Friday, August 08, 2014

in consideration of recent events, a blast from the past: Matt Chandler "A29 was so kind of meshed into Mars Hill that right now we are just trying to untangle where one begins and the other ends"

Originally published April 24, 2012:
By Alex Murashko

April 11, 2012

Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll announced that he was stepping down from the reins of Acts 29 late last month to make room for Chandler, the lead pastor at The Village Church in Highland Village in Texas. Driscoll remains on the organization's current three-member board which also includes The Journey's (St. Louis, Mo.) lead pastor, Darrin Patrick. The group's headquarters will move from Seattle to Dallas.

Driscoll seemed to have left the door open about the possibility he would remove himself from the board if needed for the greater good of the group, he implied in his statement last month about his decision.

"I want him on the board. He's a great advantage to the men, the movement, and the network as a whole," Chandler told CP when asked about Driscoll. "I think culturally and theologically he has some spectacular gifts. Driscoll will absolutely remain on the board. He would gladly step off if he thought that was best for the network. I don't think anybody believes that's best for the network."

... Acts 29 will not only be moving its Seattle-based headquarters to Dallas, but deciding how to continue with its connection to Mars Hill Church, also based in Seattle.

"A29 was so kind of meshed into Mars Hill that right now we are just trying to untangle where one begins and the other ends. We are gathering information right now. Our hope is that A29 is completely in Dallas by September," Chandler said.

"Acts 29 has been primarily funded by and run by Mars Hill," he noted. Chandler estimates that about 80 percent of the organization was funded by the church and it is a matter of deciding on the operational priorities moving forward, including which employee positions to keep.
"Those are some of the questions we are trying to answer even now," he said.

So Matt Chandler has discussed that Acts 29 was so "kind of meshed into Mars Hill" that right now they're trying to untangle where one begins and the other ends.  Chandler told the Christian Post that Mars Hill has been primarily funded by and run by Mars Hill and that 80 percent of the organization was funded by Mars Hill.  Chandler's statements about gathering information might suggest that Acts 29 is trying to figure out just how meshed Mars Hill has been into Acts 29.  At the risk of pointing out the obvious, Chandler's just told us that Mars Hill has pretty much been Acts 29 at the most important leadership levels.  This is easy to verify by consulting the Acts 29 Network website.

Now obviously in light of the April 11, 2012 article in the Christian post the following listings are no longer accurate but they are worth considering because as of today (April 24, 2012) this is the current information that helps illustrate what Chandler was talking about when he said "we are just trying to untangle where one begins and the other ends."

Even if it's not up to date it's something I couldn't ignore or avoid passing on.
From Acts 29 Leadership
1. Mark Driscoll, Founder and President
current executive Elder at Mars Hill
2. Darrin Patrick, Board Member
3. Matt Chandler, Board Member
recently made President of Acts 29 by the other board members and Driscoll
4. Dave Bruskas, Board Member
current executive Elder at Mars Hill)
5. Sutton Turner, Board Member
current executive elder at Mars Hill
6. Scott Thomas, Board Member
Former exeuctive elder at Mars Hill, former President of Acts 29 now no longer listed as an elder or even on staff at either organization.  Documentation at Joyful Exiles establish that Jamie Munson announced to Mars Hill elders in 2007 that Scott Thomas was the head of the Elder Investigative Taskforce that established whether Jamie Munson's allegations against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer were credible.
On March 20, 2012 Joyful Exiles went up.
On March 28, 2012 Scott Thomas announced he was stepping away from Acts 29.
But I wasn’t planning to stay forever. I was anticipating a change for my ministry in the future, and the move to Dallas makes it a perfect time to allow new leadership to emerge.
If you attempt to find a current listing of Mars Hill elders you may find the current ministry direction Scott Thomas seems to be in is not being in any ministry at all.  He's not listed as a pastor in any capacity at any Mars Hill website I can find.  The Christian Post article from April 11, 2012 has made it pretty clear Scott Thomas is not on the Acts 29 Board, either. The last name in the six men above is probably the most interesting because he was involved in every stage of the firings of Petry and Meyer.  He has recently written he was anticipating a change for his ministry in the future and, so far, that change has been not being on staff at either Mars Hill or Acts 29 from the look of things. 
Now of these six names listed four of them are men who have been or are executive elders at Mars Hill. That means that at one point two thirds of the Acts 29 Board was chaired by either current or former Mars Hill executive elders.  The meshed nature has not merely covered the Acts 29 board.
From Network Leadership there's a listing for the Acts 29 Northwest Regional Leader, Bill Clem, who is a pastor at Mars Hill Ballard. 
For Acts 29 Central
Tyler Powell, listed as Assessment Director for Acts 29 is also listed as Church Planting Pastor for Mars Hill
Ryan Kearns, Assessment Coordinator for Acts 29, is listed as a Deacon at Mars Hill, listed contact email is
Matt Aiken, Operations Manager for Acts 29, is listed as a deacon at Mars Hill
 Sara Britt, Executive Assistant to Tyler Powell, is listed as a deacon at Mars Hill Church

So not only has it been the case that the Acts 29 Board has been lately dominated by the entire executive elder board of Mars Hill it even included a former Executive Elder who was formerly President of Acts 29.  If four of five board members heading Acts 29 have been present or former executive elders at Mars Hill this does make it easy to understand why Matt Chandler told the Christian Post it was a challenge to figure out where Acts 29 ended and Mars Hill began, or vice versa.

For a sampling of a few captures from the WayBack Machine to help establish at least a little of this history of enmeshment survey the following:

Listings from crawls of the WayBack Machine for

December 2, 2010

Mark Driscoll | Founder & Lead Visionary of Acts 29
Lead Teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA
Scott Thomas | President & Director of Acts 29
Global Church Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA
Darrin Patrick | 1st Vice President of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at The Journey in St. Louis, MO
Jeff Vanderstelt | 2nd Vice President of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at Soma Communities in Tacoma, WA

Chan Kilgore | Secretary/Treasurer of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at Crosspointe Church in Orlando, FL
Matt Chandler | Board Member of Acts 29
Lead Pastor of The Village Church, Highland Village, TX
"Why I'm Acts 29"

Eric Mason | Board Member of Acts 29
Lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship, Philadelphia, PA
Tyler Powell | Church Planting Strategist of Acts 29
Church Planting Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA
Elliot Grudem | Network Coordinator of Acts 29
Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

December 26, 2010


Mark Driscoll | Founder & Lead Visionary of Acts 29
Lead Teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Scott Thomas | President & Director of Acts 29
Global Church Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA
Darrin Patrick | 1st Vice President of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at The Journey in St. Louis, MO
Jeff Vanderstelt | 2nd Vice President of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at Soma Communities in Tacoma, WA
Chan Kilgore | Secretary/Treasurer of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at Crosspointe Church in Orlando, FL

Matt Chandler | Board Member of Acts 29
Lead Pastor of The Village Church, Highland Village, TX
"Why I'm Acts 29"
Eric Mason | Board Member of Acts 29
Lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship, Philadelphia, PA
Tyler Powell | Church Planting Strategist of Acts 29
Church Planting Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA
Elliot Grudem | Network Coordinator of Acts 29
Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Jul 21, 2011

Acts 29 Leadership
Mark Driscoll | Founder & Lead Visionary of Acts 29
Lead Teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA
Bio, Speaking Engagements and Requests
Scott Thomas | President of Acts 29
Global Church Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA
Darrin Patrick | 1st Vice President of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at The Journey in St. Louis, MO
Jeff Vanderstelt | 2nd Vice President of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at Soma Communities in Tacoma, WA
Chan Kilgore | Secretary/Treasurer of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at Crosspointe Church in Orlando, FL
Matt Chandler | Board Member of Acts 29
Lead Pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, TX
"Why I'm Acts 29"
Eric Mason | Board Member of Acts 29
Lead Pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA
 Tyler Powell | Church Planting Strategist of Acts 29
Church Planting Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA
Elliot Grudem | Director of Acts 29
Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Administrative Support Staff

The administrative staff of the Acts 29 Network are based in Seattle,

Washington. Please visit our FAQ page and our General Contact page for
answers to questions and for office contact information.

