor cultivation end since the Gaydos resignation.

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2013/03/transitions-at-mars-hill-downtown.html


Another example of a lease would probably be Rainier Valley, the Mars Hill campus that uses Union Gospel Mission property for meeting.  It's a small campus and the number of giving households is small while the net margin was still in double digits for a negative.  Shutting down that campus might be a tough and unhappy decision but not impossible and not a decision that couldn't be understood in terms of Mars Hill's aim to be around for the long haul.  There are a lot of campuses in Washington state already.  The same cannot be said of New Mexico.



If a campus is relatively new, like Phoenix, then huge systemic deficits getting a campus up and running could be expected and perhaps MH would opt to weather a storm there.  But the percentage of giving households that came up there looked pretty low and the net margin was something like -$40.  That's still a potentially foundering campus if the trend hasn't been reversed.  Since Mars Hill Orange County is now Mars Hill Huntington Beach having a campus run into some eviction crisis only a matter of some months into a public launch is not entirely unheard of.

After all, the launch was January 2012.
https://marshill.com/2013/11/03/mars-hill-orange-county-has-a-new-home-and-a-new-name

Mars Hill Orange County has experienced a lot of change since they launched in January of 2012. They’ve met in six different venues in four different cities and changed lead pastors once. Through it all, the people have remained faithful and committed to making disciples and planting churches.

and the eviction ...

http://marshill.com/2012/05/26/update-on-mars-hill-orange-countys-building

Not long afterward.  Mars Hill Orange County became Mars Hill Huntington Beach and its lease on life may be a bit more open-ended than a campus like Portland where MH owns the real estate.
Things may have gotten better, even a lot better, but if this is the Huntington Beach slide and the trajectory of giving has kept going south ...

So, given the negative net margins that were available for consideration before the close of FY2014 ... "if" campuses were likely to get closed at least some possibilities might be

Downtown
Huntington Beach
Rainier Valley
Phoenix

Can't be sure, and it may turn out no campuses close at all ... but if Mars Hill has been losing financial support, members, and staff as steadily as it has it would be rather amazing if a campus didn't shut down in the next fiscal year.

Confessions of a Reformission Rev, "... I decided it was time to blow it all up, create some strategic chaos, and start all over again ... I realized I was already getting bored. There was no dragon to slay ... ." Driscoll explains a 2002-2003 re-org


https://marshill.com/2014/08/24/an-update-from-pastor-mark
An Update from Pastor Mark
August 24, 2014
...
I may be an author, a speaker, and a thought-provoker; but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’m a local church pastor, and that’s what I want to give the rest of my life for. ...

What is striking about this statement is that while he mentions that "in the deepest recesses of my heart, I'm a local church pastor" this is difficult to take at face value in light of the summation of his public ministry.

If that was how he saw himself and he aspired to no more than that why start Acts 29?  Why would have have worked with Jamie Munson and Tim Smith to reverse-engineer Mars Hill to a target growth marker?  Why envision Mars Hill starting a Bible college and a music label?  Driscoll's jokes about world domination and changing the world are far-reaching enough across his ministry it isn't difficult to consult them.

In a 2006 sermon Driscoll discussed idolatry and he made a point of sharing what, at the time, he believed his idol to be.

While the sermons for this series "Christians Gone Wild" aren't easily available, thanks to the sweeping media purge earlier this year ... there's still ways to refer to the June 2006 sermon.

http://download.marshill.com/files/2006/06/18/20060618_resisting-idols-like-jesus_en_transcript.pdf.
RESISTING IDOLS LIKE JESUS

Part 22 of 1st Corinthians
Pastor Mark Driscoll | 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 | June 18, 2006

...
Here’s the tricky part: Figuring out what your idols are. Let me give you an example. Let’s say for example, you define for yourself a little Hell. For you, Hell is being poor. For you, your definition of Hell is being ugly. For you, your definition of Hell is being fat. For you, your definition of Hell is being unloved. For you, your definition of Hell is being unappreciated. That fear of that Hell then compels you to choose for yourself a false savior god to save you from that Hell. And then you worship that false savior god in an effort to save yourself from your self-described Hell. So, some of you are single. Many of you are unmarried. For you, Hell is being unmarried and your savior will be a spouse. And so you keep looking for someone to worship, to give yourself to so that they will save you. For some of you, you are lonely and your Hell is loneliness, and so you choose for yourself a savior, a friend, a group of friends or a pet because you’ve tried the friends and they’re not dependable. And you worship that pet. You worship that friend. You worship that group of friends. You will do anything for them because they are your functional savior, saving you from your Hell. That is, by definition, idolatry. It is having created people and created things in the place of the creator God for ultimate allegiance, value and worth.


