Saturday, June 29, 2013

"In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against Pastor Mark ... " who would investigate?

Last year, before it was scrubbed away, the Mars Hill Church Governance page included the following. Keep in mind that none of this may even apply any longer.  Nevertheless, since it was available for about half of 2012, it can be considered as a hypothetical from last year.

In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against Pastor Mark that, if investigated and found to be true, would disqualify him from his position as an elder in Mars Hill Church, a group of five men consisting of both elders within Mars Hill Church and Christian leaders outside of Mars Hill Church, will investigate the charge or accusation and determine if it is true. This group currently consists of Jamie Munson, Dave Bruskas, James MacDonald, Darrin Patrick, and Larry Osborne. If the charge or accusation is found to be true, this group can rebuke Pastor Mark or, if warranted, remove him as an elder at Mars Hill Church. If Pastor Mark is removed as an elder, he automatically ceases to serve on the Board of Elders, on the Executive Elder Team, and as president of Mars Hill Church.”

So, if it ever came to the point where someone made accusations against Mark Driscoll then they would be investigated.  The way things are worded it sounds as though first an investigation would have to take place and that "if" the charges were true and that Driscoll turned out to be unfit for ministry THEN a group of five men consisting of elders in Mars Hill and Christian leaders outside of Mars HIll Church would investigate and determine whether the accusation or charge were true.  A bit fuzzy. 

What's not fuzzy are the names listed.  Let's consider them in order with the caveat that this list of five may have little or anything to do with who would be conducting and investigation NOW if one were, in fact, under way.

Let's start with Jamie Munson. Munson was appointed Lead Pastor of Mars Hill Church in the by-laws Jamie Munson drafted in 2007.  When two pastors disagreed with the by-laws Munson formulated charges against them. One of the charges was a lack of trust or respect for Munson himself.  Munson stated Scott Thomas was in charge of the investigation and Scott Thomas stated the investigation process was not a witch hunt and informed a member that "a conciliatory process" had been completed. As Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed here Scott Thomas responded to the member enquiry through his Acts 29 Network email. 

If Munson were part of a team to assess whether Driscoll is fit for ministry it's important to keep in mind that Mark Driscoll has described Munson as Mars Hill 1.0, one of the earliest converts under Driscoll's preaching and teaching. Nearly the entirety of Munson's professional life can be summed up as being in Mars Hill. Currently Munson is co-president at Storyville Coffee.  He has a 5% ownership along with Kris Rosentrater. But the majority ownership is Jon Phelps.

So, who is Jon Phelps?  Here's one account.

Jon Phelps is the founder of Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL. Jamie Munson will be involved in day to day operations, leadership, sales, management and community engagement. Kris Rosentrater is a coffee specialist and is involved in roasting and production. Jon Phelps is an investor and consultant to the business.

And here's the corporation listing in Washington state.

Governing Persons
UNIT 802
UNIT 802

What else can we find out about Phelps?  He's co-credited with Mark Driscoll for Reverse-Engineering Your Life, copyright 2005.  And here starting at page 6.

This appears to be the Jon who is reference in Real Marriage, chapter 11 as helping Mark Driscoll get his life together (page 208 Real Marriage).  It's evident the reverse-engineering your life process in the 2012 book is a development on the 2005 material. 

Then there's footnote 35 on page 202 of Confessions of a Reformission Rev. Here for an on-line sampler.

footnote 35, page 202 Confessions of a Reformission Rev
I took the concept of shooting our dogs from a conversation I had with a friend named Jon Phelps, who is the president of DC-3 Entertainment and the founder of Full Sail College.

So Jon Phelps is a friend of Mark Driscoll, an investor, and someone who seems to some roots at Mars Hill. If someone like Jon Phelps were selected to consider accusations against Mark Driscoll could Phelps be considered a major donor to Mars Hill?  Does Phelps have a history of contributing large sums of money to Mars Hill?  So Munson works at a company owned by Phelps who is himself credited with the reverse-engineering your life approach Mark Driscoll has been promoting and apparently implementing since somewhere around 2005.  It was certainly part of the mens' retreat materials in 2006.  Phelps seems to be the one referred to in Real Marriage.

But let's move on to the next name.

Dave Bruskas is Vice-President of Mars Hill Church and thus an employee.  Bruskas was at City on a Hill Church, an Acts 29 plant, before it became Mars Hill Albuquerque.  And here.
May 3, 2009

about 4:30 into the sermon

City on a Hill is a church planted through the Acts 29 Network by Pastor Dave Bruskas. He's a great guy. Really great guy. Years ago he was actually on staff in the building our Lake City  campus actually meets at. He has planted his church in Albuquerque. It's going really well. There are over 400 people. Great church. Doing very well. Bilingual, multiethnic, eldership. Really cool things happening. And they have agreed to partner with us. We praise God for that.  We rejoice in that. So they have announced to their people officially today that they're becoming a Mars Hill campus. 

And what this means is that we hope to establish them as a regional hub to plant campuses of Mars Hill and churches of Acts 29 all over the Southeast, including into Mexico. Some of their elders are bilingual and are able to minister across cultural contexts and we praise God for that. As well at least one of their primary leaders is part of a Native American nation, tribe, and has full rights to potentially even plant a church in that context so it opens up some wonderful opportunities that we praise God for. 
If Driscoll is President of Mars Hill and Dave Bruskas is Vice-President would Bruskas be in a good position to assess accusations that Mark Driscoll is not qualified for ministry?  Wouldn't it be preferable that a person assessing charges not technically be employed so as to not be in a potential conflict of interest?  What happened to this guy, Michael Van Skaik? He used to be referenced but no longer shows up in the listing of pastors here.  And here.

Michael is passionate about helping others live the life that God intends for them. He enjoys guiding others through the various areas of our lives, searching the scriptures for wisdom regarding those areas and then seeing them implement and do what the Word says (James 1:22-27). He also serves as Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA as Chair of the Board of Advisors and Accountability.

Looks like it's more like he was chair of the board of advisors and accountability and now there's hardly a trace of him.   Anyway, moving along from Bruskas we get to

James MacDonald is a guy described by Mark Driscoll as having a spiritual gift of real estate acquisition, a fascinating gift not attested in most manuscripts of 1 Corinthians. MacDonald's Harvest Bible Church has some substantial real estate debt and in the last year MacDonald's gambling became a matter of public concern.  MacDonald and Driscoll kicked off 2012 with a friendly gesture toward T. D. Jakes, whose alleged shift away from modalism to traditional Trinitarian thought has not , to put it nicely, convinced everyone.  There have been enough questions about MacDonald's approach to pastoral office that it's hard to be sure this is someone who would know whether or not Driscoll had really said or done anything to imperil his own qualifications for ministry. 

Then there's Darrin Patrick, in leadership at Acts 29 Network.  Patrick's church gave Scott Thomas a job as a pastor while Scott Thomas had not bothered to resign his membership from Mars Hill. Given that Scott Thomas described the 2007 trial process as a "conciliatory process" to a member let's just suppose Darrin Patrick was never told that Scott Thomas was still a covenanted member of Mars Hill while preaching at The Journey.  That seems like a fair concession to make.  Nevertheless, the documents of Scott Thomas' conduct and speech during the 2007 termination of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry is out there at Joyful Exiles for anyone to read.  There's also this, a summation of the transition by Thomas. There's apparently another set of transitions with Scott and his son Derrin Thomas having shifted out of The Journey.  Darrin Patrick is another good friend of Mark Driscoll.  It would seem as though the group of five consists pretty much of Driscoll's friends, and in a couple of cases men who played an advisory or participatory role in the 2007 re-org that involved firing Bent Meyer and Paul Petry, and a re-org during which 1,000 members left the church. 

Which gets us to Larry Osborne, referenced by Jonna Petry in her account of how the build-up to the 2007 re-org took place and mentioned by Mark Driscoll early in the 142-page document (page 3 over here).  If Munson formulated charges and drafted by-laws that made himself Lead Pastor and if Osborne gave advice that Driscoll implemented in making Mars Hill multi-site then these two are men who were involved in the 2007 re-org that inspired so much controversy possibly half of the members of Mars Hill left. 

