"As I look back at my experience at Mars Hill, one of my largest areas of personal sanctification and theological growth occurred in the area of repentance and forgiveness, especially in my role as a high-level church leader."
Sutton Turner (screen shot)
[Update 6/19/14: Sutton Turner says he did not join Mars Hill in 2007. He joined in 2011.]
Sutton Turner, who will be indelibly linked to Mark Driscoll and the now defunct Mars Hill Church, recently posted his thoughts on repentance and forgiveness. More on that later in the post.
In case you're not familiar with Turner, he has previously stated that since 2007 Mark Driscoll had a significant influence on his life. He was obviously so impressed with Driscoll that he withdrew from the business world in 2011 and began working at Mars Hill. The following year, Turner issued a dire warning in an internal memo that Warren Throckmorton posted on his website. Here is a screen shot from Turner's March 17, 2012 memo.
In that same post (published September 10, 2014), Throckmorton included the BOAA announcement that Sutton Turner planned to resign (see screen shot below)
So much for Turner's generational influence on Mars Hill's international church planting… Looks like 'King Turner' had an impact on not just hundreds but thousands of people whom he never met. Some former members may never recover from the harm they suffered at the hands of Mars Hill elders.
It appears Sutton Turner has been doing some soul searching since resigning from his position at Mars Hill Church last year. Last week he published posts on repentance and forgiveness.
Part 1 begins as follows:
As I look back at my experience at Mars Hill, one of my largest areas of personal sanctification and theological growth occurred in the area of repentance and forgiveness, especially in my role as a high-level church leader.
I am writing this post to help other leaders like me. I pray that someone—even just one person—can be spared the consequences of his/her own mistakes by paying careful attention to mine beforehand. I also pray that my public confession of sin and admission of mistakes will further enhance opportunity for reconciliation and restoration among those with whom I have experienced conflict.
Early on in my time at Mars Hill, I unfortunately operated in a sinful way that was consistent with the existing church culture that had grown and been cultivated since the early years of the church. Instead of being an agent of change for good, I simply reinforced negative sinful behavior. (I am responsible for my own actions, and do not blame my actions on the culture.) I am so thankful for the kindness of God that has led me to repentance, the grace of Jesus that forgave my sin, and the love of brothers who exhorted me during those necessary times of growth. Somewhere between 2012 and 2013, with the help of Pastor Dave Bruskas and others, change began to take root in my heart. These lessons continue to bear fruit in my life as the Holy Spirit grows me to become more like Jesus. I do look back on 2011 and 2012 with a lot of regret, but I’m also very thankful for the Holy Spirit and his ability to grow us all to be more like Jesus.
In Part 2, Turner describes nine practical lessons on repentance and forgiveness. They are:
1. In humility, die to self.
2. Repent and grow.
3. Have empathy for others.
4. Repent to others.
5. Gain a brother.
6. Forgive those who will not meet with you.
7. Forgive those who have sinned against you.
8. Accept that forgiveness does not automatically mean reconciliation.
9. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Turner provides an explanation for each of these lessons. Here is a screen shot he included at the top of Part 2.
How very interesting that Turner published these posts right after Mark Driscoll delivered his Paul the Forgiven sermon at James River Church on Sunday, June 7. Coincidence? We think not. In case you're interested, we shared our thoughts regarding Driscoll here.
Wenatchee the Hatchett, who for years has done a yeoman's work in reporting on Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church, weighed in on Sutton Turner's posts (see links below).
Sutton Turner, part 1 of discuxssing repentance, forgiveness and failures of leadership culture
9 practical reads like 9 pious bromides, we may need to review the scope of the legacy
Warren Throckmorton had this to say regarding Sutton Turner's initial post:
In light of Dan Kellogg’s and John Lindell’s dismissal of Mars Hill problems, Turner’s disclosure that he operated in a “a sinful way that was consistent with the existing church culture that had grown and been cultivated since the early years of the church” is worth noting. Turner does not mention Driscoll, but everybody knows who was in charge of the church from the beginning. Turner does not mention Driscoll as a help in overcoming that culture, but instead credits Dave Bruskas and unnamed others.
I know there are several people I have interviewed who would encourage Turner to add 2013 at least, and probably 2014 to his list of dates which should be regret-worthy. Having said that, I think Turner’s approach here has much to recommend it. He then reflects on forgiveness which, because of the way he started his post, doesn’t come across so self-serving as does Mark Driscoll’s two recent sermons on the subject.
I recognize that those who served at Mars Hill and former members will have varying reactions to Turner’s reflections. Inasmuch as bitterness remains, I hope the parties can reconcile.
We hope the parties can reconcile as well, but it certainly appears that Mark Driscoll and his former right hand man have some work to do with regard to reconciliation.
In the meantime, Sutton Turner has obviously distanced himself from Mars Hill Church, as his website shows.
Hmmm……. A large Christian church with 15 sites across 5 states that is now defunct. So much for its staff of 157 and 13,000 attendees…
No doubt Sutton Turner has definitely learned a hard lesson. We look forward to seeing what happens in his life and career in the wake of these repentance and forgiveness posts.
Am I… First? 🙂
I wonder if he apologized to his “very incompetent” former staff…
Interesting that he came on the Mars Hill scene in 2007, the year Mars Hill was notoriously “re-organized” in a way that was so transparently ungodly to many observers.
I wrote a post the other day about Dan Kellogg the Senior Pastor at Gold Creek Community Church who helped re-launch Mark Driscoll’s speaking career. In the post (which I do in my usual blunt manner…) I explain why Dan Kellogg failed Gold Creek Community Church, Mark Driscoll, greater Seattle and how he failed as a pastor. It takes a lot of talent to have an epic fail and Dan Kellogg batted a 1000!
