You Can Help Bring the Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church to the Mediation Table

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Snowy Owl

TWW has offered our blog as a platform for people involved in the Mars Hill situation. Rob Smith, a former Mars Hill leader, has asked us to post the following request. He has yet to share his own sad Mars Hill story. However, he will be doing so at TWW in the very near future. I had the privilege of meeting with Rob 1 1/2 years ago and we have kept in contact since that time, much to my delight. He is a warm, thoughtful man who loves people. He also has a fascinating ministry in Africa. But that is for another post. Be sure to read the last paragraph.


I have been hoping that writing this post would not be necessary. I am deeply saddened that it has become a necessity.

It is intended to encourage readers to support an effort to bring the Executive Elders of the disgraced Mars Hill Church to the table to settle deep grievances. A mediation fund has been set up for this purpose.

Literally hundreds of families have been harmed in the church that Paul Tripp, the nationally known former Board member, said was the “most abusive and coercive church” that he had ever worked with.

The leadership has failed to address the abuse, both of people and of resources, and is attempting to dissolve the church in an effort to simply bury their actions and walk away. As those who have experienced church abuse know, failure to address the abuse will leave permanent wounds that will remain unhealed for years, while addressing the abuse helps bring healing and closure.

We have repeatedly appealed to the leadership to address the abuse and to open their books. We have asked them to come to the table and allow mediation to address the serious unresolved grievances.  They have stubbornly refused.

Despite ex-elders and ex-members calling for transparency, and despite story after story of families reporting having been shunned and treated abusively, the Executive Elders have simply refused to respond. While they admit an “unhealthy culture” and admit “mistakes were made” they are unwilling to come to any setting where the aggrieved by these admissions can be heard.

In a sordid interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6, where Paul addresses how to deal with trivial grievances between Christians, the abusive leadership at Mars Hill Church have, through their lead pastors David Fairchild and Ed Choi, encouraged those that have been abused to simply agree to be “defrauded” and walk away as if the abuse had not occurred.

The abuser is telling the abused that he or she has no recourse. This is just further abuse. It is no wonder Paul Tripp called the church the most abusive he had ever worked with. This attitude is deplorable and deeply hurtful to those that are seeking redress.

Seven years ago, for proposing changes in soon-to-be-voted-on new bylaws that radically altered the accountability of the lead pastor, former Pastor Paul Petry was fired, put through an unfair trial, and finally shunned from the church that he served.  Despite the overwhelming evidence of his innocence, including 15 former elders that recently asked him for forgiveness, Mars Hill Church closed its doors on Sunday with that shunning order still in place.

This is the same church that allowed the disgraced Mark Driscoll to leave stating that he was not disqualified to be in ministry. Paul Petry, an innocent man, is still disqualified and to be shunned, and Mark Driscoll, who became a millionaire while Mars Hill Church’s lead pastor, and who ran the most abusive church in recent church history, moves on with the blessing of its remaining leaders.

Millions of dollars raised are unaccounted for, while we continue to find blind trusts tied to Mark Driscoll that have apparently bought houses for him and through which monies have flowed.  Millions of dollars have been raised for African and Indian efforts with the intended plan to redirect the money and to withhold that information from the donors. All to grow the empire of a church that to the end refuses to open its books.

The wounds of hundreds of families and donors remain open and unaddressed. And the leaders, who repeatedly say that Mars Hill Church is all about Jesus, want to shut the doors and bury the reality of its actions.

In an effort to have grievances addressed and donors questions answered, several former members and donors have asked to meet in mediation. The alternative, a civil lawsuit, is unthinkable yet become increasingly likely. The Executive Leadership at Mars Hill Church have refused to allow a means to address the many grievances, and even to this day will not allow mediation unless they see the alternative first. They will not make a decision on mediation until and unless they see the likelihood of a civil lawsuit.

The cost of mediation or a civil lawsuit is high.

Mediation will cost at least $15,000 to $20,000, plus the cost of our attorney. Seeing that the leaders will not consider mediation unless we prepare a civil lawsuit, we have had to engage our lawyer to prepare the suit. This is likely to end up costing a similar amount of money. If the leadership forces us to file the suit rather than mediate, the costs will continue to add up.

