Saturday, August 04, 2018

an update on Redeemer Church Portland (former Mars Hill Portland) merger with Door of Hope, an ironic turn of events in light of Driscoll's 2011 "Jesus Loves Church Mergers" post in is Pastor Mark TV period

It's axiomatic that you're not supposed to trust anonymous comments on the internet.  But that caveat has a few provisos.  When I was a journalism student one of my professors said that "in general" you will find that anonymous sources aren't often going to share things with you that you couldn't find out from the public record if you just looked harder.  That said, anonymous tips are still worth considering if the information they share can actually be verified.

So, in that spirit, a person who left an anonymous comment about the recent changes at what was formerly Mars Hill Portland and then Redeemer that provides an update that can be vetted by a publicly available source, the Door of Hope church that has agreed with an interim board at Redeemer to assimilate Redeemer.

Anonymous said...
UPDATE ON REDEEMER CHURCH Portland OR as of 8.3.2018
Redeemer church Portland OR voted unanimously to join Door of Hope Effective July 19, 2018 see the following for more information - Thought you might like to know about this – Additional Info & the transition timeline is on Redeemer’s Facebook Page.
Facebook Announcement of Transition Schedule dated July 24, 2018 at 3:37pm
Hey Redeemer! As was announced on Sunday, our Board voted to join Door Of Hope. Here are some dates to remember over the next few weeks until we join them at Revolution Hall:
-Sunday, July 29 - Josh White will be preaching on their core values and lots of other information on how to serve in and connect to DOH - you won't want to miss it
-Sunday, Aug 5 - Tim will be back preaching in Psalms
-Sunday, Aug 12 - Tim will preach our last service as Redeemer Church. We'll have a family style celebration of what God has done in and through our church
-Sunday, Aug. 19 - join DOH for Sunday services at Revolution Hall
**Please like and share this post so word gets around!**
Door of Hope's FAQ Regarding Merger can be found on Door of Hope's website -

7:34 am
and here is the Door of Hope FAQ about the merger.  It's fairly extensive and provides background for the recent decision. 

In Brief

Door of Hope is currently in talks with Redeemer Church regarding the prospect of their congregation becoming part of DoH. [emphasis added] If we go forward, the Redeemer congregation would begin attending DoH services, and DoH would take ownership of Redeemer’s building, a beautiful historic church in the Sunnyside neighborhood of SE Portland. After some helpful repair and upgrade work, DoH would move Sunday services from Revolution Hall to the Redeemer building.

How did the discussion with Redeemer begin?

Josh White and Redeemer pastor Tim Smith were put in touch with one another through a mutual mentor at Western Seminary. In recent months, it became clear that this was an opportunity that could benefit both church bodies and help further our shared mission of serving the city of Portland. [emphasis added]

How does this opportunity fit into Door of Hope’s vision for its future?

We desire to plant churches in Portland that hold to Christian orthodoxy and express Door of Hope’s four pillars. Having Redeemer Church join DoH would enable us to hold Sunday services in a building that aligns with our philosophy of being present in the local community, while joining with the people of Redeemer to make Jesus known in our city. Additionally, this move would open up potential space for a future church plant in our Fremont building.

How many people are part of Redeemer? Do we have the pastoral and volunteer capacity to care for all of them?

At the moment, we’re expecting around 100 people from Redeemer to join Door of Hope. This would translate to an increase of around 10% in our Sunday attendance, which fits comfortably within our current capacity. [emphases added] We anticipate that we’ll need to expand our existing Children’s Ministry volunteer team, but are happy to say that the Redeemer building will offer a dedicated Children’s Ministry space that exceeds the capacity of our space at Revolution Hall.

Who is empowered to make decisions on behalf of Redeemer’s congregation?

Redeemer has an interim board that was established to make decisions regarding the future of the church. After prayerful consideration, the board unanimously voted in favor of joining Door of Hope’s community.

Are there significant theological differences between Redeemer and Door of Hope? Will this change the feel of Sunday services?

Door of Hope and Redeemer are aligned theologically, and share a common commitment to Christian orthodoxy and to proclaiming the Gospel in our city. Our approach to ministry will not be changing, and the new church building will still retain the distinctive feel and values of DoH. In fact, this building aligns even more closely with our desire to be a visible, welcoming presence within the local community.

Will the staff or leadership structure of Door of Hope change?

