Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Turner's ResultSource 3 "Church Governance: Local Elders or Outside Board?", about the BoAA, the roll call in later 2013, bringing guys who were connected to MH in the 07 re-org back on the BoAA
Dr. Tripp joins the current Board members: Michael Van Skaik, Dr. James MacDonald, Dr. Larry Osborne, Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas, and Sutton Turner. This Board of Advisors and Accountability was voted upon and installed by an overwhelmingly supportive vote from the entire eldership, with every single elder who voted doing so in approval

The Board of Advisors and Accountability including the executive elders seems like a fail in itself.  Let's keep in mind that while Turner has pleaded ignorance as to who was approving of Result Source Bruskas may well have been an executive elder with Driscoll before Turner's arrival. The only material change in the executive pastor side was Turner's replacing Munson. As for the independent members. 

James MacDonald should have been given at least some pause before admission on to the BoAA
If Turner's fear was that local elders would make bad decisions about things like Result Source, and if Turner was worried that local elders might be too insular, and Turner has recounted that he was aghast at the fiscal mess Mars Hill was in when he arrived in 2011, then how was adding MacDonald helpful in light of problems in MacDonald's neck of the woods?
 By the close of 2010, Harvest’s balance sheet revealed that the church, while under the pastoral leadership of James MacDonald, had amassed approximately $65 million of debt, and in the midst of addressing the issues raised by this website, HBC Elders informed the congregation that the debt had been as high as $70 million.  While this number in and of itself is shocking, what makes it worse is that some elders and much of the congregation had no knowledge of the extent of the debt.  The rapid expansion of MacDonald’s ministry, for reasons of ego as much as concern for the Kingdom, was the cause for the sudden and surprising accumulation of debt.  The point in raising the surprisingly accumulation of debt is not to question the current financial stability of the institution, but it is put forth as an example of the underlying character issues of MacDonald that many people are now expressing publicly

Let's not forget that James MacDonald was with Driscoll when he and both Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner crashed the Strange Fire conference
and for folks who want the quick version--

Yep, if a majority of the BoAA were WITH DRISCOLL when he crashed the Strange Fire conference is it that much of a wonder Paul Tripp concluded the BoAA was simply not going to be capable of providing the kind of oversight and accountability the thing was supposed to provide on paper?  If four of the seven were all part of the stunt what can you do? 

Which gets us to Michael Van Skaik.  Van Skaik hardly constitutes an "external" or "outsider" role.

Michael Van Skaik was on the Compensation Committee circa early 2012.  Was that the same Compensation Committee referenced in Turner's memo about Driscoll's compensation?

Van Skaik's role in Ministry Coaching International in the previous decade and Mars Hill's cooperation with MCI during the 2007 re-org makes it hard to buy the idea that Van Skaik was a disinterested party.  He'd served for years as a Mars Hill pastor and resigned so as to be able to be on the BoAA, apparently, but that external/outsider status seems to have largely been on paper.  Turner's complaint that the 2007 governance changes did not change the insularity/conformity dynamic could be attributable to the fact that even on the BoAA, the people who tended to end up on it look like they were longtime Driscoll buddies and people who had inside roles in the past.

Excepting Paul Tripp, but also excepting ...

Larry Osborne.  Except that Larry Osborne was credited by Mark Driscoll in 2007 as the one to whom he turned for advice on how to architect Mars Hill as a multi-site network of campuses in 2007.  So Turner's attempt to narrate the history of Mars Hill governance as stymied by localist concerns seems to fall apart if we bear in mind that by Mark Driscoll's account he sought Osborne's advice on how to best re-design Mars Hill to be a multi-site church.  If Turner had known about that would he have been happy to have Larry Osborne on the BoAA? It could seem as though Osborne's contribution, whatever it was, to Driscoll's survey of how to re-org Mars Hill in 2007 ironically brought Osborne back in spite of Turner's belief that the governance of the past had gotten them into the problems of the present circa 2011. 

It's begun to look more and more like Tripp was the one person who was on the BoAA at any point in its history who could have been considered an actually independent participant.  The others either had a history of being inside the beltway or being personal friends with Driscoll.  Turner may sincerely think the problem was the local leader thing was too insular but to go by the roster of the BoAA members that insularity was characteristic of the BoAA that was ostensibly going to remedy that insularity. 

Let's not forget amidst all this that MacDonald and Driscoll also had that Elephant Room 2 thing with T. D. Jakes.  Even if we grant that Jakes is a thorough Trinitarian Driscoll had earlier repudiated the word-faith teaching he considered Jakes to endorse and considered him a word-faith wingnut.  MacDonald was not just part of the Strange Fire stunt but the Elephant Room 2 situation to boot.  Turner's story seems shaky when we consider that the devil is in the details.  If he designed the BoAA to overcome the weaknesses in the leadership culture of Mars Hill then having a majority of the BoAA joining Driscoll in crashing the Strange Fire conference seems like an epic failure.

As for the later additions of Jon Phelps and Matt Rogers, for Phelps, consider that Phelps advised Driscoll on the reverse-engineering your life stuff, and co-owns the copyright on it.
 Reverse-Engineering Your Life
© 2005 Mark Driscoll and Jon Phelps All rights reserved.

Rogers, well,

Rogers was part of a team that asserted Driscoll had apologized for accusations made against him about things from 14 years ago. Driscoll never apologized for the substance of WHAT he said using the pen name William Wallace II.  If anything, there's been an essential continuity in theme and even tone (minus a few flowery analogies) on Driscoll's part in the last fifteen years.

About all that need be added to consider about this list of names would be to say ...
Michael Van Skaik Larry Osborne
Jon Phelps
Matt Rogers

It'll be interesting to see Turner explain the basis for that section. What's the purpose of stipulating that a contract between the Church and a member of the BOAA is not automatically voided or voidable simply because the member of the BoAA in question has a financial interest in the contract or transaction?  And what has Mars Hill's Conflict of Interest Policy been?

If Turner really wanted Mars Hill to get a board that would have external accountability the closing BoAA seems to have been reduced to primarily a band of highly interested insiders.  Van Skaik may have formally removed himself from Mars Hill but his history did not make him completely disinterested.  Osborne had an advisory role in the 2007 re-org, by Driscoll's account.  Rogers was willing to sound off against protesters around the time he was added to the BoAA.  Phelps was listed as a member at the Ballard campus and had a history of being thought of as one of the higher-end donors inside the church.  Unless there's some clarifying information not yet provided it's hard to think of a more insider "external" board. 

And as we've seen of late, Sutton Turner and Justin Dean didn't have the most affirming things to say about Paul Tripp, who was arguably the one person who was almost indisputably a truly disinterested outsider with respect to the internal political history of Mars Hill. 

It's not that Turner doesn't seem sure his account is reliable, he seems pretty sure of it, and it seems he's trying to convey what happened simply and clearly.  The problem is that if he actually believes the idea that all the elders had to all agree and that's why the 2007 re-org had to happen he's been sold a pretty sloppy and even misleading account of things.  It also seems as though the top-down central/external systems Turner tried to put in place amplified problems.

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