Former Mars Hill Pastor, Paul Petry, Starts Joyful Exiles – Startling Revelation

"What do you do with someone who is rebellious, hard-hearted, stiff necked and stupid? You break their nose." Mark Driscoll in his "private" message to his congregation moments before firing Paul Petry and Bent Myer

nasa-mars
Viking Lander on Mars-NASA (quite a wilderness)

Late yesterday afternoon, my inbox started filling up with messages about a new blog Joyful Exiles.  Although I was in a bit of a hurry, I visited it and almost choked on my ever-present Diet Coke. I quickly called my fellow glam blogger, and we both agreed we needed to address this topic immediately!

As many of our readers are aware, Mark Driscoll rather crudely and coldly fired two pastors a few years ago. "Why crudely?" you ask. Here is the link to a video in which he threatened to punch some guys in the nose. It cannot be embedded because some "coward" asked that embedding be disabled; furthermore, no comments are allowed. Bent Myer, who posted his story at TWW was one of those two pastors. His post generated the most visitors ever at TWW.

Yesterday, the other pastor, Paul Petry, along with his wife Jonna, posted a new blog, Joyful Exiles. Along with Jonna's accounts of the events that transpired, the website features a number of emails and documents related to this sordid affair. Jonna is an excellent writer, and her story is riveting. After reading it, I paced around my house, deeply disturbed. Once again, in my opinion, Mark Driscoll continues to act like a monster truck with a broken steering column, careening about, crushing everything in his path.

Jonna's kindness
Deb and I have communicated with Jonna via e-mail, and she has expressed her deep love for the Mars Hill members. She hopes that their blog will lead to positive changes in the ministry at Mars Hill. We are grateful that Jonna has given us permission to reprint her story from Joyful Exiles.

John Piper and C.J. Mahaney should be ashamed of themselves!
In the wake of Paul's firing, the Petrys asked for help from none other than John Piper and C.J. Mahaney. Guess what…  These manly men refused to get involved! They have increasingly shown by their actions that this is about their "theology" and their stature. They appear unable to do anything but pontificate about the latest "thing" they have discovered about secondary doctrines. C.J. Mahaney and John Piper, you should be ASHAMED of yourselves! C.J. Mahaney's Sovereign Grace Ministries is imploding, and I am beginning to understand why. The emperor has no clothes and I, for one, am disgusted with these two Calvinistas. (They deserve the title.)

Documents
Paul has also posted over at Joyful Exiles emails and documents to corroborate his story. I found these emails to be a fascinating and disturbing account of a ministry that appears to be well-acquainted with some aspects of spiritual abuse.

Mark Driscoll: An out of control monster truck.
On 3/8, Mark Driscoll made the following comment at The Resurgence here.

"My desire is to build relationships with various people and tribes outside of my normal range as a way of influencing the movement relationally. Though differences will arise and friction created, my desire is to relate publicly and to confront privately as others have done for me. I think this was best modeled by the influence of Priscilla and Aquila on Apollos in Acts 18:24–28. Though Apollos was inaccurately teaching the way of God publicly, he wasn’t confronted publicly. Rather, Priscilla and Aquila “took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26).

That is not to say there isn’t a place to speak out publicly. For instance, when someone crosses a line into unrepentant sin or heresy and is a publicly known leader, there is a place for warning others about them. But this should be a last resort for extreme circumstances and should grieve us all if and when it’s necessary."

I address the following to Mark Driscoll.

You, sir, have had a habit of making everything public, including the infamous "punch them in the nose" comments quoted above. Now, you cry "No fair" and do some proof texting to get your critics to leave you alone. The moment you shut up and stop making your regular, hostile and embarrassing public pronouncements on everything from anal sex to calling British Christians "cowards", then we will move along.

Just so you know, I am grieved. I am grieved for the numbers of people that have been deeply wounded by your out of control mouth and application of "discipline." They have landed at the front gate of the Wartburg Castle, wounded, treated like discarded detritus as you go about "witnessing" for the Lord. For once you are the one who needs to be grieved. As the great theologian Ricky Ricardo was wont to say "You have a lot of 'splainin to do." Perhaps you should do as your dear friend who loooooves your theology, John Piper, did and take a break from your ministry and get your act together. Frankly, we could all use a break.


My Story By Jonna Petry

This past summer I saw the movie, “The Help,” and a seed of courage was planted in my soul. One of the last lines of the movie:

God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do. But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free.

This story is an earnest attempt to speak the truth in love that freedom and new life may flourish.

My husband Paul and I started visiting Mars Hill Church back in the summer of 2001. I had recently read and loved J.I. Packer’s classic, Knowing God, and was finding great solace and security in a deeper understanding of God’s sovereignty. In those days, Mars Hill Church was about 400 members. There were not many families with children. And we came with five – our oldest 12 and our baby just turned one. We were very warmly embraced. Our family was rather ooo’ed and ahh’ed over. We seemed to have found a place where we were wanted and where we could lovingly serve (even if the music was completely unfamiliar to our ears.) And, what we didn’t realize, where our pride would be amply fed as well.

We were not without caution or discernment. We had seen enough upheaval in churches to know you’d better look closely at who’s in charge, how the leadership is structured and where the money goes. A year earlier, we had come across Alexander Strauch’s fine book, Biblical Eldership where he instructs about church government:

“By definition, the elder structure of government is a collective leadership in which each elder shares equally the position, authority, and responsibility of the office.”

In comparing this structure to what we had experienced previously, it was easy to embrace the premise that shared leadership, authority, and accountability are necessary for the healthy functioning of the church. For us, this became an essential for any future commitment to a church. And, our first Sunday at Mars Hill, there on the book table was a copy of Strauch’s book.

So we started attending regularly, heard a number of the pastors preach (because in those days they took turns preaching), listened carefully to what was said and mostly delighted in what we experienced. Mark Driscoll stood out then, as a persuasive speaker with a strong attitude but, we had confidence the leadership team, Mark included, was committed to the distinctive of biblical eldership. Though Mark was young, he was surrounded by a group of godly older men – Bent Meyer being one who also had years of pastoral experience behind him. This was very reassuring to us.

The church was growing and we became completely immersed in loving, serving and teaching. My father (who had not been in church for almost 40 years) and my sweet stepmother joined us monthly and then weekly for worship services – ferrying over from Poulsbo, Washington, to spend the day with us. Mark often used the expression that our church was “family” and we rather believed it – so effective in building a sense of belonging.

These were happy fulfilling years for us. My husband and I hosted a weekly home fellowship group that quickly grew to be the largest in the church. We had the space to welcome people in and hospitality was ministry for us. We hoped to demonstrate to the best of our ability the sacrificial love of Jesus because we believe this is the foundation of our lives as Christians. We were delighted to find a church home and thought we’d be there always. We loved and gave our very lives to the people in this church. Strong bonds of commitment and love were made and reciprocated. (We thought.)

After two years had passed, in the spring of 2004, Mark approached my husband, Paul, and asked him to consider serving as a pastor/elder. Mark at this time had become the primary preaching pastor in Ballard and Lief Moi, who bought an old theater for the church in Seattle’s University District, became the primary preacher at that venue – the Paradox Theater – which featured concerts by local bands on weeknights and was active in street ministry. Each venue had its own feel and crowd and we were blessed to see the diversity and unity in the Body of Christ.

After much consideration and prayer, Paul started the elder process and was confirmed a pastor/elder – before the entire church with the laying on of hands by the eldership. How excited we were, I was. I was so proud of my husband and the ways God was moving in our lives. Paul served as a pastor, unpaid, almost full-time, and continued to work as an attorney in private practice to support our family. It was a big commitment, a lot of work, but we loved it. We loved the people we were with. It was a great season for awhile.

After a year serving as a volunteer pastor, Paul was offered a full-time position as Pastor of Families and Member Care. It would mean walking away from his private law practice and taking a pay cut in his annual income, but after more prayer and consideration, Paul signed an employment contract and gradually shut down his law practice. The church was growing, many newly married and young families were attending and we relished the work of providing encouragement and teaching to strengthen all these dear ones. It felt so fulfilling to be used for the Kingdom of God.

It wasn’t long though, till the bubble started to leak and our eyes began opening a little…
What we had thought and hoped would be an entrance into deeper fellowship with godly leadership and with the Lord turned into a heavy burden of unspoken pressure along with the realization that things were not all they appeared to be.

Shortly before Paul was confirmed as a pastor/elder, I was invited to a dinner to celebrate Grace’s (Mark’s wife and my friend) birthday. There were a dozen or so women in attendance and I ended up sitting next to Karen Schaeffer, who was Mark’s administrative assistant – a lovely, older, godly woman whom I greatly respected. Sitting next to us was an elder’s wife who was close in age and who also had quite a bit of previous ministry experience. The three of us enjoyed great conversation – alive, encouraging, as iron sharpens iron. We ended up being the last three to leave the restaurant and as we walked to the car decided we should pray together for some of the things that had been shared. We got in the car and ended our time together praying for many things, including the elders, our families and the church.

The next morning I heard from the elder’s wife, the one Karen and I had so enjoyed – that she had shared our conversation with her husband and he felt that it showed “disloyalty” on Karen’s part, was gossip, and that it needed to be brought to Mark, which he did. Karen was fired. The gist of what she shared that was branded “disloyal” was a heart of thankfulness that my husband, Paul, was being made an elder because Mark needed strong men around him who could handle and stand up to push-back. When I found out what this elder and his wife had done, I called Mark immediately in tears and asked him to forgive me for my part in that conversation. Looking back, I’m not sure that Karen or I really did anything wrong, but I was sure afraid.

Regretfully, I treated my friend, Karen, horribly. After she was fired I stopped seeing her altogether. I was afraid of what it might mean for me if I continued as her friend. It was never spoken but rather understood that to remain in contact with her would be unwise. So with fear and pride in tow I conformed to the toxic system in order to show respect and loyalty. I chose to believe that God put us there for a reason – thinking now perhaps so we could encourage and strengthen the things that were weak.

Another rather ominous circumstance occurred in late 2005 when Paul was asked to participate in re-writing the church bylaws shortly after he came on staff. This happened after the church had renovated an old hardware store warehouse and moved into the 40,000 square foot facility. Lief shut down the Paradox Theater in the University District and returned to join the pastoral team at the new Ballard facility. Many from the Paradox congregation felt that Mars Hill had “sold-out” to a corporate model at that time, but with Lief’s and Mark’s assurances, most of them joined the Ballard congregation (Mark’s first book, Radical Reformission – Reaching Out without Selling Out, had just been published).

As the church was growing, Mark wanted a smaller group of men involved with the everyday details of running the church without the need to gather every pastor/elder for discussion and voting. A number of issues had to be hammered out and the bylaws changed in order to allow a smaller group of elected elders (termed “the executive elders”) to operate freely with the day-to-day administration and “vision” aspects of running the church while still granting full disclosure and including all the elders in votes for major decisions like changes to the bylaws and purchasing property. This was to ensure accountability and protection.

The elders wrestled back and forth some, concessions and compromises were made, but in the end, the newly adopted bylaws turned out to be, at least in Paul’s mind, a great governing document that would ensure the health of the church. Those bylaws were voted on and affirmed by every elder. As they were shaking hands, Jamie Munson (the church’s administrative pastor/elder, a very young man and fairly recent convert) said to Paul, “This is only half way.” I guess that should have been a premonition.

The last happy thing that transpired during our time at Mars Hill Church was near Christmas in 2006. Mark had asked the elders to consider which of them felt called to lead the new Wedgwood campus in NE Seattle (formerly Anchor Baptist Church) and to let him know. We had been thinking and praying about what was next for us as Mars Hill Church continued to grow and this opportunity seemed perfect. We went to Mark at the staff Christmas party to express this. He was delighted, saying it was a confirmation for him. He said Paul was just the elder he had in mind. Mark brought over Lief Moi (his best friend, co-founder and right-hand man at the time) to share the good news. Lief expressed delight as well. How excited we were.

Then something happened in late January or February. There was a shift. Mark had been seeking all kinds of information and strategy help for another reorganization plan in order to “grow the church to the ‘next level’” and had recently had meetings with Larry Osborn in California amongst others. Paul had one meeting with the executive elders about taking on the lead pastor role at Wedgwood. One Executive Elder, Steve Tompkins, insinuated that Paul had many people who looked up to him in the church and that could potentially lead to a church split. Steve asked Paul what he had to say about that. Paul was really shocked and hurt at the poison of this remark and no doubt this had something to do with the outcome.

Many drastic changes occurred in the spring of 2007. Mark pressured all the elected executive elders [with the exception of Jamie Munson] to resign their posts, saying a new structure was necessary. Mark also decided that Lief would no longer function as the pastor of the Ballard campus (the primary and largest campus where Mark taught mostly in person) and as a result the two of them had a horrible falling out. This was an ominous sign for me because Mark had often spoken about his love and appreciation for Lief’s willingness to go “toe-to-toe” with him and how this was vital for the health of the church.

Nobody talked to Paul about Wedgwood again until May, when in a sort of backhanded way, Paul heard from another elder, James Harleman (a former executive elder who had just resigned from that position under Mark’s pressure), that Paul was no longer being considered for the position, that James was in fact going to lead Wedgwood. That was really hard, but we covered over our stinging disappointment and chose to believe that God must have something else in mind for us.

During this same three months, another drastic change occurred. The way all the pastors’ salaries had been determined completely changed. It was proposed that Paul’s annual salary be cut by $15K to more accurately reflect his “importance to the church mission.” Further still, Paul, who is an attorney, was not asked to help rewrite the newest bylaws which Mark and Jamie were planning, despite the fact that Paul had helped draft the previous bylaws.

Mark was preaching through the book of Nehemiah, utilizing it to promote his future vision for the church. And now, into summer, an oppressive heaviness began to overshadow everything. There was a real sense of spiritual warfare and I fasted and prayed under the burden on multiple occasions. The summer elders’ retreat in Whistler, B.C. was all about the importance of “unity” and how the new structure and bylaws were essential if we were going to keep growing as a church. Saying that there was heavy coercion applied would be putting it mildly.

Up until that time it was a regular practice for the elders’ wives to gather monthly and pray and share and encourage one another. At our meeting in August 2007, I had been asked to give a short devotional lesson before we broke up into small groups. What I felt inspired to bring were a few Scriptures on “the testing of our faith” and I reflected on how the various struggles and testing we often face as a church and as individuals are God’s means to refine and purify us. How little did I know what severe testing would come.

Shortly after this meeting, in my praying for the church that God’s will would be done in the upcoming changes, I sent a letter to the elders’ wives inviting them to join me in prayer, along with Scriptures I had been meditating on. Mark, who reads Grace’s emails, was livid about it and verbally lambasted the elders at their next meeting for not keeping their wives in line.

Mark was upset by an invitation to prayer? Why he would be so upset is still a mystery. But I’ve often wondered if it was perhaps because his plans were already made.

We had been there long enough to see how growth, power, and money, were influencing decisions. We were not surprised to see how power tempts and corrupts. We knew that leadership was in the throes of testing. My husband took very seriously his role as an elder knowing his responsibility was first to the Lord and then to the sheep for the health of the church. The proposed new bylaws gave Mark control without any secure mechanism for accountability. Though Mark and Jamie thought otherwise, this wasn’t good for them either. And no doubt, they have both greatly suffered because of it.

The deadline arrived for commenting on the new bylaws. Paul responded as asked, in writing, making suggested changes and politely proposing some edits and wording which would put in place an appeals process for church members who might find themselves under “church discipline.”

Three days later on a Sunday evening at 8:30, after Mark’s last sermon on Nehemiah in which he ranted about men “who don’t follow the chain of command…even in leadership of this church” Paul and Bent Meyer were angrily threatened by Mark in a small private meeting that if they didn’t resign from staff and as elders immediately they would both be fired and put through “very personal and painful” trials to have them removed as elders, that their “files were full and growing.” No other reasons for dismissal were given. Neither of them resigned. The meeting lasted maybe five minutes. And then the hell really began.

That night after the service I was waiting for Paul in the lobby of the church. Paul had let me know earlier that evening that he had received an email from Jamie Munson saying there was a mandatory meeting following the seven o’clock service. I sat waiting for over an hour. Just about everyone had gone home by then.

I was starting to really wonder what was going on when my son and his girlfriend walked in from outside the church. “Daddy’s been trying to reach you on your cell phone.” (I had a few missed calls from unknown numbers). “He’s walking home.” (We live 7 miles from the church. It was cold and raining.) “He asked me to come by and get his cell phone, his keys and his coat out of his office. He was fired tonight, Mom.” My heart fell into my stomach.

[Earlier after the service while I sat waiting for Paul in the lobby I had seen one of the newly elected executive elders, Scott Thomas, and he glanced over at me a few times with an odd look on his face. I smiled back politely. Though I didn’t know it, he had just participated in that awful meeting where my husband was threatened and fired. I sat there waiting. Scott walked by and said nothing to me.]

Initially, I thought Mark had just reacted impulsively and in anger to something he thought Paul had done that was untrue. I thought, “We just need to trust God, continue to do what’s right and pursue peace.” I knew we hadn’t done anything wrong and so everything would eventually work out for good. I was naïve and oh so trusting. That painful night in the wee hours of the morning, Paul sent emails to the four executive elders that had participated in the firing asking to know what his ‘sins’ and offenses were so he might consider them before God.

Paul also sent an email to all the elders telling them what happened (they had no previous knowledge of it) and asking them to pray.

The next day we received a copy of an email from one of the elders, a close friend (we thought), titled: “Your accusers.” It was an internal email that had been sent from Jamie Munson to all the elders except Paul and Bent. Paul’s and Bent’s email access through the church network had been immediately cut off and the case against Paul and Bent was laid out; accusations that were a complete shock to us. Paul’s request to the executive elders hours before was completely ignored.

