Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Confluence of Situations: A Postscript

Last year Wenatchee mentioned a few things at the following post:

... Mars Hill has lamented that they were not contacted by authors to verify the facts or seek explanation regarding the cases prior to publishing articles. But if Mars Hill was so concerned that nobody contacted them to verify the facts why did Mars Hill suspend its entire campus blog network and associated archives in early March 2012? Why did Mars Hill scrub away all references to spouses or offspring in pastor profiles? The question at hand has not been why bloggers and journalists didn't contact Mars Hill to verify facts about Andrew's case. The question is why Mars Hill said they regretted the press not verifying facts, yet undertook a massive information purge of the very facts the press, in the past, could have looked up without having to talk to anyone directly?

... So when Mars Hill lamented that nobody contacted them to verify the facts related to Andrew's case that lament was specious precisely because during this period of time they were, if anything, probably suppressing access to facts that were easy to look up before the controversy made the news. What does an information purge that has gone unmentioned in the press or blogs suggest? It suggests this-- bloggers and journalists verifying the facts connected to Andrew's case was the last thing Mars Hill wanted to happen.

Then later, this:

Someone could have done a massive info-dumping project showing all the still publicly accessible, on record information necessary to identify the key parties involved in the Andrew case and have done this months ago.

Someone didn't do that last year because Andrew Lamb and Matthew Paul Turner had made at least some effort to preserve Andrew's anonymity.  Mars Hill had undertaken their massive information purge but that was moot in light of the sheer volume of information Mars Hill, as a culture, had blogged and tweeted and podcasted at every level between 2004-2011, including people who at one point were associated with Acts 29 churches.  The fascination with and eagerness to use social media could be said to be in the DNA of Mars Hill and associated outgrowths. 

Mars Hill confirms operational savings with FTNIS e-tran donation processing platform

They'll need fewer people to process donations with this set-up.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 13

In investigating whether Andrew’s claims were basically credible or not I found that the overall story is credible.  Andrew’s reluctance to fully self-identify was a big reason all the above material has only been published now and not back in May 2012.   Lamb and Turner were able to confirm the basic reliability of what I was able to work out and provided some background on other details Wenatchee had not quite worked out.  The rest was blogged and tweeted by the Noriegas, reported in papers, or preached from the pulpit at Mars Hill.

So, to sum up Andrew’s story via MPT:  He was a member and a volunteer at Mars Hill Ballard in 2011.  James Noriega was a pastor there who had remarried and had a stepdaughter. Both James Noriega and his daughter/stepdaughter attest to an “Andrew”, and Kaitlyn mentions being engaged to an “Andrew” at her own blog.  Her mother refers to wedding shopping in November and a dead link on her blog links back to her daughter’s blog with a post title “An Unused Wedding Dress”. If this is all thought to be merely circumstantial evidence it’s a pretty remarkable set of circumstantial references to a person named “Andrew”. 

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 12


As to at least one possible claim that Noriega was terminated there’s one embedded within this thread at Mars Hill Refuge

If Noriega was fired in September 2011 this would go a long way to explain why Patrick Kyle’s anonymous friend on staff at Mars Hill could legitimately say that Andrew’s story was at best incomplete and most likely deliberately misleading.  I, however, read Matthew Paul Turner’s account of the story and theorized that ambiguities and oversights were probably done on purpose not necessarily to deliberately mislead but to protect some measure of anonymity for the other parties involved in the “confluence of situations” harmed by Andrew’s actions.

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 11


Noriega has a Blogger profile

His blogroll includes Be My Muse, Coffee and Kids, Justified By Faith (his own blog), The Gospel Coalition, and TheResurgence

Be My Muse is a blog that is linked to at the blog Redeemed By His Grace

Now for those who remember this:

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 10


Noriega was eventually introduced to Mars Hill Ballard as co-lead pastor of the Redemption Groups and as part of the Biblical Living pastoral department.

The above link introduced James Noriega in a Meet the Staff posting posted on from March 17, 2009. Unlike the other links I have posted so far, the link has been dead since some time shortly after February 28, 2012.  February 28, 2012 was when I documented the disappearance of James Noriega from the elder listings at Mars Hill in any publicly observable form.  But the title embedded in the link is as plain as could be.  James Noriega was being introduced as a pastor on staff at Mars Hill Ballard.

In fact, since the start of March 2012 at least, the entire Mars Hill campus blog network and associated archives have been suspended.  Any old links default to the current event calendar. That this happened the week after I documented the disappearance of James Noriega from Mars Hill eldership and cited references on campus blogs including interviews with Noriega himself and Pastor Tim Beltz is a curious coincidence.  

