Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fighting for the Faith discusses Driscoll's "Blessed Subtraction"


Chris Rosebrough at Pirate Christian Radio has found an audio clip of an October 2007 Acts 29 event of some kind in which Mark Driscoll said:

"I'm all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies under the Mars Hill bus [chuckles] 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 two options. But the bus ain't gonna stop. And, uh, I'm just a guy who's like, "Look, we love you. But this is what we're doing."

"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, because they want to go somewhere else. ...

... 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."

I notice that this audio is mentioned as something in early October 2007.  Driscoll says in the audio that two pastors were fired "last night" but this audio, if it's in any way affiliated with Acts 29, doesn't correspond to anything you can download at the actual Acts 29 Network site.

Which October 2007 event was this?  Well if the event was "yesterday" that Driscoll was referring to in early October 2007 there's this sermon that was preached at the end of September 2007.


from "Fathers and Fighting" in the Nehemiah series.


But if those two guys getting fired was the first time pastors had been fired in the history of Mars Hill then who is this other guy Driscoll is referring to at minute 40 in Q&A with Mark Driscoll from February 2008?

Who were the "we" Driscoll refers to in the audio clip Rosebrough makes reference to?  Well, if this email signed by then Lead Pastor Jamie Munson can inform us "we" seems to have been Mark Driscoll, Jamie Munson, Bubba Jennings and Mark Driscoll.



So it sure seems like the event referenced was the firings of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer.  But was that the first time elders were fired at Mars Hill?  Driscoll said it was the first time such a thing had happened but the audio for that event doesn't leap out of the Acts 29 Network website. You're not going to find a whole lot of Driscoll audio connected to Acts 29 for October 2007 these days.

You can, however, find a Q&A from February 2008 where Driscoll describes the first guy he had to fire from pastoral work at these two places.




(starts at 00:31:52)

Q. How do you lead staff who are your best friends?Do you want the honest answer or should I punt? 

... You can't. ... you can't.

I hate to tell you that. ... Deep down in your gut you know if you're best friends and someone works for you that changes the relationship. Right? Because you can fire them. Of course you want to be friends with your elders and the people you work with. I mean, we're a church. I mean you wanna, you NEED to love the people you work with. But one of the hardest things, and only the lead guy gets this. Nobody else on staff even understands what I'm talking about. When you're the lead guy you wear multiple hats. Say it's someone who works with you and they're a good friend. You wear the "Hey, we're buddies" hat. We're friends. We go on vacation. We hang out. We do 
dinner. We're friends.

But you also wear the "I'm your boss" hat "You need to do your job or I might have to fire you" hat, and you also wear the "I'm your pastor. I love you, care for you, and I'm looking out for your well-being" hat. Those three hats are in absolute collision. Because how do you fire your friend and then pastor them through it? Right? I mean that is very complicated. I love you, you're fired, can I pray for you? That is a very .. what are we doing? I think if you're going to have your best friends working with you they need to be somewhere else on the team but not under you or the friendship really needs to change.

And what happens is when people are your friend ... I don't think that many do this intentionally but they want you to wear whatever hat is at their best interest at the time. So they didn't do their job, they're falling down on their responsibility, and you talk to them and say, "Look, you're not getting this done." They put on the "hey buddy. Yeah, I've been kinda sick lately and my wife and I are going through a hard time." and they want the friend hat on. And as a friend you're like, "Oh, I'm so sorry, dude." But then you put your boss hat back on and you're like "Yeah, but we pay you and we need you to get the job done." 

And then they want you to put the friend hat back on and keep sympathizing. 
And you're totally conflicted. ...

I have very good friends in this church. I have elders that are very dear friends, but when you have to do their performance review, when you have to decide what their wage is, when you have to decide whether they get promoted, demoted or terminated it's impossible to do that because you can't wear all three hats at the same time.

