Thursday, December 31, 2015

a year in review on things related to the year of dissolution for Mars Hill Church/Mars Hill Fellowship and Driscoll's pending re:launch

It was more than a year ago that Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill as both a pastor and as a member.  Here on the eve of 2016 almost nothing seems more ill-advised and basically wrong than the sentiments of William Vanderbloemen, who wrote over at The Observer on three reasons why ... well ... here you go.
Maybe social media is a powerful double-edged sword.  We've touched on the matter of social media being an idol. Privacy isn't dead unless you sacrifice it on the altar of celebrity and social media activity. Words last forever?  Did Vanderbloemen forget how quickly we forget?  Or is the thought in mind something about how Jesus said that one day we will have to account for every idle word? As for every pastor needing to realize he or she is an interim pastor ... Driscoll spent years regaling people with reasons "I'm not going anywhere" right up to a few months before he decided to quit. Although in 2014 he wrote to Mars Hill, "I don’t see how I can be both a celebrity and a pastor, and so I am happy to give up the former so that I can focus on the latter." by the end of the calendar year
he was still a celebrity but had chosen not to be a pastor. 

And it's only been in 2015, in the year after he threw in the towel and was speaking on the road on the conference circuit that he began to share stories about how God audibly released him from ministry at Mars Hill. 

As we've noted over this last year, there are basically six available accounts of how and why Mark Driscoll resigned.
There's also some discussion here about questions as to the continuity of the accounts as timelines. One of the most striking gaps is the time between Monday evening, when Driscoll said God spoke to him about "a trap has been set" and the day of the resignation announcement on Wednesday which was, per the account given at the Thrive conference, when the Driscoll kids first learned their father had quit being pastor at Mars Hill, by way of social media.

Why neither Mark nor Grace Driscoll told any of their children that their father had resigned for a roughly 18-24 hour period has never even been asked in interview contexts.  It is not likely the Driscolls will grant interviews to journalists who ask for interview time, it seems, but that's a fairly natural question that could be asked.

An eve nsimpler question is why in the midst of the 2014 announcements no public statements were given to indicate that God told Mark Driscoll he could quit.  Why?  Well, in any event if we take Mark Driscoll's own preaching and teaching as a guide we should be skeptical about a man who abruptly quits serving as a pastor at a church and only a year later says "God told me ... . "

And, hey, since it's over at the website we can just quote it.
Pastor Mark Driscoll
ACTS (5:12-42)
May 04, 2014
So I want to be careful with this because this can be an opportunity for spiritual abuse. Because sometimes people say, “God told me.” Well, we’ll see, OK? You can’t just pull out the “God told me” card. Ladies, let’s say you meet a guy and the guy says, “God told me to marry you.” “Interesting, he didn’t tell me or my dad, you know, so I don’t have to just assume that because you say the Lord says that the Lord in fact has spoken.”

You need to be very careful. Somebody comes along, “God told me to plant a church.” Let’s check that. All right, you can’t—I mean, 1 Corinthians 14 is clear. If you think you got a word from the Lord, you’ve got to check it by the leaders. So what we’re looking for, if you believe God has told you something, especially to do something that is difficult like this, we’re looking for a godly person—Peter’s a godly person. In godly community—it says he’s with the apostles, they’re all agreed. Under godly authority—they all agree on this. With a godly motive—to talk about Jesus. Doing a godly thing—wanting to minister to people. In a godly way—by being open in public and not hiding anything. So if you believe the Lord has told you something, he may have, but I would ask, “Are you a godly person in godly community under godly authority with a godly motive doing a godly thing in a godly way?” And what they are demonstrating is what we would call civil disobedience. Civil disobedience like in China where they have population controls. If a woman who loves Jesus gets pregnant, the government comes and says, “You have to have an abortion.” She could say, “I can’t do that. I need to obey God. I can’t obey you.”

