Saturday, January 06, 2018

follow up on The Gospel Coalition 2017 article on Acts 29 surviving end of Mars Hill, a cross reference to a Ray Ortlund 2011 post that confirms Scott Thomas (not Driscoll) was president of Acts 29 in the year before Chandler took the reins of A29 presidency

Remember that Gospel Coalition piece about how Acts 29 survived the end of Mars Hill from 2017?

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-acts-29-survived-and-thrived-after-the-collapse-of-mars-hill/

...

The trouble with the wild west is, it’s wild.

“There was a kind of looseness that led to some real frustrations that needed to be fixed,” Chandler said. The focus had begun to slip; the “young bucks were more apt to gather around and argue about definitive atonement than they were to plant churches.”

Finances were also loose. Mars Hill didn’t ask for money, instead saying that planters could give when they could. But church planters aren’t raking in cash; given the option, they’ll spend their funding elsewhere. That left Mars Hill footing the bill and feeling frustrated.

And authority ran a little like a rubber band, loosening and tightening in seemingly random ways. “There was a lot of mistrust, even when I became president,” Chandler said. “There was a massive amount of skepticism about what was going to be true.”

Driscoll saw the weaknesses, and knew he wasn’t the person to fix them, Chandler said. Driscoll was also starting to attract more controversy, drawing regular fire over his impulsive language and attitude toward women, and apologizing again and again.

So in the spring of 2012, Driscoll met with Chandler and Acts 29 vice president Darrin Patrick. Patrick had his hands full with health concerns and his growing church, but Chandler was splitting lead pastor responsibilities with a team of two other men, and could add the responsibility. So Driscoll handed the network over to Chandler.

“I was anxious about taking it because I thought it would lead to conflict between Mark and I,” Chandler said. “But Mark was adamant that he was for me, that he was supportive of me, and that he would come behind me. And to his credit, he did that every step of the way.”

...

“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it is nothing less than a miracle that Acts 29 did not go down with Mars Hill,” said Acts 29 CEO Steve Timmis.

Driscoll was not only instrumental in “but also the personality of Acts 29,” Kwon said. So when Driscoll’s controversies started piling up, the board “publicly and internally tried to support and give [Driscoll] the benefit of the doubt,” they stated in 2014.

But “based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help,” they wrote. “Consequently, we also feel that we have no alternative but to remove you and Mars Hill from membership in Acts 29.”

The Acts 29 brotherhood was hurt and confused, some by Driscoll’s actions, some by the board’s rejection of him. So leaders opened up town hall meetings, telling the people to ask anything they wanted.


Ah, yes, we had a few things to say about that over at the following blog post

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2017/12/recent-gospel-coalition-piece-discusses.html

One of the most striking things about the Gospel Coalition piece about Acts 29 surviving and thriving after the collapse of Mars Hill was skimming over how Mark Driscoll wasn't even president for most of the 2007-2012 period of Acts 29 leadership.  Who was?  Well, back in November 2011 Ray Ortlund told the world exactly who was president of Acts 29, Scott Thomas. Despite the above-quoted article in which sources stated that Mark Driscoll's personality defined Acts 29, even within the context of The Gospel Coalition website itself we know perfectly well that Mark Driscoll may have defined Acts 29 by force of personality but neither was he necessarily officially president most of the time between 2007-2012.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/ray-ortlund/i-honor-scott-thomas/
I honor Scott Thomas
November 11, 2011  |   Ray Ortlund


Scott is President of Acts 29 and my coach.  There are many reasons to honor him.  But for starters, here is one.

It is clear to me that the church planters in Acts 29 are not cannon fodder for someone else’s war.  To Scott, every man matters.  Scott works hard to make sure our network is healthy and sustainable.  Church planting is costly.  I personally think it is the hardest of all pastoral ministries.  As Mark Driscoll has said, “The body count is high.”  Fully aware of the price these young men are paying to spread the gospel, Scott works tirelessly to care for them.  No one understands the burden he bears.  But I have become somewhat aware of his sacrificial labors on behalf of the A29 planters.  For this, and much more, I honor Scott.

I think of Acts 29 as the bikers of evangelicalism.  Or better, a band of brothers.  I honor all these magnificent young men, and their heroic wives, for giving their lives to advance the gospel in our time and beyond.  It’s a privilege to be among them.

But in early 2012 ..

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2012/03/phoenix-preacher-matt-chandler-to-take.html
On February 6, 2012 Driscoll explained that Scott Thomas urged him to resume presidency of Acts29

http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/dear-acts-29-members/

Dear Acts 29 Members,

This letter is intended to provide some clarity about where we are, and Lord willing, where we are going. I hope you find it encouraging, compelling, and unifying.

Under the leadership of Pastor Scott Thomas we just completed our most amazing year of God’s grace yet. In the US alone we are now over 400 churches! This is a wonderful gift of God. I want to sincerely and personally thank Pastor Scott for juggling so many duties so graciously.
...
With Pastor Scott’s encouragement and the board approval, this means I am resuming the presidency of Acts 29. I want to invest every resource and relationship at my disposal to serve our church planters. Consider this primarily the “Prophet” board. This board is not closed and other men may join it in years to come. This board will be meeting soon in California, long before our annual retreat, so that we have a clear battle plan for the next season of Acts 29.