There will be no change to the leadership structure at Door of Hope. We would be hiring Redeemer’s current lead pastor, Tim Smith, as an associate pastor on DoH’s pastoral team, but Tim would be the only Redeemer staff member joining DoH. [emphasis added]

What would Tim Smith’s role at Door of Hope be? Would he be an elder?

Tim would serve as an associate pastor, working alongside our other pastors in shepherding the church. Additionally, he’d play a key role in helping the Redeemer congregation integrate into DoH. He would not be coming on as an elder. [emphasis added]

What will happen to leaders currently serving at Redeemer?

Ministry leaders at Redeemer would not automatically become leaders at Door of Hope. However, we’re excited to welcome in all members of the Redeemer congregation and help them discover opportunities to serve with their unique gifts.

What is the proposed timeline for Redeemer’s integration into Door of Hope?

We’d love to see Redeemer join Door of Hope before the sign-up process for the Fall community group season begins. The DoH elder board will be voting on August 4, and we’re currently looking at August 19 as a potential integration date. [emphasis added]

What still needs to happen before Door of Hope’s leadership makes a definitive decision?

While the DoH leaders are excited about the prospect of having Redeemer join our family, we want to take time to effectively communicate with our body, carefully evaluate the needs of the Redeemer building, and prayerfully plan the transition.

What work will be done on the Redeemer building?

A thorough building inspection has been completed, with no significant findings outside of general maintenance needs. The building is functional and safe as it is, but we want to do a number of improvements, including installing an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system and upgrading the existing Children’s Ministry space.

Would Door of Hope be assuming the mortgage on the new building?

DoH would either assume the mortgage with Redeemer’s current bank or refinance it with our own bank. The value of the building currently exceeds the deficit on the mortgage, meaning that the assets would exceed the liabilities. The repayments would be significantly less than what we currently pay for the use of Revolution Hall, which means this would not only be a financially sound move, but a financially beneficial one. [emphases added]

How would this decision impact Grace City Portland?

We’re excited about the work that Grace City is doing and are happy to see the way that the Fremont building has served their needs as a church plant. Having Door of Hope move into the Redeemer building would mean that Grace City could continue to use the Fremont building for the foreseeable future.

What is the plan for the long-term future of the Fremont building?

Our long-term goal would be to plant a church into the Fremont building that would reflect our pillars and form part of a Door of Hope family of churches.
Who the mutual mentor may have been would have to be a guess here but someone at Western seminary is established.  Smith will be an associate pastor at Door of Hope.  Door of Hope would be assuming the mortgage on the Redeemer building, it seems, and the value of the building currently exceeds the deficit on the mortgage meaning the assets would exceed the liabilities.  So ... it would appear the merger makes sense in terms of a real estate pivot.   
The number of people who would be anticipated to join Door of Hope from the Redeemer side is stated as 100 people. 
100 people? 
Let's look at a snapshot of the Mars Hill FY2012 report
and from FY2013
since Mars Hill collapsed in 2014 there wasn't a big incentive to list the number of people in attendance in the annual report.  But ... there was a circa April 2014 financial slide in a document passed along to Wenatchee The Hatchet we can consult.
Giving households obviously can't be construed as attenders since peoplecan give to a cause even if they aren't members.  Still, the numbers do suggest that there was some kind of numeric decline that could be measured going on.
For the former Mars Hill Portland to reach a point where its operational liabilities make a church merger seem like a good idea and 100 people are anticipated by Door of Hope to join them if the merger goes through, that could seem to tell a story of Redeemer on the rocks.  As Justin Dean has been telling things in podcast interviews promoting PR Matters he's been saying all the churches are doing well, thanks. 

The Redeemer Portland merger that looks like it gets voted on today reminds me of something Mark Driscoll once wrote the following that we'll quote a large chunk of.  Keep your eyes peeled for references to Leadership Network people or the Vanderbloemen group while you're reading this 2011 chestnut that you may not be able to dig up at Driscoll's newer web presence.

Missional Mergers

The mergers we’ve been a part of at Mars Hill, and some of the mergers other churches in the Acts 29 network have been a part of, have by God’s grace been missionally focused mergers. By this I mean that they’ve been the result of two churches coming together to ask how they can work together to accomplish a shared mission, to see many people come to Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). Underlying this is the belief that if Jesus' name is made much of in the building, then it does not much matter whose name is on the sign of the building.

