Is Matt Rogers the Newest Member of the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability?

I have this information from a three credible sources but I am having a hard time believing it.
Sources inside Mars Hill Church tell me that it was announced in a meeting of Bellevue community group leaders that Bellevue volunteer elder Matt Rogers has been appointed to the Board of Advisors and Accountability.
If Rogers was added as an “independent member” then his name will be added to Michael Van Skaik and Larry Osborne as men who will examine the charges against Mark Driscoll. If Rogers is being added as an executive elder, then Driscoll would have had to appoint him, according to the by-laws. BOAAvacancies If Rogers is being added as an independent member of the BOAA then he should resign his current volunteer position. The by-laws are not clear but it seems that having a position subordinate to Mark Driscoll would violate the spirit of the definition of “independent.” BOAAindependent It is not clear to me that he qualifies as an independent since he is currently an unpaid elder at Bellevue where “he leads the church operations volunteer teams.” Even though he is a volunteer, he is subordinate to the two executive elders.
Rogers, who works in marketing at Microsoft, is the same man who responded by letter to the Mars Hill Bellevue campus protest. The letter was anything but neutral or objective. Furthermore, there are credible Mars Hill sources that say Rogers was not at Bellevue the morning of the protest.
It is incredible that the current BOAA would appoint a current elder to hear these charges.
Mars Hill Church was asked to confirm this claim but did not answer. I am reporting this because of the credibility of the sources, but I would not be surprised if the position is withdrawn or disavowed when it becomes widely known. According to two current elders and several former Mars Hill members, Rogers is well known as a staunch defender of the executive elders. As such, his appointment will not inspire confidence among Mars Hill Church stakeholders that the process will be objective.
As noted yesterday, the current BOAA members have already dismissed charges against Driscoll. Rogers’ appointment does nothing to promote confidence that the process will be objective and fair.

An Apologetics Conference That Should Apologize

To my way of thinking, this (click link) is an incoherent lineup for an apologetics conference. I don’t know all of the speakers but  Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet seem out of place with David Barton, Todd Starnes, Tim Wildmon, and Ray Moore. Put on by Alex McFarland, the Truth for a New Generation conference to be held September 5-6 should issue a disclaimer that attendance will be hazardous to your intellectual health.
The Colson Center has a place in the program. One can find content from Stonestreet and the Center which correctly oppose Barton’s revisionist history. However, at this conference, Barton is labeled an “historical expert.” Words truly have no meaning in this alternative reality.

People who attend these meetings may get some good and accurate information in some of the sessions. However, on balance, those who attend will be less able to defend Christianity. This is one of the great tragedies of revisionist history. People come away thinking they have information to defend their faith but they are actually set up to fail. Those outside of this parallel universe know better and use the false information as a reason to dismiss the redemptive message of Christianity.

The Charges Against Mark Driscoll: What Happens Now?

Yesterday, Mark Driscoll announced a break from all pastoral responsibilities while charges against him are examined. During his announcement speech, Driscoll indicated that he would submit to the process outlined in the by-laws for the purpose of handling complaints against him. He said:

I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church Bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire Eldership for addressing accusations against me. I invite this process, rather than debating accusations and issues in social media or the court of public opinion. A  report on this process will be presented when it has been completed.

So what is that process?

According to the by-laws as revised in 2012, the independent members of the Board of Advisors and Accountability form a committee called the Board of Overseers to examine the charges. See below:
Article 12 is inserted in the by-laws just for the purpose of providing a process for examining serious charges against Mark Driscoll (primary preaching and teaching pastor for the church). The charges must be serious enough, if true, to disqualify him from holding the office of elder. The charges lodged by the 21 named former pastors and 21 anonymous witnesses qualify. Driscoll has now confirmed that these charges will be handled according to the by-laws.

There is another document which relates to formal charges, Adopted in August 2013, that document relates to charges brought against any elder. It is not clear if the process outlined applies to Driscoll in the same way that Article 12 does. The wording of the August 2013 document does not appear to include the teaching and preaching pastor. If I am correct, then Article 12 is in effect in this situation.

The independent members of the Board of Advisors and Accountability are Board chair, Michael Van Skaik, and Larry Osborne. The by-laws allow those men to set their procedures for investigating the charges unless Driscoll’s employment contract with the church specifies otherwise. It is not at all clear what this means (i.e., Section 12.2). It is possible that there is something in Driscoll’s contract which would limit the Board of Overseers in some manner. Obviously, given that clause, this process is not as transparent as it may have first appeared.

Van Skaik and Osborne are the two members of the Board of Overseers because Paul Tripp and James MacDonald recently resigned from the BOAA. It is possible that the Board of Overseers could expand if one or two new men are appointed to the BOAA. The procedure for filling vacancies is as follows:
By majority vote, the BOAA can add new members. Assuming Driscoll takes no part in this process, the remaining members of the BOAA are Van Skaik, and Osborne (independent members) and Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas (executive elders). Three affirmative votes could add a member. If only three members (a quorum) were present for a vote, then only two members would need to agree.

Thus, at this time, Mark Driscoll’s fate is in the hands of two men who have already investigated charges against him and exonerated him.

In May 2013, former pastor Dave Kraft presented formal charges to the BOAA. At that time, Van Skaik and Osborne were on the board and would have been a part of the Board of Overseers. Michael Van Skaik commented on those charges in his recent response to Acts 29 Network’s action to remove Mars Hill Church from membership:

Be assured of this, the formal charges that were filed were serious, were taken seriously and were not dismissed by the board lightly. There is clear evidence that the attitudes and behaviors attributed to Mark in the charges are not a part and have not been a part of Mark’s life for some time now.

Our board’s decision is final regarding these charges, although will no doubt continue to be played out in the courts of public opinion.

According to Van Skaik, the decision is final.

Many of the charges filed by the 21 former pastors and 21 anonymous witnesses are similar to those presented by Kraft in 2013. Given the governance model and people in place, it is hard to imagine a different outcome this time around.

On the other hand, there is at least two differences now. One is that the current charges present many current (2010-2014) illustrations of actions that former elders believe disqualify Driscoll. The other difference is that the current charges are known to the Mars Hill congregation and the public at large. If the Board of Overseers finds that the charges are substantiated by witnesses, it will difficult to return a decision that rubber stamps their response to the Acts 29 Network.

Announcement: Mark Driscoll Will Take At Least Six Weeks Off (UPDATED) (AUDIO) (VIDEO)

Reading a prepared statement, Mark Driscoll told the Bellevue campus of the Mars Hill Church congregation this morning that he will take at least six weeks off as lead pastor of Mars Hill Church while charges against him are investigated. Driscoll preached at Bellevue at 8:30 am to a packed house. According to sources in church this morning, Driscoll said he is meeting with mature Christian men unrelated to the church. The message is being played at other locations this morning.
DriscollpicEarlier this month, Driscoll and Mars Hill Church were removed from the membership of Acts 29 Network. The board of Acts 29 called on Driscoll to step down from the church. On Thursday, it became known that 21 former Mars Hill pastors had filed charges against Mark Driscoll. Friday, the New York Times chronicled the implosion of Mars Hill over the last several months. Pressure had been mounting on Driscoll to address the adverse events.
UPDATE: According to those at Bellevue this morning, Driscoll also addressed some of the controversies swirling around him.  He said the charges against him would be handled in accord with the by-laws and that a report would be created from this investigation.  He said he would do no outside speaking or speak from the pulpit while he was away. Fellow executive elder Dave Bruskas will handle the First John series.   For audio of the announcement, see below:

Mars Hill Church has posted the transcript of Driscoll’s statement and a video to their YouTube account (embedded at the end of the post). The audio above was from a location other than Bellevue and was recorded from the video shown there. Driscoll delivered the speech in person at the Bellevue location. The video below was recorded there and is somewhat longer due to the personal nature of the delivery.
Driscoll mentioned the charges brought by 21 former elders. He indicated that the charges would be examined. What needs to be very clear is that the current by-laws of Mars Hill Church do not give the elders the authority to examine these charges. The independent members of the Board of Advisors and Accountability is in charge of the process. The current elders do not have the ability to vote on Mark Driscoll’s status at the church. Currently, Michael Van Skaik, and Larry Osborne are the two independent members of the BOAA.
The process of bringing formal charges against a pastor were made more difficult in August, 2013. It is not clear that the procedure even allows former employees to do so. The by-laws requires the formation of another committee to examine the charges. The process is prescribed by Article 12 of the by-laws:
Unless Mark Driscoll’s employment contract adds an unknown wrinkle to this process, the two BOAA members Van Skaik and Osborne will have the responsibility of investigating the charges.
The 8 steps Driscoll laid out are:

So let me tell you what I plan to do in the days and weeks ahead to help us move forward as a church family.

  1. I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church Bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire Eldership for addressing accusations against me. I invite this process, rather than debating accusations and issues in social media or the court of public opinion. A  report on this process will be presented when it has been completed.

  2. I have requested a break for processing, healing, and growth for a minimum of six weeks while the leadership assigned by our bylaws conduct a thorough examination of accusations against me. I believe their review can best be performed without me being in the pulpit or the office, and they have agreed to this arrangement.

  3. During this time Pastor Dave and  our lead pastors will share the preaching responsibilities, along with their other pastoral responsibilities. I am grateful that we have a team of godly leaders that are trustworthy and love you. They will continue in 1 John for our series “Love One Another”. I will use this time to continue to seek the Lord about His plans for me and for this and the next season of life for Mars Hill. I will also use it to spend more time with God, my wife, and our children.

  4. As a general rule, I will respond to little if any criticism of me in the media, on social media, blogs, open letters, etc. Conducting church business and biblical conflict resolution through media channels is not healthy and is more likely to prove unproductive at best, and destructive and dishonoring to the Lord at worst.

  5. I will not be doing any outside speaking for the foreseeable future.

  6. I have asked our Board of Advisors and Accountability to strengthen our board by adding members to it, and they are in the process of doing so with local members being our first choice.

  7. I have agreed to postpone the publication of my next book until a future season, to be determined.

  8. I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help further my personal development and maturity before God and men. I have never taken an extended focused break like this in my 18 years as your pastor, and it is not a vacation but rather a time to focus on deep work in my soul in the areas of processing, healing, and growing.

Other media have interesting details to add. For instance, Sarah Bailey at Religion News Service disclosed that public relations expert Mark DeMoss was in the audience and has been retained to assist the church. Morgan Lee at Christianity Today has an extensive write up. Michael Paulson, writing in The New York Times, followed up today on his front page article published yesterday.
There is a lot to discuss after this announcement. To some, this will seem like a statement of repentance; to others, it glosses over numerous issues which have yet to be acknowledged. There were some criticisms of social media that were unfair given the fact that Mars Hill Church avoids addressing legitimate questions and has willfully withheld information that a church should divulge. Tomorrow many of those issues will still be there.
I’ll have more on this announcement through the day.

Is Mark Driscoll Poised to Take a Break from Mars Hill Church? (UPDATED)

Pretty sure now that Mark Driscoll won’t be announcing a fund raising campaign for 10700 Northrup Way. This announcement was just posted on Mars Hill Church’s social media website:

Important Announcement from Pastor Mark Tomorrow I just returned from our all elder retreat and wanted to give you a heads up about church tomorrow. This is a difficult season, but I am encouraged by what Jesus is teaching us through it and about next steps for our church. As part of next steps, there will be an important announcement from Pastor Mark tomorrow so I would really like all of you to be at church if possible. I love Pastor Mark and I’m thankful for him. I love you and want to care for and shepherd you well. Please spend some time praying for Pastor Mark, your local leaders in PHX, and for our church. I’ll be available before and after services and would love to answer any questions you may have. For Jesus’ fame, Pastor Tim Birdwell

This is a little more somber than the festive description of tomorrow’s service on the Mars Hill website. This is looking like a sabbatical or some bigger change. UPDATE (8/24): Late last night a commenter said:

Mark is stepping down for an indeterminate period of time while the board of elders review the formal charges against him. He recorded a message that will play to all of the Mars Hill Churches tomorrow. He isn’t resigning permanently.

