Postcards from Phoenix: Friends May Not Be Friends Forever at The Trinity Church

This postcard from Phoenix highlights the role of distrust in bringing people into the orbit of the church. Kim Thompson had a preexisting distrust of media and the leaders of The Trinity Church used that to reduce her critical thinking about the promises made by the church leaders.

This story also revisits the recurring theme of friendship as a weapon. Apparently, Michael W. Smith would not be at home at Mark Driscoll’s church. When people leave The Trinity Church, friends are not friends forever.

Kim summarized her thoughts about the church by describing common themes of “control, manipulation, and fear mongering.”

She closes her message by challenging those who feel the stories of those who are leaving The Trinity Church are irrelevant to them. Those hurt by The Trinity Church didn’t want to leave. Everyone felt distant from the problems until they came home to them. She appeals to those who remain to consider the common good.

Dear Warren:

Our story at The Trinity Church began in December of 2019. We were attending another church in the valley at the time. We had been there for nearly 5 years. While we liked the church and tried hard, we didn’t feel we could get fully plugged in. We are not people who normally sit on the sidelines at churches. When the head pastor left to go to another job, some friends of ours mentioned that they were going to The Trinity Church, so we decided to visit. We knew Mark from the past but had not heard that he had another church in Phoenix. After one visit, we were hooked. The preaching was dynamic, and we loved the people. We went to the “Team Trinity” meeting and were so impressed with how eager everyone was to get us involved and serving. Since this was what we had been longing for at our old church, it was almost too good to be true….

We had been involved in a small Acts29 church plant here in the valley previously and have followed Mark since the 90’s, listening to his sermons online. We knew a lot of what had happened at Mars Hill, but honestly he seemed repentant and we had high hopes that he had healed from all of it. We even bought in when he said from the pulpit, “don’t believe everything you read online” and how evil the media can be, which we all have seen to be true, especially this year.

I began attending the Flourish women’s groups at night, my husband and I began leading a life group, our son began serving in the children’s ministry and even was able to join the flagship “Jr. Intern” program that began last summer. “The Backyard” was such a welcoming place where we visited after church with the pastors and staff and on Wednesday nights ate hamburgers together before the groups that night. It truly felt like a family. When the pandemic hit and church was cancelled, we were so sad because this church had truly become home to us and we couldn’t wait to attend every Sunday. When the church reopened, it was such a sanctuary for our family; the only place we could go each week that was “normal.” Our kids and our family were truly thriving here. Our 15 year old son became best friends with Mark’s son. It was such a gift. They got baptized together along with many others on the Jr. Intern team. Our married daughter and her husband starting attending as well when they moved back here from Colorado and our older college age sons attended as well when they were home. What a sweet time for our family, we filled an entire row each Sunday at the 11 am service.

Everything seemed perfect…until December of this past year. We had the interns at our home for a sleepover when I got the call from Pastor Mark. He was concerned that we had left the interns alone for 30 min with some other teenage girls at our home. I was arriving home from an event and got back a little later than I had planned. I basically got reprimanded from him. His first question was “Is your husband home?” (not gonna lie I was a bit taken aback that he didn’t even seem to know my husband’s name when his son spent so much time at our house) Bruce was on a hunting trip so he was not there. Then the interrogation began. I felt like I was talking to the principal after getting in trouble at school. The conversation ended with him saying “We are coming to get (Driscoll’s minor son).”* Grace came to get the interns and ended up taking them to his house for a sleepover (which I was confused about because of his daughter dating one of the interns, it seemed strange that they could sleep in the same house yet his son couldn’t be alone with girls for an hour at my house….) When Grace came in my house I told her how the conversation made me feel. I even began to cry because I was so upset and felt so vulnerable due to his tone with me and the lack of grace shown in the situation. She was very apologetic and said that I would not have known their family rules, etc. and that they were “under attack” due to baptisms taking place that weekend so they were kind of on edge. (I now see that this is the tactic used when they sin against someone, it is all “spiritual attack”. Convenient way to not deal with their bad behavior) I’m not going to lie though I kind of expected an email maybe from him at least apologizing for how it was handled. I now see why that was a ridiculous expectation.

We then heard murmurings from people about Dustin’s [Blatnik – former woship pastor] mysterious disappearance from leading worship. We heard that “he wasn’t leading his family well.” We found it interesting that he just disappeared with no explanation from the pulpit. I have never experienced that before. Normally even when a pastor is dismissed there is something said, wishing him well or explaining if there truly was sin involved.

