Saturday, September 20, 2014

comparing Michael Van Skaik's quote of Sutton Turner to Driscoll and Turner about Turner from 2011 to 2013


Dear Mars Hill,
Earlier this month Pastor Sutton Turner informed our board of his intention to resign from his current staff and elder position. His personal decision is a sober acknowledgement that it would not be financially feasible for him to stay on staff as the church rightsizes itself, and secondly, not emotionally prudent to subject his family to what has been an ongoing season of personal attacks. We want to be clear: there are no disqualifying factors related to his decision.

Sutton put it this way: “Since 2007, Pastor Mark has impacted my life in a significant way. I am thankful to call him my brother, my pastor, and my friend. When I came to Mars Hill in 2011, my plan was to be here for a year, get theologically trained, and focus on the adoption of my son before entering back into the business world. Three and a half years later, I have been able to serve a church that I love as a staff member, but it is now time that I transition off of staff and return to the business world.”

How much earlier this month?  September 10?

Sutton Turner, as quoted by Michael Van Skaik, is credited lately with saying the plan when coming to Mars Hill in 2011 was to be there for a year, get theologically trained and focus on an adoption before entering back into the business world. 


Well ... see ... that wasn't exactly how Mark Driscoll introduced Sutton Turner in November of 2011.
By: Pastor Mark Driscoll
Posted: Nov 23, 2011

Earlier this year, the Turner family moved around the world just to be a part of Mars Hill Church. They’d been listening to the podcast for many years, and when the opportunity arose to join the ministry, Sutton left a lucrative job in the Middle East to use his gifts to serve the church. [emphasis added]

Pastor Sutton’s experience has already been a huge benefit. He has a degree from Harvard Business School, led multibillion-dollar organizations, and even worked as an executive pastor for a number of years at a large church in Texas [WtH, for that go here]. More importantly, he is a godly man with a delightful family.

By God’s grace, Mars Hill Church is in an amazing season of growth. With that comes significantly more complexities, however. We need help and we’ve been searching for a leader of Sutton’s caliber for awhile. God is faithful and brought the right man at the right time.
So Driscoll's account in 2011 was that when the opportunity arose to join the ministry at Mars Hill Sutton Turner relocated himself and his family to serve the church.  Driscoll also stated that Mars Hill had been searching for a leader of Sutton Turner's caliber for a while.  So Turner seems to have been looking for an opportunity and by Mark Driscoll's account "we" had been looking for someone like Turner for a while.  It was presented as a perfect fit, that doesn't seem to fit the "just a year for some theological training to head back into the business world", does it?

For those not inclined to watch the video associated with the page, here are quotes from the first video posted to the page linked above.

circa 4:33
For those of you who don't know [the Turner family] they were podcasters that actually relocated back into the US. And Sutton had a business background as a graduate of Harvard Business School and was running $36 billion dollars a year of real estate with 1,600 employees internationally and then was listening to sermons, felt called to come and help Mars Hill Church and, you know Mars Hill Church, you know we need help. So we are very glad to have Sutton and as the complexity of the church increases we're very, very glad for his gifts and we want to thank the girls for joining us and your wife as well. Thank you guys for making the move and making the sacrifice. ...

circa 05:13
He was also in his past executive pastor at a very large church and so his gifts are very necessary in this season, because if I do the accounting I'll be doing prison ministry from the inside. ... We really need Sutton's gifts in this season and God brought the right man at the right time with the right gifts and the right family and the right attitude and the right heart. ... We are very thankful to have you.

Driscoll's got a thing for joking about who has to do stuff so that he doesn't end up doing prison ministry from the inside.  In the wake of the Mars Hill Global controversy and questions about where the monies given to that go ... it's not entirely clear whether Driscoll should ever crack that joke again. 

Notice that Driscoll presented Sutton as already experienced in both business and executive ministry leadership activity. 

Sutton Turner got a mention in a letter Mark Driscoll published on September 9, 2011 that referred to Sutton Turner as on staff but not as an executive elder.

Pastor Dave and I both believe Pastor Scott is the best choice for this role in this season. Pastor Scott [Thomas] has been very clear in his love and commitment to Mars Hill and has said he will gladly serve wherever he is needed, which we deeply appreciate. Administratively, Pastor Jamie was our senior "king" and his departure requires very competent leadership to cover his many responsibilities. Thankfully, Pastor Jamie was a great leader and humble man. He surrounded himself with great people. This allows us to not have the kind of crisis that could otherwise ensue. Pastor Dave and I agree that Sutton Turner should function as our highest-ranking "king." Sutton is new to staff, but not to ministry. He is a former executive pastor of a large church. Educationally, he is a graduate of Texas A&M, the SMU Cox School of Business, and Harvard Business School. Professionally, he has recently served as the CEO of a company that has nearly 1,600 employees. Prior to that he served as the CEO of another company that under his leadership grew from 0 to 500 employees in the first year. He and his family moved to Seattle sensing a call to serve at Mars Hill, and we believe he is a gift from God to us for our future. He is currently well into the eldership process so be in prayer for that as well as his many duties at the church. [emphasis added]

Then there's Driscoll following statement:
While we celebrate the past and honor the present, we also need to prepare for the future by God’s grace. We’ve been here before, many times before, in fact. As our church grows, we encounter obstacles and hit ceilings of complexity and need to adjust as necessary to get through the next size barrier. This was true at 200, 800, 2,000, and 6,000 [emphasis added, watch for this number], just like the experts predicted. At 10,000 we are there again. I’ve been working on the beginnings of a comprehensive plan, as I can see into the future to 25,000 people a week, Lord willing.

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
by Rez Gopez-Sindac

The reporter describes Turner's return in 2011 to America as a return to his ministry calling, and then mentions the executive pastoral role. When asked what his role as an executive pastor entailed, Turner told the reporter his job was to complement the lead pastor and try to model that relationship to the campus pastors.  Turner stated that Driscoll was a capable speaker but didn't like doing spreadsheets, drafting budgets, attending meetings, recruiting employees, establishing policies and procedures, or updating bylaws.  So that's what Turner did.

EXCEPT THAT IN A 2013 VIDEO DRISCOLL WAS CLAIMING HE WAS THE ONE WHO REWROTE THE BYLAWS IN 2007 [video has been made private since Throckmorton transcribed it]
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, bylaws, 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.
Of course it's impossible to consult the entire timeline at Joyful Exiles without having the impression that it was Jamie Munson who was revising the bylaws and that it was on account of not respecting Munson's authoritah that Meyer and Petry were fired.  But in Driscoll's 2013 video "Stepping Up" Driscoll explicitly took credit for having to do the kinds of things Sutton Turner said in an interview Driscoll didn't really want to have to do. 

Okay, maybe that's the case but the evidence that Driscoll ever spent so much as an hour drafting bylaws has never been established in the history of Mars Hill.


While the original piece was pulled some time ago (for reasons that can't be known) there's an interesting quote attributed to Turner

And, Sutton days “Mars Hill really did not grow until 2007, from 1 location and 2,000 in attendance.”

Of course that's impossible to assert truthfully that Mars Hill did not grow until 2007 since the constant specter of meteoric growth outpacign the competency of Mars Hill leadership was a topic brought up by Mark Driscoll in 2007 as a reason for the necessity of a re-org. 

Then again ... given how little Turner seems to have actually known about the history of Mars Hill it's not a surprise he couldn't get such a basic thing about its history right.  For a more detailed explanation of how attendance was at 6k by the 2007 re-org, here's a long quote from Driscoll in an interview with Justin Taylor.—and-whether-or-not-the-new-calvinist-coalition-will-hold-together/

As we expand to more campuses, states, and possibly even nations, I wanted to do all I could to ensure doctrinal fidelity and clarity for our church. As the tree grows and the fruit increases, the roots need to sink deep as well. So, when our attendance was at about six thousand people a few years ago, we did something unprecedented. We canceled out the membership of everyone in our church [emphasis added in both types] and I preached the Doctrine series for thirteen weeks. Each sermon was well over an hour and included me answering text-messaged questions from our people.

Those who made it through the entire series were interviewed, and those who evidenced true faith in Christ and signed our membership covenant were installed as new members.[emphasis added] We had always had a high bar for membership, but I wanted to raise that bar higher as we pursued our goal of becoming, by God’s grace, a church of fifty thousand. In so doing, we lost about a thousand people, dropped to five thousand total, and missed budget for the first time in our church’s history. [emphasis added] We then rebounded over the next few years to ten thousand people a week and as many as thirteen thousand on our peak weekend. We had pruned, which hurt, but then we harvested, which was healing. It’s not all about the numbers, and we were willing to lose a lot of people, but God proved that there is power in the gospel and that a people united around core biblical doctrine can be used by God to bear much fruit by grace.


Turner's short quote about Mars Hill not really growing until 2007 is not just not true in terms of the history of Mars Hill struggling to adapt to growth, by Driscoll's account, the Doctrine series led to the loss of 1,000 people who were leaving during the period in which many left out of objection to the terminations and trials of Petry and Meyer.  So Mars Hill not only wasn't that small and not only didn't only start growing in 2007 they LOST PEOPLE because of things that happened in 2007 and early 2008.

This may or may not serve as a conceptual transition to statements credited to Paul Tripp.

It would appear in light of statements attributed to Paul Tripp, former member of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability that Tripp had a drastically different assessment of Turner's suitability for ministry compared to Bruskas and Turner.
from page 5 of 7

“Sutton is fundamentally unhelpful for Mark. Sutton plays to all of Mark’s weaknesses and none of Mark’s strengths.” He pleaded with them saying that what Mark needs in an Executive Pastor is a “55 year-old seasoned godly man who watches over Mark’s soul as he administrates the church, and who can pull Mark into a room and say ‘you can’t do that in a meeting’ and you need to call another meeting and ask for forgiveness from the people you just spoke to. He doesn’t need a man who is his trigger man.” He made it clear that Sutton lacks the emotional and spiritual maturity to be where he is at in leadership.
From behind the scenes on the BOAA Paul observed that “A statement that comes from somebody, through Sutton, to you guys, just changes dramatically.” He followed this by saying that he did not think Sutton intended to be consistently untruthful, but that regardless he does end up spinning things constantly out of fear.


So, for the sake of review, while Van Skaik's account on Sutton Turner's behalf states that Turner figured he'd come by for a year, get some theological training, and had back into the business world,

But this is ... a difference in emphasis compared to years of stating that Sutton Turner was the perfect fit for Mars Hill, that he was experienced in business as well as in ministry and that Mars Hill had badly needed someone of his skill set.  Furthermore in subsequent press coverage Sutton Turner let reporters indicate he'd found his calling in being an executive leader at Mars Hill. 

So, all that suggests that the recent statement by Michael Van Skaik should raise some questions about why, if Sutton Turner really only planned to train theologically for a year, that none other than Mark Driscoll described Turner as coming to America in 2011 specifically because a ministry opportunity arose in Mars Hill for which Turner was a good fit and for which "we" at Mars Hill were seeking a candidate of Turner's abilities, education and experience?  Every executive elder explanation Wenatchee The Hatchet has been able to find referring to Sutton Turner between 2011 on previous to Van Skaik's recent account of Turner explaining himself seems to indicate that Turner was in for the long haul and for the executive leadership position for which he was considered "kingly". 

This change of narrative seems abrupt and it may be a change in emphasis but if so it raises the question of why, if Turner felt he needed theological training, he was presented by Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas as so already perfect for the job they had in mind for him?

the following of Sutton Turner on Twitter, a new short story in screencaps tells a story of a Turner in September 2014 that does not mention Mars Hill so much

One of the curiosities about The WayBack Machine is that in the event that it captures a webcrawl of a Twitter account it isn't necessarily in English.  Let's take the twitter account of Sutton Turner.
From March 26, 2014.  Anyone want to find out what "Jarraitzaleak" might lead to?  Let's say we click on that and find out where The WayBack Machine goes?

It would appear to be "followers" in this case.
Now, let's see what Sutton Turner's Twitter profile looked like August 5, 2014

How about September 20, 2014?

2,559 tweets in August 2014 and now September 20, 2014 there's just ... 16 tweets?
Lot of scrubbing of the twitter feed there, Sutton.  Not much sign of Mars Hill or Mark Driscoll or ministry or anything like that. 

It's kind of fascinating, by the way, how Turner's twitter following just kept exploding this year after it turned out he signed the Result Source Inc. contract.  Was the notoriety of that good for getting a Twitter following?

Dan Savage sounds off on "What happens after the fall of Mars Hill", but it remains to be seen if Mars Hill Church, as a corporation is dead just yet

While The Stranger has been admirably thorough in documenting the history of Mars Hill Dan Savage's recent contribution at Slog is a reminder of why his sort of discourse is ultimately just punditry.  People have wanted Mark Driscoll to fail because of his views on gays and women for some time and that's not worth anything.  As has been noted here and elsewhere the real catalyst for change was confronting Mark Driscoll about plagiarism and confronting Mars Hill and the world at large with the facts about Result Source Inc and other problems in the fiscal history of Mars Hill.

Savage is, as ever both entitled to and irrepressible in the expression of his opinions but he's not ultimately that different from Mark Driscoll in the sense that he's a willfully incendiary gadfly who has made mass media a pulpit.

Driscoll and Savage may formally land in different realms on ethics and politics but these two are the sorts that can have a propensity to domineer in public discourse, which may be why it is fortunate in the long run their respective influences on the national and even regional scene may be seen as marginal.

Savage is absolutely right, of course, to point out that dozens of elders and deacons who led within Mars Hill Church made it possible for Mark Driscoll to become the kind of man he has become.  Yep.  The Stranger has played a better-than-average role in bringing that to light.

But if Savage wants to revisit the old progressive bromides against Driscoll he has worked to no useful end.  The First Amendment is still what it is, and the failure of the left (secular or religious) has been a moral one in the sense that it has fixated on thoughts as transgressions without considering the actions.  There has been a small parade of comments about how commenting on Driscoll's plagiarism wouldn't be a big issue so much as Mark's views on gays and women.  When Wenatchee The Hatchet first broached the likelihood of Driscollian plagiarism back on July 4, 2013 it was not very notable.  Same for actually demonstrating a case for use without citation back in September 2013.  What changed was someone with a media presence made accusations on the air and the accusations caught fire in the press.

The left can't congratulate itself now for what has happened.  It wasn't doing anything, by and large, excepting wanting Driscoll to hang out to dry for his views on womens and gays. 

And here's why that whole approach failed for the better part of 18 years.