Here’s what I wrote
I wondered about his “very incompetent staff”, as well. Depending on your definition of “incompetent”, there was probably plenty to go around, and to spare. Underlings generally seem to function the way they’ve been trained to function. If a new boss wants different behavior from the little guys under him, shouldn’t it be up to him to be straightforward about what he expects? I would think he would have enough power to effect change or send them on and hire competent staff, in less than ten months. Other than that phrase leaping out at me in the first reading, I thought his comments were at least encouraging in that some powerful people realize their behavior has been quite heavy handed. He mentioned “sin” a few times in a general sense but not specifically what variety. (Or did I make a too hasty reading?) Vague is vogue.
I apologize for the disconnected post. I just had my review at work and am extremely disappointed. I would appreciate prayer for a raise which I was told today probably isn’t happening. I felt so spit upon in my review like I should feel bad for the company because of their financial situation. Are you kidding me we just had our best year ever. Please pray.
Praying for you.
According to info on Wenatchee’s website, Turner became employed by Mars Hill in April 2011.
I wonder how much influence he had with Driscoll prior to ‘officially’ becoming employed by the church.
Here seems to be a business guy with plenty of experience that they took on board for business reasons. So how come they made him ‘executive pastor’ and ‘executive elder’? Pastor? and elder? Since when does business expertise make somebody a pastor or an elder? Sorry, but I just can’t get over this. To me it looks like they neither understand nor value even the idea of what is a pastor or an elder.
Should they hire somebody with business expertise? Well, if they planned to turn a church into a business then yes they should. Does this qualify somebody to be a pastor or an elder? Not in my book. Manager or chairman or administrator or such, sure, but pastor?
But he seems to be washing his hands of some things from that ill fated stint at Mars Hill, and he says the right words so at least he understands christianese to that extent and in fact may be on the right track more than some of the rest. Also, though, he perhaps needs to clean up his image after all this so it is a smart move when moving on with his career.
But pastor or elder? Am I the only one who thought those words might mean something?
I had the exact same reaction.
From a financial viewpoint – with over ‘ten years of executive leadership & management experience’, it took him ten months to work out Mars Hill was a ‘fundamentally and financially unsustainable organization’. It sounds like he was working with Bernie Madoff, where none of the computers on the secret floor were ever connected to the internet.
I so hear you/feel you. Can you get some private HR advice on an appropriate way to address this? I found out in my organisation that they don’t like too many “excels” at performance reviews, managers are told to keep most at “reliable”, no matter what they really are. There has been one bright moment – bonuses have been removed. There’s an opportunity for bullying levels to reduce and some rationality to return. I don’t think it will happen in this generation though. There’s something I call the ‘mortgage factor’ – it induces lots of bobbing heads (rant over).
Yes, he has a serious CV problem. How to spin this so he, the brilliant businessman, can look like he was blindsided by Mars Hill’s problems without mentioning names.
But wait! There is an answer! Turn all the abuse and financial shennanigans into a ministry! Now, lets talk forgiveness….
Nancy, from my experiences, “Elder” usually meant millionaire by 40. They were the types who had community influence through business and really brought a lot of gravitas to a mega situation. It was a mutally beneficial image perception gig.
It had nothing to do with Jesus at all. The Neo Cals tend to have ” well paid” young elders who are senior staffers, I have noticed.
It’s not uncommon for medium-sized or large congregations to have church administrators or business managers. They’re typically from the business world with little or no theological training and are usually lay people rather than clergy. So Sutton Turner’s business background was somewhat unusual for an ordained pastor.
Thank you. It brings tears to my eyes having a community of people who will pray and not just flippantly say "just trust God"
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Be careful, Theologian. I think you accidentally put your e-mail address in the "name" field of your last comment. ( Can any of the moderators fix that? ) I hope that things will get better for you at work. Please take care of yourself during this trying time.
What better way to indoctrinate unsuspecting believers. SGM gave away endless books, IIRC.
The main point is be careful what is given away freely.
@ Serving Kids In Japan: Fixed it. 😉
there is a lota free stuff on da internet…
Indoctrination be D@mn’d
“Study to b a workman aproved by God…”
“knowledge puffs up, love edifys…”
We have put your prayer request on our banner. Ian praying for you. I am so sorry.
Serving Kids In Japan wrote:
yes please do.
I hate that for you. Maybe this won’t help you any, but this is what I have to offer you on this subject and I would like to share it with you, for what it may or may not be worth. This seems to be going on all over. The state legislature and the school system in my state is/are changing the laws and the rules about teacher pay, and in the process they are clamping down on evaluations. The local admin people have flat out told some people that they have instructions to do this. The goal is: lean toward merit pay, rate the older people and the ones with advanced degrees down hoping that some will go ahead and leave, then hire new people fresh out of school who have only a BA because they are a lot cheaper. And they have admitted this and flat out told my daughter (masters and 20+ years experience) that she is a part of the targeted population because of her experience and education. Local admin does not want to do this but they have no choice. Sadly, in this economy it may be that the school system has no choice; perhaps even the legislature thinks it has no choice. The former path to success in education was education plus experience, but that is now the path to unemployment if they can get it done. Bummer.
I hope this helps. It always helps me if I can feel bad about my situation but not bad about myself.
Before this bottoms out we may all have to put chickens in the back yard after all. Rhode Island Red is a pretty chicken, and it doesn’t show the dirt as much as those big white chickens. Might as well use it for aesthetic value. Sorry, theologian, this is a recurring theme for me. I have prayed for your situation.
“Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!”
Here’s what really ticks me off. Turner’s ‘apology’ is the same as virtually every other ‘apology’ from every other ‘religious’ megalomaniac who only address abuse when they’re publicly outed – the ‘apology’ is vague as all get out with no specifics as to what exactly they did that was wrong along. For example, neither Turner nor others ever say things like:
– We shamed, browbeat, spread false rumors about, and ultimately kicked out people whose only offense was to raise legitimate issues about doctrine or how the church was being run;
– We were greedy pigs who paid ourselves and our lackeys exorbitant salaries and benefits well above and beyond what is needed for a true minister so that we could live a life of luxury at our members’ expense;
– We preached horrible and harmful unbiblical doctrine that was in no way Christian;
– We were obsessed with controlling every aspect of our members lives for no biblical reason at all, simply just to satisfy our own need for power.
In fact, this is what made Chandler’s statement so sadly unique. At least as far as Karen Hinckley was concerned he specifically admitted they were wrong. Whether this from truly from the heart or simply a smart PR play I don’t know, but it was remarkably uncharacteristic of this crowd, although it certainly doesn’t mean he’s repentant, that is something only time and his future actions will tell.
At any rate, I’ve become disgusted with all of the non-apology ‘apologies’. They are completely meaningless because they never result in any change to a truly Christian church.
Since the church is not really a church but a business, albeit with a nice tax-free status.
That’s easy: the pastor and the elders are the guys who run the whole show and have the last word – that’s us.
Oh, and BTW, we also deserve a high salary (luckily for us, not based on education, experience, suitability for the job or ability).
What I have seen is the opposite. They bring in the business man and ordain him so that he can take advantage of the clergy tax breaks. Not I use the masculine pronoun, they would never bring in a woman and certainly if they did she would have been the executive director not pastor. In the case of Mars Hill I really don’t understand why they needed to ordain Turner or anyone else with the pay structure they seem to have used. Of course even at that level everyone wants all the breaks they can get.
What I can not figure out is why anyone even wants to know what Turner or anyone else from MH staff has learned. What I would like is the lessons learned by the sheeple. Have they learned anything from this experience?
No you didn’t skim too fast and furious in your reading. I wondered the same. Your last three word sentence is like a dead center group at 300 meters.
I don’t know the specifics and may be mixing things up, so please correct me. I believe that Mars Hill was in the business of acquiring significant real estate assets in their peak era, and maybe that was part of the need for the re-organization in 2007. Turner has a background in RE management or acquisition or both. Sounds like a marriage of convenience. Maybe he came on board to clean up their RE portfolio or maximize its value, or maybe when he got on board he found out that the cash flows were not going in or projected to go in a positive direction and/or the commercial RE outlook was not as great as hoped. Regardless, I do not see the need to ordain him as an elder except that Driscoll needed his friends to occupy the new coveted Executive Elder slots.
This will sound horrible, so I apologize ahead of my comment.
I had this happen and was told by a close friend that this ploy is sometimes used in an effort to get an employee to quit. I was told not to fall for it because if I quit I couldn’t collect unemployment as opposed to getting fired or let go for any reason. Some states don’t have to provide a reason for dismissal and Florida is one so I was never told of the reason.
I stayed and forced them to take the action. On the other hand, getting fired doesn’t look good on a resume, but I had plans to work from home in a different career choice.
Lots to think about. Sorry to send speculation that’s bad, but could be a possibility.
I don’t want to say the specific company I worked for but maybe this will help. I did automotive marketing in a place I formerly lived. It was for a contractor for one of the major automotive companies. We had these meetings where the program manager and company showed the profits, how the company was soaring, “Look at how good we are doing! This is our best year ever!” Yada, yada, yada…then then told us one year they couldn’t give a raise despite the record profits. The following year they gave me a .25 cent raise which largely amounted to nothing. I remember one guy walking out of the meeting with his boss learning he got a raise of .10 in a very professional job and he just shook his head. I’ve seen a lot over the years and I am just 40. So I am quite sorry about this…I’ve seen a lot of shenanigans in my life.
I’m intrigued by some statements in Part 3 http://investyourgifts.com/a-helpful-guide-to-cultural-unity-leadership-culture-part-3/
Especially, when Turner says:
“Do we forgive unconditionally, even when it seems the one who sinned against us hasn’t yet repented? Do we forgive only once we have begun to see the fruit of repentance? These questions came to a head and were at the crucial center of the last days of Mars Hill Church, and many leaders strongly disagreed on the answers.”
Does he mean that he wanted to “forgive” Mark by returning him to the pulpit immediately, while other leaders wanted Mark to go through a restoration plan? Does he mean he wanted other leaders to “forgive” him for the pre-Christian sins they were blackmailing him with? Does he mean he and Mark struggled to “forgive” other leaders who were unfair to them? Forgive members who stopped attending and giving?
Any insights will be appreciated, though I’ll not be able to reply soon.
Also– everyone pay attention to the photo at the top of part 3! Cultural unity, or uniformity?
Oops…forgot the most important part….I will pray for you, theologian. I know how it must hurt.
I had the same reaction. I’ve found many pastors think only in terms of the Matthew 18 process for those critical of church leaders. Every thing must be done in channels, nothing bad should be said about a church or its leaders, especially not publicly and definitely not posted on the internet. Yet Turner goes public with a criticism and resulting humiliation of his staff.
Turner was neither pastoral or professional but his action was a good example of the double standard I’ve seen.
Bill M wrote:
Turner is HIGHBORN.
His staff is LOWBORN.
That’s all that needs be said.
Other than “SPIN, SPIN, SPIN, SPIN, SPIN!”
Because actually giving some of those Record Profits to the Lowborn means less of it for those seven/eight/nine-figure Highborn Management Bonuses.
Given the track record of these MenaGAWD, assume “a smart PR play” until proven otherwise. Too dangerous to assume it’s “truly from the heart”. Especially if it’s in Christianese.
And HATERS(TM), and BITTERNESS(TM), and HARDNESS OF HEARTS(TM)…
“Mistakes Were Made(TM)…”
“As I discussed above, repentance is continuous for the Christian, and a Christian leader is certainly no different. As a church leader, you will make more decisions than those you lead. With these decisions come more mistakes simply because you’re making more decisions. I have learned the hard way that this increased number of mistakes increases your opportunities to repent to your fellow brothers and sisters. No one expects you to be a perfect leader, just a repentant leader.”