There have been literally thousands of people who have heard about the abuse at Mars Hill Church. In my blog, “Musings from under the bus”, I regularly have thousands read each blog post. The Facebook group “We are not anonymous”, which has been a place for aggrieved members to process and call for justice, has well over thirteen hundred members.

I appeal to the many caring readers that have been following our story with interest, prayers and support to now join us to pay for the costs of this call for mediation. If we all support the fund, we can afford to move forward, and the leadership will see that we have the support needed to bring them to the table.

A caring donor to the mediation fund will match all donations up to $40,000. Every dollar donated will be doubled. Together we can show Mars Hill Church that we will do what it takes to have our grievances heard and addressed.

Please support this effort. The outcome, Lord willing, will be the beginning of healing for many families and donors.

Here again is a link to the fund.

Rob Smith

I have heartfelt thanks to the caring family of Wartburg Watch. You have cared with interest over the years of expressing our pain. It has been amazing and brought much healing. To this day I have not told my story – a story that includes the leadership at Mars Hill Church attempting to destroy my character, career, and my ministry to orphans in Africa. It is a story that I will share here in the near future. I have not wanted my passion for those hurting because of the abuse at Mars Hill Church to be all about me or my ministry, which is why I have not told my story.  But, like Paul Petry’s story, it does need to be told as it represents many, many untold stories that we may never hear.  

Comments

You Can Help Bring the Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church to the Mediation Table — 46 Comments

  1. I have been a mediator for more than 40 years. I am a Christian in the Baptist tradition, up on theology, and understand the various ways in which churches have been organized and have developed from a mission start, a church plant, etc. My contact information is available from the TWW bloggers. I am not in Seattle or the State of Washington, and have no political involvement relevant to this dispute.

  2. Mediation is the best approach to this dispute, but it will require that all parties agree to participate and to bring to the table the relevant information to reach a fair and balanced agreement to which all parties can make a sustainable commitment. I also have been an arbitrator and would be willing to serve in that role if a decision is made to arbitrate rather than use the civil legal system in Washington. My fee for church disputes is $1,000 per day plus travel and lodging expense.

  3. Rob Smith if you are reading this I have a question. After all the financial fraud that has taken place, misused money, etc…. why hasn’t the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Washington get involved? Are they just going to ignore financial fraud especially given their tax status? I do not understand why the State of Washington is not criminally investigating the financial matter at Mars Hill. The State of Washington ignoring criminal activity is only gong to empower more criminal activity.

  4. “Despite ex-elders and ex-members calling for transparency, and despite story after story of families reporting having been shunned and treated abusively, the Executive Elders have simply refused to respond. While they admit an “unhealthy culture” and admit “mistakes were made” they are unwilling to come to any setting where the aggrieved by these admissions can be heard.”

    This is rather an expensive “I am sorry”. I do understand the desire to have accountability but the closed culture of such a place might make that impossible unless these guys are willing to tell what they know, in detail, voluntarily. But why would anyone believe them? I am not sure why a mediator is needed for that.

    And I doubt they are going to admit their part in specifics. If it were anything like the Petry docs, it reads like a script from the Godfather. I seriously doubt they are going to make such things public about themselves. That would require them to admit what they have been all along.

    This is a huge problem with churches. People voluntarily go there and give them money without asking questions or demanding budget votes, etc. Then when they are defrauded, there is little recourse. What might be financial criminal activity for a business would not be for a church where it seems people agreed at the time because they gave money with no demand for accountability.

    A lawsuit would demand discovery but docs have probably already been destroyed. Where did all the emails go, for example. But can a church be sued about such things? How about a church that no longer exists?

    From what I have gathered from the legal counsels at megas that I know, they are more scared of lawsuits against “individual leaders”. They prefer it when people sue the “church”.

  5. @Eagle,

    The leaders of Mars Hill are actually under no obligation to mediate, however much the people that have been hurt by them would like that to right wrongs. If they were sued civilly then once a Complaint is filed and they have been served they would be required to undergo Alternative Dispute Resolution.

    It would be more appropriate for a federal grand jury to indict, if they found enough evidence, the leaders of Mars Hill on criminal charges in federal court in Seattle.

    I think the appropriate jurisdiction for a case like Mars Hill would be federal court. Given the allegations that millions of dollars are missing (fund for Africa that wasn’t that people gave to)…that gets in to the federal crimes of wire and mail fraud. http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/crm00941.htm

    Federal Model Jury Instructions
    8.124 Wire Fraud

    Printer-friendly version

    8.124 WIRE FRAUD

    (18 U.S.C. § 1343)

    The defendant is charged in [Count _______ of] the indictment with wire fraud in violation of Section 1343 of Title 18 of the United States Code. In order for the defendant to be found guilty of that charge, the government must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

    First, the defendant knowingly [participated in] [devised] [intended to devise] a scheme or plan to defraud, or a scheme or plan for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises;

    Second, the statements made or facts omitted as part of the scheme were material; that is, they had a natural tendency to influence, or were capable of influencing, a person to part with money or property;

    Third, the defendant acted with the intent to defraud, that is, the intent to deceive or cheat; and

    Fourth, the defendant used, or caused to be used, a wire communication to carry out or attempt to carry out an essential part of the scheme.

    In determining whether a scheme to defraud exists, you may consider not only the defendant’s words and statements, but also the circumstances in which they are used as a whole.

    A wiring is caused when one knows that a wire will be used in the ordinary course of business or when one can reasonably foresee such use.

    It need not have been reasonably foreseeable to the defendant that the wire communication would be interstate in nature. Rather, it must have been reasonably foreseeable to the defendant that some wire communication would occur in furtherance of the scheme, and an interstate wire communication must have actually occurred in furtherance of the scheme.

    Comment

    See also Comment to Instruction 8.121 (Mail Fraud—Scheme to Defraud or to Obtain Money or Property by False Promises). For cases involving wire fraud by deprivation of honest services, see Instruction 8.123 (Mail Fraud—Scheme to Defraud—Deprivation of Intangible Right of Honest Services).

    The only difference between mail fraud and wire fraud is that the former involves the use of the mails and the latter involves the use of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce. Much of the language of this instruction is taken from the instructions approved in United States v. Jinian, 712 F.3d 1255, 1265-67 (9th Cir.2013).

    As with mail fraud, materiality is an essential element of the crime of wire fraud. Neder v. United States, 527 U.S. 1 (1999); United States v. Milovanovic, 678 F.3d 713, 726-27 (9th Cir.2012) (en banc).

    In a case involving wire fraud that “affects a financial institution” within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, see United States v. Stargell, 738 F.3d 1018, 1022-23 (9th Cir.2013) (defining term “affects”).

    Approved 2/2014

    8.121 MAIL FRAUD—SCHEME TO DEFRAUD OR TO
    OBTAIN MONEY OR PROPERTY BY FALSE PROMISES
    (18 U.S.C. § 1341)
    The defendant is charged in [Count _______ of] the indictment with mail fraud in
    violation of Section 1341 of Title 18 of the United States Code. In order for the defendant to be found guilty of that charge, the government must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

    First, the defendant knowingly [participated in] [devised] [intended to devise] a scheme or plan to defraud, or a scheme or plan for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises;
    Second, the statements made or facts omitted as part of the scheme were material; that is, they had a natural tendency to influence, or were capable of influencing, a person to part with money or property;

    Third, the defendant acted with the intent to defraud; that is, the intent to deceive or cheat; and

    Fourth, the defendant used, or caused to be used, the mails to carry out or attempt to carry out an essential part of the scheme.

    In determining whether a scheme to defraud exists, you may consider not only the
    defendant’s words and statements, but also the circumstances in which they are used as a whole. A mailing is caused when one knows that the mails will be used in the ordinary course of business or when one can reasonably foresee such use. It does not matter whether the material mailed was itself false or deceptive so long as the mail was used as a part of the scheme, nor does it matter whether the scheme or plan was successful or that any money or property was obtained.