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 9


The church Bill Clem and James Noriega were pastoring, Doxa, was a boon to assimilate into Mars Hill for various reasons Mark Driscoll explained in his July 2006 sermon.  It was also advantageous for Clem, who was approached by Driscoll shortly after Clem got word that his wife Jeannie had been diagnosed with cancer.  For James Noriega the assimilation meant he was also transitioned into leadership within Mars Hill. In a strange and improbably coincidence the two remarried men who were pastors at Ballard both came from what is now Mars Hill West Seattle.

On November 9, 2011 the following video got posted.  In the video Bill Clem says about what is now the West Seattle campus:

"It isn't as though we do a lot of ministry here on Sunday morning, but this is where we did all of our ministry when we first started a church plant called Doxa, which was an Acts 29 church in partnership with Mars Hill."

The close of the video establishes the following statistics. 

Doxa launched in 2002 with eight people.

Today as many as 1,000 people meet to worship in that same building every week.

In 2009 the West Seattle campus planted the Federal Way Campus.

So the majority of what Driscoll said in the July 2006 sermon about not developing the 50th street property and the advantages of acquiring Doxa check out. It’s a bit surprising to read now in 2012 what Driscoll said in 2006, that he had made a bid for what is now Mars Hill West Seattle way back in 1996 and was rejected.  Having Bill Clem plant an Acts 29 church at that property matches up with what Clem himself says about his time as a church planter in Doxa.  It would appear that by Driscoll’s own account he’d had his eyes on the property that is now Mars Hill West Seattle from the first days of his ministry way back in 1996. He finally got the property for Mars Hill and with it he got both Bill Clem and James Noriega as pastors.  Despite his history of felonies and being newlywed into his second marriage James Noriega was vetted for pastoral work at Mars Hill. 

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 8


Now to appreciate the significance of “we don’t need to fight use permits” you need to be aware of the 2005 capital campaign that led to the purchase of the 50th street property. This requires a lot of citations that can’t be shortened. Here they are.

The first excerpt is from Confessions of a Reformission Rev, published in April 2006.

Our current facility cannot accomodate much growth beyond our current four Sunday services. Additionally our kids' ministry is bursting at the seams, our Capstone classes are in desperate need of space, and our cramped, windowless office space would be perfect if we were a third-world sweatshop.

So the elders voted to purchase a 43,000-square-foot dumpy warehouse Jamie found one block away from our current building. When the project is completed, we will have two buildings only a block apart, each hosting church services, with 1,300 seats in one location and a projected 1,000 seats in the other. We will be able to grow to more than 10,000 people per Sunday through multiple services in multiple locations. Each service will have live worship teams, but I will only be live in some services and in video in others.

However, in his July 30, 2006 sermon in 1 Corinthians Driscoll said several things about the property mentioned in Reformission Rev:

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 7


Noriega’s process of conversion seems to have started in 1999.
  He doesn’t seem to have been baptized until June 2004, upon which he’s reported to have been escorted out by a police officer.  Months later, however, he’s reported in November 25, 2004 as newly ordained. The article does not mention the organization or persons who ordained him.  To that we have to turn to other sources.

Part 26: One Body, Many parts
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Pastor Mark Driscoll
July 30, 2006

In the meantime, we also picked up another miracle. This is West Seattle. This is on 35th at the top of the hill in West Seattle as you head toward White Center. I grew up in this neighborhood. This is a church building that is an absolute miracle. I’ll tell you the story on this space. I tried to launch Mars Hill Church in that building ten years ago, and we were rejected, and I’ve always wanted to be in there since. (emphasis added) And what happened was, is we were growing. I went to Pastor Bill Clem, who was leading that congregation. He planted it for Acts 29 Church Planning Network, him and James Noriega, who is the other elder there and I said, “We’re maxed out. You got a fat building, 50,000 square feet, 1,000 seats.:” It’s a bigger building and the one you’re sitting in right now. I said, “Is there any way we to use it?” They said, “Well, we wanna reach as many people in West Seattle as possible. How about if we give it to you and work together?” we prayed about it for a second and said, “Yes.”

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 6


In Matthew Paul Turner’s account Andrew said he was engaged to a pastor’s daughter and that after his confession he ended up meeting with his fiancée’s stepfather.  Now in Matthew Paul Turner's wording the stepfather might be construed as a separate person from the pastor at the Mars Hill campus.  This inference, however, could be a misleading and inaccurate.  I do not believe, ultimately, that it’s plausible to simply assume that the fiancée’s father and stepfather as described in a Mars Hill setting are necessarily different men. It’s possible, of course, but I intend to explain the significance of these two details at some length given what I know about the history and culture of Mars Hill.