One of the things of note about a number of men who served as pastors on committees intended to keep the executive elders accountable is that a few of them don't seem to even be at Mars Hill anymore.  Where did Michael Van Skaik go?  What about Chad Toulouse?  Where did Will Little go?  Bubba Jennings and Jamie Munson still seem to be around. Justin Holcomb is still around but Brad House has transitioned out. Kerry Dodd still seems to be around. Chris Pledger transitioned out the weekend the eviction of Mars HIll from Orange County happened and it's not clear he was ever licensed to practice law in any states where Mars HIll has a presence anyway. 

At this point if there were a formal charge against Mark Driscoll what was shared about the committee of men who would assess the charge is that they are described variously by Driscoll as friends or men who had a role in the 2007 re-org.  It would be, to go by everything available in public so far, seem to be a very partial jury.

Finally, it is worth noting that all the cited material from Governance as published by Mars Hill in 2012 is gone from the currently available version. 


Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention Justin Holcomb -- check his twitter feed. He's back in Florida and MHC-U District is scrubbed. He's still in charge of re-train (it seems). Do you know when he stopped being head of Resurgence? Who is head now -- Driscoll?

MHC is shadowy incestuous by appearances.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Wasn't aware that Holcomb had transitioned out but these days who knows when who will leave?

Anonymous said...

How would you have it?

Know of any "real world" examples of church governance with specifics re: how they do it?

I know many senior pastors who've been removed by boards of directors over things like carpet colors and changes to the church-owned parsonage without permission over cosmetic issues.

What is a better way?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Depends on why you're asking. :)

Is this a possible apologia for Driscoll's dread of Baptist ecclesiology? ;)

Anonymous said...

How would you have it?
What is a better way?

Matthew 20:26-28

Anonymous said...

I'm asking because I care.

And those with criticisms should have solutions in mind.

And I've never been to a Mars Hill anything ever. Though I did see a youtube video one time, one summer....

It seems to me most elder-based churches have some form of similar governance, and it "costs" quite a bit for a "close friend" and "vested interest" friend-whose-gone-through-some-stuff-with-them to take disciplinary action against a senior pastor.

And, despite that, we all know many of the above types of people(I presume) who've still done that.

The results being a mixture of good, bad and stinky.

I've got no dog in this fight other than a good convo over biblical ethics and practice in the local church.

Anonymous said...

"[I]t 'costs' quite a bit for a "close friend" and 'vested interest' friend-whose-gone-through-some-stuff-with-them..."

If you follow this Wenatchee blog long enough, you'll learn that there once were men like that around MD - but they have been fired or pressured to resign and 'humbly' resigned under the pressure. Moi, Gunn, Clem, other names come to mind. No one is allowed to get that "close." Now, only those with something to offer (money, reputation, large church network) are allowed access.

After the Sunday service, MD is hustled out of the building through a phalanx of muscle-bound security guards. No hand-shakes or close contact with the unwashed masses for him.

Anonymous said...

You repeatedly mention 1000 members left the church. This is in fact incorrect. The truth is, every member's membership was cancelled, the church was replanted, and then individuals were asked to reapply for membership. 1000 members did not.

The church that had a written covenant with each member, merely ignored the covenant, changed its form of government, and asked those with whom they had breached contract to apply for new membership .

1000 members, who had tithed and given their time and energy to build MH, had their church stolen from them. A new church, designed to propel Mark Driscoll and centered around a Driscoll who had coerced 24 elders to support his consolidation of power or get fired, was planted.

We former members were robbed.

We did not leave.

We were simply defrauded and told that our covenant was no longer in effect. We no longer had a church.

Please correct your version of this when you reference it.

Ben Tudley.

Tedster said...

Interesting point.
What should cause anyone paying attention to be outraged and nauseated is how Driscoll later bragged about why those 1000+ faithful members supposedly "left" the church. He boasted that they left because he was demanding doctrinal purity, and they would not submit to biblical teaching.

I wanted to do all I could to ensure doctrinal fidelity and clarity for our church. As the tree grows and the fruit increases, the roots need to sink deep as well. So, when our attendance was at about six thousand people * a few years ago, we did something unprecedented. We canceled out the membership of everyone in our church and I preached the Doctrine series for thirteen weeks...