Each of these mergers has had different details surrounding them. Sometimes there are financial struggles, such as with Sammamish. Other times, there is a devastating loss to the leadership, as with the case of Pastor Bill and his wife at Doxa. These mergers were akin to an adoption, where a hurting church in need was adopted by a healthy church to work together as brothers and sisters in Christ to the glory of God to accomplish his mission.

Sometimes there is simply a desire to be more effective and to have greater reach as a church, which leads healthy churches to join together to see greater impact for the gospel. Such was the case when we merged with City on a Hill in Albuquerque and with The Vine. These types of mergers are like marriages, in which two churches come together with strengths that complement each other to accomplish the mission of God. As within marriage, there is a leader in the merger, but unlike an adoption type merger, there is health on both sides.

Here’s the painful truth—the calls we are getting lately from churches we have not yet merged with are often cases where the senior leadership was disqualified because of sin, often sexual. Once the leadership leaves, often the best people remain and try to save their church, and a merger is a way to help such people save their church from death.

Other calls we are getting are from churches where the leadership has gotten off-track theologically and moved into false teaching and error. These churches are seeking help to right their ship.
And, sometimes the pastors of smaller churches are so burdened by the administration of running their organization that they want to merge with a bigger church like ours so that we can take those burdens off them and allow them to focus on serving people and making disciples, which is why they went into ministry in the first place.

Often times the whole story behind a merger is not told because of the painful circumstances that need not be made public. As a pastor who loves churches and God’s people, some of what I see and hear is heartbreaking, and if a merger can save a church from death and support godly people giving their all to keep yet another church from the grave, then I am certain it makes Jesus happy no matter what the critics may say.

In each case, the situation is never one of a larger church coming in to pick up the remains of a smaller church but rather of two churches wanting to be as faithful to God’s calling as possible.
These types of mergers are not unique to Mars Hill and are, in fact, growing around the country. Leadership Network research has indicated that 2 percent (6,000 churches) of US Protestant churches merge annually, and another 5 percent of churches (15,000) say they have already talked about merging in the future.

The good news is that a vast majority of churches that have merged with a shared mission in mind have experienced new vitality and growth, seeing their influence and ability to minister in the community grow exponentially. This is something we can attest to at Mars Hill and something I’ve personally seen in many churches across the country.

Granted, these mergers are never without their hardships and struggles, but by God’s grace they’re resulting in a great harvest.

Facing the Facts

The reality is that church mergers will only continue to grow. As the baby boomers begin retirement, there will be a growing decline in Protestant churches in attendance and a very real need for leadership at declining churches. Unfortunately, the upcoming generation is not only smaller in numbers demographically, but also less likely to be involved in church, and especially less likely to be involved in church leadership and the ministry as a vocation, according to some sources. This is creating and will continue to create a great crisis in which many long-standing, God-fearing, and Bible-loving churches who have a great heritage and a history of gospel work in their city, face the prospect of closing their doors for good—often selling their property to commercial interests or even other religious expressions. And once those churches close, the zoning changes and a church may never be able to reside in that community again.

