O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Merry Christmas 2021

This is a tradition on the blog:

Recorder artist Victoria Rigel played two recorders at once in this 2008 performance of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I accompanied her on the guitar. She adds the second recorder at the beginning of the second verse.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Christmas Eve! Audible Waters – Do You Hear What I Hear?

A Christmas tradition on the blog has been to feature a song on Christmas Eve by Audible Waters, a musical project of a blog commenter who goes by “Mr. Jesperson.” His project has focused on a collection of Christmas songs over the years. This year I post a new one for them: Do You Hear What I Hear?

I hope your Holiday season is wonderful.

Getting Jefferson Right Gets a Rise from the Fall of Mars Hill Church

I haven’t written much about the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Church because I wanted to hear the whole thing before I did. Now that I have, I will say more about it over time. On the whole, I recommend it. Several years ago when Mars Hill Church was unraveling, I assumed someone would do a deep dive into the rise and fall of the church; I just didn’t think it would be Christianity Today.

On the level of individual work, Mike Cosper did an superb job of weaving characters and various story lines in and out of the narrative.  Having written and produced a documentary in the past, I can appreciate the amount of work that goes into that beast.

What brings me to the blog backroom at this time is something I just learned over the weekend: Mike Cosper’s casual mention of my book with fellow Grove City College professor, Michael Coulter, has led to a modest Mars Hill bump in interest in Getting Jefferson Right since The Tempest episode came out on November 12. I’ll call it a Mars Hill Rise.

Here is what Cosper said about the Jefferson book starting at 1 hour and 11 minutes into The Tempest episode.

There’s a sense in which he (Throckmorton) was an ideal candidate to respond to this particular moment in the story (the plagiarism aspect). For several years, much of Throckmorton’s blogging had been focused on debunking the work of David Barton, a Christian nationalist, known for writing books and curriculum about the origins of the U.S. that are popular in some very conservative homeschool circles.

That led to the publication of a book called Getting Jefferson Right which Throckmorton co-wrote with Michael Coulter. The book carefully deconstructs many of Barton’s Christian nationalist myths and it led to one of Barton’s books being pulled from publication. His foray into looking at Driscoll didn’t come from any specific interest in his work. I think in a way that’s also reflected in his interest in Barton. Warren has a mind for detail; a mind attuned for the kind of research and cataloging necessary to track instances of plagiarism.

I love it when threads of my life come together and this was a significant couple of minutes for me. The modest sales boost or the Facebook page interest aren’t the remarkable points here. For me, it was Cosper’s matter-of-fact dismissal of Christian nationalism. The reference to David Barton’s “Christian nationalist myths” was extremely gratifying. As I listened, I became aware that numerous people who had never thought about Christian nationalism in a negative way (or at all) were listening to the podcast since Rise and Fall has remained near the top of the podcast charts since it came out.

Indeed, in Getting Jefferson Right, we deal with some of the foundational stories that Christian nationalists like to tell. Did Congress publish the first English Bible in the U.S. for the use of schools? Did Jefferson create an abridgment of the New Testament to evangelize native Americans? Was Jefferson forbidden to free his slaves by Virginia law? Did Jefferson sign his presidential documents in the Year of our Lord Christ? Christian nationalist history is unlike any history most of us have heard or studied. In our book, we focus on claims involving Thomas Jefferson and give the facts.

For more on Getting Jefferson Right, click through this link. You can find the book in Kindle and paperback format on Amazon. Conveniently, Amazon says it arrives before Christmas!

For more on the removal of Barton’s book from publication, see this link.

Stop the Presses! Mark Driscoll Needs $650,000 More!

Remember the Mars Hill Church Jesus Festival?

At the end of 2013, Mark Driscoll’s church asked Mars Hill Church attenders for $2-million because God was going to do great things with the money in 2014. One of those things included a big party the church leaders called a “Jesus Festival.” Driscoll described it this way:

From Pastor Mark Driscoll: Heaven is going to be a party and we need to practice for that party. Over the next few months, you’ll be hearing a lot more about our first-ever Jesus Festival, August 22 at Marymoor Park near Seattle. Everyone at Mars Hill churches far and near is invited for this unique opportunity to grow together and evangelize within the surrounding community. We’ve never done anything quite like this event, but picture a huge outdoor celebration with live bands, food trucks, fun stuff for the kids, open-air gospel preaching, baptisms, and a summer night filled with the worship of thousands of brothers and sisters praising Jesus together. Pastor Dustin Kensrue will be leading us in worship, and as the date gets closer we’ll announce some special guests who will be joining us as well. Thanks to your generosity as a church, the whole thing will be free, which will make it very easy to invite non-Christian family and friends.

