Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mars Hill Church and the idol of social media

A bit more than a year ago Wenatchee The Hatchet published this in the months after Andrew Lamb's case became a set of headlines.  It was simply called "Mars Hill, Andrew in 2012 and the idol of social media". 

While Mars Hill PR worked hard to avoid discussing disciplinary cases in early 2012 and leaned on the idea of protecting the privacy of victims, generally women, the reality was that the parties involved had largely blogged and tweeted away their privacy. As documented at considerable length, no less than Mark Driscoll himself preached tidbits giving away the identity of a party involved. 

All of that thumbnail review is to propose that Mars Hill Church has a fixation of some kind on social media and branding.  The fact that they are hunting for a Chief Sales and Marketing Officer makes this all but impossible to dispute. Come on, we can't quote ourselves all the time, though we could and that, too, would be a distinctly Mars Hill thing to do, in it's way.  In fact ... let's just quote from ourselves now.

Every god and every cause demands a sacrifice and the great sacrifice made to the idol of social media and media saturation is what? What you publish is there for everyone to see.  In other words, what you sacrifice when you immerse yourself in the internet and social media long enough is something called privacy. You can choose to give up ten percent of your privacy or thirty percent or you can create a persona that you offer to the internet and social media.  That, too, is a sacrifice.

Mars Hill members, even leaders, have posted huge amounts of information to social and broadcast media in the course of more than a decade.  It's conceivable, in fact, that some have posted information on social media or broadcast media they shouldn't have, even to the point of publishing something that might have cost them a job or two.  Maybe it has already happened.  Who knows?

To by what Mark Driscoll's associates did with his sermon quoted by Andy and Wendy Alsup last year, when something that has been in the public for years is quoted and shows Mars Hill or Driscoll in a potentially less than favorable light things get redacted.  There are places where the longer material has been preserved in some fashion here and here. So between Wenatchee The Hatchet and the other two blogs there are at least three places where you can compare what Driscoll is quoted saying in the earlier form and what is available to hear on download more recently.

Last year Fighting for the Faith broadcast statements by Mark Driscoll made in the wake of the termination of two men from pastoral work. Chris Rosebrough discussed what the changes in Mark Driscoll's roles meant, as he understood them, here. That the words of Driscoll were not available, apparently, until last year suggests that this was material that nobody in association with Mark Driscoll seemed to think would be good to have available for public consultation. They're worth listening to for what Driscoll said about the necessity of casting vision and then just moving on if people aren't on board. 

Short version, backing away from visible power and consolidating informal power.  In fact Driscoll is currently legal president of Mars Hill Church. The secretary of state listing for Acts 29 Network looks out of date since there's no sign of Scott Thomas anywhere, but when Mark Driscoll mentioned in February 2012 that Scott Thomas asked him to resume presidency that's apparently what happened. So it seems that Mars Hill Church and Acts 29 Network, as legal entities, looked to be pretty much the same three officers.  it may be different now that Acts 29 Network has a presence in Texas things may be different. And so it is, in that Texas does not consider it suitable or necessary to divulge the identities of the legal officers of an organization like Acts 29 Network.

What appeared to be happening was that Driscoll had been consolidating formal and legal power while the public statements were to the effect that Sutton Turner would be replacing Jamie Munson as the one with the "kingly" gifts.  Now perhaps Turner is an adequate treasurer and secretary for Mars Hill Church but that remains to be seen.  It also remains to be seen, if discoverable, who the legal officers of Mars Hill in Texas are and when the agent information on the Washington side may be updated.

It remains to be seen how soon Mars Hill will fill that Chief Sales and Marketing Officer position.  Whoever gets that job may want to consider at least the possibility that social media is one of the idols of Mars Hill and that a careful examination of Mars Hill's social and broadcast media output "may" reveal that the controversies that have bedeviled Mars Hill may not be a devilish plot as much as unforeseen consequences of Mars Hill's own cultural fixations.  Just presenting that as a possible interpretation of the evidence in social media at hand.  Others are welcome to other interpretations.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just found out Mars is paying this social media job $160,000. .... really sad... where are ministries with feeding the poor and taking care of the sick? It seems like Mars is just into spending all of their money on a good sound system, PR, and Mr. Mark Driscoll.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

yes, that's quite a salary. It's striking that MH has had more money than the Salvation Army NOrthwest Division or the Union Gospel Mission and yet Driscoll made a point of saying about Mars Hill "We're not a wealthy church"

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2013/03/apparently-mark-driscoll-now-says-of.html

This despite Red cemeras, being able to donate 11 tons of food to the Port Angeles Salvation Army food pantry and renting the city of Ephesus for a day, apparently.

It is unfortunate that anyone could believe MH is not a wealthy church, and also that anyone would even dream of saying it.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

As the 11 tons to the Port Angeles Salvation Army showed a few years ago, Mars Hill has immense wealth and an ability to really help the poor if they actually set their mind to it. It's commendable they did that, really, and if they did more of that it would not only be showing kindness they might find their neighbors could appreciate them more.

There are individuals and families who show kindness and generosity within MH, though, even if the institution is sorely lacking in any observable philanthrophy these days.

Anonymous said...

"...even if the institution is sorely lacking in any observable philanthrophy these days," says WTH

These days?
When was it ever so involved, really?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Well, sure, MH has never really been philanthropic about stuff that wasn't created and run by MH participants, by and large. :)