It's difficult to be certain the investigation is going to even find the formal charges credible at this stage. It's possible, though, since theoretically anything is possible. Whether or not it is likely remains to be seen.
But at this rate if attendance and giving keep nose-diving it may not even matter whether the BoE finds the charges against Mark Driscoll credible or not, and it may not even matter whether the BoAA takes the conclusions presented seriously.
It's tough to tell whether there will be a Mars Hill in 2015.
In spite of having protested and said he was "done", Jim Henderson has another post
Always six there are, no more, no less, would Yoda say?
The math seems compelling but it seemed compelling about seven years ago when Wenatchee The Hatchet found out that MH dropped 1.5 million on a piece of real estate that was zoned for industrial use without doing much homework. Here we are nearly a DECADE LATER. It's true the financial numbers suggest death is near but "the math" became a problem due to other things.
But as Wenatchee The Hatchet noted at the start of 2014, that while MH giving shows that the number of non-givers had gotten higher ...
there also appeared to be some ramped up giving from the mid-tier and major donor brackets. Henderson may be a bit optimistic. We can be moderately sure giving while have tanked and people have left but Wenatchee The Hatchet's guess here is we need to see another FY report, the one for FY2014. What we may find is that the mid-tier and high end donor giving has stayed relatively static and that the below mid-tier donations have tanked even more. Why? Because the higher end donors may just not want to admit they've thrown good money after bad even at this late stage in the game. For the rank and file there's likely no benefit but for people in the cultural levels where they can net business deals or real estate the incentive to stay loyal may never have been so great as it is now, even in spite of the controversies.
For #2, the elite, Henderson might have picked the wrong Sun Tzu axiom. Nathan Burke retweeted a proverb that might be more pertinent. While Henderson quoted, “the one incalculable in war is the will of the people" that might not be the most apropos proverb. Try this one:
When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak, the result is collapse
retweeted by Nathan Burke, who would surely have been in a position to know how applicable the proverb was! Still, the Sun Tzu axioms are both applicable.
But unless Mark DeMoss officially throws in the towel and washes his hands of Driscoll and Mars Hill it's probably not accurate to say the cultural elite won't defend Driscoll. The fact that the publishers of the works that Driscoll cribbed from over six books have not opted to sue him or Mars Hill might also be a suggestion that while some cultural elite aren't going to defend Driscoll they haven't seen a reason to take action in public.
And Wenatchee The Hatchet will believe all 'cultural elite' have abandoned Mars Hill and Driscoll when Jon Phelps, founder of Full Sail University, removes his membership in a way that could be publicly verified.
For number 3, well, Wenatchee The Hatchet has grown cynical about the cynics who talk about "follow the money" stuff. Where your treasure is there your heart will be doesn't just have to be a saying that people have their treasure in money; it could also be construed as a sign of investment. The things you treasure you will throw money at whether or not anyone values them. Wenatchee The Hatchet isn't going to advertise what it cost circa 2002 to get the scores for the complete string quartets of Shostakovich but it wasn't cheap. Was more gainfully employed back then, relatively speaking.
But a point raised within Henderson's 3 can still be presented thusly, there are reasons for people who have given to Mars Hill to doubt the sustainability of their investment. As tempting as it is for some to view this motive in a strictly cynical light the failure of MH leadership to competently engage in real estate acquisition a decade ago was a bigger deal to Wenatchee The Hatchet in 2007 than the still murky account of the firings. Why? Because someone named Jesus said something about how those faithful with little would be faithful with much and how those dishonest with little would be dishonest with much. If Mars Hill leadership wasn't going to cop to buying a $1.5 million boondoggle in 2005 then it wouldn't be so big a stretch if things were being spun in 2007. The lack of fiscal accountability and competence was beginning to show even as far back as 2005. The numbers were starting to tell a story for those who have an interest.
Anyone can complain about American consumerism while having books they promote. :) No offense, but it's kind of surprising how many people who have decided to sound off on Driscoll and the company have had books to promote along the way. Will Henderson have one, perhaps? It's not that books about Mars Hill can't or shouldn't be written. Wenatchee The Hatchet could probably write three books about Mars Hill but is not sure that's worth bothering with.
On 4, the leak. Well ... no ...
4. The Leak
They committed the unpardonable sin by using “helpless” orphans in Ethiopia to raise money to pay off Driscoll’s WoodWay Mansion. Then they hid the memo. Then someone leaked it. Current staffers have lost confidence and are wanting to clear their conscience.
The "sleeping giant" memo dealing with Mars Hill Global was published, according to Warren Throckmorton, in November 2011 and this was around the time Sutton Turner became official first "king"
Mars Hill Global, back in the Munson era, had been designed to fund capital expansion and resource development for Mars Hill in particular. This is not up for debate. Wenatchee The Hatchet quoted extensively from a 2009 sermon in which Driscoll explained what Global was about in 2009 as headed by Munson.
