In 2009, Mars Hill Church launched the Resurgence Training Center. Also known as RE:Train, the program is designed “to train leaders and fuel the leadership engine of our multi-site and church planting movement at Mars Hill church.” (p. 3). The program is set up like an academic institution in that there is a catalog of policies and the courses lead to a “Master of Missional Leadership.” (see pages 4-5). Mark Driscoll is listed as one of the teachers in the school (see pages 8-9).
The catalog begins with a warning:
It is the Resurgence Training Center’s expectation that students will follow school policies and procedures. The student assumes personal responsibility for fulfilling the appropriate course of study and completing the graduation requirements for the Resurgence Training Center. Ignorance of a policy which appears in published student documents, particularly the catalog or student handbook, is not a valid reason for granting exception to any policy. (p. 2)
Claiming ignorance might not get you any grace. Readers may be able to tell where this is going.
One of the policies for which students are responsible is the plagiarism policy. The catalog defines plagiarism on page 12:
Students found plagiarizing are subject to discipline. The most common errors in handling written sources are the following: (1) failure to use quotations marks when quoting, (2) failure to make a thorough paraphrase when attempting to put someone else’s idea into one’s own words, and (3) failure to give credit to the source of the information.
The standard disciplinary response to substantial plagiarism is an immediate “F” for the course and the student placed on probation. This action may be either decreased or increased for reasons determined by the professor or academic dean. appeals for any such actions can be made to the academic dean and the ad hoc appeals committee.
Given the documented citation errors identified here and elsewhere, I think Rev. Driscoll might have to face some form of discipline. He has reproduced material verbatim from sources without citation, inadequately paraphrased and failed to give credit to sources of information (see this post for a summary in just one book).
On paper, this policy is hard to square with Tyndale House’s remarkable statement that Peter Jones’ work was “adequately cited” in Driscoll’s A Call To Resurgence. My point is not to drag out old charges but to wonder out loud if the distance between what we expect from students and what we expect from church leaders has gotten too great. The definition of plagiarism in Mark Driscoll’s own school is more stringent than the one used by a publisher of his books.