Two days after Paul and Bent were fired, Jamie posted a letter to the church on the members’ website stating what had been done. This caused a great commotion within the church. To say people were alarmed and dismayed is putting it mildly. [The elders were so bombarded with questions that they eventually opened up a place on the members’ website for a short period so members could ask any questions concerning Bent and Paul’s firing, elder trials, and the new re- organization of the church. The “elders” then crafted a 142-page document to answer “all” the questions and to quell the uproar.]

Even after a few days I thought to myself, “There is no way the other elders are going to let this stand. They know Mark’s proclivity to anger and impulsiveness and they love us too much to let this continue.” Yes, some of the younger men would be scared to speak up, but we had confidence that if it came to a trial the seasoned older men who loved Christ and who knew Paul and his character and who knew Mark and his character would see what was truly going on: that Paul had done nothing wrong – certainly nothing that would disqualify him as an elder, and that his convictions about the by-laws in no way warranted this kind of treatment.

I remember thinking, “This can’t be happening. God, you won’t let this stand. You know the truth. Lord, set this right. Please, God…”

After two weeks of “investigation” and “fact-finding,” a “trial” was convened. Twenty-two elders and all the elder candidates filled a large room where Paul was permitted to read his prepared statement regarding accusations he wasn’t even sure of and was then called upon to answer any and all elder questions. His accusers presided over the trial. Paul had no advocate, no friend, no witnesses to support him. After the questioning he was asked to leave the room so the elders could “deliberate.” Paul was found guilty at his “trial” of: “lack of trust and respect for spiritual authority and improper use of confidential information” (for discussing the proposed bylaws with a MHC deacon/friend to get input regarding an appeals process for members under church discipline). The elders then voted to remove Paul as an elder. We were stunned.

What was going on? Why had Mark and Jamie so turned against Paul? Why had the rest of the elders gone along with such horrendous behavior? The only thing that now made any sense to us was this: that underneath all the spin and hysteria and Jamie’s blatant denial to the contrary, this was about power and control (authority and submission), this was about getting the proposed by-laws passed, and Mark would have no dissent. Mark was apparently willing to do almost anything to ensure he would get total compliance. And he did.

With this realization came the awareness that the life and health of the church was hanging in the balance. Mark’s behavior was frightening – angry, accusing, “beating and battering” his co-shepherds, his closest friend, and any who showed even a slight resistance or question to his desired plans. This didn’t look like Jesus but more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Who was going to protect the sheep and the church? Lief Moi (Mars Hill co-founder and Mark’s so-called best friend – the one who would go toe-to-toe with him – had been demoted, diminished, and basically cast aside. Five elected executive elders had resigned under pressure.

Mark and Jamie fired the men who were willing to disagree with them. Now what men would be willing to stand up or even suggest that at least they take more time to consider this complete change to the leadership structure of the church? If the elders voted for the new proposed by-laws they would be giving up all authority to govern the church forever. In essence they would no longer be elders. Mark with his handpicked one or two would basically be able to do whatever he wanted with millions of dollars at his disposal.

These circumstances called for men of integrity and courage. Those days may well have been my husband’s finest hour. No longer “officially” an elder yet still very much a man with a deep love and concern for the well-being of the church, Paul appealed to every elder in a heart wrenching letter pleading with them to pause, pay attention, and realize the gravity of what voting for the new proposed governing structure would mean and instead find another way. Please read his document entitled: My Confession and Request for a Redress of Grievances.

My husband’s letter did not affect the outcome. The by-laws passed. New “elders” were added to the now impotent group and Mark had unquestioned control. It did not change the outcome, but I cannot imagine it didn’t convict some hearts as my husband attempted to save the church. (My husband doesn’t like that last sentence as he thinks it sounds too dramatic, but that is the way I saw it.) The men who were called to shepherd God’s flock bowed under the pressure of abusive manipulative power and the church has greatly suffered because of it.

After the trial we were “restored as members” and our access to the church’s members-only website was re-activated. We were still attending services, though the family class we were scheduled to teach had been taken over by other elders. But, once the new by-laws passed at the end of October, we knew we could not remain at the church under the top-down leadership authoritarianism. Not a hint of biblical eldership remained even though it was talked about as though it was adhered to.

Completely dismayed and devastated, we withdrew as members. We could not support the church’s new by-laws, which was a requirement for church membership. We resigned our membership, in writing, in an email we sent in early November to both Mark and Jamie. They accepted our resignations responding back by email with empty condolences. We never heard from Mark again.

Not long after that, one of the pastors, Brad House, a young man with no previous pastoral experience, sent Paul an email asking us to come in for a meeting so we could “discuss” our grievances even though we were no longer members. Paul had a couple of heated phone conversations with him hoping that this wasn’t what it appeared to be. Paul was hoping that Brad or someone in leadership really cared enough to act like a brother who loves through adversity.

It became clear that Brad wasn’t sympathetic toward us or our situation at all; that he would only further attempt to use his “pastoral authority” to “help” us see the “rightness” of the elders’ actions. Oh, the layers of spin and manipulation that were conveyed.

Some very dear people who were not our close friends (but proved to be) who had eyes to see what was going on, questioned the elders in emails, phone calls, and in personal meetings. And because of it, they also endured their own scenarios of abuse and resigned as members. If not for this small band of devoted Christ-followers who came alongside us and carried us through the darkest season of our lives, who knows to what extent the devastation would have been? Paul received three months severance pay but this could not carry us through the season needed for Paul to rebuild his law practice. This same group and other dear friends, some who remained anonymous, kept us afloat that first year with financial support which helped us pay our mortgage and radio ads for Paul’s law practice.

Some of these same folks also rented a room in a community center near our home for a season so we would all (about 30 people) have a place to worship on Sundays while we continued pursuing steps toward reconciliation. Paul had no desire to start a church though some of that small band my have wished so. At this point everything we believed about church had just crumbled. But God’s love as demonstrated in these dear ones will never be forgotten.

In the first week of December 2007, over a month after we resigned our membership, the church elders voted to “discipline” Paul and published a letter instructing MHC members to shun him. The shunning document was published on the members’ website and letters were mailed to members as far away as Colorado.

I remember that day well, as my heart sank to the ground on reading the text a friend had emailed us. I could hardly breathe. In great anguish I thought to myself, “I can’t just do nothing. How am I supposed to respond to this?” I was reminded of the words from Scripture, “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse…” So mechanically I went to the store and bought beautiful potted poinsettias and some generic but thoughtful Christmas cards that I lovingly signed and then personally delivered them – trembling and in tears – to the homes of several elders, including Mark Driscoll, Brad House, and Jamie Munson. At the Driscoll’s, Grace’s father and one of the children opened the door, Grace was coming down the stairs and when she saw me she said my name and hurried to the door, hugged me and cried too. No words were spoken.

In shock and heartbroken, Paul and I tried desperately that first half-year to bring about some level of reconciliation. We so longed to be restored to our friends, to have our name and reputation exonerated, and to have peace in our relationships. This had become our family that we loved and served and ministered to as our own dear children and as brothers and sisters. These were our dear friends. How could they do this to us? Words do not adequately describe the shock, horror, betrayal, and rejection we felt. The weight of the loss was excruciating.

My dear father and stepmother belonged to a Mars Hill community group that met in Poulsbo. Joining the group had been a huge step for them. Not having been in church for almost 40 years, my dad (a Vietnam Veteran and retired Colonel with 24 years in the United States Air Force) was moving toward trusting Jesus and Christians again. They even hosted the community group for a time in their home and were enjoying small group fellowship for the first time in their marriage. After the shunning letter was posted, Brad House called my dad and said that if they could not support the elders’ decisions regarding Paul, then they would have to leave their community group. So ended my father’s (a man I had earnestly prayed for almost my whole adult life to know the Lord) beautiful re-entrance to the church. They never went again. And no one from their group remained in friendship with them. They were shunned, too.

Thankfully, my father didn’t throw away his new child-like faith. One day in their home, not long after these appalling events, I was sitting on the couch next to him, his arm around my shoulder, my head leaning on his chest, (I knew he was heartbroken for us but he was very strong and a bit stoic) and he said to me, “Honey, this is just a good reminder that we cannot put our eyes on a man, but only on Jesus.” So much wisdom and love in that one statement.

Trying to do everything just right, we walked out the steps of Matthew 18, the scriptural guidelines for reconciling when a brother offends you (though before the firing and after they had not been walked out toward us). We did not mass email all our friends and acquaintances in the church (hundreds of them) to tell them what had really happened to us, as we were still trusting that godly resolution would occur and we didn’t want to do anything that could jeopardize that. So we purposed to only speak about these matters to our church friends if they came directly to us with questions, believing that reconciliation would come soon.

One local pastor, a friend to our family, who heard about what was going on, called Mark and pleaded with him to take the shunning letter off the members’ website, saying it was “giving the church a black eye.” At one point, this pastor was thinking he might be able to serve as a mediator but he quit his involvement after Mark’s continued refusal.

In January 2008, we made another strong appeal to Mark and Jamie, demanding this time that they take down the shunning letter (which had remained posted on the members website for almost 2 months), and retract the lies about Paul that had been written and published to members, or face possible legal ramifications. We implored them to face the reality of the cruelty they had unleashed on us, our children, and our family. We pleaded with them to bring in a mediator to help resolve the gross injustice. Jamie’s response in a nutshell was this: “Though we still believe we have done nothing wrong, we are willing to meet with you and anyone you choose.” They did, however, remove the shunning letter from the church’s website.

This offer to meet felt completely disingenuous. Likely they knew they were in a legal bind and were willing to discuss a possible legal/financial settlement hoping we might agree to some sum with a requirement to sign a “gag order” or non-disclosure contract, as has been reported by other Mars Hill pastors and employees who have resigned. (Signing a non-disclosure contract appears to now be a requirement for receiving any severance package.)

Our last letter to Mark and Jamie, sent in February 2008 (a response to Jamie’s “we still believe we’ve done nothing wrong” letter), reveals the state of our completely broken hearts. It wasn’t a legal settlement we were after. What we so longed for, what we were hoping for, was a demonstration of God’s love and grace. These were pastors right? This was a church, right – not a cutthroat corporation?

Along with this last letter we included a copy of a letter Bent Meyer (the pastor/elder who was fired with Paul) had recently written to the elders appealing to them to change their course, make things right and restore us. The elders (all but one or two on staff), were impotent to do anything. Nothing changed.

After multiple appeals were continually rejected by Mark and Jamie, we discreetly implored some local and then national leaders, whom Mark said he respected, to help us, including John Piper and C.J. Mahaney. No one was willing to get involved. I was shocked and heartbroken again. You’re kidding? The whole Body of Christ and no one is willing to step in, judge the matter, and attempt to make things right? How can Matthew 18 be carried out if not one Christian leader will stand in to bring peace and reconciliation?

Months passed as we exhausted every avenue we could think of to reconcile with leadership. We were still hoping to salvage some of our relationships with people we loved and respected in the church. Now we felt free to pursue some of them (about 30 families we hoped to remain in friendship with) to explain what really happened to us. We wrote a short letter expressing our love and desire for continued friendship and sent copies of the documents that clearly told the story (asking that the documents be kept confidential), trusting they would see the horrible injustice we endured. This was naïve on our part. The assault on our reputation and the spin from the elders had been extremely effective. Only about a third of those we pursued in love were willing to remain in friendship with us – another heart wrenching reality.

During this whole season since the firing and the months that followed, I was emotionally and spiritually devastated. I was often tormented by fear. I had nightmares and imaginations of someone trying to physically harm Paul, me, and the children. If Mark had had ecclesiastical power to burn Paul at the stake I believe he would have. I literally slept in the fetal position for months. I stayed in bed a lot, bringing the children in bed with me to do their schoolwork. I became severely depressed and could hardly bring myself to leave the house except when absolutely necessary. I cried nearly every day for well over a year thinking I must soon cry it out, right? But, the sorrow was bottomless. My faith was gravely shaken. How could a loving God allow this? Later it became clear that I had typical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression and that these reactions were common in someone who has experienced spiritual abuse.

Spiritual abuse occurs when someone uses their power within a framework of spiritual belief or practice to satisfy their own needs at the expense of others. It is a breach of sacred trust. Christians are commanded by Jesus to love one another. When that is projected, articulated, enjoyed and then treacherously betrayed, the wounded person is left with “a sense of having been raped, emotionally and spiritually” – not by a stranger, but by someone who was deeply trusted. (See Recovering from Church Abuse by Len Hjalmarson)

Anyone who has experienced such treatment will tell you the greatest sorrow, however, is not over how you are harmed but how the ones you love the most are harmed. I mentioned my father. I will not mention the deeper aspects of how this has affected my husband and my children who were in close relationship with the Driscolls and other elder families. Our oldest son loved Mark and had great respect for him. He drove Mark’s truck on occasions to the dump, to pick up supplies, and spent time helping Mark with other work and errands when he could lend a hand.

Our son gave huge amounts of his time, energy, and heart to the church, volunteering for building and painting projects and as a youth sound technician. Our oldest daughter regularly babysat for the Driscolls and for other elders’ families. One day we were in loving safe community (we thought) and the next day completely cut off and scorned. I have never experienced such cruelty or rejection in all my life. Seeing your loved ones abused, their hearts broken, their emotions heavy and dark, and their faith nearly destroyed, is the greatest pain of all.

At several points along the way we were urged by family and friends to seriously consider suing Mark, the elders, and the church because not only had they violated Scripture, their own by-laws, and the church membership covenant, but under civil law we believed they were guilty of multiple violations as well, including intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, libel, slander, tortuous interference with business relationships, violations of employment standards, and more. We prayed and wrestled with the idea for months, finally concluding that it was better to be wronged and entrust it to God’s judgment.

This story is not without redemption, however. For us and our children “the spell” has been broken and we are free as we continue to heal. Free to love, trust, and follow Jesus apart from abusive leadership. I have come to see more clearly my own sin and complicity with the abuse. I have come to understand that I was wrong in the way I entrusted my heart to people, looking to them for approval and affirmation, finding my identity in my relationships and in my ministry instead of completely and solely entrusting my heart to the Living God and finding my identity and security in Jesus Christ alone, who loves me and died for me and calls me His own. For we are all capable of great sin. And, no doubt, the wrong way I entrusted my heart to others coincided with the depth of my pain at their betrayal and rejection.

There have been some restored friendships with former elders. In addition to Bent and Joanne Meyer, we have reconciled with Lief Moi and his dear wife, Tonya, who were co-founders of Mars Hill along with Mike and Donna Gunn. The Mois came to our home in May of 2009, shortly after Lief resigned as an elder and they left the church. It had been over two years since we had last seen them. They stayed at our home all afternoon and poured out their hearts to us regarding their own pain of betrayal and apologized for the ways they had sinned against us. Many tears were shed.

After relaying the painful story of my father’s treatment, I asked Lief if he would consider calling my dad to also apologize to him. Lief said he would. But that night, my father, who was fighting lung disease, suddenly departed to be with the Lord. To this day, the church’s treatment of my father is still one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever experienced.

In the fall of 2010, another former pastor/elder, Tim Reber, contacted Paul, expressing his desire that they meet. Tim apologized for going along with what he knew at the time was wrong. Soon after, Tim and his sweet wife, Mary, came over to our home so the four of us could repair our relationship. It is so healing to be restored to those you have loved.

Waking up to the abusive system we had been a part of, I was reminded and convicted about how I had treated my friend, Karen, years earlier. I sought her out during this same time. It had been 6 years since we last saw each other. We met for coffee. I apologized and asked for her forgiveness for how I had rejected her, and shared my own story of abuse. More tears were shed.

Thankfully our relationship has been restored and has now deepened into something of great beauty. God has done amazing things with us, like bringing us together last year one heart-wrenching evening as we cared for friends, a couple who were members at Mars Hill Church, the wife who lay dying of cancer after lingering for months. She departed on that day we were there to care for them.

It has been a long time in coming, but I now have renewed hope and joy for the future. I believe God is working through all these things and who knows what the future holds? We regularly run into the Driscolls and the Munsons during baseball season. Our boys play in the same youth baseball league. We have mutual friends with many of the elders that cause our paths to cross at weddings and funerals. There has been a strained cordiality between us and that is better than open hatred. The final chapters of this story are yet unwritten and I remind myself that, “All things are possible with God.”

As a result of my experience, I have come to know and depend on Jesus and His love more deeply. My faith, though crushed initially, has been greatly strengthened. I am grateful to be able to say, “What was intended to harm me, God intended for good…” And, I do pray that even as more painful stories come to light that ultimately, this will turn out for Mark’s good, too. I believe there are many things he is blind to and many things he adamantly resists. I pray God will open his eyes and give him the courage to face them. Whereas, I used to believe the most loving, gracious, faithful thing to do was to keep these matters private, I do not believe that anymore. The spiritual abuse must be exposed and, with God’s help, eradicated, so lives can be healed (victims and perpetrators) and the damage that has been done to the reputation of the Gospel repaired.

Two years ago I heard one of those painful stories. I sat in a room with a friend and a few other invited people as she read out loud (and I heard for the first time) her story of spiritual and emotional abuse at the hands of Mark and Grace Driscoll. I cried. My husband had been a pastor/elder on staff at the time. Though we didn’t know about it then, after hearing her story the realization of our shared responsibility sank in.

On the surface, so many factors look great at Mars Hill Church. Who wants to be a critic when in many ways this ministry appears blessed and is so popular? As the thinking goes, “God must be pleased. Look how the church is growing!” Like a lot of others, we were willing to overlook Mark’s immaturity, his character weakness and wrong-doing for all kinds of reasons: because he was young, because he was talented, because we really didn’t know all the facts, because we trusted, because it wasn’t our place, in order to extend him grace, so as not to offend him or lose his good favor, in order to protect the reputation of the gospel, because we were afraid. Just writing these excuses makes me sick at my stomach.

Not as an excuse, but the fact is, while we were at Mars Hill Church there was a lot we did not see. Many things were kept secret. And we did not have clear vision then. We were in the ether, under a kind of “delusion.” I have come to believe that when idolatry is at play, it often creates and allows for an unreality to take hold of those who participate, as if under a spell, unable to see or hear the truth because it is all filtered through a projected “reality.” But it is a false reality – a delusion. I believe this dynamic is often true in cults where there is one dominant, charismatic, controlling leader.