First guy I fired, he was a dear friend. A godly man, no moral or doctrinal sin whatsoever, he just wasn't keeping up with what we needed him to do. And it wasn't `cause he didn't try and wasn't working hard. And he had a wonderful wife and a great family and to this day I think the world of this guy.  And if my sons grew up to be like him, I'd be proud. And I'm not critical of this man at all. 

But I remember sitting down at that first termination. First I put on the friend hat. I said, "I love you, I appreciate you. I value you." Then I put on the boss hat, "I'm gonna have to let you go. Here's why." And then I put on the pastor hat, "How are you feeling? How are you doing?" And he was really gracious with me and he said, "This is just the weirdest conversation I've ever had." And I said, "Me too, `cause I'm not sure what hat I'm supposed to wear." 

Does that make any sense? The best thing is if you have a best friend maybe the best thing to do is not have them work with you.  Or if they do have them work under someone else. And to also pursue good friendships with people outside of your church. Some of my dearest friends today are not at Mars Hill, they're also pastors of other churches. Darrin Patrick is here, Vice-President of Acts 29. I love him. He's a brother. He's the guy I call. ... He's a pastor to me, you know?  Matt Chandler is here. I count as a friend. By God's Grace, C. J. Mahaney, I count as a friend. ...


Driscoll went on to explain how and why it was beneficial to resign as legal president and has head of the elder board and to give those jobs to Jamie Munson.  Driscoll explained that in so doing he no longer had "all those conflicts of interest".

Joyful Exiles has presented enough documentary and audio evidence to establish beyond all doubt that Bent Meyer and Paul Petry were fired at the end of September 2007.  Thousands of members were notified of the firings.  Who was this unnamed other guy Driscoll referred to in the February 2008 Q&A? If he was the first person to get fired then why did Driscoll use the wording he used about the two men who got fired? There's no question about the "off the bus" or "under the bus" part. It's the "first time" part that is a puzzle.

Well, it's tough to know for sure who this person Driscoll fired might actually be.  Driscoll had referred to Lief Moi as a good friend but the thing is was Moi fired?  By Moi's account he was asked to step down and told he lacked the kingly gifts for running a campus the size of Ballard.


Page 7 of 145

A letter from Pastor Lief Moi

November 9, 2007

Dear Mars Hill Members

The following is a brief account and explanation of what has transpired with me and Mars Hill Church over the past few months. I hope this gives comfort and answers to those of you who have been concerned.

In June of this year I was asked to step down from the executive team and the role of campus pastor at Ballard.  The primary reason, and I believe a valid one, was that I do not have the administrative skills to run a campus the size of Ballard. Although I agreed with the assessment of my lack of Kingly skills, I felt that I was being removed from a role that God had called me to and as a result I resigned from the elder board. There were many elders who spoke with me and asked me to reconsider, but at the time my heart was hard and I was not interested. After much contemplation, prayer and speaking with Pastor Mark, I asked to be reinstated as an elder and the vote was unanimous with one abstention to reinstate me.

Because of a major role change and the re-org, it was determined that my salary was to be cut by almost 40%. At that time I told Pastor Jamie that I would not be able to stay on full time would consider a part time position so I could work on other means of providing for my family.

So as of today I am working 20 hours a week in Ballard counseling on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. I need you all to know and I ask your forgiveness for times during this process that I have not thought about the gospel first but considered my feelings most important and therefore have sinned. This has been one of the most difficult times of my life but am now looking to the future with my hope in Jesus and trust in the elders of Mars Hill to leada us into what Jesus would have us do and be. And it is this that I would ask you to do as well. These men love Jesus and they love you. We might not always agree on the method but we can always agree on Jesus.