So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get incredibly personal. This will get painfully uncomfortable if I do my job well. I’m going to ask you some probing questions. We’re going to try to get to the root of your idols and mine and I am guilty. I was sitting at breakfast this morning. My wife said, “So what is your idol?” I was like, “Hey, I’m eating breakfast! Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk about that.” I’m the pastor. I preach. I don’t get preached at. Eating bacon. Don’t ruin it. You know, it’s going good., And I told her, I said, “Honey, I think for me, my idol is victory.” Man, I am an old jock. More old than jock, lately, but I – I’m a guy who is highly competitive. Every year, I want the church to grow. I want my knowledge to grow. I want my influence to grow. I want our staff to grow. I want our church plants to grow. I want everything – because I want to win. I don’t want to just be where I’m at. I don’t want anything to be where it’s at. And so for me it is success and drivenness and it is productivity and it is victory that drives me constantly. I – that’s my own little idol and it works well in a church because no one would ever yell at you for being a Christian who produces results. So I found the perfect place to hide. [emphasis added]

And I was thinking about it this week. What if the church stopped growing? What if we shrunk? What if everything fell apart? What if half the staff left? Would I still worship Jesus or would I be a total despairing mess? I don’t know. By God’s grace, I won’t have to find out, but you never know. So we’re going to look for your idols, too. Some questions. Think about it. Be honest with me. What are you most afraid of? What is your greatest fear? See, that probably tells you what your idol is. Sometimes your idol is the thing that you’re scared of not having, not being, not doing. What are you scared of? You scared that you’ll be alone? Are you scared that no one will ever love you? Are you scared that you will be found out that you’re not all that smart? Are you scared that you’ll be stuck in the same dead-end job forever? What are you afraid of?

Earlier in the same year Mark Driscoll published a book, so 2006 could be considered a landmark year in which Driscoll explained his motives and his idolatry of victory.  But more saliently to the recent statement about being a local church pastor, it's worth noting that by the time the 2006 book had been published it had become apparent by Mark Driscoll's own account that just being a local church pastor wasn't enough for him circa 2002.  Ron Wheeler's blog this year referenced a meeting of some kind between Mark Driscoll and Rich DeVos

http://ronwheelerjr.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/i-am-not-anonymous-2/
... I remember during one of our conferences somewhere around 2002, sitting at the table with you there in Boca, when you interviewed Rich DeVos on how he structured his business model.  I remember soon thereafter when you started talking about how it wasn’t that important that you knew your people or led them yourself, but that you “led the people, who led the people, who led the people”.   ...

Wheeler's account can be cross-referenced to the book Confessions of a Reformission Rev.  There Driscoll recounted getting counsel from Jon Phelps in chapter five and in chapter six referenced DeVos, as will be established below:

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
ISBN-10:0-310-27016-2
CHAPTER FIVE: JESUS, WHY AM I GETTING FATTER AND MEANER?
350-1,000 people

pages 135-136

A very wise friend who is a successful business entrepreneur, Jon Phelps, [WtH, for more on Phelps]shared an insight with me around this time that was very clarifying. He said that in any growing organization, there are three kinds of people, and only two of them have any long-term future with a growing organization. First, there are people on the rise who demonstrate the uncanny ability to grow with the organization and become vital leaders. Second, there are people who attach themselves to the people on the rise as valuable assistants who rise by being attached to someone else on the rise. Third, there are people who neither rise nor attach to anyone who is rising, and they cannot keep up with the growing demands of the organization. These people fall behind, and the organization can either allow their inability to slow down the whole team or release them and move forward with out them. This is difficult to do because they are often good people  who have been partly responsible for the success of the organization. But the needs of the organizational mission, not the individual in the organization, must continually remain the priority if there is to be continued success.