In the fall a guy that had been in our life group was asked to leave the church over an incident that happened with him and another life group. I only heard the story second hand and actually at the time thought “wow, I’ve never been at a church where they actually practice church discipline” and was kind of impressed. Little did I know this would become a common practice……Fast forward to March when the Manuele’s situation happened. Katherine and I were friends and I realized I hadn’t seen her for several weeks at church which was unusual because they were normally there every week. I reached out to her via text to check in and that was when I heard about what happened with the intern (Katherine’s son) and Mark’s daughter. I was shocked. I literally could not believe something like that could happen at a church?! (See these links for this story – here, here and here).

A few weeks later we had made dinner plans with another couple. The wife cancelled at the last minute and just told me that “something unexpected had come up and they could use some prayer.” I figured maybe someone was sick or something. After a few weeks went by of not seeing them at church, I reached out to her. You can imagine my shock when I heard their story that they were also asked to leave the church! Now this was getting weirder by the day…

I began noticing security following Grace on Wednesday nights. She seemed to have her own bodyguard watching her every move. It seemed oddly paranoid to me. My daughter and I didn’t like the way Caleb (Grace’s security guard) stared at the women from the side of the room while we were worshipping on Wednesday nights. One night my daughter and I arrived early and tried to go into the meeting room..we were stopped and questions by security. We noticed more and more security present on Sundays, including the ushers following people to the bathroom and then back to their seats! This seemed very paranoid to us. There were the security guys poised in the front near the stage just staring out into the crowd. It felt like we were at a rally for the president or something…

I also never liked the “resource list” that was on the website that we were directed to use as table leaders so as not to recommend any books that may not be “sound.” One time Grace forwarded me an email from someone at my table who was looking for help in reading her Bible I was called out on a separate email because I gave her a blog that was for scripture writing that was not “approved.” I understood the idea behind this but it always gave me pause…I now see it was just another form of control.

We began noticing more and more people disappearing from church. Then we heard the stories about how people were told who they should and shouldn’t be friends with. We heard about the Manuele’s being surveilled. Could this actually be true that a church would involve their pastors in following a family?? Bruce called Carl (a staff pastor) at this time to ask him what the heck was going on. He was told that all these people were just out to get Mark. He stated that “they knew they would lose about 1000 people over this.” He seemed unbothered by the amount of people leaving. We began to feel more and more unease about attending the church any longer. We were heartbroken to even have to think about leaving as our family had grown so much and our son was so involved with the Jr. Interns, serving 3 days a week and loving it.

We have now heard about the families of his married kids who are being shunned. This is totally unacceptable and straight out of Scientology and what they call “Disconnection” which is “the severance of all ties between a Scientologist and a friend, colleague, or family member deemed to be antagonistic towards Scientology.”

I decided to make my exit from Flourish on the second to last week as we were leaving for our son’s wedding and would miss the last week. I had heard how people were shunned once they gave notice that they were leaving the church and did not want to not be able to say goodbye to my group of ladies at my table whom I loved so very much. I waited until the end of Bible study to tell them. I simply told them that my husband and I had prayed and decided that we were leaving Trinity and if anyone wanted to talk about it I was not going to talk there but could be reached outside of church. I had planned to send my resignation email that night after I got home. God had other plans….one of the ladies at my table ran to Grace after the meeting and told her I was leaving. Grace literally chased me down asking to talk to me. She brought me into the main area where women were leaving Bible Study. She asked me what was going on. I told her we were leaving the church and proceeded to tell her every single concern we had. All she could say was “they are all lies” and that she couldn’t believe I was buying into all the lies. When I brought up the December incident about the interns and how shocked I was that Mark never apologized, she had the audacity to say “I apologized for him.” I told her that my husband doesn’t make me do his dirty work. 🙂 When I asked her who we could contact with our concerns about how Mark and his staff were treating people, she told me “the overseers” and “the pastors.” I told her I had heard that people were contacting the overseers and no one was responding. I told her about Bruce’s conversations with Carl and that all he could say was the same thing, “they are all lies.” I finally had to walk away from the conversation as I had to pick up my kids.

Later that night, my son, _____ received the sweetest text from ________ (Driscoll’s son)*. I was heartbroken knowing that most likely their friendship was over. But that did not seem to be the case at the time. Driscoll’s son affirmed their friendship and even told my son that he hoped they could remain friends and still get together. We cried that night tears of joy for this small miracle as their friendship had been so sweet. Fast forward two weeks when my son realized that both Driscoll kids had “unfriended” him on social media. When my son questioned this saying, “I thought you said we could still be friends?” Driscoll’s son replied with “I am getting rid of all the people I follow that don’t go to the church.” Wow. Can’t say this was unexpected, but it was painful. Seems that they are teaching their kids to treat people the same way they treat them. So sad.

