A number of years ago I was surprised by a phone call from someone high up in the Acts 29 network, the church planting organization started by Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill church in Seattle.
The call was precipitated by some blogging I had done about Mark; the long and short of it was Mark had made some reckless and frankly crude comments in a public forum about an old friend and a goat. It was beyond the pale and he later apologized after inspiring the first of many internet uproars over his comments.
The call came to assure me that people around Mark who loved him were not blind to his tendency to fly off the handle, make hurtful remarks without really thinking them through and then double-down when challenged. The caller wanted me to know this was being addressed and should things not change, there would be a parting of ways.
I took that at face value.
A couple of years ago I started hearing rumblings of the firing of a number of elders at Mars Hill, the leaving of one of the founding pastors… the issue seemed to be about by-laws (???) and, natch, authority.
I’ve been largely quiet in the past few years about Mark and Mars Hill. It’s not my community and it’s not my business (though when outrageous public statements get made, I occasionally have commented on them.) Now, I feel compelled to weigh in again, and to ask those who know Mark and have weight in his life to work to address what, if left unaddressed, will continue to rebound to hurt for individuals at MH and the Church as a whole.
The wife of one of the elders who was fired a few years ago has now written honestly and charitably about their time at Mars Hill, how it ended and what has happened since. It’s a long, and frankly devastating read, at least for those of us who love the Church and want to see it be an agent of healing and hope in the world and not an abusive power structure (and for those who think the two NECESSARILY go together, and want to say so in the comments, let me head you off. You can’t have true community without people getting hurt. That’s a given. But abuse is another matter altogether and it IS possible to live out the life of the Church without descending into power struggles and spiritually abusive relationships).
My hope in publishing this is to once again get a call that says- “We’re aware. We’re praying and working and bringing accountability. Pray with us for Mark and Mars Hill.”