Mark Driscoll has complained about "critics" and bad press but from the dawn of Mars Hill negative media attention, so long as it fixated on his personality, was central to the formation of the Mark Driscoll persona.

We'll revisit the earlier material as is:

Back in 1998 Mother Jones published a prescient article on Mars Hill that may be worth revisiting:

Of note was an organization that provided financial support to Mars Hill that would be easy to overlook. 

Postmoderns receive crucial support—financial and otherwise—from the megachurches. These postmodern ministries are loosely organized by the Leadership Network, a Dallas-based umbrella group for many of the nation's megachurches. It's the Leadership Network that keeps Driscoll's bohemian Mars Hill ministry in touch with the fast-growing, but more traditional, University Baptist Church in Waco by holding conferences and seminars. For the past three years the network has sponsored national conferences that bring together postmodern leaders. The first one attracted nearly 300, the second 500, and the next one, this fall in New Mexico, is expected to draw 1,000.

The Mother Jones piece highlights the early Mars Hill for its self-identified foundational appeal and even its methodologies in generating awareness.

How do the movement's young leaders intend to stem what they see as an increase in secularism? By preaching that God is relevant and church is cool. Postmodern leaders walk effortlessly between the secular and religious worlds, talking about the new Radiohead album in one breath, Jesus in the next. They are dynamic and approachable. And don't tell this new breed of preachers that they're marketing religion. They say market research is the domain of baby boomer megachurches, and point out that their churches don't advertise—the extraordinary growth has come strictly from word-of-mouth.

And yet subtly, brilliantly, it's all part of the sell. Postmoderns repeat the word "authentic" like a mantra. They seize on the tenets of Generation X—ennui, skepticism, cynicism—and use them as a way to attract members. Song lyrics portray a generation unanchored; politics go unmentioned; dysfunctional families are mourned. And almost all the churches are located near colleges, with a ready-made population that craves acceptance.

That was in 1998.  Since 2011 Justin Dean has the job of managing Mars Hill public relations and communications.  The time for strictly word-of-mouth is gone and now we've got ads for Driscoll books on public transit and radio ads on Christian radio. 

"For financial reasons or whatever, the parents of Gen Xers put their lives ahead of their children's," says Lief Moi, 35, a leader at Mars Hill and the co-host, with Driscoll, of "Street Talk," a nationally syndicated Christian radio show. By playing the "dysfunctional family" card, Moi, Driscoll, and others implicitly coax young people to turn to church as a place where they can experience the family and fellowship they missed out on as a kid. The church then becomes appealing to college students for the same reasons that fraternities and sororities are: instant community.

In order to get some grasp of Mars Hill culture it helps to observe this, that it began with a rhetorical observation that the parents of Generation X put their own lives ahead of the lives and welfare of their children.  If Mars Hill is a cult then we should observe that how a cult gains traction is by appealing to real and healthy needs with a culture that promises openness and kindness but reveals its toxic insularity only over time.  Moi's history of having never known his father in his youth and having been raised by his mother with her lesbian lover is easily known by anyone who was part of Mars Hill from 1998 to 2008. 

As a contemporary aside, gay authors have noted that people within the gay community can be the family you choose in contrast to the family you don't have any choice about.  Paradoxically yet perhaps inevitably, Mars Hill became that kind of surrogate family-of-choice for many who called the church home and the reasons may not have been entirely different in terms of social and emotional needs than for someone who came out of the closet and has lost a lot of emotional and social support from biological family.  Obviously the analogy is just an analogy but the 1998 Mother Jones article taps into the power of appealing to a narrative.

Back to earlier published material ...

Driscoll has been very tight-lipped about his own parents over the years.  He apparently would sooner talk about Grace's sexual abuse and related frigidity than to say much more than his dad was a union dry-waller.  But in 1998, with a chance to talk to Mother Jones, Driscoll said the following:

"Some of us haven't given ourselves over to the American Dream yet," Driscoll says into the microphone. "How do we make sure we don't become victims of what harmed us— parents who weren't around because they were too busy making money so we could go on vacations and look like a family?" The phones are dead.

When Driscoll asked rhetorically year after year "Where's dad?" in his sermons a person could wonder why the theme of the absentee father would be so important if all Driscoll ever said about his dad was that he was a union drywaller who swung a hammer for a living and broke his back supporting his family.  And yet year after year the most vivid anecdotes Driscoll had for his ancestors and siblings were not of his father or mother but his grandfather.  For the most part Mark Driscoll's father has been invoked simply as proof of bluecollar working-class credibility and his mother is essentially an icon of Catholic piety. 

The article gets to the earliest money quote before long:

By setting themselves up against their elders, postmoderns are ingeniously adding an anti-establishment spirit to their movement. "I really preach; it's not just three points to a better self-esteem," Driscoll says. "Megachurches have perfect services with perfect lighting. We're a friggin' mess." Driscoll delivers his sermons largely off-the- cuff, and refuses to follow a point-by-point outline like most pastors at megachurches do. "I'm very confrontational," he says, "not some pansy-ass therapist."

There it is, right there, "I'm very confrontational, not some pansy-ass therapist" Mark Driscoll said. 
There was also evidence of preaching Song of Songs as far back as 1998.  It's worth keeping in mind as Driscoll hangs out in his house in Snohomish county and being less than honest when KOMO rings the doorbell that throughout the history of Mars Hill Mark Driscoll has not only courted controversy through mass and social media but thrived on it. 

Back to newer stuff.

Savage is right, a whole posse of guys signed off on making Driscoll the man he has become and they bear responsibility.  It has seemed to people outside the corporate culture that nobody complained when a lot of people were being steamrolled until the people who were steamrolling were themselves subject to the machine.  When Wenatchee The Hatchet was inside the culture of Mars Hill this was one of a number of things that were occasionally troubling.  The sheer escalation of the behavior was harder to see until 2007 because so many people who were part of the problem themselves were not yet subjected to the treatment themselves.  Sometimes you have to be subjected to what you've done to others before you realize it's a problem--unless you're Eric Cartman and your friends have turned you into a ginger ... .

Part of the mess of all this history in Puget Sound is that people like Mark Driscoll and Dan Savage need each other to define their public personas.  The way they talk about others within mass media does not necessarily always indicate a difference in disposition even if there are plenty of differences on positions. 

It remains to be seen whether the corporation known as Mars Hill Church is really as dead as Dan Savage has surmised.  Then again, Mark Driscoll in 2006 described the death/blaming stage in a way that suggests that even Mark's own take might be that Mars Hill Church is in the death/blaming stage by now.  And the Mark Driscoll of 2006 might say that if it's in the death/blaming stage Mars Hill Church of 2012-2014 is getting what it deserves. 

repeating an earlier question as a standalone post, with Sutton Turner's departure who will run Resurgence Publishing, Inc?

Resurgence Publishing, the for-profit branch of Mars Hill executive elder activity
UBI Number 603207560
Category                      REG
Profit/Nonprofit           Profit
Active/Inactive            Active
State Of Incorporation WA
WA Filing Date           05/17/2012
Expiration Date           05/31/2014
Inactive Date 
Duration                       Perpetual
Agent Name                 JOHN SUTTON TURNER 
Address                        1411 NW 50TH STREET
City                              SEATTLE 
State                             WA
ZIP                               98107 


1411 NW 50TH ST
SEATTLE , WA 98107 
From the old post:

So that means that when you buy a book through The Resurgence store over here, you're probably buying a book with a copyright owned by the author and not the church said author might be a pastor at.

