Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sutton Turner post "Good Decisions Made By the Right People", the BoAA may have looked independent but it still contained insiders and someone credited with an advisory role in the 2007 re-org.

Posted by Sutton Turner on April 21, 2015

In 2011, the Board of Directors was made up of men that were local church pastors within Mars Hill. I was not a board member at the time, so I do not know any of the specific deliberations on ResultSource. At the time, I did not care who was to blame for making the decision, and I don’t blame them now. (As you will see, the flawed governance structure contributed more to the situation than the individual decision-makers.) Within weeks of the decision to use ResultSource, my supervisor had resigned. Within months, I was installed as Executive Elder (a position that would have allowed me to better voice my concerns on the ResultSource decision just months prior). At that point, the decision was done and in the past, but Mars Hill could certainly learn from it. My goal over the next few months was to restructure the decision-making process and the board that made those decisions.

The board in place at Mars Hill in the summer of 2011 consisted of local elders who had been at Mars Hill for many years. They were inside the organization. I’m not sure what they discussed regarding ResultSource, but they needed outsiders who were experienced in big decision-making and who were outside of their context to help them. [emphasis added]
In November of 2011, I began to work on new by-laws that would put men on the board of directors that had large organization experience and a structure that would place these types of decisions in their hands. In Spring 2012, the full council of elders approved these new by-laws, and men were added to the board who had large company or ministry experience. This new group was called the Board of Accountability and Advisors (BOAA) and its members were approved by the full council of elders.
The make-up of the Board of Accountability and Advisors would be something to review. 

The make-up of various boards within Mars Hill changed over time:

For instance, the board that would investigate charges in the event that any formal accusation were made against Mark Driscoll ... at one point looked like this:

In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against Pastor Mark that, if investigated and found to be true, would disqualify him from his position as an elder in Mars Hill Church, a group of five men consisting of both elders within Mars Hill Church and Christian leaders outside of Mars Hill Church, will investigate the charge or accusation and determine if it is true. This group currently consists of Jamie Munson, Dave Bruskas, James MacDonald, Darrin Patrick, and Larry Osborne. If the charge or accusation is found to be true, this group can rebuke Pastor Mark or, if warranted, remove him as an elder at Mars Hill Church. If Pastor Mark is removed as an elder, he automatically ceases to serve on the Board of Elders, on the Executive Elder Team, and as president of Mars Hill Church.”
That was the old early 2012 list and the list does not look much like a group of outsiders if you know their backgrounds.

Jamie Munson in particular, either drafted or helped drafted the governance system that Sutton Turner considered flawed.

Larry Osborne had an advisory role.  See pages 164 and 165 of Confessions of a Reformission Rev for Driscoll's discussion of a lunch with Osborne about managing a church. A quote that stands out particularly now is the following:

Mark Driscoll,  Zondervan
copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

page 167

Our strategic plan, which is sketched out in this chapter, won't be fully implemented until after this book is published. By that time, we will know if we had a good plan or if we messed everytiing up and reduced the church to a small group of people meeting in a phone booth and grumbling about the strategic plan. I am hesitant to end the book with these details because I have no guarantee that they will work. 

Seeing as the corporation known as Mars Hill Church is in the midst of dissolving this year ... maybe the strategic plan didn't quite work out.

Eventually the BoAA was listed as follows:
Paul Tripp
Michael Van Skaik
James MacDonald
Larry Osborne
Mark Driscoll
Dave Bruskas
Sutton Turner
Tripp, famous, quit being on the BoAA.  It's important to remind everyone that Osborne could not have been considered that disengaged, not if Mark Driscoll name-dropped him as the one who advised him on how to architect Mars Hill as multi-site back in the 2006-2007 re-org.

A letter from Pastor Mark Driscoll
November 8, 2007
Dear Mars Hill Church Members,

So, I began pursuing counsel from godly men outside the church that I respected. I spoke with Tim Keller about the difficulties of an urban church, John Piper about how to sustain longevity in the ministry, C. J. Mahaney about bitterness that had grown in me against some elders of Mars Hill and my need to grow in humility, D. A. Carson about how to best study so as to become an even better Bible teacher and writer, Gerry Breshears about how to best train other men for ministry to share the load, Pastor Larry Osborne about how to best architect a multi-campus church [emphasis added], and Pastors Craig Groeschel and Ed Young Jr. about how to lead a churh of thousands and possibly tens of thousands. On top of that, I pursued counsel from a Christian doctor regarding my health and what needed to change in my diet, exercise, and schedule. In short, I sought wise outside counsel regarding if I should stay at Mars Hill and make changes in my life and our church, or simply move on to another church and start over.

