1999 – Meaning, Beauty, Truth, Community

VIDEO – Mars Hill Fellowship – Psalm 46

MARS HILL Timeline – 2001 – 2006

MARS HILL – Core Values, What We Believe
MARS HILL Membership Covenant

MARS HILL Membership Certificate – The Petry Family

VIDEO – Mars Hill & Mark Driscoll in 2003

BYLAWS prior to 11-01-2007


Founded by Lief Moi, The Paradox Theatre, home of all-ages concerts and events in Seattle’s University District, permanently closed its doors.

OCTOBER 19, 2004 

MEMORANDUM from Mark Driscoll to the MH Elders, re: Further details on the proposal to reorganize the elders
(As far back as 2004, Mark Driscoll was already proposing doing away with the plurality of elders with equal authority. As justification for establishing a hierarchy with himself as the “gatekeeper” or the so-called “first among equals” in authority, he stated: “Within the godhead we see Jesus doing the Father’s will and speaking the Father’s words in clear deference to the Father though they are equal and united as one.”)


ELDERS’ Wives Meeting Teaching Notes re: The Testing of Our Faith – Jonna


ELDERS’ Wives Invitation to Prayer 09-06-2007 – Jonna

SEPTEMBER 26, 2007 

COVER LETTER to Pastor Jamie Munson re: recommended edits
to proposed BYLAWS
– Paul

Suggested Edits to proposed MH Bylaws – Paul

BENT MEYER’S LETTER to Pastor Jamie Munson re: proposed BYLAWS

SEPTEMBER 30, 2007

EMAIL from Jamie Munson re: after hours “mandatory meeting”

AUDIO LINK to full final Nehemiah sermon, “Fathers & Fighting,” preached by Mark Driscoll that night.
AUDIO LINK to shortened clip with highlights of the “Fathers & Fighting” sermon. Immediately after preaching the sermon, Mark Driscoll walked off the stage and entered the secret “mandatory” meeting where Bent Meyer and Paul were fired and threatened.

OCTOBER 1, 2007 

EMAIL to the Executive Elders after the firing – Paul
EMAIL to the MH Elders after firing – Paul
YOUR ACCUSERS – Insider email received from Bill Clem, an Elder “friend”
EMAIL REPLY to Paul’s plea from the EXECUTIVE ELDERS/SCOTT THOMAS re: so-called request for trial & heading up “Elder Investigation Taskforce (EIT)”
(Scott Thomas was one of the executive elders in the room when Mark Driscoll fired & threatened Bent Meyer & Paul. In this email, Scott stated that he is the “Lead Mediator” and he is heading up the “Elder Investigation TaskForce” and, “This process is not a witch-hunt, but rather an exercise in the gospel…”)
OFFICIAL Termination letter from Jamie Munson
AUDIO LINK (MARK DRISCOLL bragging to Acts29 pastors and church planters that “there is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus” and that he fired two elders the night before – “the first time in the history of Mars Hill.”)

OCTOBER 2, 2007

IMPORTANT Message from the Lead Pastor
(Letter announcing firings of Paul & Bent posted to MH Members website)

OCTOBER 10, 2007

EMAIL from SCOTT THOMAS to Paul Petry: “your presence will not be necessary” at your TRIAL

OCTOBER 11, 2007

EMAIL from SCOTT THOMAS in response to a Member’s questions regarding the firings of Elders
(Scott Thomas assured the Member that, “A team of elders just concluded a conciliatory process with these two men.”)

OCTOBER 14, 2007

EMAIL letter to the Elders from DEACON ROB SMITH (Mars Hill deacon submits his letter on the day before Paul’s trial and pleads with elders for impartiality and a fair trial for Bent and Paul.)

STATEMENT for 10-15-2007 TRIAL – Paul

OCTOBER 16, 2007

STATEMENT from the Elders posted on MH Members’ website
(re: outcome of Paul’s “trial”)

OCTOBER 16, 2007

EMAIL from Zach Hubert restoring Paul to “full membership”

OCTOBER 25, 2007   

UPDATED Member Communication (Posted to MH Members website in an effort to quell the uproar)

MY CONFESSION and REQUEST for REDRESS of Grievances – Paul

OCTOBER 31, 2007 – November 2, 2007

REPLY email to Brad House
EMAIL EXCHANGE between Brad House and Paul

NOVEMBER 2, 2007

EMAIL Resigning MHC Membership – Paul
RESPONSE email from Mark to email resigning Membership
RESPONSE email from Jamie to email resigning Membership

NOVEMBER 4, 2007

MH MEMBERS’ Questions posted on MHC Website in response to “Ask the Elders Anything”  (Members were allowed to ask questions during a 72-hour window of time – then the website was permanently shut down.)

