Are These the Last Days…of Mark Driscoll’s Pastoral Ministry?

Are these the last days of Mark Driscoll’s pastoral ministry?

I’m not sure, but it’s a question worth considering. (Some follow up questions: Would that be a good thing? Would it be a bad thing? How do we better handle the prospect of celebrity preachers and megachurches in general?)

In addition to the plagiarism and bestseller gaming scandals, there is a rising level of strong critique coming from former pastors at Mars Hill.

Here’s Mars Hill’s Board of Advisors statement about that (and the bestseller stuff):

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

And here is former Mars Hill pastor Dave Kraft’s response to this statement (about him): 

On Mars Hill Church’s very public website, the following was posted on Friday, March 7, 2014:

“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.”

When I saw this, I felt it was time for me (not just through others who are quoting me) to begin sharing what has happened to bring me to this point in my relationship with MHC, in general, and with the Executive Elders of MHC, in particular.

I will have more to say in coming days, but right now I want to say this to set the record straight.

My purpose in everything I have said and done to this point has been to:

See the Holy Spirit enable and empower Pastor Mark to own his sin and to confess and repent. I am praying that he comes to his knees in humility and contriteness rather than see him leave.

At the end of my “Formal Charges” which I sent through the Board of Advisors and Accountability (which I shall hereafter refer to as the BOAA) I said this:

“My bottom line desire in all of this is that the Holy Spirit would convict Pastor Mark Driscoll of his sin and enable him to repent, demonstrated by changed biblical behaviors and attitudes so that Mars Hill Church will have a healthier leadership and a healthier culture.” May 10, 2013

Before May 10, and after May 10, I communicated with Pastor Mark multiple times concerning these very serious issues.

I (and my wife, Susan) love Pastor Mark and Mars Hill Church and want to see ongoing kingdom impact, but believe that this impact will be truncated and harmed if true confession and repentance doesn’t take place for past hurt and harm to multiplied dozens of people, among them Mars Hill pastors and former members of the Executive Elders.\

Now, in response to the article posted by the BOAA on Friday, March 7, let me say this:

I am doing much more than “disagreeing with policy.”

This is an understatement to end all understatements. I am taking issue with attitudes and actions that I believe are in clear violation of I Timothy 3, Titus 1 and I Peter 5 and may be grounds for church discipline or outright removal.

What I addressed in my “Formal Charges” on May 10, 2013 is very serious and was taken seriously by the BOAA. I was told by the chairman of the BOAA that although (in the BOAA’s mind) the charges were not serious enough for immediate removal from leadership for Mark, they could be depending on how he responded to the charges and what he did going forward.

We are talking about some very serious stuff here that can (and perhaps will) be supported by former leaders telling their story of what happened to them.

I have honestly been encouraged and “Satisfied with the steps that have been taken” in the past,” but am currently far from it. Words like: Frustrated, sad and disappointed would better describe how I feel about results related to the actions of the BOAA.

So what does Dave Kraft really I want to see happen?

1.  I would (as would countless other former leaders from MHC) like to see Pastor Mark Driscoll publicly acknowledge that he has seen the charges, that they are true and that he will take whatever time and attention is needed to intentionally deal with the charges, which may entail a short sabbatical from work to focus on this.

2.  I would like to see Pastor Mark publicly state that he is sorry, that he has sinned, that he will deal with his past sin and make himself accountable in so doing to an unbiased group of leaders who will hold his feet to the fire on this.

I would appreciate prayer that I would honor Jesus in everything I do and say in these matters and that I would be truthful and courageous.

So, what say you?

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About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. He blogs here at Patheos and HuffPost Religion. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter, released in 2012. Most importantly he binge-watches TV dramas and plays in the snow with his family.

Find him on Twitter & Facebook!

  • http://ryanrobinson.ca/ Ryan Robinson

    As much as he does frustrate me, I would absolutely love to see Mark and others at MHC repent. Their ministry has a loud and strong voice which could do so much good if they weren’t more interested in running a business and holding as much power as possible. I’ll admit I’m a sceptic. I don’t think this will happen. I imagine the more likely scenario is a slow crash and burn taking down thousands of parishioners who have placed their trust in him in the process. It’s hard for somebody with so much power and who is clearly very proud of his power to make that kind of move of repentance, much like the rich man entering through the eye of a needle. I hold out hope, though.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    yeah, I agree with you completely. repentance with real fruit would be best. i just don’t see it in the mars hill statement, and people like dave are bringing a level of clarity to all this that hasn’t existed before.

  • Anne Reid Oppermann

    Mark Driscoll has no accountability, which is the primary problem with megachurch leaders. There develops a cult of personality and, in this case, a lot of cult-like qualities to the church itself – no room for debate about “doctrine”, control of the people through community groups, shunning when people leave.

  • tanyam

    I have a new definition of a “Healthy Church:” One that doesn’t make you sign an agreement not to speak about your experience after you no longer work there. We have libel and slander laws — this is above and beyond, it is the sign of a frightened, self-protective institution.

  • Charles

    Regarding “accountability”, a detailed article I read lays out the BOAA members connections to Mark Driscoll. I question how independent and objective this “Board of Accountability” is. Looks like a whitewash attempt to me. http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/03/mars-hill-board-of-advisors-and.html

  • Jackie Heaton

    I first ran across Mark Driscoll in the blog of a former Nazarene pastor. He sounded appalling then and he hasn’t improved over the last couple of years. Maybe we should remember that the first “churches” were held in homes and didn’t have thousands of “members.” Time to move on folks, there’s nothing to see here or salvage.

  • R Vogel

    The thing is even this does signal the end of his ministry, the hordes of people who are looking to follow some guru to follow will simply latch on to someone else. I’ve been watching this show since the 80s, and I’m sure it pre-dates that. Mark, as abrasive and annoying as he is, isn’t the problem. People following celebrity preachers is the problem. As long as people look for someone to lead then, there will be Mark Driscolls to fill their need.

  • Kyle Wood

    Jackie, I get what you are saying. However, it sounds like you are confused regarding the first “churches.” The ONLY reason they were held in homes is because Christianity was illegal, and the Christians were not legally allowed to use buildings for meeting purposes. That is and always will be an irrelevant point. It’s like saying more churches should be like the churches in China, which are held in homes because they will get killed or put in jail if they meet in public.

  • MarkinBC

    My church has enough drama. Why do I even bother reading about others’?

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    Or needlessly commenting on posts you apparently shouldn’t bother reading?

  • MKulnir

    “Pastoral”?
    He has not been “pastoral” for years – if he ever really was.
    Most people attending his organization’s Sunday extravaganzas have only seen his larger-than-life image on a giant video screen. If he actually preaches live at one of his campuses, he is whisked off the stage afterwards through a phalanx of black-shirted security guards and out the back door before anyone can approach to shake his hand or ask, “Would you please pray for me?”


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