Earlier today, Justin Dean, acting on behalf of Mars Hill Church, requested that You Tube remove video clips of Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner talking about Mars Hill Global. In the video clips, which were made available to illustrate my commentary on the subject, both Driscoll and Turner clearly identify Mars Hill Global as a ministry of Mars Hill Church for the purpose of supporting international missions.’
I have contested the notice and will await You Tube’s decision, which could take up to 10 business days. I firmly believe that the video clips are covered by Fair Use and are necessary to report accurately the relationship between Mars Hill Church and Mars Hill Global.
Last Friday, Mark Driscoll told his congregation that he was glad for the freedom of the press:
In addition, I really am blessed to live in a land where the law allows me to have freedom of speech, to have freedom of religion, to have freedom of assembly, freedom of the press. That means we get to assemble, and I get to open the Bible and teach whatever I believe to be true. But it means that others have that same legal opportunity. They have that same freedom, and so, and so others are free to, to say things as well.
One aspect of that freedom is the ability to use copyrighted materials to report news, or provide commentary and/or criticism. Clearly, the purpose of the videos in question is report news and provide commentary on Mars Hill Church and Mars Hill Global.
For all articles on Mars Hill Global, click this link.
Michael Hill is the president of the League of the South. The League of the South should be an organization which exists only in history books. However, it exists and actually has a political candidate masquerading as a Republican in the Anne Arundel County (MD) Council race, Michael Peroutka.
Hill (similar to David Barton) recently penned a defense of private citizens owning whatever weapons the military owns in order for citizens to defend themselves against a tyrannical government. And, according to Hill, we will probably need those arms:
If you trust that your government will never infringe your rights, then I suppose you’ll find my argument senseless. But if you fear, say, a future when drones fill the skies for the purpose of surveillance, intimidation, or worse, then you might see the need to own a couple of hand-held rocket launchers.
And beyond rocket launchers taking out drones, what other targets will be important?
But what about that liberal canard that says that no matter how well armed the citizens are, they will never be able to defeat the modern military in a toe-to-toe confrontation? First, that presumes that the US military would fire on its own people, a question whose answer we do not know. And, second, it presumes that the fight would be a conventional one. More likely, it will be Fourth Generation Warfare, which is just another way of saying guerrilla war.
In 4Gen Warfare the lines between the military and the political, economic, cultural, and social are blurred past the point of recognition. To oversimplify, the primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run.
4Gen Warfare doesn’t require that the populace be armed equal to the military and law enforcement. In fact, having such firepower, with few exceptions (such as full-auto “assault weapons,” silencers, and a handful of other esoteric toys), would be a logistical and tactical burden to the common 3- to 5-man group so common in this type of warfare. Stealth and the concentration of firepower at certain points for a short time are the keys to successful Gen4 Warfare, whether it’s busting up a traffic roadblock, ambushing a gun confiscation raid, or taking down a high-profile tyrant. If you want more from an historical standpoint, read about Michael Collins. If you want more from a modern, practical standpoint, read Joseph P. Martino’s Resistance to Tyranny: A Primer.
I wonder if Hill considers bloggers to be a part of the “hostile media?”
Do you think some crazy white separatists might actually think the rhetoric was intended for action?
Update: Earlier today, Justin Dean, acting on behalf Mars Hill Church filed a copyright claim against the video below. Just now, I contested the claim. The counter-notification process takes 10 days.
On July 15, I reported that Mars Hill Church removed three videos about Mars Hill Global from their You Tube account. Generally, those videos presented Mars Hill Global as the international mission arm of Mars Hill Church. At that time, I wrote:
From my point of view, beginning in early 2012, Mars Hill created an impression that gifts to Mars Hill Global were mainly going to international mission efforts. Inadvertently or not, they created confusion (as they have admitted) with their various definitions of Mars Hill Global (is it a non-member audience, is it a fund, is it both?), and their constant references to international efforts in the context of Mars Hill Global pleadings. Actually, most of this has been admitted. What is remarkable is that they used “the preponderance” of donations to expand their locations, even though they gave donors almost no indication that the money was being spent in real time for those local purposes.
