Friday, April 13, 2012

Sutton Turner explains: We serve the King, not a Sheikh--a short overview on kingly gifts at MH

Sutton Turner recently wrote:

Before I got hired at Mars Hill, I spent a few years in Qatar and the U.A.E. working for Middle Eastern royalty. These were billion-dollar businesses with thousands of employees. Money was no object. We could ring up the charges, rack up personal expenses, and the Sheikh just kept filling the account. It was awesome.

Working for a church, my salary is no longer what it used to be, nor is my job. I’m analyzing $4.90 lattes and scrutinizing nearly every dollar that goes out the door to ensure that our staff stewards the church’s resources well. It gets tedious at times, but the little stuff matters to me, because it matters to Jesus.

So how much did renting Ephesus go for? 

We could plant hundreds of churches. We could see thousands more people meet Jesus. We could see cities transformed by the gospel. As a collective body of believers, God has given us the money we need. The question is, what will we do with it?

So Turner is asking "What will we do with it?" after stating that Mars Hill as a church has been given (by God) the money it needs to see cities transformed by the gospel.  He trusts the money is there to do whatever the executive elders seem to have in mind?  What do they have in mind?

Well ...

The next big stage of growth may be a process in which churches are invited to ask to join Mars Hill and get assimilated. It may not merely depend on what Mars Hill members decide to give but who volunteers to hand over their church to the Mars Hill executive elders. Once that happens there's no assurance anyone at the church will keep their jobs.  For those who have kept track of these things Mark Driscoll's been part of Q School events in 2011:

If you do volunteer to give your church to Mars Hill there may already be a few guys picked out from the Q School scene who may be given a chance to run whichever church their giftings are determined to fit.   Of course you may get to keep your job, after all.  If you're preaching fits the 16 keys Driscoll considers necessary for preaching a sermon you might get to keep your job, otherwise they probably have enough people that made it through the Q School to replace you..

Now for a sampling of Sutton Turner tweets since the 9/6/2011 announcements:!/suttonturner/status/181434228536385536
Dustin Kensrue @DMKensrue leading worship today @MarsHillBel @ Mars Hill Church - Bellevue Campus
10:37 AM - 18 Mar 2012
If he becomes the worship pastor at Bellevue I won't be the least bit surprised.!/suttonturner/status/175812696657240064
A Call for Reconciliation | Mars Hill Church @marshill
9:19 PM - 2 Mar 2012

I think I wrote quite a bit about that call already. No further comment there.!/suttonturner/status/147317319847251968

Last night great capture of @PastorMark Real Marriage series Chap 3 & 4. We have 2,000 churches signed up to use the materials.
6:09 AM - 15 Dec 2011
2,000 churches using the Real Marriage materials is a lot.!/suttonturner/status/132938183469043712
Recruiting a CFO and Operations Director/COO positions at Mars Hill Church.
2:51 PM - 5 Nov 2011

Note that the link referred to in this one is obviously dead:
No real mystery why.!/suttonturner/status/122320508472655873
Headn 2 Orange County find a building to plant our @MarsHillOC church
7:40 AM - 7 Oct 2011!/suttonturner/status/119819386600161280
Are you in the business world today & feel called to serve the Church? COO type position now posted @MarsHill.
10:02 AM - 30 Sep 2011
Of course the above link for the director of operations link is dead, too.!/suttonturner/status/113828160654684160
Mars Hill Church | Sutton Turner Testimony
9:15 PM - 13 Sep 2011, by the way, is super-duper dead. This would appear to have been the earliest public testimony Turner shared and we know this because he mentions it in his Twitter feed but the link itself from 9/12/2011 is deader than an army of darkness.  The November 23, 2011 testimony after Turner was installed is still available, though.