The requirements for elder candidacy at Mars Hill are generally thought to be pretty stringent. Divorce is not generally smiled upon at Mars Hill. Who could have been a pastor at Mars Hill Ballard and have also been a stepfather?  First we have to establish the conditions under which such a scenario might have been considered acceptable and only then consider whether there were actual candidates who in 2011 at Mars Hill Ballard could have met those criteria. 

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 5

Not long after Matthew Paul Turner’s two blog posts were published an article appeared in The Stranger and, a bit later, an article in Slate.  

 The fury over Andrew’s experience—and his decision to publicize the church’s internal disciplinary procedures—has led to accusations by other Christians that one of the most powerful evangelical voices in the country, Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, employs a cultlike leadership style. Now, for the first time, Mars Hill is speaking out in response to its former member’s charges.

The bolded text above links to the following blog post I wrote in late January this year.

Unfortunately, Ruth Graham's paragraph spectacularly misrepresents what I wrote. I did not accuse Mark Driscoll of employing a cult-like leadership style. In fact what I wrote was that I had experiences in 2007-2008 that completely shook my trust in the competence and good will of counseling/biblical living pastors at Mars Hill. Who wants to be linked to by Slate if Slate completely misrepresents what you wrote? It seems unlikely anyone actually read the blog post linked to in Graham’s article before the article hit publication.

Such is life.

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 4


On February 4, 2012 New Reformation Press published a clarification/retraction to an earlier statement about Mars Hill’s discipline of Andrew.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I recently put up a post contrasting the supposed mishandling of church discipline at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and my own experience in a Lutheran congregation in Southern California. You can read that post here.

A friend on staff at Mars Hill read that post and reached out to me earlier this week. After a fairly lengthy discussion, I have decided to post this retraction and clarification. There is much more to the story than initial reports, including the ones I linked to, than it first appears. It is a classic case of Proverbs 18:17 in action.

The first to plead his case seems right,

Until another comes and examines him. Prov.18:17

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 3


...  The week before Christmas, Andrew’s community group leader sent him another text message: What’s your schedule like on Wednesday? Another meeting was to be planned, this time with one of Mars Hills family/counseling pastors as well as Andrew’s new community group leader.
Andrew admits that, by this time, he was exhausted. The thought of one more meeting overwhelmed his already very full brain. “But I took some time to pray, and decided that I needed to meet with them and hear what they had to say.”
On the evening of December 18, Andrew met with the pastor and small group leader. It was during this meeting that Andrew first learned that he was being “brought under church discipline.” Despite it feeling like he’d been going through church discipline for a little more than a month, he didn’t say much. He did a lot of listening.

Discipline Contract

This part of the story has been so widely blogged about it hardly merits further discussion.  It merits mention for those who may have actually never heard of these events. Even though I have referred to it set that aside, particularly if you already know the details.

A Confluence of Situations: Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case at Mars Hill, part 2


First we must begin with the beginning of the public coverage.  Matthew Paul Turner’s blog is obviously where we have to start. 

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 ...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

UNREFORMED on Driscoll's give-away!/2013/01/desperately-seeking-something.html

Unreformed proposes that as bad or good Amazon reviews of the Driscoll Ephesians book goes, it's like the Joker was telling Harvey Dent, " ... nobody panics, because it's all part of the plan."

UNREFORMED comments on the resignation of Bill Clem from Mars Hill

Bill Clem was one of the good guys on the Mars Hill staff. There is no doubt. Anyone who currently attends Mars Hill who came in contact with Bill Clem who wants to speak up and contend that Mars Hill is a stronger or better place without him. Please let me know. I cannot imagine a level headed pragmatic person thinking this way. But I can’t really see a level headed pragmatic person seeing Mark Driscoll as a man of God.

Bill Clem’s nature was indicative of integrity, strength and respectfulness. To be honest when we were unraveling all the problems we were seeing at Mars Hill the only sticking point or obstacle to that line of logic for me was Bill Clem.

  • If this place really is this rotten to the core.
  • If this place really is a fiefdom for the glory of Mark Driscoll.
  • If this place really is being led by a wolf.
  • How can a solid man like Bill Clem play party to it?

You could look Bill Clem in the eye and see that he was rock solid. You’d hear him talk or teach and you knew he was a man of integrity who had a faithful heart. That goodness that is so transparent in some people… Bill Clem had it.

So it was telling to find out that Bill Clem has “resigned” from his leadership duties at Mars Hill and will be sent off at a service on January 27th. Not only that but the announcement came earlier this month and Clem is no longer attending church at Mars Hill at all.
There's more but this excerpt suffices.