In accord with fair use guidelines, I clipped relevant material from the deleted videos. These clips indicate that Driscoll presented Mars Hill Global as something Mars Hill Church was doing in addition to church planting in the U.S. This is of course make sense since the international efforts after 2011 had a name (Mars Hill Global) and a fund (the Global Fund). Non-members gave money to the General Fund and the Global Fund of Mars Hill Church and at times, Mars Hill leaders referred to Mars Hill Global as people around the world who donated money. However, in these clips, Global is referred to as an effort conducted by Mars Hill Church.
Also on July 15, I pointed out three web pages on the Mars Hill website which identified Mars Hill Global as the Mars Hill approach to international missions with one page linking the two. That page has been altered to remove the evidence.
Below is a new video I made which contains portions of the removed videos that provide evidence that Mars Hill Church clearly identified Mars Hill Global as the international mission arm of the church rather than a source of funding for U.S. expansion solely provided by non-members. Several days after my initial video was posted, Mars Hill asked You Tube to remove the video, claiming a violation of copyright. I decided to make a more focused video and intend to contest any copyright claim Mars Hill Church makes because I believe the videos, including this one, have been made in keeping with Fair Use guidelines.
To see all posts on Mars Hill Global, click the link.
This week, GOP voters in Georgia’s 10th District will decide which candidate, Jody Hice or Mike Collins, will face the Democrat nominee in the Fall. Richard Zimdars, a columnist for the Athens Banner-Herald, watched the two candidates debate and for at least two reasons decided that Collins might be the better choice. First Collins seemed more likely to work with opponents in Congress to achieve legislation. Second, Hice touts an endorsement from David Barton which is a problem for Zimdars. He writes:
Hice’s acceptance of Barton’s endorsement leads me to believe Hice lacks the capacity for close critical examination of his endorsements, not a good sign for the 10th District’s future if Hice becomes our national representative.
This is what Bob Barr should have said about Barry Loudermilk.
In the video Mark Driscoll released on Friday afternoon, he said that the task of Mars Hill leaders was complicated by the fact that so many people with complaints about the church were anonymous. Here are his exact words:
As well one of the things that has been complex is the fact that a lot of the people that we are dealing with in this season remain anonymous. And so we don’t know how to reconcile or how to work things out with people because we’re not entirely sure who they are. And so that has made things a little more complex and difficult as well.
I had two reactions to this claim. One, part of the reason that some have remained anonymous is because they have been afraid to identify themselves fully. Many of the former pastors and staff members felt forced to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to secure much needed severance income when they were terminated or quit at Mars Hill. In March, I posted a copy of one version of a Mars Hill non-disclosure agreement, supplied to me by former pastor Kyle Firstenberg. I have spoken to several former leaders who believed they would be sued by Mars Hill Church if they spoke out on the record. Since those leaders did make their concerns known when they left, they are only anonymous to the public, not to Mars Hill. Driscoll need only look to the policies practices of Mars Hill to understand why some people have been afraid.
Two, I have a hard time believing that there is a shortage of people who have made their identities known to Mars Hill leaders. I have interviewed over 50 former Mars Hill leaders and members who have made their concerns known to the executive elders with full identification. I have seen some of the formal charges and reviewed emails from executive elders and members where there is full identification of the former member’s identity. However, according to the former members, the leaders have not followed up on the issues.
One such former member is Bina E. She and her husband served in various leadership positions when they were at Mars Hill and as you will see, she identified herself to the leaders with no results. Bina E. said:
The comments about anonymous concerns are amazing to me. We wrote Mark [Driscoll] personally with our concerns in 2008– a gentle, truthful, heartfelt plea with our names on it. We received no response from him except from other pastors who said Mark was rocked by our letter, but that we burned our bridges with him. That was a sad thing to hear about the pastor who helped lead my husband to Christ and who married us. We also spoke directly with pastors, face to face, about our concerns before leaving– and when we left, we were dropped as friends by them after leaving; some more gradually and some more violently.
