The Brian Houston interview 2015
on the resignation letter
I never got to say good-bye to the church and the people and so what went public was actually the resignation letter that went to the legal governing board that was in authority over me and so, uh, i uh, I know under the circumstances there wasn't a way to do that that would have been, uh, clean or easy. I don't have any criticism of the board. I think that, for the people, that there wasn't closure and I didn't, we didn't get to say anything.
And we didn't expect to resign. I met with the board. There was a whole list of things that were charged by current and former leaders and there was an internal governance struggle and threats of legal action that it got very complicated. And a lot of it was anonymous through the internet so you don't know who is saying or doing what. And so I invited the board to do a full examination, interview [emphasis added] anybody, anything, and we would submit to whatever verdict that they determined.
... When I think about eight weeks we met Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11. I remember because the 11th was my birthday and so Grace and I were present with the board and they said: "We see in your history of leadership, less in more recent years but particularly in the past, pride, anger and a domineering leadership style." That would be the exact words they used. "We don't see anything disqualifying. These are areas we want you to grow. We want you to leadership at the
church soon." They wanted to do some clean up internally. "We want you back on January 4 in the pulpit, give you time to heal, things to cool down, and for some changes to be made."
We agreed to that. I sent in a go-forward plan and then we went home to have birthday cake with the kids. I think it was on Monday night. I was in the bedroom. Grace was in the living room. And so we told the board and told the kids, you know, we come back and ["will do"? garbled] preaching and try and love and serve and, and fix what was a struggling church and God had provided a way for us to do that as volunteers. And so I was to come back as a volunteer. [emphasis added]
And then on that Monday night I was in the bedroom, Grace was in the living room and he spoke to me and he spoke to her in a supernatural way that neither of anticipated or expected. Ah, and so Grace walked in and she said, "I feel like the Lord just spoke to me and said what we're supposed to do." and I said "I feel like the Lord spoke to me and said what we're supposed to do." It's not what we wanted; it's not what we agreed to; it's not what we've planned for. And so I asked her, "Well, what did the Lord say to you?" cuz I didn't wanna influence and she said, uh, she said we're [Grace Driscoll speaks but it's low and indistinct, Driscoll pauses a moment and is urged to continue by Houston] "The Lord revealed to me that , you know, a trap has been set, there's, there's no way, chance we can return to leadership" and I didn't know what that meant or what was going on at the time. And I'm, I said, [garbled] "We need to resign". So this is not what we anticipated
and a lot of people've thought, you know, "maybe he's another plan" but we didn't. We didn't know what we were doing.
And Grace fell to the floor and she was just sobbing uncontrollably and I'd never seen my wife like that. She was devastated. So we prayed and slept on it and decided we would make sure we got this right. Talked to pastors, those that we trust and sent in our resignation then on, it would have been Tuesday. ...
The first thing to notice is the "I invited" part, because in this new account Mark Driscoll says he invited the Board to investigate him. That presents the decision as one he initiated and he explicitly said he told the Board he would submit to the results they came up with.
Then notice that Driscoll explained that he and Grace told the Driscoll kids they'd agreed with a plan set up by the Board.
It becomes easy to reconcile the Thrive narrative with the Houston interview on the point of how the Driscolls did not have time to notify the kids of the resignation thanks to this recent narrative. After all, by Mark Driscoll's account he said he agreed to submit to the restoration plan and Grace was with him. They assented to the restoration plan and then on Monday Mark claims he heard from God and God is alleged to have said "a trap has been set". So Mark and Grace Driscoll sleep on it and on Tuesday conclude they still believe they should resign from ministry at Mars Hill, write a letter, and this letter was released by the Board the day it was submitted.
Now it's curious that Mark describes that both he and Grace resigned from ministry at Mars Hill. Why was it both? Grace wasn't a charter member listed on articles of incorporation for the corporation formerly known as Mars Hill Fellowship was she? Because that's practically the only way to make sense of why Mark Driscoll would say they BOTH felt released from ministry or that they ought to resign.
Notice that in this account Driscoll never says what God said to Grace. In the earlier Thrive performance Driscoll said God audibly spoke to both of them and released them from ministry but in this Houston interview account the story is Mark said God said a trap had been set and ... we never get to hear what God is alleged to have said to Grace Driscoll. In this new narrative it's not even clear that Mark was interested in finding out what Grace said God told her.
Instead Mark Driscoll highlights that they wrote a letter and sent it Tuesday.
So what was "a trap" that had been set? It's never clear what even could have been a trap. Mark Driscoll's story has kept shifting from the resignation letter itself, which seemed to state that the Driscolls did an informal poll of men and women across the country, decided that it was best to quit, and then quit Mars Hill; through to the Robert Morris "I advised Mark to quit" story; through to the 2015 stories about God releasing Mark and Grace Driscoll from responsibility to ministry. Observe ...