A year ago today Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case within Mars Hill became news

My friend Andrew Lamb asked me to share this email and he said I could identify him:
"Would you mind sharing these today? Today is the one year anniversary of
Matthew Paul Turner's publishing the blogs, so I figured I'd celebrate by repos...ting them.
I just wanted to remind y'all of this:
and this:
and this:

Today marks the one year anniversary of my story being published and going viral, and the floodgates opening for similar stories of spiritual abuse to be shared. Here's hoping it leads to healing and hope and the destruction of influence of this sick man and his un-Christlike cult in Seattle.

Here are the original blog posts with my story. If you haven't read these, or if it's been awhile, please read them. Also, please share these stories with your networks. It's important that these stories get out for two main reasons. The first reason is to help the healing of those who have been hurt by churches, and to let them know they're not alone, and they're not crazy. The second reason is to warn people about the danger of Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll."
See More
Is One of the Most Influential Pastors in the U.S. Too Involved in His Flock’s Sex Lives?
Until last fall, a 25-year-old Seattle man named Andrew was happily committed ...
This was slightly unexpected.  That's all Wenatchee The Hatchet feels like saying for now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today's prize from Santa Driscoll, a trip to the Resurgence 2013 conference.

Welcome to Day 2 of our week full of giveaways, courtesy of our friends at Thomas Nelson, to celebrate the release of Who Do You Think You Are? Today you have a chance to win a free trip for two to Seattle to attend the 2013 Resurgence Conference at Mars Hill Church Downtown Seattle.
The second annual Resurgence Conference is being held on November 5–6, 2013, and features an awesome lineup of speakers, including Rick Warren, Matt Chandler, Greg Laurie, James MacDonald, and Crawford Loritts.

Today’s winner will receive free airfare, lodging, and tickets to the conference—times two. (Please note, this offer is only available for residents of the United States.)

To enter, share the phrase below on your favorite social network. If you've read the book, you can also enter by writing an honest review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Whether you post the phrase, write a review, or both, fill out the form below to officially submit your entry.

Last I check iPad Mini, iPad Mini was an honest review.  Or do folks need to write a review of the book that involves actually reading it. 

Maybe Stephanie Drury can be eligible seeing as she wrote a review that discusses what's actually in the book.

Let's remember that "an honest review doesn't require that it has to be a good notice for the book, does it?

It seems "the Crisis of Conference Christians" isn't quite so big a worry for Driscoll these days.
And back when Driscoll fretted about the inflationary bubble of his and other neo-Calvinists' influence, an old grumpy Calvinist, Carl Trueman, offered an observation.


The points are good, well-made and welcome but I do have one small reservation: every megaconference celebrity to whom I have spoken has played a variation on the same basic theme -- the speakers cannot help the celebrity culture that grows up around them and is thrust upon them without their consent; thus, the problem is really the fault of the audience; but, as the good results outweigh the bad, there is no reason not to continue business as usual.

Is that really the case? Is the matter as clear cut as that? Is there no `supply side' responsibility here? One can stretch an analogy too far, but the pornography and addiction reference in the post above would surely hint at precisely the need for some self-reflection on the responsibility of the supplier or producer. As one friend put it to me last week, it would not seem to require a degree in rocket science or brain surgery to avoid becoming a megaconference celeb speaker who speaks at half a dozen megaconferences. So is there really nothing that the speakers and organisers can do to stop or inhibit such a culture? Just saying "no" once in a while, perhaps?

The generic response of placing primary blame on the audience reminds me of those Bowery Boys movies that were old and out-of-date even when I was young: "It wasn't me, officer, it was them other other fellers what done that crime you are accusing me of.... Yeah, that's right, boys, you know don't you, yeah -- it was them other fellas what done it all along and we were somewhere else entirely."

Yeah, that's right

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mars Hill WAS starting a record label in 2012, now they'll settle for a deal with Tooth & Nail
Head’s up: we’re starting a record label, and we’re gunning to take over Christian radio.

At the helm of the newly minted label, Mars Hill Music, is Deacon Jonathan Dunn, interviewed here by Pastor Mark. Dunn, a founding member of the heavy metal band Demon Hunter, spent a decade at Tooth & Nail/Solid State Records, and was the director of A&R when he felt God calling him to Mars Hill—"one of the top three things ever called to in my life," he says. And he’s got a big vision for Mars Hill Music and bands.

Bottom line, whatever you think has defined “Christian music” up til now, you can forget it: “We don’t limit our bands to the Christian cul-de-sac of U2 circa 1987,” says Dunn. [Editor’s note: Said with all due respect to Joshua Tree and U2, who have a solid contingent of fans at the church.] In short, it’s a label defined by Christ and culture and corporate worship.

