Levi MacAllister, also known as Levi the Poet, is a current member of North Church in Albuquerque (formerly Mars Hill Albuquerque). On his blog, he recently penned an open letter to Mark Driscoll and the leadership of the church formerly known as Mars Hill. Levi provided the link in an email along with an apology. You’ll understand the apology when you read the letter. Some highlights:
I don’t think that “The Rise & Fall Of Mars Hill Church” can be narrowed down to one man. Or three executives. Or an elder board. Or the BOA. I think that, to some degree, at least for members more intimately involved in the ins and outs of what our church was, there is a complicity we feel in the light. Many former pastors have acknowledged that complicity, and chosen to step away. For others, the complicity has been devastating and confusing, as many of us didn’t know we were in the dark. Of course, the idea of complicity to anyone who would rather be the victim under the infamous bus is enraging. And, at the same time, I do think that true victims exist. In short, it’s complicated, and no amount of devil’s advocacy will please anyone. You literally cannot win. Winning is not what I’m going for.
As you will see, this is a nuanced reflection from Levi the Poet.
Two reactions emerged as closets opened: some left; some stayed. I wonder what it means that I have stayed. Resilience? Compliance? Hope? Fear? There is a degree to which those that have stayed will, in the eyes of many, simply be guilty by association, and that will be that. I truly believe, though, that my wife and I were called to weather this storm, and I hope that we will get to see the sunrise. Perhaps others will even be able to accept that it could have been conviction that led us to stay, the same way it was conviction that led them to leave. And I don’t blame those that left, either. The amount of stones thrown from each “side” is miles high, and though I once stood with rock in hand, a lot of presumption clouded the truth of the matter, and I no longer want anything to do with it. This complicated mess is so much larger than anything that I will ever understand. Perhaps I should be thankful for that. Understanding is pain.
I suspect the stayers and leavers will be reflecting on the meaning of their choices for quite awhile.
Mark Driscoll was fond of saying that “what you idolize, you will eventually demonize.” If he isn’t the case-study for it, i don’t know who is. I’d like to think that I’ve not idolized or demonized him, or others, or myself, but perhaps this all wouldn’t hurt so badly if that were true. I’m sure I’ve done both for Driscoll, probably only ever demonized Sutton Turner, and hoped more in Dave Bruskas than Christ as the solution. I’ve probably hated Throckmorton. I’ve pictured everyone with reservations about Mars Hill over the years, pointing fingers with I told you so written on their faces, and resented them all. I’ve resented the organization for letting us take sides for so long. I’ve led my wife into conversations I shouldn’t have been having, gossip and slander that only revealed the state of my heart, and probably damaged hers.
On hating Throckmorton, you were a part of a large crowd. I am smiling while I write that; no hard feelings.
Mark Driscoll, I love you. I forgive you.
Nice beginning for the open letter to Driscoll. Honest and unfinished are words that come to mind about the letter.
I think that Mars Hill Church and the leaders representing it, as a whole, did not take the time they should have to acknowledge and discuss how deeply it has hurt the people in their care. There are exceptions to the rule, but I think that many of us feel swept under the rug. I know that this dust will be settling for a long time, and I pray that, in the individual bodies that Mars Hill Church has become, leaders will work together to address the pain that will linger, and apologize to their flock for negligence. I also know that we, as the flock, must extend grace, as leaders are people – human beings that are suffering through the same circumstances.