If Sutton Turner was convinced that the governance in place at his arrival in 2011 was deeply problematic how would adding the man Mark Driscoll credited with advising him on how best to artchitect a multi-campus church have helped the BoAA right the wrongs of the earlier regime?

Michael Van Skaik was a pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue and on the Compensation Committee.  He also had a board role on Ministry Coaching International. 

For those who may have read this old survey of what the Governance page used to say.

The Compensation Committee consists of at least three members of the Board of Elders chosen from among the nonpaid elders serving on the board. The members of the committee are appointed by the Board of Elders. Currently, the following elders serve on the Compensation Committee: Michael Van Skaik (Chairman), ...


The idea that Van Skaik could be construed as independent or non-insider counsel to Mars Hill seems particularly difficult to buy this late in the game.  Ministry Coaching seemed to be (clarification welcome) something Mars Hill was connected to back during the period in which Meyer and Petry got fired.  If Michael Van Skaik and Ministry Coaching International were being consulted in 2007 then that's another person who had a business interest of some kind, it seems, in Mars Hill.  And that'd be fine far as it goes, perhaps, but if Turner's goal in formulating a Board of Accountability and Advisors was to get guys on there who were not trapped by the insider mentality of the Mars Hill governance and cultural system he encountered in 2011, well, there were quite possibly other options.

We'd need a full accounting of exactly who was on the BoAA during what years but the ending team was, if anything, a team that looked like it had people who were actually at Mars Hill

Getting back to Turner's recent post, he closes with the following, and it looks like after this there's another post on the way from him:

At our board meeting in August of 2013, I provided a detailed analysis and accounting of the ResultSource marketing plan. At this board meeting (six months before the signed ResultSource contract was leaked to the public), the new board agreed that this type of marketing strategy would never be used again. In fact, no other books that were published through Mars Hill used it. We, as board members, would certainly not always get it right. In fact, in the following months, we would even make mistakes around the public revelation of the ResultSource contract. (I desired for our first media response at that time to clearly communicate two things: my level of involvement in the decision and the BOAA’s decision to never repeat the practice. Unfortunately, this did not happen.) But six months before the public spotlight, this new board of outside leaders, who were unassociated with the ResultSource decision, evaluated the proposal afterwards and made the right decision: it was a bad idea and it was wrong.

Okay, so the BoAA decided Result Source should never get used again.  That still makes it a stretch to sustain the "above reproach" record for Jamie Munson Mark Driscoll asserted when Munson resigned, doesn't it?  And even if Mark Driscoll and company didn't use RSI again, let's not forget the iPad Mini promotional contest for Who Do You Think You Are?


It's debatable how outside the members of the BoAA were if it was anything like the line up presented to the public.  Osborne's advisory role in the 2006-2007 re-org has been testified to by none other than Mark Driscoll himself.  Michael Van Skaik's roles within Mars Hill would not have counted him as truly thinking like an outsider given the range of roles he had within the organization.  Formally resigning so as to meet the technical requirements of membership as part of the BoAA doesn't mean that Van Skaik was indisputably thinking like someone who wasn't stepped in the governance culture Turner was trying to reform.

And since the corporation is dissolving this year it may be that whatever valiant efforts Sutton Turner put into righting the boat it's still gone done. 

When part 3 goes up, as it seems there'll be a part 3, we can see what Turner has to say.  Meanwhile, what he's shared about the fiscal and infrastructural health of Mars Hill in 2011 paints a pretty bleak portrait of an organization in financial disarray and with a leadership culture okay with gaming the NYT best-seller list.  If Turner felt obliged to sign the contract in spite of his disagreement this suggests that all the past hype about him as the "king" with "kingly gifts" by Mars Hill to the public and to its members was mainly for show and that in the end someone else was really the king.

... 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.
In the end it seems as though whatever reforms in governance Turner hoped to implement, if Mark Driscoll's the one who changed the church all the way down, Turner could only accomplish so much. 


Rob Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Smith said...

Sutton Turner does the same thing Mark Driscoll repeatedly did when a bad decision was imposed on the church. He states that the full council voted in the new bylaws. We already know that Mark Driscoll told the elders that objected the he did not give a sh*t and did not need their vote. That was true as the now infamous 2007 bylaws only gave the elders a vote on doctrinal change and confirmation of the executive elders. So Sutton is trying to make the point that the bylaw changes he proposed were so good that that the elders approved them…. when we know that true story was that they were imposed upon men whose vote meant nothing.