Thursday, March 21, 2013

As for people on fire ... there is a season for Trogdor

on Alastair Roberts and Rebecca Wagner reviewing Rachel Held Evans

been listening to this truly sprawling overview of the book A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.  Wenatchee The Hatchet is not ordinarly one to listen to podcasts that don't involve sermons with particular local and personal interest.  But an anonymous commenter brought my attention to this massive five-part series, which I recall being linked to by a blogger whose writing I regularly read.

Been digesting the ideas and discussion throughout the week.  Might write something about it all later. Still have a couple more hours of listening to go through, though, and Wenatchee DID write that there'd be writing about music again.  So what that's going to translate into is that Roberts and Wagner's discussion is too substantial to deserve unthoughtful writing (though that may be what happens anyway!) and Wenatchee's got albums to write little reviews about .... maybe over the weekend.  :)  We can hope!

Matthew Lee Anderson: Here Come the Radicals

I could write at length about this article but rather than do that I'll note a few excerpts.

... [in the lexicon of character in the radicals Anderson describes] there aren't many narratives of men who rise at 4 A.M. six days a week to toil away in a factory to support their families. Or of single mothers who work 10 hours a day to care for their children. Judging by the tenor of their stories, being "radical" is mainly for those who already have the upper-middle-class status to sacrifice.

Nor are there many stories of "failure"—of people sacrificing without visible signs of transformation. As a result, many of the narratives implicitly convey that the reason to go and die is the gospel success that will follow. In most stories, the results come during the lifetime of those who decided to "come and die." That's why the single most refreshing moment in the canon for me was Furtick's lengthy acknowledgment that God's "greater" often seems like disappointment and failure, and that in our "most dire moments [God] seems almost absent." Given how prevalent such moments seem in the Christian life—and in Scripture—they are disproportionately underrepresented in the "radical" literature.
As a former Pentecostal (as in I began to transition out of Pentecostalism decades ago) Anderson's observation that the new radicals have ideas that resemble Keswickian concepts of sanctification is intriguing, to say the least!  That to be truly and more fully Christian you have to be sold out, on fire for the Lord, and all that, is hardly a new idea to anyone who was once steeped in Pentecostalism and its roots in the Holiness movement, let alone with a hefty dose of premillenial futurist eschatology.  That many of the radicals Anderson refers to may not subscribe to premillenialist or futurist views is probably not hugely important, since through the ostensibly opposite avenue postmillenialist historicist types with an interest in theonomy can end up getting to somewhat similar places in advocating for a radical Christian approach to shaping society.  It can be sort of like the extremes in the left and right in sloganized politics, move far enough to the left or right and you can see the same kinds of repressive social and political structures emerging.  Or, to get more acid about it, move far enough to the left and right and people seem to agree that anonymous international Jewish bankers must be ruining everything.
But, moving along ... Anderson notes that a paradox in the radical chic that it is presented through the Christian-conference-publishing-celebrity-industrial-complex.
... What's more, the radical message comes packaged in the Christian-conference-publishing-celebrity-industrial-complex. While Platt warded off critics early on by donating his profits to relief and missions work, the popularity of his call for radical living requires the existence of a lucrative publishing culture that, by its nature, has to think and act with profits in mind. The really radical path for a megachurch pastor these days would be to refuse to publish, to take a smaller church, to not podcast sermons, and to embrace a more monastic witness. The irony is that if they tried, we'd probably turn them into larger celebrities and laud their humility. The desert fathers had a similar problem. But if the message is going to critique the American dream for the people in the pews, then we may need pastors willing to show us the path of downward mobility with their lives.
Anderson's too polite to suggest that this irony is on the order of a porn star advocating for abstinence
The same could be said for Carl Trueman a few years ago in remarking on the unresolved matter of Mark Driscoll talking about the "crisis of conference Christians" while continuing to speak at conferences.  But this sort of meta-level irony is worth noting and it's good that Anderson has noted it--it's strange that the radicals use what can be considered the apparatus of consumer cultivation and product distribution to challenge people to be less consumeristic.  How does this get affirmed, this message of being sold out, when the way the message is presented so often seems to sell out?  Does this beget being really sold out or a kind of moral licensing in which wishing we were really sold out is treated as having reached that state?  Or at least gotten us to the point where we can tell others they need to be at that spot?  It's not like this isn't a question in the writing of someone like John Piper with a book title such as Don't Waste Your Life.  The good news of Jesus is for people who waste their lives, too, isn't it?  Let's just set aside entirely the question of how Piper or anyone else would surmise that a person has led a wasted life.  There's a sense in which if we're looking at one radical we're looking at something common to them all. 
When I was younger I'd hear that great things would happen if I'd just cut loose and get on fire for the Lord.  Cutting loose and getting on fire has not been, isn't, and likely will never be characteristic of me.  Something may change so this is not something I'm saying may always be the case, but the Pentecostal notion of "on fire" simply doesn't describe me over the course of most of my life.  Even though I grew up Pentecostal for a number of formative years I came to question so many things about Pentecostal practice I withdrew from that scene.  I don't regret the thing wholesale because it was a Pentecostal youth pastor who introduced me to work by Gordon Fee, Francis Schaeffer, and Solzhenitsyn. 
Suffice it to say I grew up in a highly unusual, atypical Pentecostal sort of background compared to what might be culturally expected.  I somehow managed to be around a youth pastor who cared that teenagers like me learned about exegesis and hermeneutics and around Pentecostal church musicians who were glad I was getting interested in Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington.  Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, apparently, meant I had the fortune to grow up in an area where cultural and intellectual interests were not considered to be "quenching the Spirit".  The older I get the more grateful I am for that.
But things don't always last and in my later teens I began to hear more Latter Rain themes creeping into preaching.  That youth pastor moved on and subsequent leadership tended to stick more Latter Rain this and that in.  Revival sermons can inspire a teenage kid for a few years but after about six years they began to pall.  The level of radicalism expected within that movement seemed unsustainable and so, now, when I get the sense that that impulse is appearing in other streams of Christianity I get cautious, maybe too cautious.  Some folks have been telling Wenatchee for years that it's not only possible to be overly cautious but that that's what Wenatchee is.  :)
Well, yes, let's just grant that up front.  As Anderson put it in his article, the radical stance simply doesn't seem to account for the reality of failure.  It's possible to go through life failing at all sorts of things.  In a strange paradox for radical preachers who might preach from prophets, most of those prophets completely failed to secure the reforms and policies they advocated for while today's radical advocates may be oblivious to this concept when preaching from prophetic texts to make a point.  There may be more than a few observations about how Jesus fulfilled prophecies X, Y and Z and that's a wonderful, worthy consideration.  But let's not forget that Jesus said that the prophets were killed and cast out and ignored.  What if, to be particularly polemical about this point, today's radical advocates may show us how conformist they are precisely because so many of us find it so very easy to literally buy their message?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pop stars marrying young and others marrying late,