When this announcement was made last year it was bright and optimistic. 

Then this came along.

Driscoll noted that things change really fast at mars Hill.  They sure can.  In 2011 the new Downtown site almost didn't become the new Downtown site that opened weeks ago.  A few changes here and there and the five-year lease is looking pretty good for Mars Hill where in 2011 the deal nearly died because the owner of the real estate wasn't willing to sell or relinquish total control over the property.

Well, building a music label from the ground up is a lot of work and very expensive.  There was not much chance it would work with the economy the way it's been and with the aforementioned presentation by Driscoll about how Mars Hill had a financial model that wasn't sustainable for the long-term future. 

Well, this month there was a new announcement.
Mars Hill Music is partnering with Tooth & Nail

It’s official: Mars Hill Music has officially signed with Tooth & Nail Records!

We’re incredibly grateful for this partnership. Not only does T&N do amazing work, but many of the folks on staff are members, deacons, and band members at our church. This includes Deacon Jonathan Dunn, who oversees Mars Hill Music after working at T&N for years, and T&N founder/president Brandon Ebel, a personal friend and member of Mars Hill’s Ballard church.

Thank you to all who have supported, prayed for, and participated in this project—including the musicians (many volunteer) whose hard work has turned a big vision into reality. By God’s grace, we’re ready to get some top-notch, Jesus-centered, theologically sound, and artistically rich music into the hands of millions around the world. We have literally dozens of bands in the church and we've done a lot to prepare for this opportunity.

Citizens and Ghost Ship have their first full-length albums nearly done, and Deacon Dustin Kensrue is working on his first-ever worship album after years in the middle of the post-rock scene. Following that, expect to hear from Kings Kaleidoscope as well.

The first LP will be Citizens' self-titled release, due out March 12. Can’t wait? Here’s one of the new tracks, “Made Alive”:

Building a music label from the ground up is expensive and time-consuming and if a bunch of staff on Tooth & Nail Records are already members, staff, and band members within Mars Hill anyway then why bother creating a Mars Hill label when an existing label could functionally be thought of has assimilated into the Mars Hill conglomerate already?  It's a whole lot cheaper and saves the trouble of developing infrastructure and it is, after all, a better approach to just have Mars Hill signed on to an existing label that for Mars Hill to have dumped money into creating a new label from scratch.  Why create from scratch in the current economic setting if you can collaborate (or perhaps even functionally assimilate)?

Poppa Daddy (Santa) Driscoll has toys for you, maybe, if you'll buy and say a few nice words about his new book.

As some of you may know Mark Driscoll's new book Who Do You Think You Are? has been published and for the moment this negative review has been considered the most helpful review.

And as of now the most helpful positive review is ...

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful


What's that?  Pastor Mark Driscoll helpfully provided an explanation already.
Mark Driscoll

Big fun at our Mars Hill churches for the kickoff of our Ephesians sermon series:
Monday giveaway: Win an iPad mini!
 It’s gonna be a fun week on Every weekday this week, I’m giving away a free prize to celebrate the release of Who Do You Think You Are? We’ve never done anything quite like this before—and who knows if we’ll ever do it again—so enjoy!

To start things off, today’s winner will receive a brand new iPad mini, pre-loaded with some of my books.

To enter, all you have to do to enter the contest is share the following phrase on your favorite social network and/or submit a review on Amazon, then submit the form below. We'll accept entries until 11:59 p.m. tonight (Pacific).

Check out @PastorMark’s new book and enter to win a different giveaway every day this week. Today: iPad mini
How do I get the freebies?

 1.Purchase your book or books from any retailer that sells it. That could be Resurgence, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors, or anywhere else.
 2.Scan your receipt and e-mail it to
3.Thomas Nelson will verify that your purchase is eligible and send you an email with instructions on how to download your freebies.

Thanks for playing and for spreading the word!

Appropos of playing and winning ... more morsels of insight from Driscoll about Armstrong and gaming things in his favor ... .

Now that's about as meta-ironic as a megachurch pastor tweeting his spleen about bloggers, isn't it?

UPDATE:  As with the 5-stars, so too with the 1-stars.  People "somehow" managed to catch on about the iPad mini give-away

Sunday, January 20, 2013

HT Jim West: Why do some books cost so much

Particularly scholarly books on, say, biblical literature?  I've found myself wondering that when West would recommend some title that intrigued me, like something about financial transactions described in OT narrative, and then saw prices for books published by Brill that took my breath away!  No way!  That much!? Well, West links to a post that discusses why some books are so expensive with the tidbit that those super-expensive books are likely to get purchased mainly by librarys that contractually agreed/obliged themselves into buying an entire run.