The above is from, “9 Practical Lessons on Repentance & Forgiveness” – Part 2.
It would be helpful if Sutton Turner gave examples of how leaders should implement repentance. What does the repentance he mentions look like?
I would expect leaders to learn from their mistakes and make fewer mistakes as they gain experience, apparently he doesn’t think so.
It is the old, “Were you lying then or are you lying now?” I usually suspect the former as sales types seem to inflate things for morale, rah, rah, rah things are great. As an engineer I was once told the difference between engineers and sales people was engineers know when they are lying. My apologies to the honest sale people.
Reminds me of: Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?
That same thing is happening here in state and public education. Get rid of the over 45 types, hire 20 somethings at half the price. Middle age and experience have never been scarier for folks.
@ Dave A A:
Here are some insights I really encourage folks to read. It is a very good indepth look at forgiveness that touches on many things discussed here. I got the link from undermuchgrace.org
Re: “incompetent staff”.
Let’s remember the MH mantra: “We do not call the trained but rather, we train the called”. In other words, you will have to believe and do everything we teach you. And you have to do it our way because we have advised you to 1) “get”a wife 2) have sex 3) have babies 4) keep your wife at home. Now you are the ONLY breadwinner and this is the only job you have. No marketable skills or college education because “we will train you, hire you and keep you employed forever”. And then in 2011 came the great big layoff. Incompetent staff or falsely promised?? My family lived through this exact scenario. Betrayal is the taste left in the mouth.
Well if you listen to Anne Graham Lotz and her brother Franklin, this is not why the Almighty is soon to judge America. He will ring down his mighty gavel because of sexual sin, homosexuality, and gay marriage.
Thanks, Lydia. A lot of food for thought there.
“MarsHill Lessons learned?”
“What I would like (to know) is the lessons learned by the sheeple (at the former Mars Hill churches) . Have they learned anything from this experience?” – Mitch
Yes. How ta get free coffee and donuts, and how ta make pretty signs. 🙂
I thought Deb and Dee may be interested in this:
The Loving-Kindness of Covenant Membership
“Despite the risk of pastoral misuse, churches need a model for intentional soul-care” by Aaron Menikoff
“7 Step 501(c)3 Shuffle?”
The MarsHill 501(c)3 ‘Church’ Project was a Success.”
Peter Draper says the number one goal of any enterprise is to “profit from your project”.
Looks like Mark Driscoll met that goal.
Comic relief: “Marzhill’s last dayz?”
Excellent link Lydia, and I concur with Dave AA & Abi Miah, lotsa’ food for thought. To me, forgiveness means that I’m not gonna respond in kind if I’m wronged; hostilities end with me. It also means that I’m under no obligation to fully ‘restore’ (or some such Christianese clap-trap) the one who wronged me.
Both of us have already read this article and we have discussed it.
Look for Dee's commentary tomorrow. 😉
Muff Potter wrote:
Yes. I really disagree that restoration is a part of forgiveness, at least in part because a lot of what needs forgiven comes from total strangers some of whom are outright criminals What would ‘restoration’ look like in that instance, ‘I forgive you and restore you to being a stranger to me and a criminal perp?’ We have gone nuts in this country with the whole apology and forgiveness idea.
All righty. 🙂
Good article. I like the part where he said “In the absence of repentance, forgiveness can easily be just another a way to avoid what is real.” I believe true repentance is a precondition to forgiveness, which to me means it takes some because the victim(s) need time to come to grips with the harm that was done to them, and for the perpetrator to actually demonstrate repentance rather than looking for cheap grace.
I believe this is what Jesus taught as well and is the lesson of Luke 17:3-4 “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
So Jesus requires repentance as well.
Muff Potter wrote:
Yes. And we tend to forget the ‘eye for an eye’ that was very much a part of thinking in the NT times juxtaposed to forgiveness.
He really nails it when he talks about instant forgiveness (and it being so popular these days) instead of going through the uncomfortable and often long process—- can actually enable more abuse.
Ya got that right Lydia. It’s the kind of idiocy that leads to forcing a three year old baby girl to ‘forgive’ her molester and then insist that everything’s hunky-dory because she did.
As snotty as that aside sounded in Turners’ email, it is undoubtedly true. The staff did, after all, run the church into the ground both spiritually and financially.
Good questions. I think baptist/non-denom churches have to be on special guard against this, since each church essentially decides what the qualifications for elder are.
Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:
And Sutton came aboard to save it. :o)
I love hearing comments like this, because I am a senior manager, and culture is very important to me. One thing that I simply will not tolerate is coercive language. I once fired a manager because of the way he was talking to “little people”. I hadn’t considered bonuses being used as means of coercion. I would like to believe the bonuses in my sphere of influence are used to coordinate efforts with KPIs. I will have to think about that, and take a look at our culture from a different perspective. I appreciate it.
LOL. Apparently it wasn’t just the lowly staff that was incompetent…
Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:
But it wasn’t his fault. They hid stuff from the successful businessman/elder/ordained pastor, hired to fix all the incompetence, until it was too late.
Now he has a ministry teaching us how Jesus really works.
Wonder what his golden parachute was worth?
@ Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist:
If you cannot give bonuses look at time off above typical package as reward. It rates way up there as an incentive.
Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:
The financial staff didn’t run the place into the ground, that was “leadership”.
Extrapolating from what we do know about Mars Hill that place was so toxic there can be no reliable judgements made about the staff. You cannot blame the troops when they have insufferable leaders that make stupid demands and are unable to deal with reality. I can easily imagine how a lowly staffer would be greeted if they informed their muscular superiors how their financial demands were unworkable. Working in that place would have quickly degenerated into keeping your head down and try to patch it together.
It is also easy to say they should have quit, and many may have, but we’ve see how people were treated when abandoning the Mars Hill bus, they were just more bodies run over.
It may also be one of the reasons we hear Driscoll and defenders suggest they were betrayed by staff. I can well imagine the staff were so poorly treated that when Driscoll was finally found to be vulnerable, the long knives came out. What a miserable place.