The church gave closer to $3-million, but the big heaven-party-practice never happened. No doubt the rapid financial decline of the church had something to do with that, but it may be that the concept of a Jesus Festival served a purpose to rally financial support. When asked about why the church didn’t have the party, Mars Hill Church spokesperson Justin Dean told Huffington Post:

Contrary to what has been reported, we did not raise money specifically for the Jesus festival. Gifts given during the end of the year campaign, as well as any gifts given to Mars Hill Church, go towards ministry operations, evangelism, and church planting all over the world.

Donors often don’t understand that unless the charity makes a specific promise to use their donations in a certain way, the charity decision makers can do what they want with it. They can bait with big plans, then switch to the current expense fund if they want.

Deja Vu All Over Again?

On Tuesday, I reported that Mark Driscoll Real Faith has a Real Need. To finish 2021 strong, he wants people to give him $200,000. He doesn’t say how he plans to use it, just that he needs it. I thought possibly he could need it to do church work, but now I don’t think that is it. I found out he is going to his church for an even stronger finish. Check this out.

The Trinity Church has its own giving campaign. He needs $650,000* for that side of the business.

So just as with Mars Hill Church, Driscoll wants his church to give substantially over and above their regular giving for expenses that apparently don’t fit in the budget.

This ask further confuses the earlier Real Faith ask for $200,000. Driscoll says he needs $200k for Real Faith, but then he says some of this $650k will also benefit Real Faith. Consider this component in the appeal:

2. Add more lighting and cameras so that we can improve the worship experience in the main room and also capture the worship and baptisms (over 400 in 2021!) in audio and video format to share online to minister to the more than 100 million people who are receiving Bible teaching through Real Faith from Trinity Church.

Now it is even less clear what Driscoll wants to do with $200,000 for his personal ministry/business.

Loaded

Maybe I just don’t understand how this ministry thing works. I’m sure that’s it. The man of god needs are different than the little people in the pew needs. The MOG needs his sermon dial in spot (see below):

And he needs his Loaded First Edition Bronco to contemplate great thoughts.

In any case, I will note again that I bet your local food pantry needs your money more than Rev. Driscoll or most megachurch pastors do. Don’t get me wrong, I know some churches are feeding lots of hungry people and doing lots of good. I bet lots of people will hear about Jesus in 2022 even if you don’t give a cent to Rev Driscoll, so consider helping those who hear about Jesus by knowing his kindness and care via a warm meal or a warm coat, or a cleft palate surgery.

*Mars Hill watchers will no doubt do a double take at the $650,000 amount since that was the amount of Driscoll’s severance in 2014 when he left the church.

 

After a Year of Trials, Mark Driscoll Needs $200,000 to Finish Strong!

Brother, can you spare 2-million dimes?

After a year of trials (aka The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill and various Trinity Church former members, etc.), Brother Driscoll and his Real Faith has a NEED!

“As we approach the end of the year, RealFaith must meet a $200,000 need to finish strong and step into 2022 ready to tell more people all about Jesus.”

You can sing a nice tune with $200k in a month. My church budget for the whole year is less than that (admittedly, it is a small church).

Brother Driscoll doesn’t tell us what the need is for, just that he believes next year is going to be bigger than this year. Huge, I tell ya, it’s going to be huge.

Mars Hill All Over Again?

This appeal reminded me of the Mars Hill Church year end giving campaigns. Former Mars Hill Church executive pastor Sutton Turner wrote about the Mars Hill pattern of running up deficits during the year and then throwing a “Hail Mary” year end giving appeal to make up for the deficit spending. Here is the relevant part of that 2012 memo to fellow executive elders Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas.

From what I can tell by this past year’s budget, we have had a strategy of completing a Hail Mary every December with a big giving campaign. This has allowed the negative monthly financial performance to continue while we count on a Hail Mary giving push in December to make up for the annual deficit. Givers are giving to grow the body and plant more churches, but given our spending habits, their gifts just help us catch up. With the growth ofthe church, the 2011 version only allows for enough cash to run through June 2012 and is not a sustainable plan for December 2012.

Smells similar.

