Saturday, November 01, 2014

2-5-2008 spiritual warfare Part 1 part 2 commentary 4 doubting the love and action of the executive elders at Mars Hill was "a demonic lie"

Now while Wenatchee The Hatchet plans to present a fairly thorough transcript of the most salient teachings from the February 5, 2008 spiritual warfare series this is not likely to be a comprehensive transcript of the seminar.  That said, we can certainly try to do the best that mere mortals can do.  Now, we get to the most explicit condemnation of opposition to or doubts about the Mars Hill executive elders circa 2007.


I think one of the great myths that has come about (it's a demonic lie) is that myself, the executive elders, the senior leaders we don't care about people. I was the only one who did ANY counseling until we had 800 people. We still do tons of shepherding, counseling, spiritual warfare, conflict. But we try to do so in a way that is humble, that isn't "and here is who I served and here are the demons we cast out and here's the list of people that I've healed." That's demonic. The truth is I love the people as much--actually, more than anyone in this church. And the senior leaders, the campus pastors, the departmental leaders, the executive elders love the people in this church as much or more than anyone else in this church. And one of my great concerns is not just, "Can you hold hands and help sheep?" but "can you also flip the staff over and defend against a wolf?"  You HAVE to have that discernment, that courage, and that ability to tell someone: "You are in sin. That is false doctrine.  You are not qualified to be a leader. If you do not repent you are not welcome here. And I will speak truthfully to those who want to follow you because my job is for the well-being of the sheep."

Here was where it couldn't be more explicit, anyone within Mars Hill doubting the degree to which executive leadership at Mars Hill Church loved the church and its people was dismissed and rejected as a demonic lie.  Driscoll regaled the leaders of Mars Hill who were his audience about how he alone did counseling up to the point that Mars Hill had 800 people.  We've discussed the potential negative significance of that counseling elsewhere.

That Driscoll considered doubt about the love and ethics of the executive leadership of Mars Hill a demonic lie suggests the most explicit and direct beginning of what Steve Tompkins described as the "ad hominem" narrative in the history of Mars Hill. 

To understand what else Driscoll had said about the controversial 2007 re-org it may be good to review some material discussed at an older post:
A letter from Pastor Mark Driscoll
November 8, 2007
One of the problems was that Mars Hill had essentially outgrown the wisdom of our team and needed outside counsel. The church had grown so fast that some of our elders and other leaders were simply falling behind and having trouble keeping up, which was understandable. To make matters worse, there was a growing disrespect among some elders who were jockeying for and abusing power. The illusion of unity our eldership had maintained over the years was kept in part by my tolerating some men who demanded more power, pay, control, and voice than their performance, character, or giftedness merited. While this was a very short list of men, as elders they had enough power to make life truly painful.
One of the problems at the time was there was, to put it nicely, some doubt among members as to how reliable this narrative from Mark Driscoll was on the subject of the re-org.

Since a number of men who were around Mars Hill in 2007 and participants in that controversial period of Mars Hill have changed their minds on the rightness of what happened ... it does seem reasonable to wonder.  What if the story Driscoll shared in 2007 was ... open to alternate interpretations?

What was going on in 2007?  Well, according to Driscoll:
A letter from Pastor Mark DriscollNovember 8, 2007
Sadly, it was during the bylaw rewriting process that two of our elders, who curiously were among the least administratively gifted for that task, chose to fight in a sinful manner in an effort to defend their power and retain legal control of the entire church. This included legal maneuvering involving contacting our attorney, which was a violation of policy, one elder who is no longer with us disobeying clear orders from senior leaders about not sharing sensitive working data with church members until the elders had arrived at a decision, which has caused much dissension, and that same elder accusing Pastor Jamie Munson, who was the then new Lead Pastor of Mars Hill, of being a deceptive liar in an all-elder meeting with elder candidates present, despite having absolutely no evidence or grounds because it was a lie. This was heartbreaking for me since I have seen Pastor Jamie saved in our church, baptized in our church, married in our church, birth four children in our church, and rise up from an intern to the Lead Pastor in our church with great skill and humility that includes surrounding himself with godly gifted older men to complement his gifts. [emphasis added]
Never mind that by 2013 Driscoll wouldn't even have the same story for how and why the by-laws needed to be revised. That's discussed at length in another set of tagged posts.  Driscoll proceeded:

To make matters worse, this former elder’s comments came after my more than one-hour lecture in that meeting based on a twenty-three-page document I gave the elders as a summary report about what I had learned from the other pastors I had met with in addition to months of researching Christian movements. I had just explained the cause of the pains we were experiencing as a leadership team as largely tied to our growing number of elders and campuses, as well as ways that my research indicated men commonly respond by sinfully seeking power, money, preference, control, and information as ways to exercise pride and fight for their interests over the interests of the team, church, and mission of Jesus Christ. The elder who sinned was followed up with following the meeting by a rebuke from a fellow Executive Elder, but repentance was not forthcoming. To make matters worse, some vocal church members ran to that elder’s defense without knowing the facts, made demands upon the elders, acted in a manner that was not unifying or helpful, and even took their grievances public on the Ask Anything comment portion of our main website for my forthcoming preaching series. Of course, this was done under anonymous names to protect their image in the eyes of fellow church members while maligning the elders publicly. Some church members even began accusing the other elders of grabbing power and not caring for the best interests of our people, which is nothing short of a lie and contradictory in every way to the entire process we were undertaking. It broke my heart personally when amidst all of this, a member asked me on behalf of other members if the elders really loved our people. Now having given roughly half my life to planning for and leading Mars Hill Church, the questioning of my love and the love of our elders, some of whom even got saved in our church, for our people was devastating.

Today, I remain deeply grieved by and for one man ...

In the wake of what Mark Driscoll would call a "difficult season" amidst controversy and doubt about whether the executive elders were truly sharing power or consolidating power by shrinking the minimum required number of officers and executives while expanding their powers at the end of 2007, Mark Driscoll in February 2008 declared that the idea that the executive elders might act in ways that were from anything but love for Mars Hill was "a demonic lie".

Bear in mind that by this time the bylaws had been revised by either Jamie Munson or Mark Driscoll in such a way that all Mars Hill staff were at will employees who could be fired at any time by two guys, or so it seemed.  Add on top of this the explicit condemnation of doubts about the character and views of the executive elders as being satanic and it looks like the Spiritual Warfare teaching Mark Driscoll gave in February 2008 should not be seen as some controversial seminar on spiritual warfare, or not just that.

It begins to look more and more as though it should look like a blunt instrument rhetorical session in which Mark Driscoll seemed to make it clear that any doubting of the executive elders might as well be considered satanic.  If Tompkins was at this sprawling teaching seminar then it's little wonder why he and others might have taken this incendiary condemnation from Driscoll about doubting the executive eldership as a sign to shut up and say nothing. 

Well ... having gotten through just the first thirty-four minutes of part 1 that might be enough for the weekend.  Maybe.  Those who believe Mark Driscoll may have some sin issues but that he's not disqualified from future pastoral ministry are open to reaching that conclusion if they absolutely insist, but Wenatchee The Hatchet (who has had the spiritual warfare series sitting around since at least 2008) would suggest that there is still more evidence to consider.  This spiritual warfare series wasn't for congregants or members, it was a leaders-only session and as such it may be one of the more informative and important behind-the-scenes snapshots of how Driscoll might have talked when he was confident he was in a leaders-of-Mars-Hill-only setting. 


C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

After reading your posts on spiritual warfare address I listend to the sermon:


which was still up on the MHC site on Sunday 11/2/14.

This sermon is a work of art. It can be read as an expository sermon or it can be read as a sub-text about MD’s ongoing conflict with his critics. Reading it as subtext it becomes rather frightening when you pay close attention to the details. What appears on the surface to be a good sermon about spiritual warfare turns into something completely different.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

yeah, Driscoll's gotten good at embedding what seem like expository sermons with extensive anecdotes about his life and times. "Empowered by the Spirit to Fail" was a failure as an interpretation of what I think was actually in the text of Acts 6 but as a sprawling riff on Driscoll's feelings about the plagiarism scandal, RSI, and other scandals swirling around him about which he's managed to say "maybe I made a mistake", well, that's almost the only way to make sense of that sermon, which was the one he preached before the "wolves" sermon, if memory serves.

So when Driscoll claimed he avoided addressing recent events and controversy from the pulpit because the pulpit is sacred that came across to Wenatchee as both a terrible lie and a very bad joke.