Alison Green has a good blog called “Ask A Manager”. It’s got the good, the bad, and the ugly about work and lots of great advice from Alison and from other readers who post.
I believe Fridays are the days when there is an Open Discussion for readers to post anything related to work. There’s another day that is for anything. And the regular posts that Alison does.
Best wishes to you.
Muff Potter wrote:
I think part of the problem is that they are really using a ‘as if it never happened’ model of forgiveness – you forgive a sin & it’s as if the person never did it. What we/they need to be using is a ‘it’s paid for’ model, when we forgive someone it’s as if they had for eg served the proper sentence for it, which means we treat the person as though they no longer owe us anything, but may have all sorts of reservations/boundaries in place in future. A burglar who gets out of prison after doing a full sentence has done their time, paid their debt. You don’t put them to work in a jewellery shop, if you’re wise. Forgiving someone has no bearing on whether they area future risk in that area.
praying, so sorry. it seems a pattern of the last 5-10 years in business, make tons as a company and always find a reason to keep the workers at the least pay possible. also kinda reflects the attitudes of mega churches, get all the pewpeons to only care about “THE CHURCH” and denying their own needs for the good of well, they say the good of the gospel but i think its evident that its for the good of the CEO etc. they use guilt and play on peoples self-lessness or kindness to make alot of money. Alot of big corps are finding its not working and people are speaking up and quiting, but sadly there are alot of other people that they can play to their egos and get them to replace those workers and the money just keeps pouring in for the company.
i took out most of your quoted parts to leave what i see more clearly now, its not a ‘church’ its a business. i think ‘serving Pastor Mark Driscoll as his Executive Pastor.’ should be seen by Sutton as the most blatant statement of a## kissing he has ever made. Maybe that is one of the things he is repentant of, no one knows actually though, what Sutton has ever apologized for just like all of the businesses ‘problems’ that are never specified in their non-apologies on every thing they do. i am still waiting to see if TVC puts in writing that its ok with the leadership if a woman wants to annul a pedophile.
exactly. they have taken ‘church’ and made it into a business “Religious Institutions industry” and just taken the ‘job titles’ to mean whatever they want and applied them to whomever they want. when the deebs first started putting (TM) on pastors etc i thought they were mocking people in a sinful way, until i realized that instead, they actually saw what i didnt until recently. Go$pel
well said, i agree totally. it reminds me of an alcoholic who keeps saying ‘honey i am sorry, it wont happen again’ but he was so drunk he cant quite remember what ‘it’ was besides the wrecked car. They usually never get sober until they actually lose enough or hit rock bottom that they are willing to open the book and work the program. they have to find ‘true’ humility and be willing to make amends. otherwise the wife needs to go to alanon and see if maybe a seperation is in order or she is just enabeling him to continue, even though she is doing it out of love.
The best thing that ever happend to me (or i might still be a wonderful charismatic alcoholic, charming to my friends and followers but despised by my family at times), is that she left and wasn’t willing to put up with it anymore.
I hope their churches really love these guys enough to say enough, even if they have to get a seperation or divorce.
“Prescription for sinning Elders?”
Q. What is the biblical prescription for sinning Elders?
Ans. Elders that that sin are to be rebuke before all, that others also may fear…
Reverend Mark Driscoll has sinned before many witness, this had been profusely and laboriously documented, and is to be rebuked before all.
…If we are to follow God’s word, huh?
Jesus’ Church or 501(c)3 Religious business?
well i looked into Suttons other great mentor because of his helpful guide. here is a quote from http://investyourgifts.com/a-helpful-guide-to-cultural-unity-leadership-culture-part-3/
I suspect you might like me to talk directly about Pastor Mark Driscoll. So in closing, I will say something concerning him: I love him very much. There are two men from whom I have learned the most since Jesus saved me: Pastor Mark Driscoll and Pastor Joe Champion.
i am going to post a few excerpts from an online profile of Celebration Church Tx and their pastor Joe Champion written by some ex members a year ago. it seems to be the same as ACTS 29!
first post Joe Champion, Suttons other mentor besides Mark Driscoll (if you have a lot of time you will love reading all the posts and can tell that after anyone posted anything negative some Champion fans rushed to correct all their ‘slander’
Easter Sunday was kind of the last straw for us as he invited everyone to take of communion, believer or not. We both believe that the Bible is very clear that communion is only for believers. He told the unbelievers that they could “toast” Jesus if they were not saved. To us, that was heresy, so we will be looking for another church
Getting kicked out for having sin! – A friend was asked to not return to the church after years of service and dedication to learning and griwing for having sin in her life.
I would like to ask Joe if he felt convicted today though by Robert Morris. Pastor Morris said he doesn’t need a mansion because he’ll have one in the next life and has given away his cars, savings, everything in the name of God. Lead the way Joe and put that mansion of yours or that Escalade (or both) toward the Beyond campaign! It would be me over the top to see the man asking for sacrifice to set the tone with his own.
Entertaining Personality Cult – Unthinking Theology – I mostly stopped in for the music. Piped Christmas music into the parking lot, many volunteer “handlers” to insure that everything runs like the Pastor / CEO wants it to – the guy directing the seating on my row looked like he could also be a bouncer, Starbucks Coffee. Rock concert / TV show kind of set, lighting, cameras. I always wonder about the behind the scenes “board” and how accountable the pastor is to them and whether dissenting views are allowed and how controlled free thought is. It is conservative Texas after all. The offering came immediately following the up tempo, emotive music and singing which is excellent marketing. The message on forgiveness was relevant and challenging – though the theology gave a mixed message of …. you can be saved by an all loving God, but you can also lose salvation it and definitely risk burning in hell if you don’t forgive. Not sure if the pastor is deeply thinking enough to be consistent… but fear is a powerful persuader.
post 2 Suttons heros
Keep your politics out of God’s house. – Upon moving to Round Rock, I heard about Celebration Church, so thought I would try it out. We walked in and were given tickets to buy coffee, sat down and after about 10 minutes were offended by the pastor with “fake white teeth” wearing make up like a movie star. There is NO reason for a pastor to wear make up and live in a million dollar home. Sorry! That’s making a profit off the Lord.