    Comment
    Use this instruction with respect to a crime charged under the second clause of 18 U.S.C.
    § 1341.
    Much of the language in this instruction is taken from the instructions approved in United
    States v. Woods, 335 F.3d 993 (9th Cir.2003). Materiality is an essential element of the crime
    of mail fraud. Neder v. United States, 527 U.S. 1 (1999). Materiality of statements or
    promises must be established, United States v. Halbert, 640 F.2d 1000, 1007 (9th Cir.1981),
    but the jury need not unanimously agree that a specific material false statement was made.
    United States v. Lyons, 472 F.3d 1055, 1068 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 550 U.S. 937 (2007).
    Materiality is a question of fact for the jury. United States v. Carpenter, 95 F.3d 773, 776
    272
    (9th Cir.1996). The common law test for materiality in the false statement statutes, as reflected
    in the second element of this instruction, is the preferred formulation. United States v.
    Peterson, 538 F.3d 1064, 1072 (9th Cir.2008).
    Success of the scheme is immaterial. United States v. Rude, 88 F.3d 1538, 1547 (9th
    Cir.1996); United States v. Utz, 886 F.2d 1148, 1150-51 (9th Cir.1989).
    See Schmuck v. United States, 489 U.S. 705, 712 (1989) (mailing that is “incident to
    an essential part of the scheme” or “a step in the plot” satisfies mailing element of offense);
    United States v. Hubbard, 96 F.3d 1223, 1228–29 (9th Cir.1996) (same).
    See United States v. LeVeque, 283 F.3d 1098, 1102 (9th Cir.2002) (government-issued
    license does not constitute property for purposes of § 1341).
    273

  6. @Lydia said: “A lawsuit would demand discovery but docs have probably already been destroyed. Where did all the emails go, for example. But can a church be sued about such things? How about a church that no longer exists?”

    I’m not a lawyer, but in my research on this situation, I found out about “spoliation of evidence.” Remember in April 2014 when Mars Hill leaders were presented with a letter about a potential lawsuit with a statement about not destroying emails? The same warning would seem to apply to other forms of evidence.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/04/02/megachurch-methods-mars-hill-email-retention-policy/

    I’ll find a quote that describes this and be back …

  7. Here’s the summary I wrote about spoliation of evidence:

    Spoliation of evidence is the destruction or withholding of evidence. It is an issue that can be raised, regardless of whether the forum is a (1) criminal case, (2) civil lawsuit, or (3) regulatory agency action (such as an IRS investigation of a Complaint/Referral against a tax-exempt non-profit organization). Spoliation can apply regardless of whether it was done intentionally or not. Either way, it is considered a serious issue, with a potentially severe range of consequences, such as criminal charges like tampering of evidence. The topic is complicated by the fact that different jurisdictions have different definitions and possible consequences.

    Here’s an excerpt on the range of legal definitions, from the article by Michael A. Zuckerman, Yes, I Destroyed the Evidence – Sue Me? Intentional Spoliation of Evidence in Illinois (John Marshall Journal of Computer & Information Law, 2010, pages 102-103).

    Spoliation of evidence refers to the “act of damaging evidence.”[17] The precise definition of spoliation, however, varies greatly across jurisdictions. At its narrowest, spoliation is defined as the “intentional destruction of evidence . . . or the significant and meaningful alteration of a document or instrument.”[18] Most jurisdictions reject this narrow approach and define spoliation more broadly to include “the destruction or significant alteration of evidence or the failure to preserve property for another‘s use as evidence in pending or reasonably foreseeable litigation.”

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1536805

  8. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I’m not a lawyer, but in my research on this situation, I found out about “spoliation of evidence.” Remember in April 2014 when Mars Hill leaders were presented with a letter about a potential lawsuit with a statement about not destroying emails? The same warning would seem to apply to other forms of evidence.

    I did not realize they presented them with such a letter. Oh my.

  9. And with the official notice of a potential RICO civil suit already having been presented to current Mars Hill leaders on December 24, 2014, seems they have no excuse.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/12/26/letter-the-legal-case-against-mars-hill-church/

    From what I read, ignorance doesn’t remove legal liability for destruction of or withholding of evidence. And there have been explicit notifications.

