Posts Tagged ‘Church Discipline’

Hmmm… Well, well, well…. Perhaps, just perhaps this is the beginning of what many of us have been praying for over the years re: Mr. Mark Driscoll… God did it with Paul, once Saul… My prayer is that God would thoroughly break Mark in order to thoroughly use him.


Interesting article (note: contains profanity, language…) with some interesting video clips, especially of Mark’s very recent announcement regarding his stepping down for a “minimum of 6 weeks”  in which time a thorough investigation will be made of various charges against him over the years and more recently. My concern is it sounds like this investigation will be conducted by his elders… sigh. But at least with it being so public and with so many former pastors and elders of Mars Hill coming forward and with so many former members speaking up, maybe, just maybe that reality will keep the process a little more honest than would otherwise be the case, so I would hope.

Lord, I fervently ask that you bring all the truth to the surface. You are the One who brings to light that which is hidden in darkness and you will expose the motives of people’s hearts. I pray that Mark will receive counsel from those outside his circle, from those outside his think tank. In Jesus’ name, Amen, and I thank You!







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Today I was feeling a bit down having had an email interaction with a self-proclaimed “theologian” regarding a completely different issue than MH and MD. Despite the bit of research I had done, he kept stating I couldn’t trust any of the sources I had cited and instead I needed to read the pastor in question for myself. Okay, I understand about going to the source and all that, but how much poison does one need to ingest before one realizes, “Yeah, it’s making me ill”? And why would one want to go back and purposefully imbibe more? This “theologian” would also not dialogue with me re: the points of challenge I had brought up, but rather seemed to speak down to me, making moral judgments about me and insinuating I was part of the those haters who just sit around on the internet criticizing everyone who doesn’t think just like them. Ugh!

But I try to take all critiques seriously and to see what I can glean from them. So I thought long and hard about what he said, and I applied that to this blog on MH and MD… I began to ask myself a series of questions: Am I just “out to get Mark?” Are my motives to tear down MH for the sake of mean spirited vengeance (although I really didn’t get hurt at MH, just alarmed and I got out rather quickly, so not much to take vengeance on)? What if I’ve made Driscoll to be worse than he is? What if what I’m reporting on can’t hold water? Am I being destructive rather than helpful for God’s people?

While all of that was rumbling around within my mind, I did my weekly “practice run” search in Google to see what is currently showing up when I type in “Mars Hill Church Abuse.” In my present frame of mind you can imagine my sense of validation when I found the following. I’ve cut and pasted some of the forum’s comments, anonymously (but you can visit their site as a visitor, so their forum names/aliases are not top secret or anything)… This thread in their forum was posted at the beginning of April when I was at my old blog site (marshillchurchabuse.blogspot.com), and had recently posted about the Firing of the Elders and the By-Laws.

Anyway, I’m feeling pretty vindicated right about now… and I think I’ve got my vision/mission firmly back in place! 🙂

The following is found at:


New Blog: Mars Hill Church, Driscoll & Spiritual Abuse


This situation happend a few years ago and it is all true. For a while, the two fired elders, who I think were paid, spoke out and then abruptly stopped. All the info about the by laws, etc are true. Driscoll took over completely and has some hand picked yes men. It was a planned coup. There are a few youtube videos where Mark is speaking about this and he is downright mean. You can tell where he is daring anyone to question him.

Actually, this is happening in many SBC churches, too. It is especially prevelant in mega churches. The sin of lording it over is alive and well in our churches. A sign of the times, I think…this almost lazerlike sole focus on hierarchies. It is everywhere.


[Re: Post #8. Christian Taliban & Christian Women Donning Berkas]

“He even warns women not to rely on or trust in older women [contrary to Scripture] because they are likely to be busybodies and gossips, unless they are especially spiritual and very submissive.

“Fifty three minutes: Driscoll describes how he protects his wife from other women who want to go have coffee with her and get to know her, because, guess what, “that is Satanic,” and he says he knows what they’re really up to.”

Wonder what he’s afraid of?  This sounds extremely insecure and controlling to me.
Reminds me of the times my husband used to mock my fellowship with women “are you going to go and play with Chrissie today?” (in a voice dripping with contempt)
Chris (not “Chrissie”) is my 68 yr old female mentor.  If he could have got away with it, I’m sure he would have forbid me seeing her, but I had come out of the fog enough not to allow myself to be controlled like that.


After reading that article, if only half of it is true, it confirms everything I *knew* in my spirit when listening to Driscoll before.  You know, once you’ve lived with one of these types and made it long enough to recognize them for what they are, you can smell them a mile away.  He just has it all over him.  I used to feel kind of guilty for not liking him, back in the day…I just couldn’t stand him, but couldn’t put my finger on it…just the arrogance…and yet all these other people just LOVED him…  I thought, huh, must just be a personality style thing, I guess.  Later I would come to realize what it was that I found so disturbing.

What is shocking on that blog is how many many many commenters are furious at the blog linked to above and others like them for existing and for reporting on such things.  Driscoll is so effective at presenting the Gospel, they say, so leave him alone and stop airing this “in-house” fight.  Driscoll is leading people to Christ, which means he’s above criticism.  Driscoll is an “untouchable,” above the masses.  I mean, people practically worship this guy!

I hate that kind of thinking.  He’s got truth and poison in the same breath, but because there’s truth in there, we’re just supposed to cover our eyes at the poison?  What kills me is how these are the VERY SAME PEOPLE who get angry about books like The Shack, etc, because they say that the poison they feel is in the book is dangerous, so don’t read it even though there is also truth in it and many people who would not otherwise consider Christ are now becoming followers.  *shakes head*  I hate the double standards.


I  KWYM.  It was not apparent that he was that controlling just by listening to one or two or his video’s.  The more we hear , the worse it gets.  And to think that young men and women are listening to this.  The young men grab at it, because it is close to the sin nature to elevate self.  The young women feel obligated because it is close to their sin nature to adulate men, but also cringe because the degree is worse than their sinful inclinations.  Such bondage.  How horrible.


Thank you for listening to and making an excellent summary of Driscoll’s message.  I have to say as one who does ministry in deliverance from your notes I believe Pastor Driscoll is in need of deliverance from the unclean spirit of “the hatred of women”.   His actions he expressed concerning his wife and how he sees women are certainly operations I’ve come to know as coming from the influence of this unclean spirit.

