Mark Driscoll Adds Leadership Coaching Videos to His Website

On the same day that Sutton Turner laments the broken decision making process at Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll has added leadership coaching videos to his website.
Amid the controversy over Driscoll’s interview at the summer Hillsong conferences, Driscoll has added recycled coaching content from his Mars Hill days.  So far Driscoll has not commented directly about leaving the church or the investigation that seemed to lead to his resignation.

Sutton Turner Talks About His Part in Mark Driscoll's New York TImes Best Seller Plan

Former executive elder of Mars Hill Church Sutton Turner wrote today about his part in the ResultSource scheme to get Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage on to the New York Times Best Seller list. The bottom line is that he is now saying he didn’t agree with it.
In addition to reflecting on the use of the consulting group ResultSource, Turner also addresses some of the same ground as he did in 2012 the executive elder memo I posted last year.
Turner also confirms the essential contents of this memo from a Mars Hill staffer who had significant concerns about the ethics of the scheme. In his post, he relates the concerns (I am not saying Turner is referring to the same staffer) in a similar manner as presented in that memo.
Specifically, he said he then wrote his supervisor (which I believe would have been Jamie Munson) with the following concerns:

I wrote a memo on August 26, 2011 to my supervisor saying the following:

The plan was poor stewardship.

If the plan were to be revealed, it would look poorly on the stewardship of Mars Hill Church.

If the plan were to be revealed, it would look poorly on Pastor Mark Driscoll.

Turner’s post is the first of at least one more which will outline more of his reflections on leadership at Mars Hill. He closed today’s post by saying he would not sign the ResultSource again:

Shortly after the decision to execute the ResultSource marketing plan was made, my supervisor resigned. After him, I was the highest-ranking employee in administration. The decision had been made but the contract hadn’t yet been signed. On October 13, 2011, I signed the ResultSource contract as General Manager a full month before being installed as an Executive Elder. After signing the contract, I emailed an elder, stating my frustration with having to be the one to sign the contract when I had voiced my disagreement with it. But few in the organization (or in the media since then) knew of my disagreement. When you stay in an organization and you do not agree with a decision, you have to own that decision as your own. Unfortunately, I will always be linked to ResultSource since my name was on the contract even though I thought it was a bad idea. If given the same opportunity again, I would not sign the ResultSource contract, but honestly, my missing signature would not have stopped it. Someone else would have signed it anyway since the decision had already been made.
I knew if I left Mars Hill, the likelihood of decisions like ResultSource would only continue. Through prayer and confidence that Jesus had called my family and me to Mars Hill Church, I decided to stay and change the decision-making process so that decisions like ResultSource would not be made again.

For those wanting to understand the Mars Hill story, this is a significant post.
It is ironic that this post comes on the same day that Mark Driscoll has added leadership coaching videos to his website.

Salon on Mixed Orientation Marriages in the Middle of Same-Sex Marriage Case

digitalcoupleimageYesterday, Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory examined mixed orientation marriages as a possible new political statement against same-sex marriage. The article was triggered by the amicus brief filed by a Utah attorney on behalf of some people in mixed orientation marriages. She also interviewed me for the article and I am quoted extensively.
While my survey results are still unpublished (I keep getting distracted), the study has helped inform my views on the subject. Some essentially same-sex attracted men and women fall in love with a member of the other sex. While most of these marriages deal with issues other couples don’t have to address, there are many who are quite satisfied with the arrangement. They are not of necessity loveless, passionless marriages. However, the vast majority of these people don’t develop attraction to the other sex in any general sense. The baseline attractions remain about the same. On average, the people I surveyed demonstrated more same-sex attraction, not less.
In my opinion, there is no political benefit for any side in these results and I hope “mixed orientation marriage” doesn’t become the new “ex-gay.” Ex-gay became a political weapon and the political demands turned ex-gay into a caricature. In my view, the experiences of these couples have no relevance to the Supreme Court’s deliberations.

David Barton's War on Christian Colleges: Claims Disputed by Focus on the Family Researcher and His Own Book

Last weekend, David Barton continued his war on Christian colleges when he told an audience at Faith Baptist Church in Knightdale, NC that 50% of students at Christian universities deny their faith while in college.  Watch:
At 1:03 into the clip above, Barton said:

I mentioned before that between 60 and 80% of our kids deny their faith at university, you can at least send your kids to a Christian university, cause only 50% of them deny their faith at a Christian university. How does that happen? Because so many of the Christian profs we have get trained by pagan guys who think pagan in the way they go at it.