He then went on to talk horrible about Al Frankin that he sat by on a plane. Calling him a liberal in a degrading way. THAT IS NOT HOW A Pastor ACTS, that is how a baby christian acts.
I wrote and email saying that I was offended did I take that wrong, I am a guest. I got in return a rude email. Really?
Once a great church, now selling DVDs during worship. – This church is going down hill fast and needs to be saved.
Last weekend this house of worship was turned into a sales pitch for someone’s DVD set. While our pastor was on vacation they had the nerve to replace him with a salesman. I come to church to pray and be in the presence of Jesus, not to be sold worthless DVDs. There are other pastors here so WHAT IS GOING ON CELEBRATION!?
Today Pastor Joe was back but the sermon was a lackluster message about family. Part of a new series! Oh my. Maybe I am jaded now but the bad piano music in the background during prayer is cheesy and melodramatic, scripture is badly interpreted to fit a weak and uninspired message, and there is very little bible education being delivered here.
Come on Joe! You pay yourself $12,500 a month out of OUR donations, for maybe 8 days of work and this is the best you can do? We demand more! JESUS DEMANDS MORE JOE!
This church needs to get BACK TO JESUS! BACK TO THE BIBLE!!!! Let us explore the bible like we once did and actually try to apply it to our lives and our world.
Pastor Joe doesn’t like people messing up his image…or his money. Anyone who expresses their opinion negatively towards the church in any way on their own facebook/myspace/etc is banished from ever returning to the church until its removed. I’ve seen this happen because I was “plugged in” to their ministry school for 3 months. I was at the staff meetings and Joe went so far as to tell us how he told this woman never to come back because of what she wrote(which i read and really wasnt all that awful.)
… i have seen staff and long-term members turn very cruel to people who have just innocently questioned Celebration’s practices why do you have to fight so hard Celebrators? are you really so threatened because there is truth in what people outside your little church culture say?
Reminds me of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker – A friend asked me to go with her and I went half a dozen times. Frankly the experience was scary and I will not be going back.
I love Jesus and I couldn’t find any sign of him here.
That is strange that there are no crosses here.
After everything I experienced and have read I hope the IRS revokes their non-profit status.
Celebrating racism, ignorance and greed – I have to agree with the other comments criticizing this “church”. The lead pastor is quite the charmer, and pretends to be a good ole boy. What he doesn’t tell you is that he and his family make over $500,000 a year from church tithes, and you will find his $700k+ home on the county tax appraisal service. This was supposedly donated to him from a church member. Rather than sell it and use the funds to help the less fortunate they live there like royalty. Joe Champion demands that everyone pay 10% of their salary to him every month…. for what? Sure he wants to grow the church, but only to will his own pockets.
post 3 Suttons heros joe champion
Celebration Church – Don’t forget to bring your wallet! – I tried Celebration with an open mind and initially thought well of it. Unfortunately the true mission of this church became apparent.
1. The are ashamed of the cross. Try to find THE symbol of Christ’s sacrifice anywhere in this church. I dare you… it is nowhere there. I guess the cross isn’t trendy enough, or maybe they think it will scare off the unchurched masses that they target.
2. Lead pastor rewards himself with your tithe money handsomely, over 150k a year, plus luxury SUV, church member donated almost $1mil home on huge parcel of land. Also your tithe money helps him dress like a male model; no Walmart or target for this man… his average attire on stage is > $500
This church is a business, not a house of God. I can not recommend this church if you are wanting to find the path of Jesus.
t seems like a cult when you get on the inside.
Don’t bother the pastor if you see him, dont talk to him he’s a busy man. Don’t make him feeel he has to speak when he’s busy?WHAT!!!!
OOh yeah they hired a fellow Lousiana boy to take over the Youth and hes making close to what pastor is making why? he’s in the family.
It seems like the arch is a bunch of churchs that pass through the same names and speakers and they are at a cost for us to hear not free? what church gives you the word of God for a fee??????????????????????????
I will pray that this Business he is trying to grow is stopped in it’s tracks and people start seeing it for what it really is.
He’s a great talker, he can sell a good car.
But he and no one at that church can save me but me and our Lord savior Jesus Christ
I miss the good old days where your pastor was a pastor and not someone that thinks he’s above all.
Let’s please leave that position for God!!!
Another thing what church needs body guards for the Pastor and his wife? This isn’t a church its a cult of personality.
Camera, Lights Action What a show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – I don’t know where to start except that I wouldn’t recommend this church to anyone.
What Pastor needs bodyguards? yeah with guns in a church? Who a does he think he is the president of the United States?
I have seen things that should go on at a rock concert not a church. it’s all hype to get the new member in to replace the ones that are leaving.
Big lights, cameras, action is what praise time is about!!
Why does he need to be paid 150,000 a year and then asking for more????
What church asks for a heart of the house offereing every year, yeah 900.00 a family, in this economy, even if you are in foreclosure!!!
Quit jet setting off to all these places that you come back and brag about, WE DON”T CARE!!!!!!!
The Woman’s luncheon are never biblical they are about what do you think about plastic surgey? The panel answer there is nothing wrong with it.
S#x, give your man s#x. Make him happy.
Not a thing a about Our Lord jesus Christ.
People are paying for this luncheon and it’s just like going to a sorority party and trying to fit in..