Let's take a look at some for-instances,  Darrin Patrick's book
Church Planter, copyright owned by Darrin Patrick.  Then there's Community, by Brad House, who also owns the copyright to his book. Or Redemption, by Mike Wilkerson, who owns the copyright of the book. How about Scandalous, by D. A. Carson with a copyright owned by (no surprise) D. A. Carson?

Don Carson is a significant name in that he was one of the editors of a volume that was published by Intervarsity Press with material that was, in the finished introduction by Mark Driscoll to the Trial Study Guide, not citing sources while using the material.
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.[emphasis added] 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. [emphasis added]

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.”

A few words of observation in light of the March 17, 2012 memo.  If financial reporting was as incoherent and sketchy as Turner's memo from early 2012 suggested it's not entirely clear how reliable the dollar amount mentioned in the press release in late 2013 might ultimately be.  We can take it or leave it but the March 2012 memo introduces a new narrative wrinkle about how certain we can be that the specific number of $236.35 could be certainly accounted for.  "to the best of our knowledge" may not have been very knowledgeable, in other words. Since some of the product was clearly sold by third parties those profits would not necessarily be germane to the questions addressed by the press release. 

Driscoll wrote, "I take responsibility for all of this." but to date has issued no apology about how MH PR passive aggressively shifted blame on plagiarism with Mark Driscoll's name on it on to research assistance. 

But Driscoll did make a point of mentioning who he called. Someone who has taught at Mars Hill Church and has also had a book published and was one of the editors of the Intervarsity Press publication would narrow the field down to just D. A Carson, aka Don Carson.  Quick phone call and things are made right.  Not exactly.  The blame game has not been apologized for to this day. 
Conversely, in Driscoll's account a skeptical reader could say that what saved the bacon of Mars Hill Church as a corporation from an egregious case of copyright infringement was what some might cynically call the good old boy network.

Now ...  let's revisit a comment from the old post
Anonymous said...
How is it that these "pastors" are or were on salary, wrote their books 'on company time' so to speak, using company equipment and staff, and yet the company does not own the copyrights?

And if they were not writing their books on company time, then what were they doing?

That's an interesting point to mention because if we consult the copyright indications for Sutton Turner's book it is copyrighted to Resurgence Publishing Inc and not necessarily Sutton Turner as an individual.  Granted, Sutton Turner as an individual seems to be the president, secretary, treasurer and chairman of Resurgence Publishing Inc but this technicality may be that compared to so many Mars Hill pastors past having published books for which they own the copyright.
cue some glowing endorsements from
Mark Driscoll who is still described as New York Times #1 Best-Selling-Author in his blurb for Invest.

Larry Osborne, member of the Board of Advisors and Accountability

Matt Rogers, nonpaid elder at Mars Hill Church and recent addition to the Board of Advisors and Accountability

Turner's resignation from eldership at Mars Hill Church does not necessarily indicate anything about formal contracted church membership at Mars Hill that we know of (yet).  While historically men who resign from Mars Hill eldership rarely stay for long at the culture it remains to be seen whether the Turner family abandons Mars Hill Church altogether.  That would be the historic norm in light of the dozens of cases Wenatchee The Hatchet has been able to track but not everyone bails at the same rate.  Munson took years to leave but he apparently resigned his eldership and membership in one go.

And what's going to be interesting since Resurgence Publishing Inc is a for-profit company with only John Sutton Turner as its governing person, where Resurgence Publishing goes from here.

It also invites questions as to how and if Mars Hill Church can survive as a corporation if the leadership consists of the executive leadership that consists of Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas.  After all, their leadership approach may have been a large part of what got Mars Hill into the fiscal disaster it was facing down in early 2012.

From an earlier post:
Consolidated financial statements
for the year ended June 30,2012

from Nature of Activities -
... The Church's programs include Sunday services, community oriented ministries, leadership development, and training. One program, the Resurgence, fulfills many of the Church's leadership and training functions by publishing content online and in print, hosting conferences and events, and providing internships and classes, including Re:Train (The Resurgence Training Center), which offers graduate-level instruction for leaders from around the world.

Principles of Consolidation -

The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Mars Hill Church and its wholly owned corporation, Resurgence Publishing, Inc, and wholly owned LLC, Mars Hill Properties - 50th LLC, which was dissolved during the year (collectively, the Church). All material inter-organization transactions have been eliminated.
What the material inter-organizational transactions were would be something to investigate, if possible.  The for profit Resurgence Publishing, Inc is wholly owned by Mars Hill Church.  There may be a way a non-profit can wholly own a for-profit company, any number of ways, but let's leave it to people with training and experience in that to articulate how that could work. What material inter-organization transactions between Mars Hill Church and Resurgence Publishing Inc was eliminated?  If Mars Hill Church currently wholly owns Resurgence Publishing, Inc. where does Mars Hill Church plan to go with the company? 

page 6... The Church is exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)3 except to the extent of unrelated business taxable income, if any.  ... Resurgence Publishing Inc., did not have significant activity during the year or positive net income and as such has not included a deferred tax asset or liability or provision for income taxes in the consolidated financial statements. [emphasis added]

Financial statements made available would be nice, though if the company is not a public company (why would it be?) it would make sense if those statements are never made available. 

09-20-2014 07.22pm

As to where Turner may be going, well "Sutton of Arabia" is a possibility that someone could choose to read into the tiny amount of Twitter activity of late.

Or not, it's a bit too soon to be certain in any case.

a narrative question, "When I came to Mars Hill in 2011, my plan was to be here for a year, get theologically trained, and ... " had Sutton Turner ever planned to become an executive elder?


Dear Mars Hill,
Earlier this month Pastor Sutton Turner informed our board of his intention to resign from his current staff and elder position. His personal decision is a sober acknowledgement that it would not be financially feasible for him to stay on staff as the church rightsizes itself, and secondly, not emotionally prudent to subject his family to what has been an ongoing season of personal attacks. We want to be clear: there are no disqualifying factors related to his decision.

Sutton put it this way: “Since 2007, Pastor Mark has impacted my life in a significant way. I am thankful to call him my brother, my pastor, and my friend. When I came to Mars Hill in 2011, my plan was to be here for a year, get theologically trained, and focus on the adoption of my son before entering back into the business world. Three and a half years later, I have been able to serve a church that I love as a staff member, but it is now time that I transition off of staff and return to the business world.”

What is interesting in this announcement conveyed by Michael Van Skaik is that Turner's account seems to have been that the plan was to come to Mars Hill, get a theological training, focus on the adoption of his son, and then re-enter the business world.  But had Turner really left the business world?  Maybe in the United States he had left the business world but in terms of international business he hadn't really left the business world, had he?

a revisitation of Sutton Turner's career at one time recounted in LinkedIn, part 1 The Wentworth Companies January 1998 to December 2003

of note is a recent comment contributed here
Austin5496 said...
I am Robert Turner, Chief Executive Officer of The Wentwood Companies, which I founded in the early 1990's. My brother, Sutton brother, was hired by me in 1996 as an analyst and later was tasked with running property and construction management services. In 2003 we partially separated with Sutton taking property and construction management services into a new company (Mission Housing) while I retained rest of the company and all of the properties (Wentwood Companies). After the separation, Sutton continued to manage properties for Wentwood via a contract. In August 2006, all contracts with Mission Housing were terminated. Since that time, there has been no connection between Wentwood and Sutton, who subsequently shut down Mission Housing and left the country. I still own and manage the Wentwood Companies in Austin, TX.

