Did Paul Tripp Meet with the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability?

For a full treatment of this question, please see Wenatchee the Hatchet’s post on the subject.
On Wednesday, Sutton Turner wrote:

During my tenure, many people criticized the culture of Mars Hill and lack of accountability. The most stinging came from Dr. Paul Tripp who actually served on the Board of Advisors and Accountability for eight months when past mistakes and sins began to crater in on Mars Hill. Few people know that Dr. Tripp never physically attended a board meeting during that time. In fact, he had never met all of the board members in person. Furthermore, the points he attempted to make were never made in a board meeting or to all of the board members.

In a March 26, 2014 letter from the Board of Advisors and Accountability, Board chair Michael Van Skaik told Mars Hill leaders that Paul Tripp had been to Seattle to help address the charges against Mark Driscoll. Van Skaik wrote:

However, we are hungry for reconciliation and are continually grieved that many offenses and hurts are still unresolved. We want to seek out and hear the hurts in a biblical manner.A Board-approved reconciliation process is currently underway and is being overseen by Dr. Paul Tripp who flew to Seattle and recently spent a day with the Executive Elders. [emphasis added] He has also been in conversation with a person who is very capable of facilitating these reconciliations.

According to the letter from BoAA chair Van Skaik, Tripp was in Seattle and was in the thick of the efforts to bring reconciliation. I am aware that Tripp met with several former Mars Hill pastors in order to bring them in to the reconciliation process. While it may be true that Tripp did not meet with the entire BoAA all together in one room at the same moment, it is clear that the BoAA trusted him enough to publicly refer to him as the point person on reconciliation. Furthermore, if Van Skaik was right, Tripp met with the executive elders in person for an entire day on the subject of the leadership problems at Mars Hill.
The reconciliation process was initiated with several meetings but fizzled over time. Tripp eventually resigned in July 2014. Tripp made a statement about the situation in August 2014 on his website.
Also, in August 2014, I reported that Paul Tripp told nine then current pastors at Mars Hill Church that Mars Hill was “the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with.”

Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll on the Impact of Mars Hill Global on World Missions

In a meeting at Mars Hill Shoreline which, according to my source, occurred sometime between April and June of 2012, Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll responded to a question about what impact Mars Hill Church desired to have in “world missions.” Driscoll directed the question to Turner who described what the church was doing in Mars Hill Global. Listen:


We’ve got some really exciting opportunities that we’re launching and I don’t know if you watch the blogs but Mars Hill Global has really launched and is launching, planting churches in Ethiopia and India and actually had a meeting on Friday with a church planting group that we are going to resource in the Dominican Republic. So really on Asia, and Africa and then in Latin America and there’s two ways that we do things cause its all about making disciples and planting churches cause that’s what God’s called us to do.  So we need to stay on mission with that as we do international and as we go global.  So what that means is is two things, we plant churches, so we fund either, like in Ethiopia, there’s a Kale-Hewitt Bible College, so there’s ten guys that are there right now that we’re going to fund, it’s a two year process and then they’ll go out and we’ll actually help them and support them financially on planting.  And secondly, we’re doing there’s two regions in India that we’ll do some planting, and then there’s the Dominican Republic.

Turner then discusses the translation work for Driscoll’s Doctrine book and the Bible. They also discuss the funding coming from listeners who do not attend Mars Hill Church. He says that they hope the listeners outside Mars Hill will give to a variety of projects domestic and otherwise. He then adds that Mars Hill Military Mission was folded into Global. Eventually, the Military Mission was discontinued because of low return on investment.
Turner told the crowd that Mars Hill Global launched work in Ethiopia, India and the Dominican Republic. I can’t find any disclosure that the Global Fund would primarily be used to buy and refurbish churches in the United States. It certainly seems understandable that a listener might get the idea that Mars Hill Global was the church’s presence in world missions.
For a similar speech from Mark Driscoll, see this link.
For all posts on Mars Hill Global, see this link.

Sutton Turner Begins His Defense of Mars Hill Global

After describing his part in the ResultSource New York Times best seller deal, Sutton Turner has now turned his attention to Mars Hill Global and laying off staff. Here I deal with his first Mars Hill Global post.
Turner posted the following video:
In the transcript to follow, he highlighted the following:

So what does Mars Hill Global do?

Well Mars Hill Global is doing and participating in church planting here in Ethiopia and also in India, also we are doing church planting in the United States as well. We are doing all of that. Because at Mars Hill Church we believe (that) Jesus has called us to make disciples and plant churches. So I want to ask you to be a part, I want to ask you to be a part of the Extended Family of Mars Hill Global. Sign up today, become a member of the extended family, start participating with online with us, and let’s see what Jesus Christ is going to do do, not only in the United States but to the ends of the earth.”