Jeremy Pace | Training Coordinator
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Matt Aiken | Executive Assistant to Scott Thomas
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Spencer Abbott | Executive Assistant to Elliot Grudem
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Sara Britt | Executive Assistant to Tyler Powell
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Derrin Thomas | Communications Director
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Adriel Ifland | Managing Editor - Online Content
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

July 24, 2011

Leadership & Staff
Acts 29 Regional Leadership
Acts 29 Administrative Support Staff

Acts 29 Leadership

Mark Driscoll | Founder & Lead Visionary of Acts 29
Lead Teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA
Bio, Speaking Engagements and Requests

Scott Thomas | President of Acts 29
Global Church Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Darrin Patrick | 1st Vice President of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at The Journey in St. Louis, MO
Jeff Vanderstelt | 2nd Vice President of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at Soma Communities in Tacoma, WA
Chan Kilgore | Secretary/Treasurer of Acts 29
Lead Pastor at Crosspointe Church in Orlando, FL

Matt Chandler | Board Member of Acts 29
Lead Pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, TX
"Why I'm Acts 29"
Eric Mason | Board Member of Acts 29
Lead Pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA

Tyler Powell | Church Planting Strategist of Acts 29
Church Planting Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Elliot Grudem | Director of Acts 29
Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Administrative Support Staff

The administrative staff of the Acts 29 Network are based in Seattle,

Washington. Please visit our FAQ page and our General Contact page for
answers to questions and for office contact information.

Jeremy Pace | Training Coordinator
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Matt Aiken | Executive Assistant to Scott Thomas
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Spencer Abbott | Executive Assistant to Elliot Grudem
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Sara Britt | Executive Assistant to Tyler Powell
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Derrin Thomas | Communications Director
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

Adriel Ifland | Managing Editor - Online Content
Deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA

So this month Matt Chandler told The Christian Post, "A29 was so kind of meshed into Mars Hill that right now we are just trying to untangle where one begins and the other ends." This year the Board for Acts 29 came to include every current executive elder from Mars Hill and even a former one.  It's certainly understandable why it would be difficult to figure out where Acts 29 really begins and Mars Hill ends because it could look as though Acts 29, however it began, became functionally inseparable from Mars Hill. 

Chandler said 80 percent of the funding for Acts 29 has come from Mars Hill and earlier this year four out of six members of the Acts 29 Network board of directors were current or former executive elders at Mars Hill; Those executive elders held the roles of President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Network Director on the Acts 29 board. If 80 percent of the funding and two thirds of the board of directors are all from Mars Hill it's understandable why Chandler would have told the Christian Post it was tough to know where one organization ended and the other began.

word on the town is that Jamie Munson is officially gone from Mars Hill

Screen caps not available at the moment, but this has made the rounds:

Sent 7:18 to Downtown Seattle
From Pastor Matthias Haeusel:
 Dear Downtown Family -

For almost two decades Mars Hill has been blessed to have the Munson family be part of the ministry of Mars Hill Church and we thank God for all that he has allowed them to be part of over that time. We are so grateful for what the Lord did through Pastor Jamie and the Munson family. I am so thankful for the years of ministry work he has done for our church and the year we have been able to minister together. Pastor Jamie has been part of seeing thousands of lives impacted by the Lord at Mars Hill. We are so thankful for their family and for the hours of love and care that they have offered to us over these last two decades. We are looking forward to how God is going to use them in the future and to see them take what they have learned and the growth that they have experienced over these years and invest it for Jesus’ fame, and the good of his church.

Pastor Jamie and I met last Saturday (8.2.2014) and he wanted to pass this along to you all:
“Dear Friends, after almost two decades at Mars Hill we have made the decision to resign from eldership and will be looking for a new church home. We’re so grateful for our time at Mars Hill and trust the church will continue to reach many more people for Jesus. Though we are moving on from the church we are not moving on from the friendships we’ve formed. Countless people have impacted our lives over the years and for that we are deeply grateful. Thank you for loving our family. Blessings, Jamie and Crystal”

Thank you Pastor Jamie! I am very grateful for you and your family.

Pastor Matthias

And Tim Smith, the other young guy who helped Mark Driscoll reverse-engineer Mars Hill toward a growth goal at the dawn of the millennium, announced earlier this year he'd be going on a sabbatical.
As in:

I know some of you have been a churches where “sabbatical” is code for “he’s really looking for a graceful way to quit.”  I assure you that is not the case here.  I am more encouraged about the future of Mars Hill and more motivated on the mission of Jesus than ever!  I have simply run really hard for a decade and a half and, by God’s grace, I’m going to take an extra long vacation.

With Munson formally resigning (if the recent report is true) and Smith on a sabbatical in which he insisted the sabbatical was not a coded announcement of looking for a graceful way to exist it will be interesting to hear what preaching Smith does when he gets back from his sabbatical. 

As noted in the past, Mars Hill has taken enough pains to begin scrubbing even Jamie Munson a bit off of the Mars Hill online presence if Munson doesn't tackle his early and controversial 2007 leadership decisions Joyful Exiles might remain the only testimony to his leadership era.  For his sake that would be a shame since by earlier 2013 Mark Driscoll had begun describing himself as having personally revised the constitution and by-laws of Mars Hill Church and this despite the fact that all correspondence and statements from 2007 established that it was Munson who drafted the by-laws Meyer and Petry were objecting to, for which they were then fired.

Munson may be gone from Mars Hill but he does have family and friends within the Puget Sound area. 

The resignations have been slow but steady even after the tumultuous 2011-2012 period.  It remains to be seen who else may vanish from the ranks of Mars Hill.

on apologies and what was apologized for, Jonathan Merritt accepting an apology for A without considering that there might be reason for MD to apologize for B instead.

First, a prelude:

This was an internal communication to The City posted by Mark Driscoll in the wake of the on-air incident in which Janet Mefferd accused him of plagiarism.  The text, for those who can't see the image:

From Pastor Mark Driscoll:
Dear Mars Hill Church,
In light of some recent controversy that you may or may not be aware of, I wanted to communicate with you, our church family. Earning and keeping the trust of people in our church that I love and have given my adult life to matters very much to me. It has taken us some time to provide a statement, and it was because we wanted to do the right thing, in the right way, with the right heart, and that required time. [emphasis added]
For those who have been patient and prayerful, thank you. I am genuinely grateful for the grace I receive from the people I am honored to teach the Bible to week in and week out.
I am sorry for any concern this may have caused some of you. Because this matters greatly, it has also weighed on me heavily.
Lastly, I would encourage you to not feel any need to defend me. Our job is not to win arguments but to win people to Jesus Christ.
A full statement on the matter from my publisher and me is posted online.
A nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody,
–Pastor Mark

A reader may ask why on earth all of that is a prelude to discussing this week's post by Jonathan Merritt about accepting Mark Driscoll's apology regarding ... William Wallace II.  It's important to establish exactly what Mark Driscoll said to Mars Hill members regarding the plagiarism scandal and what he didn't in December 2013.  It is also important to note that he linked to a Tyndale press release regarding the subject which was chiefly about A Call to Resurgence and secondarily about the Trial study guide.
dated December 18, 2013

2.   In a separate issue unrelated to any Tyndale title, the radio host also made an allegation with regard to a study guide that was published in-house at Mars Hill. In this instance, Pastor Driscoll agrees that errors were made. He says:  
 In recent weeks, it was brought to my attention that our 2009 Trial study guide on 1&2 Peter contained passages from an existing work for which no proper citation to the original work was provided. The error was unintentional, but serious nonetheless.  I take responsibility for all of this. In order to make things right, we’ve contacted the publisher of the works used in the study guide, offered an apology, and agreed to work with them to resolve any issues they had. Also, I personally contacted one of the editors of the work that was not rightly attributed. Thankfully, he and I have a longstanding relationship, which includes him teaching at Mars Hill and publishing a book with us through Resurgence. He’s a godly man who has been very gracious through all of this. I am deeply thankful for his acceptance of my apology, as I deeply grieve this mistake with a brother in Christ whom I appreciate very much.
 Our Full Council of Elders and Board of Advisors and Accountability have all been thoroughly informed, as I am gladly under authority both internally at Mars Hill to a team of Elders, and to a formal leadership team from outside of Mars Hill.
 We’ve removed the free PDF version of Trial from our website, and we are reviewing the rest of our self-published materials to ensure that no similar mistakes have been made elsewhere. We are also making changes to our content development process to avoid these mistakes in the future. In addition, we are working with all of our past publishers to review other books we have published. If other mistakes were made, we want to correct them as soon as possible.
 Unfortunately, when we removed the Trial PDF from the Mars Hill website, we replaced it with a statement that claimed the book was never sold. That study guide was originally created for in-house small group use at Mars Hill so we gave it away at our church. We first believed we did not receive any revenue from this, but we later discovered that Trial was in fact previously sold on the Resurgence website and by Logos Software. To the best of our knowledge, total profits to Mars Hill from these sales are $236.35. We have corrected the previous statement on our website, and apologize for this error as well.
Mistakes were made that I am grieved by and apologize for. As a Bible teacher, I know that Jesus loves us and uses everything for good. I know he cares very much that we do things in a way that reflects his glory. As a result, I have been praying that he would help me learn through all of this to become more like him and more effective for him.”