In 2012 or so, I received a Facebook friend request from Mark. This was surprising to me. I don’t know if Facebook randomly chooses names, or if an assistant did it(?) I didn’t accept the friend request, but instead responded with a message asking how he and his family were, telling him how we were, and saying that I am unwilling to be a Facebook “fan” but always willing to be a friend. As friends, we [my husband and I] were deeply concerned about what happened at Mars Hill and the direction it was going. I was quickly blocked. There are lots of us who spoke out quietly years ago, face to face, and with our names– Mars Hill knows our names. No one has ever reached out.
Finally, I’m disturbed that the statement about the reconciliation process being with a group of men? There is much reconciling to do with women. Also, there is much reconciling to do with non-elders– not the least of whom are former elders wives–Jonna, Joane, Tonya, Kathleen, etc. and kids. It’s such a strange process to me that only ex-elders are involved. I hope they address the many non-elders who raised these issues long ago.
I have heard similar stories from many former Mars Hill members. Some of those who are expressing problems have remained anonymous, it is true. However, there are numerous individuals who have contacted the leaders with no answer. Driscoll said the leaders would be willing to talk but gave little in the way of specifics about how to make that happen. One way to minimize the complexity is to simply start with the people who have already identified themselves.
Update: The entire video is now available on the Mars Hill website.
Saying he wanted to give the church an update on “one of the deepest learning seasons” of his life, Mark Driscoll delivered a 30 minute video message via the Mars Hill weekly update yesterday. Without giving many details about “the season,” Driscoll hinted at several issues but ignored others.
Driscoll began by discussing the beginning of his Christian life and the beginning of Mars Hill Church. Consistent with the dominant narrative in recent years, Driscoll omitted mention of Leif Moi and Mike Gunn who co-founded Mars Hill Church.
He said communication with the church had not been sufficient so the leaders started the weekly update series. Driscoll’s update was being delivered now before he left for his customary summer vacation.
Driscoll said he and the leaders had been silent recently in order to determine the nature of the problems. Calling the time “overwhelming and a bit confusing,” Driscoll said the leaders weren’t sure what was happening. He added that he wanted to make a godly response and submit to the authority of the Board of Advisors and Accountability.
Driscoll said, “A lot of the people we were dealing with in this season remain anonymous, and so we don’t know how to reconcile or how to work things out with people because we’re not entirely sure who they are.” This is a puzzling statement. Numerous people have contacted Mars Hill by name with their concerns with little response from the church.
Driscoll referred to the times of organizational change during 2006-2007 and 2011-2012. He said those changes were made in response to church growth but added that he now believes that he could have handled those changes in a more “sympathetic” manner. He said the changes had some “adverse personal implications for the people and the leaders who were involved.” Some people “were hurt,” Driscoll said, and “as a result there is a group of largely anonymous former leaders of our Mars Hill Church family and we want to reconcile with those men, our brothers in Christ, and so we have opened up a process that has been underway, and it is a relational reconciliation process, where an independent outside ministry, that’s part of the Peacemakers ministry is involved.”
Driscoll said the church was inviting the leaders in to speak to the Peacemakers team. Of course, it was the 20 former pastors that requested the process after efforts to get a hearing were denied. Driscoll said the process would go on until September. He added that they are not free to speak about the process because of the confidentiality requirements of Peacemakers.
Driscoll said that in the future the church would be using Bible based covenants with pastors and staff rather non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. While this sounds like a departure or improvement, without being able to see what is in the “covenants” it is hard to evaluate whether or not this is a sign of change.
Although Mars Hill has moved to remove fair use of their video materials from You Tube, Driscoll indicated that he was glad we live in a nation with freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Given the lack of engagement of Mars Hill with the media and their move to remove fair use materials, it is hard to take this sentiment seriously.
“We can’t respond to everyone, but we’re willing to learn from anyone,” Driscoll said about Mars Hill’s critics. While it is hard to take this seriously, it is clear that Mars Hill has changed the way they solicit donations as the result of my reporting on Mars Hill Global. If they were interested in learning or really being open to outside input, they could start by responding to requests for information, not just from me, but from donors to Mars Hill Global.
Driscoll addressed the possibility of a lawsuit by informing the congregation that the church is retaining documents, including emails in the event that the church is sued. However, he indicated that no such suit is current.