Over at Slate's Double X Libby Copeland writes about how celebrities seem to be marrying as young as their early 20s and late teens, unlike most of us, who have been marrying later in life.  Now that neo-Calvinists have fretted about the "epidemic of singleness" over the last decade is something Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed very recently but here, arguably, is the flip side of the same coin, which is a secular anxiety that anyone WOULD marry in the late teens or early 20s.  These people must just not be old enough or financially stable enough or mature enough to handle married life.

According to the latest statistics, this trend among celebrities seems downright regressive. Contemplating a wedding before one hits drinking age is increasingly an anomaly for a culture in which the median marrying age is now nearly 27 for women and 29 for men. The Knot Yet study, which came out last week, explores how the change in marriage age has affected America’s classes differently. College-educated women benefit from marrying and having kids later—they make more money and they’re less likely to divorce. But lower-income Americans, responding to economic pressures, wind up delaying marriage but not delaying having kids, which means they raise their children in poorer and less stable environments.

Take note of that phrase "seems downright regressive."  What's regressive about marrying younger and regressive in relationship to what?  The norm now?  What if now is not the norm?  Remember that the last time the median age of first marriage was as high as it's gotten in the last three or four years as the Great Depression.   And since arguably a secular left and a religious right both have some historical memory, let's go back to consider the post-World War 2 setting in which getting married straight out of high school could make some sense.

... Once upon a time, men with high school degrees could obtain manufacturing jobs with solid wages and pensions that enabled them to marry and start families in their early 20s. Now, with the chances of nabbing a pension about as good as “winning the World Series,” as the Knot Yet study puts it, young blue-collar Americans can’t pay for a wedding, let alone a house and kids.