This isn’t the first time he has said this. As he did this time, he often couples his claim with criticism of Christian college professors. As with many of his other claims, he offers no evidence. Ultimately, in my opinion, this war on Christian colleges has more to do with self-defense than objective truth. Barton’s strongest critiques have come from Christian academics. He cannot claim we are on the left so he has to make up a cover story — in the case of this claim, he apparently thinks it helps him look better if he can convince audiences that Christian college professors only teach what their pagan graduate school professors taught them.
When I researched this claim before, I found nothing to support it. If anything, Christian schools are showing less erosion of faith commitments among their students.
A new wrinkle in Barton’s war on Christian colleges is the fact that the footnotes in his most recent book with George Barna (U-Turn) actually contradict his claim. In that book, Barna and Barton write about loss of faith for people under 30:

Most studies now show that roughly one-third of them [people under 30] have no connection to organized religion—and that their distaste for organized religion is growing steadily.4 Barna, George; Barton, David (2014-10-21). U-Turn: Restoring America to the Strength of its Roots (p. 26). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

I can find nothing in the book which references Christian colleges.
The footnote about colleges in general goes to several surveys, none of which support Barton’s claims. One study in particular comes from Focus on the Family and suggests that doom and gloom predictions are wrong. Instead, they found that “only 18% of young adults raised with any religion are now unaffliated with a particular faith.” One of the authors of that study, Glenn Stanton, told me that Barton’s claims are actually discounted by current research. About Barton’s claim that 50% of Christian college students lose their faith, Stanton told me in an email:

That number is far too high even for kids at secular schools. No sound research data show anything near that.

Stanton then pointed me to a research brief he prepared for FotF which included some recent research on young people, college attendance, and religiosity. If anything, it is lack of college attendance which is associated with declines in religious participation. From the report:

Is College Corrosive to Faith?

In the last few years, social scientists have “found that the religiously undermining effect of higher education…has disappeared” and that a recent study “using some of the best longitudinal data available has shown that is not those who attend college, but in fact those who do not attend college who are most likely to experience declines” in religious participation and importance. An additional survey of college students found that 2.7 times more students said their faith was strengthened, rather than weakened, through their college experience.

Stanton added in an email:

In fact, the best research shows that all things being equal, young adults are more likely to abandon their faith if they don’t go to college, be it a Christian or secular school.

Sometimes Barton defends himself by telling audiences how many footnotes he has in his books. In this case, he should have read at least this one. David Barton’s war on Christian colleges has nothing to do with Christian colleges and everything to do with David Barton.

Hillsong Spokesman Responds to Petition Asking for Mark Driscoll's Removal from London Conference

With nearly 700 signers, Natalie Collins’ petition asking Hillsong to remove Mark Driscoll from the schedule of Hillsong’s London conference has taken off. However, Hillsong does not appear to be swayed by the action. In response to my request for comment about the petition, Hillsong spokesman Mark DeMoss replied:

Hillsong is aware of the petition. The whole point of keeping Mark (and Grace) Driscoll on the conference program is so Brian Houston can interview them about events of the past year.

Demoss, who once handled some PR duties for Driscoll and the former Mars Hill Church, added, “I don’t think that is ‘cheap grace,’ but rather, a thoughtful approach to challenging circumstances. I think it would be fair for the petitioners to judge this appearance after it takes place, but advance judgment seems premature and a bit unfair, in my view.”
Concerns expressed by Collins include:

This is both disappointing and of great concern to many across the UK and internationally.  Mark Driscoll resigned from leadership after many leaders and other within his church raised issues about unethical and abusive behaviour including:

  • Ex-leaders of Mars Hill Church repenting of their collusion with Mark Driscoll

  • Ex-members of Mars Hill reporting they have experienced spiritual abuse from Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll, including controlling and manipulative behaviour

  • Evidence of plagiarism in at least one book he has written

  • Misuse of tithes by Mars Hill Church

  • Unethical actions taken to ensure Grace and Mark Driscoll’s book was featured on a bestselling book list

  • Mark Driscoll’s public statements against women in leadership over the last two decades which have greatly undermined the Gospel message of women as leaders, evangelists and full members of the Body of Christ

