Friday, January 25, 2013

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 1


A review of the 2012 Mars Hill Andrew case, public record, competing narratives, and a digression into 2006 property acquisition

2012 was a year in which Mars Hill made national headlines for a disciplinary case. Since this news broke blogs exploded with commentary and mainstream as well as regional media weighed in on the subject. In many cases a variety of things seem to have been assumed by partisans for or against Mars Hill. The essentials of Andrew’s case are not hard to look up. 

Yet despite much coverage and discussion was often more heat than light. One of the ironies of local and national coverage is this, despite the heat of discussion around whether or not Andrew’s case was fairly adjudicated few attempts were made to investigate the most concrete claims and details in Andrew’s story (excepting, of course Matthew Paul Turner, who ran with the story). On the Mars Hill side public statements claimed that the desire of the church was to protect the privacy of parties involved, particularly women.  For advocates of Andrew, however, a lack of investigation into the veracity of his claims raised a simple but important problem. How could do we know that the outline of Andrew’s story is plausible or even true?

Well ...  this week Andrew identified himself to the world and that means that a pile of stuff Wenatchee The Hatchet had been sitting on since early last year is stuff that seems right to publish.  What you're about to read is not secret insider stuff.  This doesn't include anything only insiders could have read, like Joyful Exiles.  What you're about to read is all stuff that's easy to find and it may provide new details about the background of the Andrew disciplinary situation.  If that's of interest ...

Wenatchee The Hatchet spent a few months investigating whether or not the claims of Andrew were plausible because, as a former Mars Hill member, I know enough about the culture to understand how that culture approaches social media. I also know that Mars Hill as a culture values publicly sharing stories of redemption and life transformation. If Mars Hill has remained as enamored of social media and getting stories of life-change, redemption, and the like out as fast and as loud as possible as it was when Wenatchee The Hatchet was still there then it would stand to reason that what Mars Hill PR would describe as “private” might turn out to not be quite so private after all.


There is nothing in this examination that relies on any material that is not already on the record through social media.  Some links to blogs have ended up dead since Andrew’s story broke at Matthew Paul Turner’s blog, but they were not dead links at the time I first discovered them in the first half of 2012. The most important documents are actually the most widely distributed, downloaded, or easily obtained.  I’m going to make a case both that the core of Andrew’s story is plausible, so plausible, in fact, that it provided the essential details to identifying several parties.  Andrew’s disciplinary case is also an example of how, from the perspective of a Mars Hill advocate, Andrew’s story as told by Matthew Paul Turner could have been considered incomplete at best and possibly misleading. 

This investigation is not intended to be exhaustive or comprehensive. I merely aim to demonstrate the two claims I’ve already mentioned. Along the way to doing this, however, I ended up investigating the story of a man who was once and is no longer an Acts 29/Mars Hill pastor.  This investigation led me to look into one of the most significant property acquisitions in the history of Mars Hill.


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