NOVEMBER 9, 2007 

ELDERS’ 142-Page Document in Response to Members’ Questions
(includes a four-page cover letter by Mark Driscoll)

NOVEMBER 18, 2007

JANET TU, The Seattle Times, Firing of Pastors Roils Mars Hill Church

DECEMBER 5, 2007

MH Church website forum – Jamie Munson “Update on Paul Petry”
(Post to members re: Paul’s “discipline” = shunning)

DECEMBER 15, 2007

MARS HILL MEMBERS publish their letter of resignation from Mars Hill Church (MH couple starts a BLOG, publish their letter of resignation as members of Mars Hill Church, and publicly call Mark Driscoll and the Elders to repentance.)

DECEMBER 23, 2007

EXECUTIVE ELDER, Scott Thomas, sent an email to former members who resigned and asked for reconciliation, redress of wrongs, and publicly called Mark Driscoll and the Elders to repentance. (Thomas demanded that they take down their blog before their concerns could be addressed and before any “reconciliation” could happen. They took down their blog. Nothing happened.)

JANUARY 11, 2008

BENT MEYER’S Letter to the MH Elders, Correcting Exaggerated Communication

JANUARY 26, 2008

APPEAL letter to Mark for retraction of Shunning & for Reconciliation
APPEAL letter to Jamie for retraction of Shunning & for Reconciliation

JANUARY 29, 2008 

Jamie’s first response to Paul’s appeal

JANUARY 30, 2008

Jamie’s second response to Paul’s appeal

FEBRUARY 4, 2008

LAST LETTER to Mark, Jamie, and the MH Elders – Paul

JANUARY 6, 2009

MOLLY WORTHEN, The New York Times, Who Would Jesus Smack Down?

MAY 15, 2009

JOHN PIPER Addresses Mark Driscoll/MacArthur Issue at Basics Conference, by Joel Taylor

MAY 6, 2010

JUSTIN TAYLOR, An Interview with Mark Driscoll on “Doctrine”
(Mark Driscoll: “We canceled out the membership of everyone in our church…we were willing to lose a lot of people.”)

JULY 14, 2011

BOBBY ROSS, JR., Christianity Today, Sex, Money…Pride? Why Pastors Are Stepping Down

JANUARY 1, 2012

CURRENT MHC Membership Covenant

JANUARY 23, 2012

MATTHEW PAUL TURNER, Mark Driscoll’s Church Discipline Contract: Looking For True Repentance at Mars Hill Church? Sign on the Dotted Line.

JANUARY 24, 2012

MATTHEW PAUL TURNER, Mark Driscoll’s ‘Gospel Shame’: The Truth About Discipline, Excommunication, and Cult-like Control at Mars Hill

JANUARY 26, 2012

MATTHEW PAUL TURNER, Spiritual Abuse Must Stop

JANUARY 29, 2012

BENT MEYER – Online Post – Fired Mars Hill Elder Breaks His Silence

FEBRUARY 2, 2012

RUTH GRAHAM, Slate, A Shunning In Seattle

FEBRUARY 12, 2012

Theology for Women, Andy & Wendy Alsup, Our Review of Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll
(“I haven’t mentioned Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill on this blog in the 4 years since I stepped back from leading women’s ministry there…In light of this, silence on these issues no longer seems the righteous choice.”)

FEBRUARY 17, 2012

TED OLSON, Christianity Today, Mars Hill Says It Released Leaders Over Church Discipline Cases

MARCH 7, 2012

DAVID KUPELIAN, World Net Daily, The Church of Sex

MARCH 9, 2012

BRENDAN KYLIE, The Seattle Stranger, A Mars Hill WikiLeaks, Of Sorts

MARCH 28, 2012

MARK DRISCOLL Steps Down from Gospel Coalition Council
MARK DRISCOLL Steps Down as Acts29 President (but remains as Director on three-member board)
MARK DRISCOLL: What is Next for Me

JUNE 18, 2012

AUDIO clip (posted by a former MH member, re: Mark Driscoll talking to a group of Acts 29 pastors and church planters on 10/01/2007, the day after Bent and Paul were fired.)

SEPTEMBER 27, 2012

RADIO Program Audio clip (Program host urges Mark Driscoll to repent.)