Up until this point, nearly everyone in the church had been connected to me, and I could no longer pull them all up with me. Simply, leaders needed to rise on their own or attach themselves to other people on the rise, or they would have to be let go.

So we made all these difficult decisions, and the church stabilized. Finally, we had facilities, money, men rising up to lead, intentional community housing, a successful concert venue, and a church that seemed organized to us. We had grown a church of one thousand people in a tough urban culture despite massive hardship. With things going so well, I feared we'd get too comfortable, and so I decided it was time to blow it all up, create some strategic chaos, and start over again. [emphasis added]

CHAPTER SIX

JESUS, TODAY WE VOTED TO TAKE A JACKHAMMER TO YOUR BIG CHURCH
1,000 to 4,000 people
from pages 140-141


It was a warm spring day and I sat in my office at the church, gazing out the window at large white clouds blowing through a clear blue sky, enjoying our success. I had lost about forty pounds by shifting from the Fatkins to the Atkins diet, had paid off all the personal debts I had accrued as a broke pastor, had fitted up the old home for my family, was getting closer to my lovely wife, was enjoying my three children while looking forward to a fourth, finally owned a vehicle with less than 200,000 miles on it, and was the pastor of one of the largest churches in our city at the age of thirty-one. My eye no longer twitched, I wasn't throwing up from acid reflux, and my vertigo had cleared up.

I was sitting at my new desk, which was the first piece of furniture I had ever owned that was not a donated hand-me down. ... We owned our church building outright and had money in the bank. I had a large staff for a church our size and was sleeping like a Calvinist at nights because things were under control.

On that day I had only a few appointments, with lengthy breaks in between. I decided to walk down to the deli a few blocks away and get a Reuben sandwich on sourdough bread and some fresh air. On the way back, I walked barefoot and remember thinking these simple pleasures had made the day one of the most relaxing and satisfying days I ever had. But by the time I walked back to the church, I realized I was already getting bored. There was no dragon to slay, no hill to charge, no battle to fight, and no foe to conquer. [emphasis added]

It was the winter of 2002, and our church had fought through hell and gone from homeless to one thousand people--a big deal in Seattle. I had nearly killed myself and had gotten the church to the comfort zone.

As I sat at my desk eating my sandwich, I ruminated on a simple talk that Richard DeVos, the founder of Amway, gave at our national Acts 29 conference, in which he explained four simple phases of organizational decline.  ...

Phase 1--creative, the dream stage
Phase 2--Management, the reality stage
Phase 3--Defensive justification, the failure stage
Phase 4--blaming, the death stage


So it looks like Wheeler's general chronology for when Driscoll would have had a meeting with DeVos seems to match up with things Driscoll himself has said.  Mark Driscoll's 2014 comment to the effect of being a local church pastor withstanding, it has to be interpreted in light of the previous 18 years of ambition and self-testified desire for continual and upward expanding victory.

As for what the rest of the "strategic chaos" was circa 2002-2003, Driscoll's got a book that explains that.

Mark Dunford releases statement, explains Tim Smith's role in recent dismissal

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/09/06/mark-dunford-explains-dismissal-from-mars-hill-church/
https://www.facebook.com/dunford.mark/posts/10152930946657345
https://www.dropbox.com/s/0zjdmzp7wr060f5/StatementFromTheDunfords.pdf?dl=0

Apparently few if any Mars Hill staff or volunteers take it upon themselves to date letters, which means it would be difficult to know for certain what date this letter made available via Dropbox was written.  On the other hand, the vintage of this letter is clearly recent.

