Monday, March 27, 2017

for archival purposes, the letter of confession to Bent Meyer and Paul Petry from 2007 era elders of Mars Hill, courtesy of The WayBack Machine

http://repentantpastor.com/confessions/letter-confession-bent-meyer-paul-petry/

The website is down or expired so it's no longer available to read.  However, with help from The WayBack Machine it's possible to preserve a November 2, 2014 letter.

https://web.archive.org/web/20141107012719/http://repentantpastor.com/confessions/letter-confession-bent-meyer-paul-petry

Letter of Confession to Bent Meyer and Paul Petry

Sunday, November 2, 2014
 
Dear Paul and Bent, we want to publicly confess our sin against you regarding events that took place at Mars Hill Church back in 2007. We were wrong. We harmed you. You have lived with the pain of that for many years. As some of us have come to each of you privately, you have extended grace and forgiveness, and for that we thank you. Because our sin against you happened in a public way and with public consequences, we want to make our confession public as well with this letter.
 
On September 30th 2007, you were both terminated from your employment as pastors at Mars Hill Church. Your status as elders of the church was suspended, according to the church’s bylaws at the time, pending an investigation of your qualification for eldership. It’s hard to imagine just how disorienting and painful this experience must have been for you. That night, Bent, you called Mike Wilkerson, your direct supervisor, to let him know that you’d been terminated. Within hours, Paul, you emailed all of the elders to notify us of what had happened to you that night. We had the opportunity and the responsibility to intervene, to care, to listen to you, and to make sure that any harmful treatment against you was corrected. Instead, we allowed the process of your investigation and trial to continue unimpeded and we participated in it. By failing to intervene and by participating in that process without protest, we implied to the members of Mars Hill Church, to each other, and to you and your families that your termination was above reproach. We stood by as it happened, and that was wrong.
 
We now believe that you were grievously sinned against in that termination. We believe that the termination meeting’s content and tone was abrupt, one sided, and threatening. Hearing each of you recount your experiences of this meeting is shocking and sad. By failing to intervene, we enabled a growing trend of misuses and abuses of power and authority that would be feared and tolerated by the rest of the church’s eldership. We now understand that these sorts of overpowering actions against elders were some of the very concerns that you had each expressed regarding some of the pending proposed changes to the bylaws. It is tragic that you were proved right by your own experiences. The harm permitted by our failure to protect you has had a devastating and lasting impact on you, your families, Mars Hill Church, and the watching world.
 
Paul, On October 15, 2007, all twenty-three elders at the time—including most of us signers of this letter—voted that you were in violation of the biblical qualifications of eldership. The alleged violations included a “lack of trust and respect for spiritual authority”. All but two of the elders then voted to remove you from eldership based on these perceived violations.
 
We now believe our decisions were invalid and wrong. The entire investigation and trial process was skewed by the implication that your termination was above reproach and for just cause. If there had been sin in your life that might have warranted a warning about possible disqualification from eldership, we should have patiently, carefully, and directly addressed it with you before the matter became so extremely escalated. By reporting our wrongheaded assessment to the church, we put doubt about your character in the minds of church members, though you had done nothing to warrant such embarrassment and scrutiny. By doing this, we misled the whole church, harmed your reputation, and damaged the unity of the body of Christ.
 
Bent, On October 29, 2007, all twenty-three elders at the time—including most of us signers of this letter—agreed that you were guilty of “displaying an unhealthy lack of trust in, and respect for, the senior leadership of Mars Hill Church”. We also unanimously approved that, based on your repentance, you would remain an elder of the church on probation.
 
Bent, we were wrong to have called you guilty of lacking trust and respect for the senior leadership of the church when you had good reasons for challenging the church’s senior leadership. We were wrong to have insisted that you repent of this lacking trust as a condition of your continued eldership, because it was not sinful on your part in the first place.
 
Bent and Paul, you each had every right as an elder to openly express your strong concerns about the bylaws and to influence our thinking so that we might have made the most informed decision possible. You also had good reason to contact the church’s attorney about those bylaws. These were not sinful acts of mistrust on your part, but reasonable acts of due diligence. We needed to learn from you at that time and we should have trusted you and respected your spiritual authority as elders of the church to educate us about potential problems with those bylaws. Instead, we silenced your voices through our complicity in your terminations and our decisions to remove Paul as an elder and keep Bent on probation instead of examining the issues more closely.
 