The following are some sobering statistics from the upcoming book by Warren Bird and Jim Tomberlin of the Leadership Network, entitled Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work. I thank them for sending me an advance copy of the manuscript and encourage you to read the book when it comes out in April.
  • Roughly 80 percent of the three hundred thousand Protestant churches in the United States have plateaued or are declining, and many of them are in desperate need of a vibrant ministry.
  • Roughly three thousand of these declining churches (1 percent of all churches in America) will close their doors permanently nationwide in the next twelve months.
  • Among the 20 percent of growing congregations across the United States, many are in desperate need of space. These conditions present a potential win-win for forward-thinking church leaders who believe that “we can do better together than separate,” and it is revitalizing church topography.
  • Church foreclosures, virtually unheard of in the United States before the Great Recession of 2008, have recently increased in number. According to a Wall Street Journal report, nearly two hundred churches have had their properties foreclosed on by banks in 2008, 2009, and 2010, up from only eight foreclosures in the two years prior to that and none in the previous decade.
  • One recent study found that the percentage of congregations reporting some or serious financial difficulty more than doubled to nearly 20 percent since about 2000. From 2000 to 2008—before the recession’s toll was felt—congregations reporting “excellent financial health” had dropped from 31 percent to 19 percent. They dropped further to 14 percent in 2010. The recession only exacerbated their economic situations, according to survey compiler David Roozen, director of The Hartford Institute for Religion Research.
  • The biggest elephant in church boardrooms in the United States is the topic of senior pastor succession. It is a difficult conversation for most aging senior pastors to have with their boards and staff, so usually it is ignored until too late. Many are predicting a tsunami of church turnovers during the next decade as the aging baby boomers turn over the reins of U.S. churches to the next generation. According to William Vanderbloemen, founder and president of the Vanderbloemen Search Group, senior pastor succession “might be the biggest unspoken crisis the church in the US will face over the next twenty years.”
  • About 30 percent of churches going into a merger do so without pastors in both of the churches, according to the Leadership Network 2011 survey of church mergers.
At some point, the American church will have to face the facts that in order for many churches to survive and continue ministry and service to their community, it will take thinking differently about local churches working together and sometimes merging together.
So the irony of Mars Hill Portland becoming Redeemer in the wake of the implosion of Mars Hill Church without a clear line of succession within Mars Hill, and then Redeemer Portland getting to the point where it agreed to merge with Door of Hope and having the prospect of ... 100 people joining Door of Hope if the vote goes through ... that irony is hard to overstate.  Mars Hill Portland may have become in the mere four years after the demise of Mars Hill a church that's dwindling away and that has found it advantageous to agree to a church merger. 
There's a confirmation on the Redeemer side of things, too, and, per a recent comment, the hand-off/transfer has become official.
On July 19, 2018 the Board of Directors of Redeemer church voted unanimously to join Door of Hope in order to further the Gospel in the city of Portland. As of August 19th we will start meeting with them at Revolution Hall for worship for several months. During this time The Castle will undergo some much needed renovations and after they are finished, Door of Hope will move into the building. We are excited for this opportunity and thankful to the Father for His provision during our time of transition as a church.
Stay tuned here for further updates on when Door of Hope will be starting services here at The Castle.


Anonymous said...

It’s Official – As of August 4th Door of Hope Elder Meeting - Door of Hope has jointly decided with Redeemer Church that their congregation will become part of DoH

See link for additional details - (updated version)

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

any quick comments about what has been updated? I can try to go through it in more detail later but keeping up with this development from Seattle has, obviously, not been as easy as it was to keep tabs on campuses up here in Puget Sound.

Anonymous said...

Per your Request on What Has Been Updated -
Door of Hope FAQ/Redeemer has been revised & published on the DoH Website 8/6/2018 to reflect Door of Hope Elder Board's decision August 4th that OFFICIALLY Redeemer Church will become part of DoH & that DoH will take ownership of Redeemer's building & that Tim Smith will serve at DoH as an Associate Pastor alongside other DoH Pastors & play a key role in helping the Redeemer congregation integrate into DoH. Tim will not be coming on as an Elder at DoH. August 19th is the integration date per DoH & Redeemer Church's above mentioned timeline as posted on Redeemer Church's Facebook page. The last service for Redeemer Church will be August 12th. (updated version)
See Paragraphs 1,7,8,9,10,11

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...


jollytom said...

The only Redeemer staff not losing their job is Smith who is becoming an "associate pastor" but to be clear, he is not becoming an "elder". Uhh... associate pastor but not elder? I must be getting old or just numb to these nuanced positions. I guess I will have to ask them how they are different. Silly and sad.

PC said...

Gerry Breshears (co-author with Driscoll of the book "Doctrine") is both pastors' mentor.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

that seemed to be implied in the otherwise vague accounts given on the DOH side of things. It seemed like Breshears would have been the common thread for both PDX church leaders.

PC, Doctrine seemed like it was likely co-authored (just on the basis of Driscoll publicly crediting Breshears with what turned out to be the wildly inaccurate claims about the dating and content of the Targum Neofiti!). I don't feel like repeating all that from work Robert Cargill already did, but the Breshears/Driscoll comments on that targum were so terribly wrong people across the entire theological spectrum seemed obliged to point it out.

Anonymous said...

Have you sincerely researched Gerry Breshears? I am confident that I am every bit as damaged by the Mark Driscoll fiasco. As someone who walked away from everything Reformed, completely cut off any interaction with the Mars Hill world, and so on, I would be the last person to defend Breshears. Only due to his "guilt by association". However, Breshears has personally done much good work in the lives of people very close to myself. To be honest, I could never comprehend his published association with Driscoll based on my personal knowledge of the utmost character consistently demonstrated by Breshears.