Again, a reader will understandably wonder why this is pertinent to Merritt's recent post.  It's relevant because it has begun to seem to Wenatchee The Hatchet that Merritt compiled enough coverage to shed some light on the December 18, 2013 statement made by Driscoll on behalf of Mars Hill Church handling the specific case of the Trial study guide.  Note that Driscoll said the mistakes were unintentional but serious nonetheless.  At no point is there mention of who made the mistakes or why. 

Now, as for the apology by Mark Driscoll that Merritt accepts, the apology was published over at CT, in pieces, at least:

Merritt's post is over here:

So Jonathan Merrit accepts Driscoll's apology about William Wallace II.  There have been a couple of rather broad statements presented to the public speaking generally about things that may have been published to The City.  One of the most famous apologies issued by Driscoll (regarding Result Source) in 2014 was published on The City and was not, in fact, a public apology at all until bloggers Throckmorton and Turner ran with it and it was subsequently read, as best WtH understands all of this, AS A PUBLIC APOLOGY.  There's a pile of stuff within Merritt's own coverage from late 2013 that suggests that if there is an apology to be issued by Mark Driscoll on behalf of Mars Hill there might be another one that is due.

Let's go back to the coverage Merrit did of the plagiarism situation and specifically about the Trial study guide. Remember the following paragraph from the old MH downloads section for 1 & 2 Peter?

Bear in mind now that Mark Driscoll's statement, "It has taken us some time to provide a statement, and it was because we wanted to do the right thing, in the right way, with the right heart, and that required time." was on December 18, 2013

In 2009, Pastor Mark preached through 1 & 2 Peter in a sermon series called Trial. To help our small groups, a team of people including a research assistant, put together a free study guide that was produced in-house and was never sold. About 5 years later it was brought to our attention that it contained some citation errors. We have discovered that during the editing process, content from other published sources were mistaken for research notes. These sentences were adapted instead of quoted directly. We are grateful this was brought to our attention, and we have removed that document from our website to correct the mistake. Additionally, we are examining all of our similar content as a precautionary measure.
So it was a team that worked on the study guide and that team included a research assistant.  For some reason it was thought necessary to mention a research assistant. 

Merritt mentioned the following:
- See more at:[]

Elsewhere on the Mars Hill web site, Driscoll’s research assistant is named as Justin Holcomb of Docent Research Group. “[Justin] has been humble enough to do a great deal of research for me, which, along with the work of my helpful friend and editing assistant Deacon Crystal Griffin, allows me to produce content at a pace I would never have thought possible…I am now sending out literally thousands of pages of content a year, as well as preaching and teaching hundreds of hours of content a year,” the site states. It is unclear whether Holcomb is the “research assistant” referenced in the statement. - See more at:[]

By now it's been established that the books were, in fact,  sold.

Then we get to something Merrit wrote "It is unclear whether Holcomb is the "research assistant."  Unclear!?  Seriously? Let's at least try to refresh everyone's memories here.  Even if someone opted not to speak on record (which would be understandable) it did not take a rocket scientist to fact check who the research assistant might be. 

As for the purported discovery that content from other published sources were mistaken for research notes, James Duncan at Pajama Pages covered that.
see also Collin Garbarino at:

Things did get cleared up a bit more by Andy Crouch at:

[Driscoll] forthrightly credited two researchers: Justin Holcomb, who worked for an outside research firm called the Docent Group, and Crystal Griffin, a deacon at Mars Hill. (Glenn Lucke, founder of the Docent Group, told me his firm's records show that Holcomb provided Mars Hill all the documentation needed to properly cite the IVP commentary.) With their help, he told his congregation, "I am now sending out literally thousands of pages of content a year, as well as preaching and teaching hundreds of hours of content a year."

So why were their names not on the final work?

and why were their roles only alluded to by MH PR for a time in the wake of Mefferd's on-air accusation that Mark Driscoll was a plagiarist before the materials got scrubbed?  Why was it that only Mark Driscoll's name was on that introduction to that study guide and then when it turned out the finished product had plagiarism why were the roles of other people even brought up?  Wasn't this the same Mark Driscoll who said headship for men across all levels entailed being responsible even if something wasn't directly your fault?  "including a research assistant" could only have plausibly referred to a single person.

Mark Driscoll wrote the following:
... On top of all this, I have an amazing research assistant and friend from Docent Research Group named Justin Holcomb, who earned two M.A.'s from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and a Ph.D. in theological studies from Emory University. [emphasis added] He teaches courses in religious studies and sociology at the University of Virginia and at Reformed Theological Seminary, and he serves as the Director of Graduate Ministries at the Center for Christian Study in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has been humble enough to do a great deal of research for me, which, along with the work of my helpful friend and editing assistant Deacon Crystal Griffin, allows me to produce content at a pace I would never have thought possible. [emphasis added] Between articles, blogs, books, and curriculum, I am now sending out literally thousands of pages of content a year, as well as preaching and teaching hundreds of hours of content a year. In short, I have been lavishly blessed, and I love my job as much as anyone could ever love a job. Admittedly, the hours are long and the work is hard, but I am doing exactly what God made me to do and placed in my heart among my deepest desires. ...

... This all culminates in the Trial series on 1-2 Peter, which sets a new standard for all future preaching series. I have so benefited from the service of others that I wanted to do more than ever to help our people learn these amazing books of the Bible. So this Sunday we kick things off, and here is what you will get:
  • A free copy of the Trial curriculum book, which is also available online for free. This 200-page book includes my introductory articles on Peter, the books he wrote, and the role of parents in instructing their children. Included in the free book are dinner discussion questions I wrote to help parents teach 1-2 Peter to their own children. Pastor Brad House has also included the Community Group discussion questions for the entire series.
  • A free copy of a 12,000-word introduction and overview of 1-2 Peter compiled by my research assistant. This content is available only on The City, our password-protected social networking site. If you register for The City at one of our campuses during the series, you will get this special gift that will not be posted online for the general public.
  • Lastly, the children's ministry will also spend the next seven months studying 1-2 Peter, as we have also developed our own curriculum for them following the sermon series.

Of course MH scrubbed the url clean but I quoted enough of the material that it some of its substance is preserved, and mentioned that MH introduced robots.txt to prevent WayBack captures for some sites.  The point is that anyone who bothered to read the primary sources before Mars Hill scrubbed them and then threw in robots.txt to preclude WayBack Machine captures could figure out that Mark Driscoll mentioned Brad House, Crystal Griffin, and Justin Holcomb as his great team of helps for research and pastoral activity and that everything culminated in the Trial study guide.

Jared Wilson also documented Holcomb's arrival at MH and linked to Mark talking about Holcomb as a new research assistant.

Merritt didn't seem to catch that the gist of MH PR between the time Mefferd made her accusation that Mark Driscoll was a plagiarist and the December 18, 2013 Tyndale press released was to admit there were "citation errors" and explain that in spite of Mark Driscoll's name being the only one on the finished product of the introduction that there was this research team, including a research assistant.  That's a pretty passive-aggressive way for anonymous Mars Hill PR to blame the research assistance for what was pretty clearly a case of plagiarism by Driscoll.  Intervarsity Press went so far as to issue a statement that the materials were not used in a way that was congruent with Fair Use and Driscoll apparently went to an editor and smoothed things over.  In the wake of all that the passive aggressive blaming of a research assistant and the rest of Driscoll's formerly publicly credited research team has not been apologized for to this day.

How Merritt failed to connect the dots within his own research is staggering.  Merritt can choose to accept an apology on the part of Mark Driscoll for things written in character as William Wallace II.  But why should Mark Driscoll have felt any need to apologize for that when he could have, by now, issued a public apology for the way his PR crew anonymously and retroactively mentioned the "research assistant", whom anyone at Mars Hill could have swiftly discerned was Justin Holcomb, as even potentially having some role in what turned out to be plagiarism under the name of just Mark Driscoll?  IVP went so far as to say that the material appropriated could not be considered as within Fair Use guidelines.  A church as a corporation that can passively shift blame for the plagiarism of its legal president and preaching and vision pastor on a research assistant is ridiculous.

If Driscoll can bother with a public apology for anything he said under the pen name William Wallace, how about a public apology for the conduct of his PR crew when they decided that they'd mention the research team that was so easily verified as consisting of specific people Mark Driscoll named in his own online publishing activity? 

If Mark Driscoll wants to apologize that's great but it would be better if he apologized to specific people about specific things rather than generally expressing a general regret at how he tended to conduct himself using a pen name fourteen years ago.  For Merritt's part, he collected nearly all the evidence of a smoking gun in which Mars Hill PR tried to shift blame on Driscoll's plagiarized content on his research team.  If Merritt wants to accept Mark Driscoll's apology for having ever written under the pen name William Wallace II he certainly can, but as things done by Mars Hill go, Merritt had the proof that Mars Hill was trying to shift some of the blame for Mark Driscoll's plagiarism in the introduction to the Trial study guide on the research team.  Mars Hill has long since scrubbed its web pages of the public identifications Driscoll made.  If Driscoll wants to make a show of good faith apologizing to specific people in public statements for the way anonymous Mars Hill PR tried to pass the buck could be an encouraging show of good faith in the midst of all the other controversies brewing.