But then again who says home-ownership in a post-industrial capitalist society is actually economically viable or normative?  Here Wenatchee refers back to the anecdotal observation that most of the middle-aged guys in the leadership rungs of Mars Hill were not homeowners back in theri 20s or, if they were, they owned a home that was subsidized by taking on as many renters as they could possible handle (and maybe more). 

 ... In other words, celebrities marry young not because they’re more mature than the rest of us (clearly) but because they have the means so much of America lacks. The move may be driven by youthful impulse, but it is also, in a strange way, logical. They’re just doing what so many of us would have (ill-advisedly) done as teenagers if we’d had loads of cash and legal independence from our parents: married our first loves.

Wenatchee wonders what "first love" is supposed to mean here.  It may certainly be irrational to marry one's first love but it's not entirely clear that marriage as it is undertaken in any American cultural context is really a purely rational decision. 

But not all of us think marrying for true love is a compelling or plausible reason to marry.  It may be nice if you have it but marrying to be a spouse and parent is not an irrelevant incentive to marry, and even marry young.  Wenatchee knows several couples, actually, who married as young as 19 and had children fairly soon into marriage (as in the first four years).  We live in a culture in which a teenaged girl who specifically wants to be a wife and mother in her 20s, even her early 20s, may be told that that's too soon.  On the basis of what?  If she manages to attain this goal then she could manage to be an empty nester in her 40s (depending on how things go).

Copeland doesn't write about that, though:

The authors of Knot Yet write that as a cultural effect of delaying marriage, “marriage is transformed from a cornerstone to a capstone of adult identity. No longer the stabilizing base for the life one is building, it is now more of a crowning achievement.” During my parent’s generation, couples launched their adult lives together and built families and financial stability along the way, whereas now, those of us in our 20s and 30s believe we should be well on our way to professional success before marriage. It would seem that pop stars like Miley Cyrus are forgoing that by marrying barely out of puberty, but in fact they just happen to work in a business that brings success at an abnormally young age. They’re already there, or at least they feel like they are. The wedding feels like a capstone.

Copeland does propose that in our age marriage is considered the culmination of self-realization, perhaps this can be construed as marriage simultaneously being the great romantic bond in which one's autonomy and authentic self is reinforced by way of romantic attachment on the one hand and as a paradoxical outworking of realizing the self on the other.  Marriage becomes the path to a more transcendent level of self-realization and a way to impart self-realization or benefit to others.  Which, if true, could suggest that the narcissism inherent in that sort of romanticism has a toxicity and self-deluding element to it that may be beyond the existence of words that can express it. :) 

For people at the upper and lower rungs of society, though, marriage and family have larger implications.  Family conceived as an extended network of families and clans becomes more significant the higher or lower we get in social strata and in some sense for pretty much the same reason, money and resources.  At the top family name is part of the resource inventory to be responsibly handled, at the bottom family name will be of some value in case, well, for instance someone in the clan is better off than your brood.  Let's not be unaware that there have been times when nepotism had some positive outcomes.  It's not like Wenatchee The Hatchet woke up some morning and decided that, you know, the Bach family had this generations long dynasty that existed because of nepotism and that this means Bach's music shouldn't be heard, for instance.  We can thank the social networking and aims of well-off people in various cases for the moment when Haydn urged Mozart's father to encourage the boy's talents and Wenatchee writes this as someone who loves Haydn's music vastly more than Mozart's!

Anyway, as we were saying, marrying young will probably be unrealistic and unreasonable if the expectation of newlywed family-building is too beholden to the economic circumstances of previous generations.  Wenatchee has been contending for years that if the American economy continutes on its course the extended family will increasingly be seen as economically and socially necessary.  It's not that marrying young is currently or ever has been "unrealistic" it's that the American conception of the family in the secular left and the religious right is too narrowly nuclear in its general conception. 

Sausage returns at City of God! :)

Among other things Dan writes:

Mark Driscoll is just descending into self-parody I think.
Link is to Matthew Paul Turner linking to Act Like Men 2013 a conference featuring ... well, it's got to be obvious by now.

Conference speakers are Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, Matt Chandler, Eric Mason, Greg Laurie, Lecrae with the Vertical Church band
That's a good line-up of guys from Acts 29 leadership, isn't it? Some overlap in the line-up for this conference.

It's nice to know that after nearly two years the crisis of conference Christians seems to be over.

