Sunday, October 19, 2014

WT: Mars Hill Church Board of Elders: Mark Driscoll Resigned Instead of Entering a Restoration Plan

looks like there's an update with a longer statement reproduced at Throckmorton's blog/post

The investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll has revealed patterns of persistent sin in the three areas disclosed in the previous letter by the Board of Overseers. In I Tim 5:20, it requires that an elder be rebuked for persistent sin. Our intention was to do this while providing a plan for his eventual restoration to leadership. The Board of Elders in agreement with the Board of Overseers are grieved, deeply grieved, that any process like that was lost to us when Mark Driscoll resigned in position and left the church. Now is the time to move on and consider what God is calling us to next as a church as we participate in Jesus’ mission to make disciples in His name. Today begins a new chapter in the history of our church which has proceeded in one direction under one leadership for many years now, but I want you to understand this, God is our Father. That does not change. Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church and that has not changed.

The elders of Mars Hill Church acknowledge as we’ve gone through all of this investigation, and heard all of these stories, we acknowledge that we have personally led in some of the same ways that demonstrate some of the same ways that Pastor Mark had. And those things require repentance and forgiveness and restoration. We realize that there are ways that we have led as elders in ways that have been domineering, sometimes arrogant and sometimes boastful and at least for my part, I want to say I deeply regret those sins and I ask for your forgiveness.  We want to lead you into the future in a way that displays more grace, more love as we speak the truth to each of you. If there are people that I have offended in ways I have pastored this church, I would welcome that you come to me and speak with me to allow me the opportunity to reconcile with you.

At this time Mars Hill Church is going to move ahead under the Board of Overseers established plan for transition. Pastor Dave Bruskas will serve as the teaching and preaching pastor during an interim period of time until we establish a direction we are going as a church. The Board of Advisors are going to be working in the weeks to come on a plan for moving forward and for how that will unfold, what the next steps are, there are a lot of things to consider. As we discover what those things are, what the spirit shows us, then we want to communicate clearly to you and transparently to you what’s happening, the directions and the changes that will be taking place.

The first thing to note is the statement claims Mark Driscoll has "left the church", which makes it sound like he resigned his membership from Mars Hill.  Wenatchee The Hatchet was under the impression that church members who were under some kind of disciplinary review weren't allowed to do that.

If Driscoll was found in persistent sin as a member of the church he shouldn't have been allowed to resign his membership, should he?  Letting Driscoll leave the church and having Mars Hill "move on" would just mean Mars Hill refused to enforce its own bylaws regarding member discipline with regard to persistent sin on its former legal president.

The threefold purpose of church discipline is to glorify God by maintaining purity in the local church, to edify and protect believers by deterring sin, and to promote the spiritual welfare of the offending believer by calling him or her to return to a biblical standard of doctrine and conduct.(a) Members of the Church and all other professing Christians who regularly attend or fellowship with the Church who err in doctrine, or who engage in conduct that violates Scripture as determined by any two or more elders, shall be subject to church discipline. Each potential case of discipline will be weighed on its own merits and dealt with according to Scripture.

So Mark Driscoll was found to have a pattern of "persistent sin"? What is church discipline for again?
So it takes two or more elders to make the call regarding whether a member engaged in conduct violating scripture?  The Board of Elders easily fits that 2+ numbering, doesn't it?

Then there's this:

(e) Each member of the Church and every other professing Christian who regularly attends or fellowships with the Church agrees that there shall be no appeal to any court because of a discipline process or dismissal. A member who is under discipline by the Church, as defined in the previous paragraphs, forfeits and waives the right to resign from the Church.  Resignation is possibly only be a member of the Church who is in good standing and who is not under any disciplinary action. 

So Driscoll was found to have been in persistent sin and a restoration plan was drawn up (where have we read about Mars Hill restoration plans before?)

But there have are apparently executive exceptions seeing as Scott Thomas was allowed to retain membership on The City in spite of having accepted a job at Darrin Patrick's church.  An overview of that is over here. It is easily documented that when the executive leadership of Mars Hill disappears they seem to have the option of severance packages other staff don't get and to be permitted to retain membership at Mars Hill for a time after accepting positions at other churches in spite of the breach of covenant this has constituted.

Since Bruskas is the only executive elder who DIDN'T quit this announcement was virtually inevitable.  Bruskas will be teaching and preaching pastor during the interim, which according to the bylaws makes Bruskas legal president of Mars Hill Church for the time being.  Who the secretary will be remains to be seen but since the secretary is not required by the bylaws to be an executive elder that role could already be filled by a financial or administrative employee of some kind.

Let's compare the recent report to the older one from the Mars Hill Board of Overseers

Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Resignation
Mars Hill Church
From Mars Hill Church:
On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.
As is well known, inside and outside of Mars Hill, Pastor Mark has been on a leave of absence for nearly two months while a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him. This investigation had only recently been concluded, following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.
While a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers was charged with conducting this investigation, the full Board of Overseers is charged with reaching any conclusions and issuing any findings. In that capacity, we believe it appropriate to publicly mention the following:
  1. We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.
  2. Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.
  3. We found some of the accusations against Pastor Mark to be altogether unfair or untrue.
  4. Other charges had been previously been addressed by Pastor Mark, privately and publicly. Indeed, he had publicly confessed and apologized for a number of the charges against him, some of which occurred as long as 14 years ago.
  5. We commend Mark for acting upon the vision God gave him to start Mars Hill Church and for his ministry of faithfully teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years. We commit to pray for him, for Grace, and for their children as they transition from ministry at Mars Hill Church.
We would ask for patience as we now make plans for the first transition of pastoral leadership in the history of Mars Hill Church. We have asked Pastor Dave Bruskas to serve as the primary teaching pastor while we work on long-term plans and decisions. Our elders and board members will work closely with the church staff to support the ongoing operations of Mars Hill in the days and months ahead.

Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. While he can speak to his decision as he chooses, we would point to just two things from his letter. He noted that he had concluded “it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church.” Secondly, he specifically wanted to convey “to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family, how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ, who has always been only good to us.”

Mars Hill Board of Overseers
Michael Van Skaik
Larry Osborne
Jon Phelps
Matt Rogers
So it's starting to look like the patterns the Board of Overseers consider to be ultimately not problematic the Board of Elders considered sinful.  It "looks" as though the Board of Overseers decided to "interpret" material presented by the Board of Elders in a way that didn't find Driscoll disqualified.  We'd have to be able to see the actual report to know what was in it but so far the statements by the BoO and the BoE seem difficult to reconcile.
With Bruskas as president now might be a time to recall that Bruskas was involved in some fashion with the 2012 A Call for Reconciliation process.

It's been a couple of years, after all, and what was the result of that call for reconciliation?  Nothing much, apparently, and since people who worked to participate in that process have indicated an involvement on the part of Bruskas and his associates now would be a time to revisit how much Dave Bruskas heard about concerns from former members about Mark Driscoll's speech, conduct and overall fitness for ministry.

Finally, let's keep in mind Paul Tripp's resignation from the BoAA

Mars Hill BoAA Statement

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the church of Jesus Christ. I love pastors. I love working with churches to help them form a leadership culture that is shaped by the same grace that is at the center of the message that they preach.

It's because of this love that I accepted the position on Mars Hill Church's BoAA. But it became clear to me that a distant, external accountability board can never work well because it isn't a firsthand witness to the ongoing life and ministry of the church.

Such a board at best can provide financial accountability, but it will find it very difficult to provide the kind of hands-on spiritual direction and protection that every Christian pastor needs. Unwittingly what happens is that the external accountability board becomes an inadequate replacement for a biblically functioning internal elder board that is the way God designed his church to be lead and pastors to be guided and protected.

So, since I knew that I could not be the kind of help that I would like to be through the vehicle of the BoAA, I resigned from that position.

I would still love to see the leadership community of Mars Hill Church become itself a culture of grace and I am still willing to help, but not through the means of a board that will never be able to do what it was designed to do.

Tripp's resignation has since highlighted that the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability and its apparent constituent parts of the Board of Overseers and the Executive Elders have their own set of credibility crises to deal with.  If the BoO decided the patterns were not disqualifying why did the BoE summary indicate "sin"?  Why did the BoE statement seem to indicate that Mark Driscoll has not only resigned from leadership but actually left Mars Hill?  Meanwhile, Paul Tripp's resignation and announcement constituted what looks like a public vote of no confidence in the basic nature of the BoAA. 

If all the recent reports are accurate then the Board of Overseers misrepresented the findings of the Board of Elders which seems to have lacked the nerve to just say so and the summation of things is that even though Mars Hill leadership found Mark Driscoll to have a pattern of persistent sin that basically disqualified him from ministry they let him resign his membership in defiance of the bylaws and the member participation procedures they have enforced on others in church disciplinary settings in the past.

And if Mark Driscoll declined participating in a restoration plan offered by Mars Hill leadership doesn't that make him kinda like ... Andrew?

What did Andrew write on his way out after declining the discipline contract?

After extensive prayer and careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that Mars Hill is not the place that God has for me to be right now. Therefore, I respectfully decline your help in this next stage of my life. I will not be returning to [name of community group leader's] CG, and will not be attending Mars Hill anymore. Thank you for your continued prayers.

So if Driscoll has in fact resigned rather than face the Mars Hill restoration plan being offered to him then Mark Driscoll and Andrew "look" like they've started walking on parallel paths, kinda.  If Andrew was dubbed a "wolf" after refusing to submit to a disciplinary process how much more should Mark Driscoll be considered a wolf of wolves if he voluntarily resigned rather than submit to a restoration plan?

And the veracity of statements made by the BoO and BoAA seem in question.  If Mars Hill lets Justin Dean say anything at this point it is the opinion of Wenatchee The Hatchet that that might throw three gallons of jet fuel on an existing fire.


Sonja said...

That was glaring to me also. I resigned in good standing but I'm not special.

What are your thoughts of a church having such a thing as the BOAA, let alone such a "board" with such power? I have my own opinion, but would be curious to hear your's, unvarnished. Thanks, and thanks for your years and years of hard work to archive the true history.

Unknown said...

Perhaps the game is he resigned before the BOE "released" the findings, there fore they officially did not make the findings yet, so he was still in good standing.. Ah legalisms.

brgulker said...

That Mark won't submit to the church discipline plan that he himself orchestrated pretty much tells the whole story, doesn't it?