Acts29 removes Driscoll and MH, makes public statement, MH BoAA responds saying A29 didn't lean on them or contact them
Throckmorton states he got a letter that was sent by A29 leadership and that it contained the following text: [paragraph breaks supplied by WtH and are conjecture]


As the Board of Acts 29, we are grateful to God for the leadership, courage, and generosity of both you and Mars Hill in not only founding the network but also sustaining it through the transition to this board three years ago. The very act of giving away your authority over the network was one of humility and grace, and for that we are grateful.

Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior. We have both publicly and internally tried to support and give you the benefit of the doubt, even when multiple pastors in our network confirmed this behavior. In response, we leaned on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability to take the lead in dealing with this matter. But we no longer believe the BoAA is able to execute the plan of reconciliation originally laid out. Ample time has been given for repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming.

We now have to take another course of action. Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help. Consequently, we also feel that we have no alternative but to remove you and Mars Hill from membership in Acts 29. Because you are the founder of Acts 29 and a member, we are naturally associated with you and feel that this association discredits the network and is a major distraction. We tell you this out of love for you, Mars Hill, Acts 29, and most significantly, the cause of Christ, and we would be irresponsible and deeply unloving not to do so in a clear and unequivocal manner.

Again, we want you to know that we are eternally thankful for what you as a man and Mars Hill as a church have meant to our network. However, that cannot dissuade us from action. Instead, it gives added significance and importance to our decision. We hope and pray that you see this decision as the action of men who love you deeply and want you to walk in the light—for your good, the good of your family, and the honor of your Savior. Shortly after sending this, we will be informing the members of Acts 29, your Board of Advisors and Accountability, and your elders, as well as putting out a public statement on the Acts 29 website. It brings us no joy to move forward in this direction, and we trust that the Lord will be at work in all of this.

In sorrow and with hope,
The Board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network
Matt Chandler
Darrin Patrick
 Steve Timmis
Eric Mason
John Bryson
Bruce Wesley
Leonce Crump

There's been a few sorrowful letters of parting ways from A29 and MH people in the last three years, hasn't there?

The public statement by Acts 29 regarding Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll is here:

8August 2014

It is with deep sorrow that the Acts 29 Network announces its decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership in the network. Mark and the Elders of Mars Hill have been informed of the decision, along with the reasons for removal. It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network. In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored.

The Board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Matt Chandler
Darrin Patrick
Steve Timmis
Eric Mason
John Bryson
Bruce Wesley
Leonce Crump

Throckmorton has published material that is apparently the response of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability by way of Michael Van Skaik and Larry Osborne.  MacDonald and Tripp, having recently announced they were resigning, were not signers.  Nor were the executive elders of Mars Hill.  As presented by Throckmorton the text of the communication reads as follows:

Update from the Board of Advisors & Accountability
Earlier today our board chairman, as well as many of our other pastors, received a letter from Matt Chandler, the president of Acts 29. The letter notified us that the board of Acts 29 has removed Pastor Mark and Mars Hill from membership in the Acts 29 church planting network. Our board responded to the letter with the following update to our elders, and we wanted to share it with you as well.

I told the lead pastors at the recent annual retreat that we are making real progress in addressing the serious reconciliation and unhealthy culture issues that have been a part of Mars Hill Church for way too long. And we are. I also told them that more opposition would undoubtedly be coming, and it has. Friendly fire always hurts the most.

I have never in my life spoken with Matt Chandler or any of the A29 board members for that matter (except Darrin Patrick, once about 4 years ago as part of Pastor Mark’s employment review process which he used to be a part of). In addition, no one from Acts 29 contacted Larry Osborne of our board prior to this decision. And perhaps most significantly, Pastor Mark was not personally contacted by the A29 board prior to receiving this announcement.

So I am not quite sure what Matt means by “leaning on the board to take the lead in dealing with this matter.”

Be assured of this, the formal charges that were filed were serious, were taken seriously and were not dismissed by the board lightly. There is clear evidence that the attitudes and behaviors attributed to Mark in the charges are not a part and have not been a part of Mark’s life for some time now.
Our board’s decision is final regarding these charges, although will no doubt continue to be played out in the courts of public opinion. Again, I am deeply saddened that the A29 board would make such a decisive and divisive conclusion without speaking directly to the board or Mark prior to their public announcement.

My counsel to you is to not become bitter or angry. Continue to pray for all involved. Continue to love and lead the people God has brought to your churches. They need a pastor right now and God has given them you!

Michael Van Skaik
Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability

Larry Osborne
Board Member

First observation, constant use of the first person singular for a letter with two names at the end of it.  Who wrote this letter? Van Skaik?  Maybe, but with two names at the end the letter should have been written with first person plural throughout if it was intended to speak on behalf of two board members.  The Acts 29 letter, at least, gets the appropriate pronouns for the meanings that seem to have been intended throughout the body of the reported statements attributed to them. 

But none of the Mars Hill executive elders, who at this point are the majority of the BoAA have their names attached to the statement publish via Mars Hill weekly.  If the big three don't have their names attached to the notice two of five-or-six BoAA members hardly counts as a quorum.  At least the March 2014 statement by the BoAA was made as a representive statement of all the members, whoever they were.  At this point MH can't establish beyond all doubt that A29 board members made no contact with BoAA board members who may have since resigned.  Nobody knows. 

The simple part to understand is A29 leadership stated they were leaning on the MH BoAA to take action and the BoAA members Van Skaik and Osborne stated nothing of the kind happened.
So at the moment, if these reported statements reflect their respective senders, it looks almost like MH's BoAA and the A29 board have significantly conflicting accounts of what has lately transpired. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The old Mark Driscoll "Stepping Up" video as a direct apologia for the 2006-2007 re-org as done for the sake of his wife. The 2013 presents some puzzles for the 2007 and 2008 and 2012 narratives

Real Marriage
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)

from pages 16-17
As Grace began working on her root issues, I hit the wall physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I had been working way too many hours a week for more than a decade as the church exploded and became one of the largest and fastest growing in the nation, in one of the least-churched cities. I wrote books and spoke at conferences, traveling to make extra income so Grace could stay home with our children.

My pay was still low, we had nothing in savings, and we accrued a bit of debt— in a city where the cost of living was high. I preached as many as seven times a Sunday for more than an hour each time, year in and year out, nearly every week of the year, until my adrenal glands and thyroid fatigued, and I finally came to the end of myself in my midthirties. I was breaking, and it seemed there was no help, relief, or sympathy. My veneer of tough, self-reliant husband without any needs was gone. I really needed my wife in ways I had never told her and she was surprised to hear. I needed a new life. I did not need a new job, but a new plan for that job . I also needed a new marriage, but wanted to have a new marriage with the same spouse. So we cleaned up the church, lost around one thousand people due to changes amid intense criticism, laid off a lot of people (many of whom were great), and decided everything would change or we would walk. I refused to die from stress or destroy my marriage and family for the sake of “religious” people and outgrown organizational systems. I found a good doctor and did what I was told to rebuild my health.


I needed a new life. I did not need a new job, but anew plan for that job. I also needed a new marriage, but wanted to have a new marriage with the same spouse. So we cleaned up the church, lost around one thousand people due to changes amid intense criticism, laid off a lot of people (many of whom were great), and decided everything would change or we would walk. I refused to die from stress or destroy my marriage and family for the sake of "religious" people and outgrown organizational systems. I found a good doctor and did what I was told to rebuild my health. Grace and I pulled back from many commitments, got some help, including someone to help her one day a week and someone else to clean the house every other week, and carved out some time to intentionally work on our relationship with Jesus and each other.
pages 207-208

... I (Mark) had been pushing myself hard for more than a decade since Mars Hill Church opened up, and I had overextended myself so much that I had worn out my adrenal glands and gotten an ulcer.

Some Sundays were brutal. I would sneak in a back door, avoiding any human contact because I simply did no thave the emotional wherewithal to spend an entire day hearing of trauma in people's lives and arguing with religious types. At times I actually found myself nodding off on the side of the stage before one of the five services I preached lived. So I foolishly started drinking energy drinks all
day to power through Sundays. After preaching I would go home to sit in the dark and watch television, obviously depressed. Before long I was stressed each night at bedtime as the anxiety over whether or not I could sleep became constant. I felt like a car that could not turn off. I had multiple stress-related symptoms--heartburn, headaches, nervous eye twitch, aggressive driving, constant low-level anger, high blood pressure, and self-medicating with food and drinks packed with fat, sugar, and simple carbohydates, along with caffeine.

