For some to say that social media is to blame for Mark Driscoll's woes is akin to the Pope saying that the hammer and nail industry was responsible for the 95 Theses. – Dee
I will post my response to Dave Robertson tomorrow.
Here is the video from Mark Driscoll's statement on Sunday. Watch it carefully and see if it reminds you of anything that you have seen on the news.
These are my predictions. I hope that I am wrong. For those of you who need a quick catch up on the Driscoll dilemma, here is an article written yesterday by the Vox.
1. Mark Driscoll will be back in business in fairly short order. If you don't like it, you will be the new problem.
On Sunday, Mark Driscoll, with wealthy, evangelical Public Relations guru, Mark DeMoss, sitting in the audience, began his comeback. Make no mistake about it. Driscoll is going nowhere except back to the pulpit after 6 weeks of some R&R and image building. Get prepared. It is going to be quite a ride.
They will try to convince you that you didn't really understand just how contrite Driscoll has been throughout the years. In fact, the train has already left the station and anyone who is not onboard is going to be marginalized, especially anyone who as the audacity to *slander* by discussing any actions and words of Driscoll which have already been *forgiven.*
2. A comprehensive, high profile PR campaign is about to begin, orchestrated by the pretigious Mark DeMoss PR firm.
Did anything seem familiar with Driscoll's performance on Sunday? Frankly, I have see the show before, played out by fallen politicians offering interminable confessions of wrongdoing, while accusing the media of slander. This was a well scripted speech, read carefully (no ad lib here), overseen by PR experts, with appropriately pauses in order to appear spontaneously contrite and teary eyed. Then, there was the *spontaneous yet thoughtful* applause, ending with the obligatory hug of the Mrs, surrounded by his adoring children.
We know that the Mark DeMoss PR firm has been brought in to help in this situation. We wonder who is paying for this as it will not come cheap. Perhaps DeMoss is donating his services to his friend?
So, who is he?
From the Washington Post link
Mark DeMoss, an Atlanta public relations consultant and former adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has been brought in to work with the congregation.
DeMoss, who represented the late Jerry Falwell Sr. and now Franklin Graham, said he attended the services in Seattle today on his own expense as Driscoll’s friend.
“I think he’s a gifted, biblical communicator who has done effective church work in an unchurched part of the country,” DeMoss said. “I like him, I believe in him, and if I only worked with ministry leaders who were faultless, I would be out of business tonight.”
Don't worry about starting a GoFundMe account for DeMoss. He comes from an incredibly wealthy family. Nancy Leigh DeMoss is his sister.
Nancy is the foundation's CEO, brother Robert is president, and three DeMoss children are directors. Nancy plays host at evangelizing dinners for the rich and powerful at her houses in Florida and Manhattan (one invitee estimated the events' cost at $80,000 each). Privately, she contributed $70,000 to Newt Gingrich's political-action committee, GOPAC. A daughter, Deborah, worked for Senator Jesse Helms as a Foreign Relations Committee aide, specializing in the right-wing Latin American parties Helms favored in the 1980s. (She has since left the foundation board.)
Mark, a board member, worked for Jerry Falwell before founding the DeMoss Group, a p.r. firm for evangelists like Billy Graham's son Franklin. Mark's father-in-law is Art Williams, the insurance magnate who bailed out Falwell's debt-ridden Liberty University with a $70 million gift.
3. Blogs, Twitter, etc. will be targeted for special attention by PR denizens.
In his mea culpa, Driscoll bought up the subject of social media, appearing to claim that this is responsible for much of the negativity in what has transpired. Could social media become the target?
It is interesting to look at the online website of the Mark DeMoss PR firm. They are an effective and gifted public relations firm which has close ties to the power base in today's postmodern evangelical landscape. We believe there will be a focused effort to change what they perceive as the negative social media dialog. Instead, Driscoll and Mars Hill will be presented as the victims and social media will be proclaimed the *problem.*
From the Mark DeMoss PR firm's website.
