Thursday, July 02, 2015
Houston interviews Driscoll, Driscoll's claim "The first three years we didn't collect a salary" seems to skim over Driscoll's own public testimony to the contrary
I've made a lot of mistakes and one of them was going too fast. There's the Lord's calling and there's the Lord's timing and I should have waited longer. I should have been under godly spiritual authority, for Grace and I to be under a godly couple, that was [a] senior pastor, so that we could learn and grow. I, I, my character was not caught up with my gifting and I did start to young. And I believe God called us to start the church and he was very, very, very gracious to us, uh, but had I to
do it over again I would not look at a 25-year old and say, "Do what I did."
... We went into the urban core and we felt, specifically, called to go after young, college-educated males. That was really my heart. I wanted everybody to meet Jesus but I felt particularly if we were gonna make in the city and the legacy of families and, you know, the way that women and children and culture treated, that getting young men to love Jesus would be paramount. So that was really the focus and I didn't think the church would amount to much. The first three years we didn't
collect a salary [emphasis added]; it was very small; we met at night; we moved a lot because we kept losing our rental location; the offices were in our house, so it wasn't a big deal and we didn't anticipate that it would become what it ultimately did.
A lot depends on what is meant by "collect a salary". While Driscoll has elsewhere testified that the nascent church plant couldn't afford to give enough to have him be on salary this didn't mean that there was no network of older churches with established leaders providing financial support who got public props from Driscoll.
from Seasons of Grace
by Mark Driscoll
In the second season, Grace and I began attending Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, where we volunteered our time working with their college ministry. We then located in Seattle to be closer to students and after a few months I was brought on staff as a part-time intern to oversee the college group. I served in that position for nearly two years and learned a great deal in my first position of ministry leadership in a church. At that time I met Mike Gunn who had moved from a pastorate in Southern California to begin a ministry to athletes at the University of Washington. I also met Lief Moi, a local radio show host, who came in to teach a class for us. These two men and their wives and children became like family [WtH: but now Driscoll's recently claimed that at the start of MH there was no childrens' ministry because there weren't any kids] and together we began dreaming about the possibility of planting an urban church for an emerging postmodern generation in one of the least churched cities in the U.S. We began praying, studying the scriptures, reading a great deal on postmodernity, and dialoging together to formulate a philosophy of ministry appropriate for our context. Helping us formulate our launch plan was Dr. Greg Kappas, who graciously mentored us and provided wise insight and counsel.
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 [but Mark was the only pastor on stuff, huh?] - 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. [emphasis added]
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.
Then there's this.
March 24, 2004
from 1 Timothy 5:17-25
When we started this church, I didn't get paid anything. First year, nothing. `Cause we had no people, we had no money. If you called the church, the church office was at my house, and I would answer the phone in my underwear and pretend like we were a high-powered organization. "Hi, thanks for calling Mars Hill." "I s Mark there?" "Yeah, let me get him." So I'd, you know, "Hi, how you doing?" I'd pretend like I had a secretary. I'd pretend like we were legit. I would, seriously. And I'm sitting there in my underwear just like the short guy in the Wizard of Oz, just pulling the levers, maintaining the illusion of this tremendous empire. Woo hoo.
There's nothing, man. No money, no people, no nothing. The first year we put a box in the back, and I said, "Hey, if anybody feels led to give, feel free to give." Nobody apparently felt led. God didn't move in anybody's heart. The first year we brought in $90,000.00, first year, which wasn't great. It's a nice SUV, but it's not a great budget, and that first year I didn't have any money. My wife was working full time. I was working full time while we were starting the church.
My wife started having major health complications from work, stress related. I told her, I said, "Honey, 1 Timothy says that, you know, I gotta make the money. If I don't provide for the needs of my family, I've denied the faith, I'm worse than an unbeliever. Quit your job. It's my responsibility. I'll figure it out. I don't know how we're gonna pay the bills. We're not getting any money at the church."
And I was thinking about it, too. I started getting a little scared `cause I wanted to live in the city, do a church in the city, the least churched city in the country. I wanted to have a big family. I wanted to be able to pay my bills. I wanted to be able to have a nice church, and I'm going after 20-year old indie rockers that are committed to poverty and anarchy. Thinking, "This is not real liquid. This is not a brilliant business plan, really." You know, teenage kids who take scooters to church tend not to be a huge donor base, you know?
But I felt like that what's God said, "Go to Seattle and ... " You know, we lived in Seattle. I grew up in Seattle. I love this city. This is my home, so it was like I knew God told me to do that. I'm like, "Lord God, I mean, I'm cool with not eating, but I gotta get food for the kids. I gotta get shoes on the wife. What am I gonna do here?"
So I went to Antioch Bible Church and I said, "They're not, you know, we're not generating any revenue." Antioch Bible Church, where I'd been the college director for a year and a half, they gave me $30,000 the first year as my salary. Praise God, they gave me money, so that's what we lived off. My wife and I and my daughter Ashley, family of three, living in Wallingford on $30,000 a year. No medical, no dental, no retirement, no nothing. Had to pay all of that. And then we tithed out of that, and then we gave above and beyond that for hospitality and for wedding presents and food `cause all the Bible studies and all the meetings were in our home. So we'd feed everybody and have everybody over and do all that kind of stuff.
And so when you subtracted it all out just from the tithes, I mean, we're living off of about $24,000 that first year. And then out of that, you've gotta pay medical, dental, retirement, food, rent, car, the whole thing. Family of three living in Wallingford, not a lot of bling. Didn't have the huge amount of extra the first couple of years.
Second year the church comes. Antioch kicks in again, gives me $30,000.00. Third year Mars Hill still wasn't able to really cover a full salary for me, so I went out and raised some additional dollars from another church, Spanish River Church, in Boca Raton. They gave me about half of my salary.
So, sure, maybe Driscoll wasn't collecting a salary from attenders of Mars Hill but that's obviously not to say Driscoll had no compensation and had no salary. By Driscoll's own public account he got a salary from Antioch Bible Church Antioch kicked in for the first two years of Driscoll's salary and in the third year he went out and raised additional money from another church, Spanish River Church, over in Boca Raton. If going out and petitioning a church in Florida for money for a larger salary doesn't constitute "collect a salary" there's a limited and fuzzy way with words afoot.