BTW – in deliverance ministry my husband and I have NOT found that we deal with “mostly” women – it is definitely 50/50.  I will also add the hardest person we’ve every had to deal with was a man who saw himself as the “head and priest” of his family.  He wanted to control every issue concerning prayer for his family.  He would “demand” we take authority over the unclean spirits he had decided they needed deliverance from — and would get terribly upset when we refused because we did not discern that these were the issue with his family members.

If Pastor Driscoll ever came for deliverance counseling with my husband and myself I do believe from what you summarized, Lin, that we would be addressing the unclean spirit of “hatred of women”.


I took the excerpts of his teaching from the blog linked to in the first comment. However, I did listen to the peasant princess when it first came out. I could hardly get through it. It made me sick.

I agree with W that he has a deep seated hatred of women. But I think this is because Mark has to have an enemy. Probably always has as that is the only way he could make a living. I am starting to believe that emergent was not profitable enough for him in terms of influence. Too much competition. But not a lot of competition for a counterculture reformed guy.

Women are the perfect target as enemies becasue he can mask it as ‘doctrine’ and it is acceptable. For example: Why do so few people get offended when he alludes that all women are gossips? How can the men and women in that audience not see through such comments from him? Because he has made this primary salvic doctrine and turned it all into a work of salvation. I think men like this are worse than Rome for works salvation. They deny it but it is right there!

He markets his schitk as ‘counterculture’. All he does is slap a tatoo on a fish add works that are feminine and masculine and call it Christianity. It is a business. And he gets paid a lot for his speaking gigs.


I also suspect Driscoll may be a Narcissist and whatever goes along with that.


Where is the outspoken concern for his behavior from other well known pastors?  A few do but not many.


I also wonder if any one else from among us who suffered spousal abuse had their teeth set on edge as they recognized the pattern of cutting the victim off from all sources of help in his disguise “I do this for her protection”.  I know from my own past and counseling that this is a common action of abusers with control issues.  This IS NOT Godly counsel coming from his mouth.   It is a form of abuse.

It makes me so angry to hear him present this form of abuse as Godly counsel.  (I find it to be much the same abuse done in the name of God that the women of the “no longer quiverful” blog are addressing.)

It makes me so very sad to know that many in the church have become so deceived they have become unable to discern the abuse of women in his message.

I am also left wondering who God sent in to be a help to his wife and was cut off by him in the name of “protection”.  My heart breaks for her and cries out for her liberty and freedom.  I pray she breaks out of her cage as Clay and many other women have done and walk in her God given freedom as a woman of God.


When they have been outspoken in an area for a long time and made it part of their entire persona, made a living from it, it is almost impossible to see another interpretation or even admit there is another interpretation to even be considered. It has defined who they are

I wrote this and can see how come could say this would be naive. I want to clarify that the anger we see coming from those who tout these doctrines is taught to them. They see it as righteous anger.

The thing with Piper [& Driscoll], etc, is that they allow no disagreement. You are labeled, perhaps prayed for and put in a category as rebellious, not believing the Word, etc. That is not naive at all. That is protecting your turf. You learn real quick not to question or disagree in those circles. Because there is no real civil discussion of differences in interpretations. Yours is simply wrong and that is that.


(NASB) Proverbs 28:10 He who leads the upright astray in an evil way Will himself fall into his own pit,…

(NASB) Proverbs 28:16 A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding,…


I had a pastor like Driscoll once.

…The big issue is control… He didn’t put women down, but he sure did make Jesus out to be a tough guy. It’s the same spirit. Control can show up anywhere. It’s just if you add a hatred towards women to it, it makes it worse.



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The following is taken from prayingheart.wordpress.com .  PH (Praying Heart) seems to have checked out the allegations. Several members of MH (Mars Hill) have reportedly attempted to discuss their concerns with Mark, and it would appear that often times they then get banned from the MH forum, and some find themselves disfellowshipped. It seems to be a system where any questions are lumped under “the sin of questioning,” and those who question are labelled “rebellious” and “in sin” because they are not “submitting to their elders.” Therefore, the members are oppressed and silenced, and truth is shut up.

Where does one possibly go for any kind of healing, justice and/or reconciliation in such a place? One has no other option but to leave or to continue to be abused and stand by helplessly as others are treated as egregiously as Peter and Bent (the two elders who were fired under questionable determinations by MH leadership in 2007) and others who are apparently unfairly disfellowshipped. And if one desires to expose what is hidden in darkness (as we are actually commanded to do, see below), it would appear that one cannot effectively or safely do that within the MH system.

So one creates blogs in hopes of helping those wounded by an oppressive system, and perhaps effecting some change for the good in the controlling system (this is very, very rare though, especially if the same leadership remains in place). Probably, more realistically, what we can hope for is to validate the pain and abuse former and current MH members have suffered and perhaps empower enough people to challenge the MH leadership in a manner in which they might be heard.

Eph 5:8-14

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible.

Does Mark Driscoll Continue to Lie to Mars Hill Members?

The below was submitted to PH via email. Since each fact checks out and the points are extremely relevant and important, PH is posting the article.


Mark Driscoll keeps changing the story.

Just as a suspected adulterer lies to cover his sin to appear innocent, Mark Driscoll and the elders are changing the story as they defend their actions.

This is illuminating. It shows that after 5 months there is still pressure to explain their actions. It also shows that Mark Driscoll and the elders are ashamed of the original story they put out and have to come up with better reasons why they fired Pastor Paul and Pastor Bent.

And… story is changing…again. Mark Driscoll now states publicly that the two pastors were fired for poor job performance. Why did we not hear this when they were fired 5 months ago? Because Mark Driscoll did not think of saying it 5 months ago – it was not even on his mind at that point. Furthermore, it never would have passed the laugh test then. They had both received good job performance reviews just a couple of months before their firings. We members have watched these men work harder than any two Elders we know.

So why this new lie from Mark Driscoll?

The new lie is being presented because the truth shows the actions taken to be sinful and wrong. He cannot stick to that story because it is shameful, and he therefore is still looking for the story that the hearers will believe, so that folks will just let this go. Now, he teaches young Acts 29 pastors that “just as he had to recently do, sometimes you have to remove elders even though there is no charge against them – they are simply not doing their job.”

Below is the evolution of what we have been told. Read it, and grieve for the sin of our leaders.

  1. September 2007:The men were “fired for sin” Not moral sin but sin that serious enough to fire them. We members were not told what the sin was so as to protect the two elders and to avoid fueling gossip. (Munson letter on members site)
  2. October 2007: It was all about the bylaws. In the resulting confusion and consternation from the membership, a long time member known for her respectful manner asked to see a copy of the bylaws under which she was governed and these men were fired, she was denied the opportunity. Instead, Mark Driscoll told her in an extremely patronizing tone on the members’ site that she had unintentionally stumbled on the root problem of the matter, the by-laws. (Driscoll post on members site)
  3. October 2007: Violating Elder Protocol. Members were told that these men violated elder protocol by discussing the proposed by-laws with the church lawyer without the required permission. Additionally, these men did not have and that have a proper respect (an “unhealthy distrust”) for their leaders. Elder protocol was also violated when one of these men allowed one member to see the confidential proposed new bylaws so as to ask for his insight on the proposed changes. (Conversations with various elders, the 145 page document)
  4. November 2, 2007: “Posturing and Grabbing at Power and Money.” The Elders presented the infamous 145 page document in which they endeavored to explain their actions. A thorough reading of this document does not imply or even hint that the men had inadequate job performance. Instead, the newest allegation was that the men were posturing for and attempting to grab power and money. This latest allegation had never been mentioned prior to this. A review of the facts shows that that there is absolutely no evidence that this accusation from Mark Driscoll is anything but a lie.* It was just another desperate attempt to pacify the members and put out the fire that they had started.

*PH: A review of the facts shows clearly that if anyone can be accused of grabbing power and money it is Mark Driscoll and the other 4 executive elders. The very men that fired the two pastors and then proceeded to level charges against them are the same men that gained extraordinary power and additional money under the new by-laws. Under the existing bylaws, the executive 5 had only one vote of twenty four. The Executive 5 would have 1 vote of 5 under the new by-laws. The new by-laws stripped all the other elders of any real power. Pastor Paul and Pastor Bent would gain no power or money were the existing bylaws kept in place.*

  1. November/December 2007: “Paul Petry refuses to be reconciled.” This lie has been fairly effective, therefore the elders have kept saying it. James Harleman has said that Pastor Paul has refused to be reconciled despite the elders seeking reconciliation innumerable times. Tim Quiring states that Pastor Paul is divisive, angry, vindictive and “not responded to the grace being offered to him by the Mars Hill leadership.” (the 145 page document, the Shunning letter.) In fact neither of these men have made any contact with Pastor Paul at all in the 5 months since the firings. This is true of almost all the elders. Contrary to Mr. Harleman’s allegation, the number of attempts on the part of Mars Hill have been been pathetically few and usually adversarial in nature. When Pastor Paul did agree to meet with Elder “x”, this elder changed the terms of the meeting and refused to meet with Pastor Paul under the originally agreed upon terms. The Elders have refused to meet with Pastor Paul. While Elder x was trying to arrange this meeting with Pastor Paul, the Elders simultaneously were issuing a public announcement calling for Pastor Paul to be shunned by the members of Mars Hill. This is the grace referred to by Tim Quiring?

The “refusal to be reconciled” line has run its course and is becoming weak and non-credible.

  1. February 2007: “Inadequate Job Performance” (Mark Driscoll – Acts 29 conference)

And the story gets spun and respun.

These various evolutions of history were occurring as the Elders were being challenged that the charges were silly, the trial not fair and just by any reasonable person’s standards, and that the process was simply a mistake by naïve elders at best or blatantly sinful and cruel at worst. Each new lie has confirmed that the trial had merely demonstrated the sin resident in the heart.

Of course these stories will eventually cease to work because no member would expect a party so badly treated to willingly subject himself to further abuse. Many of us members have inquired of both fired pastors and heard that the Elders are stubborn and refusing to meet or yield. The story told by these men give a totally different perspective of the events. Both men have called for elders to cease their lies and repent of their actions.

The original charges and the ensuing actions taken by the elders cannot stand the test of biblical scrutiny.

We now hear that Mark Driscoll, who clearly and publically voiced to the church his anger towards the two elders in his Sept 30th sermon before he even fired telling us that in fact the men were actually fired for poor job performance.

Well. This latest lie will not stick either.

What will the next lie be?

*PH: Are these the actions of men qualified to be Elders?*



I encourage those interested to go to PH’s site and review the comments in response to PH’s posting (I’ve included a handful below). Also from PH’s site:

March 2, 2008  Great Book For Abused or Mistreated Elders…

Or those in church leadership simply wondering if THEY are crazy. … PH has received excellent feedback from those who have read book by Dr. John K. Setser: “Broken Hearts, Shattered Trust/Workplace Abuse of Staff in the Church”. If any are interested in receiving their own copy, Dr. Setser is happy to send on at no charge (at this point). Just email him at johnsetser@hotmail.com and ask. Dr. Setser is the founder of Baranbas Ministries: http://www.shatteredtrust.com


The following responses are taken from the comments to PH’s post:

  1. dfndr.faith Says:
    March 2, 2008 at 10:25 am

I also spoke recently with one of the two fired pastors. He shared the same story that Ph did….about a recent private meeting between Mark Driscoll and a church pastor of a large congregation in the Puget Sound area. The minister was accompanied by one of the fired MH pastors. In the meeting the minister shared with Mark how wrong the shunning document was and that this was giving the church (all churches) a black eye, especially here in Seattle. Mark was also asked if he was referring to Paul and Bent in the famous Nehemiah sermon last fall and he said he no….that he was only referring to some church members. He was also asked why he fired Paul and Bent and he answered by saying that he didn’t fire them….that Jaime fired them because “they were doing a poor job.” What primarily stood out to me from what I heard was that Mark’s tone either vague, evasive, or that he couldn’t remember details when he was asked specific questions.

  1. prayingheart Says:
    March 6, 2008 at 7:28 am

Outsider, as a frequent attender who has chosen to be involved within Mars Hill, and as one who has chosen to research the matters discussed here, PH DOES understand the injustice of it all. Feel free to do any or all of the above and come back with any specific questions you may have regarding the facts or conclusions presented here.

  1. jennifer Says:
    May 25, 2008 at 3:16 pm

PH – I was disturbed in reading the letter you have posted as the preface to the document to the church in the way that the letter of Philippians was cited and “applied” to the situation. I have myself been a long-time member of a church which used Scipture to control members – and this is the same sort of thing I came across there. I have also listened to a couple of the Philippian sermons from the series where he says very similar things to what is written in the letter.

I am surprised since he has many friends among sound pastors if no-one is picking up on this use of scripture which is manifestly massaged to fit the situation. I do hope that some in the church have challenged on this at some stage.

  1. musicman Says:
    December 2, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Claiming all the “good” Mark is doing as an excuse for other “questionable” actions is a slippery slope that you do not want to follow.


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This article has received A LOT of attention, and since I’ve referred to it in previous posts, I thought it only fitting I should include it in its entirety.

Who Would Jesus Smack Down?
Published Jan 6, 2009

Mark Driscoll’s sermons are mostly too racy to post on GodTube, the evangelical Christian “family friendly” video-posting Web site. With titles like “Biblical Oral Sex” and “Pleasuring Your Spouse,” his clips do not stand a chance against the site’s content filters. No matter: YouTube is where Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, would rather be. Unsuspecting sinners who type in popular keywords may suddenly find themselves face to face with a husky-voiced preacher in a black skateboarder’s jacket and skull T-shirt. An “Under 17 Requires Adult Permission” warning flashes before the video cuts to evening services at Mars Hill, where an anonymous audience member has just text-messaged a question to the screen onstage: “Pastor Mark, is masturbation a valid form of birth control?”

Driscoll doesn’t miss a beat: “I had one guy quote Ecclesiastes 9:10, which says, ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’ ” The audience bursts out laughing. Next Pastor Mark is warning them about lust and exalting the confines of marriage, one hand jammed in his jeans pocket while the other waves his Bible. Even the skeptical viewer must admit that whatever Driscoll’s opinion of certain recreational activities, he has the coolest style and foulest mouth of any preacher you’ve ever seen.

Mark Driscoll is American evangelicalism’s bête noire. In little more than a decade, his ministry has grown from a living-room Bible study to a megachurch that draws about 7,600 visitors to seven campuses around Seattle each Sunday, and his books, blogs and podcasts have made him one of the most admired — and reviled — figures among evangelicals nationwide. Conservatives call Driscoll “the cussing pastor” and wish that he’d trade in his fashionably distressed jeans and taste for indie rock for a suit and tie and placid choral arrangements. Liberals wince at his hellfire theology and insistence that women submit to their husbands. But what is new about Driscoll is that he has resurrected a particular strain of fire and brimstone, one that most Americans assume died out with the Puritans: Calvinism, a theology that makes Pat Robertson seem warm and fuzzy.

At a time when the once-vaunted unity of the religious right has eroded and the mainstream media is proclaiming an “evangelical crackup,” Driscoll represents a movement to revamp the style and substance of evangelicalism. With his taste for vintage baseball caps and omnipresence on Facebook and iTunes, Driscoll, who is 38, is on the cutting edge of American pop culture. Yet his message seems radically unfashionable, even un-American: you are not captain of your soul or master of your fate but a depraved worm whose hard work and good deeds will get you nowhere, because God marked you for heaven or condemned you to hell before the beginning of time. Yet a significant number of young people in
Seattle — and nationwide — say this is exactly what they want to hear. Calvinism has somehow become cool, and just as startling, this generally bookish creed has fused with a macho ethos. At Mars Hill, members say their favorite movie isn’t “Amazing Grace” or “The Chronicles of Narnia” — it’s “Fight Club.”

Mars Hill Church is the furthest thing from a Puritan meetinghouse. This is Seattle, and Mars Hill epitomizes the city that spawned it. Headquartered in a converted marine supply store, the church is a boxy gray building near the diesel-infused din of the Ballard Bridge. In the lobby one Sunday not long ago, college kids in jeans — some sporting nose rings or kitchen-sink dye jobs — lounged on ottomans and thumbed text messages to their friends. The front desk, black and slick, looked as if it ought to offer lattes rather than Bibles and membership pamphlets. Buzz-cut and tattooed security guards mumbled into their headpieces and directed the crowd toward the auditorium, where the worship band was warming up for an hour of hymns with Bruce Springsteens’s “Born to Run.”

On that Sunday, Driscoll preached for an hour and 10 minutes — nearly three times longer than most pastors. As hip as he looks, his message brooks no compromise with
Seattle’s permissive culture. New members can keep their taste in music, their retro T-shirts and their intimidating facial hair, but they had better abandon their feminism, premarital sex and any “modern” interpretations of the Bible. Driscoll is adamantly not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal and mainstream evangelical churches, “singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.”

The oldest of five, son of a union drywaller, Driscoll was raised Roman Catholic in a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Seattle. In high school, he met a pretty blond pastor’s daughter named — providentially — Grace. She gave him his first Bible. He read voraciously and was born again at 19. “God talked to me,” Driscoll says. “He told me to marry Grace, preach the Bible, to plant churches and train men.” He married Grace (with whom he now has five children) and, at 25, founded Mars Hill.

God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.” What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

This reaction to the “feminization” of the church is not new. “The Lord save us,” declared the evangelist Billy Sunday in 1916, “from off-handed, flabby-cheeked . . . effeminate, ossified, three-carat Christianity.” In 1990 a group of pastors founded the Promise Keepers ministry dedicated to “igniting and uniting men” who were failing their families and abandoning the church. In recent years, mainstream megachurches — the mammoth pacesetters of American evangelicalism that package Christianity for mass consumption — have been criticized for replacing hard-edged Gospel with feminized pablum. According to Ed Stetzer, the director of LifeWay Research, a Southern Baptist religious polling organization, Mars Hill is “a reaction to the atheological, consumer-driven nature of the modern evangelical machine.”

The “modern evangelical machine” is a product of the 1970s and ’80s, when a new generation of business-savvy pastors developed strategies to reach unbelievers turned off by traditional worship and evangelization. Their approach was “seeker sensitive”: upon learning that many people didn’t go in for stained glass and steeples, these pastors made their churches look like shopping malls. Complex theology intimidated the curious, and talk of damnation alienated potential converts — so they played down doctrine in favor of upbeat, practical teachings on the Christian life.

These megachurches, like Joel Osteen’s
Lakewood Church in Houston and Bill Hybels’s Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, have come to symbolize American evangelicalism. By any quantitative measure they are wildly successful, and their values and methods have diffused into the evangelical bloodstream. Yet some megachurches have begun to admit what critics maintained all along: numbers are not everything. In the fall of 2007, leaders of Willow Creek sent shockwaves through the evangelical world when they announced the results of a study in which churchgoers reported feeling stagnant in their faith and frustrated with slick, program-driven pastors. “As an evangelical, I would say this tells us something,” Stetzer says. “The center is not holding.”

Mars Hill has not entirely dispensed with megachurch marketing tactics. Its success in one of the most liberal and least-churched cities in
America depends on being sensitive to the body-pierced and latte-drinking seekers of Seattle. Ultimately, however, Driscoll’s theology means that his congregants’ salvation is not in his hands. It’s not in their own hands, either — this is the heart of Calvinism.
Human beings are totally corrupted by original sin and predestined for heaven or hell, no matter their earthly conduct. We all deserve eternal damnation, but God, in his inscrutable mercy, has granted the grace of salvation to an elect few. While John Calvin’s 16th-century doctrines have deep roots in Christian tradition, they strike many modern evangelicals as nonsensical and even un-Christian. If predestination is true, they argue, then there is no point in missions to the unsaved or in leading a godly life. And some babies who die in infancy — if God placed them among the reprobate — go straight to hell with the rest of the damned, to “glorify his name by their own destruction,” as Calvin wrote. Since the early 19th century, most evangelicals have preferred a theology that stresses the believer’s free decision to accept God’s grace. To be born again is a choice God wants you to make; if you so choose, Jesus will be your personal friend.

Yet Driscoll is not an isolated eccentric. Over the past two decades, preachers in places as far-flung as Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., in denominations ranging from Baptist to Pentecostal, are pushing “this new, aggressive, mission-minded Calvinism that really believes Calvinism is a transcript of the Gospel,” according to Roger Olson, a professor of theology at Baylor University. They have harnessed the Internet to recruit new believers, especially young people. Any curious seeker can find his way into a world of sermon podcasts and treatises by the Protestant Reformers and English Puritans, whose abstruse writings, though far from best-selling, are enjoying something of a renaissance. New converts stay in touch via blogs and Facebook groups with names like “John Calvin Is My Homeboy” and “Calvinism: The Group That Chooses You.”

New Calvinists are still relatively few in number, but that doesn’t bother them: being a persecuted minority proves you are among the elect. They are not “the next big thing” but a protest movement, defying an evangelical mainstream that, they believe, has gone soft on sin and has watered down the Gospel into a glorified self-help program. In part, Calvinism appeals because — like Mars Hill’s music and Driscoll’s frank sermons — the message is raw and disconcerting: seeker insensitive.

Most people who attend Mars Hill do not see themselves as theological radicals. Mark Driscoll is just “Pastor Mark,” not the New Calvinist warrior demonized on evangelical and liberal blogs. Yet while some initially come for mundane reasons — their friends attend; they like the music — the Calvinist theology is often the glue that keeps them in their seats. They call the preaching “authentic” and “true to life.” Traditional evangelical theology falls apart in the face of real tragedy, says the 20-year-old Brett Harris, who runs an evangelical teen blog with his twin brother, Alex. Reducing God to a projection of our own wishes trivializes divine sovereignty and fails to explain how both good and evil have a place in the divine plan. “There are plenty of comfortable people who can say, ‘God’s on my side,’ ” Harris says. “But they couldn’t turn around and say, ‘God gave me cancer.’ ”

Though they believe that God has already mapped out their lives, Calvinists have always been activists. Ye shall know the elect by their fruits, not by their passive acceptance of fate. When it comes to wrestling with life’s challenges, however, they reject the “positive thinking” ethos that Norman Vincent Peale made famous in the 1950s. That philosophy still dominates the Christian self-help market in books like “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen, which promises readers that everything from a Hawaiian vacation house to a beauty-pageant crown is within their grasp if only they “develop a can-do attitude.” Marianne Esterly, a women’s counselor at Mars Hill, says she tries to help women resist the desperation that can come with forgetting that man’s chief end is to glorify God, not to obsess over earthly problems. “They worship the trauma, or the anorexia, and that’s not what they’re designed to worship,” she says. “Christian self-help doesn’t work. We can’t do anything. It’s all the work of Christ.”

Calvinism is a theology predicated on paradox: God has predestined every human being’s actions, yet we are still to blame for our sins; we are totally depraved, yet held to the impossible standard of divine law. These teachings do not jibe with Enlightenment ideas about human capacity, yet they have appealed to a wide range of modern intellectuals, especially those who stressed the dangers of human hubris in the wake of World War I.

Driscoll found his way into this tradition largely on his own. He recently earned a master’s degree through an independent-study program he arranged at a seminary in Portland, Ore. Years ago, paperback reprints of old Puritan treatises in the corner of a local bookstore piqued his interest in Reformation theology. He came to admire Martin Luther, the vulgar, beer-swilling theological rebel who sparked the Reformation. “I found him to be something of a mentor,” Driscoll says. “I didn’t have all the baggage he did. But you can see him with a quill in one hand and a drink in the other. He married a brewer and renegade nun. His story is kind of indie rock.”

Driscoll disdains the prohibitions of traditional evangelical Christianity. Taboos on alcohol, smoking, swearing and violent movies have done much to shape American Protestant culture — a culture that he has called the domain of “chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists.” Moreover, the Bible tells him that to seek salvation by self-righteous clean living is to behave like a Pharisee. Unlike fundamentalists who isolate themselves, creating “a separate culture where you live in a Christian cul-de-sac,” as one spiky-haired member named Andrew Pack puts it, Mars Hillians pride themselves on friendships with non-Christians. They tend to be cultural activists who play in rock bands and care about the arts, living out a long Reformed tradition that asserts Christ’s mandate over every corner of creation.

Like many New Calvinists, Driscoll advocates traditional gender roles, called “complementarianism” in theological parlance. Men and women are “equal spiritually, and it’s a difference of functionality, not intrinsic worth,” says Danielle Blazer, a 34-year-old Mars Hill member. Women may work outside the home, but they must submit to their husbands, and they are forbidden from taking on preaching roles in the church.

“It’s only since women have been in church leadership that this backlash has come,” says the Seattle pastor Katie Ladd, a liberal Methodist who holds that declaring Jesus a “masculine dude” subverts the transformative message of the Gospel. But New Calvinists argue that traditional gender roles are true to the Bible, especially the letters of Paul. Moreover, embedded in the notion of Adam as the “federal head” of the human race is the idea of man as head of the home.

Nowhere is the connection between Driscoll’s hypermasculinity and his Calvinist theology clearer than in his refusal to tolerate opposition at Mars Hill. The Reformed tradition’s resistance to compromise and emphasis on the purity of the worshipping community has always contained the seeds of authoritarianism: John Calvin had heretics burned at the stake and made a man who casually criticized him at a dinner party march through the streets of Geneva, kneeling at every intersection to beg forgiveness. Mars Hill is not 16th-century
Geneva, but Driscoll has little patience for dissent. In 2007, two elders protested a plan to reorganize the church that, according to critics, consolidated power in the hands of Driscoll and his closest aides. Driscoll told the congregation that he asked advice on how to handle stubborn subordinates from a “mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighter, good guy” who attends Mars Hill. “His answer was brilliant,” Driscoll reported. “He said, ‘I break their nose.’ ” When one of the renegade elders refused to repent, the church leadership ordered members to shun him. One member complained on an online message board and instantly found his membership privileges suspended. “They are sinning through questioning,” Driscoll preached. John Calvin couldn’t have said it better himself.

Most members, however, didn’t join Mars Hill in order to ask questions. Damon Conklin, who is 41 and runs a tattoo parlor, says he joined Mars Hill because Driscoll made his life make sense — and didn’t ask him to pretend to be someone he wasn’t. “I decided to stop smoking crack and drinking every day,” Conklin says. “I had to find some kind of God in order to do that.” He hated the churches he visited: “I would show up looking as mean as possible, with my Afro blown out, wearing a wife-beater, and then I’d say, ‘Why don’t they like me?’ Then I went to Mars Hill, and I believed Mark.”

Driscoll’s theology “changed how I view women,” Conklin says. He quit going to strip clubs and now refuses to tattoo others with his old specialty, pinup girls (though he still wears two on one arm, souvenirs from earlier, godless days). Mars Hill counts four of the city’s top tattoo artists among its members (and many of their clientele — that afternoon, Conklin was expecting a fellow church member who wanted a portrait of Christ enthroned across his back). While other churches left people like Conklin feeling alienated, Mars Hill has made them its missionaries. “Some people say, ‘You’re pretty cool and you’re a Christian, so I guess I can’t hate all of them anymore,’ ” he says. “I understand where they’re coming from.”

Mars Hill — with its conservative social teachings embedded in guitar solos and drum riffs, its megachurch presence in the heart of bohemian skepticism — thrives on paradox. Critics on the left and right alike predict that this delicate balance of opposites cannot last. Some are skeptical of a church so bent on staying perpetually “hip”: members have only recently begun to marry and have children, but surely those children will grow up, grow too cool for their cool church and rebel. Others say that Driscoll’s ego and taste for controversy will be Mars Hill’s Achilles’ heel. Lately he has made a concerted effort to tone down his language, and he insists that he has delegated much authority, but the heart of his message has not changed. Driscoll is still the one who gazes down upon Mars Hill’s seven congregations most Sundays, his sermons broadcast from the main campus to jumbo-size projection screens around the city. At one suburban campus that I visited, a huge yellow cross dominated center stage — until the projection screen unfurled and Driscoll’s face blocked the cross from view. Driscoll’s New Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents.

c. 2009, Molly Worthen, New York Times

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The following was pulled from several websites I found in which people seem to have felt safe enough to write from their hearts regarding the abuse they suffered and/or witnessed at MHC.

. Jennifer // Jan 10, 2009 at 3:04 pm
I am a former member of Mars Hill church. My opinion is that if you stay on the outer edges, it’s not a terrible place. You’ll meet some very nice people. But, once you get in a bit further, it gets VERY controlling. Women are expected to stay home and not work; women in college are told they are “stealing from their future husband” if they take out student loans, since the future husband is just going to have to pay the loan back when she’s staying home pushing out babies.

17 SeattleSpy // Jan 10, 2009 at 3:16 pm
Women are NOT chastised for going to school. Many of the pastors of MH including Mark have college funds set away for their daughters.

18 Jennifer // Jan 10, 2009 at 3:21 pm
Seattle Spy,
Correct. They are not chastised for going to school if their parents will pay for it, or if they pay for it themselves. But, they are told they are “in sin” if they take out a loan that their future husband will just have to pay back.

82 Bella // Jan 13, 2009 at 11:56 am
Wow….I don’t even know where to start.

First off, that’s a great article by the NYT [
New York Times, Molly Worthen’s, Who Would Jesus Slap Down?]. Calm down, as an organized group, you’re going to get criticized. You say yourselves that you are humble, why do you cringe when people don’t completely agree with you? Come on now. Open your eyes for a half a second and realize that no institution is going to be 100% perfect. We won’t know all the answers till we die – and I say this to everyone.

In transition, I was a member at MH for a long 4 years. At first I was on board because I was new to
Seattle, could meet some nice people. Whatever.

I got deeper and very involved. (I swear I’m trying to keep it short) I met a man there, wanted to get married, but my past is messy. My “community group” – that’s what they call their Bible studies- forced me to go to counseling for the things I did in the past because I didn’t believe what I did was sinful. I didn’t feel bad enough for the “sins” of my past and God/Jesus wouldn’t be able to forgive me…..because I wasn’t repentant. Follow?

I didn’t agree, but I went in “obedience.” Maybe they were right? So I genuinely tried. I passed although still didn’t agree, then married. He’s a good man, but with principles like that to build a marriage on (a woman is to stop and drop everything once she meets her husband, then join him on his path…. closely paraphrased from an actual sermon, and that’s just scratching the surface), it was simply not working.

Not surprisingly, he was too dominating, and I’m just not submissive. That doesn’t fly at alllllll at the church, and you Mars Hillians know that.

After agonizing efforts by both of us to make it work, I knew I had to leave my husband, or at least separate….I discussed at length with my girlfriends, pastors, anyone, to convince them that I was miserable and that it wasn’t healthy to be in such a relationship. Time after time, they told me if I had enough faith God would save it. I wasn’t allowed to leave under any circumstances, and my protests for my own life were just plain wrong and sinful. Obviously, I got very depressed and alone.

So in an effort to protect any sanity that remained, I left anyway. I DO have a mind, I knew that the teachings were wrong, and the church’s response became a nightmare from hell. When I left, the church issued an email to everyone that I knew, urging them never to speak with me because I was living in sin. Being in contact with me would be disobedient to God.

Well, they followed without question, and with the exception of one person, no one I had met over half a decade would speak with me.

My point is that the author of the article is entirely correct – submit, or be excommunicated. That’s a cult.

Mars Hill is a very dangerous place, especially for women…

This post has gotten way to long, but what I want everyone to know is that the rumors are true – I repeat, MH is very dangerous if you get involved. In example, read their posts! They speak the same….just rattle off what they heard in church and cling to it in fear. If we disagree with them, they have their cult to run back to who will back them up and fire them up. And like any massive organization, nothing is going to change the mind of a mob.

MH operates on fear and bullying. Jesus’ entire life was to teach us about love. Unconditional, accepting, tolerant, faithful, LOVE.

· Tess // Jan 23, 2009 at 10:33 am
I went to Mars Hill for a year, then a Mars Hill plant for another year.
I thought it was great at first…but then I started to LISTEN. Yep. Women really need to keep their eyes on the ball and not waste time at college…after all babies are the goal. I believe I heard Driscoll say once that all a man needs is Forty in one hand and a naked woman in the other. Nice. Plus, I don’t even want to get started on the comments about Catholics I heard at the plant. This is absolutely a misogynistic personality cult. STAY AWAY LADIES. WE HAVEN’T FOUGHT THIS HARD TO GO BACK IN TIME.

· Bdouble // Jan 23, 2009 at 1:06 pm
Hey Tess,I’m not a woman, but I know exactly what you mean: It seems nice at first, then once you start to get past the superficial stuff (lights, music, laid back attire, etc) and start to LISTEN, it is actually scary that people eat this stuff up, especially women. I’m sorry to the ladies that actually still go to church here, but no matter how many ways you slice it, this belief system at Mars Hill is set up to keep the women as inferior to men. To deny this, is ignorance.
pulled 2/10/09

Being a member of Mars Hill and attending about 2 years I can’t say the main “serious” thing I notice is the ‘feminist issues’. It did rub me the wrong way when I first attended if you listen just once or twice but when you get the full text of what he meant to say, it’s really not the issue … he’s talking about the nature of women and how God design it to be ideally and giving grace to women to be themselves.

To know the real issues at hand I think you’d have to be a member for some time. I think the church in general has good intentions but things get a little out of hand and become cult like behaviors. I’m not saying the doctrine is cult like but the actions they portray.

Examples: unwritten rules of dating that are highly suggested to follow and getting extreme isolation if you don’t, over possesses elders in several areas to monitor you and inappropriate questions during church discipline, idolizing the Pastor, shallow relationships among peers, men seriously thinking if you drink it makes you a man because the Pastor talks about it a lot, pressures couples to marry quickly in about 3 months of ‘courting’ (and that topic goes on and on), poor leadership ratio to those extremely in need and depressed with thoughts of suicide (on a several occasion of people I know of personally who tried reaching out to leadership), excessive drinking at most gatherings, “being one of US” treatment and exclusion of those who are not members or disagree, controlling or stopping your freedom of speech about concerns on member blogging forms, letting predators of women be ushers and teachers, friends will shun you if you don’t follow the ‘rules’ and worship although very trendy the only time I experienced real worship (where you felt Gods presence ) was at a pastors conference they held.

pulled 2/20/09

Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church: Member Abuse on Parade (Preface)
On November 4 & 11, 2007, Mark Driscoll delivered sermons loaded with classic examples of authoritarian abuse. The topic was “Humility” : and they were preached about 5 weeks after Paul Petry and Bent Meyer were fired, shortly after the Starchamber/Kangaroo Court that tried Paul Petry, and 2 days after the 145 page Elders Response Document was published. A number of Mars Hill Members had recently been suspended for questioning the firings and trial procedures. Many of those who remained remember walking out of this one mid-sermon, or not participating in communion because this sermon was so out of line that their attitudes were out of joint. Some guy/gal on youtube called ReallySad1 (again, not PH!) has pulled out some of the more priceless sections, which merit exposure and discussion. Stay tuned for the upcoming series: Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church: Member Abuse on Parade.

pulled 2/18/09

Judy’s Book:

“kindness that brings repentance”
Bad: This place is a cult and I am saying this from years of experience with Mars Hill as a member who used to love this place, follow them blindly and function as a “serving member” if you are a baby C.
pulled March ’09

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Again, a reminder: the funky formatting is because I’m transferring info from my previous blogspot, and it randomly applies the colored text and blocks…

Shocking Sections of By Laws with Neilson’s Notes (not mine):

SECTION B – All persons desiring to unite with this Church shall sign an application to become a part of the fellowship, complete the required member process, sign the member covenant, and shall appear before at least one church member making a confession or reaffirmation of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Candidates coming in by transfer of letter from another church will follow the same procedure. Candidates having been approved by at least one church member must affirm by signature their agreement with the Doctrinal Statement and the Bylaws of Mars Hill Church. They must also agree to support in worship, giving, and service, and satisfy other conditions of fellowship defined by the Council of Elders.

Note: There is no scriptural basis for such a covenant. The church is the collective members of the body of Christ. Assembling together for worship, for teaching, for prayer and for fellowship demands no formal legally binding covenant. Any such covenant as this serves as primarily as a basis for coming under church discipline if such covenant is deemed by the executive eldership to have been broken by the member. See below.

SECTION C – Church Discipline. The threefold purpose of church discipline is to glorify God by maintaining purity in the local church, to edify believers by deterring sin, and to promote the spiritual welfare of the offending believer by calling him or her to return to a biblical standard of doctrine and conduct.

1. Members of Mars Hill Church and all other professing Christians who regularly attend or fellowship with this church who err in doctrine, or who engage in conduct that violates Scripture as determined by any two or more elders, shall be subject to church discipline. Each potential case of discipline will be weighed on its own merits and dealt with according to Scripture.

Note: Matthew 18 was decidedly not followed in the present proceedings against two church elders. Since they were not protected scripturally, there is no assurance that members would be treated any differently. These by-laws then serve as the basis for church abuse, not church discipline.

1. Members of Mars Hill Church are not guaranteed confidentiality regarding issues of church discipline, and understand that in submitting themselves to the authority of the church, issues of a sensitive or personal nature may become known to others. This includes, but is not limited to, notification of the authorities if a crime has been committed or if a real threat of someone being endangered exists, as well as other violations of scripture that may not result in physical danger.

Note: These unspecified violations have recently resulted in public disclosure of characterizations of elders which included; “mistrust, divisiveness, power-hungry and sinful.” These accusations are matters of opinion, however being leveled by executive elders, take on the weight of truth and serve more to assassinate character than uphold the purity of Christ’s body. This then becomes the basis for church abuse, not church discipline.

1. Those who are members of the church or who regularly participate in church activities may be dismissed from the church by the agreement of at least two elders. The dismissal of a church member may be made known to all church members.

Note: There is no mention here of what violations may result in such dis-fellowshipping. There may be a scriptural basis or there may not be. It may be for reasons that are mere opinions, false accusation, general violations, sinfulness, divisiveness, disagreement, or other unspecified conduct. There is no mention of the biblical procedure according to Matthew 18, and there is no recourse by the member to have his name cleared or his fellowship reinstated. All of which is decidedly unscriptural.

1. A person dismissed from Mars Hill Church for disciplinary reasons may be reinstated to full membership if the person’s repentance is accepted as genuine by the elders that oversaw the person’s discipline.

Note: A brother offended is harder to win than an enemy. If the elders who dismissed the member are to judge the sincerity of the repentance, there may well be personal affront to overcome. Thus these same elder’s opinions of true repentance may in fact be biased, and they should rather recuse themselves. Repentance is a change of mind, heart and direction. These are verifiable and observable, and may be determined by any of the elders in church leadership.

1. Each member of this church, and every other professing Christian who regularly attends or fellowships with this church, agrees that there shall be no appeal to any court because of a discipline process or dismissal. A member who is under discipline by the church, as defined in the previous paragraphs, forfeits and waives the right to resign from Mars Hill Church. Resignation is possible only by a member who is in good standing and who is not under any disciplinary action.

Note: It is decidedly unwise for any person to give up his legal rights in a free society to a heirarchal structure which affords no real accountability. You must ask yourselves why there is no possible appeal to any court? Why? Not even for criminal behavior? Why? No right to resign? Who would relinquish this right? To what other organization do you belong which demands this?

6. Separate and apart from the process of church discipline, but subject to the discretion and approval of any two or more elders, a member, non-member regular participant in church activities, or other individual, may be notified that he or she is not to be present upon church premises or at church activities for such a period of time as is deemed necessary for the safety and well-being of others. Such required absence may, but need not, be concurrent with church discipline of that person.

1. Separate and apart from the process of church discipline, but
subject to the discretion and approval of any two or more elders, members who have not met all of the criteria of church membership for a period of six months or longer may be removed as a member of Mars Hill Church and may be asked to no longer attend Mars Hill Church.

Note: Though Christ is initially mentioned as the head of this church, it is readily apparent that the real headship of this body resides with only three men without oversight


pulled 2/12/09



pulled 4/23/09

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The following was written by Gregg Neilson, with an intro from “Phoenix Preacher” (from his blog, see below):

Let’s Discuss the New By-Laws of MHC

Pastor Mark told a member that she had unintentionally stumbled on the problem he had with the fired pastors by asking for a copy of the by-laws. It is clear that the fired respected pastors had concerns about the proposed by-laws.

Here is an excellent look at the problems the new by-laws contain. Let this be the beginning of a healthy discussion of the new by-laws.

The original preface to my annotations follows for those who did not catch it earlier………..
I have been a reader of this blog [Phoenix Preacher’s] since its first week. However, I have noted that there is a glaring omission in the posts here.

We have been much distracted by the great effrontery and injustice meeted on Paul Petry and Bent Meyers. This distraction stems quite naturally from either not being acquainted with them, or from being their advocates. In all of this we have concentrated on the process of these proceedings at Mars Hill but not upon the substance, i.e. the by-laws themselves. It is in fact the by-laws which have been at the heart of the disagreement. Paul and Bent were the only elders at the time who had the courage to express concerns with them.

Toward this end, I am posting the annotated by-laws which I shared with two serving elders in early November. As I shared, I checked with them at regular intervals throughout the proceeding, they neither chastised me for my attitude, nor did they dispute my close reading.

Unfortunately, I have not heard from anyone in leadership since. Though I would have preferred to have my concerns handled within the leadership of Mars Hill, I think it will now be most fruitful to bring my conclusions to the larger forum so that they may be discussed in the light of day.

Here is an “executive summary” of the document that follows:

The full council of elders has been reduced to only 5 ruling elders.

These Ruling 5 are self-appointed and serve for life without effective accountability.

There is no effective oversight of Mark since he serves as his own supervisor on the Ruling 5.

These by-laws were voted in by the former full council of elders thus revealing the inability of these men to critically read, voice any comments, or express any substantive opinion.

Since a quorum is only 50%, effectively only 3 Ruling elders govern the church..

These Ruling 5 may only be supervised by those whom they hand pick, as they also control the slate of those who may be appointed.

No scriptural basis is necessary to discipline any member of the Mars Hill body.

There remains no protection and no recourse for any member so disciplined, as has already been demonstrated when our very leaders have been subjected to having their character inpugned in public.

Following are the annotated By- Laws of Mars Hill Church. They are meant to focus discussion on the substantive matters of church government which have proven so disruptive to the body of late, and which have been largely ingored by the leadership.

I trust this will stimulate vigorous discussion and result in substantive changes in a very inadequate church government structure.

The by-laws are those originally published by Jamie Munson. The annotations in [italic] are my own.

Annotated update 11/07 (by Gregg Neilson)
Bylaws of Mars Hill Church
Executive Summary
Last updated – 10-29-07

[Freedom4Captives Note: Only a sample of these will be posted in this blog in #12 post, but first, a bit about Neilson as he tells it on Phoenix’s blog]

Gregg Neilson
Feb 10th, 2008 at 2:10 am
I too, just discovered this blog this evening, and I must admit that I have stayed up far too long reading every post on this thread.

I wondered why this church [Phoenix Preacher’s] has any interest in our troubles, but my reading between the lines at the beginning gave way to some specific answers due to some posts at the end, telling me that several of you have been terribly hurt by many of the same issues we are facing.

These pastors [Paul Petry & Bent Meyers] are terribly hurt, their families traumatized, their wives grieving, their livlihood suddenly up in the air. And for what? Godly, humble, disagreement with they way the church would deal with discipline. How utterly and terribly ironic.

To make full disclosure, our family has been close friends for nearly twenty years with one of the fired pastors. What Mark has done in a fit of anger was wrong. It was immoral and it was ungodly. Mostly it was bizzare. Why would he fire and seek to humiliate and ultimately cause an entire congregation to shun the man he considered a friend just a couple of months before. Over by-laws? Yet this is apparently so, since no other offense was on the table.

For all of us who have been affected, no traumatized, by these events, it has been deeply troubling, and we do not want to see this quick tempered pique of anger visited on anyone else. That is why we have spoken up on our blog in the only venue open to us since we have been shut out of the member’s site.

I echo Sad’s heart ( http://prayingheart.wordpress.com/ )
in this matter and would like to see the following:

1) A repentant heart from a pastor whom we love. Exoneration of the two elders and some restitution for the harm they have suffered.

2) A fair and open discussion among the elders about the by-laws. They were passed without discussion and coercively.

3) A clear method of holding all of the pastors accountable to each other and to the flock that they are called to serve.

4) An open and heartfelt look into how many members have been treated in the same abusive manner and a decent attempt to properly disciple these harmed ex-members.

I can tell you this with all hearfelt sorrow. By-laws, church governance, or shared values – no matter what we call them – must result in mutually accountable relationships amongst the leadership, not corrosive power. Only in this way will MH leaders ever construct a healthy model of community for the people of God to follow.


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