Mars Hill Church Executive Elder Dave Bruskas on Mark Driscoll, NYTs Best-Seller List, Strange Fire and More

I suspect different people will key in on different aspects of this video featuring recent remarks from Dave Bruskas. Bruskas led the Albuquerque NM City on a Hill church into an alliance with Mars Hill and then left Albuquerque in July 2011 to become an executive elder at Mars Hill Church. He is now slated to return as preaching pastor for the newly renamed North Church. Bruskas spoke on December 3, 2014 to a member’s meeting at the church. The questions were pre-selected with public questions not taken from the crowd. Yesterday, I posted a brief segment where Bruskas said Driscoll’s resignation was not the most redemptive outcome. The following segment deals with Bruskas regrets following a question from lead pastor Donovan Medina. A transcript of the video is at the link.

Click here for a transcript.

At about 1:15, in response to Medina’s question, Bruskas said the Board of Overseers (Jon Phelps, Larry Osborne, Michael Van Skaik, and Matt Rogers) found three areas of “persistent sin” via the examination of charges against Mark Driscoll: arrogance, domineering leadership and harsh words. While these were the three areas identified by the Board of Elders’ investigation, the BoO did not use the term “persistent sin” in their communication to the congregation. Rather, it was the elders later who used the term “persistent sin” in their verbal report to the various Mars Hill locations. The elders wanted Driscoll to step down and enter an elder-directed restoration process, whereas, in contrast, the BoOsaid they didn’t ask Driscoll to resign, and said that he wasn’t disqualified.

Bruskas admitted that the problems were “painfully entrenched in our culture.” He acknowledged that many leaders felt Mars Hill was special; now he sees that “God’s grace was on us in spite of us.” Bruskas didn’t believe he personally had used harsh words as Driscoll did.

For himself the three things he felt grieved about were the New York Times best-seller scam, the Strange Fire conference, and the performance driven culture of ministry.

Bruskas said he was a new executive elder in 2011 who was informed about the ResultSource contract by Jamie Munson in a car ride to work one morning. He asked if the approach had integrity and was financially feasible. Bruskas said Munson answered yes to both. After that, according to Bruskas, he didn’t ask any more questions.

Bruskas disclosed to friends that he was going to take the #2 position at Mars Hill in July 2011. That was about a month after Mark and Grace Driscoll and their agent Sealy Yates met at Thomas Nelson to discuss the ResultSource approach to scamming the best-seller list.  This June 27, 2011 note from Sealy Yates to Kevin Small was included in a Mars Hill memo on the ResultSource-Real Marriage campaign.
The question is who was Jamie Munson working with? Munson has not responded to email questions on this topic. Bruskas is correct that he was a relatively new member of the executive elders. I wonder when it became clear what was actually happening with ResultSource. For instance, I wonder if he ever saw this memo. To his credit, he now believes the scheme was clearly wrong.

The second thing that grieves Bruskas is the Strange Fire incident. He said he would apologize to John MacArthur and believes he should have said something at the time. It has been over a year since that incident took place. If I had been in the Albuquerque audience, I would have asked him about the famous Driscoll tweet that security confiscated his books. I would like to hear Bruskas’ view of that tweet.

Last, Bruskas said he was sorry for being complicit with a “highly performance driven culture.” Perhaps he is referring to the actions described in this 2012 memo. In it, Bruskas took the lead in informing campus pastors that they couldn’t advocate for the staff they had to lay off due to financial pressures. The pastors were supposed to get in line. At the time, Driscoll, Bruskas and Turner had gotten significant pay increases while about 40% of the staff faced layoffs.

According to those present, nothing was asked about the Global Fund, the severance packages, Driscoll’s plagiarism, and accountability for the current sitting Board of Advisors and Accountability.

Consider this an open request for an interview to really clear the air and answer questions about Mars Hill’s unfinished business.

See also, part one of this video in which Bruskas tells the congregation that Driscoll’s resignation wasn’t the most redemptive outcome.

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.