Given the statements in the letter by Mark and Melissa Dunford it becomes impossible to not discuss Tim Smith's role in the dismissal.

from page 5 of

MARRIAGE CONCERNS
 
So, where do the concerns about my marriage come out of all of this? On Thursday, September  4th, I received phone calls from elders associated to three different churches asking about the condition  of  my marriage. Those churches are Phoenix (Tim Birdwell), Ballard (Scott Harris) and Tacoma (Bubba  Jennings). Each of the pastors in parentheses had direct conversations with Tim Smith about the apparent  condition of my marriage and subsequently communicated that to several members and leaders of their  respective churches. Tim Birdwell, in a phone conversation that I had with him thought it might have  simply been his misinterpretation. While that is possible, I am concerned that three different churches had  leaders contact me with the exact same concern. I directly confronted Tim Smith about this and he denied  having led anyone to believe this, though he admitted that he had said that my wife and I were “going  through some things in our marriage.” I had previously been told by someone at Mars Hill Portland that  Tim had told him that my wife “hated Mars Hill and was a mess.” Both statements were reckless,  characteristically unclear, unrelated to any decision to dismiss me, and slanderous.
 
While at the retreat, during our meeting with the Portland elders and Tim Birdwell, my wife and I had discussed concerns about margin in my schedule. I had recently completed a seminary paper on the subject and my wife and I were discussing the content of that paper. As a result, we proposed to the Portland elders that we now take the break that was initially promised us. We still didn’t feel rooted in Portland and wanted to take the time to do that going into the fall. That, and our clearly laid out concerns with the state of Mars Hill were the extent of any issues in our marriage. My wife and I have been married now for five years and we are in the healthiest, closest season of our marriage. That is what enables us to have such conversations. I am disgusted that after having been told that those conversations were “safe and private” that anything of that conversation left the confines of a discussion between elders. That it was used as a justification after the fact to help explain my dismissal is equally gross.
 
Actions such as this are nothing new to Mars Hill Church. When leaders have previously resigned, similar comments have been made. In fact, while at the Full Council meeting, an elder who left early having submitted his resignation Tuesday evening was presented in the same light. Those who were present for that meeting are aware that those statements were not an accurate reflection of his issues. That elder has since rescinded his resignation and will remain nameless here as a result. Still, the pattern is important. If I was to have been removed as a result of the condition of my marriage, Tim would have had biblical grounds to file formal charges. Given that it was made abundantly clear then, and today that I have not in any way disqualified myself, I am further frustrated by the insinuation.

Whether or not Tim Smith will opt to make any public statements or response is not yet known.  Given that Wenatchee The Hatchet has already done some blogging on the history of Smith's role within Mars Hill, now seems as good a time as any to re-present those materials for public consideration.

Where are they now part 6D, a Tim Smith follow up, documenting his role as worship team administrator in 2000

This was originally published in June 2014.  Again, in light of the recent Mark Dunford dismissal and a report that Tim Smith made the decision, some background on Tim Smith's history with and at Mars Hill may be in order.

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/06/where-are-they-now-part-6d-tim-smith.html

Well ... one of the things noted in part b was how Smith made a case to Mark Driscoll to let him run the entire worship department.  Exactly when this conversation transpired is not entirely clear and to some degree a screen capture from the old marshill.fm site makes things even less clear.


According to the WayBack Machine screen capture from December 10, 2000 Tim Smith was already the worship team administrator.  Now let's recall that Mark Driscoll described letting go the worship leader from the earlier years of Mars Hill in the following way:

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 multiple 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. [emphasis added]

As established from earlier posts on this topic (Mr. Smith) actual musical competence was not really a requirement for Mark Driscoll.  That could be paid for once someone with suitable leadership potential as far as Driscoll assessed that had finally been found. 
Let's remember that the eighth season was basically 1998.
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. [emphasis added] Brad had spent a few years playing the club scene with his band Springchamber, but was quickly overwhelmed with the demands of his first time pastorate and quit his job at Microsoft to free up time for ministry and hoped to live off of his wife Devonna's salary. But, she soon became pregnant and needed to quit her job. I then got a call from a pastor in Florida who had a network that funded church plants. Grace and I met with Pastor David Nicholas at Spanish River Church, and his church planting network agreed to help us financially. This gift allowed us to bring Brad on full-time, which has culminated in a fantastic independent worship album, multiple worship teams, and an aggressive set of new songs written by some of our many gifted artists. [emphasis added]

So despite what would appear to have been a dream Mark Driscoll claimed he had that Brad was leading worship and despite even going to the trouble to convincing David Nicholas to part with enough money to bring Brad Currah on full-time for ministry in his first time pastorate ... by the year 2000 Tim Smith was publicly listed as the administrative person organizing things.  By Tim Smith's account Mark Driscoll claimed God had given him a dream that he and Smith would be working together.  Apparently divine oracles were relatively common for Driscoll in spite of his tendency during this period to self-identify as a cessationist?