For the rest of the review:
a revisitation of Sutton Turner's career at one time recounted in LinkedIn, part 2a Mission Housing Management, LLC January 2004 to December 2006

a revisitation of Sutton Turner's career at one time recounted in LinkedIn, part 2b Mission Investors I. G. P, Inc.

a revisitation of Sutton Turner's career at one time recounted in LinkedIn, part 3 CHCC aka Cimmaron Hills Country Club (?) February 2004 to January 2006 things are fuzzier here, readers welcome to contribute

a revisitation of Sutton Turner's career at one time recounted in LinkedIn, part 4 Celebration Church Austin November 2006 to August 2008

a revisitation of Sutton Turner's career at one time recounted in LinkedIn, part 5 Khidmah, LLC May 2008 to July 2010

a revisitation of Sutton Turner's career at one time recounted in LinkedIn, part 6 Waseef. Barwa Real Estate Group June 2010 to May 2011

a revisitation of Sutton Turner's career at one time recounted in LinkedIn, part 7 Mars Hill Church April 2011 to present

So as a re:visitation of Turner's history it looks like Turner was away from American business for a few years but that he never quite stopped having business connections, so it could be Turner's plan was to transition back into business within the United States after a short time of getting theological training at Mars Hill.  The Resurgence Training Center did still exist during this period but it's not clear from Sutton Turner's account as recounted by Michael Van Skaik whether the theological training Sutton Turner was aiming to obtain was formal or not.

If Turner's conversion experience was 2005 then becoming an executive leader in a church is an even more crazy fast-track to the highest levels of formal power than would have been the case even with Jamie Munson.  The March 2012 memo might be a potential insight into observations attributed to Paul Tripp that Turner was not emotionally or spiritually mature enough to be given the level of influence and power he had in an organization.

So if as the Turner quote via Van Skaik suggests the initial plan was Turner would get theological training and transition back into the business world then whose idea was it to make Sutton Turner chief "king"? If by the account of the March 17, 2012 memo Munson was largely "checked out" why was that?  It's beginning to seem to Wenatchee The Hatchet as though Sutton Turner never planned on becoming a pastor, let alone an executive pastor, but that someone may have prevailed upon him to take a job that, at least as recounted via Michael Van Skaik, he wasn't even asking or looking for.

Although Michael Van Skaik's veracity and background has come up as a potential point for questions in the last three to five months ... .

Still, if Turner meant to get back into American business years as an executive elder at Mars Hill Church would constitute a big detour.

recycled: Malachi at MH, part 2: not counting but spotting the one out of sixty-four [if Mars Hill elders track who among them gives why not disclose Driscoll's salary?]

Originally published at
December 01, 2013

Tracking What Leaders Give

Where your treasure is, your heart is. And God looks down and says, “This isn’t just cheap; this is evil.” And it starts with church leaders, and so let me talk real plainly. Many churches don’t even track the giving of the leaders, and then the leaders are encouraging the people to be generous, but nobody’s checking to see if the leaders are generous. I would say that’s evil.

Now, I’m not going through checking every single leader, but I’m making sure that every leader, particularly those on paid staff and eldership, give. Out of the 64 elders, 63 are generous. One, not sure about, we’ll follow up with. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances; something happened. We don’t want to be legalistic about this, but we do want to say, “Before we ask anybody to do anything, we want to make sure that the leaders are setting a good example.”

One out of sixty-four elders, eh?  Not that Driscoll's personally going through checking every single leader, there's probably a department for that. :)


So ... it was fine to keep track of the one out of sixty-four that Driscoll wasn't sure was being generous ... but to date there's no disclosure of how much the pastors make?  The lead and executive pastors have been tagged as in the 100k to 120k range at job listings at various websites (for those keeping track) but the compensation of the executive elders has not been disclosed yet and this seems all the more pertinent in light of Sutton Turner's recently announced resignation.  If Mars Hill couldn't afford to keep Turner around that simply highlights anew that nobody in the regular echelons of Mars Hill seems to even know what the executive elders make.

recycled: Malachi at Mars Hill, part 1, Driscoll states in 2013 there weren't kids at the start of MHC, in 2006 stated co-founding pastors were good fathers

It seems important to remind readers that in the last year or two Mark Driscoll's narrative about the history of Mars Hill by way of him telling its story has changed in some significant ways.  One of the more breath-taking revisions to the history of Mars Hill came by way of a tossed off coment in the Malachi series (which may since have been redacted in some way, for all we do or don't know).

From a sermon preached by Mark Driscoll. December 01, 2013


Here’s where we’re at: Recently, 10,177 adults in attendance across Mars Hill. Fifteen churches, five states. We count people because people count. We count people because people count, and it’s not just numbers, it’s faces and names. There are also almost 2,500 kids, right? Can we say, “Praise God”? We like kids. When we started Mars Hill 17 years ago, there wasn’t even a children’s ministry—because there were no children. [emphasis added] People are coming in, getting saved, getting baptized, getting married, getting pregnant. Ideally, that’s the order, OK?

Remember that the FY2013 annual report listed the average attendance as 12,329Sutton Turner's July 2013 update mentioned the following:
* Average weekly attendance: 11,151 (8,959 adults and 2,191 kids)  [emphasis added]
  • Contributing households: 3,394 (an estimated 32% of adults at Mars Hill Church gave during July)
  • Average giving per adult: $38.33 (higher than projected)
  • Total giving: $1.61M (target: $1.48M)

  • So if there were 10,177 adults and almost 2,500 kids that would get you in the zone of the 12,329 average, wouldn't it?  It's worth noting that Turner's July 2013 update bracketed out the slightly less than 9,000 adults and the slightly less than 2,200 children.  This raises a question of whether or not it would be prudent to take whatever the average attendance is stated to be and simply subtracting one fifth of that amount to account for the children. 

    Speaking of children, that bit about how when Mars Hill started 17 years ago there were no children, might be hyperbolic?

    Confessions of a Reformission Rev
    Mark Driscoll, Zondervan

    page 54

    ... The church started as an idea I shared with Lief Moi and Mike Gunn. Lief is a descendant of Genghis Khan and his dad was a murderer, and Mike is a former football player. They proved to be invaluable, except for the occasional moments when they would stand toe-to-toe in a leadership meeting, threatening to beat the Holy Spirit out of each other. Both men were older than I and had years of ministry experience, and they were good fathers, loving husbands, and tough.  [emphasis added]...

    What's that again about no kids?  If Driscoll from 2006 testifies that Gunn and Moi were good fathers how can a person take seriously the claim of Driscoll in 2013 that there were no kids in the beginning of Mars Hill?  Again, perhaps Driscoll's 2013 statement is just some rhetorical, hyperbolic flourish.  Or let's propose that none of the Gunn and Moi children were so young that they couldn't participate in the earliest services at Mars Hill.  How about that?  But to say there were no children at Mars Hill Church in the plainest, most literal form, is one of the most readily disprovable assertions about the history of Mars Hill in the history of Mars Hill by Mark Driscoll's own published account.