Leaving was certainly not easy. Looking back, I see how the cultish aspects of Trinity really took a hold on me. I have left churches in the past (never for these reasons) and it was never this difficult or emotional. Now that we are “out,” I have spoken to so many more who all have very similar stories. They are unique but have  common themes to them – control, manipulation, and fear mongering. There is no way that these are all a coincidence or lies. None of these people were “out to get Mark.” They all loved the church as much as we did and did not want to leave. Many that I speak to who have remained at the church say things like “none of these situations affected me or my family personally”, or “he is just such a good teacher” or “look how much fruit there is at the church” or “these people just don’t like Mark.” These are all things coming from leadership and used to get into people’s heads so they don’t leave.

We are still heartbroken that this happened. We were so hopeful that this time around Mark was going to be able to handle the fame and attention of being a pastor of a large church but it is clear that is not the case. We pray that he steps down before he does any more damage to his followers.

Before I close, let me add some words to Trinity attenders who think none of these situations directly impact you. I don’t know how this can’t impact you knowing that your pastor, who is supposed to be your shepherd and actually protect his sheep is in actuality harming many of the sheep in his care. It may not be you, your family or anyone you know but how can you ignore the stories of those who have experienced abuse? I know the answer everyone is being told to give is “It’s all lies” but what would be their motivation for lying? Everyone I know who has left did not wish to leave, they were either forced to or were like us and just couldn’t continue to attend a church that has no elders or accountability for the man that is in charge, especially when he has shown in the past to be dangerous to those under him. The heart of those of us who have left is for open eyes and to put Jesus back on the throne that Mark is currently sitting on. Mark frequently says “It’s all about Jesus” but how can that be when so many are getting hurt and no one seems to care? Just some thoughts for you to ponder on as you sit under his elderless leadership.

Kim Thompson

*I decided to remove the names of minor childen (Throckmorton)

To read all of the Postcards from Phoenix, click here.

67 thoughts on “Postcards from Phoenix: Friends May Not Be Friends Forever at The Trinity Church”

  1. There is getting to be something somewhat Jim Jones-ish about Mark Driscoll and Trinity Church. The man really needs some psychiatric help he would undoubtedly refuse to get. I can’t see this ending any better than it did last time.

  2. As I read the comments I am kinda’ stunned. I mean, why is anyone attacking Kim? She’s humbly and honestly telling her/their story.

    My husband and I have long said,”Christians are the only ones who shoot their wounded.” To think that any of you think you are above being sucked in by MD and his manipulative ways is pure arrogance. I Cor. 10:12 has a wee message for all of you…”Therefore let the one who thinks he stands watch out that he does not fall.”

    Interestingly enough, I was recently visiting on the east coast a family member who is a Christian talk-show host. He interviews people from all over the world about current events, Christian authors, Pastors, etc.
    I had been keeping up on Julie Roys Report and asked my relative what he knew of MD and the Mars Hill/Trinity scandal? He had not heard of Mars Hill nor had he heard of Mark Driscoll. Why? Probably because he’s on the East coast and contrary to the superior people commenting here, not every person everywhere knows everything about everyone. Imagine that.

    I’m sorry Kim and Bruce for what you and your family have endured – including the ridiculous comments here. I applaud you for speaking courageously and warning others. I’m going to take a wild guess that you both are the type of people who believe the best about someone and MD was no exception. I’m sorry for those who comment from behind their computers with obnoxious condescension -as I stated earlier, “Christians are the only ones who shoot their wounded.” How God’s heart is grieved by them – as much as He is by MD’s sin.

    1. Of the 46 posts on this discussion section so far, approximately how many are attacking Kim?

      Take that number and then compare it to the number of posts thanking Kim for sharing her story.

      1. Right. I still appreciate BrownEyes14 coming to my defense against the people above who compared me to the very one we were hurt by. It doesn’t matter if there were only one or two out of 46, they still sting when you put yourself out there and risk attack. Thanks for your timely stats though…

        1. Kim, your own words and actions testify that you are nothing like Driscoll. I’m sorry a few of the comments have been hurtful, and I am thankful for the great risk you are taking to speak the truth. You’re reminding us that those far from Driscoll’s spiritual harm need to be a bit more gentle when responding. It is my hope that your story will encourage other survivors to speak out about the thieving liar and serial abuser at TTC.

          Your vulnerability and conviction remind me of the words attributed to the Apostle Peter:

          “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)

          1. Thank you so much for your affirming words!! I agree some gentleness is definitely in line here. Thx again. Have a blessed Sunday.

          2. Oops I replied and deleted accidentally! What I said was thank you for your affirming words! Have a blessed Sunday!

          3. Thank you so much for your affirming words!! I agree some gentleness is definitely in line here. Thx again. Have a blessed Sunday.