Those who made it through the entire series were interviewed, and those who evidenced true faith in Christ and signed our membership covenant were installed as new members. We had always had a high bar for membership, but I wanted to raise that bar higher as we pursued our goal of becoming, by God’s grace, a church of fifty thousand. In so doing, we lost about a thousand people, dropped to five thousand total *, and missed budget for the first time in our church’s history.

* This is a classic example of Driscoll playing fast and loose with numbers. Notice that he refers to 6,000 attenders first, then admits that 1,000 members left, to imply a smaller percentage. The reality is, out of approximately 2,000 covenanted, tithing members, at least 50 percent or more left. That's huge. And shameful. They were defrauded, as Tudley stated above - which is putting it mildly.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

There's such a thing as literary shorthand, so for casual and first time readers read "left" and "did not renew membership when the elders cancelled everyone's members" as equivalent references for historical documentation. Some people refer to the American Civil War and some people refer to the War of Northern Aggression and some people refer to the War Between the States. No one misunderstands these terms to refer to three different wars. So it is with "left" and "didn't renew" here at Wenatchee The Hatchet. Readers are expected to understand that with more than 70 posts tagged as discussing the history and culture of Mars Hill that no one should expect a comprehensive understanding from a single post or even a dozen posts.

So Tudley's comment IS a useful clarification for the new and uninitiated but this blog has never been one to cater to (or pander to) the new and/or uninitiated reader. The learning curve is admittedly high and steep here. It doesn't always help that after a series of posts goes up a massive information purge or a case of MH musical chairs sometimes happens.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

To get things back to the topic at hand, the men on the team of five don't look like men who would be impartial. For that matter, whether the five are even the men who would currently head up an investigation is difficult to establish.

Jon Phelps seems like a more important name in the history of Mars Hill than bloggers and journalists have heretofore considered. If he were involved in an investigation, let alone heading one, his role in relationship to Mars Hill should be a matter available for public discussion, shouldn't it? After all, Jamie Munson's working for a company he owns and Phelps is credited with Driscoll for "shoot your dogs" and "reverse-engineering your life" (which we'll get to in a pending review of Real Marriage, time permitting).

More comments are welcome but the topic is which men would be involved in an investigation and the emphasis is on the particular men mentioned in the post. Mars Hill members should have a thorough understanding of who these men are, what their role is, if any, within MH, and what their history with Driscoll is that makes them suitable parts of a team to investigate any formal charges.

So far nobody has had any contributions to make on that front. :)

Anonymous said...

From Scott Thomas....

"Find men who are not employed by you or under your direct authority. Sometimes, silence on their part means not getting fired. It is okay to supplement your accountability with men under your supervision, but they cannot be the only ones who are holding you accountable."

Obviously you cannot be held to honest accountability by people who have a strong interest in protecting you as well - especially of they are employed by you or vested in you (such as a major donor)

Thomas knows this as he led the committee that unjustly lynched Petry and Meyer. He would have lost his job has he done the right thing.

Ben Tudley

Anonymous said...

Amazingly, after giving good advice to pastors seeking accountability, them suggests that they lie to test them....

"Tell them you may lie to them on purpose occasionally to test whether they will press you for an accurate answer to their questions. Someone asked me how I would know if an accountability team was actually working for their benefit. I told him to lie to them and see if they press anyway. If you can lie to your accountability team, it is of no value or protection to you. Now, I know where all liars go. It is the same place that all whoremongers go (Rev 21:8). You have to at least train them to ask hard questions and to be relentless about their receiving an accurate answer, even if they question your honesty."

This is interesting. As Thomas points out, lying is not a good thing. But he suggests it is a good thing to practice to "test" your accountability team. Perhaps he should add to lying a little pride, a smidgen of abuse, the the occasional sexual indisctretion...... This should provide a good test of your accountability team.

That way, when you are caught, you can say... You passed the test - why do you think I did the evil thing you are calling me out for?


Ben Tudley

Anonymous said...

This is from a man who led Acts 29!!

Ben Tudley

Anonymous said...

So in the local church, "objectivity" is what is required for investigators--for whether a senior pastor has committed a grevious enough sin to warrant removal from being senior pastor?

I wonder what "real world" examples look like.