It sort of reminds me of the exclusitivity and security of Defense Department contracts before the Clinton administration introduced some post-bid competition in subsidiary parts to major weapons platforms.  I was never a fan of Clinton overall but on that particular issue Clinton's administration made a smart move.  There's nothing quite like an assured monopoly on any level to inspire people to ratchet up the price for stuff in a narrow market.

Still ... some of those Brill monographs do look intriguing ...  but I'd kinda like to peruse the study score of Penderecki's Credo now that the study score is finally in print. 

The question of whether Wenatchee The Hatchet must write, whether prose or music is probably pretty well settled right now, eh? 

on decaffeinated coffee and action movies

Drinking decaffeinated coffee is like watching a Jackie Chan movie that has no stunts or fights in it.

Practical Theology for Women: Abuse Allegations in Ministries We Love

Wendy writes about how to approach allegations of abuse in ministries we love.  She mentions that the two temptations we're likely to face are to write off the allegations as unsubstantiated or to play the "bitter" card.

Now being in the custom of reading blogs that deal with concerns about abuse I'd say that it is valuable to not be too swift to draw a conclusion without evidence.  Not everyone who shares a story has told the whole story and while it's obvious that advocates of a ministry will say "There are two sides to every story" as a way to preclude or blunt the legitimacy of criticism there can be a problem on the other side of that divide, wanting to believe the worst accusations because of a judgment already arrived at.  You don't have to go to comments in articles in The Stranger, just take my word for it that some folks are sure that anyone who publicly speaks about homosexuality negatively must by definition be a raging closet case who will one day be caught with a rent boy.  That is not necessarily perception so much as an emotional script used to make sense of the words and behaviors of others.

And that's where allegations of abuse will hit us, because if there's a ministry we love the allegations will, in some fashion, announce that there is at least the possibility that that emotional script we've cherished to provide the story of a ministry we like could be, or definitely is, wrong.  This is something to remember when you are inclined to rush to the defense of a ministry that is facing scandalous accussations--you're not really, meaningfully defending that ministry in any fashion whatsoever, you're defending your emotional and financial investment in it.  That probably feels like the same thing to you but let me playfully suggest something, there's a world of difference between "I want you to be happy" and "I want to be happy for you."  In many cases people say the former when they potentially mean the latte in addition to or even above the former. 

Most ministries we love in this day and age may be ministries that are media empires to which we have no meaningful connection, which will get to the flip side of things.  If a famous ministry faces significant allegations of misconduct or criminal activity it's possible to make an emotional investment against as well as for, which may be presented as standing with the victims.  Now if you actually personally know victims then, yes, stand by them and give them as much support as you're able to.  Do labor that the truth about wrongdoing will be made known but also realize that it can be addictive to invest in those kinds of things.  But if you're not involved in the lives of people who have been harmed directly by a ministry there is such a thing as recognizing that you don't actually have a dog in that fight.  Symbolic support of people who say they've been hurt may be more for your emotional pleasure than the real benefit of people who have been actually harmed.  Not saying that to be offensive, but to urge consideration--likewise, consider the earlier proposal that when you defend a ministry you love to which you have no connection other than having downloaded podcasts or bought books, you're not defending that ministry so much as you're justifying your emotional and financial investment in that ministry.  You see the self-defending consumer choice of discretionary time and income can go in either or any direction. 

Having said that, Wenatchee The Hatchet has known quite a few former employees of a certain religious institution.  Wenatchee The Hatchet helped line up work for at least one of them but with the caveat that he'd want to save as much money as possible because he might get laid off after ten months.  He got laid off after eight.  See, it'd be hard for someone to seriously sustain the case that Wenatchee's just an "other side" blogger if he's helped find friends and associates at Mars Hill find jobs.  Even people who read The Stranger had some nice things to say about guys like former pastors Bill Clem and Paul Petry.  Wenatchee has nice things to say about those guys, too. 