DECEMBER 10, 2012

UPDATE on Lief Moi (Newspaper article on Lief Moi “Coming Full Circle”)

JANUARY 9, 2013

New MHC location in historic old downtown church building announced (SEATTLE – Pastor Tim Gaydos recently shepherded his congregation into its new downtown location…)

JANUARY 12, 2013

The Seattle Times – Mars Hill’s Grand Opening Downtown: “Thank God for TiVo”
“Celebrating the grand opening of its new location in the historic First United Methodist Church building in downtown Seattle…Mars Hill posted on a Facebook page created for the event, ‘Thank God for TiVo and DVR.’”

JANUARY 14, 2013

Official PRESS RELEASE by Justin Dean, MHC Marketing & PR Director, announcing new MHC downtown location with Tim Gaydos as “lead pastor” (“This is an incredible opportunity to be a ministry hub for downtown Seattle as it will allow us to better serve the business men and women in our city, as well as the homeless and marginalized, as we’re closer to one of our ministry partners, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission,” says Tim Gaydos, lead pastor of the Downtown Seattle church.)

JANUARY 15, 2013

KOMO-TV News Video (Controversy erupts with MHC grand opening of new downtown location)

MARCH 14, 2013

TIM GAYDOS QUITS (Newspaper article: Pastor Unexpectedly Quits Mars Hill Church)

MAY 10, 2013

STATEMENT OF FORMAL CHARGES AND ISSUES submitted by Pastor Dave Kraft “Per Article 12 of the Bylaws of Mars Hill Church, I hereby file formal charges against Pastor Mark Driscoll…”

DECEMBER 4, 2013

PASTOR JEFF BETTGER – GONE (Jeff Bettger’s name removed from list of pastors on Mars Hill website)
“Having a mega church background for the last 16 years I have witnessed first hand the tyranny of injustice done in the name of God. Layoffs during Christmas, weeks after new children are born and first homes purchased. The use of tithe money to purchase books at retail cost in order to build a man’s platform and make the New York Times best seller lists. All with the name of God stamped on it, and self-justified because the rest of the business world has those kinds of practices. I am grieved for the state of a church that does not acknowledge and expose the sin of its leaders with love and humility but instead claims it is doing what’s best for the body of Christ…I am the chief of sinners in this way. I have held my cards close to my heart in order for self-preservation. I have been complicit by not speaking out boldly and allowing things to stay hidden. I do not need to do that anymore…” — Jeff Bettger, www.locustnhoney.com

MARCH 4, 2014

WARREN COLE SMITH, WORLD Magazine, Megachurches order staff to keep their mouths shut
Gag order? Two megachurches facing scrutiny for questionable behavior – Seattle’s Mars Hill Church and Charlotte’s Elevation Church – have something besides controversy in common…”

Former Mars Hill elder mentioned in the article, Dave Kraft, author of the book, Leaders Who Last (forward by Mark Driscoll), served on the “Elder Investigative Team” (E.I.T.) – a panel composed of four Mars Hill Elders appointed for the task – which investigated the “charges” against Bent and Paul. Dave Kraft eventually formally resigned his membership with Mars Hill and refused to sign what he referred to as a “gag order”.

APRIL 14, 2014

DANGEROUS HOPE – The Sham of the Mars Hill Board of (so-called) Accountability

JUNE 4, 2014

WENDY ALSUP, Practical Theology For Women, The Root of Bitterness at Mars Hill Church
“The bitter card has been used for years in Seattle against those with growing concerns about Mars Hill Church. I personally have feared speaking at times because of this common criticism and the shame of being possibly labeled a gossip or, worse yet, a contentious woman. A careful examination of Hebrews 12:15 has been helpful to me.”

JULY 16, 2014

STACIE SOLIE, Crosscut Seattle, Inside Mars Hill’s Massive Meltdown – How narcissism, misogyny and Mark Driscoll’s own troubled past led to the mega-church mass exodus his flock was too scared to talk about
“A recent outpouring of accounts by former church members of Mars Hill, Seattle’s own homegrown megachurch, are painting a picture, both fascinating and horrifying, of outrageous and psychologically damaging behavior that’s been happening inside the church for many years. There are emerging stories of sensational kangaroo courts and “sex demon” trials, like something out of the Salem witch hunts of the 1600s. Even more devastating to individual members are the ways in which they are shamed, taught to blame themselves and each other when they see problems, and to formally shun people who step out of favor with church leaders. Shunnings, both formal and informal, have caused the outcast to spend years in isolation, cut off from friends, sometimes suffering deep clinical depression, nightmares, disillusionment and shattered faith. New heartbreaking stories are emerging almost every week…”

