"The way to work with a bully is to take the ball and go home. First time, every time. When there's no ball, there's no game. Bullies hate that. So they'll either behave so they can play with you or they'll go bully someone else." Seth Godin link
TWW has been blogging for about 5 years. In that time, we have called for two resignations. The first was for the resignation of Paige Patterson who bragged about sending an abused wife back into the home to get abused again. When the inevitable happened, Patterson said her two black eyes were worth it because her husband finally came to church. Of course, the guy who is happy about black eyes on abused women still reigns at SWBTS.
The second one occurred in Mark Driscoll Should Step Down and Acts 29 Should Step Away. Please refer to the post for a litany of issues, not the least of which were his ignorant statements about British Christians. In this particular instance, Driscoll did step down from Acts 29.
However, Driscoll's star continued to rise and John Piper jumped on the Driscoll bandwagon, expressing his devoted love for Driscoll's theology. And when Piper speaks, well, it is ex cathedra and all the "gospel" boys proclaimed it settled. We could not understand this. Driscoll's take on Esther was beyond bizarre with Driscoll quoting his 14 year old daughter as evidence that his interpretation was correct.
The icing on the cake were the testimonies of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry, former Mars Hill elders, about the despicable machinations that surrounded their firings. This blog has documented antic after antic of the boy-child known as Mark Driscoll. Each time we have done so, we remain perplexed by the generalized support of this man. A line was crossed when his buddies and business associates attacked Janet Mefferd. Janet's sin was to reveal the "citation" problems surrounding Driscoll's books when she interviewed him on the air. Janet did not realize that you never, ever, ever confront one of these stars. Who became the bad guy? Janet Mefferd! The gospel boys rose to Driscoll's defense with Justin Taylor calling for an "author" boycott of Mefferd's show! (If a person plagiarizes, is he still the author or is the guy who wrote the original words the author?)
Ok-So the two of us are "just women" without the obvious authority and good sense displayed by Piper and Taylor. But the two of us have spent hours discussing what appeared to be evident problems in Driscoll's ministry. Why didn't the "real leaders" see this?
Its funny. It took cheating on the New York Times bestseller list to begin to shake these guys out of their stupor. It wasn't Driscoll's long-standing history of outright foolishness. It was the buying of notoriety that ticked them off. Why is that? And why haven't they apologized? I'll let you draw your own conclusions.
So, to recap what is going on here, we are providing a number of links to help you understand the back story. Frankly, we are having a tought time staying on top of hour by hour revelations.There will be more coming shortly. Remember, this story is less than a week old. The heroes are Warren Cole Smith of World Magazine, Dr Warren Throckmorton of Patheos, Dr James Duncan of Pajama Pages and Wenatchee the Hatchett.
The big reveal by Warren Cole Smith
On March 5, Warren Cole Smith of World Magazine reveals that Mars Hill entered into a contract with ResultSource Inc to buy Mark Driscoll a Number One spot on the New York Times bestseller list for his controversial book, Real Marriage. This is a book which has been alleged to have citation errors.(Well, it seems to be more than alleged but the lawyers are hovering…)
A gag order
At the same time, Warren Cole Smith indicates that there is a gag order on all employees at Mars Hill Church.
Who is ResultSource Inc?
Dr Warren Throckmorton outlines how ResultSource Inc (RSI) accomplishes their goal of providing clients a spot of the NY Times bestseller list. He provides readers with the alleged actual contract.
The Mars Hill Accountability Board responds to the controversy.
Here is a list of these people who are supposed to hold Driscoll and the church "accountable."
- Paul Tripp,
- John Phelps,
- Michael Van Skaik,
- James MacDonald,
- Larry Osborne,
- Mark Driscoll,
- Dave Bruskas,
- Sutton Turner.
