Man, it’s been a good week for notpologists; in addition to Rush Limbaugh’s failed attempt at sincerity regarding his comments about Sandra Fluke and the non-committal response from all of the Republican candidates, Mars Hill has generously notpologized to the growing group of individuals that have come forward citing emotional abuse from the church and its leadership.
“Rather than try and defend ourselves or refute misinformation, we simply wish to say that as a church, we’re saddened by this continual attempt to drag into public very private and sensitive issues that were church matters. As with any story that has two sides, the natural tendency is for people to lean toward their prejudices. If they don’t like Mars Hill, these stories will serve to cement their beliefs regardless of what we say. For those who are part of Mars Hill and love the church, there is a tendency to take the defensive.”
By “very private and sensitive issues,” I’m sure they are referring to their procedure of publicly calling for the outright ostracism of church members who choose not to endure their invasive and shaming “discipline” procedures… right? “Private” usually refers to events that take place between a very small group of people. Sending documents to a community group of 15 or more via the internet is not private.
“Here’s the bottom line: we love people. Our goal is always repentance and reconciliation in the discipline process and that the process would be loving, grace-filled, and reflect the heart of Jesus. We don’t always get it right. But, in this instance we ask that you would pray for your leaders, love your city, and wait until we all stand before Jesus to get the facts and a clear verdict.”
No, your bottom line is that you love to tell people that you love them. Undoubtedly, Mars Hill does a great deal of good in terms of mobilizing people and money in times of natural disaster and crisis — with 14 church locations and 19,000 members, they have both the ability and resources to do so. But let us be clear; shaming your own church members by publicly excoriating them and shunning them if they refuse to follow your highly specific discipline procedure is not love. It’s cruelty.
Second, if you believe that your congregation and community members should wait to be judged by Jesus instead of passing judgment… why go to such great lengths — in this lifetime — to prescribe how people should live? According to Pastor Mark Driscoll, Jesus has an opinion on anal and oral sex. He’s also given Driscoll the gift of “divine revelation,” which Driscoll uses to ascertain the specific nature of his congregation’s sexual sin and deviancy. Pornography is fine, so long as it occurs within the vivid imagination of Mark Driscoll.
The letter concludes in this way:
“Our desire is for reconciliation between us and you. This won’t mean we’ll always see eye to eye, but can and should talk face to face in a spirit of humility and grace. Please fill out this brief form so we can begin this process.”
If by “between us and you,” they meant “us and you and many members of our congregations and your close church friends”, then I believe you. But to be honest, given the track record that Mars Hill has for keeping church issues between the offending party and the church leadership, the impersonal delivery of such a call via the Internet rings hollow.
“The statement seemed to blur the lines and imply that all of the people speaking out against Mars Hill were under church discipline and are taking those matters public. To clarify, this is the exception and not the rule, as in our case and most others that have been shared here, we were not, in fact, under church discipline. And since, in this post as well as the last two responses PR issued, they continue to stand by their stance on church discipline, one which I do not now or will I ever agree with, I am unable to be reconciled in the way that they wish to reconcile me.
What the Mars Hill pastors fail to realize is that those of us that have told our stories about our negative experiences at Mars Hill would attribute the abuses we experienced to our Community Group Leaders, Elders & Pastors. We trusted them to treat us with love and grace then, and that is not what happened. Why should we trust them to now? Forgiveness is not trusting someone who has hurt you. And forgiveness is not neglecting justice for the oppressed.
I am not comfortable submitting my personal information on their form. And I am not comfortable sitting down and meeting with Mars Hill elders on their terms. I did not choose to subject myself to meetings with the CG leader when I left for the same reason I do not want to do it now. It is not clear in their statement whether they are trying to get me to repent and be reconciled to Mars Hill, or if they wish to repent and be reconciled to me.”
It’s quite clear to me, from the recent attention and subsequent response from Mars Hill that it is significantly more important for the “reconciliation” to be a cleaner image to market to the masses. It doesn’t matter that individuals were actually hurt by their teaching or leadership; what matters is that those individuals approach Mars Hill in order to be reconciled to them.
Sounds like just the kind of forgiveness and grace that I’ve never been looking for.