    Anyway, it could yield some intriguing points and patterns to consider the dates Mars Hill leaders received these notices of potential legal actions (April 4 and December 24) and compare that for instance, with all the changes made in “Global Fund” definitions and related mailings, postings, denials, clarifications, etc. Certainly a lot of information was still available when these changes were enacted and that happened mostly between April and December, as best I recall.

  10. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Here’s the summary I wrote about spoliation of evidence:

    Spoliation of evidence is the destruction or withholding of evidence. It is an issue that can be raised, regardless of whether the forum is a (1) criminal case, (2) civil lawsuit, or (3) regulatory agency action (such as an IRS investigation of a Complaint/Referral against a tax-exempt non-profit organization). Spoliation can apply regardless of whether it was done intentionally or not. Either way, it is considered a serious issue, with a potentially severe range of consequences, such as criminal charges like tampering of evidence. The topic is complicated by the fact that different jurisdictions have different definitions and possible consequences.

    Here’s an excerpt on the range of legal definitions, from the article by Michael A. Zuckerman, Yes, I Destroyed the Evidence – Sue Me? Intentional Spoliation of Evidence in Illinois (John Marshall Journal of Computer & Information Law, 2010, pages 102-103).

    Spoliation of evidence refers to the “act of damaging evidence.”[17] The precise definition of spoliation, however, varies greatly across jurisdictions. At its narrowest, spoliation is defined as the “intentional destruction of evidence . . . or the significant and meaningful alteration of a document or instrument.”[18] Most jurisdictions reject this narrow approach and define spoliation more broadly to include “the destruction or significant alteration of evidence or the failure to preserve property for another‘s use as evidence in pending or reasonably foreseeable litigation.”

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1536805

    If the leadership of Mars Hill were indicted on federal charges in federal district court (charges such as wire fraud and mail fraud), the feds would have at their disposal a host of forensic experts to mine computers for evidence, etc. Plus witnesses. People would rather testify, in most cases, then face time in federal prison.

    That’s how stock brokers, computer giants, and even Martha Stewart have been indicted and faced time.

  11. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    @Lydia said: “A lawsuit would demand discovery but docs have probably already been destroyed. Where did all the emails go, for example. But can a church be sued about such things? How about a church that no longer exists?”

    I’m not a lawyer, but in my research on this situation, I found out about “spoliation of evidence.” Remember in April 2014 when Mars Hill leaders were presented with a letter about a potential lawsuit with a statement about not destroying emails? The same warning would seem to apply to other forms of evidence.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/04/02/megachurch-methods-mars-hill-email-retention-policy/

    I’ll find a quote that describes this and be back …

    I know people who work for computer company legal departments’ here in Silicon Valley (California). All they do is work on subpoenas from the government for computer evidence in criminal cases (federal and state).

  12. “Mark Driscoll, who became a millionaire while Mars Hill Church’s lead pastor” This is exactly why everything Driscoll did is blessed and celebrated by the industry. There is one overriding doctrine with in the Corporation that trumps all other doctrines including all that nonsense in the New Testament about brothers family etc. That overriding doctrine, pragmatism. The ends always justifies the means and it always should. Always. Now of course the church of Jesus should not act like this but that has no sway over these people and never has. So take them to court and sew them into next Tuesday.

  13. To confirm to anyone yet unsure of the hard hearted, decieved exclusivity of the MH congregation: My son, Steve and daughter in law, Marisa (CG leaders at MH ABQ until two weeks ago) left MH after persistent, respectful efforts to dialogue and get answers to their pressing questions regarding the many issues plaguing the repuatation of MH Leadership et al. Answers were not forthcoming. They were met with stone walling, discounting, shaming and coercive responses. They loved MH and the people there and were hoping for godly engagement by the leadership w/ the existant problems but none was forthcoming. Blameshifting set the precedent and they were called divisive and slanderous. After leaving MH, Marisa wrote a blog post and pasted it on FB as well describing her hurt and sense of abandonement and dismissal w/ people she had hoped to grow old with as church family. The opposite occurred. Many of her FB friends were MH women. Only one out of a church of 500 plus replied to her or even “liked” her story. Shunning. The one who did said to her, “What’s going on here? I thought “WE” were moving forward??” This is a very young group of very vulnerable and naïve people who are deeply entrenched in group-think and make their decisions based on social proofing…and following w/out question their authority figures from lowest to highest. If the LORD leads you and you are able to help w/ fervent prayer or finances or both…please do. Our prayer is that the captives will be set free as the false leaders are brought to mediation, trial or some sort of meaningful accountability to the GOD’s glory. His will be done. Thanks.