Pastor Lief

There is a summary of Lief Moi's time at Mars Hill in 2007 that can also be found here, later in the same document:

From Appendix B (page 115 of 145) 

Mars Hill Re-organization document, previously sent to members on June 23, 2007


Initially, Pastor Lief Moi was uncomfortable with the transition plans and uncertain that his conscience would allow him to continue as an Elder of Mars Hill Church. This precipitated several tense and difficult meetings for us as an Elder team, striving for unity but also the most effective way to organize and lead our church. After a few weeks off with his family to think and pray, Lief Moi resigned from his position on staff as well as his office as Elder of Mars hill Church. Loving our brother and unwilling to olet this matter go without every possbile effort for reconciliation Pastor Mark, and Pastor Bill Clem spent hours laboring over Lief's concerns and frustrations. Following the extremely fruitful meeting with Pastors Mark and Bill, Lief sought reconciliation with several pastors who felt they had been wronged in the matter by him, and submitted himself humbly for restoration as an Elder of the church. The Elders assembled, discussed the matter soberly, and after much prayer and discussion voted to restore Lief as an Elder of Mars Hill Church and a member of the Ballard Campus team. Lief will continue to employ his unique gifts, which many of our members have been blessed by for years, to strength faith, fortify marriages, and equip the saints for acts of service as we love our city with Jesus.  This process put many of our men's faith, endurance, constitution, and their trust in Jesus to the test.  It drove many men deep into God's Word for wisdom, seeking His discernment and leading through prayer.  Despite sleepless nights and frayed nerves, we are a truly a stronger Elder body because of this incredible labor God has shephered us through. In His wisdom, He has made us bear this weighty issue as we move to a structure that distributes and delegates authority and mandates more trust and confidence in one another. Praying together as 24 men united by our love of Jesus and His great commission, it is evident He has uniquely tempered us for the coming season as a lovingly unified yet honest and effective team. 

Here is an answer Driscoll gave a member who had questions about when Moi might preach again.

page 23-24/145

This is from the section Pulpit and Preaching 

responses submitted by Pastor Mark Driscoll

Q. Will we get to hear Pastor Lief preach again some time soon?  I haven't heard him preach since the Mother's Day sermon and while I can understand why that sermon got pulled I hope he gets to preach some more in teh future if he's in better health (I read the prayer request that said he was in bad shape and his wife was not in good health, either). My hope is that we get to hear at least a little preaching from all our pastors at some point. I haven't heard a sermon from Pastor Tim Smith in a while or from Pastor Bubba at all and Pastor Bill's sermons on Jude were fantastic.

A. First, please do pray for the health of my friend and brother Pastor Lief. He has had very painful back problems for many years and he still stuffers from constant pain. ... 

Back problems for many years, suffers from constant pain?  Told he did not have the kingly gifts to manage a campus the size of Ballard? Was this the man Driscoll was talking about in the Acts 29 February 2008?  If the first guy Driscoll fired (per his Q&A on February 2008) was someone he considered a dear friend then what is the meaning of the audio of Driscoll Chris Rosebrough found from October 2007 explaining how "Yesterday we fired two guys for the first time in the history of Mars Hill."  Was the first firing of the one man just a firing from a specific job and not from pastoral work at Mars Hill altogether?  Was that the first pastor Driscoll really fired?  What about the two pastors (who seem nearly beyond all doubt to have been Bent Meyer and Paul Petry) who Driscoll said were the first pastors fired in the history of Mars Hill in October 2007, apparently an address Driscoll gave the day after the firings happened?  Was that the first time pastors had been fired in the history of Mars Hill?  In what sense? If Moi resigned then that doesn't seem like it would count as a firing, would it? 

The February 2008 story Driscoll shared about the first time had to fire a guy sounds pretty different from the first time pastors had to be fired that Driscoll recounts in the October 2007 Acts 29 event, whichever one it was, Rosebrough has found audio for. Perhaps the best way to account for this or, to put it a bit more starkly, reconcile these two accounts is to say that the first guy Driscoll fired maybe wasn't a pastor, but the question Driscoll answered was how you could work with friends in ministry, the sort of question which would presuppose, you would think, the condition that a man like Mark Driscoll was working in ministry with his best friends.  It was blogger Jared C. Wilson who first alerted me to this video/audio talk and mentioned some things about it he found troubling over at his blog. 