    2. Thank you. I think you may be one of the few on here who heard my heart. I appreciate you backing up my reasons for posting these stories. My hearts desire is for MD’s repentance for the hurt he’s caused and to warn others about what could potentially happen to them if he doesn’t ever come around. Thank you again.

      1. Let me second that. Given what he has said about me, I know he despises me but I get that. The bottom line is that I still hope for some miracle. I still want to believe that change happens. I get inspired by things like Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas talking to me last summer. (and more importantly many at Mars Hill) They didn’t like me either. I was a thorn in their sides but look what has happened with them. Justin Dean is even friendly with me. That’s hard to fathom. The same could happen with Mark Driscoll. LLindel if you are still reading, things could still change. If this stuff we are talking about is really true, then reconcilation is possible. There was no trap set for Mark Driscoll in Seattle; you didn’t hear from God. Your elders meant the best for you and you should heed them.

        1. Thanks, Warren. I love that there was restoration between you and many in Seattle. God’s grace IS big enough to heal and my prayer is that it will happen with MD in this situation. I pray that he is reading these comments and takes to heart what our motives are here. Thanks for making our stories heard.

        2. I do not see anyone attacking Kim. What I do see is people asking how does this happens and how does it keep happening? When you have lived through this you had better learn to look in the mirror to see how you got sucked in in the first place. If you do not do that you just end up repeating the same mistakes over and over. I do not want to be an idiot nor do I want to see others merely repeat this cycle going around the same mountain over and over, or going to the other extreme: walking away from the faith because they think God is somehow in and responsible for the madness. Warren you should know this better than anyone. This is common theory in Psychological studies, to see how people get stuck doing the same thing over and over that just makes them miserable. They are called patterns and they are so very predictable. My GFA diaspora friends have 4 and 3 cults runs between them. They got sucked into Bill Gothards legalistic b.s. They got sucked into GFA like I did. They got sucked into SIM, which is a small GFA knockoff run by KP’s former righthand man. She was about 60 and after 4 cults finally found the courage to look inside and say enough is enough! When I come across people who are consideralbly younger than this and have perhaps had their first run, I like to say something clearly. It would be easier to be indifferent. After all, when people jump on the Mars Hill/Trinity bandwagon they are the ones that get hurt, not me. If they leave just to go to some other church just as bad, it is them suffering not me. I intend no unkindness, but I am convinced that Jesus church is almost entirely in rebellion against God and the whole world is suffering the consequences of that in more ways then one. None of this will change as long as Christians stay in denial.

          I would also note that it does not take a Christian, let alone a mature one, to get mad enough when they are lied to, manipulated and abused to want to speak out about it. There are personality types that will never speak out and ones that always will no matter how much it might cost them. This does not require faith in Christ either. Much of the Internet has been set aside for people to vent about how they have been abused. They cover every faith that exists and atheism too. Abuse is a human problem. What does require maturity is to look in the mirror and ask the all too important question: “How did I get myself into this mess?” And it takes faith in Christ to ask this question to the real Holy Spirit who has been waiting patiently for someone, anyone to ask the question.

          Also, I am much more hesitant to embrace an ideology where you quickly believe people who made a big profit off of screwing Christians, like the guys you mention, are repentant, without bearing the fruit of giving the Mammon back. You are way too idealistic. What is happening is damage control, not repentance. Repentance requires actions not words that include keeping your enemies closer than your friends. And I should note that most people in the field of psychology treat narcissism as something that is untreatable. This is because it does not make the person with the disorder miserable, but everyone else around them and they do not care for they have zero empathy. Many like William Wallace II obviously get a perverse pleasure out of making sadistic comments. Mark ain’t repenting, ever. It is not in their nature. I go with what Jesus said when he addressed this. He said of the teachers and preachers of his day, “How will you avoid hell?” The statement does not give much hope. Jesus is a lot smarter than you and I am. I will go with Jesus any day. I would also say that this is so clearly truth to me that I would bet everything that I have, my car, my house, my cash, my retirement, every last dime that Mark will live out his life and die without showing a single clear sign of repentance. I know that no one will take me up on that for it would be exceedingly foolish to do so.

  3. Of course its a cult. You have to wonder how stupid some people can be….He’s moving towards Jim Jones territory, and after the kool-aid, everyone will run around saying, ” why didn’t anyone say something…?” She is. Listen…

  4. Julie Roys has a new piece with an audio recording of Mark lying and making stuff up. The man who did the recording was the man counting receipts each week. He claimed that since these series of posts have come out starting with the incident with the boy and Mark’s daughter the attendence has dropped to a quarter of what it was and the giving even more. Before it was in excess of 20K each week. Now it is down to 3 – 5K. That is not enough to support all of those family salaries plus everyone else on their payroll. A financial crisis is upon them. That kind of giving numbers will make the lights go out for good in Scottsdale next to my old homestead.