OOh and btw she has a body guard with her at all times……
I think barnum and bailey is looking for new opening act maybe they will take them both!!!!
post 4 Suttons heros joe champion
we got a chik fil a sandwich in a paper bag w/ chips, apple & cookies. Ooh & this is the best they ate in another room away from all of us with the staff & speakers.
this is a place of god home of worship the pastors & staff are too good to eat with the common folk, aren’t we the ones that make their jobs possible with our offerings?
another thing they do testimonials & let me tell you these are not on the spot occurances they are planned right now & booked until the end of April.a real story is not what they are looking for where god was there its where celebration was there and how many people can pastor Joe save in one night?
its a huge show & he wants the best effects for all to see.
controlling if you want to work near the inner circle –
likely will NEVER meet the pastor in person –
Unless you are a big donor or have a sob story, likely will NEVER be served by or ministered to by this church== its all about what you can do for them. If you are unemployed, this is not the place to be for references or any type of help whatsoever. If you are poor FORGET IT! You will find no sympathy here.
No inner city missions-
No local outreach-
Also Joe writes a glowing review for his lawyers
The Church Law Group is an incredible legal resource that has successfully helped our church navigate many issues that face all churches today. As a CLG client member, we receive real value and benefit from this affordable legal solution. As Senior Pastor, I have total confidence in David Middlebrook and the entire CLG Team. Because of the Church Law Group, I have total peace of mind that our church is receiving the best in legal counsel because of their great expertise in church and nonprofit legal matters.
thats probably enough to show that the DNA is the same as Mark Driscolls. which makes me pretty certain that Mr Suttons writings have nothing to do with Jesus but instead trying to keep the company afloat and make lotta $
There’s a megapastor in Dallas who has a $1.15 million home in University Park, and I’ve heard the same claim made about how he got it. Gift tax? What’s that?
I just can not get my mind around church leaders calling themselves “prophet, priest, and king” Really?? And, they also said “It is all about JC”?? REALLY?? The dramatic crash of Mars Hill demonstrates the use of these phrases was fallacious, and delusional?
Nope…a business mindset and gifting is not the same as an elder-pastor. I don’t have a problem with larger churches hiring a business executive on staff, because they really do need someone to manage these issues when your group gets that large. That’s just a neutral fact. But they are not a pastor/elder!!!
I keep thinking about all this craziness of seemingly emotionally stunted people getting passed into ministry too soon or not being stopped and saying “Hey, actually, even though you’re well-spoken and say right things some times or have these talents, those mean nothing for actually being called into ministry. Maybe you’re not called.” Where are the emphases on virtues/fruits of the Spirit for any ministry office (deacon, staff member, etc.)? Sure, you need to look at someone’s talents, but where is the rigorous test of someone’s character and demeanor before they are hired or appointed? Elders and pastors need to be able to “teach” the word and shepherd people, and that takes on a whole other level of training that has a lot of components to it. Learning theology isn’t enough, the theology must teach your whole self, and that takes a long time of desert and obscurity before you should be put into such a position. There are exceptions to that, but it’s definitely not the norm.
I think it should be a requirement that every person who feels called into “ministry” wait until they are 30 to be put into a significant lead role, and in some cases, a supporting role. Even then, by 30, a lot of people aren’t ready, and I don’t mean in the humble “if you don’t feel ready that means you’re ready” way…but honestly, a lot of people are probably not even spiritually really ready for these positions even by 30 because obscurity and testing is not built into our church culture today and self-awareness is a rare commodity to be had.
I would also require pastors/elders ministry leaders who do any kind of training/teaching including women to have a basic Masters in theological training or equivalent accumulation of equal knowledge (from own personal study and outside resources) and require them to take a rigorous test including essay questions. Most importantly, the requirement should be that they go through extensive counseling and digging through their childhood while they wait out the obscurity that’s necessary to live through in youth (see: the 20’s.) AND of course this counseling would be a mixture of biblical (as they need to see how all their stuff interplays with God, how they perceive God, others, and how they will shepherd and teach others) and secular counseling to test for personality disorders, learn coping mechanisms, diagnose, and you know…there’s a lot of good stuff in natural revelation that is rampant in secular counseling. Their counselor will be a certified mental health professionals who has a legit degree in counseling and who they themselves are not abusive or stunted. Finally, I would also require them to hand in a 30 page essay on their view of suffering and God, because that will tell you everything you need to know about a person.
Pastoring and elder, even being on staff at a church or being a deacon where fruits of the Spirit, a life of virtue is NECESSARY even if you are not teaching or shepherding people… None of this is a light requirement.
I had hoped that people finally discovered the weight of moral failure at Mars Hill that brought about the collapse, but from reading about Sutton it appears they may have just run out of money.
I’ve been down that road, too. My first employer had an unwritten “hiring while firing” policy. One of the older people who got fired told me no one has ever retired from this company, except for the upper management. They always found a way to get cheaper replacements. And I was one of the cheaper replacements. This was in the day when there was a defined benefit pension plan. The company saved a bundle by not having to pay pensions. I left after 1 1/2 years.
Bill M wrote:
Reminds me of what Lincoln is supposed to have said about being hounded by people seeking a government appointment “too many piglets, not enough teats”
Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:
Pretty mind-blowing, isn’t it? If you are a Christian not in the bubble that thinks this, it’s downright shocking when you first hear it.
There is the priesthood of all believers, so that could apply. Being a prophet was considered a gift of the Spirit, so that is a New Testament category as well. But king? The ESV Bible which is the one they seem to use uniformly even uses the word king as an admonishment: 1 Cor 4: 8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death…”
They have used those words as a way to group gifts of the Spirit. For instance, prophet would include gifts of prophecy, preaching, or teaching; What they call a priest would be someone with gifts of shepherding, encouragement, mercy or the like; what they call king would be people with gifts of administration or leadership.
But words make a difference, don’t they? Calling yourself a king has connotations of grandeur that “church administrator” just does not. Even “leader” lacks the grandeur. Calling yourself king also invokes the idea of subjects….
And until then, steer well clear so they don’t drag you down with them.
With these guys of The Inner Ring?
Six, seven figures is my guess.