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.

By 2000 Smith was worship team administrator.  For sake of review:


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.  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. [emphasis added]
So in spite of Smith's lack of demonstrable musical competence Driscoll felt like he and Smith were brothers right off the bat at the start of the relationship and Driscoll saw potential in Smith, so Smith was given the whole music department.  Was this as far back as 2000?  In any case, by Mark Driscoll's account in 2008 the first thing Tim Smith did was fired everybody and cancelled everything., whenever that officially or unofficially began.  Whether or not Mark Driscoll directly let Brad Currah go or whether there was another party or two in the "we" that let the worship leader go has not yet come to light with any documentable certainty.  But it is at least "possible" that because Tim Smith, in the account of Mark Driscoll, lobbied to run the music department Smith could have been involved ... or not.  But by this time Currah had been, from the sound of things, brought on full time with a stipend of some kind provided by David Nicholas and yet Currah was, in the larger history of Mars Hill, basically canned almost as soon as everything was in place for him to even start doing his apparently Mark Driscoll's-dream-predicted job.

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

As per the earlier reprint, this is a republication of material originally published in February 2014

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/02/where-are-they-now-part-6c-driscoll.html

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

This material was originally published in February 2014
http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/02/where-are-they-now-part-6b-mark.html

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.

Where are they now, part 6a: Tim Smith--dudely dude who helped Driscoll reverse-engineer MH to 3k and one of the guys Mark Driscoll dreamt about

This material was originally published in November 2013 but in light of the recent Mark Dunford dismissal, documenting the early role of Tim Smith in the history of Mars Hill may be worth revisiting

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

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.

But I really liked Tim because he is one of the few manly men whom I have ever seen leading worship. I am not supposed to say this, but most of the worship dudes I have heard are not very dudely. They seem to be very in touch with their feelings and exceedingly chickified from playing too much acoustic guitar and singing prom songs to Jesus while channeling Michael Bolton and flipping their hair. Tim was a guy who brewed his own beer, smoked a pipe, rock-climbed, mountain biked, river rafted, carried a knife on his belt, and talked about what he thought more than what he felt.

We clicked because I drive a 1978 Chevy truck that gets single digits to the gallon and has a bacon air freshener and no functioning speedometer and because I fashion myself as the self-appointed leader of a heterosexual male backlash in our overly chickified city filled with guys drinking herbal tea and rocking out to Mariah Carey in their lemon yellow Volkswagen Cabriolets while wearing fuschsia sweater-vests that are perfectly matched with their open-toed shoes. Anyways, Tim learned quickly, took vocal lessons, and soon assumed leadership over the entire worship department. Like Jamie, he started by firing most everyone and starting over from scratch.

As opportunity seeking leaders well-suited for the creative phase, Jamie, Tim, and I began envisioning what the next phase of the church should look like if we hoped to stay on mission. I decided to never view our church as a church but rather always to view it like a church planter with a core group launching out to reach the city.
...
So I began to reverse-engineer a plan for our church to grow to more than three thousand people with help from Jamie and Tim. In the end we decided that what was in the best interest of our mission to the city was not in the best interests of each of our elders. I knew God was compelling me to state the vision to the elders. And I knew that vision would quite possibly split the church three ways between the founders--Lief, Mike, and me. Nonetheless I met with our elders to seek their input on the recommended changes, knowing it could undo all that we had worked so hard to accomplish. We spent a lengthy day going over the proposal, and things were tense.

Mike and two elders chose to take their church service out as a separate church plant. ...

The above citation is extensive but necessarily so because Driscoll devoted a strikingly large number of words to present Tim Smith as the manly antidote to the chickified Seattle scene.  Tim Smith was the dudely dude antidote to what Driscoll saw Seattle culture and normal Christian worship music as being.