  14. Lydia wrote:

    f it were anything like the Petry docs, it reads like a script from the Godfather.

    Funny comment of the day! “I’m going to make you a covenant that you can’t refuse.”

  15. brian wrote:

    There is one overriding doctrine with in the Corporation that trumps all other doctrines including all that nonsense in the New Testament about brothers family etc. That overriding doctrine, pragmatism.

    Well said!

  16. denise hopeman wrote:

    To confirm to anyone yet unsure of the hard hearted, decieved exclusivity of the MH congregation: My son, Steve and daughter in law, Marisa (CG leaders at MH ABQ until two weeks ago) left MH after persistent, respectful efforts to dialogue… Answers were not forthcoming. They were met with stone walling, discounting, shaming and coercive responses…Blameshifting set the precedent and they were called divisive and slanderous. After leaving MH, Marisa wrote a blog post and pasted it on FB as well describing her hurt and sense of abandonement and dismissal w/ people she had hoped to grow old with as church family. The opposite occurred. Many of her FB friends were MH women. Only one out of a church of 500 plus replied to her or even “liked” her story. Shunning. The one who did said to her….

    Hi Denise,

    First, please give your son and daughter-in-law my greetings from California. I am sorry for their spiritually abusive experience at MH in New Mexico. I am not surprised by the response, either. I recently was excommunicated and ordered shunned from my 150+ member church in (Silicon Valley) Northern California. I too was accused of similar accusations for asking adult questions about a felon on Megan’s List in our midst, whom our church’s children were not protected from because he was a friend of the pastors/elders. Prior to my shunning, a godly doctor (married to his wife for 40+ years) was also shunned for asking the pastors/elders questions about how the church was being run and Biblical error.

    I too lost all of my friends. I didn’t get a single Christmas card, email, or call from anyone at church – people I’ve been close to for eight years. The only call I got wishing me a “Merry Christmas” was from my non-church going, gay hair dresser!

    Out of this experience I’ve learned to not keep all of my friendship “eggs” in one basket, so to speak. And I’ve learned some other valuable lessons, and I am sure will learn more.

    Good books on spiritual abuse that I would recommend for them:
    1. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderern;
    2. Healing Spiritual Abuse by Ken Blue;
    3. Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton;
    4. Churches That Abuse by Ronald M. Enroth (available free online now);
    5. Recovering from Churches That Abuse by Ronald Enroth; and
    6. Soul Repair by Jeff Van Vonderen and Dale & Juanita Ryan.

    Also there are good blogs too…like Julie Anne Smith’s Spiritual Sounding Board.

  17. IMHO,I think the used and abused should stop trying to bring these liars and thieves to mediate and use EVERY available means to bring them to justice! Time is short,time to drop the hammer. Leadership are making moves behind the scene as we all talk about it. They are moving to protect themselves as we speak. Stop stalling and take meaningful action now. Asking nicely does not work with those kinds of people.

  18. brian wrote:

    There is one overriding doctrine with in the Corporation that trumps all other doctrines

    This is very sad, but very true. I am reminded of the way in which Al Mohler wrote long-winded, scathing articles against the Roman Catholic Church and Penn State – but as soon as SGM and good buddy Mahaney are in the same situation, suddenly we need to be silent, and not judge, and nothing to see here, folks. You know, Keller even said publicly that Driscoll’s issues were “clear from the beginning” to the TGC crowd – but nothing was done about it apparently due to his success. Sad.

  19. @ Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist:
    Your comment sums up this year quite nicely. So long as you carry the water for your doctrinal buddies, you are protected. It makes me sad as well. Does TULIP supersede child abuse? It sure seems that way.