From this week's "Things I Think" at Phoenix Preacher

7. Some people in the church ration grace as if they paid for it themselves…and if they spend what they have it will result in personal loss.
Much could be written about this observation but for now merely quoting it will suffice.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Apparently Mark Driscoll now says of Mars Hill "We're not a wealthy church".

It's happened a couple of times before and it's happened again, someone finds something that gets passed along to Wenatchee The Hatchet.  Normally Wenatchee has not seen reason to comment on things that get sent along of this but this, this is a special case. 

Preaching live in Bellevue, Downtown Seattle, and Ballard

From Pastor Mark Driscoll:
Jesus loves this church very much. His grace is on Mars Hill in a way that is very unusual.
Despite geographical, political, and spiritual obstacles along the way, we’re larger than any other church that has grown up in the northwest corner of the country. We’re not a wealthy church. [emphasis added] We’re not an experienced church. We’re not a convenient church. We are a blessed church.

The only reason why this thing called Mars Hill is working is because Jesus loves us. He loves our cities. He loves our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and other people who don’t even know him yet. We’re here for a reason, and it’s certainly not thanks to anything that we can take credit for.

Our multi-site strategy, which now includes 14 locations in four states, was never Plan A. Originally we wanted a nice, big building where we could all gather under one roof. But God had other ideas. He had people he wanted to save in Albuquerque, Orange County, Portland, and around the Puget Sound through our church. This has made our life a lot more complicated, but if it means more people get to meet Jesus, I’m all for it. Should God ever provide us with place where we can establish a Mars Hill hub someday, I won’t argue. In the meantime, however, we’re nothing but grateful for what we’ve got. God is using it in a big way.

Three of our Seattle-area churches are now up over 1,000 people in weekly attendance: Bellevue, Ballard, and Downtown Seattle. For the past year, I’ve been preaching almost exclusively from Mars Hill Bellevue. They’ve got a new building in a great spot and the potential for lots of new locations on Seattle’s Eastside, so I wanted to do everything I could to help make Bellevue strong. Today, it is without a doubt our healthiest church overall. Pastor Thomas Hurst is a great lead pastor, and the people of Mars Hill Bellevue are a huge blessing to the rest of our church in more ways than one.

In God’s providence, my season spent focusing on Bellevue coincided with Angela Hurst’s cancer battle. Since the other senior leaders and I were present on Sundays, this allowed Pastor Thomas to devote more attention to his wife and their boys during a very difficult time. Angela was diagnosed last year, and just recently received a clean bill of health. Praise God!

With Mars Hill Bellevue going strong, we now have a lot of other needs and opportunities throughout the church that could use some extra care. For example, Mars Hill Downtown Seattle is in the middle of a leadership transition and trying to get settled into a new location that’s already been picketed by protestors and picked at in the local press.[emphasis added] We’ve got a lot of seats to fill Downtown and a lot on the line for the reputation of Jesus and his work in Seattle. The stakes are high, and I want to make sure the church is well cared for during this critical season.

As of this month, I’m preaching live in Bellevue and Downtown Seattle. Ballard will join the live schedule this fall with the start of our Ten Commandments series. [emphasis original] Obviously, I can’t preach every single service in person; each location will get a combination of live and video sermons. Since none of our churches will be live 100% of the time, for those currently attending Bellevue, Downtown, or Ballard, I encourage you to pick a location and stick with it. Our churches need members committed to the local mission, and I would hate to see people leave their church and go to another Mars Hill just because they want to see me preach in person. Besides, the live schedule will probably take an air traffic controller to figure out, as we’ll be tinkering with the limits of space and time.

This is all rather complicated, but nobody ever said ministry would be easy. Please pray for me and my family. Since I will be spending my Sundays as a traveling minister preaching morning and evening, chances are Grace and the kids will have to attend church without me some of the time. This is hard for us, but we’ve talked about it a lot and we want what’s best for the Mars Hill family, even if it means a few sacrifices for the Driscoll family.

Thankfully, I’m surrounded by a team of gifted leaders who work hard and love Jesus. I praise God for Pastor Dave Bruskas and Pastor Sutton Turner, my fellow executive elders who help oversee the whole church. Our central operations team is also packed with humble servants who are hashing out the technical details as we speak.