It is also worth noting from this extensive sequence of excerpts that Tim Smith and Jamie Munson were two hand-picked fledgling leaders Driscoll recruited and invested a significant amount of time and money into.  Around 2000-2002 they were in some way involved in brainstorming with Driscoll how to grow Mars Hill to 3,000 people.  Jamie Munson, in 2007, would go on to be an executive elder and Lead Pastor, drafting by-laws that appointed him to this position. 

Tim Smith eventually went from leading worship to also being a pastor and an executive pastor, right up through some time in June 2007. 

from page 114 of the 145 page document available at Joyful Exiles that was distributed to members of Mars hill during the 2007 re-org in the wake of the termination of pastors Bent Meyer and Paul Petry

From Regrouping for Jesus' fame, previously sent to members on June 23, 2007
http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/elders-response-to-questions-11-9-07.pdf
Tim Smith shifts from being an executive elder to focus on: theology, music, arts, band development, leading corporate worship in Ballard, training worship pastors for other campuses, and launching a worship music brand line for professional distribution.  [Wenatchee The Hatchet does not recall if this was Re:Sound, and Re:Sound would be an entirely separate but related line of enquiry]

Now with all that established, let's get to Tim Smith describing how he arrived at Mars Hill from the film God's Work, Our Witness.  We're finally at the stuff that dreams are made of, or the stuff that is made from dreams.  But here, too, patience is required, because we need the stage set for us with a description of the Driscoll house in the very late 1990s when Tim Smith appeared.

http://marshill.com/media/gods-work-our-witness/gods-work-our-witness
About 27:34
The Driscolls’ Basement
Once we got kicked out of that building, literally everything moved back into our house. So offices in our house across from our bedroom, interns in the basement.

Pastor Matt: Poor Grace. Like, it was so ghetto down there because, I mean, you know bachelors. There’s like three guys living down there, and the dishes would just stack up, stack up. I remember they’d start stinking real bad. And every couple of weeks, like, we’d see the dishes done. I’d come home from work, and I’d say, “Hey, man, did you do the dishes? Thanks.” He was like, “Nah, I think Grace did them again.”

Grace: We shared laundry facilities and so, yeah, I just ended up cleaning half the time, because it was—I couldn’t even stay down there to do laundry. It was so disgusting.

Pastor Matt: Sorry, sorry, Grace.

We had just picked up Pastor Tim in Albuquerque, New Mexico, around that time and he had never played an electric guitar. He’d never sung in a band. He’d never written a song, and he couldn’t sing, man. When he sang, it actually sounded like he got captured by Al-Qaeda. So we had to pay for vocal lessons and go buy him an electric guitar.

Pastor Tim: [The kind of worshipers that he is seeking are those that will worship in spirit and truth, and that is a thought that has changed every aspect of how I think.] When I came to Mars Hill, I had never really been in a band. I played a lot of acoustic guitar with hand drums, but I hadn’t really been in a band. I hadn’t ever really written a song, and I’d never owned an electric guitar—a lot of acoustic, a lot of flannel, a lot of sandals.

Tim and his wife moved out from Missouri to live in my basement and go work Joe jobs and give it a shot because we met him for twenty minutes at a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Pastor Tim: Because you weren’t at that conference.

Beth: No, no, it was just him.

Pastor Tim: You hadn’t met these people. You hadn’t read these things. I just came home from New Mexico from this conference and said, “Hey, what if we moved to Seattle now?”

Beth: That was a little harder sell for me. We had to pray about that for a while.

Pastor Tim: Yeah, because we didn’t know anybody here.

Beth: No, no.

Pastor Tim: So in August of 1999, we rolled into the Driscoll family’s driveway. It was the second time I’d ever seen Pastor Mark. We talked on the phone a time or two and exchanged a couple of e-mails. I think we both met Grace here in this basement while she was doing the laundry.

Beth: We had a dining table right here and some chairs, and there was a futon right here. It was a little nicer.

Pastor Tim: The bathroom was nice, right?

Beth: Oh, yeah. I’m not going to—I’m not sharing that part.