  20. I have a lot of problems with pastors becoming millionaires while in the “ministry.” Mark Driscoll has, at least temporarily, disqualified himself Biblically from the role as Overseer (Pastor/Elder to the YRR types) based on the description laid out by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1-7; specifically in the areas of being above reproach, self-controlled, respectable, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome [and] not a lover of money.

    Has Driscoll sinned so greatly that he could never be restored? No. However, the Bible is very specific about what he needs to do: admit his sin, agree that he is in need of restoration and repent from the previous actions. Then he needs to wait…true repentance is proven over time. In his case, it would likely take years to be restored to an Overseer role. However, pride appears to be more important to him than Biblical behavior.

    However, self-protection is the modus operandi of Driscoll and his cronies (I would never call them a tribe – I have too much respect for Native Americans to do that). At first Driscoll brought in the dollars, so he was embraced without much scrutiny. Now he is gone but his previous cohorts dare not say much because it would also expose them for being foolish. Again, pride seems to be keeping most of them from speaking truthfully about the situation because to do so would mean they would need to admit their own culpability in the situation.

    Pride and self-preservation – we are all susceptible to these sins, but in a minister, they can be deadly.

  21. __

    “Be An Example To The Flock?”

    hmmm…

    Dr. Rick Warren, Respectfully, the real important question is whether  Reverend Mark Driscoll (and other pastors like him) is a person that has the motivation and willingness to embark on a different behavioral course than the one he set for himself in the past, that has led to so many difficulties for himself and for the American christian 50(c)3 church establishment at large. The ‘pathological abuse’ of women who attend American 501(c)3 christian church services is no laughing matter. Nor by example teaching the young impressionable men who attend American 501(c)3 religious services, to do the same.

    (sadface)

    Sopy

  22. denise hopeman wrote:

    This is a very young group of very vulnerable and naïve people who are deeply entrenched in group-think and make their decisions based on social proofing…and following w/out question their authority figures from lowest to highest

    Yes! This has happened all over evangelism with very educated young people.

  23. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    This is very sad, but very true. I am reminded of the way in which Al Mohler wrote long-winded, scathing articles against the Roman Catholic Church and Penn State – but as soon as SGM and good buddy Mahaney are in the same situation, suddenly we need to be silent, and not judge, and nothing to see here, folks.

    Because it is different for “real” Christians who are leaders and have correct doctrine, dontcha know.

  24. @ david L:
    David, I agree with you. Their long time behavior should be a clue what one is really dealing with. But the rogues demand those wronged to follow different Christian rules and also trot out 1 corin 6 to hide behind.

    At some point one hopes people will stop falling for it like I did years back. Never again.

  25. You Can Help Bring the Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church to the Mediation Table

    Well, it seems, “No, we can’t.”

    The “Excecutive Elders” (whatever that means) of – soon to be former – MHC have clearly demonstrated that they want no accountability at all. I really think that the ONLY form of accountability is through a lawsuit, and preferably one by the authorities with the full force of legal authority behind it.

    The Deebs have said it often enough – a church that does not tell you the salaries of its pastor and other leaders is not a church. It’s a get rich quick scheme.

    That organisations should be allowed to even solicit donations and be tax-exempt charities without publishing a full account of where every – let’s be generous – single USD 1K went, is beyond me.

  26. Gus wrote:

    The Deebs have said it often enough – a church that does not tell you the salaries of its pastor and other leaders is not a church. It’s a get rich quick scheme.

    Well, maybe not in these words. I don’t want into any citation problems here 😉

  27. You stated “This is a very young group of very vulnerable and naïve people who are deeply entrenched in group-think and make their decisions based on social proofing…and following w/out question their authority figures from lowest to highest.” And you are very correct. We raised our daughter in a conservative, God honoring christian home, and always encouraged her to “make her faith her own”. As a young adult living in Seattle she began attending MHC, enthralled like so many thousands by the trappings and appeal of being member of such a large and vibrant christian community in so steeply secular Seattle. After a few years she realized how corrosive the leadership of MHC was and left, and her mother and I are very thankful for that. Driscoll and his unbiblical cronies have left behind a disaster of a mess, running out of town with the money and dodging many legitimate questions that have legal implications. I hope they are sued and brought to accountability. This may involve extraditing Driscoll from Texas, where that coward ran off to, certainly not “acting like a strong Godly man” as he admonished the “effeminate men” soiling the seats at MHC services.