Regarding Scott Thomas:

Scott Thomas is taking this transition as a chance to pursue other opportunities he has before him and will not be making the move to Dallas. Scott and I are on very good terms and had dinner just this past weekend, where he informed me of his deep love for you and the network but felt like God has released him from leading Acts 29. He is excited about what God has next for him.
As for Scott Thomas being president, with help from The Wayback Machine we established that he was at least listed president from the 2010 to 2011 period.

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2012/04/chandler-on-mars-hill-a29-was-so-kind.html

Back when I was a journalism student my journalism professor said that often the most important stories are not the ones that 'everyone" is talking about but the ones that "nobody" is talking about for which there are enough leads to write a story.  One of the non-stories in coverage of Mars Hill over the last decade was the abrupt disappearance of Scott Thomas from leadership at both Mars Hill and Acts 29 in a mere two or three month period in early 2012--for those who were at Mars Hill for any number of years it might raise questions about what has happened since, and such as can be documented for the time being.    There were announcements, to be sure, but actual explanations were not so clear.  Much like the 2005 leadership transition in which David Nicholas stopped getting mentioned as a founder of Acts 29 or a board member the disappearance of Scott Thomas is comparably under-explained.  Something happened, obviously, because presidents or founders don't just vanish into the blue for no reason at all, but that the reasons for the change have not even been discussed in an article such as the one that appeared at The Gospel Coalition is just weird.   In a way somewhat comparable to an absence of mention of Scott Thomas the TGC article also doesn't mention Darrin Patrick's removal from Acts 29 or why that happened.

Scott Thomas' role in the EIT and the trials of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry have been so thoroughly documented here and elsewhere there's not much need to do more than tag associations with the content.  Joyful Exiles has a detailed timeline of documents and correspondence related to the Mars Hill trial of Paul Petry, for instance. 

The memo associated with then executive elder Sutton Turner about the financial condition of Mars Hill in earlier 2012 might be the only document shedding any light on behind-the-scenes leadership issues within Mars Hill that might shed more light on what may have been going on.  The Gospel Coalition article did indicate there was some resentment on the part of Mars Hill leadership as a whole that they were footing the bill for Acts 29 to function without necessarily seeing member churches kicking in to help fund organizational activity and overhead. 

Now for those who don't already know, Scott Thomas was one of the men who signed a letter apologizing to Paul Petry and Bent Meyer for the trial/termination proceedings they were subjected to in 2007. About how that trial could be understood as having an educational role within what was becoming an increasingly authoritarian culture you can read stuff I've written elsewhere at this blog

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

Unfortunately that website is down.  But with help from The Wayback Machine you can read the letter.
https://web.archive.org/web/20141107012719/http://repentantpastor.com/confessions/letter-confession-bent-meyer-paul-petry

which has also been preserved here
https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2017/03/for-archival-purposes-letter-of.html

Scott Thomas' role in the EIT and the trials of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry have been so thoroughly documented here and elsewhere there's not much need to do more than tag associations with the content.  Joyful Exiles has a detailed timeline of documents and correspondence related to the Mars Hill trial of Paul Petry, for instance. 

The memo associated with then executive elder Sutton Turner about the financial condition of Mars Hill in earlier 2012 might be the only document shedding any light on behind-the-scenes leadership issues within Mars Hill that might shed more light on what may have been going on.  The Gospel Coalition article did indicate there was some resentment on the part of Mars Hill leadership as a whole that they were footing the bill for Acts 29 to function without necessarily seeing member churches kicking in to help fund organizational activity and overhead. 

While at one level I get how everyone would want to forget the past, "move on", and get back to business as usual I would persist in saying that the nature of business as usual was still how we got to the catastrophic meltdown of Mars Hill when, by dint of journalistic and blogging coverage, some things were uncovered that exposed the nature of what "business as usual" entailed.  Recall that when the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability made a defense of the Result Source Contract gambit to secure a No.1 place on the NYT best seller list for Real Marriage the mea culpa was that it was not unethical or illegal but it was unwise.  Blogging done by Warren Throckmorton later showed that not only Team Driscoll made use of RSI but that other Christian writers used it, too.  Then after a year or so of controversy the hubbub died down and things were back to normal, whatever normal might be.  But it was hard to shake an impression that it was easier for Mark Driscoll to go down for having been caught doing what other celebrity Christians seem to have been able to do before and since Mark Driscoll's own celebrity was at its peak.  To that extent that Anglo-American evangelicalism attempts to treat the Driscoll case as an outlier or exception so as to not regard his rise and fall as potentially emblematic of the nature of the Christian media industries there may be no opportunity to learn any "lessons" about how "we" in evangelicalism got "there" back in 2014. 

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