There are going to be posts on music again at some point, by the way. :)

The transition of Scott Thomas from Mars Hill/Acts 29 to The Journey/Acts 29
Missional Practicum taught by Mark Driscoll, Scott Thomas, and Jeff Vanderstelt

 •Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro – ?
 •Confessions of a Reformission Rev. by Mark Driscoll – ??
 •Humility: True Greatness by C. J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris – ?????
 •One biography from this list (others were also approved including the Whitefield bio that I read – ?????) ?Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore
  -Jonathan Edwards: A Life by Gorge Mardsen
  -Luther: Man Between God and the Devil by Heiko Oberman and Eileen Walliser
  -Calvin by Bruce Gordon
  -John Calvin: A Sixteenth-Century Portrait by William Bouwsma
  -ohn Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life by Herman Selderhuis

Scott Thomas created the Gospel Coach Training and Certification system and has coached hundreds of pastors. Scott has served as president and network director of Acts 29 Network and as an elder at Mars Hill Church. Scott has a Masters in Missional Leadership and has been married for thirty years to Jeannie, with whom he has two sons. He planted and replanted churches for sixteen years as a lead pastor. Scott has taught for Resurgence Training Center in Seattle and is a conference speaker in the US as well as a consultant for both Western European church planting and Canadian church planting. Scott wrote Theological Clarity and Application (Zondervan, 2010) and has written blogs for Acts 29 Network, The Resurgence, Mars Hill Church and

That Scott Thomas stepped down from leading Acts 29 about a week or so after Joyful Exiles went up is easily enough established.  If you're even reading this odds are good you read the earlier observation that the weekend after Joyful Exiles went up documenting, among other things, Scott Thomas' role in the removal of Meyer and Petry from eldership at Mars Hill, Matt Chandler wrote that Scott Thomas informed him that he (Thomas) felt released from leading Acts 29.  There were new ministry opportunities he was considering.  Exactly how long he'd actually been considering those could have been for years or, just as likely for all we know, that week.

It took a couple of months for any announcement as to where Scott Thomas was heading to materialize.  It certainly got no mention from Driscoll in "What's Next For Me".  But there was an announcement made by Darrin Patrick at an Acts 29 Retreat that Scott Thomas was going to be joining the team at The Journey from a June 19, 2012 tweet

Announcement at Acts 29 Retreat by Darrin Patrick about our new job at The Journey in St Louis. #Blessed. 

1 Favorite 

6:41 AM - 19 Jun 2012

And here ...

Preaching at The Journey-West County at 9am and 11am. Join us. … 

5:58 AM - 5 Aug 2012

Then there's this tweet:

Scott Thomas@scottythom

Preaching both services at The Journey-Tower Grove, 9 & 11:15am, plus new worship. Join us! 

8:15 AM - 2 Sep 2012

Then there's this link, if it still works.

... and the membership covenant, which may still say the following:

So given what the Mars Hill membership covenant says about membership at Mars Hill and participation in ministry with other church families you would have thought that Thomas would have resigned his membership, wouldn't he?  Well .... maybe not so much. Here's a screen capture someone found for Wenatchee The Hatchet dated August 20, 2012

Not only was Scott Thomas still listed as a member on the City August 20, 2012, he had a campus affiliation at the U-District.  The stuff about Leader as Prophet, Leader as Priest, and Leader as King refers, probably, to the Resurgence Training Center coursework for the Masters in Missional Leadership which we'll be discussing more later on, we hope.
So ... by September 4, 2012, however, Thomas' profile had changed to this.

The campus pastors at the U-District at the time, if memory serves, included Justin Holcomb and Matt Johnson.  It seems more likely that someone with administrative capacity disaffiliated Thomas' membership from a campus than that Scott Thomas had bothered to do anything regarding his membership after tweeting about preaching sermons.

As to the persistence of that profile on The City ... well, when you're relocating yourself and your whole family to St. Louis to start a new job formally resigning membership or requesting a shut-down of your account on The City isn't very important compared to finding a home and things like that.  And, who knows?  Perhaps Mars Hill admins didn't stop to even think about Scott Thomas still having a profile on The City until it was pointed out to them in some fashion that Thomas still had a Mars Hill membership despite having preached sermons and mentioned being a pastor at another church. 

So for those who may have wondered how Wenatchee The Hatchet worked out that Scott Thomas was still listed as a member of Mars Hill despite having preached sermons at Darrin Patrick's church The Journey; despite having transitioned out of leadership within both Mars Hill and Acts 29; and despite the rather simple fact that to serve in a ministry capacity with another church family violates the Membership Covenant a member agrees to at Mars Hill ... well, a little bird passed along a word.

And as words go, perhaps we can close with some observations from Scott Thomas himself via Twitter and associated media, and a few observations.

2. Never correct by email.
Use email to communicate, collaborate and clarify and never to correct. Never. Use the phone or face to face so that they can hear your tone, compassion and genuine concern for them. I only write emails that can be shared publicly.

After all, this isn't a witch hunt. Email should be used to clarify and communicate, although ...
3. Never communicate more than one layer up or down the organizational structure.
If you want other leaders to lead with effectiveness in their areas of responsibility, communicate only one layer up or one layer down. Work through other leaders and let them communicate to the appropriate people in the organization. Lazy (or arrogant) leaders skip this process. Information should cascade to the right people in the right order.