However, have you never had someone in your life whom you took under your wing? I can think of an assortment of such persons in my own journey. Many of whom I do not see eye-to-eye on matters with, to the extent of having completely opposite views. And yet, out of my love for them, I've looked past these differences. I've wondered if perhaps Breshears had a similar relationship with Driscoll. Who knows. I've thought about asking him to his face, but haven't yet had the opportunity.

As for Mars Hill Portland (or Redeemer), it was a terrible thing to watch it splinter from a distance. I was entirely opposed to the church plant, and deeply wounded by individuals within their congregation. The irony of it all is not lost on me. But those reported one hundred individuals have all been hurt by these tragic events as well. They've lost their community and perhaps they aren't all as clued in as yourself. I think we should show them great compassion, and not witch hunt, to determine just how long they last. These are equally wounded individuals with just as much a right to move on with their lives as any of us. To expect them to simply give the finger to their friends, to ditch their communities, seems incredibly unfair. Let them move on to a more balanced place, or a doomed place for that matter. But these innocent congregants do not carry the blood of Mark Driscoll on their hands.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I didn't get in touch with Breshears and was only acquainted with any of his work via Mark Driscoll's mention of him. I was focusing more in the later years of MH on getting in touch with people from an earlier phase, the Antioch Bible Church patronage days and the earlier Acts 29 period when David Nicholas was still a co-leader of the organization. Breshears was much less on my radar but if he would like to talk I could ping him.

One of the tricky parts about this blog is that sometimes people come by and attempt to name names of people who are not by any stretch regarded as public figures. MH PDX caused enough hurt that some comments like that were made and removed via moderation. So the damage done is something I note (I was born and raised in Oregon so I have an interest in that campus by dint of it showing up in what was once my home state).

I didn't burn any bridges on my way out of Mars Hill, which was not lost on the numerous people who, though staying within the Mars Hill orbits, decided to be sources. One of many reasons that was a decision they felt able to make was they could trust that I wasn't the sort to tell them they HAD to leave Mars Hill (I got that a lot from some quarters, and generally the kinds of people who tell you that you MUST leave X would be the kinds to say you must JOIN X if X is what they believe in).

Having met the three co-founding pastors of Mars Hill what seems most likely to me is that the Mark Driscoll whom Breshears met very early in this century changed into a very different sort of person. It's easy to think of all the ways that people can be struck by the in-person elements of Driscoll, because in person he did not exude most of the traits of his stage persona that he became locally notorious for. It's pretty easy to imagine that the Driscoll that Breshears interacted with was nothing like the William Wallace II that people saw on Midrash.

I've let former staff and leaders like Sutton Turner (with whom I have strongly disagreed) and Justin Dean (the same) comment at the blog, so if Dr. Breshears wants to comment here he's welcome to, or if he wants to correspond I could contact him. The blog is more in the vein of musicology than MH history now but I haven't ever said "I'm done" so when things come up I mention them. Justin Dean has made a point of saying all the former MH campuses are doing great. That makes for a PR line that seemed to need some correction. In Dean's telling post-MH what MH was undone by was its inability to handle hostile secular/liberal press. The other thing he's touted was how great all the campuses that survived the crash have been doing since. For better and worse, the former MH PDX is the conspicuous case study of how that's not actually quite true.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your follow up there. I may e-mail you so you know who I am (not that it's of any remote significance). I don't want to come across as challenging you, or seeming hostile. Not even close to my intent here. So I appreciate your words.

I have only sat alone with Driscoll once in my life. I was genuinely shocked at his demeanor. Your take above is dead on accurate, in my opinion. I'm guessing people like Breshears encountered the almost shy seeming Driscoll, not the "punch 'em in the throat" Driscoll. I think you're onto something there. I was genuinely asking about Breshears, because for the life of me, I just can't imagine the kind fellow I've encountered endorsing Driscoll's attitude. Anyhow, I appreciate your thought there.

It's so heartbreaking to see all of this. I was not attempting to name any names at all, or stir a controversial back-and-forth with you. I was just responding to your post here. I have never in my life stepped anywhere near Mars Hill Portland. I avoided it like the plague when it existed. I just feel terrible for the remaining few. That is so crazy to hear that Justin Dean would the former campuses are doing "great". Huh? I can see why you'd take note of this, based on that information. Bizarre! Again, as I keep noting: I appreciate your feedback on that. Truly.