Friday, July 03, 2015

six available accounts of the Mark Driscoll resignation, presented in chronological order

 October 14, 2014Michael Van Skaik
Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability
Mars Hill Church
Dear Michael:

Last week our Board of Overseers met for an extended period of time with Grace and me, thereby concluding the formal review of charges against me.
...That is why, after seeking the face and will of God, and seeking godly counsel from men and women across the country, we have concluded it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church we helped launch in 1996. [emphasis added] I will gladly work with you in the coming days on any details related to our separation.
The initial resignation letter featured Mark Driscoll explaining that the investigation that was going on did not feature any allegations of criminality or immorality or disqualifying sin.

Mark Driscoll's wildly shifting public and private stances on the orthodoxy of T. D. Jakes with respect to trinitarianism and word-faith teaching would have seemed reason enough to doubt his doctrinal credibility but the point here is to observe how Mark Driscoll described the process of concluding resignation was the thing to do.  The resignation letter itself stated that the Driscolls sought godly counsel from men and women across the country and concluded it would be best for the family and Mars Hill that Mark and Grace Driscoll step aside from further ministry at the church they helped launch in 1996.

Okay, that was October 14, 2014. 

On October 15, 2014 ... Mars Hill issued the following statement.
Pastor Mark Driscoll's Resignation
By: Mars Hill Church
Posted: Oct 15, 2014

On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation [emphasis added] and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.

As is well known, inside and outside of Mars Hill, Pastor Mark has been on a leave of absence for nearly two months while a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him. This investigation had only recently been concluded, following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.
While a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers was charged with conducting this investigation, the full Board of Overseers is charged with reaching any conclusions and issuing any findings.

Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. [emphasis added] While he can speak to his decision as he chooses, we would point to just two things from his letter. He noted that he had concluded “it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church.” Secondly, he specifically wanted to convey “to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family, how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ, who has always been only good to us.”

Mars Hill Board of Overseers
Michael Van Skaik
Larry Osborne
Jon Phelps
Matt Rogers

Matt Rogers was, based on the publicly available information, the member of the Board of Overseers who was simultaneously on the Board of Elders

So the resignation was a surprise to the board.  So whoever counseled Mark and Grace Driscoll as alluded to in the resignation letter of October 14, 2014 those godly men and women were not on the BoAA or the BoO or the BoE, it seems.  In fact, an announcement issued at Mars Hill October 19 seems to indicate that by resigning Mark Driscoll chose to not participate in the restoration plan that was considered necessary for his return to formal ministry at Mars Hill.

starting about 3:45

The investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll has revealed patterns of persistent sin in the three areas disclosed in the previous letter by the Board of Overseers. In I Tim 5:20, it requires that an elder be rebuked for persistent sin. Our intention was to do this while providing a plan for his eventual restoration to leadership. The Board of Elders in agreement with the Board of Overseers are grieved, deeply grieved, that any process like that was lost to us when Mark Driscoll resigned in position and left the church. [emphasis added] Now is the time to move on and consider what God is calling us to next as a church as we participate in Jesus’ mission to make disciples in His name. Today begins a new chapter in the history of our church which has proceeded in one direction under one leadership for many years now, but I want you to understand this, God is our Father. That does not change. Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church and that has not changed.

So if it was no one inside of Mars Hill whose counsel prompted Mark and Grace Driscoll to resign in advance of participating in a restoration plan, has anyone got any ideas who DID say something?

According to Robert Morris, `twas he who conferred with Mark Driscoll that it would be wise if he stepped away from ministry.

Transcript of Robert Morris and Mark Driscoll from the Gateway Leadership + Worship Conference
on the evening of Monday, October 20, 2014, as broadcast live via DayStar Television:
Robert Morris:
 Uh, it was publicized that we cancelled him; that’s not true, we did not cancel. I’m speaking of Mark Driscoll. We did not cancel him. He and I decided together uh that he was going to step out of ministry for a season and get some healing. [emphasis added]


Then in 2015, at the Thrive performance, Mark Driscoll introduced a previously unmentioned narrative element, a direct divine edict.
Transcript | Mark Driscoll | Thrive 2015-05-01
See Links to Timestamps at the end of this doc. [these omitted here]


It finally came to the point where God released my wife and I from our responsibility to ministry. He spoke to us audibly. It wasn’t what we were expecting. It wasn’t what we had agreed to. We were both pretty shocked and the announcement was going to come out that week. [emphasis added] And, uh, our server, our e-mail and things apparently were hacked and there was no way to get anything done without it being a public situation. And so the Board, which are good, godly people in authority, which I appreciate -- they released a statement earlier than we were anticipating, so um, but that meant, and I agree with that decision, I’m not critical of it.  But that meant that I hadn’t told my kids that I had resigned and they were in school, taking test, it was a test week, …. we threw some stuff in a bag and ran to school to grab the kids and within minutes it was on TV, I think it was on CNN.  [emphasis added]
We pulled the kids out of school, and they already knew because of social media -- media moves so fast.  So we told them they couldn’t go back to the house for a few days so we jumped in the car and went to a hotel and it was just kind of a emotionally wrecked.  We’d served in that city for 20 years.  Founded that church in our living room. And served it for 18 years.  (loud applause) Baptized somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 people. (audible amens from crowd).
So, we’re sitting with the kids explaining to them that dad had resigned and that we were going to continue forward and that God had released us very clearly.  And my middle son -- he is really the pastor’s heart of the family, he’s a shepherd -- his first question, I just lost it, he said “Who’s going to care for the people?” We stayed there for a few days. Drove them into school for their tests. I went home and checked the security footage and yeah, there was a lot of people at our house taking photos.  It was a good thing we weren’t there.  We finally came home.