    1. The last time I went out to TTC (two weeks ago), it looked for all the world like the number of people attending had gone down a bit, but not by so much. The west lot didn’t fill up until church time and the east lot had some spots left 15 minutes after church started. It’s possible that people are still attending but withholding funds. It’s also possible that we’re seeing the effects of summer, where church attendance naturally goes down.

      School has started in some districts already but I don’t think we’ll be able to truly assess whether Driscoll has actually lost people until after Sunday, September 12, which is the first Sunday after Labor Day. And, to be blunt, it’s possible Driscoll has got his church to be a self-perpetuating machine, with as many people coming in the front door as escaping out the back.

      1. He also said that they got rid of one of the Saturday services and pulled a few hundred seats out into storage so the place still would look full. You are there on Sundays and on the outside so you would not have seen either of these things.

  5. And it goes on and on and on…

    “Costi [Hinn, the nephew of Benny Hinn and critic of prosperity preachers,] also said Driscoll offers pastors whom he privately coaches something called the “Driscoll contract.” This reportedly is a contract that ensures that the lead pastor is paid a “ridiculous amount of money if fired, and basically makes it so that he cannot be fired (except for blatant adultery). If you need a contract to keep yourself from getting fired at a church you’re a tyrant. Sheep should be rescued from your control.”

    Sorry, but the sheeple in the pews are the ones enabling this behavior. Is this not objectively immoral and repulsive? You don’t need to bathe Mark Driscoll in biblical waters to measure his worth…

    The bastard’s a sociopath.

    1. Not a fan of Costi Hinn (I find his version of Christianity to be oppressive to women) but he does get this right. Driscoll has another grift going besides his church and “Mark Driscoll Ministries/Real Faith” and that appears to be “leadership coaching.” That said, just speaking out ain’t enough, IMO. It would say volumes more if Costi came over to the sidewalk some Sunday (not right now, it’s entirely too hot and humid) to express his opinion. I’d even provide him with a big black marker and a blank foamcore sign to write on.

  6. The Driscoll’s minor children if their parents choose to use their power really have no say in who they can have as ‘friends’ on social media. At a minimum they really need to be 18 to walk away without running the risk of being handed back to their parents (I’m reminded of the Phelp’s son who the night he turned 18 left the family home; he had seen a sibling severely beaten for doing that before being a legal adult). And Arizona permits parents to use corporal punishment. Driscoll is probably offering his ‘good children’ the ‘kingdom’ he is building so the choice for the adult children is wealth and power or poverty (and an 18 year old walking away is walking into poverty for at least a few years).

    1. I agree and I am so sad for them, I really am. He really does have some wonderful kids.

    2. It seems like that when his kids turn 18, Driscoll is roping them into the family business. Ashley is the “executive director” of Mark Driscoll Ministries / Real Faith, but I’ll mention again that she is NOT listed on the Form 990 as an interested party and her salary should be disclosed. Zach Driscoll has preached once…dunno if he’s actually got an official position at the House of Driscoll. I’m not going to speculate about the other kids, because they’re minors.

  7. Kim, every time I read about someone comparing a dangerous, cultic group with Scientology, it warms the cockles of my cold,cold heart. I spent so many hours, drove so many miles, stood in front of so many buildings in the ’90s and ’00s when people were terrified they’d get raided and sued, and this just makes it all worth it.

    1. Awesome! I’m listening to the podcast Scientology:Fair Game and I can’t tell you how many similarities there are at Trinity. It’s frightening.

  8. hmm…I don’t doubt all the stuff re: Mark and the church behavior but sigh…I’m getting weary of reading that people had heard and knew of Mark and Mars Hill but thought nothing of attending again.

    Honest question:

    How can he have “seemed repentant” if he never even has admitted he did anything wrong nor submitted to the discipline he was given (instead skipping town and setting up a new shop)? This was either known and ignored and now is a bit “oh I had no idea!” doth protest too much, or not known and again, a * basic * bit of research would reveal that. Regardless – even if you walk down a dark alley knowing it’s probably dangerous, you still don’t deserve to get assaulted. Driscoll remains the villain in all this, not his victims

    1. These were my thoughts too. It beggars belief how many people are only too willing to believe that a man with a track record of spiritual abuse and who has shown zero sign of repentance is somehow suddenly going to behave differently. Unfortunately this willingness to unquestioningly believe the good makes it that much easier for the Driscolls of this world to ply their trade.

