Saturday, September 27, 2014

If Driscoll made the mistake of being under "green" elders in1996 why make Munson president in 2007--HT to Musings from Under the Bus

As noted over here

There's another question that emerges if we take Driscoll at his word that he made the mistake of appointing elders in authority over him who were "young and new and green" back around 1996.  In 2007 Mark Driscoll decided to make Jamie Munson legal president of Mars Hill Church and the Lead Pastor.  To get a clearer sense of how stupid this move would be if Driscoll was serious circa 2012 about the problem of young/new/green men in eldership let's revisit the signal quote itself, which to go by the set design and Grace Driscoll's haircut would have been during the Real Marriage period of earlier 2012.
That's one practical thing is, I'd never been a member of a church until I started my own. So I didn't know a lot about church. But I wanted, I knew I was a big personality and pretty intense so I wanted to be under authority but I made a mistake of--how do I say this carefully?--trying to be under the authority of my elders but the truth is all my elders were new and young and green and they would want to help but they really didn't know what they were talking about.

And so what I should have had was a team of pastors outside of the church who were older and more seasoned that could, you know, help Grace and I put life together.

Of course for alert readers of the histories of Mars Hill according to Mark Driscoll someone could ask, "What elders?"  For instance, in later 2011 Mark Driscoll explained in a post that the problem early on was there wasn't much of a team and he had to carry the burden alone.  The emphasis seems to shift in the narrative Mark Driscoll gives from topic to topic.  In one narrative the problem was he made the mistake of trying to submit to the authority of elders who were young and new and green.  Even if there's a compelling case to be made for that, another narrative from Mark paints the early years of Mars Hill as one in which he was the only paid pastor on staff shouldering a terrible burden all by himself as though he weren't under any authority of any elders because he had failed to raise up leaders to help him.
For the first five or six years of Mars Hill, I was the only paid pastor on staff and carried much of the ministry burden. I was doing all the premarital counseling and most of the pastoral work as the only pastor on staff. This went on for years due to pitiful giving and a ton of very rough new converts all the way until we had grown to about 800 people a Sunday. [emphasis added] At one point I literally had over a few thousand people come in and out of my home for Bible studies, internships, counseling, and more. My phone rang off the hook, my email inbox overflowed, my energy levels and health took a nose dive, and I started becoming bitter and angry instead of loving and joyful. It got to the point where either something had to change or I was going to go ballistic and do something I really regretted. [WtH, yeah, well, clearly this was published before the writings of William Wallace II got republished and Driscoll had a chance to remember he already HAD done something he regretted, maybe]

Through much prayer and study of the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that I’d done a poor job of raising up leaders along with me to help care for his church. I was carrying the burden myself and was not doing a good job because it was too much. [emphasis added] I needed to transition from caring for all the people to ensuring they were all cared for by raising up elders, deacons, and church members. This spurred me to make some dramatic changes to increase membership and train leaders.
We began a process of intentionally challenging qualified men to step up as elders to lead, finding and training men and women to serve and lead as deacons, and we started a Gospel Class to clearly articulate what we believed about Jesus, the Bible, and the church to make clear what we expected from members. Our first teams were not amazing, but some of those people, through years of maturing by God’s grace, are now amazing leaders and servants.

The one person who would best be in a position to call BS on the constantly shifting narratives about whether there were or weren't elders "in authority" over Mark Driscoll at the time seems to be willing to let him say whatever he wants in front of a camera without stopping him.  So now we're supposed to simultaneously hold that Mark Driscoll failed to raise up leaders along with him to help care for the church because he was carrying the burden himself in spite of a team of older guys.  But those older guys were young and new and green and he made the mistake of trying to submit to the authority of men he recruited to help him who were older and had some more ministry experience? 

What to do?  What to do? 

Now, if the elders whose authority Mark Driscoll tried to submit himself to in the mid-1990s were "young and new and green" and didn't know what they were talking about then maybe that was even more the case with Mark Driscoll when he decided to let Jamie Munson be legal president and Lead Pastor of Mars Hill. 

If anything Jamie Munson would have been even newer and greener and younger than Gunn or Moi.  Munson was one of the earlier converts to Christianity under Mark Driscoll's preaching and teaching.  So if Driscoll circa 2012 was willing to say that Mars Hill suffered because he didn't raise up leaders Jamie Munson's entire ministry career suggests that Driscoll did, in fact, raise up a young leader or two in the form of Jamie Munson and Tim Smith and that we can consult the leadership styles and decisions and conduct of these men as some insight into how the students took after their teacher.

This was the Jamie Munson who scouted the 50th street building that became Mars Hill corporate headquarters, the building that couldn't be zoned for the big vision Driscoll cast in his 2006 book.  Munson was also Lead Pastor during 2007 when the controversial firings of Meyer and Petry happened.  In fact a review of the reasons for immediate termination for both men seemed to revolve in part around the two older men not trusting or showing sufficient respect to spiritual authority, particularly with regard to Munson.