And even this memo published by Throckmorton
Seems to make clear the Global Fund may have a few sketchy or potentially legally problematic aspects in terms of what was used in solicitation vs what was done with the money (i.e. pictures of African kids and money got used to get campuses in WA state) but claiming Global funds were used to buy a Driscoll house might not only be impossible to prove it might give Mars Hill a chance to DISPROVE the claim.
As for where the money to buy the house came from, the previously linked-to sermon will suffice again. Driscoll hoped one of his books would "pop", after all, and said so from the pulpit. Perhaps with the use of the kind of side company Driscoll said he didn't have in 2009, the royalties from a book like Real Marriage could have generated enough revenue in royalties for a house to be bought, maybe? Wenatchee The Hatchet has charted the arcs for the RSI contract on the one hand and the purchase and development of some real estate on the other.
There may be some questions as to all the details of how the house we remodeled and what the final cost really was (MH has a leadership culture that can be infamously bad at low-balling final and real expenses and making mis-steps on zoning issues, after all) but it remains to be seen. It seems dubious to imply or outright say that Mars Hill Global funds were ever used to buy real estate.
So that's a set of problems specific to the claims in their specific form as made by Henderson.
But there's also a more general problem, and this may get back to some historic misconceptions in popular imagination about Watergate coverage and the media, kinda. People have wondered who Deep Throat is and if there's a "Deep Throat" for Mars Hill it is a probably large informal web of former and current members (and likely staff). Wenatchee The Hatchet has better ways to spend a weekend than naming sources. It's not as though Mars Hill leadership didn't send a certified letter to Wenatchee The Hatchet last year. Mars Hill has known for years who Wenatchee The Hatchet is and only in the last calendar year made some overtures at contact. But who is Wenatchee The Hatchet that anyone should care to meet with WtH? Besides, as a matter of journalistic blogging ethics there's no way WtH would divulge even one of a dozen or more sources. So the problem Mars Hill is facing is that there are multiple leaks at virtually every level of leadership within the church. The reasons are simple, a lack of trust in the honesty and integrity of the culture.
Speaking of which ... here's a case where Driscoll deserves, perhaps, a bit more credit than critics would want to give him.
5. The Addict
Just like an addict, Driscoll has let his church take the hits for him while he “reflects” in his bunker. He hides while his church dies. Mars Hill deserves to disappear. There are no leaders left to lead anymore. They followed their king over the cliff.
Let's recall that stuff didn't hit the fan until accusations of plagiarism erupted in the media. Let's also bear in mind that when Mefferd produced evidence of plagiarism in The Trial study guide for the 1 & 2 Peter series that Mars Hill PR passive aggressively tried to shift blame to the research help. But ...
in spite of the problem that MH PR tried to shift blame to others besides Mark Driscoll for plagiarism that had Mark Driscoll's name on it the end result was conceding a significant failure without accepting blame for plagiarism as such. Why does this matter? Well, look, if you've actually read up on all the citation/plagiarism issues across all books with Mark Driscoll's name on them this was the one time we got anything like a public mea culpa. Why? Because the Trial study guide was the only book in which the copyright was owned by Mars Hill Church as a corporation rather than Mark Driscoll as an individual or Driscoll as an individual via the proxy of an LLC. That matters because that shows that when the plagiarism scandal had the potential to damage Mars Hill Church the corporation, give or take some unscrupulous and cowardly blame-shifting, team Mars Hill took action. If Driscoll is "like an addict" and "has let his church take the hits for him" then why was so much time and effort spent by Driscoll, Mars Hill and Tyndale to actually ADMIT something went wrong? Wenatchee The Hatchet probably has a reputation as a Driscoll critic but in this case Henderson's assertions come across as ignorant and unfounded. It may seem generally true and have the force of an axiom but the problem is in the details of actual events.
Finally, there's whatever this is.
6. The History
Barbara Tuchman wrote; “history is a series of miscalculations”. Smarter people than Driscoll have been caught by history. Just before the fall comes the proud face. Disgraced Ex President Richard Nixon said it best, “I’m no crook” and then… he was gone.
If history is a series of miscalculations we'll just have to wait and see if Henderson's prediction is right. As journalists have been putting it since the identification of Deep Throat we now know that it wasn't the press that took down the Nixon administration, it was the Nixon administration. We shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that people in the press or in blogging have done more than we have. Wenatchee The Hatchet has done more than most but would hesitate to say that what has been done is all that much in the long run. We don't know yet whether Mars Hill may not survive. It may be "dead" in the taxonomy of Mark Driscoll circa 2006 but even Driscoll said of that kind of "dead" church that it could limp on for generations.