Doesn't sound like anything I've heard. And I can only approximate that from how governmental investigations work, not from the Bible.

How many good New Testament examples do we have of discipline within the local church?
Paul up in Peter's face
Ananias and Sapphira

carry on

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

In this specific case and setting it may be helpful to make available for public discussion and investigation what was previously available for all to read. Mars Hill members can and should ask their elders who would be in charge of an investigation and why.

One of the great mistakes that could be made is to imagine that an ecclesiology in itself will preclude abuse. The biblical texts themselves do not provide a great deal of detail as to whether what we could call a congregational, episcopal, presbyterian or other ecclesiology should be normative. Instead, nearly everything hangs on the character of those appointed to leadership. The canonical writings are far less concerned with the specific systems in place than the character of those who are appointed as leaders within them.

Critical to any ecclesiology in practice is that accountability moves in both directions. The leaders are servants of all and are accountable to those they serve just as those in the congregation are accountable to leaders. Any appeal to real world examples or to what canonical texts prescribe becomes a red herring if it fixates on procedure at the expense of the character of the parties involved.

And the specific case at hand couldn't be described as a "local church" situation by any stretch of the imagination. 14 churches under executive leadership and we're functionally discussing how an accountability system works for the highest level of leadership in a denomination. So before we follow the "local church" example much further let's point out that that's hardly the level at which this specific case could be described. We'd find a closer analogy to who keeps the Pope accountable or the Archbishop of Canterbury in terms of where at the ecclesial level/paradigm someone like Driscoll would most accurately be described as being.

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

"In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against Pastor Mark ... " who would investigate?

Pastor Mark's hand-picked Yes Men, of course.

Anonymous said...

Darin Patrick and Jamie Munson would not be involved anymore.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Any way to verify that?

Anonymous said...

According to his profile at Ministry Coaching, Michael van Skaik is Chair of the Board of Advisors and Accountability

Ben Tudley

Anonymous said...

According to the previous close advisor that Mark Driscoll had (now thrown under the bus??), Scott Thomas suggests that the pastor lie to his Accountability Board in order to test them.

In an article written during his Acta 29 day Scott Thomas wrote the following:

"Tell them you may lie to them on purpose occasionally to test whether they will press you for an accurate answer to their questions. Someone asked me how I would know if an accountability team was actually working for their benefit. I told him to lie to them and see if they press anyway."

So Scott would advise Mark to lie whomever was holding him accountable. So how would the accountability team know if Mark is lying? And who say to Mark, the streetfighter and bully "You are lying!"?

Perhaps this explains why Scott Thomas lied to members during the 2007 investigations of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer = prevously documented by the Hatchett.

Ben Tudley

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you would want me to verify it. But it is true. Relationship strained between Driscoll and Acts 29.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Given how long ago David Nicholas seemed to bow out of Acts 29 Network, apparently just a couple of short years after co-founding it with Driscoll, it's not a huge surprise that relations between Driscoll and participants in Acts 29 could occasionally get frosty or distant or just plain stop. Up until about April 2012 the executive board for MH and A29 was pretty much turning into the same set of guys but something changed and whatever changed between then and now has apparently inspired Driscoll to resent Baptists.

Given how swiftly Driscoll removed himself from The Gospel Coalition in the wake of the Jakes handshake and the preponderance of Baptists that seem to be in A29 now this report of a rift actually sounds pretty plausible. It's just that, you know, people like Driscoll will say anonymous comments on the internet can't be trusted. :)

Anonymous said...

Pay attention to the newest executive elder and his theological roots. Explains these shifts.

Jeremiah said...

No amount of PR can cover up poor leadership indefinitely. It's eventually obvious to all,even to those who can't admit it. ~ Rick Warren

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Ben Tudley, Michael van Skaik isn't a pastor at MH any more. He's not listed at the Mars HIll web page listing current pastors and all his content is gone in terms of authorship. The only way to be sure if he's even still a contracted member of MH would be to go look on The City to see if he's even got a member affiliation any longer. But having an account on The City is not in itself proof that one is currently a member of MH unless listed as a member.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I kinda can't find Mark Driscoll listed on the executive board for Acts 29 anywhere.