As I look back, this “delusion” aspect makes sense to me and helps to explain why the abuse is allowed and continues, while so many people are unaware and/or unwilling to confront. At some point though, a circumstance with leadership arises that invariably places you in the fray. You either bow and submit, or resist and face searing retribution.

By God’s mercy, that circumstance came to us. We resisted the pressure of coercion, and dreadful consequences were meted out. But ultimately, this turned out to be our rescue – as we were delivered out of a sick, dysfunctional system. And now, I thank God for it.

I have my own sin in all this. I contributed to the dysfunctional system. I acted in pride, idolatry, fear of man, people pleasing, cowardice, and favoritism. I am truly sorry for all the ways I personally hurt people by my words, my actions or inactions, directly or indirectly, during my time at Mars Hill Church from 2001-2007, especially as a part of leadership. And now, I am also very sorry for how my years of silence regarding the spiritual abuse that I suffered have indirectly contributed to the abuse of other precious people. Though truthfully, I don’t think I could have written about it any sooner.

What started with a beautiful beginning – three families sent from Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland to plant a “daughter church” in Seattle that would be authentic and relevant to reach the lost – has turned into the personal ministry of one very ambitious man. Although it is still called a church, I think a more honest and accurate name might be “Mark Driscoll Ministries,” not unlike the name for Billy Graham’s organization, a man who Mark has said he greatly admires. I think what we are seeing demonstrates a confused ecclesiology and I fear this is also being taught to many other young church planters through the Acts 29 Network who want to “have” a church just like Mark’s.

The amalgamation of church and personal ministry did not happen overnight. The church began committed to certain distinctives, like biblical eldership, and core values like “meaning, truth, beauty and community” and then one driven, talented individual eventually monopolized power, pushed all dissenters away, and turned the church into a “City within a City” where he functions like a king because he believes this is the best way to “grow the numbers.” And in this case, Mark has proven that to be true, drawing in thousands with his entertaining (and regrettably often crass and inappropriate) speaking. I realize that many believe this is great and see no problem with it.

But I would never have agreed to this if it had been openly stated – and I believe many others would have felt the same. I believe this was spiritually abusive toward all the members of the church at that time. And, apparently, a thousand or so members had problems with it as well and chose not to renew their membership in 2008 after the leadership cancelled everyone’s membership and asked them to reinstate as members under the new by-laws.

So here we are over four years later, finally able, willing, and convicted to share our story. Why? Why does it matter now?

We remained quiet for over four years hoping there would be evidence of self-correction and maturity and that we might be able to cover over the gross injustice we experienced with love. But it appears things have only grown worse.

In Acts, Chapter 20, the Apostle Paul pleaded with the Ephesian elders to pay attention and guard the flock. This admonition, along with the mounting stories of abuse and misconduct coming out of Mars Hill Church, has added to our conviction. We believe that to remain quiet now would be unloving and disobedient to God.

As my husband stated earlier – if we fail to remember our history, we leave it for others to re-write. And, unfortunately, some of that has occurred.

And, in Mark’s own words from his book, Vintage Jesus:

People are not perfect. As sinners we need to be gracious, patient, and merciful with one another just as God is with us or the church will spend all of its time doing nothing but having church discipline trials. It is worth stressing, however, that we cannot simply overlook an offense if doing so is motivated by our cowardice, fear of conflict, and/or lack of concern for someone and their sanctification. In the end, it is the glory of God, the reputation of Jesus, the well-being of the church, and the holiness of the individual that must outweigh any personal desires for a life of ease that avoids dealing with sin biblically. Sometimes God in His providential love for us allows us to be involved in dealing with another’s sin as part of our sanctification and growth. It is good for us and for the sinner, the church, and the reputation of the gospel if we respond willingly to the task God has set before us.

What happened to us was very wrong. The way it was publicly described by Mark and the elders at the time was completely exaggerated and deceptive. The way the media and blogs have since reported on it has many holes and errors. Now it is open and plain to everyone.

If Mark and the organizations he leads do not change, I fear many more will be hurt, Mark and his family included. To not speak is to not love or care and shows no thought or consideration for those who have been wounded and those who will be in the future. We are witnesses. There is a pattern. There is a history. There is an ethos of authoritarianism and abuse. Mark is the unquestioned head of Mars Hill Church and the Acts 29 Network. His elders have no way to hold him accountable. Those under him likely fear him and want to garner his favor so they don’t dare say or do anything that might anger him. This is tragic.

Perhaps at some point, with enough outcry and exposure, Mark will come to his senses, own his harmful behavior, and get the help he needs to change. I hope so. Our common Enemy can make terrible use of our weaknesses and blind spots. Our Lord’s harshest words were for leaders who used their status, power, the Scriptures, and God’s people for their own self-aggrandizement. Surely this is not what Mark meant to do.

A Christianity which perpetuates the exaltation of mere men to god-like status, while belittling and wounding so many of God’s children in the process, is completely antithetical to what Jesus taught and is just as harmful to the leaders as it is to those who follow. Sadly, this is not the love of Jesus Christ or the power of the gospel we are called to demonstrate to one another and to the world.

Lydia's Corner:   Jeremiah 35:1-36:32   1Timothy 5:1-25   Psalm 89:14-37   Proverbs 25:25-27
 

Comments

Former Mars Hill Pastor, Paul Petry, Starts Joyful Exiles – Startling Revelation — 251 Comments

  1. Yea! It’s up! I read this last night and was floored. Interesting thing is this, a lot of what I read could be even mistaken for the way SGM handled the situation with Brent and others. It’s the same story again and again.

    Part of Jonna’s story pissed me off and brought back old wounds–how women had dropped me so quick all under the guise of doing what’s “best” or what would “Glorify God” most. And then part of me has so much compassion for her because she was caught up in the system as I was at CHBC.

    The truth of the matter–it was NEVER love. These women didn’t love me, and honestly, I didn’t really love them. We had a like and affection for one another. But love endures and love, real love, takes time to develop.

    I love it that Joanna confessed to the issue of pride adn wanting to be important, to be in-favor with leadership and pastors. I think when personalities are so big and powerful, it’s no wonder why we get sucked in, but why we also take on roles of protecting them, but seeking their approval. I can see many aspects of who Joanna had become in myself and what I had become. I really could relate to her on many levels.

    These trials are bullcrap though. I laughed at the absurdity of it. Put Paul on trial? For what? These idiots were serious but failed to realize they were the laughing stock.

    I also appreciated her insight, although given very limited info, into Grace Driscoll. No one can tell me that woman is happy. No one can tell me she isn’t afraid of Mark. I was irate when I read how he intersected her emails and reads them. This man treats his wife like a child. If she needs protection so much, then he should lock her in a real cage, because the mental one he has around her has been just as effective.

    I knew women like that, in the church, where at the drop of a hat, their husbands would block relationship with them. No matter how much was built up and developed between the two women. Then you get some bullcrap line like “Greg has decided this is the best course for our family.” Wait! What?! So you let Greg run you like that? Um. No.

    I had never seen this type of submissive church culture before, especially with women. I’m African-American. We do get a bad rap, as AF-AM women for not being submissive and too dominant, which is quite unfair. But there is some truth to the strength and independence of women of color. Culturally speaking, I had never seen this before and I had no idea how to respond to it. It was the worst feeling EVER!

  2. Jimmy
    What part of “punch their noses” is two sided? He’s a wuss, never would do it as are most of the big boys in this movement.

  3. ‘Any chance we’ll hear the other side?’

    We’ve heard it. Ad nauseum. Where have you been? The “other” side has a pulpit, books, podcasts, conferences, ….a stage all over the world.

  4. Trina
    The big boys took Paul into their man cave, complete with swords, and acted so gosh darn weird. These guys are a bunch of wimps. Can you imagine, they actually think they can put people on trial?

  5. Anon1
    Jimmy keeps hoping that if we just hear enough, we will find out why one of his heroes is a “godly man’s man” instead of a limp-wristed, mouthy wuss.

  6. Jimmy
    I love to use your hero’s own “inspired” words and apply them to him.It sounds so godly and Christ honoring, doesn’t it?

  7. Dee–

    When I read how Piper and Mahaney did nothing, as well as the other men in the church who sat by and voted on that crap, I said what are the chances of these ministries being the biggest example of irony. It’s rather ironic that with all of their focus on masculinity, strength, leadership, etc… taht none of them have/had/will have/and will never have the balls to stand up for what they truly believe in very deep down.

    Paul, that guy, now that’s a man! Regardless if Paul was getting caught up in the system, the minute he saw the system for what it is, he stood up, LIKE A FREAKING MAN, and did what was necessary. I love men like Paul.

  8. Read Kip’s story as well:

    “We were brought to their downstairs offices where we sat nervously making chit chat with our CG leader. Finally the door opens and both pastors usher us into this tiny office with 2 couches facing each other. The door locks behind us where we find ourselves in a room with black walls and a sword hanging above the couch opposite us. Pastor X sat back and let the new Pastor Y do all the talking. He quickly looked over my email and then sized us up by questioning us about attendance, serving, CG participation, etc. He then asked me what the issue was at which point I did my best to explain what problems I sensed with the training process. I expressed my concern about building leaders up by breaking them down and that it wasn’t good or healthy for us as a church…”

    http://marshillrefuge.blogspot.com/2012/03/kips-story.html

  9. 1 Tim. 3:6 “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”

    In the last ten years I have been amazed to find out how true the book of Judges is to the real life I now know (I am 57). I have seen groups come and go – or become solid. I have seen men be faithful and true. I myself have been less than that.

    I know I am God’s son. Specifically because He has disciplined me. Frankly, I suppose I could miss it if I tried and am tempted to faint when the pain becomes intense but I know that the discipline is from Him and is for my good.

    So God has taken this prideful man and humbled him.

    God does know how to do that.

    So let us ask Him to do that for Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. And lets ask Him to do that very soon, lest more people be hurt and God’s name be more put to open shame.

  10. This sounds like what happens when little boys get power. Lord of the Flies.

    Let’s just pray that more and more people will figure out this is not Christianity.

  11. My prayer for Mars Hill:

    Seek the LORD while you can find him.
    Call on him now while he is near.
    Let the wicked change their ways
    and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
    Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them.
    Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

  12. “otherwise I’d go OT on you”

    It is a sin to say that unless you are Mark Driscoll. (tongue in cheek because these guys really believe such things) When he says it about elders he has star chambered and fired, then it is godly to the Reformed crowd colleagues and followers/admirers of Mark.

    Remember: Piper LOVES Driscoll’s doctrine. And we all know we live out our “doctrine”.

  13. Pingback: Inside Mars Hill | Civil Commotion

  14. Until recently I never expected Stalinism to show itself in a church. Yet here we see it, loud and clear.

  15. Guys, the best thing that could happen for the Kingdom of God is for Mars Hill and all Acts 29 churches to close their doors. And the leaders all go get real jobs.

  16. Sophia: Yes, we should pray for our enemies. I pray that Mark will see God for who He really is and what He really ordains. Most of all I pray that Mark will see HIMSELF for who he really is and what he’s really doing.

    A Damascus Road experience is loooooong overdue.

  17. Because I belieeeeeve in the power of prayer (raises hands) and feel comfortable enough at TWW to ask for it when I need it, can you all pray for me tomorrow? I have a BIG day – driving re-test in the morning, and a job interview in the afternoon!

  18. Quote of the year:

    “A Christianity which perpetuates the exaltation of mere men to god-like status, while belittling and wounding so many of God’s children in the process, is completely antithetical to what Jesus taught and is just as harmful to the leaders as it is to those who follow. Sadly, this is not the love of Jesus Christ or the power of the gospel we are called to demonstrate to one another and to the world.”

    Rock on, Jonna (and Paul and family)!

    A personal note: I left a church friendly with Mars Hill, for numerous reasons. One of those was that Mars Hill was an influence in several areas, including Community Groups and the Redemption Groups. Now, the people at my former church are good folks; and I don’t want to say that every single thing that MHC teaches is evil and ungodly. But there’s enough bad fruit from that ministry to be concerned about the influence it yields. My former church chooses to fellowship with MHC and SGM; Driscoll and Mahaney may not have been my pastor, but their influence surely was engrained within that particular church. I chose to vote with my feet, and look for a different situation. Jonna is right to be concerned about MHC/Driscoll’s influence on Acts29 church planters, and other Christians outside that network as well.

    That said, I suspect a lot more people are choosing to vote with their feet than these corporate churches are willing to acknowledge. People talk, and word spreads, about big churches as much as individual people. Who is to say that damage to the name of Christ isn’t because of the skubulon people see – whether it’s you and I whenever we sin, or the corporate churches throwing people aside and running roughshod over human beings in the name of the ‘mission’?

  19. Anne,

    I am starting to pray for you right now! May you pass your driver’s test and have a successful interview.

    Thanks for allowing us to pray for you!

  20. Jimmy:
    I should not respond to you, but I am going to. So I assume you read everything posted by Jonna Petry and then you have to be the first to post and then you say–“Any chance we’ll hear the other side?”

    I’m really going out of my way to be nice but you are one BIG JERK!!!

  21. Jonna —

    I so appreciate the depth of detail, emotional/experiential/factual. It is a story, an extremely important story, and for it to be communicated by the telling of it required this. A sketchy version (for the purposes of tidiness and emotional safety, and of not wanting to risk spiritual rightness) would have been a non-story.

    Again, your story is worth being told (understatement). It is an expensive story, it cost a fortune. Thank you for sharing it with the world at large. Great good, deep good, will come of it.

  22. Of course John Piper and CJ Mahaney wouldn’t get involved. Way too messy for professional pontificators in their clean rooms.

    Complicity Central.

  23. First time poster – long time lurker, one that broke out of the SGM prison system.

    It seems like Driscoll runs his business (or if you prefer, cult/high demand group) the exact same way CJ Mahaney runs his cult/high demand group. No wonder they are buddies and defend each other. It’s amazingly similar how thing work at Mars Hill, but Driscoll had some catching up to do to get his organization to run as efficiently as Mahaney’s business.

  24. “My name is Jimmy. I’ll take all ya gimmie.”

    Dude. You asking for the other side of the story demonstrates your ignorance.

    Seriously? What have you been doing all this time from 2007 until now. All there had EVER been was Driscoll’s side of the story posted and plasted EVERYWHERE!
    Only now, only now are we getting the story from the two elders he fired and shunned. Only now. Because they have kept their silence.

    The question is, why are they opening up now?

    That’s a no brainer. But let me say it real slow and in all caps so you don’t miss anything. Because you are really bad at missing the facts, the truth, and the obvious.

    These elders and other who have been hurt by MD and MH are opening up because…

    THEY ARE TIRED OF WATCHING GOD’S SHEEP BEING DEVOURED AND SPIT OUT BY MARS HILL BECAUSE DRISCOLL IS MORE CONCERNED WITH BUILDING HIS OWN KINGDOM ON EARTH THAN THE WITH THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN MEN’S HEARTS.

    There. I said it.
    Though I don’t expect you to understand a word I said because the wolves at MH have the wool pulled over your eyes.
    You won’t get it until they devour you and spit out your bones.
    Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  25. I wish I could articulate my own story this well.Our abuse came at the hands of an Independent Baptist Church, where we had served for more than 20 years. Hearing how you were effected helps me understand our pain more clearly, as we have berated ourselves for not being stronger; not recovering more quickly. We also received a severance package,(hush money); but it was not near enough to regain our financial footing, much less another ministry opportunity. Though we are grateful for our “rescue” and all that G
    God is teaching us about grace, we still feel rather “lost”.
    I am so thankful to have found this blog, and to know we are not alone; but saddened at what is happening in churches.

  26. Deb,Dee,

    I’ve often wondered what it is that causes normally sensible people to begin to hide reality when things begin to go bad. I think I’ve discovered a truism about some people that might be a sort of commentary about it all. I said this on Wade’s blog recently and will pass it on here. I take this truism as a warning to myself first.

    I’m thinking that to some leaders APPEARANCE is more important than REALITY because ultimately appearance is, in its own way, a fulfillment of one’s true aspiration no matter how often “For the glory of God” is said.

  27. Dee said; “I love to use your hero’s own ‘inspired’ words”

    Which hero is that Dee?

  28. I’d actually read Jonna’s and Kip’s story (certainly weird) before Dee posted it.

    But none of that negates Scripture that warns about jumping to conclusions before hearing the other side.

    Eagle, Mot, if you were accused by others of something heinous, I would CERTAINLY want to hear your side before jumping to a conclusion as to your guilt.

    Sometimes, but not always, there IS a right side but more often than not in a painful disagreement it turns out to be “Chinatown”* where there is a cultural fog that clouds the picture.

    *1974 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunnaway where you’re hoping you don’t do damage in your attempt to do right. Brilliant movie

  29. Jonna and Paul – you are very brave, and my hat is off to you both.

    So much of what you’ve written parallels my own experiences in a church that booted me (not associated with MH or Acts 29).

    Thank you for your courage and compassion.

    *

    Stalin: oh yes. Show trials and everything!

  30. In the wake of Paul’s firing, the Petrys asked for help from none others that John Piper and C.J. Mahaney. Guess what… These manly men refused to get involved!

    Too busy

    a) Parsing Theology letter-by-letter sniffing out Heretics.

    b) Sucking up to Cee Jay.

  31. This is all just preamble, folks. The stories are finally being told, in some cases years after the offenses, because people are finally healed enough from the pain, shock, awe and sheer weight of just what they allowed to happen to themselves. I’m one of those people, a person of strong will, a zealot and champion who prides himself on figuring things out on his own.

    And I was taken in. I was fooled. I was misled. I was one of Mars Hill Church’s most ardent defenders against those who I thought were so horrendously misunderstanding the church’s goal, and Mark Driscoll’s nature.

    I lived in fear of losing my home for standing up when this happened to Bent and Paul, because Mark Driscoll was my landlord. I had secretly set up a storage unit elsewhere in Seattle and was quietly moving most of my stuff there so, if I had to, I could leave that house with a single day’s effort.

    These stories must continue to go public, and they must continue to do so via increasingly visible channels. It’s gone to local news, now it’s time to go to national news. Mars Hill has gone multistate, with campuses in Washington, Oregon, California and New Mexico. Those who do not want to see people hurt by indoctrination into Mars Hill’s particular brand of Christianity need to go multistate as well. Protest in the states where there are new campuses. Provide literature with links to this blog and others like Matthew Paul Turner, Mars Hill Refuge, Joyful Exiles, etc. Mars Hill’s leadership refuses to be accountable to anyone, so per the very Biblical disciplinary verses they hold up as evidence of their right behavior with Andrew, Lucas and others, we must now take this before the church at large.

    Paul tried to go to C.J. Mahaney and John Piper, others have tried to go to MH’s leadership, and nothing’s been done. Let Biblical discipline now go into effect on a larger scale.

    Do not remain quiet. Do not remain silent. Be strong, be heard, you have support.

    Stand proud as disciples of Christ.

  32. Finally the door opens and both pastors usher us into this tiny office with 2 couches facing each other. The door locks behind us where we find ourselves in a room with black walls and a sword hanging above the couch opposite us… — “Kip’s Story”

    Pretty blatant Intimidation/Foreshadowing. If this were a movie, the next scene would be “both pastors” making Kip a human sacrifice to some Eldritch Abomination.

  33. Jimmy,

    You should seriously consider moving to Seattle because you are EXACTLY the kind of elder Mark Driscoll is looking for…

  34. EDIT: What I wanted to say to Eagle and Mot was this; If they were accused of some heinous act, I would definitely want to hear their side of the story before passing judgment.

    Sorry I was less than clear about that.

  35. Until recently I never expected Stalinism to show itself in a church. — Anne

    Funny you should say that, Anne:

    “What do you do with someone who is rebellious, hard-hearted, stiff necked and stupid? You break their nose.”
    — Mark Driscoll in his “private” message to his congregation moments before firing Paul Petry and Bent Myer

    “Because they’re best to kick someone’s face in.”
    — attr to Josef Stalin, when asked at a diplomatic function why he always wore heavy boots

    And there’s even an analog to Jimmy. Comrade Stalin had a LOT of fanboys outside the USSR, constantly rationalizing and whitewashing his actions with their Superior Intellects.

  36. Jimmy, the majority of the story is told through primary documents and correspondence. The other side is actually within the massive documentation at the site. It’s just a matter of going over there and reading it.

  37. Kevin Potts,

    Thank you for sharing your own story about being “fooled and misled.” I’ve heard this so often that all I can think of is this admonition:

    For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. 2Cor. 11:13-15

    I guess the lesson I’ve learned is that no one is beyond being deceived and it makes me very sad to know the origin of the deception will be those who claim to be “servants of righteousness.”

    I’m grieving at the type of things that are infiltrating our churches.

  38. Comments Inadvertently Held
    Sometime around 12 PM, a group of comments went into moderation and did not show up on our control panel. They just appeared. We have approved all of them. We are not sure what happened but know that we are getting lots of hits. We are also adding some features to the blog and this may have added to the issue. We apologize for this and want to assure everybody that e approve everybody, including our ardent detractors.

  39. Jimmy
    Oh, I don’t know. You seem like the type of guy who would get along famously in that environment.

  40. Jimmy
    You have been presented with so much evidence that I am beginning to get bored by your protestations to the contrary. He called them stupid. Isn’t that enough for you?

  41. HUG
    If you have ever read about Wade’s experience on the IMB, there was the great knife incident. We think there is a play book out there somewhere. In fact, Driscoll continues to claim that some guy rushed his pulpit trying to hurt him with a machete. It was not reported in any newspapers that I can find but I am still hoping that someone will send me some evidence. Mars Hill seems to have a strange connection to knives.

  42. Eagle – I don’t think being active or ex-military makes any difference to people who act like MD and his crew. Shunning is shunning is shunning. (To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, albeit badly.)

    And I’m not sure that serving in the military automatically elevates a person to a higher plane. (I honestly don’t intend this unkindly, and apologize to any/all active military and vets who might read this comment.)

    I guess I am a very skeptical – sometimes cynical – child of the Vietnam era…

  43. Eagle – I left something out, which is that my take on your comment on active-duty military personnel and retirees is one of respect, not blind hero-worship.

    There’s an awfully big difference between the two, as Jonna clearly states.

  44. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. — 2Cor. 11:13-15, as cited by Victorious

    And “By their fruits you shall know them.”
    Example by reaction:

    After walking and working out I was thinking about all this and I decided to go ahead and put the Center for Inquiry bumper sticker on my car. After reading all this…. How could I not? And people still think Christianity is a healthy vibrant faith? Absolutely not …

    Christianity is a cancer. — Eagle

  45. Eagle – I left something out, which is that my take on your comment on active-duty military personnel and retirees is one of respect, not blind hero-worship. — Numo

    Does not change the example cited. God’s Anointed of Mars Hill showed NO respect for the retired Colonel.

  46. Kip
    Most of us on this blog were taken in at one time or another. There is no shame in that. The problem remains when you realize there is a problem and you stay. I remember a definition of mental illness one time. A hypochondriac builds castles in the air; the neurotic sees them and the psychotic lives in them. Once you know that castle is a fake, do you get out or do you decorate you bedroom.
    I am a big believer in getting it all out in the open. You have done that Kip and you will most likely lead an open, honest and caring life because of it.God uses all of our experiences for His purposes down the road. Little did I know, a few years ago that we would be running an early warning system.
    link

  47. In Proverbs 18, the same place which speaks of the case of the first one to present (who is that, in this case, BTW, but the martian rulers) seeming right, it also says, ” The poor use entreaties, but the rich answer roughly”.
    Just hear all the entreaties with tears in Jonna’s story and how “poor” they were made, and compare with the “rough” men Driscoll and his fellow “rich in spirit” are and promote.

  48. Jimmy
    Oh, I don’t know. You seem like the type of guy who would get along famously in that environment.
    — Dee

    Especially if he were one of Driscoll’s Armorbearers/Enforcers.

    Jimmy
    You have been presented with so much evidence that I am beginning to get bored by your protestations to the contrary. He called them stupid. Isn’t that enough for you?
    — Dee

    The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.

  49. Sam –

    Why does your name link directly to Mars Hill? — Bridget2

    “EES SPY!!!!” — Team Fortress 2

  50. Jimmy
    Jumping to conclusions????? There isn’t a right side? Oh good night! Sounds like a song..There ain’t no good guys; There ain’t no bad guys, There’s only you and me and we just disagree. How touchy feely

  51. Eagle – I respect the good things that members of the military (current and former) have done, but that said – there is a lot of bad as well.

    However, if I were active duty and faced with many of the choices that active duty personnel face, I’m not exactly sure that I’d come out of it without doing some bad things – possibly very bad. (Sorry; I honestly don’t mean to get into an argument, but early influences from Quakers and the German anabaptist “peace” churches – where I grew up – are showing!)

  52. Eagle – yes on fascism and Soviet and Chinese-style communism being close.

    The rhetoric differs slightly, but the way both systems operate are basically the same. (cf. the former governments of Argentina, the Chilean dictatorship, etc.)

  53. Numo said: “However, if I were active duty and faced with many of the choices that active duty personnel face, I’m not exactly sure that I’d come out of it without doing some bad things – possibly very bad. (Sorry; I honestly don’t mean to get into an argument, but early influences from Quakers and the German anabaptist “peace” churches – where I grew up – are showing!)”

    Numo, I like you’re post. It’s truly not always black or white.
    There are many people in our military who are evil. Many others who are righteous. It would be easy for me to get sucked into the evil.

  54. From the ” enabling act” article
    “By its decision to carry out the political and moral cleansing of our public life, the Government is creating and securing the conditions for a really deep and inner religious life”
    —- Adolph Hitler

  55. Every time I read one of these stories, I hear chains rattling. If Christianity to you is a program for you to get more holy, you will never get off that rat wheel. As you continue to grow in grace, (sanctification) and Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins (justification) is not placarded as well, you probably would be better off being a Buddhist. Why be a part of something that literally feeds off of care groups/leaders pointing out your sins to you without giving the gospel to you as well. Why be a part of a group where the leaders tell you that you are utterly depraved (not totally depraved) and you are worthless when those same leaders don’t seem to say the same things to themselves. How can leaders say that everyone is still a dirty rotten scoundrel but they can’t ever quite get to the place where they are totally included into this mix? Oh I know they throw in the pride card every now and then. That is the go to sin for the leaders. It is a HUGE deal make no mistake because it was literally the original sin:) but, in today’s culture, it is a nice ambiguous sin that doesn’t sound quite as bad as I was sleeping with my secretary or I beat the crap out of my kids and wife or I lie all the time. It is a pious person’s sin actually. It is one of those things where you can say “look, I have pride and I am super religious and so I need forgiveness for being so prideful because I now see how wicked I really am and I deserve hell because of my pride.” Of course your pride obviously isn’t that terrible now is it? You can ambiguously confess the sin of pride, have a few people of like mindedness “check you out” and then voila you are back on the scene baby! If your sin was sleeping with the secretary or having sex with a prostitute, you don’t get to jump back in the saddle so soon. Why not? I thought “pride” was really really really sinful and you are worm because of it!!

    A dear friend of mine who is a missionary with the IMB (she and her husband are calvinistas) once told me that she had the sin of pride. Back then I thought that was really strange she was confessing that one to me but now, I totally get it. Oddly enough, I found out some time later that she had another sin that let’s just say if MH found out about she would be DISCIPLINED! I thought back on the day that she told me she had the sin of pride. She almost seemed proud of the pride confession. On the other day, the day when she told me about her dirty laundry, I wanted to hug her and thank her for being honest and I was able to be honest about my sin as well. It was one of those very few beautiful moments that one could have with a calvinista. She is still a calvinista but, I think she wishes she wasn’t.

  56. Jimmy:

    You said: “I’d actually read Jonna’s and Kip’s story (certainly weird) before Dee posted it.

    But none of that negates Scripture that warns about jumping to conclusions before hearing the other side.

    Eagle, Mot, if you were accused by others of something heinous, I would CERTAINLY want to hear your side before jumping to a conclusion as to your guilt.”

    What a cop out! You can use any reason or reasons you want–I have the main reason I believe for you–contrarian.

    You just do not want to believe the truth that is right in front of you.

    Also, which is even sadder, I think you just enjoy the attention of anyone responding to your comments.

  57. Jimmy,

    I get your point but I think you’re missing a huge factor. Yes, it would be nice if Mars Hill would comment on this particular development at this particular time. But, as other comments on this blog have pointed out, Mars Hill has been telling the public FOR YEARS why these elders were fired in 2008. I believe there was even some press coverage on it.

    Should Mars Hill respond now to the new development? Sure. I agree with you. But please don’t forget that they have indeed had their story out there pretty much ever since 2008. In fact, their story is the only one that’s been out there.

    Also, I believe in hearing both sides of a story. But be careful. Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll have had many, many, many, MANY concerned critics over the years, and many of these critics have had valid points. If a Biblical teacher continually raises alarm in the wider Christian community (yes, continually), then at what point are we allowed to consider that person a problem? Do we have to wait forever because we will never hear enough of both sides?

    I see what you’re saying, but you have to understand that at a certain point, if it walks and quacks and looks like a duck, you can’t keep saying “we should find another angle on this animal and maybe it’ won’t be a duck” forever.

    The Observer

  58. RE: numo on Tue, Mar 20 2012 at 04:28 pm:

    I am a Vietnam era vet and I am not the least bit offended. In fact your comment is crack-on. Had we listened to Dwight Eisenhower in his farewell speech to the Nation in 1961, Vietnam would have never happened. And the ongoing tragedy in Afghanistan? Just a “what if?” scenario for the grad students at Georgetown.

  59. Eagle – yes on fascism and Soviet and Chinese-style communism being close. — Numo

    One friend of mine referred to Communism as “Fascism of the Left” and Fascism as “Fascism of the Right.” “Fascism” being defined as “ruled by control freaks.”

  60. I was amazed when I read through some of the 147 pages of responses to questions from Mars Hills how mean-spirited they were! To quote, they say “Sadly, it was during the bylaw rewriting process that two of our elders, who curiously were among
    the least administratively gifted for that task, chose to fight in a sinful manner in an effort to defend their power and retain legal control of the entire church.”
    I don’t understand how the only elder who is a lawyer can be among the “least administratively gifted”? He seems more qualified to understand the ramifications of the changes to the by-laws. And from reading Paul’s actual comments on the proposed bylaws, it does not appear as though he was trying to retain legal control of the church himself, but instead protect the church from any one person having too much influence and power.

  61. Hey all
    I have been having quite a time for myself, studying the history or both Driscoll and Mars Hill contained within the documents provided for by Paul Petry. Driscoll talks about how he sought counsel from the wonderful pastors around the country. Now, get this. He is so proud that he consulted Ed Young Jr and CJ Mahaney on how to run a large church.

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha ad infinitum.

    Pick self off floor. Let’s see, CJ’s ministry is in deep doo doo. And need I say anything more about Ed Young Jr. My mother said you are known for the company you keep. These two alone should call this man’s judgment into serious question!!!! I cannot take this!!!!

  62. Sad Observer, you make valid points.

    But when it comes to memories of incidents, particularly from 4 to 5 years ago, you have to be careful.

    A couple years ago my daughter played a role in a psych class where in answer to a teacher’s question, she stood and responded verbally for a minute in class. Then she left the room. The Prof. then asked some question.
    This class did not agree on what color shirt or blouse she was wearing, couldn’t decide whether or not she had backpack with her and debated what she actually said. All this took place within the 20 minutes after she left the room. Memory is a funny thing. I think you must be careful when you reiterate with great certainty what happened even in the last few minutes, to say nothing of some years back.

    And in wisdom, if there’s another side it’s probably good to hear it.

    That being said, the Petrys appear to be good people. It will be interesting to follow their blog.

    I wasn’t there, I can’t know for sure what happened in the meetings.

  63. In the “Response email from Mark to email resigning Membership” (link on the right hand side of the Joyful Exiles site), Mark Driscoll signs off with this:

    For Jesus Fame
    Pastor Mark Driscoll

    I’m not very well versed in Christian culture anymore, so perhaps someone here can tell me: is this an odd new bit of Christianese or something more like a Freudian slip?

    “for Jesus fame”. Huh.

  64. Carol
    I saw that one as well.“Sadly, it was during the bylaw rewriting process that two of our elders, who curiously were among
    the least administratively gifted for that task, chose to fight in a sinful manner in an effort to defend their power and retain legal control of the entire church.” (penned by Driscoll). I am so taken aback by this stuff that I plan to devote blog posts to this stuff. This man does not belong in his position. He is mean.
    In fact, I dedicate this next song to Mark Driscoll with a salute to the bravery of Paul and Jonna Petry and will embed it in a future post this weak. Mean/a>

  65. Rene
    Driscoll is skilled in doublespeak. Oh yeah, it’s really all about Jesus. Yep, Jesus went around threatening to punch out the lights of his followers.

  66. Jimmy
    They have been doing that stunt at Harvard Law School for years. The have a clown invade a classroom and cause mayhem/Using your standards, there would be precious little to convict any criminal because, you weren’t there, were you? Secondly, your daughter was there for a matter of minutes. This has gone on for years. Go ahead, stick your head in the sand. You will be one of those who helped the “nones” rise to be bigger than the SBC. Whoo hoo!

  67. Dee, I didn’t get close to Harvard Law School so I have no first hand info about them exhibiting the fallibility of the human memory.

  68. Bless you Jonna Petry for writing your amazing story. I’m sorry that you and so many others have had to deal with these Mars Hill monsters in sheep’s clothing. It took much courage to go against the lies and psycho spiritual intimidation sown by Driscoll and his minions. You and your husband Paul have fought well what may possibly be the toughest battle a believer is faced with in this life.

    Thank you Wartburg ladies for this blog and your efforts to expose this type of utter darkness and for repeatedly demonstrating the link between reformed theology and its bitter fruit.

    I reside in the Seattle area and have witnessed firsthand the Mars Hill effect upon at least one small church (the one I attend) where the poor deceived pastor has spent years practically frothing at the mouth for some case where he could apply some good ole church discipline. We have been subjected to the whole routine, contracts, hierarchal reporting structures, authoritarian control, shunning, pleas for people to share their dirty laundry in public, and of course the preoccupation with sin and the sexual stuff.

    It’s a sick system and I really hope its days are numbered and people see it for what it is.

    Keep up the good work.

  69. Jimmy, you write:

    Memory is a funny thing. I think you must be careful when you reiterate with great certainty what happened even in the last few minutes, to say nothing of some years back. And in wisdom, if there’s another side it’s probably good to hear it. That being said, the Petrys appear to be good people. It will be interesting to follow their blog. I wasn’t there, I can’t know for sure what happened in the meetings.

    I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people express the exact same thing about me when the Board of Trustees of the International Mission Board censured me and sought to remove me from the board as a functioning trustee. I heard people say:

    (1). There must be something to this because Christian people would never vote to censure without cause!
    (2). The leadership of the IMB would never embarrass a sitting trustee by attempting to remove him without reason!
    (3). When you hear Wade speak, remember, he is just one person and there was an entire leadership team that voted to remove him.

    I could go on and on, but you get the point.

    Let me tell you why I believe the Petrys 100%.