We are asked to help organizations with thinking, branding, marketing, advertising, crisis management, digital strategy and traditional media relations. Ultimately, we see ourselves as being in the word business because all of these disciplines revolve around words. The right words, applied well, can move public opinion and compel people to action.
Click on the "crisis management" button:
We believe what most consider to be “PR problems” are really management problems that have become public. We have helped organizations large and small navigate controversies and issues such as the loss of college accreditation, embezzlement of funds by an employee, Congressional inquiries into financial practices, litigation and threatened litigation, attempts to unionize ministry employees, deaths of founders and presidents, public protests by opposition groups, employee layoffs, national race relations, church doctrine debates, attempts to remove a pastor from his church, human sexuality, financial guidelines and business practices, and negative publicity for numerous reasons.
They have expertise in setting up blogging strategies. Here is one example from their website.
We hosted a social media "boot camp" for their digital management staff, and outlined best practices and strategic approaches to social content marketing. Afterward, we developed an all-new social strategy and content calendar for Facebook and Twitter and took the lead on day-to-day community management, coaching their team on handling these responsibilities once the pilot ended.
DeMoss even seems to allude that this could be a focus.
I think this is a challenging day for all pastors, in large part because of this media age we live in,” DeMoss said. “It’s very easy to mobilize opposition, and anybody can have a public forum to criticize or expose or say whatever they want to say. That wasn’t true even 10 years ago.”
4. Driscoll will claim to be above reproach while admitting he is a sinner.
This is a "Brave New World" strategy. The words mean whatever *they* say they mean. In the Vox article linked to at the beginning of the post, here is a statement purportedly made by Driscoll in 2006. It seems to say that he can sin but you can't critique him because he is above reproach.
And if at any time in the history of this church the elders discipline me, do not be loyal to me. Be loyal to them; be loyal to Jesus. And if at any point — God forbid — I should say or do something that would disqualify me from being your pastor — and I have no intentions of, and I do live a life above reproach. And I'm not a sinless man, but I do love Jesus and I do love my family and I do love you. And if by – I just shudder to say this, but if I should ever say or do anything that the elders would need to fire me, do not be loyal to me. Be loyal to Jesus; be loyal to your elders.
5. Anything that happened before Sunday will be deemed forgiven by God so it can no longer be discussed by you, a far lesser creature than God. You will be deemed "not a Christian" if you do so.
Corollary: I predict that there will be a full court press coming soon, complete with calls to employers, pastors, etc.
Driscoll claims to be a different man than he was "back then." This, of course, overlooks the current complaints brought by 21 pastors. He says that God has forgiven him and so has Mars Hill.
If a critic were to bring up the issues, said critic could be accused of not following God in forgiving Driscoll. If you keep bringing up anything prior to 8/24/14, your salvation may even be in question.
This *you may not be a Christian* nonsense is currently seen on Warren Throckmorton's blog. He has @350 comments on this post and the vitriol directed at him is evident.
And here is one from Twitter today. This is escalation minute by minute. We will be fascinated to see how this post is received.
6. With last Sunday as the one exception, Driscoll will never again address controversy from the stage or social media, etc. He will go silent.
During his talk, he called the pulpit *sacred ground.* He claims the pulpit is for discussing God's Word. Risking everything, I employ my snark and say "Well, I guess its back to oral sex and pornovision." (Memo to DeMoss- You have to admit it's funny… Dee is hosed….) Anything that Driscoll says, for the foreseeable future, will be carefully vetted by his handlers.
7. The bylaws will insure that Driscoll stays at Mars Hill.
Driscoll made a big deal of the bylaws in his prepared statement, emphasizing that it had been voted on by the elders. Of course, there is much history in all of this, including some pastors getting canned or disagreeing on the changes link, link, and link. I think interested parties will soon understand why Driscoll fought so hard for the change in these bylaw.