Laughing all the way to the bank….
Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:
Absolute Blind Loyalty to Pastor/Apostle/ManaGAWD, of course.
Didn’t ManaGAWD Jack Hyles order one of his Elders to drink “poison” as a Loyalty Test?
@ Bill M:
Here is the I.R.S.’ explanation of a gift tax:
It is common in estate planning strategies to transfer a percentage of real property to children and grandchildren of $13,000 per donor/$26,000 per donor couple and have it recorded by December 31st, before the new tax year. (In more complicated estate planning strategies, gifts are also made to trusts.)
The percentage gifted by the donor is usually somewhere between the assessed value of the property (which is usually lower) and the market value.
Additionally, people can gift $13,000 per donor or $26,000 per donor couple to anyone they wish to, tax free, every year.
Bill M wrote:
All about the Benjamins, baby.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Bingo. I’m in the wrong business.
Sorry about the sarcasm, but if I couldn’t laugh at the things discussed on this site, I would have to cry.
All I know is that’s the second time I’ve heard that explanation for why a pastor has a very expensive home. But I’m not sure how many people, especially at those kinds of churches, understand that you can’t just give someone a million dollar illiquid asset because of the gift tax. It seems like there would be a savvier way around it where the pastor would not be the owner. Or, they learned the lesson from Ed Young Jr. about why the pastor shouldn’t live in a mansion owned by the “Palometa Revocable Trust” – the pastor still needs his mansion but it’s better to let it be common knowledge. The sheep believe and obey everything else right?
Two things came to mind as I read the post:
1) Chronology –
2) The Brotherhood –
501(c)3 Show Time: “Biblical Pastoral Requirements Necessary?”
“Pastoring and elder, even being on staff at a church or being a deacon where fruits of the Spirit, a life of virtue is NECESSARY even if you are not teaching or shepherding people… None of this is a light requirement.” – E
Are kind church goers being ‘Taken’?
Lights, Camera, Action?
Lord Jesus please deliver your precious children from ‘evil’ ™.
(den of ‘Religious Theves’ (TM) not withstanding…)
ATB to all.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
So you can learn something from Ed Young, after all. Amazing!
To Dee, Deb, and all who prayed.
I can’t thank you enough! After posting the prayer request I wound up going back to my boss and further discussing things. I was able to reframe the discussion around the economic value that I bring to the company and clearly explain my perspective. It was well received.they are evaluating and will get back with me. During my actual review I could not get the words out and I felt smothered. The framework wss all wrong originally, but after you all prayed the follow up conversation went much better. I hope they respond favorably financially and am glad that I at least felt like I had a voice.
Many thanks for the prayers you have prayed.
Bill M wrote:
Just to clarify, I did not join Mars Hill in 2007. I started in April 2011.
Just to clarify, I did not join Mars Hill in 2007. I started in April 2011.
I was working in the middle east an never visited Mars Hill until 2011.
@ sutton turner:
I have corrected this in n update at the top of the post. Thank you for letting us know.
sutton turner wrote:
Interesting that you would come here and answer for yourself. I applaud you, if in fact it is Sutton Turner. I never heard of you till this blog post. I have been on and off here, and have been walking a fine line of listening to what Deb and Dee say and staying in my “Calvinista” (As they call it) church.
I guess semi-public figures do read this blog.
Sutton, have you renounced the “king” sobriquet? Do you understand why it was a total and utter misapplication of biblical principles of leadership, e.g., Jesus told us we’re not even to call one another or ourselves “teacher”, “rabbi”, “father”, none of it, as in the context of Jesus’ words in Matthew 23, that is a brazen and nigh blasphemous usurpation of the Lord’s role. If Jesus criticized the use of “teacher”, I cannot imagine what He’d say of one who referred to himself as “king”–not sure I’d want to know or be around for His reaction. Just wondering if you’ve learned from your experiences that such titles and attitudes are so fraudulent and deleterious as to be the polar opposite of Christian leadership.
To put it crisply, I’d expect more due diligence in the document that ought to be the central document of a Christian church from a Cox MBA grad purporting to be a spiritual leader of a mega church. (Of course, this assumes the veracity of the letter cited in the link in the June 2, 2014 WW blog post–if that was a fabrication or plucked entirely out of context, you now have a forum upon which you may disavow it).
sutton turner wrote:
That timeline makes more sense of what you said about the financial situation. How do you feel now about the doctrines of Acts29 and Mars Hill? If your mind has changed, what changed it?
I am off-topic and I really have to say this. Could we just dress like grown-ups for once? I am so tired of seeing leaders in t-shirts and tennis shoes.
I know. I know. Perhaps a useless comment. But maybe if we dressed like grownups, it might help us to start acting like them.
Sutton Turner’s comments about repentance and forgiveness and empathy are a big, “Duh” to old ladies like myself.
Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:
Dr Fundystan, I’m very interested in this field. I was once bullied by a boss and her two colleagues (I thought of them as ‘the evil triumvirate’) – and they all had an M Bus in Leadership and Organization Dynamics. They wrote their own playbook and as I was working for a statutory authority it was like Lord of the Flies with no accountability. They were busy filling in forms to recommend each other for awards and service medals etc. I think the next potential shift in the job appointment world may be very interesting – the subordinate as referee. I also believe all Order of Australia medals, public service medals (etc) should not only be peer reviewed, but subordinate reviewed. And they should also have a character and conduct component. Our outcomes focus needs to change and include character and conduct. They are not mutually exclusive.
elizabeth ann seton wrote:
I am a believer in ‘we dress as how we think of ourselves’. What that makes of me running around the house in my funky rhino horn slippers I don’t know!
Why does it not surprise me that Sutton Turner does not grace us with his presence long enough to answer a single tough question?
Why does it not surprise me that Jesus always answered tough questions?
Why does it not surprise me that Sutton Turner comes out looking absolutely nothing like Jesus?
Ever heard of the word “Corban”?