Top Ten Posts in 2015

The ten top posts during 2015 are as follows with the most popular first:
1. Open Letter to Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris from a Former Member of Mars Hill Church – This was posted on November 2, 2014 but remained popular throughout 2015. Driscoll recently joined Jimmy Evans as a director to form The Trinity Church in Phoenix.
2. Former Chief Financial Officer at Turning Point Claims David Jeremiah Used Questionable Methods to Secure a Spot on Best Seller Lists – This story about David Jeremiah’s questionable tactics from a former insider was a scoop but not one which stuck to Jeremiah like  a similar scandal did to Mark Driscoll.
3. Hillsong’s Brian Houston Interviewed Mark and Grace Driscoll After All (VIDEO) (AUDIO) – First, he said he would interview Driscoll, then he said he wouldn’t, then Brian Houston aired an interview with Mark and Grace Driscoll. It was great theatre but didn’t draw good reviews from former Mars Hill leavers.
4. A major study of child abuse and homosexuality revisited – This post from 2009 is one of the most popular articles in the history of the blog. In it, I demonstrate a key mistake in a journal article often used to link homosexuality and child abuse.
5. Southern Baptists Say Enough to Perry Noble and NewSpring Church – I am surprised that this post got so much attention.
6. Gospel for Asia Faces Allegations of Misconduct; GFA Board Investigation Found No Wrongdoing – The GFA story received the most attention from me this year.
7. Pastor of Willow Creek Presbyterian Says Church Reaction to Hiring Tullian Tchividjian is “Overwhelmingly Positive” – I briefly covered Tullian Tchividjian’s comeback as a development minister at a PCA church in FL.
8. A Few Thoughts on The Village Church Controversy – Village Church’s leadership apologized for their response to a young woman who sought a divorce from her husband who had admitted having child porn.
9. Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Issues Statement On Mark Driscoll at the Hillsong 2015 Conference – Mark Driscoll’s return to the spotlight garnered much reader attention.
10. Gospel for Asia’s K.P. Yohannan and the Ring Kissing Ritual – While the financial scandals were of interest to readers, this article ranked higher than the money problems.
To fully capture activity on the blog, one should consider the Gospel for Asia scandals (Patheos considered my coverage as a part of one of their top ten Evangelical stories of 2015).
It has been a good year and I thank my readers and those who support the blog with their comments and regular visits.

Source: Mars Hill Bellevue Negotiating to Hire Preaching Pastor

A current Mars Hill pastor informed me that Bellevue Church (Mars Hill Bellevue) has been in intense negotiations with an individual to become preaching pastor of the church. These talks were taking place yesterday. Initially, the elders there (led by Matt Rogers) offered the job to current executive elder Dave Bruskas. Bruskas may do some preaching at Bellevue in the next few weeks, but his future is in Albuquerque where he has taken the same position at his old church.
While it may be a coincidence, there is some speculation around Bellevue that Mark Driscoll may be involved in the process of securing a preaching pastor. According to a trusted source, Driscoll was spotted at Bellevue yesterday with his assistant Frank Park.
In any event, Bellevue’s choice will provide a glimpse into the direction of a location closely following the Mars Hill legacy. For awhile, Bellevue’s moves will be of interest to those who want to follow the fall out of Mars Hill’s implosion. More broadly, this situation provides a rare opportunity to study the effects of the demise of a large multi-site church. Will the DNA of Mars Hill be replicated in the legacy churches or will they find their own identity?

Megachurch Methods: Preaching for Profit

Many people have commented on the memo from Sutton Turner recommending a $650k salary for Mark Driscoll in 2013. However, beyond the extravagance of the salary, something else caught my eye:
In this memo, Sutton Turner pulled back the curtain to a megachurch universe few of us will ever know. In doing so, he disclosed something of the ministry practices of Board Members of the Association of Related Churches. Apparently being a lead pastor at a megachurch is a platform for celebrity status that leads to the preaching circuit where the real money is to be made. Turner said such jet setting was not beneficial to the local church and “drove up the total cost of the preaching role.” I have no doubt that he is correct.
On the other hand, Turner’s response isn’t much better. According to Turner, Driscoll wanted to teach more frequently: “nearly every weekend of the year!” Actually, that is better than what Turner says about the other pastors (you know who you are). However, should meeting basic expectations lead to such a huge level of compensation? My concerns in this post are less about one more reason why Mars Hill finds itself in a fix right now, and more about the corruption of evangelical megachurches. It is still, after all I have seen, beyond my comprehension that it is considered to be business as usual to use the church as a place of personal enrichment. These ministers are not just making a living, they are living the good life with little earthly accountability for how God’s money is spent.
Obviously, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability is no help. In fact, their guidelines on executive salaries may be part of the problem. Church boards are supposed to use compensation studies of other similar churches to determine salaries. It appears that these churches are using each other as benchmarks. You raise yours and I can raise mine. In this way, salary inflation is far outpacing the income growth of the rank and file, leading to mid-year, end of the year, and all kinds of special offerings. Some of the donations go to the intended purpose, but much goes to propping up the infrastructure (e.g., Global Fund).
Something is very wrong when the benchmark is a pastor who preaches in his own church 15-30 Sundays, engages in a lucrative speaking tour, and forces the church to pay for someone else to do his job.