    POSTSCRIPT: 01-18-2014

    and ... from page 145

    Jamie [Munson] came to Seattle at the age of nineteen, drinking, smoking pot, and having spent most of his life driving around in a maturity cul de sac, listening to Bon Jovi albums in the great nation of Montana. In Seattle, he lived with his sister and brother-in-law, Jen and Phil, who had been with the church from the beginning. They were the first couple who showed up with kids when we were in our core phase. [emphasis added]

    So apparently in addition to the Moi and Gunn kids not existing Phil Smidt's kids don't count now, too when Driscoll says there was no children's ministry at Mars Hill at the start because there were no kids at Mars Hill Church.  Fascinating.

    recycled: Driscoll in December 2013 "Mars Hill, I am convinced, utterly convinced that we are poised for the biggest year we've ever had."

    It is not going to be lost on readers of Wenatchee The Hatchet that Wenatchee has an eye for certain types of dramatic irony that leap across the line between "awkward" to "brutal". 

    Take this observation from earlier this year
    pointing out that the church Driscoll said had died because it didn't love Jesus enough got in the hands of Mars Hill, the U-District campus that will be closing its doors, that's a rather brutal irony.

    Well, it's also not yet a year later and there's another irony to consider.  Back on January 17, 2014 Wenatchee published the following material.  We'll add a little color for sake of interest.

    Malachi at MH, part 3: it may not be all about the numbers but ... Driscoll is convinced 2014 will be the biggest year ever

    December 01, 2013

    Mars Hill, I am convinced, utterly convinced that we are poised for the biggest year we’ve ever had. [emphasis added] And we’ve got some great leaders, and I’ve got a great honor today of sharing some of them with you. I want you to see who we’re talking about, and what they’re doing, and where they’re leading. We’ve pulled up their giving. They’re all giving, OK? They’re all serving, they’re all working, they’re all caring, they’re all trying. And you are helping them by giving generously and praying faithfully.

    A man that convinced that 2014 will be the biggest year Mars Hill has ever had should start sending numbers to Outreach, right?
    By Pastor Mark Driscoll
    On September 12th, Outreach magazine will release its annual issue listing the 100 largest and fastest-growing churches in the nation. For the first time in a number of years, you won’t see Mars Hill Church listed.

    ... We will continue to count things at Mars Hill, such as how many people we have on Sundays, how many people are baptized every year, how many people are in Community Groups, how many elders we have to lovingly lead our people, how many people are giving financially, how many dollars we are bringing in and sending out, how many locations and services we have, etc. But, we will use that data internally for our church and not be publishing it much externally. [emphasis added]

    Of course here at Wenatchee The Hatchet the little detail about
    how the internal numbers attested to numeric decline has been discussed at some length in this blog post over here.  Internal numbers attested to a decline and the publicly available FY2013 annual report attested to a decline in attendance and a basically nominal rise in contracted members of just sixty people, and this despite adding 1,337 members.  It may be prudent from here on out to take whatever the average attendance is in an annual report and whittle the number down by one fifth that total to account for the potential counting of children.

    But maybe the "biggest year" could refer to expenses and some kind of forthcoming capital campaign that they need a Capital Development Manager for. 

    Well, 2014 may have been the biggest year Mars Hill Church has ever had for news coverage but probably not for attendance. How many of the people who were leaders in December 2013 at Mars Hill are still at Mars Hill today?

    Pastor Mark Driscoll
    Jan 31, 2012

    ... I’m more a prophet than a politician.

    The more things come to light about Mark Driscoll and the leadership culture at Mars Hill the more difficult it is to escape the impression that Mark Driscoll is more a politician than a prophet so far as Wenatchee The Hatchet has seen.

    the March 17, 2012 memo, "policies and procedures were non-existent", but what about the 2007-2010 tenure of Tim Beltz and the financical policies mentioned in the 2008 Generous series?
    One of the greatest and most harmful events was Pastor Jamie resigning and leaving me in this job as General Manager/Executive Elder. From early June until he resigned in August, he had basically checked out. So I had less than 6 weeks as General Manager before becoming #1 King without being an Elder. Then finally in November, I was made an Executive Pastor without have any creditability with the staff. This single fact hindered my ability to really even understand the organization or the people, much less see the problems as they had existed for a long time.

    If you go back and look, the Church had no budget and the financial statements were a total joke this time last year. Financial reporting was 4 to 5 months late because the staff in finance was incompetent and the policies and procedures were non-existent. I am sorry, these are strong words, but it is true. ...

    This memo seems to have been written by someone who may or may not have had memory of earlier explanations of financial systems from the pulpit.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has kept some tabs on this kind of thing and we're about to indulge in some self-recycling for educational purposes.  If there was truly a bunch of incompetent staff in finance and no set of policies and procedures then this opinion would need to be cross-checked against the short history of public assurance about financial solidity.  Specifically, we need to go back to 2007-2008 when Tim Beltz was introduced as an executive elder and consider that Beltz handled financial operations up until later 2010.  Why he stopped being an executive elder has never been explained and how he transitioned from that high role to being some kind of biblical living pastor has also never been explained. 

    Now on November 4, 2007 Mark Driscoll preached the sermon “The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Humility”. In this sermon he referred to a couple of men who became pastors. One of them was James Noriega who had recently been promoted to the Board of Directors and placed in charge of alcohol and recovery group ministries.  James Noriega and Bill Clem played important roles in getting the property that is now Mars Hill West Seattle to Mars Hill in 2006.

    In the sermon excerpt below Driscoll describes Tim and the Tim in question
    Another man we appointed to that board is a man names Tim. I’ll tell you his story. He has an MBA in not-for-profit management. He has 20 or 30 years, I can’t remember, of not-for-profit manage experience. He’s run some very large, very significant ministries. He’s consulted for very large, very significant ministries. He nominated himself for eldership. Was a faithful member of this church. And he said, “You know, I think I can help. I think my management background will help organize Mars Hill.” We said, “Okay, well what’s your proposal?” He said, “I’ll work 50 hours a week for six months free of charge. I’ll quit my well paying job. I’ll shut down most of my consulting business. I’ll reduce my expenses, live off of my savings. I’ll nominate myself for eldership. I will work for free for six months, and I’ll come under Pastor Jamie, who’s young enough to be my son, and has none of the experience or education that I do so that I can humbly serve him so that Mars Hill can become a better church.”
    God opposes the proud. Gives grace to the humble. The elders vote and say, “He should be an Executive Elder and on the Board of Directors.”

    So the elders voted this Tim to be an Executive Elder and on the Board of Directors.
    ... Not all of these men are paid staff. Executive Elders – A sub-team of the Board of Directors who serve as the leadership team of Mars Hill. The Executive Elders are responsible for the day-to-day leadership, management, and oversight of Mars Hill. At present, the Executive Elders are: Jamie Munson, Mark Driscoll, Scott Thomas, Bubba Jennings, and Tim Beltz (read more about them here).

