Sunday, March 16, 2014

Warren Throckmorton: Mark Driscoll addresses Mars Hill via The City and mentions something about the early days of MHC

Apparently on March 14, 2014 one Mark Driscoll posted a letter on The City to Mars Hill Church, which Warren Throckmorton has linked to via two different avenues.

Well, perhaps we can discuss this matter in reverse order of content on one particular point:

This communication is for the exclusive use on the Mars Hill Church version of The City, and contains proprietary, confidential or privileged information intended for a limited audience. Any disclosure, use, copying, dissemination, or distribution is strictly prohibited. Thank you.

So much for that if Throckmorton can link to it at two different points.

As we can see, including a prohibition seems to have made it impossible, by virtue of fiat itself, for content published under Mark Driscoll's name to The City to make it to the outside world.  Regular readers of Wenatchee The Hatchet may already know which of the roughly seventeen posts since the start of about 2013 feature content that might possibly have originated in contents published to The City.  If Mars Hill Church wanted something to stay under wraps a letter on a social media network like The City that's been hemorrhaging informational leaks for a bit more than a year wasn't the way to go.  Traditional snail mail might have been wiser.  But the Mars Hill history of thinking social and broadcast media are vital to getting messages out isn't likely to change overnight.

Let's get to something that came up early in the letter that was apparently by Mark Driscoll apparently posted to The City (Throckmorton's wording seems to suggest this):

For those of you who have been around for a while, it is amazing for us to see all that Jesus has done. People often ask if our church today resembles what I had originally planned. Not even close. The smallest location of a Mars Hill Church is bigger than what my total vision was for the whole church when we started.

Depends on what "when we started" means.

And I had big vision for more. I put together a forty-page vision statement. I said, “We’re going to start a school. We’re going to plant churches. We’re going to do a record label.” I had this whole vision, and I handed it out to, like, fifteen people, and they’re like, “Are you kidding me?”
So I had big dreams. But to be honest with you, man, if we could just get up to two hundred, I thought that would be amazing.

So about when was this?

Well, let's first get to the part where we remember when the official launch happened.
From "Seasons of Grace" by Mark Driscoll

In the fourth season, we launched the church in October 1996 at 6pm with an attendance around 200, which included many friends and supporters. The attendance leveled off shortly thereafter, somewhere around 100 adults, and we continued meeting until the Christmas season.

That period starts getting discussed in Chapter Two of Confessions of a Reformission Rev.  So let's compare notes to an earlier book Mark Driscoll has published, the aforementioned book, and see If there's any reference to such a grand plan.

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
ISBN-10: 0-310-27016-2

CHAPTER ONE: Jesus, Our Offering was $137 and I Want to Use it to Buy Bullets
0-45 people

from pages 53-54
So in an effort to clarify our mission, I wrote down on paper the first of what would eventually be many strategic plans. I shot for the moon rather foolishly and decided that our church that was not big enough to fill a bus would plant multiple churches, run a concert venue, start a Bible institute, write books, host conferences, and change the city for Jesus. I started handing out these goals printed on boring white paper without any graphics, colors, or cool fonts, naively assuming that it would all happen eventually just because it was what Jesus wanted.

To get leaders in place for world domination, I also spent time trying to articulate the vision in my head to good men who would be qualified to rise up as fellow elders-pastors. So, as Jesus did, I spent time in prayer asking the Father which of his sons should be trained for leadership. The church started as an idea I shared with Lief Moi and Mike Gunn. Lief is a descendant of Genghis Khan and his dad was a murderer, and Mike is a former football player. They proved to be invaluable, except for the occasional moments when they would stand toe-to-toe in a leadership meeting, threatening to beat the Holy Spirit out of each other. Both men were older than I and had years of ministry experience, and they were good fathers, loving husbands, and tough. ...

Well, look at that.  To go by chapter references to chronology based on numerical growth this big vision-cast may not only have predated the official launch of Mars Hill Church it may even have preceeded the selection of Mike Gunn and Lief Moi as men Mark Driscoll wanted to help him co-found Mars Hill in any formal sense to begin with.

So the only sense in which "not even close" might seem to apply is that Mars Hill Church started a seminary program of some kind but the Resurgence Training Center Masters in Missional Leadership program no longer seems to exist.  For that matter what ever happened to Tim Smith's Re:Sound?  Or to Mars Hill Music, the label that was announced a couple of years ago and seems to exist in the form of a partnership with Tooth & Nail?  The multiple church plants and churches thing came about, though. 

It's worth repeating and emphasizing that by Mark Driscoll's own account he was envisioning that the church he was planning to plant with others was going to plant multiple churches, start a concert venue, start a Bible institute, write books, host conferences, and change the city for Jesus. It is also worth noting that by Mark Driscoll's own account in his 2006 book that he cast this vision before the official 1996 launch of the church.

It seems impossible for Driscoll to honestly have written "not even close" when he's testified in one of his own books and in the 2011 fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness that he had big plans and dreams for what the church plant that became Mars Hill Church was intended to establish. If anything it is only seventeen years along that the church is starting to resemble, kind of, what Driscoll was casting as the vision for Mars Hill influence and activity before it was even officially launched.

So ... we don't even get as far as paragraph two and a claim is made that is so swiftly and readily disproven by Mark Driscoll's own testimony in one of his books and a 2011 fundraising film it would be advisable that readers proceed with caution.  Let's keep in mind that at this stage in the history of Mars Hill Mark Driscoll has been claiming there were no kids at the start of Mars Hill Church and that's why there was no kids' ministry even though Mike Gunn and Lief Moi being good fathers was, by Mark Driscoll's own account, crucial reasons for selecting them as men to help co-found Mars Hill Church.

So that's one topic for consideration for the reported letter. 

No comments: