Something is up in Seattle.
Monday, twenty former pastors of Mars Hill Church sent a letter requesting mediation because they have tried going through channels and now want to bring in someone from the outside. On Facebook, former Mars Hill elder Rob Smith started a group to exonerate fired elders Bent Meyer and Paul Petry. Today, former long-time member Bryan Zug is calling for the evacuation of Mars Hill.
While the former pastors have been a bit vague about their concerns (preferring to wait to see whether or not Mars Hill responds), Zug is not quiet about his grievances. In fact, he calls on Mars Hill members to complain about at least four issues:
1. On May 15th 2013, in a 1:1 meeting at his office, Pastor Dave Bruskas confirmed to me that when a Pastor of Mars Hill’s downtown campus tried to gracefully resign, Pastor Mark Driscoll tried to force him to sign a non-compete clause for the city of Seattle and beyond.
The kind of culture that leads men to impose such demands begets a deep misunderstanding of sound Gospel Community principles laid out by the Bible.
While repentance of this specific incident may or may not have occurred, the culture that begat it is still bearing deadly fruit.
2. The ‘I am the Brand’ speech.
Before the exodus of the Mars Hill creative department a couple of years ago, Mark Driscoll gave a speech in the Ballard Paradox theater which is commonly referred to as the ‘I am the brand’ speech. In that speech he advocated that marketing and communication be centered on his personality, name, and brand (in lieu of the name of the great Shepherd himself).While repentance of this specific incident may or may not have occurred, the culture that begat it is still bearing deadly fruit.
3. Spending upwards of ?$500k?, ?$600k?, ?$700k? of church funds and resources (money + volunteer hours + staff hours) to market the book Real Marriage, while profits of the book go to a very confusing matrix of private corporations that seem to be owned by Mark and Sutton (again, hugely confusing).
4. The huge MH salary of elders who, while employed full time for MH, create intellectual property (books and curriculum) that they own privately and gain profit from. I believe the salaries of the executive elders and any financial compensation to the BOAA need to be publicly available to former and current members of the church body – lest this thing Jim and Tammy Faye forward any longer. The cloudy confusing nature of this becomes unsupportable at some point.
Keep in mind, this is one person’s opinion although I should add that I have heard of the “I am the brand” speech and non-compete contract from multiple sources so what he says sounds consistent with other witnesses. I have asked Justin Dean, PR rep at Mars Hill, multiple questions with no answer so I don’t expect to hear anything from that source.
Apparently, these public complaints are coming at the end of a process that has been taking place for years without resolution.