    Now we get to the late 2008 Generous series
    December 21, 2008
    Part 4: Generous (Part 2B)
    Pastor Driscoll: Along that line, what I wanted to do is bring out Pastor Jamie Munson (your lead pastor), Pastor Tim Beltz (your executive pastor), and I wanted them to describe to you kind of where we’re at, where we’re going, what we’re doing. A little bit of business, and then we’ll sing some Christmas songs.
    Hey guys, you want to take it, buddy? Maybe introduce Tim. You guys all know who Jamie is, right? Lead pastor – was up last week? Yes? No? You guys know Jamie? Cool.
    I don’t oversee the money. You don’t want me counting stuff, that’s for sure. I’m not a systems, policies, and procedures guy. These men have great skills, gifts, and abilities. And they run the administrative and stewardship load of Mars Hill. And so, rather than me making mistakes, I thought it’d just be best for them to let you know what’s going on.
    Pastor Munson: Appreciate you guys making the hike in the snow. So, this is Pastor Tim Beltz. He’s the executive pastor of Mars Hill, a dear friend. He runs all of the operation side of what we do as a church. So, we’re a church, we’re about ministry, but we have to have budgets, we have to have buildings, we have to have staff, we have to have policies, procedures. Tim oversees all of that.
    He has a lot of experience in nonprofit management. He was the chief operating officer at Crista Ministries, and the interim CEO up there for a number of years. He has an MBA. He’s overseen a $200 million budget in the nonprofit world. Lots of experience.
    And so we brought him in about a year-and-a-half ago, to come on and oversee this area for us. He does a great job. I love working with him. A good man. So, I’m gonna turn it over to him to give you guys an inside look at some of the not-so-sexy part of Mars Hill, but the important part.
    He keeps us out of jail. He does the good work, the hard work, to make sure we’re above reproach in a lot of those systems. So, I’ll let you kind of give us an overview of what does some of the financial accountability look like at Mars Hill?
    Pastor Beltz: That’s a tough act to follow. Thank you. Just a couple of real quick points. We take this really seriously, the financial controls of the church. Our generosity as a – I’m a members of Mars Hill Church, obviously, and so it’s our generosity that really gives us an opportunity to be great stewards here at Mars Hill Church.
    And so, just walking through this, the financial controls piece, it’s as simple as the two people that count the money and then deposit it. We have a chain of custody for that money, to make sure that there’s no opportunity for making errors or mistakes or having any problems.
    It’s as complicated as having budget and expense reports that are reviewed at multiple levels of management. It’s also a system where Pastor Mark and Pastor Jamie, they don’t sign any checks. Their names aren’t on any of the accounts so that we can keep them above reproach, and that we can allow those who really enjoy doing those kind of things, and who are good at it, that we can.
    Pastor Munson [from the same transcript]:
    In addition, we’re gonna give $500,000.00 to our Shoreline campus, to help them find a permanent home. We launched that campus in January 2006, so this will be it’s third year. It really paved the way for the multisite movement of Mars Hill and allowed us to add other campuses. They were the guinea pigs in a lot of ways.

     We’re gonna give them half-a-million dollars and then raise some more money to then be able to go find a permanent home for them. They’re meeting right now on the campus of Crista Ministries, King Schools, up in the North End. We’d like to get them a permanent home.
    So, we wanted to bless them, get that fund started by giving them a half million.
    According to Tim Beltz' earlier accounts he was an executive pastor from October 2007 until November 2010, when he became Pastor of Operations.  But it wasn't all that long before he ended up being a "biblical living pastor" of some sort, was it?

    In October 2007, Tim was ordained at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA and served as the executive pastor until November 2010 when he became pastor of operations. [emphasis added] As executive pastor, his responsibilities included overseeing the financial, HR, legal, technology and capital programs for the church. He transitioned off staff July 2011 and now serves as an unpaid elder at MHC West Seattle and as a member of the MHC Board of Elders. Tim is a faculty member at the MHC Re:Train program and regularly presents workshops at regional and national executive pastor seminars and conferences.

    Tim has extensive executive experience in the non-profit, public and private sectors...7 years as a CEO and 8 years as a COO. From 2003-2007 he was the executive vice president and COO of CRISTA Ministries, a North Seattle-based Christian organization of nearly 2,000 employees and a $170M annual budget...the 2nd largest non-profit in the state. [emphasis added]

    So while the March 17, 2012 memo indicated that there seemed to be no financial competence or controls or procedures it is actually not clear that there were no such things in place throughout the history of Mars Hill since 2007.  Beltz was brought on as a consultant to streamline policies and procedures and ensure financial accountability of some kind. 

    Assuming that Beltz had helped architect accountability for money given to Mars Hill across the entire chain of command what happened between November 2010 and November 2011, the gap of time between Tim Beltz no longer being executive pastor and Sutton Turner being introduced as an executive pastor?  The March 2012 memo seems to indicate the author was persuaded financial reporting was incoherent and that the financial situation was problematic at best and that there were no controls and no competence. 

    Assuming Turner's memo was right that Munson was basically checked out and the financial staff were incompetent and there were no policies in place ... could this be proven?  After all, one opinion is still one opinion, even if of an executive elder.  And Beltz was at that time still around to see how things had changed for better or worse since he had been added to the executive elder team back in 2007 and had transitioned off for reasons as yet unexplained.

    It's possible there was "nothing" per the March 2012 memo but it seems to make more sense, knowing the history of Mars Hill and the public assurances of its leaders to the laity that financial stewardship was a concern, to suggest that there probably were previous policies and procedures and systems in place that had devolved earlier in the wake of some kind of change in the leadership culture. 

    Because if the fiscal scenario was as bad as the March 2012 made it seem then the corporation known as Mars Hill Church may have just deserved to die of its own fiscal incompetence and the culture of entitlement in its leadership.

    It also means that if Mars Hill does not become 100% transparent about all its finances in the past as well as the present that there's no saving the corporation from a deserved financial death however robust the social and spiritual community associated with it may yet prove to be (or not to be).

    Forbes: Mars Hill-cautionary tales from the Enron of American Churches--people may think things go back to 2007 but in real estate purchase terms things go back to 2005

    Many have described the start of the change going back to 2007 and there is a historic basis for making that claim.  But let's remember that when the re-org of 2007 happened Driscoll and others said the problem was that Mars Hill Church was poorly architected to be a multisite campus.  Later narratives would assert that Driscoll needed to spend more time with his wife but in 2007 the narrative was unified around the necessity of being able to be nimble and better architect Mars Hill for a multi-site approach.

    So why doesn't anyone raise the question of how and why Mars Hill leadership committed to multisite in 2006-2007 again?  It's not even as though Mars Hill hadn't been multisite circa 1999-2001 when there was the Earl building, the Paradox and what became Harambee.  Mars Hill had been multisite before, even before the 2005 by-laws were in place.  The idea that the by-laws had to be revised so that there was more addressing of multisite has been asserted but never once given a systemic defense.

    In fact if you compare the 2007 by-laws to the 2005 by-laws there were fewer references to campus leadership structures.

    But let's forget all of that for a moment, let's get back to what the announced plan was circa 2005 to early 2006
    Confessions of a Reformission RevMark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
    ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

    page 176

    Our current facility cannot accomodate much growth beyond our current four Sunday services. Additionally our kids' ministry is bursting at the seams, our Capstone classes are in desperate need of space, and our cramped, windowless office space would be perfect if we were a third-world sweatshop.