    (1). They took an opposite position on the bylaws of men infatuated with their “power and authority” and in my experience, when one opposes men deluded with their positions of power, every oppostion on the basis of principle becomes personal.
    (2). It only takes one person who is a bully to lead a small group into the bully ring. Mr and Mrs. Petry expressed amazement that nobody verbally and publicly came to their defense in leadership team meetings. They should have called me. When underlings who through insecurity become sycophants in order to keep their positions and jobs secure, then NOBODY is going to speak out in defense of the one the leader is upset with. It takes someone with nothing to lose to defend the weak. Everybody else is in a position of weakness themselves.
    (3). The tone and spirit of what Mrs. Petry’s account is matter-of-fact without making judgments of motive or intent. THAT right there is the biggest tip-off that somebody is telling the truth and not trying to defend themselves.
    (4). The documents they provide are a source of confirmation. Within those documents those who are infatuated with their positions of power make judgments about the PETRYS MOTIVES AND INTENTIONS – a dead give-away that self-protection is at work.
    (5). The Petrys were the recepients of some very ugly and personal attacks by some pretty influential people. They DON’T forget what happens. Everybody else, as you illustrate, might. But the people being scarred don’t.

    So… I disagree with you. There is every reason to believe every word the Petrys have written. Their story is like a replay of my own experience detailed in Hardball Religion.

    In HIs Grace,

    Wade

  70. True story; at the end of my freshman year at a Christian college, the Dean of Men called me in and said something like this. “Jimmy, there are 50 colleges within a 100 mile radius that wouldn’t mind having you as a sophomore. WE ARE NOT ONE OF THEM.”

    I became studenta non grata. My sainted mother wasn’t happy with me. The Christian college was happier without me however. I guess it all evened out.

  71. anger against authoritarian leaders who abuse the precious people entrusted to their care? Oh yes, but then I have known for years that dysfunction and injustice too often rise to the top in the church (like scum?) — there is just more and more evidence about how wide spread this is. What scares me is the number of Calvinistas who will excuse all this stuff because these guys preach ‘right doctrine’. There seems to be a complete disconnect between evaluating doctrine and evaluating behaviour.

    But what I most want to do right now is pray for all the victims:
    for those who have been bullied and abused
    for those who have been deceived
    for those whose faith has been shredded by what was done to them in the name of the God who loves them
    for those wading through deep confusion, with the gut feeling that something is badly wrong, but unable to put a finger on it
    for those who weep in silence, not knowing where to turn for support
    for those still caught on the hamster wheel and terrified to jump off
    for those whose reputations are destroyed and have to try and put their lives back together
    for all who are still being taken in by the sales pitch

    I bring them all before the One who binds up the broken hearted and sets the captives free
    may they find peace and truth, life and light, in his embrace

  72. Jimmy
    Google it. Once again, this is judgment based on split second observation. Driscoll has YEARS of writings and spoutings to evaluate. If you can’t make a decision based on that then you never will. You can go back to your cocoon feeling rather proud of yourself. Sometimes, it is worth sticking up for something that puts you out on a limb for a greater good. At least you don’t die bored and average.

    I have a sign in my kitchen which says

    “Motto to Live By: Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, latte in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming. “WhOO HOO, what a ride!”

    However, in my own defense, I (along with Deb) am glamorous, as well as adorable, in order to prevent Driscoll from dismissing me on that account. Right, Deb?

  73. Wade
    Long before I met you, I read Hardball Religion and reviewed it on this blog. I knew that you were the type of pastor I could trust by your willingness to stick out your neck and even get it cut. It is pastors like you that have prevented me from despairing. Thank you so much for what you do. Many things you and Rachelle do are also done behind the scenes. Some day, in heaven, revealed….

  74. I just perused the supporting documentation between Paul and Mars Hill. It is sad how much the interaction between Paul and Mars Hill resembles communication between Brent and SGM. There were so many things that triggered thoughts and connections that I think it will take awhile to process the whole thing.

    I am convinced that MD restructured MH to look like SGM. That type of structure makes it convenient for head honchos to get rid of those who don’t just fall into the rank and file without question. The way they abuse people the process is disgusting. If they want to be a a corporation — just be one and run a business. But for these men to do these things as “representatives of God” is beyond justifiable!

    MD looked to Ed Young and CJ . . . pretty much explains everything, except DID HE EVER CONSULT GOD AND SCRIPTURE?

    Also notable was the way MD “appears” to stay out of the whole process and lets his minions do all the work. We know, of course, that he was involved and led the way behind the scenes.

    Unfortunately, it looks like CJM did disciple Driscoll :(

  75. ‘It takes someone with nothing to lose to defend the weak. Everybody else is in a position of weakness themselves”

    So very true. That is why the silence of friends, colleagues or family is the most devastating of all in these situations.

    I recently heard NT Wright say that God uses the weak to shame the strong.

    ….So what does it mean when the strong are not shamed?

  76. “The elders are walking the tension of caring for
    the flock, both, by helping those who are hurting, and by exercising oversight and discipline of
    those that are hurting the flock by sinning in their demands for information, their slander of the
    elders, and their unfounded accusations and gossip.”

    From the http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/10-25-2007-updated-member-communication.pdf

    That dastardly sinning through questioning again…in writing.

  77. Dee said; “Jimmy
    For once, you intrigue me. What did you do?” [ to get kicked out of a Christian college].

    Ironically enough, my attitude towards those in authority absolutely sucked. I didn’t think they’d notice nor care. I was wrong. It was a Christian college.

  78. Sophia
    Can you imagine Jesus telling people “You sin by asking me questions?” These people are very strange indeed.

  79. Sophia –

    The passage in Jeremiah is very fitting. I just wonder if MD will put blame on those he sought out when troubles continue to increase for him? He made sure to let everyone at MH know where he went for counsel. Very humble if him wasn’t it?

    Dee –

    Jesus answered many, many questions and put up with rather some outrageous comments from the disciples, but never treated anyone like Driscoll does. But he will claim that we are all sinners (total depravity) and we shouldn’t act like self-righteous pharisees when others sin (cause this is what CJ is preaching at Solid Rock now).

  80. I read through the Petry’s site. It is all too familiar. Paul and Jonna, you are more courageous than you know. Many will benifit from you courage.

    Wade, in general, I agree that defending the weak is easier for someone with nothing to lose. However, there are those who will risk (and lose) everything to defend others. I think, sometimes, it is a matter of clearly seeing the value of what may be lost against the price of silence. I risked losing ‘everything’ I had at my church (perceived security, position as leader, and all that…) to stand by a friend. And I still have that dear friend. And I lost everything I had with that church – including many I thought were friends. What I gained was of far more value than what I lost, but at the time I risked it, I didn’t know that.

  81. Muff and Jimmy – thanks re. your comments on my comments on the military. ; )

    I lived in the D.C. area for over 20 years and met many truly nice people who were either active duty or retired. That said, some aspects of military culture are very strange and I did see a bit of that, too (though not from the military types who were friends). Suffice it to say that my time there helped me get some different views of the military – some good, some not. It *was* helpful, though, since I had had some misconceptions about it, due to the tensions when I was growing up (60s-70s).

    Also, in 2001, lots of D.C.-area reserves were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan – in a fair number of cases, couples with kids at home were called up with no respect to the fact that they had small children. There was an article in the Washington Post about one man who stepped in to help care for his brother’s kids when both parents were posted overseas.

    If these folks had been called up for *local* active duty, it would have been one thing… but it didn’t work that way.

  82. Robin – re. you “might as well be a Buddhist” statement, am not sure that would work, as compassion is extremely important to Buddhist belief and practice.

    (More so, it would seem, that it is for many of us who claim the name “Christian.”)

  83. Jeannette,

    I agree. We are saying the same thing:

    “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything rubbish compared to …”

    It’s a matter of priorities. If you value truth, integrity and friendship with the abused more than you do reputation, position or the praise of men, then you will defend the weak–but you have nothing to lose (even if one loses his/her position, reputation, job, etc…) because all those things are considered nothing in comparison to what you really value.

    :)

  84. Wade, thanks for your response. I agree – thanks for the perspective. I am sometimes a little over-sensitive still… ;-)

    BTW, thank you for your courage as well, in standing up for truth.

  85. Jesus answered many, many questions and put up with rather some outrageous comments from the disciples, but never treated anyone like Driscoll does. But he will claim that we are all sinners (total depravity) and we shouldn’t act like self-righteous pharisees when others sin (cause this is what CJ is preaching at Solid Rock now). — Bridget2

    Anyone else notice this is a “Heads I Win, Tails YOU LOSE!” situation?

  86. HUG –

    That’s the main point with CJM and Driscoll – they think they never need to make any adjustments to themselves :)

    BTW – I’m not on the total depravity wagon. The Holy Spirit indwells my soul and is my Helper. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus! Because of these two facts, I am not totally depraved or incapable of doing what is right and just – not always (dang) but mostly! I won’t use total depravity doctrine as an excuse when I do scew up.

  87. Wade said:

    “If you value truth, integrity and friendship with the abused more than you do reputation, position or the praise of men, then you will defend the weak–but you have nothing to lose (even if one loses his/her position, reputation, job, etc…) because all those things are considered nothing in comparison to what you really value.”

    Was just having this conversation as I decided whether or not to post a link to Virginia Knowles latest post. I opted for truth, integrity, and speaking the truth in love. If I am unwilling to say what I think to those I know and love, then??? At the risk of losing a few people (which I doubt), I am willing to put it out there.

  88. Unfortunately, it looks like CJM did disciple Driscoll. — Bridget2

    “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees — hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make a convert, only to make him twice the child of Hell as yourselves!”

  89. Argh. I have tried to open joyful exiles blog repeatedly and get a blank screen. I tried opening Adobe reader, which was one person’s suggestion. I did read the entire post here by Jonna. My heart is breaking. I read all about the Mahaney controversy here, and my mind was pretty clearly set that he was full of pride and self-righteousness, no matter how much SGM defended him. And now Driscoll. I have heard him in person and my pastor at one time had him speak at a conference he put on, but this is too much. Most people who are spiritually abused are bitter and hateful or depressed or so fearful that they never say a coherent word. Jonna’s testimony confirms what I have seen in several churches. I just want to read what her husband said.

  90. Just read this one paragraph in one of the emails sent to Paul:

    “You must also realize that I was personally grieved by your choice to send a letter to all of the selders rather than accept my request to discuss your grievances.  I was also grieved by the tone of your letter and the seriousness of your accusations. If you had been mistreated, you would have heaped coals on our heads by responding in a godly manner that brought glory to Jesus, instead you appear to have validated the actions of the elders. Regardless of how we are treated we are obligated as Christians to respond righteously.  Mistreatment would not justify the way you have responded and continue to respond to this process.  Therefore, in addition to your grievances, we will be discussing your actions in sending this letter.”

    Paul had just unburdened his soul to these people, begging them to repent and repenting of his own complicity. The response was this lambasting, because he wrote to all the elders rather than accepting the “godly council”(sic) of sitting down with “his pastors” for one of those special meetings, and subjecting his wife to it, as well. The next paragraph claims his firing was a “first warning”, this letter the “second warning” and if he didn’t go to the prescribed tribunal he’d be disfellowshipped.

    Of course, the letter was sent by an underling, not the man calling the shots—all so similar to the SGM degiftings.

    Adjectives fail me for describing such finely tuned, abominable EVIL. I remain, Apalled.

  91. When the fear of tyranny prevails:

    “They came for the Jews, but I did nothing because I am not a Jew”.

  92. In similar situations with another pastor (the one with an “authoritarian” role), the response has been something like “I don’t even know what happened.” (in regards to the people who have left the church after being manipulated by him). I pray, because he possibly really has no clue, even though, it seemingly has been explained to him… I can’t imagine being trapped like that…

    Wait, I can, I have my own thorn in my flesh that I’m continually battling. I will still pray for the miracle of sanctification to continue in these pastors lives, because God is amazing. And may God heal and bring a miracle to those that are hurt. That they will suffer with Christ and be refined, BUT also have the peace and refuge to trust Him and the amazing honor of seeing something come out of their pain.

    The abused have certainly helped me in ways that I can’t express!!

    So…are the bits of encouragement we get from these pastors need to be thrown out? There are things from Piper that have been influential in my life for the better. But, I say as my husband says, we have the mind of Christ, we have His Word, and the Holy Spirit to discern these matters, and the Word is very clear on what God’s will is; when it says “God’s will for you.” So tear out His truth amongst the fodder; glorify Jesus with His victory in your life; not the man that God may have used to spur you to His Word.

    Hey – I’m encouraging myself! I’m going to go to bed tonight with a smile on my face! Night, y’all!

  93. I also believe Paul Petry and his wife. In reading the stories from MH, they have the same pattern. I just finished reading Kip’s story on Sophie’s site. The same pattern again.

    Called to be a leader, the candidate questions the curriculum or a method, candidate is questioned, then grilled, then attacked, then told he is sinning or wife is sinning, this is followed by church discipline(which begins the harassing), they are sent harassing emails, pursued with more meetings, they are then told that if they leave the church this so called discipline will follow them to whatever church they go to. This is horrible and unacceptable.

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  95. Debbie K,

    I am so grateful that you are keeping up with what is happening in the Mars Hill community. I am shocked at the Southern Baptist leaders who put Mark Driscoll on a pedestal. Shame on them! The truth is being exposed, and they need to repent for elevating a man who has some serious issues.

  96. Bob
    I am having no trouble accessing the site. There are two possibilities. They are getting a ton of hits and the site is snowed under. Also, have you tried restarting your computer?

  97. DaveAA I, too, think this is evil as well. There is something wrong in the system at Mars Hill. Since only men make up the system, I blame the male leaders at Mars Hill for doing this. It is weird, sick and a reflection of their leader who gets away with pornovisions.

  98. Katherine
    A long time ago, I spoke with a lawyer about a church and how they could punish someone who did not go along with them. He said the only thing they can do is kick you out of the church. And getting kicked out of a church, in my opinion, these days, is a badge of honor. It means you cared enough to stand up to evil.

  99. Debbie
    I am beginning to think this is evil. I hate it when people are abused for the sake of an agenda. The question here: what is the agenda? Humility is not in the offing.

  100. “I am shocked at the Southern Baptist leaders who put Mark Driscoll on a pedestal. Shame on them! The truth is being exposed, and they need to repent for elevating a man who has some serious issues.”

    I agree. They know the truth as they have been told of this blog and they so far have chosen to ignore the truth. I think it will be to their detriment in the end. We also have another sexual scandal to contend with and that in my opinion is being ignored for a “it shouldn’t reflect on us” attitude.

    I am also appalled that CJ Mahaney and John Piper refused to help when asked although CJ Mahaney is guilty of the same things so his refusal tells a lot doesn’t it?

  101. BTW: Evidently some are saying that Driscoll has not been an invited SBC event guest for several years; yet Danny Akin endorsed Mark’s marriage book, for example. No one has spoken out against this kind of abuse and Mark Driscoll or Mahaney – they just silently do not invite them to events. They need to speak out.

  102. Very sad but undoubtedly the trend, seeing it here in Texas with a “pastor” who is following the same MO of Driscoll. Nothing new to add to the insightful comments. The question is how long will they be able to keep their spell over the masses. He is not the gatekeeper to God – you don’t need him. You have the Holy Spirit inside you if you are a Christian. You are free. Sounds like Driscoll is really just a punk, the kind we saw in high school. Inside every bully is a coward, and he appears to be that too. I’m praying for him, his wife, and the people he is harming.

  103. This letter is amazing. As I read it, I kept thinking, every time she used Mark’s name, I inserted Ed’s name. And every time sheused Lief’s name, I inserted Preston’s name. And every time she used Paul’s name, I inserted the names of scores of staff that Ed/Lisa pushed out, after signing a gag order in return for severance.

    And here is the most damning part of this. Mark/Ed/insert name, teach this authority nonsense to thousands of wanna be pastors every year in their conferences, making disciples in this authority doctrine in waves. God help, literally, the US church in the coming years.

  104. I am shocked at the Southern Baptist leaders who put Mark Driscoll on a pedestal. — Deb

    “These three Kings said one to another:
    ‘King unto King o’er the word is brother!'”
    — G.K.Chesterton, “Ballad of the Battle of Gibeon”

    Very sad but undoubtedly the trend, seeing it here in Texas with a “pastor” who is following the same MO of Driscoll… — Mark

    Complete with kewpie faux-hawk, MMA Cage Fights, and “I CAN BEAT YOU UP! I CAN BEAT YOU UP! I CAN BEAT YOU UP!”?

  105. “And be sure you bring the ‘little lady’ along to the beat-down– since you’re not dude enough to keep her in line yourself”

  106. Jeremiah 23:28-32

    “Let these false prophets tell their dreams,
    but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word.
    There is a difference between straw and grain!
    Does not my word burn like fire?”
    says the Lord .
    “Is it not like a mighty hammer
    that smashes a rock to pieces?
    “Therefore,” says the Lord , “I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me. I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, `This prophecy is from the Lord !’ I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the Lord have spoken!

  107. And here is the most damning part of this. Mark/Ed/insert name, teach this authority nonsense to thousands of wanna be pastors every year in their conferences, making disciples in this authority doctrine in waves. — Former Fellow

    “Woe unto you, Lawyers and Pharisees, Hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make a convert, only to make him into twice the child of Hell as yourselves!”

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  110. Eagle –

    If the leaders continue leading in this way, refusing to repent (which includes change), then people make decisions about staying and enabling it, or leaving. Every person has the freedom to do this, no matter what leaders in churches say.

  111. Dave A A

    Better still, “I can appoint a “reconciliation” committee to beat you up.

    I can top that: “As your pastor, I have asked you…to come in to meet…motivated by a desire “to care for” you and your family, and I will beat you up.”

  112. Eagle —

    “Here’s another thing that really bothers me in this situation as well. What can really be done? … One can bring all the pressure that exists, and I seriously doubt that will do anything….And though I am 1,500 to 2,000 miles away on the east coast, I have an Acts 29 church popping up in my backyard of Arlington, Virginia …. So again i ask, what can really be done?”

    Find the exit signs & leave, and live in freedom and liberty at the table prepared for you in the presence of your enemies.

  113. Eagle,

    You ask what can be done. The answser is indeed nothing. I would like to point out that mountains of ecclesiastical oversight rarely fixes these problems. I give you the Episcopals, Presbyterians (USA), Lutherans (ELCA), United Church of Christ, Oneness Pentecostals, United Methodists, Assembly of God and yes, even the SBC. In general, when they disagree, they just split up and rename their denomination with a new string of alphabet soup.

  114. Katharine – to be fair, mainline churches rarely split in the way you suggest.

    As for most evangelical churches, I think that’s a whole different ballgame.

  115. Numo

    What about the Anglicans/Episcopalians? Presbyterians (PCA and the new evangelical group-the name escapes me). Also, there are some rumblings now in the ELCA. Then, the most famous one of all-Dee left the SBC causing shock waves in the evangelical set.

  116. Dee – these splits are pretty unprecedented, which is what I was trying to convey re. “rarely.”

    And I’m afraid that the splits that are occurring are over the wrong things.

    My take is that the evangelical church (and some mainline churches) are going to be very ashamed of their treatment of LGBT people, not too far in the future.

    I see it already with younger straight folks who are “committed” Christians, to use a bit of evangelical jargon. (Which I used to be able to sling with the best; now I try to avoid it like the proverbial plague! ; ))

  117. Mark Driscoll had other job offers? My guess, though, was that he weighed the cash cow of MH against any book or speaking engagements and decided why not take complete control, delegate everything, preach and create side businesses like the other mega-pastors do (read:Ed Young Jr.)
    So, he created a dictatorship and uses his “gifts” to inform Christian married couples that abhorrent sex acts are condoned.
    This is a sick, perverted man, who twists scripture to push his agenda.
    People of Mars Hill, don’t be fooled by MD’s cool guy approach. If the only reason you go to MH is because it is different and you don’t like “traditional” churches, can you not see how MH is probably WORSE than the church your parents’ attended?

  118. Also re. the ELCA: there is no decree by fiat being enforced on individual ELCA churches, contrary to what a lot of stuff out there says (erroneously).

    Congregations can choose to *not* follow some of the recently changed guidelines.

    But there *is* a lot of anger brewing, and it looks like there will be at least one breakaway denom.

    Very, very sad, in my opinion – same for the splits in TEC.

  119. The relationships Jesus talks about in John 17 are the exact opposite of what we tend to actually *do.*

  120. This post and the facts it recites are truly pathetic.

    Putting people on trial?

    Making all of the members of a church resign, and then rejoin under a new set of bylaws?

    The language that is used is overly spiritualized, but not really spiritual. To me, that is a reason to distrust it.

    I am surprised that any thinking people would join and stay in a church like this.

    The irony is that Driscoll claims to be strong, and a man etc. But watch. If enough criticism comes their way, Mars Hill and Driscoll will fold like a cheap suit. They will reorganize. Driscoll will write a new book about forgiveness and humility.

    What is going on here it really pretty obvious.

  121. I must admit, this was some of the most entertaining reading I’ve done in a while, thanks to all for providing me with so much amusement. I must admit I have a keen interest in how people get sucked into ‘cult-like’ groups that I’m considering a few visits to the church to check it out myself. Cheers.

  122. It just occurred to me that the “shunning” was sort of like the topologist who ran around and around a column in Greece shouting “I am trapped, trapped, and can’t get out”. They have shunning our brother and sister into the Church Triumphant. By excommunicating them, they have really only excommunicated themselves. Like the dwarfs in Narnia – so taken in they cannot be taken out.

    The only question I have left is this: Should Mark Driscoll be formally excommunicated from our fellowship? That is, should we formally “hand this man over to Satan so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” ? I don’t know that such a person need be a formal member of our church for us to declare him outside our fellowship.

  123. Mark Driscoll asks: “”What do you do with someone who is rebellious, hard-hearted, stiff necked and stupid?”

    Jesus Christ responds: “I died for you.”

  124. Scott
    So glad that the pain of others provides you with amusement. It must be nice to be above all this. Cheerio.

  125. Re: what can be done…

    I was discussing this stuff with my parents today. I told them if there is one thing I have learned it is that the truth always comes out in the end. I have seen it in my own life and I know that God is not mocked. In one situation in particular I was terribly wronged by someone in authority. The leadership board of the organization would not believe me and I lost a job I loved. Six months later I was contacted by two of the leaders and they apologized for not believing me. Eventually the entire organization went under. There was a sickness in it that no one would deal with and I believe God did not allow it to flourish when it really had every reason to do so from a worldly perspective.

    The truth always comes out in the end. God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Yes, it may appear that he gets away with it for a season. Why God allows it to go on for that season, only He knows. But I do believe that the truth will always come out in the end.

  126. Hmm… I have debated on whether to mention this….

    In listening to MD talk about priests as “sissy-men in dresses” and the way he is so obsessed with making such everyone knows he is a tough guy and rails against how the church has been “ckick-i-fied”, I keep coming back to wondering if in his Catholic childhood, one of those priests he seems to hate so much molested him. It would explain a lot of things….

  127. Jeannette, I think you are definitely on to something there. You’re right, it sure would explain the situation. The guy is mentally unstable and had psychological problems.

  128. I’m just agog again… how much worse can it get…? Threatening this guy’s father in law to sever ties with his own daughter and husband? WOW.

    And I happened to catch a screen cap over at “the friendly atheist” who is also (sadly) blogging about these things. It’s a screen capture of the online Reconciliation Portal. Like placing an order on the web, you can go in and submit your request for reconciliation through a web form. GOOD GRIEF!!

    All of this behavior by Driscoll only reinforces the unbelievers’ ideas that this is the brainwashing that Christianity is all about. This is not a comment meaning that we should not talk about this (as I’m sure others would like to use it – i.e. “don’t bicker and fight and air our dirty laundry, it will scare people away from Christ!”), but rather that you are doing exactly what you should – we need as Christians to be the first ones to openly condemn this behavior. So thank all of you for doing all this and thank the Lord for his leading you to do so.

  129. Dee said: ” In fact, Driscoll continues to claim that some guy rushed his pulpit trying to hurt him with a machete.”

    Maybe it was in one of his visions.

  130. “Dee, I didn’t get close to Harvard Law School so I have no first hand info about them exhibiting the fallibility of the human memory.”

    And if you had, you would probably not remember it right, right?

    Come ON Jimmy. The documentation is all there! Read Mars Hills’ generalized “say nothing” response compared to the detailed stories of what happened to them? People remember in detail when things hurt them. They pay attention when things stop adding up. Remembering strange events that don’t mean anything, like a clown coming into your classroom, yeah, hard to remember that stuff. But remembering and documenting everything in an ordeal that went on for MONTHS, or even YEARS, so that you DO remember, then summarizing what was documented, and you’re comparing that to a meaningless mind game played in a psych class?

  131. Have any of you folks ever watched the TV movie “The wave” or the German made remake “Die Welle”? It might be interesting to compare to this whole cult of personality thing.

    Thankfully in our society churches do not have the force of law. I get so sick of Christians who think the church’s mission is to reform the world and make it godly. We can’t even make our churches godly, what are they going to do when they have the military and a jillion dollar budget at their disposal? The religious right and the religious left make me sick with their agendas to reform society into their vision of what biblical means. God help us, save us from ourselves.

  132. Sallie

    I, too, have seen the truth come out eventually. I know of a church that concealed some things. Over the years, the once large church continues to dwindle.

  133. Alan
    Many of the folks here have echoed your thoughts. There is something disingenuous in consistently talking about “the other side.” For one or two incidents, it makes sense, but when patterns are repeated over and over again, something is definitely wrong. After awhile, the other side is superfluous.

  134. Thank you for posting the Petrys’ story. I’m glad they’ve chosen to speak out, so that others may be warned and those who have endured abuse from Driscoll/MH can be encouraged. What struck me is how the Petrys had to re-build their lives, from scratch, in the aftermath of the accusations, betrayal, deception, and abuse.

    As I read through Mrs. Petry’s story, I kept thinking about cult leaders (e.g., Jim Jones and David Koresh) who began their ministries/church leadership with balance and good intentions. Over time, these previously damaged egos became intoxicated with power and authority and wanted more and more without accountability.

    It’s hard not to notice that Mark Driscoll has personal problems that he’s never faced. I believe he is likely a damaged person with a wounded ego. I believe he has acted out his pain, and I think he’s hiding some things. When you couple that predisposition for abuse with a situation in which you can bully, intimidate, and manipulate your way into a position of ultimate power and authority, you’ve got a very dangerous individual.

    I appreciate what Wade Burleson shared about his own experiences, and I agree that the Petrys’ story is 100% credible.

  135. Paula
    The father in law threat is beyond belief. These documents are deeply disturbing and should cause most sane people to ask some very hard questions.

  136. Wendy

    Driscoll: “damaged person with a wounded ego.” You could be right. It will surface one day. I don’t think this can keep on going the way that it is for much longer. Something will give.

  137. Dee,

    I keep thinking that Driscoll may have “father hunger”. I know nothing about his parents or his family history, but if he had an emotionally or physically distant or unavailable father, he could have father hunger. Father wound could have predisposed him to the desire for a “masculine” world and a “masculine” Christianity. It would also predispose him to going after power and control and being a bully and pushing down everyone who got in his way.

    That’s one possibility. The other possiblity is that Driscoll has Antisocial Personality Disorder. Sociopaths don’t require a crappy childhood to do the horrible things they do.

  138. “That’s one possibility. The other possiblity is that Driscoll has Antisocial Personality Disorder. Sociopaths don’t require a crappy childhood to do the horrible things they do”

    I think he is a classic narcissist. The problem Driscoll has with his narcissism is that he became well known. It takes a while to figure them out because they are very clever and bold. And they say many right things. Because Driscoll became so well known, people are starting to connect the dots. And because he has been so successful he is allowing us to see more and more. He is on top of the world (He won over and over….his way) and thinking by showing us his “problems” (in the book) he would gain empathy. The opposite is happening. I expect to see him really clean it up. I bet he does. It is one reason I refrain from saying I hope he repents and turns around. I think that is a pipe dream. I think he will LOOK LIKE HE REPENTED. Narcissists are not about to lose it all over stupidity. I think guys like Driscoll were set out for condemnation long ago (See Jude). My prayer is for the folks who follow him. I pray the get out. I get sick of all the empathy for the wolves. I do not wish him harm. Just that he go away, get out of ministry. About the only way for a narcissist to change is to lose it all and come to the end of himself. Everything else he uses for himself. Sorry if that sounds mean but people need to study narcissism. We don’t do them favors when we enable them. We must walk away from them quickly.

    Ministry is a perfect place for narcissist and they come in all varieties.

  139. And let me be sure to add that Driscoll’s problems aren’t an excuse for ANYTHING he’s done. Rather, it’s a way to put the severity of his problems in focus. I believe he has some very serious psychological and spiritual problems and, clearly, he’s a danger to others. I appreciate TWW, Wade’s blog, and the MH Survivors blogs that are telling their stories and speaking out about the enormous dangers of Driscoll/MH.

  140. ‘Any Chance We’ll Hear De Other Sidez?’

    HowDee YaAll,

    Ha! Ha!

    “We’ve heard it? Ad nauseum? Where have we been? The “other” side has a pulpit, books, podcasts, conferences, etc, etc, etc, …a stage all over the world?”

    hmmm…

    ‘A church for a stage…a pastoral ‘one act’ and swelling minions to behold the inglorious scene! Then should the warlike Markie, like himself, assume the proverbial port of Marz, and at his heals, leashed in like hounds should his seemly submissive sycophantic pastors crouch for employment. But pardon gentle all, the flat unraised spirits that hath dared, on this unworthy scaffold to bring forth so great a rebuttal to this blatant atrocity. Can this Acts29 cockpit withhold so their vast fields from Christ’s love?’

    ‘Cry havoc, and let slip, the armies of heaven!’

    Sopwith, King McDriscill I, Act One, Prologue, Chorus.

    Comic relief: The Muppets – “Popcorn” 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gwg5ey6236o&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    However, this story is not without a certain irony, …of redemptive ‘puissance’.  For TWW and their readers, diz here evil spell has been broken and we’ze can be free. Yes, datz right! Free to love, trust, and follow Jesus apart from abusive ACT29 ‘type’ leadership. 

    ♫ ♫ Jesus…You are my sunshine, You make me happy when the Acts29 skys turn yucky… hum,hum, hum…

    We have learned by this tragic story never, no never, entrusted our hearts to people, looking to them for longing approval and positive affirmation, needing to find our identities in our relationships and in our ministries instead of completely and solely entrusting our hearts to the Living God and finding our identity and security in Jesus Christ alone. (who loves us and died for us and calls us His own, Yeah!) 

    Anat Navarro – “I Can See Clearly Now” 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2To29QiVko&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Kirrrrrrrrk!

    …never, no never entrusted your heartz to others…dat place is reserved fer de Almighty, El Supreamo alone!

    Markie, putz da sword away fer ya hurts youze self!

    (grin)

    hahahhahahahaha

    Sopy ;~)
    ___
    Third Day “Trust in Jesus”…alone
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BtaCeJYqZA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  141. I read through some of the docs on Joyful Exiles and I hate to say it but a lot of it sounded like the exchanges I read on sgmwikileaks.

    All that fake, I love you in the Lord, stuff. Oh yes, I ruined you but I want to reconcile as brothers in Christ, blah blah blah. (All that was for image purposes and only enables more evil. Run from these types!)

    They make a mockery of Christ. They USE God for their own purposes. And people don’t want to say this stuff is evil? They want to pretend like this is the Body of Christ? They want the “other side”? It has been there for years but so many chose to think his “brand” of Christianity was normal. They ignored the poison because Driscoll had “correct doctrine” and was “winning young people to Christ”. No he wasn’t. He was winning them to follow Mark. CJ did the same thing.

    CULT of Personality.

  142. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

    Driscoll and his ilk use fear as a tool against the ones they desire to dominate. Which basically is everyone. “I break their nose…”.

    Mars Hill is a fear based organization from top to bottom. Driscoll preaches the gospel of fear. He is the initiator and implementer of fear within the very body he claims to serve as an overseer and shepherd.

    He does this because he himself is overcome by fear. He is afraid of his own flock and also the god he is obviously worshipping. He is becoming more and more like the god he serves.

    Whoever does not love (drive out fear) does not know God, because God is love.

  143. He does this because he himself is overcome by fear. He is afraid of his own flock and also the god he is obviously worshipping. He is becoming more and more like the god he serves. — David

    Years ago, I had a similar epiphany re the Ayatollahs of Iran and Commanders of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale. They ARE being Godly. They ARE being like their God. Only they see God as a control freak ready to smash anything to His Will, eager to destroy and cast into Eternal Hell. So in imitating God, they become control freaks. Because all they can see of God is Omnipotence and Will — Power and Control.

  144. I get so sick of Christians who think the church’s mission is to reform the world and make it godly. We can’t even make our churches godly, what are they going to do when they have the military and a jillion dollar budget at their disposal? — Paula

    Don’t forget the police, courts, prisons, secret police, and power of the State and Life and Death over those under them.

    The religious right and the religious left make me sick with their agendas to reform society into their vision of what biblical means. — Paula

    Just like the Communists, they have both drunk the Kool-Aid of Citizen Robespierre and his Republique of Perfect Virtue always shining on the distant horizon. The Perfect Utopia that always beckons from the other side of the “regrettable but necessary” Reign of Terror. The Cause so Righteous that it justifies any evil necessary to bring it about. Especially as entropy sets in over time.

  145. Paula —

    your comment struck me as well:

    “I get so sick of Christians who think the church’s mission is to reform the world and make it godly. We can’t even make our churches godly, what are they going to do when they have the military and a jillion dollar budget at their disposal? The religious right and the religious left make me sick with their agendas to reform society into their vision of what biblical means.”

    This so-called “christian” entity (from both polar extremes toward almost dead center) feels like an enemy force to me. It’s more than disconcerting. I’m trying to come up with a neat, crystal-clear mental image for what it feels like, but the best one I’ve already used so I’ll repeat myself:

    it’s like watching Spiderman (in one of the movies) being frighteningly overtaken by a different identity, an ink black “skin” crawling up his body inch by inch, as a dark invader took control of him for its own purposes.

    To me, the most sensible response is to walk out of the institution, their agendas ever-creeping like rising damp.

    Once you’re out — it’s like breathing fresh air after being in a tent for a very long time with other people — you don’t realize how stale, unpleasant, and oxygen-poor the air is until you’re out. Outside, the air is sweet, pleasant — a surprising & enormous relief.

    And by golly God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are very present and delightfully accessible out here.

    And to have the pleasure and satisfaction of thinking one’s own thoughts, having the freedom to evaluate and come to one’s own conclusions, and no longer have to sacrifice integrity (in many senses) for creeping agendas.

  146. Paula,

    Your statement struck me as well:

    “I get so sick of Christians who think the church’s mission is to reform the world and make it godly. We can’t even make our churches godly, what are they going to do when they have the military and a jillion dollar budget at their disposal? The religious right and the religious left make me sick with their agendas to reform society into their vision of what biblical means.”

    To me, this “christian” entity (from both polar extremes to almost dead center) feels like an enemy force. It’s more than disconcerting. I’m trying to come up with a neat, crystal-clear mental image for what it feels like, but the best one I’ve already mentioned so I’ll repeat myself:

    –it’s like the feeling I had when watching Spiderman (in one of the movies) be overtaken by another identity, an ink black “skin” crawling up his body, inch by inch, as a dark invader took over for its own purposes.

    To me, the most sensible solution is to walk out of the institution, the agendas ever-creeping like rising damp. And once out, the fresh air is striking. It’s like having been in a tent with other people for a while, not realizing how stale, unpleasant, & oxygen-poor the air is, until you step outside and breath. Only then do you realize what fresh air is. And you breath deep and long. Such unexpected & enormous relief.

    And by golly God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are very present and delightfully accessible out here.

    And the pleasure and satisfaction of having one’s own thoughts, to evaluate and come to one’s own conclusions and not have to sacrifice integrity (in many senses) for a creeping agenda.