Driscoll told the congregation that he is learning the value of mourning and lamenting, that his empathy for women and children is higher than his empathy for other men and that he wants to be a more effect “spiritual father.” He assured the church that he did not plan to leave Mars Hill because he believes he is where he is supposed to be. Even though the congregation has no vote on Driscoll’s tenure, he thanked the church for allowing him to teach the Bible at Mars Hill.
Driscoll closed with a request for prayer that he would not respond with impatience or pride.
On the whole, this address was very short on specifics and completely ignored issues surrounding the financial problems of the church and the controversy over Mars Hill Global. It seems to be an effort to calm the nerves of a rattled congregation. My sources inform me that attendance has taken another dip and giving continues to trend downward. Probably the executive elders believed the people needed to hear from Driscoll.
I may be able to make some of the video available soon.
A transcript of the video is available here.
According to the Mars Hill Global FAQ page, $10 million have been given by non-members to the church. This is about as specific as one can get since they don’t provide enough information to sort it all out. Here is what they say about giving by the “global family“:
WHERE HAVE PAST GIFTS BEEN USED?
During fiscal years 2009-2014, over $10MM dollars has been given to Mars Hill Church by the Mars Hill global family. During that same time period $22.48MM has been spent on church planting in the US, India and Ethiopia. In 2009-11 over 80% of funds given by the Mars Hill global family went to Acts 29 church planting and funds were consistently spent in India for church planting in each of those years. In 2012- 2014 expenditures for church planting efforts in India and Ethiopia were increased with the preponderance of expenses related to church plants and replants in the U.S.
So this does not address how much money was given to the Global Fund that once was an donation option for Mars Hill members and non-members.
In the Mars Hill Church 2013 Annual Report, the church reported taking in nearly $2.3 million in Mars Hill Global Giving. It is not clear if the $2.3 million is money from non-members or if this is how much was donated to the Global Fund. In the annual report, all accomplishments on the Mars Hill Global page are related to India and Ethiopia. So it is reasonable to assume that the $2.3 million amount was donated toward international missions. Only Mars Hill can clear this up but they aren’t talking.
Although worded differently, blogger Justin Bullington asked yesterday on his blog what would have happened if the Global Fund actually went toward missions. Go read his post; he figures a couple of people groups could have been reached if the money had been spent on missions.
I thought about it in a slightly different way. I checked out how much it costs to fully support an Ethiopian evangelist for a year. It turns out that according to Mars Hill’s partner in Ethiopia, New Covenant Foundation, it costs $170/month to support an evangelist. Currently, according to the Global FAQ page, Mars Hill supports 40 evangelists. If Mars Hill is supporting them fully, then the yearly investment in Ethiopia is $81,600. They also support 33 in India which cost $200 per urban evangelist (rural evangelists are supported at $50/month). Assuming all evangelists are urban, Mars Hill spends $79,200 there. Combining the two countries, I estimate Mars Hill spent $160,800 on church planting during the past fiscal year.
Assuming a deduction of about 20% for administration, Mars Hill could have had $1.8 million to provide to missions during 2012-2013. In other words, they could have supported over 10 times the number of evangelists they are now. The group Mars Hill partners with for Ethiopian outreach New Covenant Foundation took in just over $450,000 in 2012. If the Global Fund giving was what it appears to have been, Mars Hill’s donations could have been a game changer for that organization. Instead, the “preponderance of expenses related to church plants and replants in the U.S.” (i.e., franchise locations in “Bellevue, WA; Everett, WA; Tacoma, WA; Phoenix, AZ; and soon Spokane, WA“).
These figures may not be accurate. Mars Hill could easily provide the data. In the mean time, I think these estimates are reasonable based on the information available.
This is old news but an article on right wing opinion site American Thinking got me to writing.
Bob Barr and Barry Loudermilk are seeking the GOP nomination next week to run for Georgia’s 11th District Congressional seat. Last week, they debated and in the debate Bob Barr made a strange charge against Barry Loudermilk. Watch, courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
Barr accuses David Barton of being anti-Semitic and challenges Loudermilk to deny Barton’s endorsement. The article that caught my eye on this was penned by David Brog and titled “Bob Barr Crosses the Line.” And indeed, Barr crossed the line. Some Jewish observers I know are uncomfortable with Barton’s Christian nation zeal but more to the point of Barr’s accusation, Barton is a big supporter of Israel. In fact, at times, he gets a little silly with it (e.g., predicting weather problems for nations that mess with Israel). Barr’s claim was just wrong and I hope Barr will apologize for it.