The page where that video was posted has of course been removed from view, and at last look, Mars Hill has blocked searches of its website via the Internet Archive. I do however have the page saved where that video was featured.  You can review that here at the link.

The following video also preceded many of the sermons vodcasts on the Mars Hill website starting at least in 2013.


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 this clip, Turner places the emphasis on Mars Hill Global as the arm of the church that plants churches all over the world. The video is shot in Ethiopia and no mention is made of the U.S.

There were many other communications from Mars Hill Church which portrayed Global as a missions outreach of the church, most of which I have written about before. I do have other documents on the subject which I have not posted. We shall see if they become relevant.

Sutton Turner on Church Governance at Mars Hill Church

This morning Sutton Turner posted his third in a series of reflections on the ResultSource decision and church governance.
Mainly Turner concerns himself with the debate over the role of elders in a large church versus a small one. Instead of making a biblical argument, he offers a utilitarian defense of bringing in outside advisers to govern a church they don’t attend. His rationale is that God has allowed mega-churches to get really big so He must be fine with different rules for them.
If a plurality of elders isn’t working maybe something is wrong elsewhere. Maybe the church is too big. Mars Hill could have given autonomy to video sites but the executive elders didn’t let it happen. For instance, Orange County campus pastors wanted to avoid fines from the city of Santa Ana, CA and re-locate. However, Sutton Turner said no.
Turner’s sense of Mars Hill’s history on governance is at odds with my conversations with former Mars Hill members. In addition, Wenatchee the Hatchet has a wealth of information on the governance before and after the 2007 purge of Paul Petry and Bent Meyers. He establishes that the elders did not need to vote unanimously to pass an item.
I found this paragraph to be hard to bring together with the many interviews I have done with Mars Hill former members and pastors:

Back in 2007, Mars Hill had migrated away from plurality of elders in its formal governance structure, but the strains of plurality still remained within the church culture. Every man who became a pastor, whether paid or volunteer, went through the “eldership” process to ensure the character qualifications of 1 Peter 5 and 1 Timothy 3 were met in the man’s life and home. Although the by-laws clearly stated otherwise, many church members assumed those pastors were directly involved in the governance of the church, even in 2014. Some of the pastors in 2014 felt that all 60 pastors should still be governing elders and all 60 pastors should operate in plurality on all decisions.

Mars Hill was jolted away from a plurality of elders by Mark Driscoll and his supporters in 2007. He later said it was because he needed the governance to change for his benefit. Turner says the congregation assumed that pastors were in charge. This would be a natural mistake because one, it makes sense, and two, members were often denied access to the by-laws. They appeared on the website in 2014 after I pointed out in a blog post that the state of Washington requires non-profits to make by-laws available.
Turner closed by saying he plans to write about Mars Hill Global. Looking forward to those posts.

David Barton's Wallbuilders Live to Interview Kent Hovind

According to Kent Hovind’s handlers, Hovind will be interviewed by someone at Wallbuilders next Monday. That interview will be taped and presumably aired at a later date. Listen:
The basketball star interviews Dr. Dino.
Kent Hovind’s most recent legal battle is summarized at Forbes.  Hovind is serving jail time for tax related crimes (e.g., failing to pay employee taxes, evading IRS reporting requirements). In this video, (at about 2:18) he said he hadn’t paid taxes in 28 years. Actually, he is not in jail for not filing returns but it does give indication about his attitude toward taxation.
This report from 2004 says Hovind defends the anti-vaxxers, and thought (thinks?) Laetril is a viable cancer treatment. Can’t wait to hear Hovind and Barton talk about HIV.
I once heard Hovind speak at a Baptist church. That was a few hours I will never get back but wish I could. I don’t remember much of the content but I remember thinking that Hovind saw himself as a kind of savior for the church. However, even fellow six-day creationists have rejected some of his ideas.
Barton can say just about anything these days (Division 1 basketball star, translator for the Russian gymnastics team, there is no HIV vaccine, etc.) and get away with it, so I doubt having convicted fraud Kent Hovind on will hurt him. However, it should say something about Barton to those evangelicals who are on the fence about him.
For more information on Hovind see the blog Hovindology.

Sutton Turner: Big Churches Like Mars Hill Church Need Big Decision Makers

Former Mars Hill Church executive elder Sutton Turner has posted part two of his reflections (he posted part one yesterday) on the decision to commit church funds to buy Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage on to the New York Times best-seller list.
In this post, Turner takes credit for changing Mars Hill by-laws to include the Board of Advisors and Accountability. The BoAA consisted of three executive elders (Driscoll, Bruskas, and Turner) and four outsiders (various members at different times, but including James MacDonald, Larry Osborne, Jon Phelps, Matt Rogers, Michael VanSkaik, and famously Paul Tripp). Turner asserts that big decisions (like the New York Times scheme) require leaders of big organizations to weigh in. In today’s post, Turner writes:

The board in place at Mars Hill in the summer of 2011 consisted of local elders who had been at Mars Hill for many years. They were inside the organization. I’m not sure what they discussed regarding ResultSource, but they needed outsiders who were experienced in big decision-making and who were outside of their context to help them.