  147. Jimmy, LOL bro. “the other side of the story.” That’s funny. As others have already so eloquently pointed out, the (numerous) stories that are finally coming out, ARE the other side of the story. Driscoll had it his way where he got to abuse and mistreat people and then let the rest of the sheep at MH know what those “terrible, stupid, insubordinate” people did. Now, they finally get to present their account of what really happened. So, we are all familiar with the one play that you have in your playbook. It goes like this: abuse and harm people, and then when they have the courage to come forward, say something vague like “well, there’s another side to the story” but don’t ever make any real points (because there aren’t any real points for you to make). It’s as old as time. Blame the victims. It’s the way bullys always operate.

    Finally, I find it refreshing that unlike your hero MD, Dee and Deb aren’t afraid to allow dissenting voices such as yours on their blog. I guess when you have the truth on your side, you don’t have much to fear.

  148. Anon 1:

    I said the same thing after I read Paul and Jonna’s story. I concluded that MD has actually been mentored by CJM as he so claims. The proof is that Mars Hill and SGM are bearing the same fruit. It is not a happy thought.

  149. Anon1
    SGM=Mars Hill
    Mark Driscoll mentored by CJ Mahaney
    Good catch equating SGM Wikileaks to Petry documents.

  150. Our local Christian radio station here in Seattle, Spirit 105.3, has been showing all kinds of support for Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. I’m not talking about paid radio spots. I’m talking promotion of MH events and talking with one of the pastors on-air to promote said events. This happened about a month ago. I forget which pastor it was–one of the MH satellite locations–had an entire 3 minutes or so to promote a church event that “Mark Driscoll himself” would be speaking at (in person).

    I was just driving in my car today, and once again, I hear one of their DJ’s promoting Mark’s sermons and directing listeners to go to his public Facebook page where he has posted YouTubes of Mark preaching:

    https://www.facebook.com/matthewryancase

    As a daily listener of this station for over a decade, I have never heard any other church or pastor being promoted to listeners (except in instances when a Christian artist is having a concert at a local church, in which case the location [only] is mentioned).

    I am a former longtime member of Mars Hill. To this day, I cannot walk into another church or ever see myself trusting another pastor (or church members) again. My walk with Jesus, though healing through His grace alone, has been shredded beyond recognition.

    Why and how is MD and MH stuff allowed on our local Christian radio? Why is God allowing this to happen? What can be done?

  151. david
    That was a good word for today. Perfect love casts out fear. If you fear your pastors, you may not be in the presence of love. No love=Wrong faith.

  152. Alan
    Excellent assessment of the “other side to the story” gospel. You see, they have always given us the other side. now we get to give them “this side.” Darn those stupid bloggers, screwing up the whole thing.

  153. ~ Anon1 UNITED on Thu, Mar 22 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I think that you’re right about the narcissism. To anyone who has been around one, they become easy to spot.
    One of the classic tactics of a narcissist caught doing something is to give what is called a non-apology. These calls for reconciliation are classic examples. I was raised by a narcissist and one of the things that was said to me that was very helpful was: If you leave a conversation with someone feeling confused, disoriented, trying to figure out what you did wrong and even doubting your own sanity, take a deep breath – you’ve just been talking to a narcissist.

  154. Dee –

    The Spiderman image comment was from Elastigirl. It’s up there twice in a row, by accident.

  155. Distressed
    We are doing what we can to alert folks to our concerns with Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll. So are many other bloggers. We need to keep telling the stories of people who have been hurt. In fact, if you would like to tell you story, I know marshillrefuge and our blog would be happy to consider it. you could help many others.

  156. “I must admit, this was some of the most entertaining reading I’ve done in a while, thanks to all for providing me with so much amusement. I must admit I have a keen interest in how people get sucked into ‘cult-like’ groups that I’m considering a few visits to the church to check it out myself. Cheers.”

    Scott, You find other people’s pain and ruin, amusing?

  157. Distressed in Seattle,

    It sounds like you have been wounded as well by an experience at MH. I’m sorry this has happened to you. I am glad that you have not walked away from Jesus in it all and that you have found grace in the love of Jesus.

    My guess is that the DJ at the station is a friend of someone from MH, or a patron of a MH church.

    Does the radio station have a blog, Facebook page, or email address? You could check it out and start sending them links to some of these sites, or send them articles written by the wounded. Just a thought.

  158. “I think that you’re right about the narcissism. To anyone who has been around one, they become easy to spot.
    One of the classic tactics of a narcissist caught doing something is to give what is called a non-apology. These calls for reconciliation are classic examples. I was raised by a narcissist and one of the things that was said to me that was very helpful was: If you leave a conversation with someone feeling confused, disoriented, trying to figure out what you did wrong and even doubting your own sanity, take a deep breath – you’ve just been talking to a narcissist.”

    Exactly. I recommend a book written by a Christian concerning being married to a narcissist. “I promise to hate, despise and abuse you”. One point he makes in the book is that there is a real need for a book for children about narcissistic parents.

    one of the tactics is to turn everything around but because they are so sure of themselves, bold and clever, you do walk away doubting your sanity. And they use “normal” imperatives to make their point.

    One narcissist I used to work with would always say this when caught in a lie and questioned closely: A man of intergrity expects to be believed and when he isn’t he lets time prove him right.

    Of course he was lying through his teeth with just enough truth mixed in to make folks believe. He was able to get by with this for many years. But when they say things that boldly adn with conviction, most folks believe it. The key to narcissists is to never listen to their words. only watch actions and then match the words to actions. Nailed. If you remember, Driscoll has publicly repented many times…..and then gets worse.

    When it starts to become a “new normal”, that is dangerous. And that is exactly where folks have been with Mark. He has reinterpreted the bible for thousands to affirm himself. The way back for many of these young people is going to be very hard. We must encourage them to get out.

  159. Why and how is MD and MH stuff allowed on our local Christian radio? Why is God allowing this to happen? — Distressed in Seattle

    Starry-eyed Fanboys Gushing over their Idol.

    Remember some of the Obama Fanboy productions that showed up during the 2008 elections (and probably caused facepalms among the actual campaign managers, who took them down as fast as they popped up on YouTube)? The Obama Children’s Choir of Venice singing their “Hymn to The One” — “Obama Loves Us… Obama Will Save Us…”? The “Obama Youth” marching in uniforms with clenched-fist salutes chanting cadence “He Is Alpha! He Is Omega! Obama! Obama! Obama!”? The interview where the drooling fangirl gushes “Obama Is My Personal Savior!”?

    Same thing, except with these drooling fanboys, it’s “DRISCOLL! DRISCOLL! DRISCOLL!”

  160. One of the tactics is to turn everything around but because they are so sure of themselves, bold and clever, you do walk away doubting your sanity. And they use “normal” imperatives to make their point.

    One narcissist I used to work with would always say this when caught in a lie and questioned closely: A man of intergrity expects to be believed and when he isn’t he lets time prove him right. — Anon1

    You have just described my brother. Every Hour of Every Day for Sixteen Years while growing up. And after that long, you want to become one, too. You curse yourself every day for not being born one. To be The Winner instead of the F’in’ LOSER.

  161. Distressed in Seattle,

    I wonder if Mars Hill makes financial contribution to that Christian radio station. Maybe those who work there attend MH. Disgusting!

  162. HUG,

    Narcissists are toxic people and become worse as they “win”. To play their game you have to become like them. That is why you must walk away from them. No matter if they are your spouse, your boss, whatever. All communication with them must be in writing for documentation. Why do yu think DRiscoll had an underling send out most of the stuff? Driscoll is really not stupid. He is very clever and pushes the envelope. Most think he will implode. I disagree. He will get through this by feigning some sort of repentence or blaming underlings, whatever, etc. Then all his sycophant followers will say that anyone who mentions it again is “unforgiving”. Narcissists who profess Christ always demand instant forgiveness and expect you to never bring it up again….like Jesus. Problem is, they never changed at all. They just gamed the doctrine.

    The new drive to focus on “church discipline” from many Christian quarters these days is the best thing to ever happen to Driscoll. This tool in the hands of narcissists is perfect. Did anyone notice how ‘vague’ the charges were against Petry? But it was treated like a high crime. Did he commit adultery? Did he rob a bank? NO. He disrespected authority.

  163. “Why is God allowing this to happen? ”

    God has already warned us about guys like Driscoll. It is in quite a few places in the NT. Look at what God said about the Nicolatians in Revelation. This is it. That is what most of the celebrities are: Nicolatians. In Greek that is “conqueror of the people”.

    The better question is: Why do we fall for it? There will always be Driscolls, Jesus Movements, SGM’s, Jonathan Edwards, etc, etc. The question is why do believers think they need earthly authorities to teach them when they have the word and the Holy Spirit? Why do they look to an earthly leader for how to follow Christ? We are all in the priesthood.

  164. Eagle~

    “Maybe Mark Driscoll, John Piper and CJ Mahaney are a modern example of the Book of Judges. Where the people got what they wanted, though it wasn’t the best option for them.”

    Exactly – perfect response, actually, to Anon1’s question: The question is why do believers think they need earthly authorities to teach them when they have the word and the Holy Spirit?

    In 1 Samuel, why did the Israelites want a king – even after God warned then that having one would not go well for them? Because they wanted to be like the nations around them – they wanted to follow someone……I think it’s the same today. People want to follow a man rather than God because following a man takes less personal responsibility and accountability. “The “leader” can tell us what tot do and we will do it.”

    Sigh. No wonder being a religious leader is so attractive to narcissists. Built in supply of worship…

  165. Heresy only comes from one side

    All of us seem to be wired to avoid looking in mirrors. Logs in eyes and all that.

  166. Thank you, Dee. I would love to tell my story, but right now it is still just too painful and re-traumatizing to talk about in detail. I realized too late that over my years of MH membership, my faith had become indivisible from Mark’s teaching and leading. It took me a good couple years to be able to even open my Bible again without seeing within it how much God hates me. (It is getting better.)

    Yes, there is a Facebook for the radio station. https://www.facebook.com/spirit1053. But it’s the one DJ, Matt Case, who is posting the sermons on his public-figure page: https://www.facebook.com/matthewryancase. That wouldn’t be quite as bad if he weren’t using air time to direct followers to his page to listen to the “excellent” sermons.

    I can’t imagine MH is contributing money to the station. Mark makes it abundantly clear that the ONLY ministry in Seattle worth spending a thought on is his own. Everyone else is “sissyfied,” and that most certainly includes an organization that plays Christian pop music. Also, no other church has ever been featured on this radio station that I know of, so there is no precedent.

    Best I can tell is that this particular DJ attends MH and is evangelizing Driscollism like a good boy. But why the radio station allows him to use air time to gush over MD and MH is beyond me.

    In my “recovery” from MH membership, there are so few places I feel safe spiritually. This radio station is (was) one of them… It is confusing and terrifying that, interspersed with the songs that sing of God’s grace and assure me that God, in fact, does love me, I now have to endure reminders. Reminders that slap my face hard every time and make me doubt everything all over again.

    The worst part about all of this is that, even still, I love Mark. My knee-jerk devotion to him still runs strong. My heart still wants to be shepherded by him, even though he leads me into stark and desolate, very hostile, places. Yet he is so awesomely right about so very many things.

    I worry that I am wrong. I worry that he is right. What if it’s me who is in sin for leaving the flock?

  167. Distressed – I’m certain that *someone* is paying for air time on that station. A 3-minute spot costs money.

    Doesn’t MH have some satellite businesses? they could be using “backchannel” means to route money to the station; people within MH could be paying for the air time. There are so many ways this *could* be happening.

    *

    Eagle – You know, Driscoll is a household name for many evangelicals, and yet – people who are part of denoms like the United Methodist Church (to cite just one example I’m aware of) don’t know who he is. That goes double and triple for most Lutherans , Catholics, Episcopalians, Orthodox and [insert other names here].

    I think there would be a LOT of public outcry if these stories were to be presented in the mainstream media – nationally and internationally.

    Silence isn’t always intentional in cases like this. The more people know about MD and what’s been going on in his cult of personality, the greater the demand for it to stop.

    But sometimes the early steps have to be small ones, you know?

  168. Distressed

    I prayed for you. Your last question is the one that can bounce around and around in your head.

    Jesus says:
    “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
    Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

    Rest and heal Distressed! God will meet you where you are at. You are covered in His blood and seen as a bride in white. You are free and there is no law against love.

  169. Just finished reading Paul’s “MY CONFESSION and REQUEST for REDRESS of Grievances”.

    So healing! I have not seen anyone actually confess and truly repent of sin in a long time!

  170. Distressed,

    I feel so badly for you and for what happened to you. Without knowing you at all, I still feel safe to answer your last question. You are NOT wrong to leave an abusive situation. You did the right thing!! I pray that you find healing and God’s peace, but rest assured that you did the right thing in leaving that place.

  171. It is difficult at times to wade through all of the blogs and rhetoric, some of which is constructive and profitable while some is laced with invective dishonoring to God, and that by ‘Christians’. While there are certain contemporary pastors and teachers I personally find repulsive, and it is tempting to behave in an unchristianlike manner, I am reminded that it is God who separates the wheat from the chaff and that Christ will continue to build His church until he returns.

    When abused by the church, we have decisions ranging from having ‘spiritual pity parties’ to being messengers of reconciliation. Whatever we do, we should minister grace and love, especially to the brethren.

  172. Dan
    So, when and where does that start and end? If it is up to God to separate the wheat from the chaff, why did Paul even bother to rebuke? Why did the Bible warn us of wolves? Does God ever rebuke using His people (the prophets etc)? Are you familiar with the book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse? One of the tactics of the abuser is to keep things quiet. But you wouldn’t be going down that path, would you?

    Now, I am trying very hard not to become angry, but I do take umbrage at your words “spiritual pity parties.” Let’s see, be kind to Driscoll and kick those who are down? Am I wrong? There are people who have been deeply hurt by the church and for you to downplay their pain with such words is beyond cruel. However, I may be misreading you and you intended to minister grace and love and reconciliation by these words. If so, you need to clarify ASAP.

  173. Here we go again – Let go and let God…

    Never forget that Christians are His representative here on earth. The Holy Spirit that lives inside of them will NOT be silenced.

  174. Distressed, maybe you already knew this (or not) but Matt Case had been trying to get Mars Hill a radio presence or active in radio as far back as five or six years ago to the best of my recollection. Sounds like he’s found his way to promote Mars Hill in a radio setting. The leaders never expressed much interest in radio and Matt was determined to promote it in whatever way possible. Sounds like his volunteer spirit hasn’t flagged and he’s been willing to use his role in his DJ work to do the gatekeeper thing.

  175. Dear Distressed in Seattle,

    I am grieved to read your post.

    If you would feel safe enough, I would like to buy you a cup of coffee and hear your story. There are no strings attached except for you, my offer of coffee.

  176. Bent Meyer,

    Thank you for your heartfelt comment to Distressed in Seattle. I am keeping Distressed and all those who have been hurt by Mars Hill in my prayers. I am absolutely SHOCKED at how they have been treated!

    I think of you often and pray that you are able to be an encouragement to those who have been spiritually abused by an overreaching religious system.

    Blessings to you, your wife, and the Petrys.

  177. while some is laced with invective dishonoring to God, and that by ‘Christians’

    Bologna Dan. This tactic is as old as the hills in getting people to feel as if they have done something wrong when they speak out against spiritual abuse. In fact this is spiritual abuse. Stop it. It won’t work any longer. Show a passage of scripture that backs this up. We are to speak out when wrong is done to others. It is how people are aware of wrong either done to them or the wrong they are doing. As has been pointed out. Paul did it, and he was right to do it.

    Christians especially should speak out against wrong and injustice. These people were treated poorly and they have courage to speak out. I applaud them. I think they are people of courage, not people of sin. The sin is seeing it and either participating or saying nothing.

  178. I will even go so far as to say this blog which is offering more to these people than MH did is more honoring to God than your statement. It honors God when we as Christians(and I am Calvinist in btw)stand up against evil. And I consider this to be the worst kind of evil perpetrated by those who call themselves Christians. That is the greatest travesty.

  179. Debbie K,

    Thanks for your defense of our ministry here. We are reaching more and more people, and I am grateful that God is using all of us to help those who have been hurt.

  180. There is no love at Mars Hill church, just a lot of pride, power, control, threats and abuses. That’s what I have observed after several years there. It took me a while to get over my own pain but I thank my God I am now free from a toxic environment called “Mars Hill church”. We all need to speak out so that other folks may see Mars Hill for what it really is and flee the darkness and deception.

  181. As a former Community Group Leader at Mars Hill, I’ve experienced this same type of mistreatment, distortions, lies and abuse at the hands of the church leadership. Each account that I read about members (Kaelee, Angie, Kevin, Sophia) and leaders (Paul & Jonna Petry, Bent Myers) has the same basic signature and often similar phrases and techniques used by church leaders. For example, using words like wolf to describe someone who’s “sin” is disagreement with church leaders (this happens often) is blatant deception and only one among several tools that Mars Hill leaders use to manipulate and abuse its members. The references to wolves in the bible refer to false prophets (e.g. Matt 7:15, Acts 20:29) and not to fellow believers who disagree on open handed (non-biblically black and white) issues.

    Without going into the full story, my experience involved being called in to speak with a pastor as the first time anyone made me aware that there may be concerns about me. When I showed up for the meeting, the pastor introduced me to a second pastor and advised me that he would be sitting in on our meeting as well. Though this felt like an ambush and entirely outside the biblical model of Matthew 18 (Go to your brother first in private), I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that he was there to provide an objective third party perspective to help us work through whatever issues there may be. I now understand the ambush technique to be a common practice among leadership. As we discussed the reason for meeting, I questioned some of the facts that were being presented which I knew to be false. The response to my questions from both pastors was immediately that I was prideful and arrogant.

