Mars Hill Accountability Board Responds to Recent Controversies

Mars Hill Church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability issued a statement tonight addressing several recent controversies, including the use of Result Source in promoting Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage. Here is the statement in full:

Mars Hill Church and Pastor Mark Driscoll have always been passionate about teaching the Bible and spreading the gospel by making disciples and planting churches. Immense growth in the size and complexity of the church has highlighted areas for, and has resulted in, several improvements.

This statement has been developed by the Board of Advisors and Accountability to update the members and friends of Mars Hill Church on the changes that have been made, and areas where we believe this church has learned and grown:

CHANGES TO GOVERNANCE

For many years Mars Hill Church was led by a board of Elders, most of whom were in a vocational relationship with the church and thus not able to provide optimal objectivity. To eliminate conflicts of interest and set the church’s future on the best possible model of governance, a Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) was established to set compensation, conduct performance reviews, approve the annual budget, and hold the newly formed Executive Elders accountable in all areas of local church leadership. This model is consistent with the best practices for governance established in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability standards. Mars Hill Church joined and has been a member in good standing with the ECFA since September of 2012.

FORMER STAFF

In a 2 year period ending in the fall of 2013, Mars Hill Church endured significant turnover of key staff members that made many wonderful contributions to the development of Mars Hill Church during their tenure. A number of these staff transitions were acrimonious. Pastor Mark and the other executive Elders own their part in any discord that could have been avoided with a better process or a more patient interaction.

During the Spring of 2013 the BOAA mandated that a thorough review be conducted with all former staff from that period, soliciting their feedback so that no needed lessons for a healthier future would be neglected. In the summer of 2013 the BOAA reviewed that report, and needed corrections to policy and detrimental management patterns had been made. A former staff elder, Dave Kraft, whose disagreements with Mars Hill policies have recently been made public, had previously communicated with the BOAA numerous times that he was satisfied with the steps we have taken to address his concerns.

The BOAA supports the policy of requiring staff to commit their signatures to a mutual agreement, such as a separation agreement, that private matters of the church learned during a season of employment not be divulged outside the organization. We have seen this practice as wise for stewarding the resources entrusted to the church while engaging in common human resources practices.

RESULT SOURCE

In 2011, outside counsel advised our marketing team to use Result Source to market the Real Marriage book and attain placement on the New York Times Bestseller list. While not uncommon or illegal, this unwise strategy is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again. The true cost of this endeavor was much less than what has been reported, and to be clear, all of the books purchased through this campaign have been given away or sold through normal channels. All monies from the sale of Pastor Mark’s books at Mars Hill bookstores have always gone to the church and Pastor Mark did not profit from the Real Marriage books sold either at the church or through the Result Source marketing campaign.

To correct a statement in a recent article, Pastor Sutton Turner was the General Manager, not the Executive Pastor or Executive Elder as reported, at the time he signed with the referenced agreement with Result Source. In the time since this campaign we have established a new Executive Elder team, new Board of Advisors and Accountability, as well as a new marketing team.

STEWARDSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY

We take stewardship at Mars Hill very seriously, and thus we pay very close attention when accusations are made claiming that we are mishandling the money received by our congregations’ tithes and gifts. We voluntarily undergo an annual external audit, and public disclosure of our audited financial statements is part of our commitment to accountability. Much more information is available online:

The BOAA stands unreservedly behind Pastors Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas as the Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church. We deeply appreciate their endurance through false accusation, their submission to authority, and their humility where regrettable decisions from the past have come to light. We are thankful to God for His grace, which is evident in all that he allows for our good and his glory. We are confident that God is preparing Pastor Mark and the ministry of Mars Hill Church for a great harvest of souls in the days ahead.

- Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability

In addition, local Seattle station KOMO came out with a story which included statements from this story.

There is a lot to examine in this statement, some of which doesn’t ring true. I will react more to this over the next several days along with commentary from former Mars Hill staffers.

As far as I can determine the members of this board include Paul Tripp, John Phelps, Michael Van Skaik, James MacDonald, Larry Osborne, Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas, and Sutton Turner. It seems like a conflict of interest to have the executive pastors of MHC be on the board that is supposed to hold them accountable.

I wonder who the “outside counsel” is? Thomas Nelson’s Casey Harrell told Christianity Today that they did not advise Mars Hill to use ResultSource.


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