On Friday, I asked a dozen former Mars Hill pastors and Mars Hill Church for comment on the current investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll. Sunday marked the end of Driscoll’s sixth week of absence from the pulpit. I found that investigation of the formal charges is underway but that the allegations offered by nine pastors (then current, now former) in a separate letter have not been reviewed.
One of those former pastors, Dave Kraft, was unable to comment on Friday but today provided a statement that sums up his view of the situation thus far.
I have been interviewed by Pastors Miles Rhode and Matt Rogers. It was cordial and not adversarial in any way. I strongly encouraged them to interview Paul Tripp and Matt Chandler to find out what these two men know and understand what led them to their position that MD has not truly repented and has disqualified himself for leadership.
I believe it will be hard for the “Investigative Group” to not fall into the trap of “evidentiary bias” and they honestly may not be open to “handle the truth” (Jack Nicholson’s line “A Few Good Men.”) The “Investigative Group” (in my opinion) may not really be non-partisan and neutral which an investigative team needs to be for the daunting task before them.
I think the best thing that Mark Driscoll can do for his own health, the health of MHC and for the honor of Jesus’ church is to voluntarily step down for a minimum of six months and let the full council of Elders decide if and when he returns. During the six months, he should:
1. Get some serious counseling from Paul Tripp or Garrett Higbee
2. Arrange multiplied dozens of reconciliation meetings with people who believe Mark hurt and harmed them
3. Set in motion a revision of current MHC bylaws
4. Spend time with his family and with the Lord Jesus in deep and genuine soul searching
5. Form a small accountability group with men who are not afraid to confront and challenge him: older, seasoned and courageous leaders…not “yes” men with a vested interest in being nice to him.
As I noted on Friday, some of the protected witnesses have dropped out of the process because they lack trust in the integrity of the process. Clearly, Kraft decided to enter the process although he has some concerns. I think the suggestion to interview Tripp and Chandler has merit.
As these interviews wrap up, the next step is the production of a report to be sent to the Board of Advisors and Accountability. The BOAA could exonerate Driscoll, rebuke him, exonerate on some charges and rebuke on others, or find him disqualified for the office of elder which would lead to his removal as pastor at Mars Hill Church.
At Musings from Under the Bus this morning, Rob Smith asks, “Where is the credibility of ECFA?” Also, Smith wonders:
One has to wonder what type of financial scandal has to become public before ECFA decides that it will no longer give its once esteemed stamp of approval to Mars Hill Church.
I wonder the same thing and have written about the benefit of ECFA to donors. I don’t see how there is much benefit when organizations can shield their activities from member and public scrutiny and still be accredited.
Smith refers to the Real Marriage scandal, plagiarism and the Global Fund as indicators of deception which have drawn little action from the ECFA. The organization has commented helpfully on the use of Result Source to buy one’s way onto various bestseller lists. However, the organization has been mostly silent on the Global Fund. What we have learned about the ECFA is that they remain silent in the face of violations. Instead of alerting donors that an organization has been in violation or was once in violation (as they used to do), ECFA now works behind the scenes out of sight of donors. Mars Hill Church has made significant changes to their Mars Hill Global brand (most recently rebranding it to Mars Hill Go) since I started reporting on Mars Hill Global and the Global Fund, but the church’s explanations still do not represent what actually happened in the past. Due to the ongoing stealth at Mars Hill and silence from the ECFA, there is no certainty that Mars Hill is in compliance with the ECFA standards.
If Mars Hill Church has truly conformed to ECFA guidelines, then that would be a good step toward repairing the damage to Mars Hill’s credibility. However, how can anyone know if the ECFA and the church keep it all secret?
For the sake of potential donors and other organizations looking for guidance, the ECFA should be transparent about their investigations into potential violations of their standards. Who would benefit from such transparency? Donors, of course. Who would not benefit? The answer to that question should tell us something about the value of ECFA accreditation.
Mars Hill Church Downtown campus had a last supper of sorts today. In his farewell, Matthias Haeusel gave instructions for current Mars Hill members to attend other locations but acknowledged that some would not merge with the Ballard location or any other campus. Former member Bryan Zug attended and supplied the following materials.
Haeusel also exhorted the congregation to find a new church home, even if not a Mars Hill Church location. Listen:
Haeusel told the group that there are “plenty of good churches” to attend and urged them to get connected quickly.
University District also held a closing service today. I have heard very few from that location will go to Ballard.
Last week, I obtained a giving report from Mars Hill Albuquerque which included churchwide information as well as local church numbers. The following report is for giving at the Huntington Beach location which includes totals for the month of September.
Total Giving Week of 09/22/14 – 09/28/14: $11,261, $1,739 or 13% under target of $13k. *Note: Although this is below the $13k target, it is a $3,544 (46%) increase over the last low week fluctuation.
Average Total Giving per Week for September: $11,015
Total # of Gifts Week of 09/22/14 – 09/28/14: 47 compared to 64 for the week prior
Total for Month of September to Date: $44,060, $7,940 or 15% below target of $52k
Average Total Giving per Week Fiscal Year to Date (FYTD, 07/01 – 09/28): $10,145
Probably the most important number is the total for September which is nearly $8k less than target amount of $52k. Also, average weekly giving is less than the targeted amount. Huntington Beach is the location which is dependent on increased giving according to the church statement on September 7.
For more on the background of the Huntington Beach congregation, click this link.
As the investigation of the some of the charges against Mark Driscoll continues, I thought it might be helpful to have a list of elders who make up the investigating committee (Board of Elders) and the decision making body (Board of Advisors and Accountability).
Board of Elders – This board was convened by the executive elders (Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner, and Dave Bruskas and the Board of Advisors and Accountability (see below). They were not elected by their peers but appointed by their superiors. Matt Rogers (who has apparently already made up his mind) is the chair of this board.
Pastor Ed Choi – Installed at Rainier Valley as lead pastor in March 2014.
Pastor Aaron Gray – Installed at Shoreline as lead pastor in March 2014.
Pastor Bubba Jennings – Lead pastor at Tacoma, been at Mars Hill since 2001.
Pastor Alex Ghioni – Lead pastor at Sammamish since 2011.
Pastor AJ Hamilton – Formerly interim lead pastor at Downtown Seattle, currently pastor at Huntington Beach, CA; served since 2001.
Pastor Matt Rogers (Chair) – Volunteer and former interim pastor at Bellevue.
Pastor Miles Rohde – Lead pastor at the new Spokane campus.
Pastor Tim Smith – Lead pastor at Portland campus; been at Mars Hill Church since 1999.
Board of Advisors and Accountability – Phelps, Osborne, Van Skaik, and Rogers are technically considered independent members. Phelps has donated more money to Mars Hill Church than any other person, and Matt Rogers has already publicly stated his view of the charges. Van Skaik and Osborne have had similar charges placed before them in the past. They said they took them seriously but did not call any witnesses regarding them. On that basis, they dismissed the charges. The so-called independent members of the BOAA are the ones who will decide how to handle the report generated by the BOE.
Michael Van Skaik (Chair)
Mark Driscoll (on leave)
As I reported yesterday, the charges filed by the 21 former elders are being reviewed while the charges made by nine then-current elders are not being reviewed.
What is incredible about the BOE is that at least three of them have been around since 2001 (Smith since 1999). They have seen at least some of the actions which have formed the basis for charges against Driscoll. In other words, they are witnesses as well as investigators. This is significant since they have witnessed the actions and did not join in submitting charges. How can they investigate charges which they have ignored for years?