    I was subsequently brought under church discipline for the sin of pride and repeatedly disregarding the counsel of pastors because the two pastors agreed I had sinned in my questioning during the prior meeting with them. For the record, there was no counsel given that I could be disregarding repeatedly. When I asked what counsel I had disregarded, I was told “to stop being prideful”. Even when I asked the pastors to give examples of what words, phrases or behavior they considered prideful, they refused. They claimed that my request for examples only further proved that I was prideful and arrogant. As it turns out, despite repeated requests, I was never told of any sin aside from my sin of questioning the details presented to me (and this was translated into pride and arrogance). I apologized if anything I had said was interpreted as unhelpful, prideful, offensive but explained I was confused that it seemed it was the fact that I disagreed over some objective facts which was the root of the problem. I asked if it was possible for a member to disagree with a pastor in a godly, non-sinful, non-prideful manner. The pastor said to me that this was possible. I asked him how and he said he was not going to tell me because if he did, then he was convinced that I would do it that way. This is not a joke. This is near verbatim.

    Regarding Spirit 105.3 and Matt Case, let me attempt to clarify some things that have been brought up. First, Matt Case is a good and decent man who is a member of Mars Hill and one of the station best DJ’s. He is one of many people who have benefitted from the teaching of Mars Hill and I’m sure he points people toward his Facebook page and Mark’s teaching because he earnestly believes they will point people to Christ and encourage them to walk more closely with Christ. I don’t think there’s anything underhanded going on in terms of Mars Hill’s preferential treatment at the station.

    Let’s take a moment here to acknowledge the very difficult paradox that even though Mark Driscoll and his church leadership are engaged in lies, deception and spiritual abuse – even though there is so much pain and ugliness behind the curtain, there IS a great deal of good that is being done. I personally know people who have come to Christ and have been brought closer in their own commitment to Christ. This is a difficult tension to acknowledge, but true. I wonder if Mark would have his current platform and reach if those across the world had not been under the false impression that he was the pastor of a successful, healthy, thriving church in one of the least churched regions of the country. So, it certainly appears that his success within the mainstream evangelical church was achieved under false pretenses. I don’t know that I can say Mark & Mars Hill are doing more damage than good for the kingdom of Christ, but I can say that there is a systematic abuse of power that happens with Mars Hill and many in leadership seem unqualified to hold positions of biblical leadership.

    I will do my part to write to partners, publishers, etc of Mark and Mars Hill and ask them to call Mark and Mars Hill to an account for their actions. Has anyone created a draft letter that we can use to organize a broader campaign?

  182. Frank,

    Thank you for having the courage to come forward about Mars Hill.

    You said:

    “I was subsequently brought under church discipline for the sin of pride and repeatedly disregarding the counsel of pastors because the two pastors agreed I had sinned in my questioning during the prior meeting with them. For the record, there was no counsel given that I could be disregarding repeatedly. When I asked what counsel I had disregarded, I was told “to stop being prideful”. Even when I asked the pastors to give examples of what words, phrases or behavior they considered prideful, they refused. They claimed that my request for examples only further proved that I was prideful and arrogant. As it turns out, despite repeated requests, I was never told of any sin aside from my sin of questioning the details presented to me (and this was translated into pride and arrogance). I apologized if anything I had said was interpreted as unhelpful, prideful, offensive but explained I was confused that it seemed it was the fact that I disagreed over some objective facts which was the root of the problem. I asked if it was possible for a member to disagree with a pastor in a godly, non-sinful, non-prideful manner. The pastor said to me that this was possible. I asked him how and he said he was not going to tell me because if he did, then he was convinced that I would do it that way. This is not a joke. This is near verbatim.”

    This sounds EXACTLY like how C.J. Mahaney and his goons operate. Mahaney has done a great job mentoring Driscoll, hasn’t he?

    I question everything and I’m female, so I can just imagine how these hyper-authoritarians would have dealt with me. I am so grateful that I can comment and question in this public forum.

    You also said:

    “I wonder if Mark would have his current platform and reach if those across the world had not been under the false impression that he was the pastor of a successful, healthy, thriving church in one of the least churched regions of the country. So, it certainly appears that his success within the mainstream evangelical church was achieved under false pretenses. I don’t know that I can say Mark & Mars Hill are doing more damage than good for the kingdom of Christ, but I can say that there is a systematic abuse of power that happens with Mars Hill and many in leadership seem unqualified to hold positions of biblical leadership.”

    Thank you for pointing this out! Prior to February 2009 (before Mark Driscoll’s ‘Naked and Unashamed’ talk at my daughter’s college) I didn’t know much about him. My pastor (at the time) absolutely loved him, and Danny Akin held him in very high esteem, so I thought Driscoll was doing a great job for the kingdom. Yes, some of the theologians I greatly respected put Mark Driscoll on a pedestal and said “FOLLOW HIM!”

    As the truth has trickled out from Mars Hill refugees, I am extremely disappointed in these ‘spiritual leaders’ who have propped up Driscoll and his Acts 29 ministry. Shame on them! They no longer have my trust or respect.

  183. At Mars Hill, the so-called leaders I know are very quick to point out the members’ sins but are totally blind to their own sins of pride, arrogance and hypocrisy. They LOVE to call people to repentance but they fail to know their own sins and repent accordingly. They are enslaved to their own “laws and regulations” and their own ego, from my perspective.

    Some of their “pastors” and CG leaders I know are very young, immature, self-impressed of their titles and love to exercise the power that comes from their titles over the members. They are at best carnal Christians; they “lord” over people, not serving them as Jesus taught. There is definitely something very wrong from the top because they tend to act just like their leaders who train them, abusive, arrogant to those whom they do not like or dare to stand up to them or question them about anything.

    Sin blinds, sins hides, sin binds, sin denies and sin conspires against God’s people. I feel sorry for MD and company!!!

  184. Dan: “When abused by the church, we have decisions ranging from having ‘spiritual pity parties’ to being messengers of reconciliation”

    Where does protecting and comforting the broken and abused and warning those of potential abuse come in? Or are we just supposed to cover the sins of abusive men, zip our lips, and let people wonder innocently into the clutches of the users and abusers who claim to be interested in building God’s kingdom, when in truth, all they are interested in is building their own kingdoms.

    If this tactic is okay with you, Dan, then knock yourself out. I, on the other hand, consider it my business to warn people away from soul wounding and faith killing ministries like Driscoll’s.
    If you don’t like it, oh freaking well.

  185. I’ve been thinking lately that aside from the heavy authoritarianism of Mars Hills, another problem could be the basic premise of church planting. Church planters tend to operate with a “story” that goes like this: A man who loves God and is dedicated to serving Him develops a vision for building God’s kingdom in our culture today. He goes forth, called by God, recruiting and leading godly men to advance the church planter’s vision.

    I think this idea of church (as the fulfillment of one man’s vision for the kingdom of God) works much better for the church planter and his chosen leaders than it does for the rank and file members. This environment makes manipulation and power plays seem okay, since it’s all for the glory of God, and it is the job of the pastor/planter to “lead” people to bring his vision to fruition. The constant pressure to follow the leader in these churches encourages the members to disregard their own intuitions and consciences because of a desire to please God by building his kingdom according to the pastors’ desires. Quite frankly, a rather high schoolish clique mentality very often builds within the leadership.

    I think we need a new “vision” for church planting. The weaknesses of this one is too hard on our people.

  186. Eagle,

    I’ll be praying. You’re making some great points. Hope they will challenge our readers to ask why they follow these men.

  187. “The quality of what is getting published is getting worse and worse. (Can you imagine a day when you think that Mark Driscoll’s book on Marriage is high quality? Wait a few years….) ”

    This is exactly what has happened to Beth Moore. She and her publishers are trying to milk it hot and heavy until the well runs dry. They are basically putting out pablum.

  188. Eagle – there have been Acts29-like churches in the D.C. area for a long time now; they come from the 70s shepherding/discipleship movement.

    SGM is the best-known, but I went through the mill in 2 others, including That Church (the one where I got booted).

  189. The thing is, SGM *and* Acts 29 come from the same discipleship movement roots…

    and there are churches that aren’t on most peoples’ radar (at least, not on most white peoples’ radar) in the D.C. area that have *extremely* controlling and authoritarian pastors.

    While I realize that Acts 29 is new to D.C., it’s a repackaging of the same old same old…. literally.

  190. Dana,

    you wrote, “I think we need a new “vision” for church planting. The weaknesses of this one is too hard on our people.”

    What you said really struck a chord with me. Years ago I was in a situation (not church related) where I was one of “the chosen few”, sort of a hand-picked elite, and in the short term it was very, very motivating. We all worked extremely hard because we were heroes, stars in the making with extra awesome on top. In the long term, it was deadly. I completely lost my joy for the thing I was doing and upended my fledgling career in a ham-fisted attempt at self preservation. In many ways I’m still in limbo.

    What I’ve noticed is that some of the culture around church planting relies on a similar kind of heroism. I listened to an Acts 29 podcast of Mark Driscoll talking to other church planters about how planting churches is a “young man’s game” because it is so taxing. And undoubtedly it is, at least the way Acts 29 does it. But what if church is supposed to be a lot simpler, and a lot less heroic? What if WE are the church when we meet with each other, when we take care of each other in simple, tangible ways, when we pray in groups of two or three? Thanks to the Dee and Deb and the conversation they host here, I’ve been re-thinking church. I’ve been reading about simple/organic/home church and a big gong inside of me is going off.

    I think being the church is EVERYBODY’S game. The church includes my ailing mom, and my nonverbal autistic nine year old in diapers, and the teenaged girl with acne and too much blue mascara, and that guy in detox who just found Jesus two weeks ago. It includes men in their twenties and thirties with hero complexes who haven’t yet learned to completely trust Jesus to build his church. It even includes neurotic middle-aged screw-ups like me.

  191. Another reason church planting is a “young man’s game” is because the wisdom of the older men (like Bent and Paul) tends to get in the way of a young man’s vision.

    Yes, Rene, I do think that it is very hard on the hand-picked leaders, too.

  192. “Church planting” strikes me as one of the worst things to come along in a while, seeing as most “church plants” are really there to try and entice people who are already churchgoers into going to a different church.

    Marketing, anyone?

  193. It also strikes me as a very business-driven model of expansion, as opposed to, say, mission…

    Everyone who starts the new “church plant” can feel good about themselves for being “missional,” but all too often, the reality is that they’re opening a new branch of the franchise – just like McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts and KFC. (Starbucks, too.)

    Bleah!

  194. Numo, Eagle, Rene, Dana –

    I agree with your thoughts. “Church Planting” has become a business. You do not find the concept in scripture. People who have faith in the work of Jesus Christ to redeem them are the Church. They are disciples and are called to make disciples. Many groups are repackaging the Great Commission to mean “go plant churches.” They explain that this is the way they believe “they” are to fulfill the Great Commission. But it does not always lead to Godly fruit. So, I have to question the whole concept.

    With SGM and MH/Acts 29 we are also witnessing the effect of lack of adhering to sound wisdom. They insist on sending and using “young” immature men when they start many of their church plants. The leaders themselves lead to many of the problems. First, the young men might be plain immature and run hot-headed over people. Secondly, good hearted young men can themselves be abused if they dare bring an issue to their superior as we see in illustrations above.

    There is wisdom in scripture that points to the type of men that should be chosen to help organize a local gathering of believers. Me thinks CJM and MD believe they have found a “better” way. IMO – the better way just means more control to get to their desired goal.

  195. Renee, Dana, numo, eagle,

    I read a comment once on a website concerning complementarianism / patriarchy, something to the effect of, “It’s done. Just waiting as the machinery slows down.”

    I can’t help but have that same feeling about “church” — as in, spiffy buildings, with or without catchy names, landscaping, org charts, “pastors”, salaries, office doors with nameplates, “programs” for this & that, demographic research, market research, etc.

    (it really get sillier and sillier the more I think about it)

    I think there will always be people who are pursuing God and living their lives in such a way as to give back to the community, the world, the earth (rather than simply taking up space and resources). I think it’s pretty clear that “churches” are good at taking up space and resources (in my observation, they tend to exist for themselves, and to perpetuate the jobs they create).

    And I daresay that people can be more effective on their own. Think: lean operation.

    Love that motto: live simply.

  196. elastigirl-

    You are so right. Whenever I read articles from the T4G or TGC guys saying you MUST be a member of a church and you MUST join a small group otherwise you will not be able to do the “one anothers” it make me angry. That is just not true. They scare people into believing they must join in order to do. You do not have to go as a small group to serve T-Day dinner at a homeless shelter to do one anothering. Your small group does not have to go as a group together to donate food to your local food bank or fill in the blank. I think our good works are to be kept as much to ourselves as possible…Jesus taught this…how does that work out when the whole church knows what good works (one anothers) you are doing for others? Anyway, imo, the one anothers are not just for brothers and sister in Christ, or your small group members, but also for those we see have a need that we are able to meet-just help however you can quietly. God sees.

  197. Diane,

    I agree. To have to wait for the group to mobilize to do something? Such a hassle. So inefficient. Takes forever. A ridiculous notion.

    I can do TONS on my own. I can call a friend or 2 & we can work together on something, helping people in need. We can mobilize ourselves very quickly.

  198. You know, in the church i grew up in (Lutheran), the only people who are allowed to call themselves “pastor” are people who have a pastorate.

    They get the title (Pastor So-and-So) *not* because they give it to themselves, but because they have been hired to be a pastor at a specific church.

    When they are not actively pastoring (as in academic jobs, etc.) they’re Rev. or Dr., but never “pastor.” (Unless a former parishoner calls them that.)

    I think the title is earned as a mark of trust – not that all people with the title are automatically trustworthy, of course, but I think you see where I’m headed…

  199. Numo
    I did not know that. i love the way you explained it. “They get the title (Pastor So-and-So) *not* because they give it to themselves, but because they have been hired to be a pastor at a specific church.When they are not actively pastoring (as in academic jobs, etc.) they’re Rev. or Dr., but never “pastor.” (Unless a former parishoner calls them that.)I think the title is earned as a mark of trust.” I think this procedure should be the norm.

  200. I read Petry’s story and some of the posts, far too too many to read them all, it seems to me the way Mars Hill Church deals with their flock is CULTIC in nature. This is just another example of unworthy and ungodly leadership. Power corrupts and intoxicates men and women. Deep in man is the lust for power and control over others… No Christian should join a cult and those who are in it should come out to protect themselves from harm.

    The verse that comes to my mind is Jude 14-15

    “Behold, the Lord comes… to execute judgment on all, to convict all tho are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they may have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (New King James version)

    One reaps what one sows and I am afraid the day of reckoning may be near for Mark Driscoll and his men at Mars Hill church.

  201. My family was part of a church in Fullerton, CA that was very similar. The church began in the 70’s with college students who were looking for answers. The pastor started the church in homes and parks. It grew to have congregations all over the world. Then a similar thing happened. George Geftakys, the head pastor, controlled everything. Anyone who questioned how things were done was put out and exiled. George’s own son was doing sinful things that were covered up. Eventually it all fell apart. We were in that church for over twenty years. Many people were spiritually abused. I understand totally what Jonna went through. The effects on the children especially are devastating. But God is over all, and we believe there is a purpose to everything. God Bless.

  202. Michele,

    Thanks for sharing your painful experience. It seems these patterns of control and subsequent abuse keep playing out over and over and over again. This is definitely NOT the Lord’s will. Blessings to you.

  203. Pingback: Mars revelation | Bestofcorpuschristi

  204. HAHAHAHAHAHA, I AM RICH!!! YOU IDIOTS ARE POOR!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! YOU ACTUALLY BELIEVE THAT JESUS CRAP!!!
    I WILL THINK OF YOU WHEN IM DRIVING MY NEW CAR! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! SUCKERS!!!

    ■In fiscal year 2010, Mars Hill received about $13 million dollars in general giving, and is on track for $14-15 million dollars in giving for FY 2011. ■Mars Hill owns over $16 million in total net assets ■Between FY 2008 and 2010, their “excess revenue over expenses” – ahem, that is to say, their annual profit – has ballooned from $15,000 to $2.1 million dollars.

  205. Laying the SmackDown

    Driscoll has withdrawn from outside activities to concentrate on Mars Hill alone. It looks like he has good reason to stick around home.

  206. As I read this story, my heart went out to Paul and Jonna Petry and and all those who have felt the heavy hand of Mark Driscoll. It is the fruit of ministry that wants to tout orthodox reformed theology minus anything that resembles Christ-likeness (sanctification).

    One last thing… the comparison to Stalin (trials)is not a good one. This is much akin to the Inquisition and the authoritarianism of med-evil Roman Catholicism.. far worse!

  207. I’ve noticed that the church planting issue has also appeared over here, and I understand it has been big in Sydney Australia too. This seems to be one of the marks of the neo-Reformed movement, though on the face of it Sydney and the SGM/T4G people don’t have official links.

  208. Mike
    Please know that a day rarely passes that I do not think of the Myers and the Petrys. Their stories touched me deeply.

  209. I chanced upon this place. Just want to say “hello”. No, I don’t believe nor assent to a fragmented Protestantism with its unending divisiveness. For all the “church planters” here, have anyone consider “How can men preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:15)? What about the commandment to “withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition (whether by word of mouth or by letter) which he received of us” (2 Thess 3:6)?

    So where’s the surety that you are following the correct “tradition” or whether one is “sent” with proper apostolic authority, being so far removed from the time of the Church of the NT? Even St. Paul would make sure what he was preaching was in line with the Church “lest somehow I should be running or had run in vain” (Gal 1:1-2).

    And when you have a dispute, where’s that “Church” which can act as the final arbiter (Matt 18:15-17)? It’s clearly not the Protestant church of Mars Hill. Is it the church which Christ founded Himself and promised that “Hell should not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18-19)? If Christ’s words are true, then His Church must still exist and visibly identifiable. Just a thought that I want to share …

  210. surkiko

    Folks like Mark Dever and 9 Marks would want to convince us that the local church is where this “sending out” occurs. The problem remains that each local church has its own flavor of the faith. So, the SBC churches might not send out someone who is pentecostal while an AOG would. With over 5000 denominations, it does seem we cannot agree on a fair number of things.