Monday, April 24, 2017

on the Walsh/Robison interview with Mark Driscoll, part 5: Off the Mars Hill Bus and on the road, Mark Driscoll in 2015 on how and why he resigned

While the original Life Today interview Driscoll had with Walsh and Robison seems to be down on their end, a video of it is still up at Pastor Mark Driscoll's website
https://markdriscoll.org/life-today-interview/

Why the video is down at the Life Today website while it's still up at markdriscoll.org would be an interesting question to get an answer to.

PART FIVE:  OFF THE BUS, ON THE ROAD, MARK DRISCOLL IN 2015 ON THE RESIGNATION
Michael Van Skaik
Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability
Mars Hill Church
Dear Michael:
 ...

Last week our Board of Overseers met for an extended period of time with Grace and me, thereby concluding the formal review of charges against me.
...That is why, after seeking the face and will of God, and seeking godly counsel from men and women across the country, we have concluded it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church we helped launch in 1996. [emphasis added] I will gladly work with you in the coming days on any details related to our separation.
http://web.archive.org/web/20141016105922/https://marshill.com/2014/10/15/pastor-mark-driscolls-resignation
Pastor Mark Driscoll's Resignation
By: Mars Hill Church
Posted: Oct 15, 2014

On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation [emphasis added] and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.

As is well known, inside and outside of Mars Hill, Pastor Mark has been on a leave of absence for nearly two months while a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him. This investigation had only recently been concluded, [emphasis added] following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.

While a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers was charged with conducting this investigation, the full Board of Overseers is charged with reaching any conclusions and issuing any findings.
In that capacity, we believe it appropriate to publicly mention the following:
  1. We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry. [emphasis added]

...
Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. [emphasis added]
 
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/10/19/mars-hill-church-board-of-elders-mark-driscoll-resigned-instead-of-enter-restoration-plan-to-deal/
http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2014/10/Alex-Ghioni-Announcement.m4a
starting about 3:45

The investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll has revealed patterns of persistent sin in the three areas disclosed in the previous letter by the Board of Overseers. In I Tim 5:20, it requires that an elder be rebuked for persistent sin. Our intention was to do this while providing a plan for his eventual restoration to leadership. The Board of Elders in agreement with the Board of Overseers are grieved, deeply grieved, that any process like that was lost to us when Mark Driscoll resigned in position and left the church. [emphasis added] Now is the time to move on and consider what God is calling us to next as a church as we participate in Jesus’ mission to make disciples in His name. Today begins a new chapter in the history of our church which has proceeded in one direction under one leadership for many years now, but I want you to understand this, God is our Father. That does not change. Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church and that has not changed.

Mars Hill leadership announced its dissolution in late 2014. By all available accounts Mark Driscoll’s resignation was unexpected across the board. Even Driscoll himself would say the resignation was not what either he or Grace Driscoll anticipated or wanted. But we’ll get to that account of things as we go.
So we get to the next part of the Driscoll account of the final years of Mars Hill to Sheila Walsh and Randy Robison. Driscoll referenced a non-disclosure agreement, although what he was expected to not disclose is anybody’s guess.  Having looked at the bylaws of Mars Hill earlier, we saw that anyone in executive eldership who resigned from executive eldership also functionally resigned from the BoAA and to resign from both was to no longer have an employment relationship to Mars Hill as a corporate entity, it seems.  Given the history Mars Hill had of employing non-disclosure agreements it’s not that difficult to believe that a non-disclosure agreement was at hand for Mark Driscoll’s resignation.
The puzzle is in what wasn’t to be disclosed because Mark Driscoll spent at least a few hours of his life in 2015 explicating his resignation for the public record.
Moreover, within days of Mark Driscoll’s resignation Robert Morris was telling people he advised that Mark Driscoll resign.
http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2014/10/Transcript-Robert-Morris-Mark-Driscoll.pdf
Transcript of Robert Morris and Mark Driscoll from the Gateway Leadership + Worship Conference
on the evening of Monday, October 20, 2014, as broadcast live via DayStar Television:

Robert Morris: Uh, it was publicized that we cancelled him; that’s not true, we did not cancel. I’m speaking of Mark Driscoll. We did not cancel him. He and I decided together uh that he was going to step out of ministry for a season and get some healing.
[emphasis added]
Now we have to take another little trip into the Mars Hill bylaws in order to get a clearer picture of how and why Mark Driscoll’s resignation and his role as president made things a bit different. Let’s keep in mind Paul Tripp’s warning that the BoAA was incapable of providing the accountability to executive leadership it was supposed to have.
 