Hmm ... the importance of communicating only one layer up or one layer down is interesting.  Lazy or arrogant leaders skip the process of letting information cascade to the right people in the right order?  Well ... if you're skipping a few levels within the organization to explain that a conciliatory process had been completed with a couple of men that's fine ... just as long as what you communicated was actually trueIf this indicated the conciliatory process was complete ... .

Given what Driscoll said the day after two guys got fired for the first time in Mars Hill (whatever that means) on what basis would Thomas have been able to sincerely believe what he was managing was in any sense a "conciliatory process" given the way Driscoll spoke at an Acts 29 event the day after Meyer and Petry were fired? 

4. Never communicate a major decision publicly before communicating it privately to key leaders.
When other leaders in the organization hear about decisions made that they had no knowledge about, it diminishes their ability to lead the people in their domain and it disrespects their role. We cannot expect our key people to buy into a decision if they have not had a chance to weigh in on the deision.
Perhaps Thomas learned all these lessons through, if you'll pardon the pun, trial and error. 

The Stranger: Mars Hill Not Actually Volunteering with Lifelong AIDS Alliance
Mars Hill Church Not Actually Volunteering with Lifelong AIDS Alliance
Posted by Dominic Holden on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Well, this is a PR meltdown.

For those just tuning in, it began this morning when Mars Hill Church pastor Tim Gaydos issued a statement celebrating his parish's new proximity to a neighborhood filled with AIDS. As he put it in an e-mail, "being closer to Capitol Hill is a blessing as we are serving and ministering to those who are infected with AIDS on the hill.” Asked at about 11:30 a.m. what sort of HIV/AIDS outreach they were doing—and how being one-third of a mile closer to a gay neighborhood empowered the church to conquer the disease—Mars Hill spokesman Justin Dean explained that congregants intended to teach to the neighborhood's "AIDS victims" about Jesus and the ministry was "at the beginning stages of volunteering with the Lifelong AIDS Alliance." Why would this estimable nonprofit associate itself with a church that won't even allow gay members?

And that's where the question stood until now.

It turns out, Mars Hill Church hasn't filled out any volunteer application forms or undergone a screening process to affiliate itself with Lifelong AIDS Alliance, Kelly Bray, a spokeswoman for the outreach charity, says by phone. She says, in fact, that the church has "no relationship" with her group. Mars Hill did call Lifelong about the possibility of volunteering last fall, but they hadn't heard again from the church until today—"around lunchtime," Bray adds. You mean, the church only touched base again with Lifelong after The Stranger started inquiring about the church's purported Capitol Hill AIDS ministry? "I think the timeline of that synced up," Bray confirmed. "We have not responded yet. We are still working out our response internally." ...

The beginning stages seems to have meant Justin Dean was willing to say something in public.  Dean seems pretty good at saying things in public like that because of "unclear communication" the escalation of church discipline for a former member of Mars Hill named Andrew got posted on The City when it was intended to be read by a tiny group of people. 

Before now, Mars Hill’s only response has been posting an excerpt on church discipline from Driscoll’s 2009 book Vintage Church on its website and an opaque tweet from Driscoll. But Justin Dean, the church’s PR and marketing manager, agreed to answer my questions by email to tell the church’s side of the story.

One key element that was not clear in Andrew’s original account, Dean told me, was that the letter was intended to be read aloud, not posted online, and only to a “handful” of people. Instead, the group leader received unclear instructions and posted the letter online, a move Dean insists was not meant to hurt Andrew.
Furthermore, says Dean, only the approximately 15 members of Andrew’s small group, who met regularly and knew one another well, had access to the letter on the City. (Though Andrew was blocked from accessing the City, he says the letter was available to a slightly wider circle, including his fellow security volunteers.) “His case was not shared with the full church and had, until he posted it publicly online, only been known by a handful of people who were involved in his life and cared deeply about him,” Dean said. (Confusing social-media privacy settings strike again!) He added that Driscoll was not involved in the case at all. Mars Hill currently has 5,417 members and just nine ongoing church discipline cases.

Justin Dean is relatively new to Mars Hill, having begun work as the Communications Director there in November 2011. If Justin Dean ever wants to comment about this (aka this) it'd be interesting to see what public statement he might have. As yet there's no indication that anyone within Mars Hill has even acknowledged that Joyful Exiles even exists but perhaps at some point Mars Hill will take an approach that doesn't involve named parties associated with an EIT simply shuffling off to other churches within the Acts 29 Network.