Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mars Hill Church and Resurgence Training Center's Master in Missional Leadership, what happened?

Back on June 18, 2009 the Christian Post announced that Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church planned to announce the launch of a new school.

Now all this stuff, for all of the purging Mars Hill has been doing in the last week, may only truly be visible by way of a visit to a cached site.  But here's something from the ramp-up and launch phase.

Mars Hill Church has started a school to serve as the leadership development engine for our global vision. As of August, the inaugural year of The Resurgence Training Center (Re:Train) is well underway.

What is Re:Train?

The purpose of the school is to train missional leaders to lead churches to transform cultures for Jesus. Our goal as a church is to start 100 new campuses and 1,000 new churches (in partnership with Acts 29) by 2019. In order to achieve this vision, we need as many men—trained and equipped—to be pastors and leaders within the movement. Pastor Mark Driscoll began The Resurgence a few years ago as a website with lots of free theological resources for missional leaders and the broader church in general. Re:Train is a further extension of this idea, offering premier missional leadership training and education.

What sort of classes does Re:Train offer?

Currently, Re:Train students participate in a yearlong graduate program that culminates in a Master of Missional Leadership. Participants are divided into "cohorts" based on area of interest. Once a month, all 75 students spend a weekend under the teaching of a nationally recognized professor. These classes are taught by men including John Piper, Bruce Ware, Gregg Allison, Ed Stetzer, Sam Storms, and Mars Hill Church Pastors Mark Driscoll and Bill Clem [emphasis added]. Lord willing, beginning in the Fall of 2010, Re:Train will also offer university-style courses to equip the Mars Hill Church body in theology, biblical studies, missions, counseling, worship, biblical living, and other areas.

Who can attend Re:Train?

Re:Train participants come from all around the US and Canada. International students are expected next year, and our current student body includes a lot of Mars Hill leaders and members; we hope that many more will step up from within our community. Are you a future campus pastor? A future church planter? A faithful member who will be sent out as part of a core group to help start a new work? If you're interested in attending Re:Train in order to better prepare, we'll soon begin accepting applications for next year's graduate program (info at

This got a roll out in the Christian Post, a website, and there was even some discussion of the project from the pulpit.  This is a sermon that never got a transcript and we've linked to it in the past when discussing how in 2009 Mark Driscoll said he didn't have a side company for book royalties at that point.  Of course by 2011 he'd done a complete 180 degree turn on precisely that issue and set up On Mission LLC and eventually Lasting Legacy LLC and OMCRU Investments LLC.  But the sermon that never got transcribed from the 1 & 2 Peter series is also interesting for the history it brings to light about the acquisition of Mars Hill Albuquerque and, particularly germane to the upcoming Mars Hill Schools project, a blast form the past on previous efforts to set up a seminary-style educational program.
Prophets, Priests and Kings
Trial: 8 witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter
May 3, 2009
1 Peter 5:1-5

... Leading this is Pastor Rick Melson, one of our executive elders. He's a great guy.  We stole him from John Piper in Minneapolis. I'll rephrase that, we borrowed for a long time, to the glory of God, from John Piper in Minneapolis.  And he is also running the Resurgence Training Center.  It is a school that will open in the fall so that we can have a leadership engine to train more campus pastors, church planters and potential elders. We're seeking 50 students for the fall term.

For all of this we will need to raise $4 million above and beyond budget. And Pastor Jamie [Munson] has a really smart idea to take microgifts from a lot of our fans online. There's upwards of 20 million downloads of our sermon and content every year. Asking those people who enjoy all that we give away to give some small gifts to help fund this global expansion and initiative. Many have asked--it's cool. We recently got checks as large as $10,000--people are saying, "We love you. We've listened a lot of things. Here. How can we help?" So we're going to open that opportunity up. We invite you to give as well above and beyond your general tithes and offerings.

And, amazingly enough, a generous donor stepped forward and said, "I'll do a million-dollar matching fund. For everyone who gives any amount I'll match that up to the first million dollars. And so that's the great kick-off. We praise God for that.
So, uh, what exactly happened to the Resurgence Training Center and the Masters in Missional Leadership?

What exactly happened to Capstone Institute?  There wasn't enough space for that and while Gary Shavey ran that it didn't last longer than a couple of years.  The Resurgence Training Center seems to have been similarly short-lived but had the distinction of being a cause for which Mark Driscoll said from the pulpit needed giving of $4,000,000.0 above and beyond normal budget.

And is there a Masters of Missional Leadership available to be earned now or did this program functionally produce only one or "maybe" two academic years' worth of student activity?

