Warren Throckmorton broke the story this morning that Mars Hill pastor, Mark Driscoll is stepping down for 6 weeks.
In a pre-recorded video announcement, Mark Driscoll told his congregation this morning that he will take at least six weeks off as lead pastor of Mars Hill Church while charges against him are investigated. Driscoll preached at Bellevue at 8:30 am to a packed house. According to sources in church this morning, Driscoll said he is meeting with mature Christian men unrelated to the church. The message is being played at each campus this morning.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey of Religion News Service also picked up the story:
Seattle megachurch founder Mark Driscoll will step down for at least six weeks while the Mars Hill board of elders review formal charges lodged against him from previous pastors. (Religion News Service)
Zach Hoag also posted a spoof article:
Returning from vacation noticeably more tan than usual, Mark began his video announcement to the church with these words: “Howdy, Mars Hill. So yeah, this month has been totally ridic. I’m out, bro. DONE. Forget angry young prophet and older spiritual father – I’m going to Southern California to chill, and you, Acts 29, and the rest of the Internet can suck it.”
Morgan Lee of Christianity Today picked up the story as well, but also included discussed other pastors who have stepped aside from their pastorate to take care of personal failings, John Piper and C.J. Mahaney. Lee’s article is here: Mark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
All I want to say, before giving the following report is that I pray for Mark Driscoll and all who have been hurt by him directly or indirectly. As a newish resident church planter in Ballard (the site of the first permanent “main campus” as I understand it) I simply want to love my neighbors affected by all of this.
Huffington Post now has taken Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s article and run with it: Megapastor Mark Driscoll Charged With Abusive Conduct By 21 Former Mars Hill Pastors
David Hayward “Naked Pastor” posts cartoon and post:
Many people are calling for forgiveness for Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church so that he and the church can get back to preaching the gospel as effectively as it had and get back on the road to success, just like it was before things started unraveling.
Andrew Jones of Tall Skinny Kiwi’s shared his thoughts, Will Mark Driscoll Drive to Church Today in a White Bronco?
A strange thing happened on the way to 50,000. The megachurch ceased its upwards numerical surge and haemorrhaged.
If the implosion of Mars Hill Church was just about numbers, it would make an interesting case study for church growth consultants. If it was just about ecclesiology and church government, Mars Hill would be the penultimate example of what happens when a church swaps the accountability of church elders and mutual submission to its members for a dodgy business model with untouchable leaders, shady practices and phantom accounting.
Brad Sargent, blogger who has studied spiritual abuse, weighs in on the announcement by Mark Driscoll to step down in his article, Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse – Part 1 – Questions of Culpability, Complicity, and Recovery:
This post is about questions I’ve had that have emerge from the case study in allegations of spiritual abuse that Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and its co-founding pastor Mark Driscoll, have provided the U.S. Church. This is highly complex and grievous situation, and involves years of problematic leadership and labyrinthine organizational issues. I’ve been watching the situation especially since 2008 when I started research writing on spiritual abuse issues in depth.
Jonathan Merritt, senior news columnist for Religion News Service, shares his thoughts:
As I consider this development in light of the shifting tide of public opinion toward Driscoll and the barrage of scandals that he has endured this year alone, I arrive at only one conclusion: The hyper-masculine minister, Mark Driscoll, has been effectively neutered. He will likely never write another book, and if he does, far fewer will read its words. He will likely never again jet set around the country speaking to tens of thousands week after week. And even if he returns to the pastorate–which I imagine is likely–he’ll ascend the stage a shadow of his former self. The glory days of Mars Hill and its celebrity founder are irrevocably behind them both.
Mars Hill releases entire Mark Driscoll Statement. Here are a few excerpts and my comments:
It is because of my deep love for the local church in general, and Mars Hill Church in particular, that it grieves me to see anything come against it or threaten to harm it. It also grieves me greatly when something I say or do results in controversy and publicity none of you signed up for when you decided to be a part of this church family.
When someone is grieved, they stop, look at the problem, and take appropriate action. People have been calling him account for years and years. If he’s been “grieving,” he has not shown the appropriate response. These are mere “words” not true sentiments.
Over the years, as I have grown and as the Lord has been molding and pruning me, I have, on many occasions, shared with you some of the lessons I’ve been learning. Some of these have been painful, and some I’ve been slow to learn. I’ve acknowledged and confessed many of my sins, shortcomings and missteps, and God has been more than faithful with His forgiveness. Most of our Mars Hill family has been forgiving as well, and for that I’m grateful and blessed. By God’s grace, I want to always be humble and teachable.
No real commentary here about the victims, their thoughts, feelings. It’s all about MD and the process he’s had to go through. A truly repentant person does not focus on SELF, but on the ones he has hurt.
I want to thank those who have come directly to an Elder, lead pastor or me to tell us of an offense they are carrying. This allows us to deal with it head-on between the two affected parties, rather than in a court of public opinion and public media. I believe God is honored by this approach—the approach He prescribed for us in Matthew 18 and other Scriptures.
This is a back-handed way of saying that anyone who has spoken publicly about his leadership has done it wrong. He’s saying: “don’t talk, but if you do talk, then come to your leaders.” Let’s not forget the scores and scores of people who attempted to bring grievances to elders/pastors and to Mark Driscoll privately, but were fired/removed put in church discipline and shunned.
He then complains about people bringing up his pseudonym from years ago, that he took care of it a few years ago. Perhaps he did not do a good enough job of taking care of it or it wouldn’t have come up again. Or perhaps it came up again because the same pattern of behavior exists today.
Storm clouds seem to be whirling around me more than ever in recent months and I have given much thought and sought much counsel as to why that is and what to do about it. The current climate is not healthy for me or for this church. (In fact, it would not be healthy for any church.)
It is indeed healthy for both Driscoll and the church. Those who have been inside and who have known Driscoll outside his church are seeing the problems. It is healthy to deal with this. It is unhealthy to ignore it. That’s what has been going on for years.
Warren Throckmorton posted the audio of the announcement:
Article by Becky Garrison who uncovers background on the new PR guy Driscoll said will be helping him:
Mark DeMoss to Manage Mars Hill’s Mess
This kind of advice doesn’t come cheap. So, how much will the bill be for his services, and who is footing this bill? Also, for those thinking Mark D. (as in Driscoll not DeMoss) will resign, churches bring in these kind of players to clean the joint up just enough so no one sees the real dirt. So while Driscoll wil be counseled to clean up his act, until the by-laws change to provide for actual accountability and the church opens up ALL of their books to bring about financial transparency, it’s still SNAFU at Mars Hill.
From Rob Smith:
At the end of the day, Mark Driscoll may apologize and say he is sorry, for this and that, but he will not repent of bullying the 2007 bylaws into place.These bylaws removed his accountability to the elders of the church. His bullying included harming, shaming, shunning and slandering Paul Petry. Yet he will not repent of that act. By repenting he would have to admit that the entire bullying episode occurred so that he could change the bylaws via coercion and duress without due process.
Responses on Twitter (I’m posting new tweets on top and these are expressions that I’m seeing on Twitter – some vulgar language and heated sentiments from both sides: