The TIMELINE has been updated.
Mark, as I have said earlier in an email to you, Susan and I…both feel great affection and admiration for you which makes what follows here that much more difficult to say, but must be said for the sake of the gospel, my own conscience and the future well-being of Mars Hill Church.
This document contains three main sections: formal charges, supporting materials, and issues. Formal charges are stated with confidence. Issues are questions being advanced for serious consideration, but not necessarily charges. The answers to those questions could possibly provide cause for additional charges or further evidence to establish the current charges.
Per Article 12 of the Bylaws of Mars Hill Church, I hereby file formal charges against Pastor Mark Driscoll, the primary preaching and teaching pastor for the Church that, if investigated and found to be true, could disqualify him from his position as an elder in the Church, based on the biblical requirements of an elder. As such, it is my understanding that these charges shall be referred to the board of overseers.
I believe that Pastor Mark Driscoll has violated the following biblical qualifications of an elder as a result of an ongoing pattern of attitude and behavior.
Though he has not personally sinned against me in these ways, I have come to know of many such offenses against others and I am confident that if witnesses were interviewed (which I trust will happen), these charges would be thoroughly established.
I do not intend to stand as a lone witness, but believe these charges will be established by many witnesses, according to 1 Timothy 5:19 and Deuteronomy 19:15. I have already confirmed seven people who are willing to testify to these charges if given an opportunity to speak openly.
In the biblical passages cited here, a single instance might not be a disqualifier from eldership; but an established pattern of such behavior supported and substantiated by eyewitnesses would be. I believe that Pastor Mark has a long-standing pattern of violating these leadership qualities and has done so with dozens of individuals.
1. Self-controlled and disciplined (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:8)
Self-control and disciplined are related and relevant to controlling one’s emotional impulses. The Greek for disciplined is enkrates, which BDAG describes as “pertaining to having one’s emotions, impulses, or desires under control, self-controlled, disciplined.”
a. Pastor Mark exhibits lack of self-control by his speech and by verbally assaulting others.
b. He also demonstrates lack of discipline with his words and the judgmental comments he makes, and has made, about his own elders and other leaders. This may be characterized as slander. Scripture condemns speaking slanderously, or “speaking evil,” of others (Romans 1:30, 3:8; cf. Titus 3:2).
If an elder – or anyone else – causes injury to others by speaking ill or evil of them to anyone, it should be regarded as slander. A single instance of slander might be confronted, repented of, forgiven, and reconciled. This does not necessarily disqualify an elder.
However, if there were a pattern of slander, we would have to ask: Is this elder self-controlled with his tongue? It is out of the abundance of the heart, after all, that the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). The injury to others is serious. The pattern suggests something wrong, not only in the tongue, but in the heart of that elder.
2. Not domineering (1 Pet. 5:3): See examples from Sam Storms below, which I believe describe Pastor Mark’s leadership.
3. Not violent, but gentle (1 Tim. 3:3, Titus 1:7)
a. Pastor Mark exhibits anger and ungraceful ways of dealing with those with whom he disagrees and who disagree with him. He does this by (among other ways) putting people down.
b. I believe that the way Pastor Mark leads has created a culture of fear instead of a culture of candor and safety. People are afraid to ask questions or challenge ideas.
c. Pastor Sutton in a Full Council Elder’s meeting on January 15, 2013 indicated that we have a culture of fear. I believe that Pastor Mark is the source and perpetuator of these widespread fears.
d. Pastor Mark is verbally abusive to people who challenge him, disagree with him, or question him.
e. Pastor Mark uses words to demean, attack or disparage others.
f. I believe that few (including Mark himself) would characterize him as gentle. Some definitions for plektes, translated “not violent,” include “pugnacious person, bully” (BDAG), “striker; pugnacious person, bully, quarrelsome person (ANLEX), “a person who is pugnacious and demanding” (Louw-Nida). Merriam- Webster defines pugnacious as: “having a quarrelsome or combative nature.”
“The degrees of modes of violence that the word might express are numerous (bullying, verbal abuse, angry pushing, and shoving), and prohibition should be regarded as widely as possible” (Taken from Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus.)
It seems unlikely that one could establish a disqualifying charge of “violent” based on a single instance. The definitions clearly indicate a pattern of life, character traits that show up in various interactions with people. It’s the pattern that results in disqualification; while it may well be that no single instance would warrant a disqualifying charge.
4. Respectable (1 Tim. 3:2). I can no longer respect Pastor Mark Driscoll and submit to his leadership as a result of his persistent sinful behavior toward others. I believe we would discover that many other Mars Hill elders and leaders have also lost respect for Pastor Mark’s leadership.
5. Not arrogant (Titus 1:7). Pastor Mark has stated in public numerous times that he is guilty of pride. It is one thing to acknowledge sin, quite another to repent of sin and experience change through the power of the Holy Spirit.
6. Not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7). Many Mars Hill elders have witnessed this on numerous occasions.
Sam Storms on Domineering
In his April 2011 lectures at Re:Train, Sam Storms provided a list of examples to illustrate what “domineering” might look like. The following are selected examples from his talk that I believe are an especially good description of way Pastor Mark has led over many years. The full list of Storms’ points are available on my web site here.
• A man can “domineer” or “lord it over” his flock by intimidating them into doing what he wants done by holding over their heads the prospect of loss of stature and position in the church.
• A pastor domineers whenever he uses the sheer force of his personality to overwhelm others and coerce their submission.
• A pastor domineers whenever he exploits the natural tendency people have to elevate their spiritual leaders above the average Christian. That is to say, many Christians mistakenly think that a pastor is closer to God and more in tune with the divine will. The pastor often takes advantage of this false belief to expand his power and influence.
• He domineers by building into people a greater loyalty to himself than to God. Or he makes it appear that not to support him is to work at cross-purposes with God.
• He domineers by short-circuiting due process, by shutting down dialogue and discussion prematurely, by not giving all concerned an opportunity to voice their opinion.
• He domineers by establishing an inviolable barrier between himself and the sheep. He either surrounds himself with staff who insulate him from contact with the people or withdraws from the daily affairs of the church in such a way that he is unavailable and unreachable. Related to the above is the practice of some in creating a governmental structure in which the senior pastor is accountable to no one, or if he is accountable it is only to a small group of very close friends… [Dave’s Note: My point here is not to question the motives of those friends or fellow elders, but to state that the creation of this governmental structure is an expression of Pastor Mark’s domineering.]
• He domineers by viewing the people as simply a means to the achieving of his own personal ends.
• Ministry is reduced to exploitation. The people exist to “serve his vision” rather than he and all the people together existing to serve the vision of the entire church.
• He domineers by making people feel unsafe and insecure should they desire to voice an objection to his proposals and policies.
Ed Stetzer Blogs
I believe that Ed Stetzer’s blog series on The Resurgence, “Considering (and Surviving) Unhealthy Christian Organizations” clearly describes the environment at Mars Hill Church. I believe this is due to Pastor Mark’s behavior and attitudes as demonstrated in the way he leads. These blogs are available here:
Here are some main points from Ed’s blogs on The Resurgence that I think should make us sit up and take notice:
1. People often know of the glaring character problems of the leader, but no one can speak truth to power.
2. Many times, the leader gets a pass for the fruit of his/her leadership because of some overwhelming characteristic: preaching ability, intelligence, ability to woo others, or more.
3. People rationalize that the good they are experiencing is worth the abuse they are receiving.
4. The organization has to be willing to listen to its constructive critics.
5. The organization has to admit that sometimes unhealthy cultures come from unhealthy leaders.
I would encourage those considering an investigation to read these three posts by Ed Stetzer in their entirety.
1. Have the public statements made about elders who have recently left reflected the relevant truth of the matter, or have they covered up significant concerns? If the latter, has this been sinfully deceptive, possibly in the sense of telling a truth that hides a more significant concern?
2. Does the legal document these staff elders have been asked to sign upon exit amount to a “gag order” that perpetuates such a cover up?
3. Is Pastor Mark guilty of “slander” because of the way he’s spoken about John Piper, Tim Keller, John MacArthur and other Christian leaders in elder meetings?
4. Is it wise or foolish that Pastor Mark made a public statement calling into question President Obama’s belief in the Bible? Does Mark know for a fact that the President doesn’t believe the Bible?
5. When Mark has been confronted with personal sin by those he’s deeply hurt, has he expressed genuine repentance and sorrow, and sought their forgiveness?
6. With the exceptionally high amount of turnover in recent months at Mars Hill Church (especially among lead pastors and elders), should this be of concern that something is not right at the heart of who we are and the way we carry out ministry?
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
See the original copy of Dave Kraft’s charges HERE.
Dave Kraft’s charges were summarily dismissed by the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability (BoAA), without an investigation.
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Those who do not remember the past will have it rewritten for them. Well, not in this case. Not anymore. Four and half years ago, I was fired from Mars Hill Church because I refused to resign under pressure. I was a pastor on staff, an elder, and an officer of the corporation along with a group of other men. I spent months seeking formal reconciliation and years hoping for a better course. I have not spoken about these matters publicly until now. With the mounting stories and “histories” coming out regarding Mars Hill Church, it no longer seems right or beneficial to remain silent.