8. Well known pastors/leaders will continue to support Driscoll. None of them will mention the victims.
Remember when John Piper leaped at the chance to speak at CJ Mahaney's church in Louisville, even after the filed lawsuits? Piper has happily discussed how much he loves Mark Driscoll's theology. Yesterday, he tweeted
Jack Graham and others are sending out their pleasantries as well. Not one of them have mentioned those who have been hurt by Driscoll. This, folks, is one of the reasons why many are fleeing the church. They see how the old boys network with one another while showing precious little regard for those hurt by the Mars Hill machine.
First, they studiously ignored the problems with SGM and now they are doing the same thing here. More and more people are seeing this. The Neo-Calvinist movement is taking hits by supporting the unsupportable. (Both Driscoll and Mahaney are part of the Neo-Calvinist movement.)
Driscoll didn't mention one name of someone that he hurt except the amorphous "church." Not real personal, is it? What about Paul Petry, Bent Meyer, Rob Smith, the 21 pastors and family after family?
Did you know that Jonna Petry reached out to Piper, begging him to help but I guess that "helping a sister" doesn't fit into Piper's "standing on the glorious truths" with Mark Driscoll. In my book, these men have clearly demonstrated the priorities of their theology, and it is a theology that I want nothing to do with. "Glorious truths" do not leave people under the bus.
9. The people that Mark Driscoll threw under the bus will stay under the Mars Hill bus and he, along with many Christian leaders and current Mars Hill members, will not give a hoot.
May God have mercy on us.
Benjamin Corey wrote a great blog for Patheos called Formerly Fundie. I heartily recommend it. He wrote a prayer for the real lives in the Mars Hill saga. Corey, unlike the *leaders*, actually cares for those who have been run over. Please pray with us.
To the God who invites us to love our neighbors and pray blessings for our enemies, we pray:
We pray for the entire situation surrounding Mars Hill, that whatever the outcome, your will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We pray God, that your hand would be upon the lives impacted, both the seen and unseen.
We ask God, that your ears would be attuned to the cries of countless victims of abuse. As when Abel’s blood cried out to you from the ground, we ask that you would hear their cries for deliverance and justice– and that you would act.
We pray for the pastors who were bullied and terminated and ask that you would not quench in them the thirst for serving your people.
We pray for the women who have been silenced, abused, and marginalized; we ask for healing and a renewed voice in their lives as they rediscover your divine image inside of them.
We pray for the many people wrongly shunned by the Mars Hill community and ask that you would grant them peace, healing, and restoration to a safe community of believers.
We pray for the many young men who have loyally patterned their ministry after Mark Driscoll, and that you would bring people into their lives who would lead them to change– so that future victims would be spared from this cycle.
We ask God, that you would protect those who are still members of the Mars Hill community and that your hand of protection would be upon them during this season, and forever.
We pray for the leadership of Mars Hill. We ask God that you would give them supernatural wisdom to see the truth, and the courage to not ignore the voices of injustice, as they make decisions for their local body.
We pray God for the local pastors and churches who surround Mars Hill. We ask that you would equip them with grace and abounding love as they care for former, and soon-to-be former members, of Mars Hill.
We pray for those filled with hurt, anger, bitterness, and resentment. We ask that you would grant them relief from any emotion that is potentially self-destructive.
We pray God for those of us who comment in the public sphere, and ask that you would guide us to choose our words with precision and love during this time. We ask God, that you would enable us to be voices for goodness and justice while holding in tandem the knowledge that we too, are the worst of sinners.
We pray for the family of Mark Driscoll- his wife Grace, and his children. We ask for protection and healing in their own lives and relationships as they travel a road they did not ask for.
Finally, Father, we pray for Mark Driscoll. We ask that you would reveal to his heart the way his sin has damaged many, and that you would bring him– not to hopeless despair– but genuine repentance. We ask for Mark the same future that we pray for ourselves: that your story for his life will somehow be redeemed from brokenness and restored to wholeness.
To all, we pray peace.
We pray these things humbly, in the name of Jesus– the lover of his enemies,
Lydia's Corner: Zechariah 1:1-21 Revelation 12:1-17 Psalm 140:1-13 Proverbs 30:17