Given that Driscoll was the subject of a potentially never completed investigation or report (although Driscoll's 2015 interview with Brian Houston invites questions as to whether or not 1) a report WAS complete and 2) its results could, as Driscoll recounted them, be summarized by the Board) and one end of that report was a proposed restoration process, it doesn't seem as though Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill in a way that was incontestably a godly move done in a godly way submitted to godly authority.  By definition, Driscoll's warned us against anyone who plays the "God told me" card.  So if the guy doesn't get to pull that card and is also not formally submitted to a spiritual authority then this alone would be reason to not take Driscoll as being particularly repentant.  Starting up a new church in 2016 in Phoenix hardly seems to conform to what Driscoll said others ought to do with respect to submission to spiritual authority.  This might even be a case not unlike the Pharisees of whom Jesus said that because they sit in Moses' seat you should do what they tell you but, whatever you do, DO NOT FOLLOW THEIR EXAMPLE, for they do not practice the things they teach.

So, that would be a reason to be skeptical as to whether Mark Driscoll says "God told me" was sufficient reason to resign.  The second reason is that in none of the 2014 accounts presented by people about Mark Driscoll's leave of absence and resignation was any indication given that God was involved.  Not even Driscoll himself said God was saying anything in the October 2014 resignation letter. If God did say something that would be something to lead with up front, wouldn't it?

That Driscoll shared the "God said ... " narratives at the Thrive conference and in an interview with Brian Houston invites a question as to why I twas only on the road and for camera that these new accounts came up.  The old filmed Robert Morris account had it that Morris advised Driscoll.  Over on Facebook, Warren Throckmorton recorded that one Erma Gauthier claimed the board was preventing Mark Driscoll from preaching even though he wanted to, which so flatly contradicts everything Mark Driscoll has said on the road in 2015 that while neither one might be presumed to be lying only one of them could be conveying a factually accurate account.

So, one of the stories this year was just how many stories there were about Mark Driscoll's resignation and how the threads and narratives didn't always seem to "quite" fit into a single coherent narrative.  It may be there isn't a single coherent narrative.

The next notable incident to do with Mars Hill involved the sale of a list, the sale of which came to light when Craig Gross spammed a bunch of people. The sale had some kind of connection to Justin Dean, former media guru for Mars Hill. Dean even came by to the blog Wenatchee The Hatchet and claimed that The Stranger published a fabricated conversation but has not, to this day, clarified which conversation he alleges was fabricated.  What was cleared up, in other contexts, was that whoever sold the list to Craig Gross did not have legal authorization to do so.  It was also cleared up that someone didn't.

In the first half of 2015 Sutton Turner blogged about some of his time at Mars Hill.  He provided an explanation of how he disagreed with the Result Source agreement but signed the contract anyway because people should be submissive even in settings where they dissent from leadership, or at least that's how it read at the time. It was possible, of course, that Turner could have opted to not sign the Result Source contract and let someone else sign it but that, for whatever reason, didn't happen. The story of how Turner was in some fashion intimidated out of his role can't be independently confirmed but it is difficult to imagine that former staff would have had access to the kind of information Turner indicated was leveraed in some way agains thim.  Given that Mars Hill was such a secretive leadership culture a lot of people didn't even know how much money Mark Driscoll made a year, it would have taken someone so close to the top as to have been an assistant to one of the executives to have had access to information about Turner's pre-Christian conversion activities.  it's not that the scenario Turner described seemed impossible, it just seemed remarkably hard to square with the level of secrecy and insider-knowledge that seemed typical of the Mars Hill leadership culture.

Turner's indications that the board of Mars Hill split on the matter of whether to scapegoat Turner over Result Source is another thing that can't be confirmed or denied.  Whoever might still be involved in administration of the corporation known as Mars Hill Church or Mars Hill Fellowship could theoretically address some of these unanswered questions.

One of the biggest unanswered questions is where th monies from real estate sales and asset liquidation have gone or will go.  Mars Hill was sitting on a lot of real estate and othe rforms of property.  Where the money for that will go has not yet been disclosed.  Mars Hill Foundation for Planting Churches has been renewed into the end of next year.  Mars Hill itself is set to expire as a corporation tonight.

On Missions Charitable Remainder Unitrust (OMCRU) INvestments LLC
On Mission LLC

Lasting Legacy is set to expire in April 2016

expired 11/30/2015
expiration 10/31/2016 there

Mars Hill itself ... set to expire tonight in just a few hours.

The reason it can be useful to tend to the boring details of registration listings for LLCs is that sometimes the listings change.

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