Perhaps a few months after things had reached this level, a godly friend in the church, named Jon, scheduled a meeting with me. God had laid it on his heart to speak some wisdom into my life. He did so with great humility, and in that meeting he gave me some insights that were life changing.

Jon had been taking notes on how he organized his life, things he had learned, and what he felt the Holy Spirit had asked him to tell me. His wisdom was a priceless gift. He called it "Reverse Engineering." The big idea was to anticipate life forward and live it backward.

In the ensuing months I sought to add to his wisdom as much insight as I could.  For the church, I met with some of the pastors of the largest churches in America to see what I could learn about how we needed to reorganize. For my health, I found a doctor named John who was a naturopath and ordained pastor and started doing what he told me to do, which has changed my life. For my awareness, I started reading and studying material written by doctors and counselors on stress and adrenaline. For my marriage, I started spending more energy than ever to connect with Grace and get our time together. I also met a bible-based counselor a few times to inquire what I needed to learn and how I could best serve Grace as her friend.  I limped along through the winter and spring making adjustments along the way.
The above narrative seems to posit that Mark Driscoll determined that his health was at stake in how things were going at the church.  By 2006-2007 there were about two dozen elders in place and Mark Driscoll was holding on to a number of roles that he later described as divesting himself of.
A letter from Pastor Mark Driscoll
November 8, 2007
For me personally, everything culminated at the end of 2006. Despite rapid growth, the church was not healthy and neither was I. My  workload was simply overwhelming. I was preaching five times a Sunday, the senior leader in Mars Hill responsible to some degree for literally everything in the church, president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network which had exploded, president of The Resurgence, an author writing books, a conference speaker traveling, a media representative doing interviews, a student attending graduate school, a father with five young children, and a husband to a wife whom I have adored since the first day I met her and needed my focus more than ever. I was working far too many hours and neglecting my own physical and spiritual well-being, and then I hit the proverbial wall. For many weeks I simply could not sleep more than two or three hours a night. I had been running off of adrenaline for so many years that my adrenal glands fatigued and the stress of my responsibilities caused me to be stuck “on” physically and unable to rest or sleep. After a few months I had black circles under my eyes, was seeing a fog, and was constantly beyond exhausted.

Nonetheless, the demands on me continued to grow as the church grew. We added more campuses, gathered more critics, saw more media attention, planted more churches, purchased more real estate, raised more money, and hired more staff. It was at this time that I seriously pondered leaving Mars Hill Church for the first time ever. I still loved our Jesus, loved our mission, loved our city, and loved our people. However, I sunk into a deep season of despair as I considered spending the rest of my life serving at Mars Hill Church. I simply could not fathom living the rest of my life with the pace of ministry and amount of responsibility that was on me. Furthermore, the relational demands of the church and its leaders depleted me entirely. In short, I had lost my joy and wanted to lose my job before I lost my life. Tucking my children in bed at night became a deeply sorrowful experience for me; I truly feared I would either die early from a heart attack or burn out and be left unable to best care for my children in the coming years. I have met many pastors who have simply crossed the line of burnout and never returned to health and sanity and that was my frightful but seemingly inevitable future.

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.
Driscoll described the sheer enormity of burdens he voluntarily took upon himself up to that point.  The 2007 narrative had it that Mark Driscoll was so burdened by so much responsibility he thought he might die and was told by a number of advisors (one of whom was Larry Osborne) that the church was not architected well for multi-site.  We'll turn to that later.  Let's turn to Throckmorton's recent post about an old video.

Throckmorton has recently posted something about a Driscoll video.
transcript of Mark Driscoll statement in a video called "Stepping Up", discussed over at Warren
Throckmorton's blog:

I don’t know what the most courageous thing I’ve ever done is. I know the one thing that was one of the hardest was, the church was growing, it had exploded, it had grown to, I think, maybe six thousand. So it made it one of the largest, fastest growing churches in America in one of the least churched cities, and in a conversation one night it was just up in our bedroom on a couch we were visiting, Grace and I were talking about past relationships and just kind of a casual conversation and we’d been together at that point for maybe seventeen, eighteen years or something. [WtH, i.e. either 2005 or 2006] I mean we’d been together a while between dating and marriage. And she just explained to me a few occasions where she had been sexually assaulted, raped, and abused [prior to my meeting her, (WT's transcript differs from what is presented here and this is punctuation that WtH believes makes more sense of Driscoll's actual words)]. I just broke and I just started weeping, thinking that I had not known that about my wife, and she just said it matter of factly, like she was just reading the script of someone else’s life. And there was no emotion in her, and I could tell she didn’t even really understand what she had just explained. That sort of led to a season of me really getting to know her, and her getting to know her past, and us getting to know Jesus in a deeper way.

It was around that time I could just tell that she’s gonna need me available more.

Emotionally present more, we just had our 5th child. So the timing’s not great. We just decided to go multi-site in video, cause we had outgrown our location and everybody’s looking and all the critics are around and is this gonna make it? A couple of things combined at that season as well, overwork and stress and everything else. I fatigued my adrenal glands, I was in a bad place health-wise, was not sleeping. It was a pretty dark time for me, and I told Grace, “For me to recover, for you to recover, for us to build our friendship, I feel like we’re kind of at that watershed moment where our marriage is gonna get better or it’s gonna get colder, and you’ve really opened yourself up and I need to love and serve you better and pursue you more.”

I said so I got to change the church. I mean all the way down, I have to rewrite the Constitution, bi-laws, I got to let some people go. I have to put in place some hard performance reviews. I’ve got to be willing to lose a lot of relationships, endure criticism, preach less times, hand off more authority, and I said I don’t know if the church is going to make it and I don’t know if I’m going to make it.

I told Grace, I said “I’m going to give it one year, and if it doesn’t get fixed, I’m going to quit, because you’re more important to me than ministry, and I feel like if I quit right now, the church will probably die, and there’s all these thousands of people that met Jesus.” I said “So we’re either going to change it or I’m going to quit, but we’re not going to do this forever and you’re my priority,” and that led to everything that I feared, quite frankly. [emphasis added]

It was really brutal, and I couldn’t tell the story at the time of and here’s why- because Grace is really hurting, and I love her, and I’m broken, and we need to pull back and make some course corrections because it’s Grace’s story to tell, and she wasn’t ready at that point to tell that story, and I had no right to tell that story for her.

And so everybody got to speculate for years what the motive was, “oh he’s power hungry, he’s controlling, he wants to take over, he doesn’t love people, you know he’s just a bully.” And no, it’s actually he’s broken and his wife is hurting and the church is gonna probably literally kill him or put him in the hospital and his wife needs him right now, so he’s gotta make some adjustments. So, you know, by the grace of God, we weathered that storm.

Read more:

A few things of note about this variation of the narrative. 

First, about that first paragraph set off in blue font, let's recall that Grace Driscoll publicly listed Dan Allender as one of her favorite authors as far back as 2000 when she was publicly listed as a Mars Hill deacon at  Dan Allender is so generally known as a specialist dealing with sexual abuse and particularly adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse Wikipedia mentions this.  For Mark Driscoll to have not put two and two together about Grace Driscoll's history in spite of having to have at least once or twice seen her public statements of regard for Dan Allender's work strains credulity. 

And in Real Marriage the story was that Mark and Grace threw themselves into ministry as a distraction from their respective resentments and anxieties about sex in their marriage.  There was no indication from chapter 7 of the 2012 book that either Driscoll felt any need to pull back from the maelstrom of activity so that Mark could focus on spending more time with his wife.  In fact in a 2004 sermon Driscoll seemed to convey pretty clearly that everything was pretty peachy.

It's not entirely impossible Grace could have used some help with things like cleaning dishes or other parts of the house. 

God's Work, Our Witness
December 4, 2011
about 27:33
The Driscolls’ Basement
Once we got kicked out of that building, literally everything moved back into our house. So offices in our house across from our bedroom, interns in the basement.

Pastor Matt: Poor Grace. Like, it was so ghetto down there because, I mean, you know bachelors. There’s like three guys living down there, and the dishes would just stack up, stack up. I remember they’d start stinking real bad. And every couple of weeks, like, we’d see the dishes done. I’d come home from work, and I’d say, “Hey, man, did you do the dishes? Thanks.” He was like, “Nah, I think Grace did them again.”

Grace: We shared laundry facilities and so, yeah, I just ended up cleaning half the time, because it was—I couldn’t even stay down there to do laundry. It was so disgusting.
Pastor Matt: Sorry, sorry, Grace.

As other astute readers have already noted, Mark Driscoll got the idea that helping Grace out could take the form of hiring someone else to help her tackle housecleaning rather than ... maybe ... doing some of that stuff himself? 