Scott Thomas used to list having a Masters in Missional Leadership from the Re:Train program.  Possibly doesn't list that lately.  There have been people who have graduated from the program but since the program didn't seem to have any accreditation and was designed to raise up a new generation of MH and A29 leaders what was it, in the end? 

It seems that as with music labels so it may have gone with a school.  After a grand announcement that Mars Hill Church was starting a music label a year later Driscoll was excited to mention a partnership with Tooth & Nail. In 2009 there was Driscoll's announcement from the pulpit they were starting this Re:Train thing and the Christian Post covered it and now what's the big, exciting opportunity?  Partnership with Corban University, Western Seminary, and the like.  It's hard to shake the impression that Mars Hill Church has lacked the finances and infrastructural capability of getting several of the things Mark Driscoll envisioned since before the formal launch of Mars Hill Church up and running in a sustainable way. 

There's too much testimony not just in Confessions of a Reformission Rev but also in God's Work, Our Witness to the effect that Driscoll had envisioned launching a record label and establishing a Bible institute since before Mars Hill was official for anyone to seriously believe the recent claim that MHC as it is now is not even close to what Driscoll originally imagined would or could happen.  Given the speed and thoroughness with which Mars Hill Church has been obliterating content why don't they just take down the entirety of the God's Work, Our Witness material seeing as several key people in the film have since left Mars Hill Church and in a couple of cases have made public statements?  In light of the Result Source contract controversy the end of God's Work, Our Witness, where Driscoll regales the viewer (probably envisioned as a contracted member of Mars Hill Church) about how much the church has historically stunk at giving let's bear in mind that was a 2011 fundraising film that was connected to the annual report for the fiscal year 2011.  Now we have a clearer idea what some of those expenses entailed for which Driscoll gently chided the whole church on its need to be more generous.

For that matter over at this post we've discussed how during the 2012 period Mark Driscoll asked people to give more and more and in May bought a million-dollar house in Snohomish county and in June conceded that Mars Hill Church was running systemic deficits at every campus and a mass layoff had happened and it wasn't because anybody sinned but because Mars Hill Church had a financial model that was not sustainable for the long-term future.  When Driscoll told the church "You're the money fairy." it seems to have been meant as some kind of gentle and humorous rebuke about the flock not getting that THEY are the money fairy that pays for stuff.  That Driscoll bought a million-dollar house outside of the city of Seattle by itself is scarcely problematic, it seems weird, though, in light of his at times condescending words about how the people in the trenches seemed to imagine money would just show up. 

And yet Driscoll has also had a history of claiming that Mars Hill Church is not a wealthy church.  That post is, without doubt, the most viewed post in the history of this blog.  Renting the city of Ephesus for a day to do some "epic" filming may not make a church exceptionally rich (Greece's economy has pretty much been in the toilet for a while now) but that Driscoll could casually toss off in a little forgettable sentence "We even rented the city of Ephesus for a day" was worth a post.

So where does all this sort of money go?  What happened to the Resurgence Training Center that Driscoll announced so confidently from the pulpit in 2009?  For that matter what happened to the sermon and series in which the announcement about Re:Train was made go?  If Mars Hill can't get its own homegrown attempts at music labels and Bible institutes to work then, well, they can at least assimilate the actually successful projects started by others.  But if that's how these things have worked out in the history of Mars Hill then it makes the entire organization seem to have ... at the risk of putting this indelicately and as the opinion of Wenatchee The Hatchet, a basically parasitic relationship to the outside world. 

If Capstone Institute fizzled and the Resurgence Training Center seems to be no more what's the reason Mars Hill Schools is going to work at all?  The assimilation of functioning and self-sustaining entities so that "Mars Hill" can be put in front of some real estate and some academic programs is not exactly a stamp of success at this point.  Driscoll's never issued a public apology for the Result Source contract or for the seven books featuring plagiarism and simply letting the press and bloggers erroneously believe that a leaked and nebulous open letter to Mars Hill members posted to The City count as if it were a public confession won't suffice. 

That does not exactly instill confidence in Mark Driscoll as an academic or a pedagogue.  If the Resurgence Training Center that Driscoll so happily mentioned in 2009 was successful then wouldn't the bold-type big names have made more of a point of mentioning this thing in their CVs? 

Stuff to consider as Mark Driscoll and company ask people to give big and make sacrifices for what may actually be the THIRD attempt at getting that Bible institute Mark wanted started in the wake of his movement going along. 

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