In fact it includes the Turner testimony where it's just Turner and Clem, which you can also find here:
The video is timestamped at Vimeo as Monday September 12, 2011 7:54 PM EST

Right out the gate Clem says: "So I want you to meet somebody, who is a friend of mine and he's an attender here. And, uh, this past week, uh, Pastor Mark mentioned him in a letter to the congregation." Which letter?  This one:


My proposal to the Board of Directors (BOD) is that Pastor Jamie Munson remain an elder at Mars Hill Church Ballard. Following a sabbatical through the end of the year to enjoy his family, rest up, and finish writing a book, he will rejoin us as an unpaid board member at the highest legal level of Mars Hill Church. In God’s providence, the same day that Pastor Jamie made this decision, one of our unpaid BOD members had to resign due to escalating demands at his place of employment. So, while this man will remain an elder at his local Mars Hill Church, it opened a seat on the BOD for an unpaid elder, which Pastor Jamie fills perfectly. We need many more unpaid elders and Pastor Jamie helps us to raise the profile of that service. The plan is simply that Pastor Jamie will remain an elder at Mars Hill indefinitely. He has clearly communicated his desire to stay at Mars Hill and serve as an elder and we welcome this. So, Pastor Jamie is still Pastor Jamie. Also, the door to employment is always open to Pastor Jamie. It has been clearly communicated to him by myself personally and by his performance review team collectively that should he ever change his mind, we would welcome him back on staff at Mars Hill Church. Our bylaws require that our Executive Elder (EE) team have at least three members. Pastor Dave Bruskas and I remain on the EE. Thankfully, Pastor Dave and his family recently moved to Seattle after leading Mars Hill Albuquerque. His leadership, wisdom, and experience come at just the right time and we praise God he is on the team. In God’s providence, the sermon he preached at Mars Hill Ballard will air this Sunday at all our other churches, helping you to get to know him better. To fill Pastor Jamie’s vacancy on the EE, I am recommending that the BOD vote for Pastor Scott Thomas to join the EE for at least the foreseeable future. Pastor Scott has served faithfully for many years as an elder at Mars Hill, is among our most trained and seasoned leaders, is already a BOD member, and has served previously for many years as an EE member while also leading Acts 29. Pastor Dave and I both believe Pastor Scott is the best choice for this role in this season. Pastor Scott has been very clear in his love and commitment to Mars Hill and has said he will gladly serve wherever he is needed, which we deeply appreciate. Administratively, Pastor Jamie was our senior "king" and his departure requires very competent leadership to cover his many responsibilities. Thankfully, Pastor Jamie was a great leader and humble man. He surrounded himself with great people. This allows us to not have the kind of crisis that could otherwise ensue. Pastor Dave and I agree that Sutton Turner should function as our highest-ranking "king." Sutton is new to staff, but not to ministry. He is a former executive pastor of a large church. Educationally, he is a graduate of Texas A&M, the SMU Cox School of Business, and Harvard Business School. Professionally, he has recently served as the CEO of a company that has nearly 1,600 employees. Prior to that he served as the CEO of another company that under his leadership grew from 0 to 500 employees in the first year. He and his family moved to Seattle sensing a call to serve at Mars Hill, and we believe he is a gift from God to us for our future.

Sorry, folks, that was all one massive paragraph in the original. I guess Scott Thomas was interim lead pastor while the stage was being set for Turner.

Now listen to the prayer Bill Clem starts to pray at 07:35 from the 9/12/2011 video. If you don't feel like doing that, here's a partial transcript of Bill Clem's prayer for Sutton Turner after Turner gave his testimony, again on this 9/12/2011 time-stamped video.

"So, Father, I want to thank you for S. Thank you for his family. I pray that they WOULD find a place here that they can call home. I pray that you would grant us favor in his eyes as he leads and grant him in favor in our hearts as we pray for him and follow his leadership. ... "

So as soon as Munson formally announced he was stepping down Driscoll announced the same day that he and Dave Bruskas had already picked out who would replace Munson? It could seem that way.  Consider, too, what gets said about Turner at his introduction as executive elder:

Pastor Sutton's experience has already been a huge benefit. He has a degree from Harvard Business School, led multibillion-dollar organizations, and even worked as an executive pastor for a number of years at a large church in Texas. More importantly, he is a godly man with a delightful family. By God's grace, Mars Hill Church is in an amazing season of growth. With that comes significantly more complexities, however. We need help and we've been searching for a leader of Sutton's caliber for awhile. God is faithful and brought the right man at the right time. Please pray for Pastor Sutton in his new role.