Article 7, Section 7.6 Removal
 
The primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church may only be removed from the board of advisors & accountability if it is determined that he engaged in conduct which would disqualify him from service as an elder in the Church. This determination will be made pursuant to the procedure established in Article 12 of these Bylaws. The remaining members of the executive elder team may be removed from the board of advisors & accountability at any time for any reason upon a recommendation of removal by the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church and the approval of a majority of the board of advisors & accountability. [emphases added] If a member of the executive elder team is removed from his position on the board, he will also be deemed removed as a member of the executive elder team and as an officer of the Church. Any other member of the board of advisors & accountability may be removed by a majority approval of the members of the board of advisors & accountability.
 
Article 12
BOARD OF OVERSEERS
Section 12.1 Constitution
 
In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church that, if investigated and found to be true, would disqualify him from his position as an elder in the Church based on the biblical requirements of an elder, the board of advisors & accountability shall refer the charge and/or accusation to the board of overseers. The board of overseers shall have authority to investigate any such charge and/or accusation. If the board of overseers determines that the charge and/or accusation is true, the board of overseers can vote to rebuke the primary preaching and teaching pastor or, if warranted, remove the primary preaching and teaching pastor as an elder of the Church [emphasis added] (in which case he shall automatically be removed as a member of the board of advisors & accountability and his employment with the Church shall be terminated for cause under the terms and conditions set forth in any employment agreement entered into between the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church and the Church).
 
Section 12.2
Composition
 
The Board of Overseers shall consist of the independent members of the board of advisors & accountability.[emphasis added] Except as otherwise provided in any employment agreement entered into between the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church and the Church, the board of overseers shall be responsible for establishing its procedure for conducting the investigation and rendering a decision. [emphasis added]
 
Except as otherwise provided in any employment agreement between Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll, the Board of Overseers was responsible for establishing its procedure and conduct of investigation in rendering a decision about accusations or charges made against Mark Driscoll. For whatever reasons, the Board of Overseers decided to appoint one member of the Board of Overseers to investigate Mark Driscoll with a team of seven elders.
In other words, even if the entire board of the Acts 29 Network were to publicly state they believed Mark Driscoll should step down from ministry as he had proven himself unfit for Christian ministry because of patterns of persistent sin, for the purposes of Mars Hill what actually matters is that the BoAA conducted an investigation (if it so chose) and that investigation turned up the result that Mark Driscoll, say, warranted a rebuke.  The Board of Overseers, the independent members of the Board of Advisors & Accountability, had that kind of task, that group which, according to a statement from Paul Tripp, was incapable of providing external oversight in the absence of internal accountability from within the Mars Hill leadership culture itself.
By contrast, any executive elder who wasn’t the primary preaching and teaching pastor (i.e. Mark Driscoll) could have been removed at any time for any reason upon the recommendation of … Mark Driscoll to the BoAA and a majority vote by the members of the BoAA.   No investigation was apparently required.  To put this in political terms we could suggest that any executive pastor that wasn’t the president could be removed on a recommendation of the president and a majority vote, whereas the president had to be formally impeached before he could be removed.  By all accounts Driscoll was said to be supportive of the investigation process and receptive to it right up to the point that he abruptly announced his resignation. He wasn’t even going to be removed from eldership, yet he seemed to pre-emptively resign.  According to Robert Morris’ account of the resignation at the Gateway conference in October 2014, he and Mark Driscoll agreed together that Driscoll should step down for a while and “heal up.”
Even to the final months of its existence Mars Hill seemed to have a governance system in which mark Driscoll himself had a position that was less easily confronted than others even within the executive leadership culture.  What makes Driscoll’s resignation mysterious, if we’re to take the letter of the bylaws seriously, is how Driscoll decided to resign rather than comply with an investigative and restoration process that he would later say he invited and initiated.  During the year Mark Driscoll resigned there was no word of explanation as to why he would encourage an investigation whose results and recommendation he would side-step within a day or so of receiving. Mark Driscoll’s resignation letter indicated a period of seeking wise counsel and praying but that was in October 2014.
Driscoll would eventually explain what his thought process was in May 2015, at the Thrive conference.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/05/13/transcript-of-mark-driscolls-speech-at-the-thrive-leadership-conference-2015/
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wYBTnRpPHRb8N1nqtgP2FcHcdnBeMIqCYy2SyQCEWBg/edit
Transcript | Mark Driscoll | Thrive 2015-05-01
See Links to Timestamps at the end of this doc. [these omitted here]
...