Paul, On December 5th, 2007 those of us who were elders at the time voted to instruct the members of Mars Hill Church to treat you as an unrepentant believer under church discipline after you had resigned your membership from the church. This treatment was to have included “rejection and disassociation” in the hope that you would “come to an acknowledgment of [your] sin and repent.” This instruction was given with the weight of all twenty-seven elders at the time. This disciplinary rejection led to great loss to your family in extreme financial hardship, sudden loss of long standing friendships, spiritual and emotional trauma to your family, and the public shaming of your character. We share responsibility for those losses due to our participation in the vote.
 
A church disciplinary act of this magnitude is extreme. It’s perhaps the most powerful that can be enacted upon a pastor. We now think that motion was hasty and harmful. We should have challenged the motion rather than approving it. Instead, we used our voting power as elders in a way that resulted in further harm to you. Further, we brought disrepute on the Church and its responsibility to exercise church discipline in a godly, loving and redemptive way. We failed to love you as a fellow elder and brother in Christ.
 
Confessing our sins against you has been a process that has taken us some time. We have engaged in self-examination, challenged our memories of what happened by reviewing the documents and interviewing one another, and spent time listening to you and your wives tell your heartbreaking stories. Many of us have met personally with each of you over the years to confess our sin and to seek forgiveness for our sinful actions and inaction. We don’t intend to convey by this letter that we are the only elders or former elders who’ve come to similar conclusions, and we hope that in time, the others will join us in public confession. Our desire is to clear the reproach from your names.
 
We hope that our confession also brings healing to the many past and present members of Mars Hill Church whose hearts were broken for you and your families as a result of our sin. As part of our commitment to walk in repentance, we invite anyone who has been impacted by our sins against you to contact any of us so we can continue to walk in repentance by listening, confessing, and asking for forgiveness.
 
Paul and Bent, we are sorry for our sinful behavior toward you, for harming you, and for bringing shame to Christ’s church. We hope that you will forgive us. May the peace and grace of our Lord heal our hearts.
 
Signed,
 
Mars Hill Elders as of October, 2007
—Scott Thomas
—Dave Kraft
—Gary Shavey
—Steve Tompkins
—Brad House
—Phil Smidt
—Mike Wilkerson
—James Harleman
—Lief Moi
—Adam Sinnett
—Jesse Winkler
—Zack Hubert
—Tim Reber
—James Dahlman
—Dick McKinley
 
Additional Mars Hill Elders as of December 5th, 2007
—Jon Krombein
—Matt Johnson
—Joe Day
 
That 2014 letter of confession and apology is best considered in light of lengthy quotations from Mark Driscoll, whose name was conspicuously absent from the above-quoted letter, in the wake of the 2007 firings.
 
 
 
http://004f597.netsolhost.com/Vision/10%20Throw%20Them%20Off%20the%20Bus%201.mp3
http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/preaching-paul_edits1.mp3
October 1, 2007

... Too many guys spend too much time trying to move stiff-necked obstinate people. I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus and by God's grace it'll be a mountain by the time we're done. You either get on the bus or get run over by the bus (those are the options) but the bus ain't gonna stop. I'm just a, I'm just a guy who is like, "Look, we love ya but this is what we're doin'."

There's a few kind of people. There's people who get in the way of the bus.  They gotta get run over. There are people who want to take turns driving the bus. They gotta get thrown off cuz they want to go somewhere else. There are people who will be on the bus (leaders and helpers and servants, they're awesome).  There's also sometimes nice people who just sit on the bus and shut up. They're not helping or hurting. Just let `em ride along. You know what I'm saying? But don't look at the nice people who are just gonna sit on the bus and shut their mouth and think, "I need you to lead the mission." They're never going to. At the most you'll give `em a job to do and they'll serve somewhere and help out in a minimal way. If someone can sit in a place that  hasn't been on mission for a really long time they are by definition not a leader and so they're never going to lead. You need to gather a whole new core. [emphasis added]