Sadly, Barr blew a chance to highlight Barton and Loudermilk’s vision of a Christian nation, based solely on Christian principles, giving advantage to Christian people. The Barton endorsement of Loudermilk is problematic on so many levels, and Barr chose to mention two things that aren’t even issues. Neither man appears to have sufficient discernment to serve in Congress. One thinks Barton is a Constitutional expert and the other thinks Barton opposes Israel. Heaven help the GOP voters of the 11th District.
Mars Hill Church has claimed copyright violation due to my posting video clips of Pastor Mark Driscoll telling members about Mars Hill Global. Despite hours of Mars Hill material on YouTube, Mars Hill has chosen to aggressively move against the Mars Hill Global content. They also issued a take-down request on a video hosted by YouTube account “muscleman.” That video had been up for months on YouTube, but was targeted the day after I pointed out that Mars Hill removed it from their account.
(Oddly enough, it still plays as an embedded video, but when you try to watch it on You Tube, you get this screen)
The video posted by “muscleman” is the same one that airs as an ad on YouTube (see this post), and opens many of Mark Driscoll’s sermons on the Mars Hill website (e.g., this one in January, 2014). The transcript of that video is as follows:
Howdy Mars Hill Church, pastor Sutton Turner here and I’m in Ethiopia, and I just want to thank Jesus for continuing to use Mars Hill Church to make disciples and plant churches. Mars Hill Global is the arm of Mars Hill Church that makes disciples and plant churches all over the world. We not only do church planting, but we help better equip church planters. Most recently, we shipped and now distributed a thousand Bibles into Amharic which is the language here in Ethiopia, and we launched a project to translate Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Doctrine book into Spanish. We have people from over 29 different countries that are giving on a monthly basis to Mars Hill Global.
So whether you’re a member of one of our Mars Hill Church locations in the United States or you’re one of 100,000 podcasters every single week, we encourage you to pray about giving above and beyond your tithe to Mars Hill Global. Thank you and let’s see more materials translated, more pastors sent out, more churches planted, and more people saved by Jesus Christ. (emphasis added)
In the videos I excerpted, Mark Driscoll pointed out to the Mars Hill congregation that through Mars Hill Global they were supporting Ethiopian evangelists. This is in contrast to the recent claims that Mars Hill Global meant money coming from non-members. However in the removed videos, Driscoll clearly owns the ministry Mars Hill Global and points to the congregation as the source of the support for the international mission effort. I continue to believe the videos clips are covered by Fair Use exemptions and am weighing my options.
How strange is this situation? Mars Hill Church has been defending Mars Hill Global, while at the same time they have apologized to the congregation for confusion caused by the way they have referred to Global. Perhaps, they would justify their actions by saying they want to remove confusing content. However, that content has been played multiple times. Just removing it without explanation makes the situation more confusing. It is surreal and demeaning to the public to present a message for years and then change the message suddenly without explanation, acting as if it had always been that way.
This is not the first copyright rodeo. I suspect we will see at least some of these videos again (as we did before).
Reporter Stacie Solie has a dark view of Mars Hill Church’s recent problems in today’s online edition of Crosscut, a Seattle area news and information website.
The first paragraph provides a taste:
There are emerging stories of sensational kangaroo courts and “sex demon” trials, like something out of the Salem witch hunts of the 1600s. Even more devastating to individual members are the ways in which they are shamed, taught to blame themselves and each other when they see problems, and to formally shun people who step out of favor with church leaders. Shunnings, both formal and informal, have caused the outcast to spend years in isolation, cut off from friends, sometimes suffering deep clinical depression, nightmares, disillusionment and shattered faith.
Solie pulls no punches in describing the results of her reporting. As usual, Mars Hill representatives declined to comment or be interviewed. I was interviewed for the article and show up briefly near the end.