[6:34]
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.  [emphasis added] We pulled the kids out of school, and they already knew because of social media -- media moves so fast.  So we told them they couldn’t go back to the house for a few days so we jumped in the car and went to a hotel and it was just kind of a emotionally wrecked. 

We pulled the kids out of school, and they already knew because of social media -- media moves so fast. [emphasis added]  So we told them they couldn’t go back to the house for a few days so we jumped in the car and went to a hotel and it was just kind of a emotionally wrecked.  We’d served in that city for 20 years.  Founded that church in our living room. And served it for 18 years.  (loud applause) Baptized somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 people. (audible amens from crowd).
[8:13]
So, we’re sitting with the kids explaining to them that dad had resigned and that we were going to continue forward and that God had released us very clearly.
In the May 2015 narrative there’s a lot of drama, a family in turmoil, kids finding out their dad resigned from eldership at Mars Hill through the mass media because the parents hadn’t had time to explain what was going on to the kids yet.  God audibly told Mark and Grace Driscoll they were released from ministry, Mark Driscoll sent a notice and the kids found out by mass media before Mark or Grace Driscoll could explain anything to them. Now the coverage was primarily October 15 and the decision was made and ratified October 14. 
Well, in the account Mark and Grace Driscoll shared with Brian Houston later in the summer of 2015 new details were provided. Paragraphing is supplemental:
(39:32-39:44)
 
Mark Driscoll: “I never got to say goodbye to the church and to the people, um, and so what went public was uh, actually the resignation letter that went to the legal governing board that was in authority over me. [emphasis added] Um, and so, um, I uh, I know under the circumstances that there wasn’t a way to do that would’ve been clean or easy. I don’t have any criticism of the board. I think for the people it, it meant there wasn’t closure and I didn’t, we didn’t get to say anything.
 
And so, we didn’t expect to resign I met with the board there was a whole list of things that were charged by current former leaders and there was an internal governance struggle, and threats of legal action, and it got very complicated. And a lot of it was anonymous and through the internet so you don’t know who’s saying or doing what. And so I invited the board to do a full examination interview anybody anything, and we would submit to whatever verdict that they determined. [emphasis added]
 
Um, and when I think about 8 weeks we met Friday and Saturday, October 10th and 11th, I remember because the 11th was my birthday. And so Grace and I were present with the Lord [Board].[emphasis added] And they said, uh, we see in your history of leadership less in more recent years, more particularly in the past, pride, anger, and domineering leadership style. That would be the three exact words they used. We don’t see anything disqualifying, these are areas we want you to grow, we want you to return to leadership of the church soon. They wanted to do some clean up internally. We want you back on January 4th 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.
 
Um, I think it was on Monday night I was in the bedroom Grace was in the living room and so we had told the board and told the kids you know, come back and was done preaching and love and serve and fix what was a struggling church. And uh, and God had provided a way for us to do that as volunteers and so I was to come back as volunteers. And then on that Monday night I was in the bedroom and Grace was in the living room. And um, he spoke to me and he spoke to her in a supernatural way [emphasis added] that neither of us anticipated or expected. And so Grace walked in and she said, “I feel like the Lord just spoke to me and said what we were supposed to do.” [emphasis added] And I was like, “I thought the Lord just spoke to me and said what we were supposed to do.” It’s not what we wanted, it’s not what we agreed to, it’s not what we planned for, and so I asked her well what did the Lord say to you because I didn’t want to influence her and so she said, uh, she said we’re” (39:45-42:42)
 
Grace Driscoll: “We’re released.” (42:43)
 
Brian Houston: “We can take a moment.” (42:52)
 
Mark Driscoll: “So, she said well what have you heard so I can hear it. “Well the Lord revealed to me that, you know, a trap has been set there’s no way in which to return to leadership.” And I didn’t know what that meant or what was going on at the time. And um, I said, he said well release too we need to resign. [emphasis added] And so, um, you know, this is not what we anticipated, and uh a lot of people thought you know, maybe he’s got another plan, or, 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’ve never seen my wife like that she was devastated. Um, so we prayed and slept on it decided that we would make sure we got this right, and uh.”
 
Grace Driscoll: “Speak with wise council.”
 