AUGUST 4, 2014

LEAH MARIEANN KLETT, The Gospel Herald, James McDonald Resigns from Mars Hill Board, Mark Driscoll Apologizes for Vulgar Comments
“A mere two months following Pastor Paul Tripp’s resignation from the Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) of the Seattle-based, Mark Driscoll-led Mars Hill Church, James McDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Fellowship in Chicago, has also resigned…controversy has surrounded Driscoll for the past year, including attacks on his ‘oppressive’ leadership style and accusations of plagiarism. Most recently, the Mars Hill pastor was forced to publicly apologize after vulgar comments he made…”

AUGUST 6, 2014

BRENDAN KYLIE, The Stranger, Why the Mars Hill Faithful Have Started to Question Mark – What Happened Over the Last Decade with Seattle’s Most Popular Church and Its Firebrand Pastor Mark Driscoll?

AUGUST 8, 2014

RUTH MOON, Christianity Today, Acts 29 Removes Mars Hill, Asks Mark Driscoll To Step Down and Seek Help
“Hoping that ‘the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored,’ the Acts 29 church planting network founded by Mark Driscoll has removed the Seattle pastor and his Mars Hill megachurch from membership…”

AUGUST 21, 2014

JOEL CONNELLY, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 21 former Mars Hill pastors lodge formal charges against Mark Driscoll
“Twenty-one former Mars Hill Church pastors have filed formal charges against Senior Pastor Mark Driscoll, alleging that he has engaged in a pattern of abusive and intimidating conduct and that he has not changed his domineering behavior.”

AUGUST 22, 2014

MICHAEL PAULSON, The New York Times, A Brash Style That Filled Pews, Until Followers Had Their Fill – Mark Driscoll Is Being Urged to Leave Mars Hill Church
“SEATTLE — Mark Driscoll has long been an evangelical bad boy, a gifted orator and charismatic leader who built one of the nation’s most influential megachurches despite, or perhaps fueled by, a foul mouth, a sharp temper and frank talk about sex. The church he founded, Mars Hill, enjoyed rapid growth in the Pacific Northwest…But now Mr. Driscoll’s empire appears to be imploding. He has been accused of creating a culture of fear at the church, of plagiarizing, of inappropriately using church funds and of consolidating power to such a degree that it has become difficult for anyone to challenge or even question him…”

AUGUST 22, 2014

MARS HILL Timeline – 08-22-2014 LETTER by the MH NOBLE NINE to BoA and ELDERS of MH
The August Declaration of the “NOBLE NINE” Elders to the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability (BoAA) regarding “Concerns and Critical Information for the Elders of Mars Hill Church”

AUGUST 28, 2014

MORGAN LEE, Christianity Today, Nine Current Mars Hill Pastors Tell Mark Driscoll To Step Down from All Ministry
“Nine of Mars Hill Church’s 65 pastors, including the lead pastor of one of its 15 campuses, have called for Mark Driscoll to step down not for six weeks but for a full year, and for church elders to play a more prominent role in restoring the health of the Seattle megachurch. ‘It is time to take responsibility for our church, regardless of how much our current bylaws prevent us from exercising that authority,’ they wrote in a 4,000-word letter. ‘It grieves us that the only voice that has never been heard in all of this is the voice of the current elders.'”

AUGUST 29, 2014

JANET MEFFERD, The Janet Mefferd Show, The Driscoll Case: Now In the Jury’s Hands
“Something unexpected happened to me today. This morning, I received copies of a letter penned by nine Mars Hill pastors, outlining the latest revelations about Pastor Mark Driscoll. It started as all Mars Hill documents seem to begin: Expressing deep and abiding Christian love for Mark Driscoll and his willing accomplices. Then, of course, came the charges. Lies. Deceit. Lack of accountability. They even revealed that Paul Tripp — a recently resigned member of the Board of Advisors and Accountability — told them Mars Hill is ‘the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with.’”

AUGUST 30, 2014

ALLISON MORROW, KING 5 News SEATTLE – Mars Hill co-founder grieved by controversy

Lief Moi remembers the idea of Mars Hill long before it was a church. It was meant to be a safe place for college students to ask tough questions about God and life. “Discuss theology openly and honestly,” Moi said. “If God is really in control of everything, why is everything the way it is?” While the young Mark Driscoll was a college pastor, he ran into Moi. The two hit it off immediately, and Driscoll soon joined Moi on his Christian radio show… Moi no longer attends Mars Hill, but hopes to return someday. He believes Driscoll must step down for the church to begin healing. Even still, he says, he loves his old friend. “God is bringing about the very change that is necessary for that to not continue,” Moi said. “My heart was there at the beginning and it will be there til the end.”

OCTOBER 17, 2014

ALISON MORROW, KING 5 News SEATTLE – First pastor fired at Mars Hill foresaw fallout
“Paul Petry was fired for ‘unhealthy distrust of spiritual authority.’ The first pastor ever fired by Mars Hill’s founder, Mark Driscoll, says he is saddened but not surprised by the news of Driscoll’s resignation…”

OCTOBER 29, 2014

MARK WOODS, Christian Today, Mars Hill pastor Steve Tompkins confesses sinful behaviour, asks forgiveness
“I am deeply sorry that so many people have experienced profound hurt over the years at Mars Hill. It breaks my heart that many continue to live with deep emotional and spiritual wounds, even long after leaving the church…But there is another – and related – area of great sin and blindness that I need to address. In fact, I would say I consider this to be the darkest, most destructive and most hurtful aspect of Mars Hill’s ministry culture by far. I call it the ‘ad hominem’ narrative… Dissenting voices were silenced through personal attacks rather than engagement with their arguments. What I have seen on multiple occasions is that when a leader raises an issue with Mars Hill or Mars Hill leadership, they themselves soon become the issue rather than the issue they raised. What they said, for example, is invalidated by how they said it, or because they did not follow proper procedure or protocol. Then, almost inevitably it is not long before they are gone from their position, their job, or the church itself. Often, their integrity was then slandered and their character maligned.”

NOVEMBER 2, 2014

CHRISTIANITY TODAY – Mars Hill Elders Letter of Confession
Seven Years Later: 18 Mars Hill Elders Issue Letter of Confession to Bent Meyer, Paul Petry, and the Church

“Dear Paul and Bent, we want to publicly confess our sin against you regarding events that took place at Mars Hill Church back in 2007. We were wrong. We harmed you. You have lived with the pain of that for many years. As some of us have come to each of you privately, you have extended grace and forgiveness, and for that we thank you. Because our sin against you happened in a public way and with public consequences, we want to make our confession public as well with this letter…”

NOVEMBER 3, 2014

WARREN COLE SMITH, WORLD Magazine – Mars Hill Church to dissolve – Local church sites assess options, while former elders repent
“Mars Hill Church, which as recently as January had more than 14,000 people attending Sunday morning worship services, will cease to exist organizationally by the end of the year…Many former leaders at Mars Hill say troubles began in the church as far back as 2007, when the church re-organized to centralize church governance power in the hands of Driscoll and a few of his close allies. Two men who were pastors at Mars Hill at that time, Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, protested the changes. The church ultimately fired them and took the unusual step of asking church members to shun the two men. This weekend, most of the elders who made the original decision to discipline Petry and Meyer in that manner repented of their actions and apologized…”

NOVEMBER 4, 2014

MARK WOODS, Christian Today, Mars Hill elders to sacked pastors: ‘We confess our sin against you’

“This instruction was given with the weight of all twenty-seven elders at the time. This disciplinary rejection led to great loss to your family in extreme financial hardship, sudden loss of long standing friendships, spiritual and emotional trauma to your family, and the public shaming of your character. We share responsibility for those losses due to our participation in the vote…Paul and Bent, we are sorry for our sinful behavior toward you, for harming you, and for bringing shame to Christ’s church. We hope that you will forgive us.”

NOVEMBER 5, 2014

The Legacy Institute Radio Show with host Carrie Abbott – MARS HILL Part 1

“How does such a vibrant church fall in such a big way? Paul Petry, former pastor at Mars Hill shares part of his story with Carrie.”

NOVEMBER 6, 2014

The Legacy Institute Radio Show with host Carrie Abbott – MARS HILL Part 2

“Paul Petry is one of many pastors who left Mars Hill in painful circumstances but started with Mars Hill with genuine excitement. What happened?”

DECEMBER 24, 2014

The Christmas Eve Letter: Brian Fahling, attorney for aggrieved former Mars Hill members, wrote a letter to Mars Hill attorney requesting mediation to address grievances in hopes that a lawsuit could be avoided.
“As I have expressed to you since our first conversation regarding this matter last spring, above all else, my clients’ desire to have their claims brought before a Christian mediator. And as I described to you in my email of December 16, there are a number of offenses they would like to bring to mediation, though they are aware that some of the concerns they have expressed and hope to address in mediation cannot be remedied through a lawsuit. I know of many other MH members, not just my clients, who wanted Mars Hill Leadership to mediate, or at least talk with them about very serious offenses. Every plea, though, was ignored; the only way your clients will even consider mediation, it appears, is if they perceive a sufficient threat from a RICO lawsuit. It should never have come to this, but that is what your clients have demanded.”

DECEMBER 24, 2014

JULIE ANN SMITH: Mark Driscoll’s New Website, New Image, and the Stuff He Forgot to Mention
“Mark Driscoll has published a brand new website. On the front page you can find blog articles, sermons, and a free e-book…As I read through the “About” page and the nauseating details that were chosen to highlight his accomplishments, I noticed some missing elements of his past years in ministry and thought it might be helpful to fill in some gaps.”

APRIL 15, 2015

MARK WOODS, Christian Today, Mark Driscoll shouldn’t appear at Hillsong conference, say campaigners
“A campaign aiming to persuade Hillsong to rescind its decision to have the disgraced former pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle at its Europe conference has been launched with an online petition. Mark Driscoll resigned from the church he founded last year, following a string of revelations…”

AUGUST 10, 2015

MARK LIPTON, Mean Men, Strength in Numbers: Lessons from the Downfall of Mark Driscoll
“[W]hat brought him down was his arrogance and abusiveness, as well as those current and former followers who shouldered the risk of condemnation from others and stood together…The pattern of abusive behavior employed by mean men to get and retain power means that there will inevitably be a long line of victims in their wake. Alone, each victim may feel powerless, but together — as we saw with Driscoll…they can be a powerful force.”

NOVEMBER 12, 2015

JD HALL, Pulpit & Pen, Driscoll Resurfaces…to Speak at “Church Leadership” Conference
“Three notoriously bad pastors are joining forces to teach on leadership. Perry Noble, who called church members who want to go deep in the Word of God, “jackasses” and Stephen Furtick, who says that telling his church members what his salary is would be biblically wrong, will be joined by more-or-less fired (run off, forced out?) and disgraced former pastor, Mark Driscoll. The topic of the conference will be church leadership. Also, this is not The Onion. This is not satire. Pulpit & Pen doesn’t have the creative juices to make up fiction this unbelievable.” A notable appearance at the conference will be “Financial Peace” money guru, radio personality and best-selling author, Dave Ramsey.


SHAWN NELSON, Spiritual Abuse, Unspoken Crisis

Spiritual abuse is not a widely discussed topic. It occurs when a leader manipulates people to achieve selfish goals. Most abusers are unaware of the harm they inflict. Internal factors contributing to an abusive environment are: Christians wanting to trust their leaders; not wanting to be disloyal; not wanting to be a problem; and accommodating abuse because they become invested. A likely external factor in the rise of spiritual abuse is our culture‘s obsession with results and an insatiable ―thirst for more. There are two types of spiritually abusive leaders: insecure leaders use power to protect themselves; narcissistic leaders seek to accomplish some great cause for validation and self-worth. Narcissistic leaders are fueled by narcissistic followers who also find value from belonging to a great cause. Signs of an abusive system are: power-posturing; distorted loyalty; people are being used; unhealthy centrality of the pastor; an elitist attitude; inability to discuss concerns; and people being labeled as divisive for raising valid issues. Those trapped in abusive systems can either flee or fight. Throughout this booklet reference is made to recent events at Mars Hill Church.

FEBRUARY 20, 2016

BRANDY ZADROZNY, ABC News/The Daily Beast, Controversial Megachurch Pastor Mark Driscoll Finds a New Flock, He called women ‘penis homes’ and allegedly ruled his Seattle megachurch like a tyrant. Now, he’s resurfaced a thousand miles away.
“[A]s Driscoll’s star rose, he was dogged by allegations from church members and pastors as well as from outsiders — of bullying and spiritual abuse, misogyny and homophobia, plagiarism, and misuse of church funds, just to name a few. In 2014, after being asked to submit to a reconciliation plan proposed by the church board he organized, Driscoll quit. Now, barely a year later and 1,000 miles away, Driscoll is back. And though he may be fresh off an apology tour on the megachurch circuit and backed by a roster of celebrity pastors and online supporters, many of his original followers — a dozen of whom spoke to The Daily Beast, not counting at least one hundred others who have shared their stories online — are still wondering if Pastor Mark will ever address the damage he allegedly wreaked on the people at Mars Hill or the church he left in ruins…”

FEBRUARY 29, 2016

WARREN THROCKMORTON, The Behind the Scenes Mars Hill Global Maneuvers
“Recently, I acquired two memos which provide details about Mars Hill Global, a mysterious aspect of the demise of Mars Hill Church. From 2012 until mid-2014, Mars Hill Church marketed Mars Hill Global as a fund to help support church planters in India and Ethiopia. However, at least some insiders at Mars Hill knew that the donations given through the Global Fund were spent primarily on church planting expenses in the United States. One memo I posted in 2014 suggested that international projects would bring in lots of dollars which could in turn be used to fuel domestic expansion. Once I started asking questions about Mars Hill Global, changes began to happen on the Mars Hill website…”

FEBRUARY 29, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) Lawsuit Filed Against Former Leaders of Mars Hill Church; ECFA Named As Co-Conspirator
WARREN THROCKMORTON, “The long anticipated suit from a group of former members against former leaders of Mars Hill Church was filed today in the U.S District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle…The plaintiffs accuse defendants Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner of engaging in a continuing pattern of racketeering activity by soliciting, through the internet and the mail, contributions for designated purposes, and then fraudulently used significant portions of those designated contributions for other, unauthorized purposes. It was a pattern of racketeering activity that extended through a myriad of MHC projects, including the Global Fund…Driscoll and Turner engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity so deeply embedded, pervasive and continuous, that it was effectively institutionalized as a business practice, thereby corrupting the very mission Plaintiffs and other donors believed they were supporting.”

FEBRUARY 29, 2016

FULL TEXT of Federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) Lawsuit – Complaint filed in the United States District Court
“I. SUMMARY OF FACTS AND CLAIMS, 1. Over the course of a number of years, RICO Defendants Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner, and their co-conspirators, defrauded plaintiffs Brian and Connie Jacobsen and Ryan and Arica Kildea, and thousands of other individuals who made financial contributions to Mars Hill Church…”

FEBRUARY 29, 2016

BRANDY ZADROZNY, ABC News/The Daily Beast, Lawsuit: Controversial Pastor Ran Megachurch Like a Crime Syndicate, New lawsuit seeks to find out what Mark Driscoll did with millions in tithes to Seattle’s now-shuttered Mars Hill megachurch.
“Just when controversial pastor Mark Driscoll was hoping to make a new start, former members of his old stomping grounds at Seattle’s Mars Hill Church have filed a lawsuit alleging Driscoll and his chief elder ran the now-shuttered megachurch like an organized crime syndicate, in which church members became unwitting participants. The lawsuit was filed on Monday in the Western District of Washington U.S. District Court in Seattle under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, a law originally created for prosecution of Mafia figures.”

MARCH 1, 2016

MARK WOODS, Christian Today, Mark Driscoll corrupted Mars Hill’s mission with ‘institutionalised racketeering’, says lawsuit
“Mark Driscoll and his chief elder Sutton Turner demonstrated a ‘pattern of racketeering activity’ in how they ran the now-closed Mars Hill Church (MHC), according to a lawsuit filed against them yesterday. Mars Hill, based in Seattle and formerly one of the largest US megachurches, was hit by waves of scandal leading to its closure at the end of 2014. Its pastor Mark Driscoll was found to have treated staff in a bullying and domineering fashion and to have made inappropriate social media posts. He was also accused of plagiarising parts of his books from other writers. In addition, the church was found to have artificially boosted the sales of Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book on marriage in order to improve its position in the New York Times bestseller list, and is alleged to have used funds donated for missionary work in India and Ethiopia for other causes…Yesterday’s suit was filed under Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations [RICO] laws designed to tackle racketeering.”

MARCH 2, 2016

PHOENIX – “At its height, his Mars Hill Church in Seattle had an average weekly attendance of more than 12,000 people, spread across several different campuses. The megachurch…fell apart when its leader, Mark Driscoll, resigned following allegations of emotional abuse and mismanagement of church funds. Now, a civil suit has been filed against him and another former church leader.”

MARCH 5, 2016

ALEX ROZIER, KING-5 News Exclusive Report, w/ VIDEO: People suing megachurch leader Mark Driscoll: ‘He’s a fraud.’
“The people who are suing former Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll are speaking out in their first interview since the suit was filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court…The lawsuit specifically mentions the global fund that the church set up to help church missions throughout the world. It says that by May 2014 the global fund was taking in about $300,000 monthly, but adds that at one point it appeared that only 5% of the funds were actually sent overseas. ‘The bottom line is that we were led to believe one thing and we trusted our leaders with what they were doing and he stole and lied. That’s the bottom line,’ Ryan Kildea said of Driscoll…Mark Driscoll did not return the calls from KING 5 News…”

MAY 31, 2016

JOEL CONNELLY, SEATTLEPI.COM, The return of Driscoll: A new church in Arizona and gigs on the road
“The ex-senior pastor at Seattle’s Mars Hill megachurch, which imploded in 2014, formally launches his new operation in Scottsdale, Arizona. Driscoll is still facing a RICO racketeering suit by former church members in Seattle. But he is preaching at evangelical conferences around the country…He was brought down, in Seattle, after a complaint by 21 Mars Hill pastors and worship leaders that Driscoll had bullied, intimidated and manipulated those who worked at the church. The charges were sustained, in a report never released by church elders…”

AUGUST 11, 2016

12News AZ – JOEL DANA Reports: Controversial Pastor Starts Scottsdale Church

“Not long ago, Pastor Mark Driscoll was a powerhouse among preachers. His Seattle-based Mars Hill megachurch had 15 branches in five states. All of that came crashing down on Driscoll amid allegations of bullying, misspending church funds and deceitful marketing practices. It would appear Driscoll is hoping Arizona brings redemption…”

APRIL 13, 2017

BRANDY ZADROZNY, ABC News/The Daily Beast, UPDATE: Controversial Megachurch Pastor Mark Driscoll Finds a New Flock – HE’S BAAAACK – He called women ‘penis homes’ and allegedly ruled his Seattle megachurch like a tyrant. Now, he’s resurfaced a thousand miles away.
“There’s a new church coming to Phoenix, Arizona. According to its website, the pastor, Mark Driscoll, is a “Jesus-following, mission-leading, church-serving, people-loving, Bible-preaching pastor…grateful to be a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody. While he may wish he were less recognizable these days, compound adjective-loving Mark Driscoll could hardly be called a nobody. Though there’s no mention of it on The Trinity Church’s shiny new website, Driscoll built and presided over Seattle’s controversial Mars Hill Church, and he is one of the most infamous and disruptive figures in the history of the evangelical mega-church movement.”

JUNE 7, 2021

CHRISTIANITY TODAY – New Series Podcast: The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

“When Mars Hill Church was planted in Seattle in 1996, few would have imagined where it would lead. But in the next 18 years, it would become one of the largest, fastest-growing, and most influential churches in the United States. Controversy plagued the church, though, due in no small part to the lightning-rod personality at its helm: Mark Driscoll. By 2014, the church had grown to 15,000 people in 15 locations. But before the year was over, the church collapsed. On January 1, 2015, Mars Hill was gone…” — Mike Cosper



What is Spiritual Abuse? by Dr.Larry Crabb
Embracing Shared Ministry: Power and Status in the Early Church and Why It Matters Today by Joseph H. Hellerman, Ph.D.
Joyful Exiles: Life in Christ on the Dangerous Edge of Things by James Houston
Chrysalis:The Hidden Journey in the Transformation of Faith by Alan Jamieson
The Leadership Paradox: A Challenge to Servant Leadership in a Power Hungry World by Denny Gunderson
Leading with Love  by Alexander Strauch
Biblical Eldership, by Alexander Strauch
Agape Leadership: Lessons in Spiritual Leadership from the Life of R.C. Chapman by Robert L. Peterson & Alexander Strauch
Authoritarianism in the Church by Steve Martin    
Recovering from Church Abuse by Len Hjalmarson 
Broken Hearts-Shattered Trust, by Dr. John K. Setser
Barb Orlowski, D.Min., Church Exiters, Ministering Restoration
Spiritual Abuse Recovery by Barb Orlowski, D.Min.
Pure Provender – Spiritual Abuse Recovery Resources
What Makes Narcissists Tick? Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder, by Kathleen Krajco
Question Mark? Why the Church Welcomes Bullies and How to Stop It, by Dr. Jim Henderson

Counselors in Seattle area who deal with issues of spiritual abuse:

Dr. Nancy Murphy, LMHC
Northwest Family Life
Sarah Groen-Colyn, Psychologist, Ph.D
Paradigm Counseling of Puget Sound
Jonna Petry, MA, LMHCA