Now moving along to "we just had our fifth child".  By Mark Driscoll's own account in a letter/chapter addressed to his son Gideon, Driscoll wrote the following:

Copyright (c) 2008 by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Published by Crossway Books
PDF ISBN: 978-1-4335-0423-5
ISBN-10: 1433501295
ISBN-13: 9781433501296

page 164

My wife, Grace, and I love Gideon and thank God for him often. My wife is petite, and I have a big head, which resulted in C-sections with the birth of each of our children. Having endured one miscarrage and four C-sections, Grace was ready to be done with pregnancies. But I was not yet ready to do anything to prevent God from giving us a child. So, we left it in God's hands and we were given Gideon, whom I affectionately refer to as Guppy, for being the youngest, and as Flip Flop, because at a very young age he decided he only wanted to wear flip-flops on the wrong feet for the rest of his life.  To her credit, Grace often gives me a hug and thanks me for not stopping at four children, because Gideon has been an absolute blessing and a joy to our family.
So while on the one hand Mark Driscoll in one account cites the birth of the fifth child as a reason, it seems, he needed to reorganize the entire church to be more emotionally available to his wife,  in the 2008 book Death By Love (which was actually mainly complete as far back as 2006 according to a long-since purged Resurgence post published by MD) Driscoll mentioned that after four C-sections and a miscarriage Grace was ready to be done with pregnancies but Mark Driscoll was not yet ready to do anything to prevent God from giving them a child.  They're grateful for the fifth kid but, technically, if the birth of the fifth child was a stressor for Grace that's by Mark Driscoll's own account Mark Driscoll's decision.  William Wallace II's sentiments on stress in family life was, for those who read "Headship", to proclaim that whatever problems you had as a man in your marriage come down to your headship because the strife and trauma in your marriage is stuff you let happen.  Over here if you're curious.

For a sampler:
William Wallace II
Member   posted 02-01-2001 05:25 PM     

... If your children are wild and rebellious, it is your fault. If your kids scream at you, it is your fault. If your kids hit you, it is your fault. If your kids are so bad that you hate to take them in public, hate to have other people watch them, and hate to go to church because they continually embarass you, it is your fault.

Have your kids sinned? Of course. And, they should repent of their sin to God and those they offend.
But, so should the father. He should repent also. Why? Because he is the head of the home. Men, these are your children and their sin is also your sin.

Pages 54-56 of Real Marriage indicate Driscoll's views on headship have evolved a bit and that the husband shares responsibility with the wife for what the wife may be dealing with.  Bearing a fifth child would certainly be one such thing.  So there's no two ways about it, Mark Driscoll ended up being father to child #5 because while Grace was ready to be done being pregnant Mark didn't want to do anything on his side to preclude the birth of another child.  Conventional and traditional interpretations of pastoral epistles tend to argue that before a man is even given the role of shepherding a congregation he's already figured out how to manage a household well, not reverse-engineer a new ecclesiology for a local Christian community SO THAT he can more effectively manage his household.

By contrast, the general narrative of MH statements from 2007 was that MH was growing faster than the infrastructural competence and gifting of its leadership culture.  That sounds like the more plausible explanation than one that insists the entire church had to be reorganized so that Mark Driscoll could be a better husband to his wife. 

Then there's:
It was really brutal, and I couldn’t tell the story at the time of and here’s why- because Grace is really hurting, and I love her, and I’m broken, and we need to pull back and make some course corrections because it’s Grace’s story to tell, and she wasn’t ready at that point to tell that story, and I had no right to tell that story for her.

So Driscoll couldn't give the purportedly real reason for the tumultuous 2007 re-org at the time because Grace was really hurting and Mark didn't have the right to tell her story for her?

In Confessions of a Reformission Rev, the closing chapter shows Driscoll recounting a 2004 meeting with Larry Osborne that forced him to reassess his attentions.  He wanted to grill Osborne about growth strategies and logistical concerns and Osborne ignored all those questions and asked Mark Driscoll what his family life and marriage were like.  So, certainly as far back as 2006 Driscoll was sharing that the idea that he'd need to tend to his family life over against obsessing about church growth strategies was a bit of a surprise and a wake-up call for him.

But compare what the vision cast in that final chapter was to what has actually happened in the history of Mars Hill real estate. 

Instead of withdrawing from public ministry while retaining a governing role on Mars Hill Church Mark Driscoll did what?  Well, depending on which account we're listening to he rewrote the constitution and the by-laws of Mars Hill or Jamie Munson revised the by-laws (which is the story conveyed in the wake of the 2007 terminations and trials).  Maybe it was a team effort but in that case what was Driscoll doing working with Munson on drafting new by-laws that reduced the minimum size of the executlve elder board, eliminated daylight clauses to require notification of major real estate purchases to the full council of elders, and explicitly designed a disciplinary process with no upper limit on what any two pastors might decide that also had no appeals process for members under church discipline?  The 2007 era explanation that the old by-laws did not properly address multi-site multi-campus governance simply wasn't the case.  Or, you can go compare by-laws to by-laws for yourself.

There's a puzzle here about Mark Driscoll's claim that he had revise the whole church because Grace recently birthed a fifth baby (that came about because Mark didn't want to stop at four by doing anything on his part to preclude another child) around the time Grace also shared some experiences she'd gone through prior to meeting Mark (and Driscoll somehow didn't guess in the previous 17-18 years he'd known Grace that she could have had any secondary symptomology that might signal sexual abuse?)--Grace was a public relations professional before she settled into being a stay-at-home mom.  The Driscolls have recounted in a number of places how Grace was in public relations and it was a stressful job that had adverse effects on her health but she was making more money than Driscoll could have made being a part-time bookstore clerk at a few bookstores.  Well, of course the PR/marketing executive was going to be making more money than the clerk.

The other thing to consider is that while Driscoll in the video account recently discussed by Throckmorton leans on the idea that Grace was going through a lot (and that has no doubt been the case) in his pre-emptive strike on Justin Brierley's theology and character Mark Driscoll sang a decidedly different tune:

I have a degree in communications from one of the top programs in the United States. So does my wife, Grace. We are used to reporters with agendas and selective editing of long interviews. Running into reporters with agendas and being selectively edited so that you are presented as someone that is perhaps not entirely accurate is the risk one takes when trying to get their message out through the media.

For a local individual perspective:

If you were so unfortunate to have subjected yourself to the whole series on Song of Songs at Mars Hill last year it would have been easy to over look some really serious distortions of the New Testament because you were overwhelmed by the truly breath taking exegetical abuse of the Song of Songs.

I have it on very good authority that Grace Ann Driscoll is an intelligent and highly capable person who was on her way to a stellar career in the secular job market when she decided to say home and be a mom. So when I listened to the opening remarks in this clip from the
Stay at Home Dads Q&A session, I was suffering some cognative dissonance when she made an allusion to 1Tim. 5:8 to support the Driscoll view on gender roles.

Grace Ann Driscoll is certainly smart enough to understand this. If she had sat down with her English bible and taken the time to read a chapter or so of the context it would have been very plain that the issue here is how to minister to widows in the early church. There is no mention of bread winners or housewives. The two groups involved are widows and family. The only gender roles in this passages are widows and the pressing question is what qualifies a woman to become an official widow in the church, supported by the church.

So I suspect that what goes on in these Q&A sessions after Mark Driscoll's sermon is a sort proof texting of the party line. We have an official MHC position on house husbands and we have our list of proof texts. No one dares to actually do any exegesis. That would be dangerous. You might come up with the wrong answer.
So if anything in the earlier years of Mars Hill history Driscoll had a series of dead-end joe jobs doing clerk work while Grace had training in public relations. 

What no one has bothered to address much so far is that by now Mark Driscoll has not only been embroiled in controversy about plagiarism in his books, with Real Marriage he finally dragged his wife's name into the midst of his published works as a co-author, though not a co-owner of the actual copyright to the book.

For those who spent a decade inside Mars Hill it is simultaneously touching and baffling that by Mark Driscoll's account Grace had to deal with the fifth child when she had to deal with the fifth child because Mark didn't want to stop having kids by doing anything on his end.  By Mark and Grace Driscoll's account in their 2012 book the resentments and anxieties about sex where a catalyst in them turning toward their respective ministry roles or their particular roles as parents. 

Somehow, against all conventional and traditional interpretations of the pastoral epistles Mark Driscoll got the idea that the ecclesiology of Mars Hill needed to change so he would have more time to dedicate to his wife.

That's being a respecter of persons even if it may be dressed in the hallowed verbiage of the greatness of Christian matrimony. 

