On the heels of what was arguably the worst week in the history of Mars Hill Church, twenty-one former Mars Hill Church pastors brought charges late last week against lead pastor Mark Driscoll. Accompanied by a cover letter, briefs on workplace bullying and a summary of the powers of Mars Hill elders, the charges are being leveled by well-respected former pastors and are in the possession of the Mars Hill leadership. These documents greatly expand on charges brought by former pastor Dave Kraft. Those charges were dismissed by the Board of Advisors and Accountability. The cover letter states:
We have submitted to the Mars Hill board of advisors and accountability the attached formal charges of Mark’s disqualification from the pastoral office. We have signed these charges and intend to stand as witnesses. There are additional witnesses whose names have been withheld for their protection, but who also intend to testify in an investigation of these charges.
The link to the charges is above, but I want to point out that the pastors are concentrating on disqualifying actions since 2010. A rumor flying around Mars Hill Church is that Driscoll’s dismissal by the Acts 29 Network was due to offenses prior to the last three years. In this recent letter, the former pastors make a point to stress the current nature of their concerns:
While the primary evidences for these charges are the personal experiences and testimonies of the signers and witnesses, we want to make it clear that these experiences are tied to many concrete events. The following is a small selection of examples that illustrate a pattern of disqualifying behavior. The signers of these charges and the additional witnesses are prepared to provide details for these examples along with many more examples when interviewed as part of the investigation of these charges.
Please note the recency of the events below. We have selected more recent examples to challenge a prevalent impression that while Pastor Mark may have sinned in these ways in the distant past, he has been a changed man in more recent years. To the contrary, we know of recent evidence that strongly indicates disqualifying patterns having continued into recent times. Dave Kraft’s formal charges were submitted in May 2013. At that time, several of the examples listed below were current.
Some of the charges are as follows:
October 2011—Mark said in a meeting that he did not want a certain staff elder (who was not slim) to take on a certain prominent leadership role because “his fat ass is not the image we want for our church.”
May 8, 2012—In a meeting of the Full Council convened to vote on the slate of nominees for the new board of advisors and accountability, Mark was explaining to the elders that under the newly revised bylaws, the Full Council would have the right to review any changes by the board. One elder corrected Mark with his own understanding that the new bylaws, in fact, allow the board to make decisions without running it by the Full Council. Mark’s response to that elder was bullying, with some elders present recalling language to the effect of: “I don’t give a shit what you think. I’m trying to be nice to you guys by asking your opinion. In reality, we don’t need your vote to make this decision. This is what we’re doing.”
Summer 2012—Domineering and arrogant—In an all-MEDCOM [Media & Communications team] meeting discussing his displeasure over the way the team had been marketing R12, Mark said, “You think you’re the Resurgence. But, you’re not the brand. I’m the brand!”
March 2013—Violence: Threatened to tear down a former elder’s church plant, saying “I’ll tear his church down brick by brick.”
July 2013—Mark commanded MEDCOM staff to redirect marketing for R13 with the branding and messaging of his book, “Call to Resurgence.” At least one staff member fought back on the principle of conflict of interest—Mars Hill, being a non-profit org, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to push a book that Mark makes personal profit from.)
May 2014—Mark told elders that he was not aware of the ResultSource agreement but had chosen to admit knowledge of it for the sake of the team in his letter to the church, and that others had made the decision to work with ResultSource. He claimed that another elder and Mark’s publishers made the decision to work with ResultSource without his knowledge. He insinuated that he had learned about the ResultSource agreement only after the story broke on World magazine. In fact, Mark agreed to work with ResultSource on the Best Seller Campaign for Real Marriage as early as July 2011.
On the last charge above, I obtained invoices which demonstrates knowledge of Result Source in October, and I have seen an email which indicated Driscoll’s awareness as early as July, 2011. The letter asks Mars Hill leadership questions which contain further concerns and the pastors believe, if investigated, will prove disqualifying. For example:
Is Pastor Mark guilty of plagiarism? If so, what is an appropriate consequence for him?
Is Pastor Mark guilty of sexual harassment in the form of sexual immorality in speech (Eph. 5:3)? We are aware of a number of credible reports of inappropriate sexually-oriented comments that Pastor Mark has made to and about other men’s wives, particularly in casual social settings.
My impression is that these matters have been raised repeatedly and are a part of the concerns which animated Acts 29 Network to take action. Clearly, Rev. Driscoll and Mars Hill leadership are under fire and I will post any response to my request for their side of things if they reply.