I assert that ethical sense is more important in such decisions, but Turner attempts to make a case that outsiders help prevent groupthink. I cover groupthink when I teach social psychology and I disagree with his analysis. If anything the structure of the BoAA lent itself to groupthink. The board was small and insulated from the rest of the elders due to the control the BoAA had over the entire church. Their moves and deliberations were secret with no meaningful input allowed from the lesser elders or congregation. Moreover, preventing groupthink is primarily leadership responsibility. Solid leaders who do not need to be in control of all aspects of an organization can prevent the negative effects of group cohesion whether the board members have experience or not.
Turner’s advice to leaders in yesterday’s post is inappropriate if groupthink is a concern. Turner objected to the ResultSource contract but did not buck the system. He wrote:

What You Cannot Do

  1. When the decision is legal, you cannot stay and complain that you did not agree with it. You cannot be divisive while continuing to remain on the team. If you are going to be divisive, you need to leave.

  2. You cannot leave the organization and complain to your friends or through social media when you actually had an opportunity to fix it if you had stayed. I have seen many people leave Mars Hill who had positions of influence. They did not agree with decisions, resigned, and went to social media to try and bring about organizational change from the outside. To me, if you stay, you can be part of the solution, but if you leave, you need to leave and allow leaders who remain to make changes for the organization’s future.

One of the ways to avoid groupthink is to encourage dissent and disagreement. Worrying about being divisive when in fact you have principled disagreement is part of what fuels the cohesion that is at the heart of groupthink. Having a local elder board is a minor concern compared to the problems inherent in self-censorship and mindguarding (see this brief summary relating to groupthink).
Turner then outlines what he claims was the response of the BoAA to the ResultSource decision.

At our board meeting in August of 2013, I provided a detailed analysis and accounting of the ResultSource marketing plan. At this board meeting (six months before the signed ResultSource contract was leaked to the public), the new board agreed that this type of marketing strategy would never be used again. In fact, no other books that were published through Mars Hill used it. We, as board members, would certainly not always get it right. In fact, in the following months, we would even make mistakes around the public revelation of the ResultSource contract. (I desired for our first media response at that time to clearly communicate two things: my level of involvement in the decision and the BOAA’s decision to never repeat the practice. Unfortunately, this did not happen.) But six months before the public spotlight, this new board of outside leaders, who were unassociated with the ResultSource decision, evaluated the proposal afterwards and made the right decision: it was a bad idea and it was wrong.

In 2014, Justin Dean was the first one out with a statement about ResultSource and he claimed it was an opportunity. If the BoAA had made this decision, why wasn’t Justin Dean made aware of this fact? I would like to hear more from Turner about how and why three different opinions of ResultSource were communicated to the public in the space of about a week.

Desire, Faith & Therapy: Sexual Orientation and Orthodox Jews; Rabbinical Council Rejects JONAH

Desire Conf ColumbiaOn Sunday, I participated in a conference titled Desire, Faith and Therapy at the Kraft Jewish Student Center at Columbia University on appropriate therapeutic responses to sexual orientation. The conference was designed for therapists, rabbis and other interested members of the Orthodox Jewish community.
From the brochure:

“Desire, Faith and Psychotherapy” presents a Psychoanalytic perspective on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Orthodox Jewish community. We will explore the intersection of psychological, religious and communal issues that present with LGBT people from Orthodox & Hasidic communities. The program features experts in the field and professionals with experience working with this population. They will review the latest research and develop a conceptual framework in which therapists and Orthodox rabbis can work together to offer the best care.

I didn’t let the organizers know in time to make the brochure but I spoke as a part of a panel with Jack Drescher and Rabbi Mark Dratch. Drescher covered research and history of sexual orientation change efforts, Rabbi Dratch covered the position of the Rabbinical Council of America and I described the sexual identity therapy framework.
Rabbinical Council of America Repudiates Reparative Therapy and JONAH
The framework seemed to fit the audience well in that affirming and non-affirming members of the Orthodox community were present and interested in working together for best practices. I was pleased to hear Rabbi Dratch describe the Rabbinical Council’s repudiation of JONAH, and reparative therapy in general. Dratch told the crowd that the Rabbinical Council asked JONAH numerous times to remove the 2004 letter recommending JONAH. In fact, even after the Council issued their repudiation of JONAH, the 2004 endorsement remains up on JONAH’s website. JONAH advertises falsely in more ways than one.
The lawsuit against JONAH will be a test of the consumer protection laws in New Jersey. JONAH continues to claim efficacy from the strange practices used to try to change sexual orientation. With a couple of exceptions, the crowd at the conference seemed to join the sentiment expressed by the Rabbinical Council concerning JONAH.
My powerpoint can be viewed here.