Fascinating. Three of the members are the pastors themselves!!! I bet they won't vote down their salaries….Add James MacDonald, who is fielding his own controversy over serious debt problems and turmoil amongst his elders, and you have a serious problem of objective accountability. This is par for the course these days in many of the mega churches as well as authoritarian churches. Plurality of elders has come to mean "those dudes who agree with me and my large salary."
The inevitable "scrubbing" of the website biography of Driscoll begins.
Suddenly, the NY Times brags seem a little awkward.
Former Mars Hill pastor, David Kraft tells his story (and it ain't pretty) and former leader Jeff Bettger backs him up link.
He presents an insider's look at the turmoil and pain at Mars Hill. We also learn that there are a number of former pastors and leaders who are coming forward to tell their stories. There should be some interesting stories in the days ahead.
The Mars Hill Non-Disclosure Agreement link.
Did you know that spouses also were barred from ever saying anything negative about the church?
Amended bylaws restated by Mars Hill link
Don't worry, Mark is still in charge.
Could Mars Hill's actions with ResultSource Inc be considered illegal? Ever hear of inurement?
Well, quite possibly… There is no question that this whole arrangement is shady at best. But, Dr Duncan outlines the possible legal probabilities in this post.
The IRS defines inurement as
“any unjust enrichment” of an individual or corporation out of the earnings of a tax-exempt organization. Remember that all of the activities of the organization must be devoted “exclusively” to its mission. If the efforts aren’t exclusive, the tax exemption can be revoked.
An organization is not operated exclusively for one or more exempt purposes if its net earnings inure in whole or in part to the benefit of private individuals.
Mars Hill doesn’t need all of its income to go to Mark Driscoll, so just a little bit of “unjust enrichment” is enough to violate the exclusivity rule.
Second, the whole point of the campaign was to generate income. As Throckmorton points out, just two days ago Mars Hill were describing the campaign as an “investment.” The placement on the NYT list generated its own sales from an increase in buzz and reputation, from which Driscoll and his publishers profited. As we see in so many celebrity pastors’ biographies, they market themselves as NYT best sellers to drive up their value on the speaking circuit.
In that post, Dr Duncan reviews the infamous Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker case and how it relates to Driscoll.
While on the topic of analogous cases, the IRS document discusses the case of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, who used donations to their ministry to grow fabulously wealthy. Their board was singled out for particular criticism:
Although PTL had a Board of 6 or 7 persons, some Board members were insiders. The unrelated Board members received contributions for their own ministries for their service on the Board. While nominally independent, the Board functioned as a rubber stamp, approving without discussion unspecified amounts of “bonuses” for the Bakkers which amounted to millions of dollars…. In addition to their “bonuses,” the Bakkers drained millions of dollars from their ministry through excessive salaries, expenses, and fringe benefit payments. [Emphasis added]
Wenatchee the Hatchet has documented the cozy relationship between Driscoll and his board, but the Board of Advisers and Accountability's’s statement last night looks familiar:
The BOAA stands unreservedly behind Pastors Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas as the Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church. We deeply appreciate their endurance through false accusation, their submission to authority, and their humility where regrettable decisions from the past have come to light. [Emphasis added]
After the recent scandals involving plagiarism and deceptive marketing, a board that unreservedly endorses the people it’s supposed to be overseeing can be of little more value than a rubber stamp.
Wenatchee the Hatchet looks at the non-disclosure agreement in context.
Then Wenatchee the Hatchet weighs in. Wenatchee is the indisputable expert on all things Mars Hill and has been a thorn in their side for years. He never, ever lets them get away with scrubbing history or websites. He keeps track of it all. Wenatchee published a most important piece which gives an incredible insight into the non-disclosure agreement .
In that post Warren Throckmorton publishes MH non-disclosure agreement, revisiting Sutton Turner's "How to Leave Well", a question gets raised. Could severance benefits, inncluding health care, be contingent on keeping your mouth shut? Read the article and draw your own conclusion.