For her part, Natalie Collins will continue to promote the petition, telling me that the statement is “disappointing” but that she plans to continue pressing the petition with Hillsong.
UPDATE: Ms. Collins added a fuller statement later in the afternoon:

Hillsong’s response is disappointing.  I appreciate they have “downgraded” Mark Driscoll’s contribution from a keynote speech to an interview alongside his wife Grace, however as Christians our focus should be on the broken hearted and the powerless, yet Hillsong have chosen to broadcast Driscoll’s voice.  None of those he has hurt will have their voice heard.  Clearly he has not made any significant progress in changing his behaviour, or he would have chosen to reject the Hillsong opportunity.  As it is, he is continuing to use power in a way that further damages those he has hurt and Hillsong are legitimising and colluding with this.  Some of those signing the petition are people who have been directly impacted by Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill and if this petition can offer an opportunity to people who have been damaged and silenced, then it is making a difference.  Hopefully Hillsong may reconsider, and if they do not, we may choose to peacefully protest at the conference itself.


Robert Morris Scrubs Reference to His Doctorate of Literature

Earlier this month, I pointed out that Robert Morris referred to his honorary degree from his own university (The King’s University) as a “doctorate of literature.” This sounds like a real earned doctorate but in his case it is not. Morris has not completed any college degree and has acknowledged using ghostwriters to write his books.
Since that post, Gateway Church’s website has been scrubbed of references to the “doctorate of literature.” For instance, here is the previous church bio, before the post:
If you go to Morris’ church bio now, you will see that the reference to the doctorate is missing.
It has disappeared from the Facebook page as well. It does still appear on this Amazon author’s bio as well as a smattering of places around the web. It does not appear on the Gateway website. There has been no comment from Morris or Thomas Nelson just crickets and scrubbing like it was never there.

Lincoln Memorial University Features David Barton

I can’t understand why any institution would want to do this to their students.
Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN is going feature David Barton in their “Upholding the Constitution” series on April 24. Perhaps LMU is one of the Barton 12 (one of a dozen schools that Barton thinks are correct on the Constitution).
In his speech, perhaps he can find those Bible verses he says are quoted verbatim in the Constitution. Probably the talk should be called “Rewriting the Constitution.”

How David Barton Speaks to 400 Groups per Year

David Barton frequently claims that he speaks to over 400 groups per year. Once he said he spoke to over 600 different groups per year. Given the number of days in a year and his other activities, this seems like a fantastic claim. After reading a document from his defamation lawsuit, I now think I know how he gets to this number.
In 2012, Barton sued two candidates for the Texas Board of Education for defamation, Judy Jennings, and Rebecca Bell-Metereau. The case was settled out of court in late 2014. Jennings and Bell-Metereau said in a campaign video Barton was known for speaking to white supremacist groups. In fact, Barton only spoke to two such groups early in his career and he said he didn’t know about their views at the time. He settled out of court gaining an apology from the defendants.
In Barton’s affidavit, he claimed that the accusations of Jennings and Bell-Metereau hurt his business. To prove it, he called on one of his employees, Tracy Geron, to provide financial information from years 2009-2011. I will deal with Barton’s claims of harm in a future post. For now, I want to focus on the claim of presentations before 400 groups per year.
In the affidavit provided by Geron, a numerical summary of Barton’s activities for years 2009-2011 was provided. See all three years of presentations below:
Barton presentations
Notice that the largest single category of presentations is “Radio.” Barton does a taped radio show (ironically called Wallbuilder’s Live) each week day. He appears on most of them. It appears that he is counting his daily show as a group presentation. Doing so pushes the number of “groups” he addresses to over 400. Looking at these lists of presentations, it does not appear that he addresses 400 different groups per year. In this list, Barton even includes the articles he writes as a presentation. By this logic, I spoke to at least 590 groups in 2014 (blog posts), and that doesn’t include my columns in the Daily Beast and elsewhere. If my college lectures and other speaking opportunities are included, I do twice as many presentations as Barton. Does that mean I speak to twice as many groups?
I would really like to know what falls under “other.”
From these data, it doesn’t appear that the 2010 allegations about white supremacy hurt Barton much. He only had two fewer presentations in 2011. As you will see from the pdf of this financial statement, his financials remained strong in 2011 despite his claims to have suffered harm. More on that in a future post.