Pastor Paul Petry - Grounds for immediate termination of employment
* Continual insubordination and submission to leadership and spiritual authority
* Refusal to Ministry Coaching Program
* Divisive within Mars Hill Student Ministry and undermining of Pastor Adam, Deacons and entire ministry
* Blame shifting to Proxy leadership for misbehavior of children
* Public accusation of Lead Pastor [Jamie Munson] regarding hiding the real bylaw document
* Not following protocol and process for making bylaw comments by contacting church attorney without permission
* Ongoing contentious spirit to leadership regarding changes and direction.
Pastor Bent Meyer - Grounds for Immediate Termination of Employment
* Total lack of trust for Executive leadership and insubordination
* Multiple unfounded accusations from Bent regarding abuse of power, power grabbing and motives of leadership
* Not following protocol and process for making bylaw  comments by contacting church attorny without permission
* Showing unhealthy family favoritism by establishing son Cameron as spokesman for Salts recap meeting
* No communication with elders regarding Cameron's sin and removal of grace group leadership

Some might conclude this is a political move to gain more support for the bylaws as Paul and bent were outspoken critics of the current direction. [emphasis added] This is not the case, the executive team wants to conduct itself in a way that is full of integrity, walking in the light, under full disclosure and in a decisive manner that best serves Jesus and His church through Mars Hill.  If the bylaws don't pass, so be it, we didn't want to wait on what we had determined were necessary and inevitable firings until after the bylaws had been voted into approval because that would have been deceptive. [emphasis added] We made the decision to terminate them now and givem them the option to resign or undergo the full investigation. We have a higher value of being men of integrity than playing politics to swing a vote in our favor.

Because firing two of twenty-four elders was necessary and inevitable because without a 100% uniform vote for Munson's by-laws (or were they Driscoll's bylaws?) nothing could get done? Let's bear in mind that Jamie Munson's first major incident recorded in his tenure as Lead Pastor who was placed there, apparently, by some combination of his own selection and the approval of Mark Driscoll, was explaining why two guys had to be fired because they distrusted spiritual authority.  It is at this point that it may be pertinent to quote from Mark Driscoll himself about Jamie Munson.

Celebrate the fact that Pastor Jamie is Mars Hill 1.0. He is exactly why Mars Hill exists. A lost young person meets Jesus and grows to be a godly leader, spouse, and parent who loves and leads well by the grace of God with humility and passion. He has given us every day of his life since he was 19 years of age. Mars Hill does not exist as a church of more than maybe a few hundred without God’s grace through Pastor Jamie. If a book were written about what God is doing among us, at least one whole chapter would be devoted to telling the story of God’s grace in Pastor Jamie’s life.

Munson resigned membership earlier this year, which means that if Mars Hill Church survives long enough to have a book written about it there won't be a chapter dedicated to Jamie Munson's role within Mars Hill if the book were written by someone still at Mars Hill.

But in spite of Mark Driscoll's former claim that Munson was always above reproach, it seems Sutton Turner had some issues with the fiscal competency of leadership at Mars Hill and seemed to believe that Jamie Munson was "checked out" and had left Mars Hill in a financial situation that was something like a disaster.

One of the greatest and most harmful events was Pastor Jamie resigning and leaving me in this job as General Manager/Executive Elder. From early June until he resigned in August, he had basically checked out. So I had less than 6 weeks as General Manager before becoming #1 King without being an Elder. Then finally in November, I was made an Executive Pastor without have any creditability with the staff. This single fact hindered my ability to really even understand the organization or the people, much less see the problems as they had existed for a long time.

So Driscoll may change his tune depending on the topic and who is asking him a question.  If he told Grace he made a mistake in trying to submit himself to the spiritual authority of new and green elders it makes even less sense that ten years after the start of Mars Hill he would have had Jamie Munson be legal president and Lead Pastor of Mars Hill if Mark Driscoll really took seriously the problem of trying to submit to the authority of new, young and green Christians.  If anything appointing an even younger man who was a new convert under Driscoll's preaching and teaching would be an example of Mark Driscoll amplifying his earlier error.  He wasn't just trying to submit to the spiritual authority of young, green and new elders, he was trying to lower the bar for executive leadership even lower at a crucial stage of Mars Hill in 2007.

A few months after that crucial change Mark Driscoll described the impossibility of working with friends in ministry.
(starts at 00:31:52)

Q. How do you lead staff who are your best friends?Do you want the honest answer or should I punt?

... You can't. ... you can't.

I hate to tell you that. ... Deep down in your gut you know if you're best friends and someone works for you that changes the relationship. Right? Because you can fire them. Of course you want to be friends with your elders and the people you work with. I mean, we're a church. I mean you wanna, you NEED to love the people you work with. But one of the hardest things, and only the lead guy gets this. Nobody else on staff even understands what I'm talking about. When you're the lead guy you wear multiple hats. Say it's someone who works with you and they're a good friend. You wear the "Hey, we're buddies" hat. We're friends. We go on vacation. We hang out. We do
dinner. We're friends.

But you also wear the "I'm your boss" hat "You need to do your job or I might have to fire you" hat, and you also wear the "I'm your pastor. I love you, care for you, and I'm looking out for your well-being" hat. Those three hats are in absolute collision. Because how do you fire your friend and then pastor them through it? Right? I mean that is very complicated. I love you, you're fired, can I pray for you? That is a very .. what are we doing? I think if you're going to have your best friends working with you they need to be somewhere else on the team but not under you or the friendship really needs to change.