They've been searching for a leader of Sutton's caliber for awhile? How long was "awhile"? To go by the September 6, 2011 letter Driscoll and Bruskas seemed to have found exactly the right man for the job before Munson even formally announced his resignation.  That was fast.  What does it mean?  Eh, not sure.  Sometimes it's not important to try very hard to interpret, just to provide a document.

POSTSCRIPT: 04/14/2012

Executive Pastor

Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
April 2011Present (1 year 1 month)Seattle, Washington

Sutton currently serves Mars Hill Church as Executive Elder and Executive Pastor. Mars Hill is a 15,000+ multi-site church with 14 current churches across the states of Washington, California, New Mexico, and Oregon. Mars Hill has planted over 400 churches through its and trains disciples through As Executive Pastor, Sutton oversees all centralized functions for all Mars Hill Churches and Acts 29.


Storyville Coffee Company
Privately Held; 11-50 employees; Food & Beverages industry
January 2012– Present (4 months)Seattle

Executive Pastor, President
Mars Hill Church
Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
1999– 2011 (12 years)Seattle

That's puzzling, both for Sutton and for Munson.  Sutton Turner's public LinkedIn profile lists him as being an executive elder at Mars Hill since April, 2011? Was Munson always an Executive Elder during those 12 years?  In 1999 he was an intern.

Or at least he was according to this:
Jamie Munson is Lead (Executive) Pastor and President of Mars Hill Church.

Born and raised in the state of Montana, Pastor Jamie came to Mars Hill as a 19-year-old non-Christian, not long after the church began. He met Jesus, got baptized, and after a stint in the corporate world, started a Mars Hill internship in June 1999.

Over the next decade, Jamie became a pastor and continued to take on more leadership responsibility to help shepherd Mars Hill's tremendous growth. Today, Pastor Jamie serves on the Mars Hill's senior leadership team, guiding the growth, strategy, and vision of the church.

Pastor Jamie married his wife, Crystal, in 1999. They have four children: Caleb, Kara, Orin, and Haley. "It is my heart's desire and calling to follow Jesus faithfully," Pastor Jamie writes, "and to help build an army of faithful Christians who love and steward well the relationships and resources that Jesus has blessed them with."

So, uh, the internship wasn't an "executive elder" internship, was it? Now the stories about Munson and Turner seem to make even less sense.  Well, whatever, like I was saying, sometimes there's no point in trying to interpret what you read if you just document what's there. It's not like I can't appreciate the possibility that sometimes a person needs to really, really update and clarify a LinkedIn profile.


Anonymous said...

Real Marriage...We have 2,000 churches signed up to use the materials.

Real sick.

Anonymous said...

Mars Hill marketing moves from the masculine towards the feminine:

Anonymous said...

WTH, this is my first comment on your blog. I've been reading for a while and I wanted you to know that I really appreciate your writing - not least the way you zing from talking about spiritual abuse to chamber music to tattoos. It's the good kind of whiplash.

I have a question for you: is the talk about "kings" and "kingly" stuff a new development at Mars Hill, or has it been going on for a long time? Since the top-down structure seems to grant elders and pastors a priestly role, and Mark Driscoll also claims prophetic insight, the king talk seems to round things out quite nicely for them.


Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

It started showing up around 2007 as far as I can recall, which may not really be when it started showing up. It may have gained traction internally before getting unfurled before the general congregation.

Unknown said...

I think its important to ask Sutton how involved he was with the Sheik he so proudly admits working for in the Middle East, because Sutton has mentioned twice that he knew first hand that the Sheik or Sutton's boss was funding terrorism. He made those comments at ReTrain and once at a leadership gathering at the UW campus. Disturbing to say the least.