Saturday, March 21, 2015

3-17-15 Sutton Turner blog post revisits his history in ministry, WtH revisits the accounts of Michael Van Skaik and Mark Driscoll about Turner and a Paul Tripp statement

First thing to note, Sutton Turner's got a website up, and the second thing to note is the biography covers a decent amount of material previously available at MH sites and to a lesser extent discussed here at Wenatchee The Hatchet but the key thing is ...
Notice Regarding Monetary Gifts:
Sutton Turner is not accepting any personal donations or gifts through this website. Please join Sutton in financially supporting your local church and then over and above your tithe supporting New Covenant Foundation and Compassion International, or any other non-profit organization which the Lord leads you. Turner has not started nor is he starting a 501(c)3 organization.

Turner wants you to give to the local church and after that to support New Covenant Foundation or any other organizations you feel led to give to.  Turner's also not going to start a 501(c)3 organization.  Why mention that?  Oh ... well, somebody is soliciting gifts to be given through an application-pending registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Your tax-deductible gift helps us host and distribute Pastor Mark Driscoll’s past and future Bible teaching and resources. Enter any amount below.
You can also send donations via mail to:
Learning For Living
23632 HWY 99 Suite F 517
Edmonds WA 98026

Learning for Living is an application-pending registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible in full or in part.

But that person is obviously not Sutton Turner.  What the status of Learning for Living's registration is might be useful information to have, and when the corporation known as Mars Hill Church finally expires at the end of 2015 would it not have to designate its assets to another 501(c)3?  If that's the case then it seems we know that whatever 501(c)3 gets the assets Mars Hill might have it looks like it won't have Turner's names attached to it. 

Now, we get to the recent post from Sutton Turner.  On March 17, 2015 former executive elder of Mars Hill Church Sutton Turner posted a post.
At one point, one of the pastors asked if I would take a look at the financial books. The church was growing like crazy, attendance was up into the thousands, and everything appeared healthy on the outside. I reviewed the data and, to my absolute shock, discovered that the church was in significant trouble. The staff was huge and we only had sixty days of cash left. Operations were unsustainable, and it was only a matter of time before the church would fail to make payroll.
I had to tell Pastor Joe that he would be up against a huge mess unless somebody made some changes very, very fast. I was completely shocked when Pastor Joe turned to me and said that I was the man for the job.
Jesus made ruins of the life I had known. He changed my heart, my priorities, my goals, and my direction.
The financial bind that threatened my church wasn’t the result of any malicious activity or misappropriation. The guy in charge of operations simply didn’t know how to run a business.

Turner's story in his own words has seemed fairly consistent, which is why it's interesting that Sutton Turner's words as mediated by the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability presented a bit of a question.  Here's how Michael Van Skaik related the resignation of asdf

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.”

But compare Van Skaik's account to Mark Driscoll's introductions for Sutton Turner.
 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. 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.

and from the letters announcing Jamie Munson's resignation
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]

In the last year some things have come to light, such as the following quote attributed to Paul Tripp in a letter signed by nine Mars Hill elders back in 2014:
“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.

Careful students of the biblical literature will have to bear in mind that a direct calling is not necessarily an indication of permament or pervasive gifting for a particular office.  As Mark Driscoll himself used to say, even Jesus picked one bad guy in the dozen.  And to stick with the theme of kings a bit, the first king anointed over Israel was Saul, who turned out to be a pretty bad egg.  We have to be cautious about the way in which some who describe themselves as leaders toss around the language of being called or having had a divine commission for a particular role. 

All that said, Sutton Turner's account of himself throughout the history of Mars Hill has seemed fairly consistent.  The same is much less easily said about things said by Michael Van Skaik and Mark Driscoll in connection to Turner's narrative.

There were some questions here at WtH in the past about whether, in light of the quote attributed to him by Michael Van Skaik, Sutton Turner had actually planned to be an elder at Mars Hill.

For folks who want an overview of Turner's career before and during Mars Hill:
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

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good afternoon. I wanted to correct something from the above post. My blog on my website that you reference in this blog has to do with my leaving Celebration Church in 2008, not Mars Hill Church. So comparing this statement with MVS and PMD's statements are a little confusing.
After seeing your post, I actually went back and made sure I was clear on my blog. Sorry for the confusion. All the best,
Sutton Turner