Transcript | Mark Driscoll | Thrive 2015-05-01
It finally came to the point where God released my wife and I from our responsibility to ministry. He spoke to us audibly. It wasn’t what we were expecting. It wasn’t what we had agreed to. We were both pretty shocked and the announcement was going to come out that week. [emphasis added] And, uh, our server, our e-mail and things apparently were hacked and there was no way to get anything done without it being a public situation. And so the Board, which are good, godly people in authority, which I appreciate -- they released a statement earlier than we were anticipating, so um, but that meant, and I agree with that decision, I’m not critical of it. But that meant that I hadn’t told my kids that I had resigned and they were in school, taking test, it was a test week, …. we threw some stuff in a bag and ran to school to grab the kids and within minutes it was on TV, I think it was on CNN.
But as this narrative cements in detail and substance here's what it constitutes--Mark Driscoll claimed that both he and his wife agreed to submit to the restoration plan and that on the week of his birthday. Then on Monday, apparently the day before the resignation was tendered, Mark claims God told him he was released. But the new account doesn't really work all that hard to emphasize senior pastor Jesus stuff. It's just Mark heard "a trap has been set." What trap? Submitting to the spiritual authority of the leaders? And as for invoking "God told me" had not Mark Driscoll that same year advised the congregations of Mars Hill to view such sweeping invocations of divine permission with some skepticism?
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT FOR MINISTRY
Pastor Mark Driscoll
May 04, 2014
So I want to be careful with this because this can be an opportunity for spiritual abuse. Because sometimes people say, “God told me.” Well, we’ll see, OK? You can’t just pull out the “God told me” card. [emphasis added] Ladies, let’s say you meet a guy and the guy says, “God told me to marry you.” “Interesting, he didn’t tell me or my dad, you know, so I don’t have to just assume that because you say the Lord says that the Lord in fact has spoken.”
You need to be very careful. Somebody comes along, “God told me to plant a church.” Let’s check that. All right, you can’t—I mean, 1 Corinthians 14 is clear. If you think you got a word from the Lord, you’ve got to check it by the leaders. So what we’re looking for, if you believe God has told you something, especially to do something that is difficult like this, we’re looking for a godly person—Peter’s a godly person. In godly community—it says he’s with the apostles, they’re all agreed. Under godly authority—they all agree on this. With a godly motive—to talk about Jesus. Doing a godly thing—wanting to minister to people. In a godly way—by being open in public and not hiding anything. So if you believe the Lord has told you something, he may have, but I would ask, “Are you a godly person in godly community under godly authority with a godly motive doing a godly thing in a godly way?” ... [emphasis added]
The new narrative may sound peachy to a Brian Houston but this actually exacerbates the problem in Driscoll's credibility. Mark Driscoll has now said that he and Grace agreed to cooperate with the restoration plan and come back as volunteers. That begs for further clarification from Mars Hill leadership if Kerry Dodd and Caleb Walters or anyone else within Mars Hill corporate leadership is willing to clear things up. Claiming God released the Driscolls from responsibility to ministry increasingly looks like a last second impulsive decision made in the wake of the Driscolls agreeing to the restoration plan. In this new narrative, in fact, it would explain that the reason the Driscoll kids did not know their dad had resigned was because Mark had not told any of the kids yet and the letter may have been drafted and sent by Driscoll THE DAY HE RESIGNED.
Notice, too, that by Mark Driscoll's account he had explained to the children a day or so earlier that he was agreeing to comply with the restoration plan the Board had said would be in place.
Whatever God allegedly said to the Driscolls it's remarkable that for as many decades as Mark Driscoll invoked an audible divine commission to marry Grace, teach the Bible, train men and plant churches the initial resignation letter mentions no divine audible command, just what looks like an ad hoc informal committee of godly men and women. Robert Morris said he told Mark to step aside a while in 2014, and Mars Hill confirmed the unexpected and disappointing nature of the resignation, but it wasn't until 2015 the "God said I could quit" narrative emerged.
There's very little evidence that the more Mark Driscoll unveils about how and why he quit, most of all when he invokes a "God told me" narrative, that he's morally congruent with his own teaching to the people of Mars Hill on that subject. Mark Driscoll told Brian Houston he invited the Board to investigate him, agreed to submit to their restoration plan and then, on a Monday, claims God said "a trap has been set" and then Mark Driscoll's conclusion was he had to resign.
Hey, think about that a minute. In this new story Mark doesn't really say God told him to quit. He says he heard "a trap has been set" and something about how there's now way they could return to leadership at Mars Hill ... but that's not the same thing as claiming God audibly told Mark and Grace separately they were released from responsibility to do ministry at Mars Hill. In fact in this new narrative Grace Driscoll never even gets to say what it was she believed God told her. Mark declares the necessity of resignation and then recounts Grace falling to her knees and sobbing.
As for Grace, she never said a thing to expand upon or corroborate this narrative. Driscoll did all the talking. Grace seemed to say things that could have come across as verbal cues of some kind explicable only to the Driscolls, but even though Houston interviewed both of them, in principle, practically the story was entirely Driscoll's.
So now it could be Mark Driscoll quit ministry over "a trap has been set" stuff, and that this was not in fact much indication the Driscolls were actually released from ministry.
There's something else but that warrants a separate post.