I'll tell you what, you don't just do this for church planting or replanting, you know what? I'm doing it right now. I'm doing it right now. We just took certain guys and rearranged the seats on the bus. Yesterday we fired two elders for the first time in the history of Mars Hill last night. They're off the bus, under the bus. They were off mission so now they're unemployed. This will be the defining issue as to whether or not you succeed or fail.
 
https://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/elders-response-to-questions-11-9-07.pdf
A letter from Pastor Mark Driscoll
November 8, 2007

from pages 4-5 of the 142 document

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. [emphasis added] 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. [emphasis added] 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. My wife and I are closer than ever and she is the greatest woman in the world for me. I delight in her, enjoy her, and praise God for the gift that she is. She recently brought me to tears by sweetly saying, “It’s nice to have you back,” as apparently I had been somewhat gone for many years. Our five children are wonderful blessings. I love being a daddy and am closer to my children with greater joy in them than ever. In short, I was not taking good care of myself and out of love for our church I was willing to kill myself to try and keep up with all that Jesus is doing. But, as always, Jesus has reminded me that He is our Senior Pastor and has godly other pastors whom I need to empower and trust while doing my job well for His glory, my joy, and your good.

The past year has been the most difficult of my entire life. It has been painful to see a few men whom I loved and trained as elders become sinful, proud, divisive, accusatory, mistrusting, power hungry, and unrepentant. It has, however, been absolutely amazing to see all but one of those men humble themselves and give up what is best for them to do what is best for Jesus and our entire church. In that I have seen the power of the gospel, and remain hopeful to eventually see it in the former elder who remains unrepentant but to whom my hand of reconciliation remains extended [emphasis added] along with a team of other elders assigned to pursue reconciliation if/when he is willing. Furthermore, sin in my own life has been exposed through this season and I have also benefited from learning to repent of such things as bitterness, unrighteous anger, control, and pride. As a result, I believe we have a pruned elder team that God intends to bear more fruit than ever. This team of battle-tested, humble, and repentant men is now both easy to enjoy and entrust.
 
One possibility for explaining what the former Mars Hill elders of 2007 discovered about the termination and trials of 2007 was that they could be explicated as show trials.  That's not necessarily a given, but since last year we reviewed some of the observations Jacques Ellul made about propaganda and show trials it may be worth revisiting those..

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2016/02/revisiting-mark-driscolls-2007-remarks.html

PROPAGANDA: THE FORMATION OF MEN'S ATTITUDES
JACQUES ELLUL
Translated from the French by Konrad Kellen & Jean Lerner
Vintage Books Edition, February 1973
Copyright (c) 195 by Alfred A Knopf Inc.
ISBN 0-394-71874-7

page 58

Propaganda by its very nature is an enterprise for perverting the significance of events and of insinuating false intentions. There are two salient aspects of this fact. First of all, the propagandist must insist on the purity of his own intentions and, at the same time, hurl accusations at his enemy. But the accusations is never made haphazardly or groundlessly. The propagandist will not accuse the enemy of just any misdeed; he will accuse him of the very intention that he himself has [emphasis added] and of trying to commit the very crime that he himself is about to commit. He who wants to provoke a war not only proclaims his own peaceful intentions but also accuses the other party of provocation. He who sues concentration camps accuses his neighbor of doing so. He who intends to establish a dictatorship always insists that his adversaries are bent on dictatorship. The accusations aimed at the other's intention clearly reveals the intention of the accuser.  But the public cannot see this because the revelation is interwoven with facts.

The mechanism used here is to slip from the facts, which would demand factual judgment, to moral terrain and to ethical judgment. [emphasis added]
Let's remember that, famously, Meyer and Petry were not just fired but also subjected to trials.  Ellul has a fascinating observation about the roles trials can play as propaganda.

pages 13-14
... Of course, a trial can be an admirable springboard of propaganda for the accused, who can spread his ideas in his defense and exert an influence by the way he suffers his punishment. This holds true in the democracies. But the situation is reversed where a totalitarian state makes propaganda. During a trial there, the judge is forced to demonstrate a lesson for the education of the public; verdicts are educational. ... [emphasis added]

For those who left Mars Hill in the 2007-2008 exodus phase it could certainly seem that the trials Petry and Meyer were subjected to were show trials whose aim was not to establish guilt or innocence but to serve an educational purpose, to demonstrate how the leadership culture regarded certain types of dissent. 