God has given our church a hard job to do. It’s hard because Jesus loves us and he’s sent a lot of people our way. It’s hard because Satan hates us and will oppose every step. But there’s no place I’d rather be than right here serving the church and preaching the gospel. You are worth it, Mars Hill! I love you very much.

For those in Ballard, Downtown Seattle, and Bellevue, I’ll be seeing you soon. I look forward to visiting our other churches as time and schedule allows, and I can’t wait to see what God does on Easter when we get to enjoy live services together as one enormous family. Please join me in praying for 20,000 people to attend Mars Hill and for hundreds and hundreds to be baptized!

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.” Philippians 1:27–28

Driscoll mentions the Downtown campus facing picketers and getting picked at by the press. If you go and consult the actual critical coverage of Mars Hill in The Stranger ...

The Stranger spent more time fisking Justin Dean for misrepresenting the level (any) and nature of Mars Hill involvement with Liflong AIDS Alliance than making any sustained complaint about Mars Hill Downtown in particular (beyond the usual jokes about Tim Gaydos' name, I suppose).  Justin Dean wrote a sorta long press release about the grand opening, after all.  Mars Hill clearly wants the attention if they have a PR team.  Let it be noted that though The Stranger dislikes Mars Hill intensely they've been known to show some courtesy to specific pastors.  They didn't rip into Bill Clem when announcing that his wife Jeannie had cancer and even went so far as to suggest that if you're the praying type, to pray for them.

So take Driscoll's comment that Mars Hill Downtown has been nitpicked by critics with a grain of salt, or two.  Some readers have the distinct impression The Stranger had it out for Justin Dean far more than Mars Hill Downtown. 

The change in the schedule of live preaching is vaguely interesting.  For a while the plan seemed to be moving live preaching to just Bellevue and that phase seems to have passed. 

What's significantly more interesting is Driscoll's claim about Mars Hill "We're not a wealthy church." 

Er, excuse me?
Wasn't it on March 28, 2012, no less that Mark Driscoll said this in "What's Next For Me"?

After Easter, We’ll launch a new sermon series called the Seven, looking at Revelation 1–3 and the seven churches to which John writes in those chapters. Most of the series was filmed live on location in Turkey—and it’s epic. We even rented the city of Ephesus for a day.

He did say that, in fact.

If Mars Hill isn't a wealthy church what happened to the church that could rent the city of Ephesus for a day?

Or that still uses Red cameras in its production. Like this old job listing for Assistant Video Editor. The job listing was posted 11.16.2012

If you were working for us, here are some of the things you would have done for us last week:

Captured, edited, and finalized a promotional video.
  • Edited and exported a sermon front to back, using multicam switching in Final Cut Pro and After Effects.
  • Edited, exported, compressed, and uploaded clips to youtube.
  • Communicated with multiple team members via Basecamp about deadlines and deliverables.
  • Organized a documentary project in Final Cut Pro.
  • Created a folder structure for a new project and transferred all media from storage devices.
  • Transcoded Red camera footage in Red Cine.
  • Light a set for a promotional video.

  • An old feature on Mars Hill production and their use of Red cameras can be found here.

    And over here back on September 21, 2009 Driscoll mentioned the following:

    ... So, I’ll explain to you what is next from Mars Hill and me:
    1.We have upgraded our video cameras to the RED cameras used for major films like District 9. This means that the video experience at a Mars Hill Campus or online is better than live – for free.
    2.We have upgraded our media player by creating our own technology to handle the high-definition video content we are now capturing and are giving it all away online – for free.
    The high end major film level gear was important enough that it was brought up, at all.  That was 2009 and now in 2013 Mars Hill is not a wealthy church? 

    Anyone remember back in 2011 when the Salvation Army food pantry in Port Angeles had a ton of food stolen?  Mark Driscoll made an appeal to Mars Hill members to donate food to the Port Angeles food pantry/  How much food was donated?  Eleven tons. As Mars Hill put it on the MH blog on October 26, 2011:

    Yesterday, a crew went to the Port Angeles Salvation Army to drop off the 21,500 pounds of food people at our Seattle-area churches brought in.

    That's not exactly a small amount of food.  But now, Driscoll says of Mars Hill "We're not a wealthy church".  Last year for annual reporting stuff Driscoll said last year was their best year ever.  Well, maybe every years is Mars Hill's best year ever but this year Mars Hill isn't a wealthy church even though within the last, say 18 months, Mars Hill has shown that it can throw together eleven tons of food for the Salvation Army Port Angeles food pantry (good for them about that, by the way).  Driscoll could casually mention how epic it was that they were filming in Ephesus, which they rented for a day just about a year ago.  And now this year, somehow, Mars Hill isn't a wealthy church. 