The older narrative that Mars Hill was growing faster than the competence of its leadership set makes more sense than the claim that the controversial 2006-2007 re-org had to be done to improve Mark and Grace Driscoll's marriage.  And revising the by-laws to shrink the size of the executive elder team and invest it with more power and fewer infrastructural restrictions hardly seems like it would have been necessary for Mark and Grace Driscoll to have a better marriage or for Mark Driscoll to have more sex. 

Ron Wheeler goes on record about his early friendship with Mark Driscoll and a brief history of his time with Acts 29

Full text, plus or minus a few hard returns.

Dear Mark Driscoll:
You were once one of my closest friends.
You were once my trusted mentor and benefactor.
You were once someone who preached the Gospel with a fierce and captivating passion and purity.
You were the one who inspired me to be a preacher… a church planter.

In 1996 I was working as a missionary in West Africa when my mom sent me a recording of you speaking at the Northwest Christian Education conference.  I was intrigued, captivated, and a bit disturbed by what I heard. You deconstructed my tidy neat little worldview and described the church as a mission outpost that exists between the gospel message and various cultures.  That message convinced me that I could be a missionary at home, and so I returned.

I started attending Mars Hill with my family, driving an hour each way from Mount Vernon down to Seattle.  Mars Hill was maybe a 100 people back then.  I played on the worship team sometimes and listened intently to the vision you cast… a vision built on the Core Values of “Meaning, Truth, Beauty, Community, and Mission”. Those core values were such an invigorating breath of fresh air:

I longed for deeper meaning than the trite, mainstream Christianity-lite I was experiencing.
I longed to hear Truth boldly proclaimed.
I longed to be able to express art in beautiful contagious inspiring ways.
I longed to be a part of genuine, committed, Christ-centered community.
and yes, I longed to be on this great mission of the Kingdom of God, together.

I bought in.

Many of us bought in.

I remember you and Grace coming up to my house and challenging me to transition the awkward college-age ministry thing we had, and to plant it as a church.  I remember your assurances that you would walk beside us, and I remember distinctly how Grace said that “as long as we continue to give God the glory for whatever happens, He will continue to glorify Himself through what is happening”. That resonated with me, and for many years you walked beside me faithfully.  We were your first church plant, and for awhile, there was even some discussion about our church going with the name Mars Hill North.

I listened closely as you preached the virtue of Biblical Eldership, where men proven to be of sound character, pastor the church together and hold each other accountable, a supposed safe-guard against any one person lacking accountability or taking over.

It fit perfectly with what I saw in Scripture and was what I was drawn to myself.

I remember Leif Moi doing that with you.
I remember Mike Gunn doing that with you.

And I remember how excited you were when you first identified Paul Petry and Bent Meyer as men who could do that exceptionally well…  “wise, older godly men, who would add a degree of credibility” were your words to me.

I also remember when my brother-in-law Brian Kirkman went through the eldership process.  Brian, known to me as one of the most faithful, loving, gracious, godly men I know, and yet I believed your lies and how you characterized him.  He was unjustly removed and the way the Kirkman family was treated foreshadowed the shunnings that would occur with the Petry’s, the Meyer’s, and others. I have since gone to Brian and Liz to confess my complicity in how they were treated. It was so incredibly unjust.

My other two brothers-in-law, Matt and Nathan would become elders as well, though both have since left, Matt working with the Resurgence, and Nathan becoming your personal assistant.  My three sisters, Liz, Rachel, and Rose (Team Strike Force) all led worship at MH, and were involved in various ministries as well.

The degree to which my family was involved with Mars Hill cannot be overstated.
They all fully bought in as well.

Soon I began traveling the nation with you, speaking at various conferences, seminars and events.  It was such an honor.   We became involved on the ground-floor of this new movement that was shaping the landscape of evangelical Christianity. We were on the board of Young Leader network together. We were on the Terra Nova project together. We were working with some pretty amazing people.  These were the early days when there was talk of the postmodern era, and the Emergent church started “emerging” and New Calvinism had yet to emerge as a thing.  It was heady stuff.  It was also dangerous, as some of it started wandering far from historical orthodox Christian belief and practice.

But then I listened as you slandered and maligned the men and women we worked with behind their backs -who though we didn’t agree with some of them theologically- were wonderful people, and never deserved to be spoken of, or treated the way you did.  People who I know would have considered you a friend and have no idea how you really felt about them.  I have personally tried to go back and apologize to people who were “kicked to the curb”, along the way, and yes, I do feel I was complicit to your actions; guilty by way of association and being silent.

For that, I could not be more sorry.

I remember one day you called and mentioned that your book Radical Reformission was coming out the next day.  You started talking about how excited you were and then in a roundabout way, mentioned that you had used the parachurch/fundamentalism/liberalism concepts I had developed off the gospel/church/culture model.  It took me a moment to realize that you were saying you had used those ideas in your book and hadn’t cited me, and were both thanking me and smoothing things over.  I was honestly flattered, but I also had this uncomfortable feeling that you knew what you had done was wrong. But at this point, what was I gonna do about it? Like most things, I just let it go.
Then you met Pastor David Nicholas.  Remember David Nicholas?  The “co-founder” of Acts29, who often has been written out of the Acts29 story.  The one who actually came up with the name Acts29 and already had a church planting system in place.  Soon we were flying back to Boca Raton Florida to figure out how we could work together with this seasoned older PCA pastor (Presbyterian Church of America), you with your connections to all these church planter candidates flying under-the-denominational-radar, and David with his years of experience, his connections (friends like Tim Keller and Amway founder Rich DeVos), and his very wealthy church resources.  I loved David, and he loved us. He was fatherly to us. He could barely relate to our strange Northwest culture, and yet he partnered with us out of a passionate commitment to church planting.

I remember during one of our conferences somewhere around 2002, sitting at the table with you there in Boca, when you interviewed Rich DeVos on how he structured his business model.  I remember soon thereafter when you started talking about how it wasn’t that important that you knew your people or led them yourself, but that you “led the people, who led the people, who led the people”.   Unlike the Chief Shepherd who knows all His sheep by name, knows their voice, and they, His, you distanced yourself from them.  In fact, I remember you bragging about how you had this back corridor between your office and the stage and you didn’t have to be interrupted by anyone before or after church.   I was so confused.  I bought in to the meaning, truth, beauty, mission thing.  I certainly didn’t buy into this.

I had always tried to read all the books you recommended, but soon they became less and less about theology or pastoral practice, and more and more about marketing, professionalism and big business.  (I also remember recommending John Piper’s book “Brothers We Are Not Professionals” back to you, but it wasn’t enthusiastically received.  If only.)

And then all hell broke loose.

In the fall of 2004, my then wife had an affair with another pastor on staff (who was also one of my closest friends).  Our church had serious problems as it was, many as a result of my failing to lead properly.  Many of the things at the church were shaped by your influence, and some of that influence I still recognize as inspired, Biblical, and even prophetic at times.  Again, it is hard to express how much you helped us.

Much of that influence however, was very unhealthy and systemically flawed.  It took me many years of distance and separation to truly gain objectivity and see just exactly how flawed. For instance, I was patterning my/our discipline process after what you were doing.  One of those situations was with a man in leadership named Dale.  I will always grieve over the heavy-handed way we dealt with Dale. Not only was it ungracious and unfair, it was hypocritical.  Again, something for which I’m profoundly sorry.

Add to all that, some significant personal weaknesses and sins of my own, and I/we needed serious help.   I asked you for that help, and in customary fashion, you dropped the hammer. When all of your recommendations on discipline weren’t followed, you came unglued.  You cursed me up one side and down the other.  You threatened and berated me.  I have never been spoken to the way you did to me then.  It was vicious and startling.  I was reeling and devastated from what I had just discovered with my wife and close friend.

Then you involved yourself in our Eldership in a most irresponsible and reckless manner.  In hindsight, it never should have gotten to that point, and I accept full responsibility for that, but what I needed was trustworthy, Biblical accountability, and instead I got slander, threats, and verbal abuse.  We had good elders who were caught between a pastor dealing with personal and familial sin, and an outside accountability that was reckless, irresponsible and ultimately had a destructive influence on a once unified eldership.  I know it all now. I’ve read the communication you had with the other elders behind my back.  Ugly, slanderous, defaming lies, Mark.  I thought you were my brother and you treated me like scum.

On March 17, 2005, I sent a letter of grievance to the Board of Acts29, asking them to address what I had come to realize over time, were serious character flaws of yours.   I made the case that Biblically you were unfit and disqualified as an Elder. A case based off long established patterns of pride, lack of self-control, sexually vulgar and slanderous speech, exaggeration that bordered on deception, gossip about others and confidentiality issues. An excerpt from that letter stated: “The fact that Mark is an incredibly talented leader and charismatic personality, cannot in any way substitute for the simple Biblical requirements of being Christ-like, much less the qualifications of being an Elder. I can make a Biblical case from Titus regarding his being overbearing, quick-tempered, self-controlled, upright, and holy, as well as 1 Timothy regarding being above reproach, self-controlled, respectable, not quarrelsome, and a good reputation with outsiders”.