This website serves as a depository, a historical record of the events I and others experienced at that time – including documents, written correspondence, and personal narrative – with the hope that greater love and reformation will emerge and transcend our weaknesses and failures.
In addition to the straight history, my wife, Jonna, has written a personal narrative describing these events. It is an important story and I am thankful she had the courage to write it. Our journey with Mars Hill Church began as a wonderful season God used to grow and strengthen our marriage, our children, and me – then came a very dark time, but by God’s grace, our marriage, our family, our faith (and our noses) remain intact, though forever changed.
For my part, what was written in these letters and documents speaks volumes and is enough for now. Perhaps at a later date I will have the time and inclination to contribute more. There are many fellow sojourners with their own stories yet untold. Though we are “joyful exiles,” we do not take joy in sharing this sad history. It is much like uncovering “hidden abuse” the family was unwilling to talk about for years, yet is necessary for healing and freedom.
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” — Ephesians 4:14-16
By Jonna Petry
This past summer I saw the movie, “The Help”, and a seed of courage was planted in my soul. One of the last lines of the movie:
God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do. But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free.
This story is an earnest attempt to speak the truth in love that freedom and new life may flourish.
My husband Paul and I started visiting Mars Hill Church back in the summer of 2001. I had recently read and loved J.I. Packer’s classic, Knowing God, and was finding great solace and security in a deeper understanding of God’s sovereignty. In those days, Mars Hill Church was about 400 members. There were not many families with children. And we came with five – our oldest 12 and our baby just turned one. We were very warmly embraced. Our family was rather ooo’ed and ahh’ed over. We seemed to have found a place where we were wanted and where we could lovingly serve (even if the music was completely unfamiliar to our ears). And, what we didn’t realize, where our pride would be amply fed as well.
We were not without caution or discernment. We had seen enough upheaval in churches to know you’d better look closely at who’s in charge, how the leadership is structured and where the money goes. A year earlier, we had come across Alexander Strauch’s fine book, Biblical Eldership where he instructs about church government:
“By definition, the elder structure of government is a collective leadership in which each elder shares equally the position, authority, and responsibility of the office.”
In comparing this structure to what we had experienced previously, it was easy to embrace the premise that shared leadership, authority, and accountability are necessary for the healthy functioning of the church. For us, this became an essential for any future commitment to a church. And, our first Sunday at Mars Hill, there on the book table was a copy of Strauch’s book.
So we started attending regularly, heard a number of the pastors preach (because in those days they took turns preaching), listened carefully to what was said and mostly delighted in what we experienced. Mark Driscoll stood out then, as a persuasive speaker with a strong attitude but, we had confidence the leadership team, Mark included, was committed to the distinctive of biblical eldership. Though Mark was young, he was surrounded by a group of godly older men – Bent Meyer being one who also had years of pastoral experience behind him. This was very reassuring to us.
The church was growing and we became completely immersed in loving, serving and teaching. My father (who had not been in church for almost 40 years) and my sweet stepmother joined us monthly and then weekly for worship services – ferrying over from Poulsbo, Washington, to spend the day with us. Mark often used the expression that our church was “family” and we rather believed it – so effective in building a sense of belonging.
These were happy fulfilling years for us. My husband and I hosted a weekly home fellowship group that quickly grew to be the largest in the church. We had the space to welcome people in and hospitality was ministry for us. We hoped to demonstrate to the best of our ability the sacrificial love of Jesus because we believe this is the foundation of our lives as Christians. We were delighted to find a church home and thought we’d be there always. We loved and gave our very lives to the people in this church. Strong bonds of commitment and love were made and reciprocated. (We thought.)
After two years had passed, in the spring of 2004, Mark approached my husband, Paul, and asked him to consider serving as a pastor/elder. Mark at this time had become the primary preaching pastor in Ballard and Lief Moi, who bought an old theater for the church in Seattle’s University District, became the primary preacher at that venue – the Paradox Theater – which featured concerts by local bands on weeknights and was active in street ministry. Each venue had its own feel and crowd and we were blessed to see the diversity and unity in the Body of Christ.
After much consideration and prayer, Paul started the elder process and was confirmed a pastor/elder – before the entire church with the laying on of hands by the eldership. How excited we were, I was. I was so proud of my husband and the ways God was moving in our lives. Paul served as a pastor, unpaid, almost full-time, while he continued to work as an attorney in private practice to support our family. It was a big commitment, a lot of work, but we loved it. We loved the people we were with. It was a great season for awhile…
→ Continue reading HERE.