    Annual reports, anyone?

    INCOME 2012 2011
    tithes and offerings  $                24,054,755.00  $                   18,153,776.00
    Misc. income and other   $                     609,771.00  $                     1,332,983.00
    gains and losses
    TOTAL INCOME  $                24,664,526.00  $                   19,486,759.00
    personnel costs  $                12,047,038.00  $                     8,408,764.00
    operations  $                  2,938,080.00  $                     3,534,901.00
    tech & equipment  $                     836,602.00  $                        859,581.00
    administration  $                  1,418,622.00  $                        676,412.00
    facilities  $                  3,391,113.00  $                     1,898,844.00
    Church planting partnerships  $                     821,182.00  $                     1,764,973.00
    interest  $                     562,135.00  $                        647,424.00
    depreciation & amortization  $                  1,680,600.00  $                     1,542,266.00
    TOTAL EXPENSES  $                23,695,372.00  $                   19,333,165.00
    EXCESS REVENUE OVER EXPENSES  $                     969,154.00  $                        153,594.00
    cash & cash equivalents   $                  3,369,472.00  $                     5,165,170.00
    accounts receivable, inventory & other assets  $                     506,987.00  $                           81,041.00
    property, equip, net  $                28,650,133.00  $                   27,099,676.00
    lease & other long term assets  $                     173,991.00  $                        361,337.00
    TOTAL ASSETS  $                32,700,583.00  $                   32,707,224.00
    current liabilities  $                  1,931,392.00  $                     3,070,910.00
    long-term liabilities  $                13,285,248.00  $                   13,121,525.00
    TOTAL LIABILITES  $                15,216,640.00  $                   16,192,435.00
    unrestricted assets  $                17,364,950.00  $                   16,387,843.00
    temporarily restricted assets  $                     118,993.00  $                        126,946.00
    TOTAL NET ASSETS  $                17,483,943.00  $                   16,514,789.00
    TOTAL LIABILITY AND NET ASSETS  $                32,700,583.00  $                   32,707,224.00

    So half the total expenses are personnel expenses. Where's that money going?  Who's getting how much?  What are the housing allowances for staff, particularly lead pastors at campuses and executive elders?  Now, to take a trip down memory lane, let's consider that in Lief Moi's letter from 2007 he mentioned that he stopped being lead pastor at Ballard and as part of the 2007 re-org he received a nearly 40% salary cut.  It's on page 7 of the big 145 page pdf for those who haven't read Moi's letter already.  The nearly 40 percent salary cut was part of the 2007 re-org and what happened to co-founding pastor of Mars Hill Lief Moi during that re-org was he was told he lacked the kingly gifts to run a campus the size of Ballard and he was no longer campus pastor/lead pastor there.  And that would seem like the reason he got the nearly 40% salary cut. That raises a fairly natural question of what the pay grades are lead pastors, executive pastors of campus, and executive pastors for the entire organization that is Mars Hill (i.e. the officers of the church as a corporation).

    Compare the  audited financials of Mars Hill Church for their FY2012 and FY2011 to, say, Seattle's Union Gospel Mission or the Salvation Army Northwest Division, both charities Mars Hill has donated money or food to in the last few years.  Some churches don't even own their own buildings, for instance.  Mars Hill managed to put the old Tabella on the market and someone bought that real estate.  Mars Hill also sold the old Lake City campus (some say at a loss).  Mars Hill has a decent amount of real estate holdings within the city where some churches still have to use the space made available in other churches ... kinda like Mars Hill did a very long time ago.  If Mars Hill isn't a wealthy church what is it?  Poor?  That seems a bit hard to believe.  :)

    Sunday, March 17, 2013 is here

    So the book on money is rebranded from Re:Lit to Jamie Munson with a bow and arrow logo. 

    It's curiously apt that Munson's new book is on authority. Authority was considered a big concern on Munson's part when he circulated reasons for the immediate termination of two employees of Mars Hill back in 2007.

    Munson was, at least officially, promoted to Lead Pastor and according to the by-laws he'd drafted, he was considered president.  Who was listed with the Secretary of State of Washington as the actually legal standing president of Mars Hill during that time would be something someone can go look up.  It's worth nothing that as an executive elder Munson confirmed the appointment of Scott Thomas to head the elder investigative taskforce.  This was something Munson conveyed to Paul Petry directly, as well as to Mars Hill members. The October 16, 2007 letter Munson sent to members did not exactly explain what had transpired beyond formalities. Munson wrote the following about Elder Investigation Taskforce members Scott Thomas, Dave Kraft, Garey Shavey, and Steve Tompkins on October 16, 2007:

    These men had the unenviable task of investigating two fellow pastors and reporting their findings to the entire Elder Council. They spent significant time in silence and solitude, reading and meditating on Scripture, repenting of personal sin, and praying for God's wisdom ...

    So what were these men doing during the investigation process?  Any of them can feel free to speak on record when they like.  Scott Thomas, for instance, was explaining to Petry that there was no need for Petry to attend his own trial on October 10, 2007Scott Thomas then turned around and told a member of Mars Hill church that a conciliatory process had just been completed on October 11, 2007. What personal sins Scott Thomas was repenting of, according to Jamie Munson's letter, might be interesting for Munson to elaborate on now, since he was apparently confident enough to say the four members of the EIT spent the investigative process repenting of personal sin.

    Munson conveyed to members that Petry needed to be shunned in December 2007, saying that the elders had repeatedly attempted to reconcile with Petry and that these reconciliation attempts were rebuffed.

    In later correspondence in early 2008 with Paul Petry, Jamie Munson seemed pretty convinced that neither he nor other executive elders or elders at Mars Hill generally, had done or said anything questionable.

    There's more that you can read about Munson's role within the real estate history of Mars Hill if you like.  He shows up in posts tagged "governance" and "real estate and Mars Hill". 

    Munson's currently still a pastor at Mars Hill and on a few boards

    Whether or not Jamie Munson was actually the legal president of Mars Hill on record with the Washington Secretary of State's office records while Mark Driscoll was, by his own account, no longer legal president, might be worth investigating.

    UBI Number601677819
    State Of IncorporationWA
    WA Filing Date12/22/1995
    Expiration Date12/31/2013
    Inactive Date
    Registered Agent Information
    Address1411 NW 50TH ST

    Vice PresidentBruskas, Dave1411 NW 50th Street
    SEATTLE, WA 98107
    SecretaryTURNER, JOHN SUTTON1411 NW 50TH ST
    SEATTLE, WA 98107
    TreasurerTURNER, JOHN SUTTON1411 NW 50TH ST
    SEATTLE, WA 98107
    PresidentDriscoll, Mark1411 NW 50th Street
    SEATTLE, WA 98107

    It's interesting how accusation of distrust and disrespect for executive elders included specific claims of a lack of trust or respect for Jamie Munson.  Munson apparently never stopped to consider that simultaneously being the accuser and being able to appoint a committee might involve a conflict of interest in organizational terms.  Driscoll in early 2008 once remarked (documented elsewhere here)
    that having Munson as president meant Driscoll no longer had to deal with conflicts of interest.  What those were never got explained, but it was significant that Driscoll characterized (for whatever reason) his own role as legal president of Mars Hill as characterized by conflicts of interest.

    When Driscoll preached in later 2007 in Nehemiah he made it sound like he had particular grievances with particular elders. Then on 10/01/2007 Driscoll was using some kind of royal "we" to say that two men had been fired from being pastors for the first time in the history of Mars Hill. If by that Driscoll meant terminated in some process that involved documentation of end of employment, okay, but it can't have literally been the case that no one had been fired from employment at Mars Hill at any point between 1996 and September 2007, can it?  In any case, it sounds (literally) like Driscoll said something about his issues with specific leaders within Mars Hill in 2007 and along the way of leaders being terminated it stopped being personal and started to be more of a "we" thing, a "we" thing that at various points involved Jamie Munson.

    Something fun from Get Religion about the problems in using political language in religion reporting

    Spotted this over at the BHT courtesy of Justin.

    The piece is a useful case study of why attempting to use the political jargon of left and right to describe Christian faith and practice can be hazardously misleading.  It is, in a way, one of the reasons Wenatchee The Hatchet has some distrust the theological left and right in the United States and the punditry classes that have emerged from within them.  A tablespoon or so of salt has to be applied all across the spectrum.