Institute on the Constitution Posts Spurious Thomas Jefferson Quote

The Institute on the Constitution just can’t seem to get quotes right.
On their Facebook page, the neo-Confederate organization periodically features quotes they claim come from the founders. However, the quote are often spurious.  The most recent one attributed to Thomas Jefferson was posted earlier this month:

How fitting for the times we are in!www.theamericanview.com
Posted by Institute on the Constitution on Tuesday, April 7, 2015

This appears to be derived from Ayn Rand, but not said by Jefferson; so says Monticello.
This isn’t the first time. IOTC has promoted other false quotes (see here, and here).  If they can’t get easy stuff right, makes you wonder what they teach in their trainings. Actually, I don’t have to wonder since I have seen the video presentation of it. Not recommended (e.g., see here, and here)

Voted Off the Island: The Case of Professor Tom Oord – UPDATE: Oord's Layoff on Hold

UPDATE (4/21/15): Apparently, the layoffs are now on hold at NNU. Oord will be able to teach in the summer while the school’s actions are under review.
The subtitle for Karl Giberson’s Daily Beast article on fired Northwest Nazarene professor Tom Oord sums it up:

A beloved professor forced from a Nazarene university this month is the latest casualty in a war that’s being waged against thinking evangelical Christians.

According to Giberson, Oord’s affirmation of evolution and “open theism” doomed him at the small Nazarene college. I suspect the school knew something about these beliefs before he came but he became too hot to handle.

Mark Driscoll's Leadership Coaching: Taking Up Where He Left Off

driscoll leadership 2011 headingToday, Mark Driscoll offered several former coaching videos on his website. These are videos he developed in 2011 with the offer of leadership coaching materials through The Resurgence website. This 2011 email gives the details.
Above is an image of the email heading. The content is below:

From Pastor Mark Driscoll:
Being a leader is wonderfully complicated. Whether it’s leading in family, business, or ministry, leaders face particular challenges that make simultaneous joy and fruitfulness difficult.
By the grace of God, I would like to help if I can. So, I’m starting something new called “Leadership Coaching with Pastor Mark.” It is a free ongoing subscription service we are providing to anyone who signs up. We will ask for a bit of personal data so that we can know who subscribes, which will enable me to get the most helpful content to you. For example, if we have a lot of church planters, student ministry leaders, preachers, business leaders, small group leaders, or worship leaders, I can target my coaching content to help those people most effectively. We will not sell or share your personal information and will not continually bombard you with requests or promotions.
Who Can Sign Up
1. Any Christian leader — This can be parents leading their kids, business leaders leading their employees, unpaid ministry leaders leading others to Jesus, and paid ministry leaders leading other leaders. Also, students in high school, Bible college, university, seminary, and so on, are welcome to sign up.
2. Any Christian — Bible-believing, Jesus-loving leaders from any church, denomination, or theological tribe are welcome to sign up. You don’t have to agree with me on everything to sign up. I love you and if I can serve you, I’d be honored to.
3. Any gender — Females and males alike are welcome.
4. Any nation — Wherever you are, we welcome you.
What You Will Get
1. A weekly short video of me—shot informally on my laptop—with one big idea for leaders. At times, I will also interview other Christian leaders as I travel. For those who do not have access to high-speed Internet and find video files difficult to download, we are also expecting to transcribe each post into text to make it easier for you to access.
2. Content you cannot get anywhere else. This content will be restricted, exclusive, and not posted anywhere else on the Internet by me. I expect to cover such topics as how to get and stay organized for effectiveness, how to stay connected to your family and friends, how to deal with your critics, how to watch your overall health, how to deal with despair and depression, how to study Scripture most efficiently, how to lead an organization, how to evaluate people’s giftedness to help them find the best way to serve God, how to navigate culture as a missionary, and more. As you can see, the content will be very practical.
3. Chances to win free gifts, such as books, that we will give away to winners from the subscription list.
4. Research briefs prepared by academics. I am blessed with a team of professors/researchers spanning multiple disciplines that I contract for work in areas such as demographics and sociology. Examples include work on giving trends, sexuality, marriage and divorce, and the spiritual lives of younger people. I will give away for free some of these studies and summaries to help function as a research assistant to those on the subscription list.
5. First access to and discounts on some conferences and events, books, and other products.

Also today, Sutton Turner said this about the decision to hire ResultSource as a means to elevate Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage up the New York Times Best Seller list:

 I do know that it [the decision to hire ResultSource] showed that the process of making big decisions was broken and it needed to be fixed.

Both of these events — leadership coaching, and the Result Source decision — took place in 2011.