      1. nathanke and Rob Grayson I get that it is confusing to those who have perhaps not ever trusted someone they maybe shouldn’t have or shall I say tried to give grace to hoping they HAD changed. He frequently spoke from the pulpit about the situation at Mars Hill and even went so far as to say that he had reconciled with many from Seattle. Not knowing any of these people we were not able to confirm this but I guess not ever having been under a toxic pastor before, we trusted him. I don’t know if either of you were at Mars Hill or not. Perhaps if you were I can see where you might be frustrated that no one listened to the warnings. I personally never went down that road of digging up all of that online, I knew just what was portrayed by the media about a few incidences. Of course now I know it all and am horrified. If you were not involved there, I beg you to not be so quick to judge as I believe you too could be led to believe, when your family is thriving at a church, that things must be ok and some sort of repentance must have taken place. It really was a great experience for us….until it wasn’t. So thanks (I think?) for your input but please give those of us grace as we walk this out and try to heal the best we can. I know for our family (and many others) that this is very unchartered territory and it doesn’t help to be criticized now and told “we should have known better.”

        1. Kim,
          Mark and Grace Driscoll appear to succeed only by targeting and recruiting (and thus preying upon) three groups of uninformed people:

          1) People who don’t follow the web-sources reporting on Evangelical pastor misconduct (such as Julie Roys, Dr Throckmorton, and others attentive to fraud and abuse at Mars Hill even before its fall). These sources are important, because mainstream media news outlets, including 24-hr “News” channels, won’t cover stories of abusive pastors.

          2) People who’ve heard whispers that Driscoll was or is somehow “controversial” but with no concrete detail or context (due again to not simply researching at minimum as reputable articles can be found easily using Google). Thus the reputation of “controversy” becomes attached to (and thus “justifies”) Driscoll’s habit of inserting his hierarchical toxic masculinity into all areas of spiritual and social life.

          3) Intersecting with the previous group, people in group 3 are those who attend to be entertained by the spectacle of controversy, hysteria, false victim narratives, US vs THEM binary thinking, intimidating rhetoric, and controlling behavior. People thinking such behavior is about “Jesus” are again uninformed, as Jesus didn’t practice toxic masculinity.

          ETA: Thank you Kim for your valuable contribution to Dr. Throckmorton’s series, and special thanks for engaging readers in the comment section. Your openness, vulnerability, and honesty are making an impact. Thank you for shining light into darkness.

          1. I would include in 3 people like the two men interviewed on Roys podcast. From the get go they recognized that Mark had the personality of an A*hole and that was what drew them in. This is certainly a fleshly appetite as was Mark feeding the pride of others in Seattle by telling them that they were superior to other Christians in that local.

          2. You raise an important point. Several Evangelicals actively seek out the narcissistic behaviors of authoritarian theocrats like Driscoll. Yet as Mars Hill and TTC clearly illustrate, such fleshly appetites are costly.

            Would be interesting to know how many Mars Hill abuse survivors walked away from attending church all together.

          3. Not to get political, but I think Driscoll draws in a lot of people who loved the former president. I’ll tell you, that description of a meeting with Driscoll that Chad Freese gave on Julie Roys’ podcast really weirded me out. Freese reported that Driscoll started by boasting about his impact–largest church in the Southwest (sorry, there are three within 2 miles of my house that have more attendees), most downloads of a prayer guide on YouVersion (a Bible software app), how his online church services are having a huuuuge impact and so on.

            Well, I sat there puzzled, because it was SO FAMILIAR. Where had I heard this before? Not from Driscoll because I don’t make a point of listening to his teachings. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed and it took me about 15 minutes before I realized Driscoll sounded as boastful as Donald Trump. It’s my opinion that Driscoll shares the characteristic of overwhelming boastfulness with Donald Trump, along with an I Alone Can Do It attitude. Again, just my personal opinion, but seriously, I was shocked when I realized Driscoll sounded like Trump.

          4. Related to my reply to Jesperson above–Evangelical church attendance, already on a national downward spiral, dipped even lower under Bush Jr. and yet again under 45. Church pastors following / enabling / modeling themselves after authoritarian theocrats will surely inherit their 30 Pieces of Silver, and all that comes with it.

          5. What you are hearing is the shameless boasting of the usual grandiose narcissist. I have heard that coming not just from these men but from I think every politician that I did or did not vote for. Obama had a nicer façade, but they all talk like this. The others try to do a more humble boast where Trump did away with the fake pretending. So I see Trump as being less deceptive, and that is about all. When you vote for politicians you are getting a grandiose narcissist when you are talking about the higher positions. The higher you go up in power the more grandiose the person will try to fill it.

