In today’s Mars Hill Church newsletter (as posted on a ex-Mars Hill members Facebook group), a statement was made by Michael Van Skaik, Chair of the Board of Advisors and Accountability about the silence from the church on mediation and reconciliation.
In the current season, Michael [Van Skaik] explained that the BOAA is focused on meeting with individuals as opposed to releasing public statements. Unfortunately, said Michael, public communications are often wielded as ammunition against the church, regardless of the motives of those communications. So the board invests its time into meeting with people one on one and limits its public communications. It’s a slow process, but Michael warned against being in a hurry to see change. Things didn’t get where they are in six months and they won’t be buttoned up that quickly either. The board is after long-term culture change and health.
“The fact is, spiritual growth can be slow,” Michael said. “[The reconciliation processes] are going well, but take time.”
That said, Michael is encouraged by the fruit that he’s seeing in the hearts and lives of the Executive Elders. He believes that God has certainly anointed Pastor Mark’s preaching and Mars Hill’s influence and views the current issues surrounding the church as ways that God is refining the leaders, working in their hearts and minds to further his message.
“The best days of Mars Hill are ahead,” he said. “Everyone on the Board is feeling like we need to go through these issues and learn from them deeply and have them affect the culture of the church for the future.”
This piece raises more questions than it answers. In private, 20 former pastors asked for mediation via a March 17 letter. Many days went by with no response. Then in early April, when the pastors started to make problems public, the BOAA made an overture to bring in an employee of one of the BOAA members to help mediate. Since then there has been silence from both Mars Hill and the twenty pastors. Now, Mars Hill speaks on the matter of reconciliation but still doesn’t mention the public overture made by the pastors.
Van Skaik appears to acknowledge that there are significant issues which “didn’t get where they are in six months” and which can’t be “buttoned up that quickly.” The message here seems to be that the situation is so bad that we need lots of time to clean it up but at the same time, things are good and getting better.
When Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill leadership fired Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, the process was pretty public with Driscoll talking about the firings in sermons just before the deeds were done. He disparaged the work of those men in a sermon that left little doubt to whom he referred. Now, that charges have been filed the other direction, the BOAA wants a secret process.
Secret meetings may be appropriate for many situations but there are public issues which the church appears to be ducking. Meyer’s and Petry’s situation is one. A public exoneration of those men is in order. The legal matters relating to Mars Hill Orange County in 2012 is another one. Most aspects of that situation are matters of public record and yet the church refuses to address questions from observers and members. Mars Hill’s leadership has pretty ambitious goals and via Mars Hill Global wants donations and participation from the broader community of evangelicals. However, when it comes to being accountable to the broader community, in my opinion, they continue to fall short.