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/11/2-5-2008-spiritual-warfare-part-1-part.html

http://download.marshill.se/files/MH%20Audio/2008/20080205_introduction-to-spiritual-warfare_sd_audio.mp3

about 30:35
...
When the church was small, I was able to shoot wolves. I cannot tell you the hundreds of hours that I have had just going at it with somebody who was a wolf and just telling `em: "look, you've gotta go. You are not welcome here. You're a false teacher, you're a false prophet, you're a false apostle, you're a false leader. You keep nominating yourself to have power. We don't see you the humility, and the character, and the doctrine that the scriptures require."  [emphasis added] And as the church gets bigger and as it spreads you have to guard the gate.  I can't do it. I can't do it. I can't keep track of all of the campuses and all of the heretics and all of the false teachers and all of the false leaders and all of the people that Satan is sending in to distort the truth and lead many astray and to be as wolves among the flock. For those of you who are shepherds at this church you have to guard the gate and it can't be, "I give mercy to everyone who comes." Because if it's a wolf feeding the wolf only allows them to be stronger so that they can devour more sheep. You're goal is not just to be nice to people and to care for them. You're job is to be discerning and to ask yourself, "Goat or sheep?  Wolf ... or shepherd?" It takes discernment. It takes a tremendous amount of discernment and the longer you make an erroneous evaluation of someone the more influence they have, the louder their voice, the deeper their following, and the more painful, the more painful it will be to deal with them. `Kay? 

This will be--it's not that it will be it is an ongoing issue. we are the 15th fastest growing church in America as we split to multiple campuses. Now we have conflict and war on multiple fronts.  We have many new Christians. We have many non-Christians. We have many people that are just coming to an understanding of the Gospel. We would be the perfect place that Satan would love to send, would LOVE to send false teachers,  false prophets, false apostles, false leaders with false doctrine.  You have to assume that. You HAVE to assume that. That could get our church astray, the churches in our Acts 29 Network that look to us for leadership, that would also include the churches nationally and internationally that look to us, right?  We're the fifteenth most influential church in America.  There's a lot riding on what we do.

I think one of the great myths that has come about (it's a demonic lie) is that myself, the executive elders, the senior leaders we don't care about people. I was the only one who did ANY counseling until we had 800 people. We still do tons of shepherding, counseling, spiritual warfare, conflict. But we try to do so in a way that is humble, that isn't "and here is who I served and here are the demons we cast out and here's the list of people that I've healed." That's demonic. The truth is I love the people as much--actually, more than anyone in this church. And the senior leaders, the campus pastors, the departmental leaders, the executive elders love the people in this church as much or more than anyone else in this church. And one of my great concerns is not just, "Can you hold hands and help sheep?" but "can you also flip the staff over and defend against a wolf?"  You HAVE to have that discernment, that courage, and that ability to tell someone: "You are in sin. That is false doctrine.  You are not qualified to be a leader. If you do not repent you are not welcome here. And I will speak truthfully to those who want to follow you because my job is for the well-being of the sheep."

Back in 2014 ...

https://web.archive.org/web/20140810083820/http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/a-message-from-the-board-of-acts-29-concerning-mark-driscoll-and-mars-hill-church/

Driscoll and Mars Hill Church
It is with deep sorrow that the Acts 29 Network announces its decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership in the network. Mark and the Elders of Mars Hill have been informed of the decision, along with the reasons for removal. It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network. [emphasis added] In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored.
The Board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Matt Chandler
Darrin Patrick
Steve Timmis
Eric Mason
John Bryson
Bruce Wesley
Leonce Crump

So there's still about a month's worth of time to ask whether Driscoll has reached out to that one man in the last three to five years. 

For that matter there's time to ask (even if no one will necessarily answer) whatever happened to Darrin Patrick, of whom Mark Driscoll once said "He's my pastor, you know?" 

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the terminations and trials and the tenth anniversary of the "Mars Hill bus" address, it seems fitting, in light of Mark Driscoll's lifelong ministerial concern that guys be concerned about legacy, that we try to preserve a little testimony here and there about that legacy, maybe even some elements and aspects of the legacy that are things some people might not want to highlight so much this year.
 
 
 

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