Executive Elder Dave Bruskas will be preaching the rest of the 1 John Series. Also, several high profile Mars Hill Elders are about to resign.

I have reason to believe this is a pretty accurate account of what is going to be announced this morning at Mars Hill Church.

Watch for more information later this morning.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Chase Holfelder

This is absolutely riveting. Just blown away by how changing the song from major to minor presents another possible interpretation.
Presented in this way, this Cyndi Lauper classic becomes a song of empowerment.

Mars Hill Church Methods: During a Difficult Season, Raise Funds

I think I know what the “big announcement” is going to be tomorrow.
Check out the letter below that was sent to prospective donors to the Mars Hill Church Ministry Center. This looks like the silent phase of a fund raising campaign. During the initial phase you go to big donors privately, let them in on the vision, ask their advice on marketing, and make a pitch for a gift. During this phase, organizations often hope to raise about half of what they want.
The executive elders announced the Northrup Way project to staff and elders in February as a $40 million project. The building has been leased by Mars Hill and it is being used now.
Could it be that tomorrow Mark Driscoll will announce the beginning of a campaign to buy 10700 Northrup Way in Bellevue?
According to Mars Hill Bellevue’s Facebook page, the atmosphere tomorrow will be festive with a bouncy house and food trucks. The party is billed as the launch of a series on I John with sermons by Driscoll planned until November. The atmosphere doesn’t seem like it will be conducive to a resignation or similar announcement. The letter below indicates that meetings with donors have been taking place during a pretty bleak time for Mars Hill. Apparently, the leaders are pressing ahead no matter what’s going on in the rest of the world.
The letter:
Obviously, I’m guessing on the announcement but, based on the letter above, the raising money during a difficult season strategy seems more certain. Even if Driscoll takes a break from ministry, I suspect he will provide an emergency plan for his executive elders to implement in his absence, this letter being part of that plan.
Stay tuned…

Get out your metal detectors and prospecting pans because there’s gold in the Shenango River (PA)