Joyful Exiles has presented enough documentary and audio evidence to establish beyond all doubt that Bent Meyer and Paul Petry were fired.  Thousands of members were notified of the firings.  Who was this unnamed other guy Driscoll referred to in the February 2008 Q&A? If he was the first person to get fired then why did Driscoll use the wording he used about the two men who got fired? There's no question about the "off the bus" or "under the bus" part. It's the "first time" part that is a puzzle. How can the first time a pastor (or two) got fired at Mars Hill alternately be a story about just one man Driscoll considered a dear friend in February 2008 when asked about how he led friends in ministry, and yet earlier in October 2007 the first firings in the history of Mars Hill mentioned were that of two guys who ended up under the bus because "they weren't on mission"?

I don't know where Rosebrough found that audio from early October 2007 where Driscoll said that "yesterday" two guys were off and under the bus but however he found it I can't help but have questions about how that account from Driscoll doesn't quite fit the February 2008 story of the first guy he fired, and vice versa. It is a puzzle.


Rebecca K. said...

Fascinating! I listened to this too and couldn't get past the words to think intelligently about the background stuff, but my theory? i be the first one WAS Lief. He said in his letter he was asked to resign, isn't that essentially a polite way of being fired?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Rebecca, I'm not sure Lief Moi was the one Driscoll described as the first guy he fired from ministry. There are several reasons.

1. The documents at Joyful Exiles establish Moi was asked to resign from a specific job. In corporate management terms this is not the same as firing him from any and all paid work at Mars Hill. There's a possibility that some kind of Soviet style double speak is afoot in those documents, of course but that presupposes that all the documents discussing Moi's resignation were so laden with deceit, even on Moi's part, that they can't be trusted. don't consider that a necessary line of thought because there's a second reason I don't think we can identify the first solitary guy Driscoll fired with Moi.

2. The February 2008 anecdote is so generic and stripped of any meaningful detail it's impossible to identify the actual person Driscoll may have been talking about. It sounds specific but when you stop to think through how many Mars Hill pastors are married guys with kids it's a blur, unless Driscoll was trying to indicate sons old enough that his boys could grow up to be like.

We can't know if this first guy is a composite. It could be anyone or an abstraction. We can't know. There's another reason it seems unlikely to be Lief Moi and I think this is the reason that, given the more we learn about Driscoll's character, may be the most compelling one.

3. Grace Driscoll told Thor Tolo Mark was a short-fused drama queen. I'm going to assume Grace was completely honest in saying that and recorded accurately. Take a vision-casting short-fused drama queen man who's legal president of Mars Hill Church and are we going to suppose that between 1996-2007 he NEVER FIRED ANYONE FROM PASTORAL MINISTRY? That seems beyond a credibly plausible situation.

The February 2008 anecdote at Q&A with Mark Driscoll may refer to a specific guy who got fired but it's impossible to nail down who this guy was or, honestly, if the guy exists. "If" Driscoll just made up a touching story through which to explain why it's impossible for friends to work in professional ministry together we'd be in no position to know.

The October 2007 audio Rosebrough got ahold of is, by contrast, remarkably concrete. It's not difficult to put all Driscoll's words from that period together and figure out that he's likely referring to the firings of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry.

Perhaps a distinction could be made between the first guy "I" fired and the first guy "we" fired? That seems the best way to reconcile the apparently clashing accounts of which time was truly the first time a pastor or pastors got fired in the history of Mars Hill.

Anonymous said...

Question: How can you say someone is your friend if you are willing to fire them at the drop of a hat?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

A great deal may depend on how the word "friend" gets defined.

Anonymous said...

"How can you say someone is your friend if you are willing to fire them at the drop of a hat?"

Or throw them "off the bus" (or "under the bus") and laugh?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

He didn't laugh, he chuckled, and he's chuckled more at his own jokes than he did in the sentence about the pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus.

Don't exaggerate about the laughter. It's that it's such a slight chuckle that suggests how truly trivial Driscoll seemed to consider that pile of dead bodies to be.