Mark Driscoll: “Sought the pastors of those we trust and sent in our resignation in on that, it would’ve been that Tuesday, yeah, and resigned.” (42:53-43:57)
 
Brian Houston: “So there is a lot of grief, uh, delusion of the church [Inaudible]” (43:58-44:00)
 
In this account Mark Driscoll was able to tell his kids on Monday after his birthday in 2014 that he would be serving in a volunteer capacity in agreement with a plan proposed by the Board.  After the investigation into Mark Driscoll’s fitness for ministry the conclusion was reported that he was not disqualified but need to be restored. Driscoll told his children that he’d be serving in a volunteer capacity.  The decision to resign came Monday evening after Mark Driscoll talked with his wife.  Grace said she’d heard from the Lord they were released and Mark Driscoll said he heard from the Lord that a trap had been set.  What’s curious about this account is that the investigation conducted by the Board was one that was instigated by Mark Driscoll himself.  The trap probably could not have been the investigation or its results.  Nor could it likely have been something like a RICO suit since all one had to do was read a few publications to understand that was a possibility, never mind hearing words from the Lord. 
 
But in this narrative it seems clear that Mark and Grace Driscoll had conveyed to their children that Mark’s relationship to Mars Hill was in a state of change and that he would not officially be the pastor there.  What in the Thrive conference narrative of May 2015 was a breathless nail biter tale of the Driscoll parents finding out their kids heard dad resigned through mass media seems to have given way to a more procedural tale of the Driscolls telling their kids dad was on some restorative voluntary stay from official pastoral activity while working to be restored; then the Monday after agreeing to such a plan, the Driscolls both claimed they heard the Lord released them from any obligation to comply with such a plan, practically speaking.  Driscoll drafted a resignation notice Tuesday and the resignation was news by Wednesday.  It’s possible for the formal resignation to be a surprise while not being a complete surprise.  For Mark Driscoll, the legal president of Mars Hill, to not be an active executive elder or member of the BoAA, to be a “volunteer” at Mars Hill working toward a restored position would almost seem, depending on your perspective, like someone trapped at the behest of a board that included people Driscoll could have had removed on the basis of a recommendation and a majority vote of the BoAA.  There’s no indication he was, to put it in presidential terms “impeached”, but he did get a notice of correction, if not exactly rebuke.
 
Of course the most remarkable part about the 2015 narratives is that if Mark heard directly from God to quit Mars Hill why did he not lead with that in his resignation letter?  Why wait until the next year to mention any of this, and to only mention it, so to speak, on the road?  The common thread here is, as we’ve seen, that no matter what disciplinary protocols and precedents might apply for leaders of every other sort within the history of Mars Hill, the rules were explicitly and emphatically different for Driscoll; by dint of his resignation Driscoll demonstrated that, in essence, even these rules would not have to apply to him if he didn’t want them to.  If that were what Mark Driscoll might mean by an eight yearlong battle within the history of Mars Hill over governance that would fit the evidence from the historical sources at hand more readily than a claim that local campus elders wanted local governance.  There’s very little verifiable evidence for that version of a governance conflict that’s available so far.
 
So, finally, we get to Mark Driscoll telling Walsh this:
from the April 6, 2017 interview Mark Driscoll had with Sheila Walsh and Randy Robison
We took some time off just to heal up. I signed a non-disclosure agreement so you're not going to talk about it, which was fair and reasonable and I agree with. And just decided to spend time as a family to heal up, to meet with wise counsel, to learn what we could learn and to see what the Lord had for the next season of our life.
With all that Mark and Grace Driscoll shared in 2015 for the record, let alone anything Mark Driscoll shared in 2014, it’s not clear what a non-disclosure agreement would have covered.  We know Robert Morris claimed to have agreed with Mark Driscoll that Driscoll should resign as of October 2014.  We also know that Mark Driscoll said a couple of times in 2015 that God released him from ministry, even going so far as to say that “a trap has been set”.  If there was an eight-year governance battle, to go by all the available evidence of the history of Mars Hill so far, a person could be forgiven for guessing that that battle was a long and ultimately unsuccessful battle to get Mark Driscoll to abide by the kinds of codes of conduct he expected others to be willing to submit that he wasn’t necessarily willing to submit to himself. Otherwise wouldn’t he still be at Mars Hill, and wouldn’t there still be a Mars Hill?
Driscoll also told Walsh “There's the whole story. There are five kids in there now.”
Not quite the whole story, to put it mildly.

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