I found this column to be hilarious. For reasons revealed later, it was relatively easy to obtain permission to reprint. Hope you enjoy it too.
The following column appeared in the July 18, 2014, edition of the Greenville, Pa., Record-Argus. It is being republished with permission from The Record-Argus.
Get out your metal detectors and prospecting pans, because there’s gold in the Shenango River.
by Caleb Stright
A ring’s worth, at least.
You see, I’m not good with water, or rivers or anything out-of-doors, but my wife, on the other hand, enjoys biking and kayaking and all those things that provide blisters and sunburns and bugs in your teeth.
At some point recently, she caught me off guard or confused and suggested we get in small boats and use our own limbs to power ourselves miles down a river. In this moment of confusion, I pictured a peaceful, tranquil afternoon of pointing out majestic river birds. I pictured us sneaking up on our town and seeing it from angles that only the river would provide.
And for the most part, that’s exactly how our Fourth of July went. The sun was warm on the water. Around every bend, it seemed a great blue heron would unfold itself out of a tree and glide from bank to bank. And there was a very negligible amount of bugs in my teeth.
You might be able to guess that changed.
You see, there are a lot of forks in the Shenango River. I don’t know who designed it, but it seems like a really inefficient way to get water from one place to another.
To complicate things, storms in recent weeks had knocked over a handful of trunks and limbs into the river, which meant that when we got to a fork, we’d have to peek down one route, and if it was blocked, we’d try the other.
In one instance, I looked right; it looked blocked. We went left; I was wrong — we rounded a bend and found another big dumb tree in our way.
Like I said, I don’t spend much time on rivers, so I honestly had no idea what to do. What are you supposed to do if both routes are blocked?
I still don’t know.
As I slowly floated toward our roadblock, I asked my brain to come up with a solution.
It spent several moments stumbling and thrashing about — I remember at one point before the panic set in, it trying to weigh out what kind of pizza we should get for dinner — but it didn’t ever come up with any solutions to the problem at hand.
And while my brain was preoccupied with pepperoni and tomatoes, the river had pulled me into a current and was quickly pulling me toward the tree.
“Try paddling,” my brain told me, but my arms were little help.
“Is that all you’ve got?” I asked my brain.
“Is that all you’ve got?” my brain asked me.
We were at an impasse.
Then out of nowhere, as if it had just been dropped down to me, a tree branch appeared above my head.
“Grab that,” my brain yelled. It convinced me the branch would stop me, at least long enough for my brain to come up with a real plan.
I learned a lot of things that day, most importantly that I shouldn’t have grabbed that branch.
Almost immediately, my kayak flipped. I hurdled into the water, into the current. The river just pushed me around for awhile, and I kicked and flailed trying to find the river bed. The water was just a few feet deep, but the current was pulling me, and I wasn’t 100 percent sure which way was up.
I stretched out my hands to push myself up, and as I found the rocks below, I stretched my fingers; with a little help from the river, in that moment, my wedding ring scurried down my finger and vanished.
I had a life jacket on of course, but I was still struggling to find my footing. I eventually waded out of the current, but by the time I had, it was hard enough getting my kayak back, let alone my ring.
My white gold wedding band and I had been through a lot in the seven months we were together, but we were meant to go our separate ways that day.
I imagine it tumbling ashore in New Hamburg, or somehow in the Shenango Reservoir. I’d like to think it’ll find its way into the hands of some hopeful young woman, with no qualms about my taste in rings, and plans to marry some fellow with fingers that are short and stubby enough to fit my band, and sense enough to leave it behind if he should ever get tricked into kayaking.
In all seriousness, though, the Shenango River is beautiful and a great asset to the community, and once my frustration with myself fades, I’ll kayak it again.
But don’t tell my wife.

Caleb Stright is the managing editor of The Record-Argus. I am also glad to say he is my son-in-law.

New York Times on Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church

NYT is on the case with an article by Michael Paulson.
Tim Keller weighs in with some tough words for Mark Driscoll.
The article references a certain “blogging psychology professor” with several links to the blog.
Mars Hill in the form of Anthony Ianniciello spoke to the NYT and issued a statement saying that the charges will be examined by “several governing bodies.”  I have no idea what he is talking about. The by-laws require the formation of a Board of Overseers to examine the charges. Current elders have informed me that the charges were not being taken seriously until they were released to multiple sources.
The article confirms that Driscoll is slated to “update the church” on Sunday. Stay tuned…
UPDATE: Paulson’s article on Driscoll is on today’s (8/23/14) front page of the print edition.

Mark Driscoll to Make Big Announcement on Sunday

Several sources (current Mars Hill members, current pastors) have informed me that church pastors are telling members of the congregation that Mark Driscoll plans to make a “big announcement” on Sunday, August 24. The community groups have been informed to watch for it but there is nothing specific about the announcement as yet.
The month of August has been difficult for Mars Hill and Driscoll. Among other items, two church board members resigned, Acts 29 Network removed Driscoll and the church from membership, several groups have canceled appearances by Driscoll, and 21 former pastors filed charges against him with the allegation that Driscoll has disqualified himself as a pastor.
Based on the calls to resign, some have speculated that his announcement will be to take a sabbatical. Other speculation revolves around the church governance. Perhaps, the church will return governance to the council of elders as opposed to the Board of Advisors and Accountability.
The Stranger’s blog has some speculation and a poll you can take to vote for what you think Driscoll will announce.
For more articles on Mars Hill Church, click the link.