In a post at his Patheos blog (how strange to be writing that), former Mars Hill Church co-founder and pastor Mark Driscoll provided an excerpt from his new book, Spirit Filled Jesus (read a review of the book here).
My wife Grace and I have five kids—three boys and two girls. We moved to Arizona for a hard reset of life and ministry after years of feeling like a crash test dummy in a car with no airbags. After about two decades in ministry, I took some time off to heal up before entering the next season of God’s will for our life.
That’s one way of looking at it.
Let’s rewind to August 8, 2014. On that day, the Board of Acts 29 church network made public their decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from the network. Here is a portion of the letter:
Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior. We have both publicly and internally tried to support and give you the benefit of the doubt, even when multiple pastors in our network confirmed this behavior. In response, we leaned on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability to take the lead in dealing with this matter. But we no longer believe the BoAA is able to execute the plan of reconciliation originally laid out. Ample time has been given for repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming.
We now have to take another course of action. Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help. Consequently, we also feel that we have no alternative but to remove you and Mars Hill from membership in Acts 29.
Then on August 21, 2014, 21 former elders brought formal charges of wrongdoing against Mark Driscoll as pastor of Mars Hill Church. Clicking the link will take you to the charges. Some of those elders felt like crash test dummies.
Then on August 24 2014, Driscoll requested 6 weeks off while the charges were being investigated. According to church by-laws he had to submit to the process of being investigated.
Then on October 14 2014, Driscoll resigned amid the completion of an investigation into the charges filed by former church elders. The Board of Overseers reported:
We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry. Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.
Later, the elders who investigated Driscoll said he was offered a plan of restoration to return to pastoral ministry but declined to accept it.
So yes, he “took some time off” but his explanation leaves out many important components. It is astounding that he does not mention the name of the church which made him famous. The elders and members of Mars Hill Church might also feel like crash test dummies. Although several years have passed, the scars run deep, apparently on both sides of the crash.