Jeff: Matt lived in the basement, and I was over there a lot, and I did silk screening. I cleaned off my screens in his shower downstairs and totally stained it. I think that was permanent. And so I wrecked his basement.

Beth: That’s the first thing I cleaned. I’ll just say that. It was okay for a period of time. We knew it wasn’t forever, so—

Pastor Tim: Years later, I would ask Mark, I asked him, “Why in the world did you do that? Because I’m pretty sure you haven’t just taken anybody else in, and I’m not sure I would exactly the same way, either.” And he said that he had a dream that God told him that I was moving here, and we were supposed to work together. I had no idea what was in store, but apparently God did.

This last detail is very striking because Tim Smith was not the first man to whom or about whom Mark Driscoll said he had a dream.  With a little help from The WayBack Machine we can learn who the other man was. 

http://web.archive.org/web/20001210191200/http://www.marshill.fm/who/our_history.htm
December 10, 2000
 

Seasons of Grace: The Story of Mars Hill
By Pastor Mark Driscoll

...
In the eighth season, our worship ministry was in great disarray and I had a dream that Brad Currah, who had been a member of our core group before the launch, was leading worship. I repeatedly informed Brad that he was to be our worship leader and after numerous conversations he began volunteering time overseeing the worship and arts ministries. [emphasis added] Brad had spent a few years playing the club scene with his band Springchamber, but was quickly overwhelmed with the demands of his first time pastorate and quit his job at Microsoft to free up time for ministry and hoped to live off of his wife Devonna's salary. But, she soon became pregnant and needed to quit her job. I then got a call from a pastor in Florida who had a network that funded church plants. Grace and I met with Pastor David Nicholas at Spanish River Church, and his church planting network agreed to help us financially. This gift allowed us to bring Brad on full-time, which has culminated in a fantastic independent worship album, multiple worship teams, and an aggressive set of new songs written by some of our many gifted artists.

In our ninth season in the beginning of 1999 ...

So it was Brad Currah that Driscoll saw in a dream leading worship at Mars Hill, and that dream was what Mark Driscoll said was the basis on which he repeatedly informed Currah that Currah was to be the Mars Hill worship leader.  Currah went so far as to quit his job at Microsoft to free up time for ministry, as Driscoll recounted things.  This is the point at which we see David Nicholas mentioned, providing a financial gift that Driscoll stated let Mars Hill bring Brad Currah on full-time in his first-time pastorate.

Let's keep in mind that the "eight seasons" span from just 1996 to 1998.  The ninth season kicks in in 1999.  It is during this period that Smith arrives but by Smith's account of Driscoll's account of Driscoll's dream about him, Driscoll's dream would have to have happened before Smith's arrival in August 1999 but also after the end of 1998, the period by which Driscoll himself has recounted recruiting and installing Brad Currah as worship leader at Mars Hill. 

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. [we'll leave Re:Sound for later]

So, given what Driscoll said about the eight seasons that dream about Tim Smith, if it happened, would have had to have happened in 1999, wouldn't it?  Hadn't Driscoll detailed how a dream was the reason he repeatedly told Brad Currah he would be Worship Pastor at Mars Hill?  Yep, by Driscoll's own account.  Hadn't Currah's salary been made possible thanks to financial assistance from the church planting network of David Nicholas?  That's how Driscoll told it.  All that time, effort and money and then by 1999 Tim Smith arrives and for the 2011 fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness, Tim Smith recounts how when he asked Driscoll why he acted as he did, Driscoll said God told him in a dream Tim Smith was coming.  Did God specify in the dream where Brad Currah was going to end up?  Or did Tim Smith have that covered by "firing most everyone and starting from scratch"?

And like everyone else in the roster of 24 elders at Mars Hill in 2007, Tim Smith voted that Bent Meyer and Paul Petry needed to be removed from eldership.  Tim Smith is currently Lead Pastor at Mars Hill PortlandMunson announced the transition of the Smiths from Washington to Oregon on August, 16, 2011. In April 2011 we were given an introduction to Dustin Kensrue, who arrived on the Mars Hill scene and became a deacon.  It's Dustin Kensrue who is Worship Pastor now. Kensrue moved up from Orange County to Bellevue in 2012 and became Worship Pastor. 