From the Executive Elders:
Mars Hill, we are also very sad to see our good friend Tim move on from Mars Hill. It is not our desire for Tim to leave, as we love the Gaydos family very much, and we believe Tim is well suited for this job. We would prefer that Tim remain as the Lead Pastor of Mars Hill Downtown Seattle indefinitely, especially in light of the recent relocation to the heart of downtown, the growing influence of the church, and our big Easter celebration broadcasting live from the Downtown church in just a few weeks.
However, Tim believes it is time for him to move onto something else. While Tim offered to stay on staff until a replacement is found, the executive elders met with Tim and made the decision that it would be in the best interest of the church for his resignation to take effect immediately, and the Downtown Seattle elders concurred with the decision. We love him and his family and we don’t want them to suffer through this transition, so we have offered him 3 months of severance, and will continue to pay for his medical benefits through the birth of their new baby. [emphasis added]
If the wording in the separation and release agreement Firstenberg provided to Warren Throckmorton is a typical example then making a severance payment/medical coverage package conditional on non-disclosure could mean that the medical coverage of a wife, a child, or even a not-yet-born baby might be a condition that would have to be weighed against a willingness to divulge information at some point in the future. Now whether or not Gaydos was offered, let alone signed, a separation and release agreement can only be verified by others. There's plenty of questions about how enforceable any of the claims in the separation and release agreement are.
Finally, it does appear that Mars Hill admits to its share of "acrimonious" leave-taking by staff and it appears to us that Driscoll and his buddies didn't give a damn…
Remember those disgusting statements about piles of bodies under the bus?
Reading the NDA, it appears to me that MHC leaders hope to use fear of legal action and loss of severance pay to keep former staff quiet. Some who have been watching the Mars Hill saga unfold have asked me privately why few have been aware of the incredible tensions, discord and significant staff turnover at MHC. Furthermore, I have been amazed at how fearful staffers have been to discuss their experiences. I think both of these observations relate to the fear that the massive engine that MHC is will come down on individuals who have relatively few resources to defend themselves.
According to the statement from the Board of Advisors and Accountability, numerous staff transitions have been acrimonious and they have made changes to “detrimental management patterns.” According to Firstenberg, no sustained effort has been made to address his concerns. And according to Dave Kraft, the statement involving him is inaccurate and ignores the totality of his claims and concerns. The BOAA statement also defends the use of the non-disclosure agreement which really causes me to wonder if the “detrimental management patterns” have truly been addressed.
I asked Firstenberg for his reactions to the BOAA statement. He began by questioning whether or not Mark Driscoll and other executive elders have really faced the implications of the massive staff discord and turnover over the last 2-3 years. Firstenberg: “How have they “owned” their part?” According to Firstenberg, “There has been no response or repentance from those leaders, in fact no response at all from this accountability group to the very elders that they have sinned against. How is that owning their part?”
Real Marriage and Grace Driscoll
We started this post off by discussing Paige Patterson's unfortunate response to domestic violence. We want to end it by stating our concern about Grace Driscoll and the book Real Marriage. There are a number of observers who found Mark's depiction of Grace disturbing. In our opinion, he made a strong case that Grace was to blame for the lack of affection in their marriage. Mark has a penchant for blaming everyone but himself. We believe that this is the real tragedy of this book. Mark Driscoll showed an example of how NOT to act like a man and all of his fans applauded.
So the ladies of TWW have decided to say that it is time for Mark Driscoll and his sorry excuse for an advisory board to step away from their positions and do some soul searching. We also believe that there are a number of Driscoll fanboys who need to reevaluate if this is how they define a "successful" gospel living church. There are some people who also owe Janet Mefferd an apology as well but we won't hold our breath. This is not a gang that believes in doing humility, merely writing about it and hoping it gets endorsed by another high-rolling, aging, hipster pastor.
Lydia's Corner: Jeremiah 35:1-36:32 1 Timothy 5:1-25 Psalm 89:14-37 Proverbs 25:25-27