Mark Driscoll and Accountability

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.”

I am.

Bob and his beard.

bob hyatt

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  • Kenton

    Is there a post here? Cause, uh, I ain’t seeing it.

  • http://bobhyatt.me Bob Hyatt

    Apologies! Fixed :)

  • http://fromelshaddo.blogspot.com/ RobeFRe

    Well, for whatever other flaws it has, the Baptist structure would not have elders being fired, they might, individually, after flagrant corruption be excommunicated by the congregation, but ideally the Elders(deacons) would lead the church in asking the pastor to step down and then selecting a committee to find and replace the deposed pastor or to remain in an intentional interim. Although even there I havc seen select deacon and staff effect a coup. Sad sad sad

  • dawn

    Great post on an issue that often stays under the radar in the name of keeping church matters discreet. If someone is a public figure, and I believe that includes all pastors, we are free to discuss or dispute their behavior and statements in the public square. Church abuse is much more rampant than most people realize and needs to be addressed.

    • Hope

      “Church abuse is much more rampant than most people realize and needs to be addressed.” You are so right, unfortunately.

      Really good article. Thanks for sharing!

  • Pat Pope

    I recently left a church where I served as an elder and one of the things that prompted my leaving was those in leadership positions who steamroll others to get their way. Virtually no one addresses these individuals’ behavior. One of them, a man who has been an integral part of building campaigns and pastoral searches, has on numerous occasions said offensive things that sometimes he’s chastised for but unfortunately, it doesn’t happen often and then guess what, he’s the go-to man on major projects again and again. More people with backbone need to stand up to people like this and let them know that their behavior will not be tolerated and that it is not Christlike. Otherwise, good people will continue to leave while the empire is built in spite of those who have been hurt, alienated, etc.

  • Hope

    I just finished reading the letter that was referenced. It reminds me too much of my own story. So many thoughts and feelings flood my mind and heart right now. I have healed a lot during these years since my own spiritual abuse…only through the grace of God, the support of loyal and compassionate friends, and the unconditional love of a caring, patient spouse. I wholeheartedly agree that we should keep our eyes on Jesus, not a personality that leads a church. For others reading this that may still be struggling, there really is hope. There really is healing and wholeness to be found. And you’re not alone. There is so much more that could and probably should be said, but I am just not up for it right now. I’m not sure I’ll ever really trust the institution of church again, but I am learning to trust God again. And I believe we need to share our stories so that we may encourage others and so that they can find their way to wholeness and forgiveness. Much love, everyone!

  • http://www.randybuist.com Randy Buist

    One correction: Acts 29 wasn’t actually started by Mark and Mars Hill. It existed prior to Mark’s arrival to save the world. He took it over, and it became his…. like all things that he rescues and saves from the fire.

  • http://www.ericsenglish.com Eric English

    I think this reminds many of us exactly why there is an “emergent movement” to begin with. It makes me grateful that I no longer have to deal with this crap. I went through and read all of the correspondence that was posted here – don’t ask me why I did this to myself, except I felt like I owed it to those who suffered. Hard to pray for your enemy when your enemy is also your brother.

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