Friday, September 05, 2014

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


http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/08/07/the-storm-at-mars-hill-church-mark-driscoll-explains-it-all/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgl6QmHrXEo
transcript of Mark Driscoll statement in a video called "Stepping Up", discussed over at Warren
Throckmorton's blog:

I don’t know what the most courageous thing I’ve ever done is. I know the one thing that was one of the hardest was, the church was growing, it had exploded, it had grown to, I think, maybe six thousand. So it made it one of the largest, fastest growing churches in America in one of the least churched cities, and in a conversation one night it was just up in our bedroom on a couch we were visiting, Grace and I were talking about past relationships and just kind of a casual conversation and we’d been together at that point for maybe seventeen, eighteen years or something. [WtH, i.e. either 2005 or 2006] I mean we’d been together a while between dating and marriage. And she just explained to me a few occasions where she had been sexually assaulted, raped, and abused [prior to my meeting her, (WT's transcript differs from what is presented here and this is punctuation that WtH believes makes more sense of Driscoll's actual words)]. I just broke and I just started weeping, thinking that I had not known that about my wife, and she just said it matter of factly, like she was just reading the script of someone else’s life. And there was no emotion in her, and I could tell she didn’t even really understand what she had just explained. That sort of led to a season of me really getting to know her, and her getting to know her past, and us getting to know Jesus in a deeper way.

It was around that time I could just tell that she’s gonna need me available more.

Emotionally present more, we just had our 5th child. So the timing’s not great. We just decided to go multi-site in video, cause we had outgrown our location and everybody’s looking and all the critics are around and is this gonna make it? A couple of things combined at that season as well, overwork and stress and everything else. I fatigued my adrenal glands, I was in a bad place health-wise, was not sleeping. It was a pretty dark time for me, and I told Grace, “For me to recover, for you to recover, for us to build our friendship, I feel like we’re kind of at that watershed moment where our marriage is gonna get better or it’s gonna get colder, and you’ve really opened yourself up and I need to love and serve you better and pursue you more.”

I said so I got to change the church. I mean all the way down, I have to rewrite the Constitution, bi-laws, I got to let some people go. I have to put in place some hard performance reviews. I’ve got to be willing to lose a lot of relationships, endure criticism, preach less times, hand off more authority, and I said I don’t know if the church is going to make it and I don’t know if I’m going to make it.

I told Grace, I said “I’m going to give it one year, and if it doesn’t get fixed, I’m going to quit, because you’re more important to me than ministry, and I feel like if I quit right now, the church will probably die, and there’s all these thousands of people that met Jesus.” I said “So we’re either going to change it or I’m going to quit, but we’re not going to do this forever and you’re my priority,” and that led to everything that I feared, quite frankly.

It was really brutal, and I couldn’t tell the story at the time of and here’s why- because Grace is really hurting, and I love her, and I’m broken, and we need to pull back and make some course corrections because it’s Grace’s story to tell, and she wasn’t ready at that point to tell that story, and I had no right to tell that story for her. [emphasis added]

And so everybody got to speculate for years what the motive was, “oh he’s power hungry, he’s controlling, he wants to take over, he doesn’t love people, you know he’s just a bully.” And no, it’s actually he’s broken and his wife is hurting and the church is gonna probably literally kill him or put him in the hospital and his wife needs him right now, so he’s gotta make some adjustments. So, you know, by the grace of God, we weathered that storm.

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

https://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/bent-meyer-written-record-8-28-14-letter-combined-document-set.pdf
from page 16 of 110

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

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

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

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

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

http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/elders-response-to-questions-11-9-07.pdf
from pages 3 through 5 of 145
...
One of the problems was that Mars Hill had essentially outgrown the wisdom of our team and needed outside counsel. The church had grown so fast that some of our elders and other leaders were simply falling behind and having trouble keeping up, which was understandable. To make matters worse, there was a growing disrespect among some elders who were jockeying for and abusing power. The illusion of unity our eldership had maintained over the years was kept in part by my tolerating some men who demanded more power, pay, control, and voice than their performance, character, or giftedness merited. While this was a very short list of men, as elders they had enough power to make life truly painful.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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