So in the Thrive account the board released the resignation letter statement sooner than anticipated.  Driscoll emphasized that the trouble the swift release of the October 14, 2014 resignation letter was that Mark and Grace Driscoll had not yet told the Driscoll kids Mark had resigned and the kids were in school. 


on the resignation letter, this is a transcript of the audio, though thanks to coughing people and garbled voices and murmurs it's not always easy to make out every last little syllable. There may be some inaccuracies but the audio link is available.  Transcription is not necessarily one of Wenatchee The Hatchet's great gifts.

I never got to say good-bye to the church and the people and so what went public was actually the resignation letter that went to the legal governing board that was in authority over me and so, uh, i uh, I know under the circumstances there wasn't a way to do that that would have been, uh, clean or easy. I don't have any criticism of the board. I think that, for the people, that there wasn't closure and I didn't, we didn't get to say anything.

And we didn't expect to resign. I met with the board. There was a whole list of things that were charged by current and former leaders and there was an internal governance struggle and threats of legal action that it got very complicated. And a lot of it was anonymous through the internet so you don't know who is saying or doing what. And so I invited the board to do a full examination, interview anybody, anything, and we woud submit to whatever verdict that they determined.
... When I think about eight weeks we met Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11. I remember because the 11th was my birthday and so Grace and I were present with the board and they said: "We see in your history of leadership, less in more recent years but particularly in the past, pride, anger and a domineering leadership style." That would be the exact words they used.  "We don't see anything disqualifying. These are areas we want you to grow. We want you to leadership at the
church soon." They wanted to do some clean up internally. "We want you back on January 4 in the pulpit, give you time to heal, things to cool down, and for some changes to be made."

We agreed to that. I sent in a go-forward plan and then we went home to have birthday cake with the kids. I think it was on Monday night. I was in the bedroom. Grace was in the living room. And so we told the board and told the kids, you know, we come back and ["will do"? garbled] preaching and try and love and serve and, and fix what was a struggling church and God had provided a way for us to do that as volunteers. And so our plan was to come back as volunteers.

And then on that Monday night I was in the bedroom, Grace was in the living room and he spoke to me and he spoke to her in a supernatural way that neither of anticipated or expected. Ah, and so Grace walked in and she said, "I feel like the Lord just spoke to me and said what we're supposed to do." and I said "I feel like the Lord spoke to me and said what we're supposed to do." It's not what we wanted; it's not what we agreed to; it's not what we've planned for. And so I asked her, "Well, what did the Lord say to you?" cuz I didn't wanna influence and she said, uh, she said we're [Grace Driscoll speaks but it's low and indistinct, Driscoll pauses a moment and is urged to continue by Houston] "The Lord revealed to me that , you know, a trap has been set, there's, there's no way, chance we can return to leadership" and I didn't know what that meant or what was going on at the time.  And I'm, I said, [garbled] "We need to resign". So this is not what we anticipated
and a lot of people've thought, you know, "maybe he's another plan" but we didn't. We didn't know what we were doing.

And Grace fell to the floor and she was just sobbing uncontrollably and I'd never seen my wife like that. She was devastated. So we prayed and slept on it and decided we would make sure we got this right. Talked to pastors, those that we trust and sent in our resignation then on, it would have been Tuesday. ...


Anonymous said...

Now that months have gone by, what was the "trap" that was set?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

there's never been an explanation for what the trap even "could" have been. That might not get discussed in the "diachronic survey" post but over there I looked at the six accounts and asked why, given the supposition that all six accounts are accurately recounted, it seems neither of the Driscolls told their kids Mark Driscoll resigned between Monday night and Wednesday afternoon when, according one of the 2015 Mark Driscoll accounts, the kids found out about the resignation through social media because M&G hadn't had a chance to tell the kids yet, even. Well, but if God said "a trap has been set" on Monday night and the resignation letter was drafted/sent Tuesday there was at least a whole day in which to tell the kids "dad quit" so that they didn't have to find out through social media on Wednesday.

Unknown said...

Just a thought...I was sent here from the Warren Throckmorton article which quotes Justin Dean saying that Driscoll was going to step down from management and the 15 lead Pastors were going to take over. Whatever the case is.. losing that power would put him in a position to be terminated if he acted up again. I think he quit knowing he wouldn't last long, and this triggered his severance, while he could still get the payout.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

yes, if Driscoll were not in management he was, to go by the by-laws in place at the time, also not be a member of Mars Hill. The postscript to this post below from 7-14-2019 gets into the governance structure and MD's role within that.

You might have seen all of that already but I'm posting the link just in case.