          6. he (Driscoll) knows his base and saw the master at work the past 5 years or so. His ‘don’t believe everything you read online’ is one step away from the ‘mainstream media’ boogeyman

          7. Yup: ” how evil the media can be, which we all have seen to be true, especially this year” is barely even code for some combination of “Trump really won” and/or “Covid is fake.” Driscoll is running a variant of the right wing Long Con, though the motive seems to be control more than money.

            I have commented previously on people choosing their pastor with less care than they would their plumber. Imagine hiring a plumber with a long string of negative reviews, because he talks a good talk and tells you not to believe everything you read online.

        2. Kim, I apologise if my comment came over unduly harsh. Please take it as an expression of bewilderment rather than judgement, as intended.

    2. Discernment is lacking because Western Christianity has become so ridiculously shallow. Church as entertainment leads to lemmings who do not look before they leap. And then they tend to idealize what was a very bad idea from the get go. Yet being a disciple and following a Spirit that we cannot see is something that is on a whole other level. Being a disciple is not always pleasant and it costs much more than a tithe. The deception comes readily when people are looking for a short cut to God. Idolizing a man and looking for merely pleasant activities that produce little to no actual good fruit is what many are into today. Putting Jesus back on the throne and taking up our cross and walking with it is not what is popular today. I wish someone would pay attention to the woman with a sign protesting. God uses people and things that men readily reject in order to speak to His people.

      1. Well this is kind of hurtful. I guess you must have it all figured out and know for a fact that you would not have mistaken a seemingly thriving church to be a good place for your family? I know I never in a million years expected our family to be wrapped up in this mess. We have only ever attended healthy, Jesus serving churches. Call us naive if you will, but please don’t be so judgmental to assume you would not ever do the same. I do not for a second believe that our family was looking for a “short cut to God”. In fact, we all grew tremendously in the 18 months we were at Trinity. Our 15 year old was baptized and our entire family thrived there from a spiritual growth standpoint. Unfortunately, being a “good teacher” only lasts so long and eventually the true self starts to show as it has for Mark. I believe he was able to hold it together until the massive church growth happened and then his pride just couldn’t hide anymore. Anyway, please keep your hurtful judgmental comments to yourself they are really not helpful for those of us who ARE awake now and trying to heal. Thanks!

        1. I screwed up myself in a similar way and I do own it. Everyone needs to. The truth stings but the reality is that had you been paying attention you did not have to be in this situation. Had this much public information been out there about my circumstances I would not have placed myself in them in the first place. Please do not be like Mark. I have seen that tendency even in people who are leaving. Do not deflect. You will not get better apart from eating your own slice of humble pie. I have eaten mine and continue to talk about it periodically. I have been watching the man that his former security chief called an A*hole on a podcast by Roys here since 2014. I saw ample evidence that Mark is a predator of the worst kind. There is no excuse especially when the two men on that podcast said they were drawn to Trinity because they saw that Mark is an A*hole in the first place. Christians looking for an anti-Christ to follow while recognizing that they are the opposite of Jesus, well how does anyone excuse that? Healing comes after repentance and everyone needs to about something. Repentance is not a dirty word nor is it abusive to call others to it. You have seen the abuse but are not looking at how submitting yourself to the system influenced your own behaviors. Again, do not be like Mark. He is destined for some eternal misery worse than we can imagine.

          1. I’d also argue that the church’s stance on the pandemic is anything but healthy. That also should have been a red flag but alas that seems to also have been a draw for a lot of people, and alas that’s not the conversation 😐

          2. I’d also argue that the church’s stance on the pandemic is anything but healthy. That also should have been a red flag but alas that seems to also have been a draw for a lot of people, and alas that’s not the conversation 😐

          3. I would agree with that. I believe Driscoll’s church got a lot of people because he was openly defiant of reasonable masking and distancing requirements at a time when other churches had moved online to protect their people. As a result COVID-19 ripped through TTC in December 2020, but the church never admitted it and I am sure never reported their outbreak to the county department of health.

          4. I have made that point before. I am part of a mental health online support group and two of the people in the group (in different states) of usually around 21 are in the hospital right now because of COVID. Even if they recover, their finances likely never will apart from declaring bankruptcy. I would go further and say that Mark was fishing for fools with his stance and he caught them. But as quick as they come they can also go…

          5. Thanks for comparing me to Mark and even putting me in the same category as him. Even if I did think I needed to repent over this, which I don’t, I’m highly offended that you compared me to a narcissist such as him. Sure, we take responsibility for not researching more about driscolls past, but unless you personally have been under his spell please don’t pretend to know that it’s exactly like your situation. Thanks!