Not surprisingly, we got a response letter from the Board of Acts29 informing us that they would accept our resignation from Acts29, as we had made our continued participation in the network contingent upon their dealing with your issues.  Apparently, they lacked the fortitude and resolve to deal with your out-of-control behavior, and so became complicit themselves.  How the board of Acts29 abdicated their responsibility in this, is beyond my comprehension.  In addition, I was heartbroken as there were so many guys in the network that I loved.  Guys that I came to miss dearly over the next few painful, depressing years.  You asked me not to contact any of the guys and be “divisive”.  I never did, you know.  When I finally did just recently, I discovered that you had completely misrepresented what happened in my situation.  Thus, what I had seen you do to others, finally came full circle around to me.  It sucked. I didn’t like it at all.

The loss of those friendships, combined with the loss of my wife, my best friend,  and my church, led me into a few of the darkest years of my life.  A season I only survived due to the inexplicable buffer of God’s grace.

That wasn’t the only grievance letter that the Board of Acts29 received regarding you either.  Co-founder and Acts29 President David Nicholas sent one as well.  David was a mentor to you… he was your pastor I remember you saying.  Yet over time, Pastor Nicholas came to have grave misgivings about your character and conduct, personally brought it to you on multiple occasions, and finally wrote about them to the Board.  Yes, David was an imperfect, strong-willed, stubborn man sometimes, but he loved you.

David Nicholas is Not Anonymous.

David wanted the Board to come help our church work through this situation, but you wanted to do it your way. That added to the growing conflict between the two of you.  He had said that the Board would be coming to meet with our Elders during the Reformission conference, and then suddenly, somehow, you took over as President of Acts29.  I remember talking to David on the phone afterwards and him being stunned at what just happened.  You somehow had enough support to vote him off of the board.  Rick McKinley (a very good man) wanted nothing to do with any of this, and pulled out of the board and Acts29 altogether.  How you got the other guys to go along with that move, I’ll never know, but it foreshadowed a similar move that would happen with your own Eldership in 2007.

You consolidated power once more.
You chose to become pragmatic instead of principled.
You became opportunistic instead of obedient.
You mishandled sacred things.
You have abused theological positions as much as you have abused individual lives. You can’t run roughshod over people in the name of being “all about Jesus”.

For you, the ultimate endorsement was always driven by numbers, and we were like the Israelites of old who proclaimed to want a King like David, but were drawn to a King like Saul.  We all need to own up to the fact that we helped empower you to become what you have, through our willingness to eagerly endorse what you are, and you were more than happy to let us.  2 Timothy 4:3 describes a time when “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” You had the right words.  You said the right things, and strangely, the right people kept endorsing you.

And yet your words rarely matched up to how you live:
You can’t preach Jesus and curse people.
You can’t preach Jesus and threaten people.
You can’t preach Jesus and be sexually vulgar.
You can’t preach Jesus and denigrate women.
You can’t preach Jesus and then shun people.
You can’t preach Jesus and give rich people special privileges.
You can’t preach Jesus and steal people’s material
You can’t preach Jesus and approve the use of funds for your desires instead of the donor’s desire.
You can’t preach Jesus and cheat your way onto bestseller lists.
You can’t preach Jesus and then force your people to not compete with you in spreading the gospel.
You can’t preach Jesus and then force people to either stay silent or not be paid.
You can’t preach Jesus and seek to become the “greatest of these”.
You just can’t. You see that right?
It can’t be “do as I say, and not as I do” for a pastor.
We need to see you be like Jesus, more than we need to hear you say “it’s all about Jesus”.

It really is this simple: to preach Jesus, you have to be like Jesus.

The final straw for me was this video you just released where you cited these anonymous detractors. To the masses watching, you may get away with “sounding sorry”, but to the hundreds…thousands even, who have been actually victimized, they need actual Biblical confession and repentance, the kind that is specific and identifies actual people and actual sins against them.  Evasive generalized statements only worsen the hurt.  Spin doctoring and ‘damage control” is just more of the same big-business marketing tactics that led to this systemic pattern of cancerous abuse in the first place.  Worse, it desensitizes and inoculates people to what real, genuine repentance looks and feels like.

So, why am I saying this to you now, Mark?

Why am I saying it like this, and after all this time?

Well, because you are unreachable through any other means. I’ve tried. Talk about being anonymous.  Who knows where you are, or where you live?   You have isolated yourself behind your ministry fortress and this is the only way to have a hearing.  I don’t even know if you’ll read this, but this is more about my being obedient to speak the truth of what I’ve experienced, and letting it be at that.

I’m also saying this because, like the apostle Paul, I know what it feels like to consider myself “the chief of sinners”.  I am firmly committed to the doctrine of total depravity, primarily because I know my own depraved self.  I know that it was only God’s kindness that led me to repentance. I have been brought low and learned to embrace having my own prideful ship dashed upon the rock of God’s discipline.

I don’t miss the man I once was.  I’m so, so very thankful for how God has refashioned and restored me.  Yes, I lost a lot, but I gained even more, and the only way that happens is through confession. True confession that abandons all justification, that repudiates all excuses, and embraces the revealing light of the Holy Spirit. I lost my marriage. I struggled with ugly patterns of sin and rebellion in my life.  I was lonely, depressed, confused, and stunned.  I flirted with temptation, and easily could have jumped off that cliff during those dark, lonely years, but somehow God preserved me.  Only God preserved me, that I know for sure.  It was terrible path, and yet it was exactly where God needed me, to do the long, painful work of surgery that my soul required. I remember you saying how you’ve never really had to suffer.  Well, perhaps this is that season.  It is a path I am begging you to embrace.  I hope and pray more than anything that you will not allow pride to have a stranglehold over your life.

You’ve destroyed people, Mark.  You’ve ruined people’s reputations.  Through your own perverse interpretation of “God’s grace”, you’ve cast people aside who you decided were not “on mission” spoke of “a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus.”  The pragmatism backfired. What you won them with, is what you won them too, and now there are thousands who have been hurt, and who have hurt others.  Beautifully, many of them are finding forgiveness and healing as they reconnect with each other and grow in grace.

Please Mark.  Just stop. Step down. Resign.  There was a brilliant post today on Dave Orrison’s blog Grace for my Heart that defined the difference between a narcissistic apology and a real apology. The center of the narcissistic apology is the offender saying “I am hurting because of this.” The real apology sees the victim in the center and says, “You are hurting because of this.”  The difference – and a critical one – is empathy.  As my wife so insightfully noted, “a narcissistic apology is when the apology itself is actually abusive.”  It’s extremely manipulative.

The real problem is that this isn’t about an apology, and that’s what so many just don’t seem to understand. An apology might be at the center of the issue, but it’s not the circumference of the issue. This ultimately is about confession and repentance… something unique to our faith.  It may initiate with an apology, but it MUST transition into deep, honest confession that ultimately bears long-term fruit as the changed life of repentance.

In an excerpt from an email you sent to our elders on 9/4/2004 regarding my situation, you said:  “Repentance will take time, even years. Confession is agreeing with God, and repenting is changing.”  Do you remember that?  Those are your own words, and they are spot on.  I know.   I went through the process and it DID take years!  Longstanding patterns and habits must be refashioned. Repentance must be proven genuine and sincere through things like restitution and exoneration of people wronged.  All I’m asking you to do is to take your own advice.

Go to your brothers and sisters you have specifically offended and make it right.  There’s no other way.   If you do, I will gladly stand with you as a brother.  Anything else is simply too little, too late.  I believe that everything hinges on the integrity of your response to this crisis.

You could begin by exonerating Paul Petry, and Bent Meyer.  Refute that mockery of a trial and end their shunning.  I hurt over how you treated Leif Moi as well.  Such a loyal brother to you.
I once was afraid of what you might do to me if I spoke up.  I’ve come to the place where I care more about the truth being known, and healing and restoration beginning, than anything else.  The sharks are circling now, and it appears there are many who want only your destruction. I don’t. I want to see brokenness, humility, and change that I can support.

I love you and your family, and will be earnestly praying for you in all of this.

I have the same phone number and email. You know how to find me.

My name is Ron Wheeler.

I Am Not Anonymous

The full text of the blog post has been republished with Wheeler's permission. 

As Wenatchee The Hatchet has been interested in documenting the history of Mars Hill and of Acts 29 for a while, this account adds a bit to the available history of Acts 29 Network, about which there has not been nearly as fulsome a set of histories as there has been about Mars Hill. Any external or independent corroboration of events and dates is appreciated.