And what happens is when people are your friend ... I don't think that many do this intentionally but they want you to wear whatever hat is at their best interest at the time. So they didn't do their job, they're falling down on their responsibility, and you talk to them and say, "Look, you're not getting this done." They put on the "hey buddy. Yeah, I've been kinda sick lately and my wife and I are going through a hard time." and they want the friend hat on. And as a friend you're like, "Oh, I'm so sorry, dude." But then you put your boss hat back on and you're like "Yeah, but we pay you and we need you to get the job done."

And then they want you to put the friend hat back on and keep sympathizing.
And you're totally conflicted. ...

I have very good friends in this church. I have elders that are very dear friends, but when you have to do their performance review, when you have to decide what their wage is, when you have to decide whether they get promoted, demoted or terminated it's impossible to do that because you can't wear all three hats at the same time.

First guy I fired, he was a dear friend. A godly man, no moral or doctrinal sin whatsoever, he just wasn't keeping up with what we needed him to do. And it wasn't `cause he didn't try and wasn't working hard. And he had a wonderful wife and a great family and to this day I think the world of this guy.  And if my sons grew up to be like him, I'd be proud. And I'm not critical of this man at all.

But I remember sitting down at that first termination. First I put on the friend hat. I said, "I love you, I appreciate you. I value you." Then I put on the boss hat, "I'm gonna have to let you go. Here's why." And then I put on the pastor hat, "How are you feeling? How are you doing?" And he was really gracious with me and he said, "This is just the weirdest conversation I've ever had." And I said, "Me too, `cause I'm not sure what hat I'm supposed to wear."

Does that make any sense? The best thing is if you have a best friend maybe the best thing to do is not have them work with you.  Or if they do have them work under someone else. And to also pursue good friendships with people outside of your church. Some of my dearest friends today are not at Mars Hill, they're also pastors of other churches. Darrin Patrick is here, Vice-President of Acts 29. I love him. He's a brother. He's the guy I call. ... He's a pastor to me, you know?  Matt Chandler is here. I count as a friend. By God's Grace, C. J. Mahaney, I count as a friend. ...

Jamie Munson is head of the elder board. Jamie Munson is executive pastor. He is legal president of the organization. And for me, to be honest, it was the most freeing, liberating thing I could have dreamed of because now I don't have all that conflict of interest. I can be friends with someone but I don't have to fire them, do their performance review, and decide how much they get paid. It's just too conflicting for me."  [emphasis added]

But Mark Driscoll is legal president of Mars Hill since 2011.  So either Mark Driscoll no longer has a presidency characterized by conflicts of interest or he's arrived at a point where he doesn't have problems with conflicts of interest in a way that does not necessarily indicate that conflicts of interest don't exist.  We can't be sure.

But what is clear is that Driscoll can't have it both ways.  He can't claim that he made the mistake of trying to submit to the spiritual authority of young, new and green elders who were all older and more experienced than him while having made a point of appointing the even younger, even greener, and even newer-to-the-faith-than-himself Jamie Munson.  If submitting to the spiritual authority of Gunn, Moi and others was a problem because they lacked spiritual experience and wisdom then why appoint Munson Lead Pastor ten years later?  That looks like an exponential increase in stupid if Mark Driscoll actually ever believed the problem was he was trying to submit to the spiritual authority of young, green Christians.  And if Munson was so great a Lead Pastor and a spiritual authority somebody pull up all the fantastic sermons Munson preached while a pastor at Mars Hill.

And now?  Mars Hill isn't saying anything about Munson, the "king" who was heading the corporation for so long.  If what Driscoll did in 1996 was stupid what Driscoll did circa 2006-2007 was stupid times stupid if we're going to take that video seriously and believe that Mark's problem was that he made the mistake of trying to submit to the spiritual authority of green elders.  In late 2011 the story Mark told was he hadn't raised up a team to help him.  Fascinating how this works.  Mark didn't raise up a team of elders to help him and he had to do the majority of the work and yet somehow, at the same time, he made the mistake of trying to submit to the spiritual authority of the elders who were older men he asked to help him co-plant MH because they were young and new and green?  So they didn't exist for all practical purposes when Mark's talking about all the work he did but then they did exist when he wants to talk about how he made the mistake of trying to submit himself to their authority.  

And then assuming all that isn't a little bit weird ... picking Jamie Munson to be legal president in spite of being a young guy with little real-world work experience to manage Mars Hill as a legal entity when he was an even newer Christian than Driscoll himself was makes it hard to imagine that at any point Driscoll was very sincere or serious when he said the problem was he was trying to submit the authority of new and green leaders.  He let Munson stay president of MH for years, after all. 

1 comment:

molly245 said...

Love your phrase "That looks like an exponential increase in stupid..." referring to Mark Driscoll.

As always, your documentation is very welcome & provides a very trustworthy source document.

Your logical progression is great too. Are you perhaps a forensic accountant?.... :)