          6. The reality is that Jesus warned us about deception. He warned us a whole lot about religious hypocrites who are greedy. He gave us a Holy Spirit whose job is to “lead us into all truth.” He told us to watch out for deception, even coming for those who claim to be coming “in His name.” Yet we all can fail in this regard. I sure did about 20 years ago and payed a big price for it. I have some perspective on this that younger folks do not have. I have been a Christian for over 50 years. Our choices are our responsibility alone. Others will be judged for their sins against us. But when we, and I am including I in this statement, get deceived in a religious way it is because we listened to some spirit that was not Holy. This is a basic fact and my only point. I have some friends who were a part of 4 cults for her and 3 for him. They learned a hard lesson finally but only at a rather old age. They signed the second letter to KP Yohannan the cult leader, liar and thief protesting what was happening as GFA Diaspora members. This was only after they finally awoke to the personal issues that made them go for cult after cult. Repentance is looking in the mirror and asking God honestly, what am I doing wrong and how can I do better?

            Beyond that you are too easily offended. The Bible warns us against being quick to take up offense. You have been Mark’s disciple and all I am noticing is his attitude. You are not alone in this. This is one thing to deal with in order to really recover. You obviously cannot see this which is part of the reason that Christ has a body.

          7. Wow you are relentless! ? Funny because I think that those closest to me would say that one thing I am NOT is easily offended. I have other faults but that is not on my top ten list. Just because I’m wanting to engage in dialogue does not mean I’m offended, just wanting to discuss your comments and refute the fact that you think I’m just like Driscoll.

            Also, I’m not as young as you may think and I have been a believer for over 30 years so I do have some amount of discernment.

            I guess maybe you are someone who struggles with grace because in my eyes that is what we extended to MD. He “appeared” to have some level of repentance. I now know it’s all an act but how would one learn that without extending grace and hoping it’s genuine? Obviously it failed for us but we were willing to try. We did take heed to Gods warning against deception which is why we only lasted 18 months!

            So am I offended by your comparison of me to mark? Sure. Am I easily offended in general? No. Would I like this dialogue with you to end. Yes. Have a blessed Lords Day and thanks for the wise counsel.

          8. Do you think your comments on this thread are helping?

            Can you think of any ways you could have posted your thoughts to be more helpful? For Kim or anyone else harmed by Driscoll.

    3. Also, I guess if you are “getting weary” then why read these? Maybe it would be a good idea to not read them if they make you upset?

      1. weary in a Psalms 40 way, not angry 🙂

        Reading and being aware of cults like this, and how people fall into it is a theological mental vaccine. Helps sharpen the discerning mind to hopefully ensure I nor no one I know will fall victim to the same stuff.

        Kuddos for engaging on the thread and best wishes

  9. Kim if you are reading the comments I have a few questions. You mentioned people were told to talk to “the overseers”. Who are they? How do you know about them? and do you know what it is that they specifically “oversee”?

    1. Hi Ken. The church website used to list Jimmy Evans and Robert Morris as “overseers”. They have since been removed…hmm. Several people, my husband included reached out to them with no reply.

      1. Do you know about how long ago it was that the website listed them? I’d like to use the Wayback machine to see what it said about them.

        1. Hmm. Probably in February was when
          they were removed? I’m just guessing but I think I saw them there is February for sure. Supposedly they both say they haven’t been a part of Trinity in over a year but I know for a fact they were on there this year.

          1. Don’t know Jimmy Evan’s but Robert Morris I do know (of). It’s also crazy that he’s listed as a contact you can communicate with … he’s literally over 1,000 miles away and has his own little mega-kingdom to run in Texas. I **highly** doubt he would answer an email from one of his own parishoners, let alone someone from another state asking hard questions about his buddy

          2. Don’t know Jimmy Evans but Robert Morris I do know (of). It’s also crazy that he’s listed as a contact you can communicate with … he’s literally over 1,000 miles away and has his own little mega-kingdom to run in Texas. I **highly** doubt he would answer an email from one of his own parishoners, let alone someone from another state asking hard questions about his buddy

    2. I don’t believe that Jimmy Evans and Robert Morris have ever been listed as overseers, but only as “wise counsel.” I don’t think Driscoll ever wanted to give the impression that he actually had someone over him at TTC.

      1. Really hard to remain faithful to a code of “No one is the boss of me” if you have overseers …

  10. Interesting how Driscoll claims “It’s all about Jesus” while demonstrating the mirror opposite in his actions, time and time again. Mark, Grace, and everyone of their enablers are showing the world what theology looks like when Jesus is absent.

      1. I just googled them…ugh. These U.S. Evangelicals aren’t just denying Jesus, they’re taking great delight in doing so. It’s demonic.

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