    So the elders voted to purchase a 43,000-square-foot dumpy warehouse Jamie found one block away from our current building. [emphasis added] When the project is completed, we will have two buildings only a block apart, each hosting church services, with 1,300 seats in one location and a projected 1,000 seats in the other. We will be able to grow to more than 10,000 people per Sunday through multiple services in multiple locations. Each service will have live worship teams, but I will only be live in some services and in video in others.

    in his July 30, 2006 sermon in 1 Corinthians Driscoll said several things about the property mentioned in Reformission Rev:
    Part 26: One Body, Many parts
    1 Corinthians 12:12-26
    Pastor Mark Driscoll
    July 30, 2006
    There is the building a block away. We purchased it a year ago. It was heading into foreclosure. We purchased it for under market value. It has increased in value since that time, and this is just some interior and exterior shots of the space, and our plan was to turn that into a large room to see maybe 800 to 1,000 people. And so, what we have instead decided to do, first, we’re going to keep that building – and it’s been great – ‘cause according to King 5 television, they had a report that said that 98105, which is this zip code, is one of the five fastest, increasing valued zip codes in the State of Washington. Since we bought that building, as it was going to foreclosure, we already have gained a million dollars in equity in that building. We have no intention of getting rid of it, but here’s what we do want to do with it. We want to knock half the building down and just turn it into parking to increase our parking capacity. Secondly, the other half of the building – we don’t feel that we have to use right now because of some other things that have come available that we’re gonna tell you about – but we’re gonna keep it. We’ll rent it out with the hopes that a tenant will pay most of our mortgage. We can keep it then, and then if we ever do wanna build on it, we can develop it and do whatever we want with it but we feel it’s important right now to watch and see what happens with this neighborhood, particularly what happens to parking, and then make a determination down the road as to best use.
    And the reason that we don’t need to develop it as we had thought is because of some other things have come available. Among those is Shoreline and these are some shots from the Shoreline campus and where we are meeting at Christa Ministries, at [Schirmer] Auditorium. Four hundred seats, plus a full daycare. It’s amazing kid space. Huge gym for the kids to run around in. Lots of parking. They’re letting us use that on Sunday and now this fall for beginning, for midweek programming for nothing. It’s free. We don’t even pay for janitorial, we don’t even pay for utilities. It is a savings of over $100,000.00 a year. We can be there for two more years. It’s a savings of 200 plus thousand dollars. We love Christa. We’re very, very grateful for their kindness to us. Eventually, we will need to purchase a permanent site for our Shoreline. We’ll need to get them a permanent purchase campus, ‘cause we can only be there for two years. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if somebody let you how the house for two years for free? I mean that’s a very kind gift, so we are actively looking for another place to buy….

    There's a question here whether the issue was whether the needed to develop it the way they intended or whether they even could develop it the way they intended.

    Page 72/145 from Mars Hill: A miracle of Jesus
    November 9, 2007
    Section: Stewardship
    Answers submitted by Pastor Jamie Munson
    Q: What is the status and future plans for the property M.H. owns just north of the Ballard campus?
    We purchased the building on 50th with the intention of performing a massive renovation, and by connecting it with our Leary building, to create a large campus in the middle of the city. Since the 50th building dedication, our renovation plans were delayed by our attempt to obtain a change of use permit. During the permitting delay we were gifted a building in West Seattle and undertook renovating and opening that building as our next campus. [emphasis added]  At the time of these changes we communicated this to the members of the church openly and honestly as we wanted to be faithful to the stewardship and generosity of the body. 
    Also, each quarter a letter is sent to members, along with their donor statement, urging faithful stewardship and giving updates to vision and building strategies. In addition, Pastor Mark wrote a lengthy letter that was sent to members electronically, and handed out at all campuses explaining the shift to a multi-campus church before the West Seattle campus opened.  Due to the restrictions and expense of building a single large building in our city our focus has shifted from one large campus to becoming a multi-site church of smaller campuses.  Your elders feel this will enable a more effective and cost-efficient spread of the Gospel throughout Seattle and beyond.  It will still take capital campaigns and the purchasing of facilities but allows us to spread and grow more quickly as Jesus leads. [emphasis added]
    We are leasing part of the 50th building to generate some revenue. We are also performing a minor renovation of portions of the building to alleviate our current office and production space needs.  This will eliminate the need for leasing office space for our use.  In addition the property provides some much needed parking relief for our Ballard campus and also needs such as storage.  An average church of our size functions with about 4 times as much square footage as we do with our Ballard campus.  Storage, meeting rooms, office space and parking are greatly needed and this property serves those with purposes in the mean time. Future development options are being considered as well but there are no firm plans for these.  This is further complicated as the city is considering further zoning changes and restrictions in industrial areas of the city.  Until this legislation is decided it hangs property owners up as the future possibilities of the property are unclear.  We are hanging on to the property and using it to the fullest extent possible in the mean time.

    Translation:  Mars Hill elders in 2005 agreed to launch a capital campaign and purchase a $1.5 million piece of real estate that was zoned for industrial use without bothering to look into the licensing and land use restrictions in advance; Driscoll announced in a book that was published in April 2006 what the grand vision was for this piece of real estate but within months of the publication of the book was excitedly talking about how Mars Hill finally got a piece of real estate Driscoll had wanted for Mars Hill for a decade; and then the move to multisite as the more effective and cost-efficient spread of the Gospel was taken up. 

    Except the thing is, if the elders had done their due diligence about the land use issues to begin with multi-site wouldn't have been taken up as the alternative.  Had they looked into the land use restrictions for the property that were already in place they could have NOT BOUGHT THE PROPERTY TO BEGIN WITH.  And whose brilliant idea was it to scout out that property?  According to Mark Driscoll, it was Jamie Munson.

    So there's a sense in which all of the last seven years of chaos and tumult were because a bunch of guys called elders of Mars Hill decided to buy a big expensive piece of real estate and didn't have the balls to admit they made a stupid decision.  No massive piece of real estate bought that can't be used for Mark Driscoll's advertised vision in Confessions of a Reformission Rev?  Arguably no need for the multisite alternative and the associated "necessity" of new by-laws that did less to address multi-site and more to consolidate executive elder power while shrinking the minimum required size of the executive elder board.

    If Mars Hill Church has been an Enron of American churches it might be good to refocus attention not merely on the big, obvious things like governance changes and debates but to go back even further to the incident and consequences that were consistently cited as the reason for the necessity of those actions.  If Mars Hill elders hadn't bought the 50th street building (which is still pending on sale with an asking price of $7 million) the entire history of the church could have been different.

    In fact between the 2005 real estate purchase and the 2007 firings and trials the common denominator here seems to have been Jamie Munson, whom Mark Driscoll credited with scouting the 50th street building in Confessions of a Reformission Rev and whose own email preserved at Joyful Exiles testify to his role in the trials of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer.

    Given how often Mars Hill leadership returned to multisite as the reason for the re-org in 2007 it's worth noting that had Mars Hill leadership not bought an expensive piece of real estate they couldn't even have used for the grand vision Mark Driscoll cast in his 2006 that re-org couldn't have been presented as the reason the re-org was necessary. It's a lot less glamorous to say the church had to restructure itself because Mars Hill had to compensate for the incompetence of its own visionary leaders who were scouting out real estate to buy with church members' money they couldn't even use as planned than to say that the new age of multi-site meant that the organization needed to be more nimble and quick.  More nimble and more quick would culminate in trying to open half a dozen new or relaunched campuses within have a year while shilling a book with citation errors in it in the first half of 2012.  In the wake of a variety of signs the leadership was committing and had committed to real estate expansion and publishing projects that were problematic the leadership of Mars Hill may have decided that instead of slowing down and backing off that the way forward was to keep doubling down.