  28. Larry wrote:

    . After a few years she realized how corrosive the leadership of MHC was and left, and her mother and I are very thankful for that.

    You raised a smart daughter. She, at least, got out.

    I am more concerned about the fact that his DNA is scattered throughout the evangelical church. i bet we will continue to hear Driscoll type stories.

    I do know that the folks behind this mediation/lawsuit are very serious.

  29. @ Gus:
    We have a very broad copyright policy. So long as you quote us accurately, you can copy whatever you like and as much as you like!

  30. In Australia a large proportion of our churches are what we call, Unincorporated Associations, which mean they do not have the legal capacity to sue or be sued. This has been of interest lately because of the Royal Commission into sexual abuse of children in care. The victims do not have an entity that they can sue for compensation. The properties of these churches, which in the major denominations is considerable and of great value, are held in property trusts, and these property trusts have their own private acts of parliament.

  31. In many states in the U.S., an unincorporated association cannot be sued, but all of its “members” can be sued for the errors committed by those members. So if the “board” or other governance body makes errors that cause harm, the members of that body can be sued as individuals and their private resources can be at risk.

  32. BTW, a private trust under the control of a beneficiary of that trust (directly or indirectly) can generally be caused to pay a judgment against that beneficiary.

  33. An Attorney wrote:

    In many states in the U.S., an unincorporated association cannot be sued, but all of its “members” can be sued for the errors committed by those members. So if the “board” or other governance body makes errors that cause harm, the members of that body can be sued as individuals and their private resources can be at risk.

    Thank you ‘An Attorney’ it sounds like our legal systems are very similar. I know the ‘Trusts Corporations’ can sue and be sued and are Incorporated under these very old Acts of Parliament. Something I would love to see is for these major denominations, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Orthodox and Uniting, probably others, be made to Incorporate under our Incorporation’s Act so they have the same accountability placed on them as Corporations.

  34. Rhonda Aubert wrote:

    In many states in the U.S., an unincorporated association cannot be sued, but all of its “members” can be sued for the errors committed by those members. So if the “board” or other governance body makes errors that cause harm, the members of that body can be sued as individuals and their private resources can be at risk.
    Thank you ‘An Attorney’ it sounds like our legal systems are very similar. I know the ‘Trusts Corporations’ can sue and be sued and are Incorporated under these very old Acts of Parliament. Something I would love to see is for these major denominations, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Orthodox and Uniting, probably others, be made to Incorporate under our Incorporation’s Act so they have the same accountability placed on them as Corporations.

    I should have said the ‘Trusts Corporations’ of these major denominations to be made to Incorporate under our Incorporation’s Act.

  35. We need to have MH brought to account in broad day light so that it will be an example for all abusive churches. The IRS. Should be notified of this and be encouraged to look into the financial dealings. They can block the people but certainly cannot block the government. Keep in mind SGM is another one of those abusive group that throws out the abused without any recourse while the leaders continue their abusive behavior at SGM or other places they have fled to.

  36. Of all work done under the sun religious work should be the most open to examination. There is positively no place in the church for sleight of hand or double talk. Everything done by the churches should be completely above suspicion. The true church will have nothing to hide. — A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men

    Will Mars Hill and Sovereign Grace Churches open themselves to impartial arbitrators (and not bought by them with money like Ambassadors of reconciliation). AOR is neither an impartial arbitrators nor bring reconciliation between aggrieved parties by doing their jobs as onto the Lord. There men are mercenaries and will do the bidding of their masters at any cost to the abused. Do not accept AOR to mediate. You will be very sorry.

    Also, the financial mismanagement is very prevalent in some churches, particularly those that do not have any accountability to the congregation. It is necessary to prosecute Mars Hill in the open and bring out every deed and examined. Let this be an example to all churches that play with money.

  37. Abused by SGM wrote:

    The true church will have nothing to hide. — A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men

    You would think that pastors and leaders of churches would know this. It amazes me to observe the lengths these pastors and leaders will resort to in order to convince Church members that disclosure regarding decisions and finances is not necessary.