Here is one difference. Driscoll is writing potential donors in 2021 from his personal ministry – Real Faith — and not from The Trinity Church. He is personally asking people give him $200,000 so he can do something with it. It is hard to tell what is his church work and what is him doing stuff apart from the church. Seems like most pastors would be funded by their church to do the things he is talking about doing through Real Faith with all that “outpouring of support.” Makes me wonder what is the main thing and what is the side hustle. 

Who Needs $200,000?

In any case, I am going to go out on a limb and say that this guy right here doesn’t need your $200,000 as much as your local food pantry.

Nothing but need as far as the eye can see.

Brothers and sisters, if you can spare some dimes, I humbly suggest two or three alternatives.

Smile Train – This charity provides cleft lip and palate surgeries for needy children where it is difficult to obtain such care. The charity has a perfect accountability rating from Charity Navigator.

Schistosomiasis Control Initiative Foundation (SCI) – This charity is a top-rated organization that fights the spread of development-killing parasitic worms in children world-wide.

Closer to home: I am sure Mark Driscoll would understand if you made a year end donation to your local church or food pantry with him in mind. If you don’t have one to donate to and want a suggestion, here is the link to Mercer County, PA’s food network. I just made a year end donation and I hope you will consider it as well.

 

Brother, Can You Spare 2-Million Dimes? (to the tune of the George Michael version)

Once I built a megachurch, made it run
Made it grow and it was mine
Once I built a megachurch, now it’s done
Brother can you spare 2-million dimes?

Once I built a tower, made it run
Brick and money and time
Once I built a tower, now it’s done
Brother can you spare 2-million dimes?

 

 

Mark Driscoll Claims Credit for the Work of Mars Hill Church Women

You will probably think you’ve heard this story before.

In 2013, Mars Hill Church published a study guide on the New Testament book of James. Mark Driscoll wrote the Introduction to the book but did not claim authorship. In fact, much of the book was written by women in the women’s ministry. Here is an email describing a document provided by Driscoll to guide them thematically (most names redacted).

From: “h****@marshill.com” <h****@marshill.com>
Subject: James research
Date: August 23, 2013 at 1:34:36 PM CDT
To: Marci Turner <m***@*******.com>, “g****@marshill.com” <g****@marshill.com>,  <j******@hotmail.com>, “d*****@a.com” <d****@aol.com>, <s*****@mn.com>,  <l******@gmail.com>, <k****@s.edu>,  <*****@i.com>
Hello James team:

Below is some great information that Pastor Mark has prepared regarding the approach he will take to the James series.

So, put on your theological thinking caps – this is good stuff.  As always, and as indicated below, please do not share this.  I’m praying for you and hope this is helpful to you, as it was to me, as we learn to discern well and trust God for his truth to be revealed to us as we write for his glory.

Thanks!

H

Director of Women’s Ministry
Mars Hill Church
www.marshill.com

While I don’t have all of the work done by all of the women, I do have the work done by Marci Turner. First, I will post the Introduction where Driscoll wrote in 2013 about who is responsible for writing the study guide. Then I will post the same page from the 2021 book, titled Faith Works.

The attribution accurately credits Mars Hill staff, Docent Research, and faithful volunteers. Those faithful volunteers were women, some of whom were not considered trustworthy by Mark Driscoll at various stages of Mars Hill’s existence. However, Driscoll and the boys thought it okay to use them to anonymously write copy.
…then the description of authorship.

The book now is a “group effort” if by that Driscoll means he added to material written by others and then he put his name on it. To me, a group effort is a group of people working on something, and they all get credit. In this case, the actual source of the material is even more vague than in the first edition.

In light of my reporting over the years, as well as the recent Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast, I am not surprised Driscoll didn’t acknowledge the women. However, he should have and he still should. For one, Marci Turner isn’t happy that her work has Driscoll’s name slapped on it. However, there isn’t much that can be done about it since Driscoll was allowed to buy the Resurgence material when he left.

Nonetheless, there are substantial amounts of material that female members of Mars Hill wrote that Driscoll has put his name on. Here is just one example from Marci Turner.

The material in the red rectangle is in the new Faith Works edition. See below (see also the side by side comparison link below):

And here’s another instance:

There are other examples, but I think this makes it clear that the materials supplied by the “faithful volunteers” have now been retooled by Mark Driscoll. And it can now be known that those faithful volunteers were women of the church who couldn’t be trusted with much, but could give the man of god some copy for his content management system.

Below is one side by side comparison:

Side by Side

According to Sutton Turner, all of these study guides were partially written by the Women’s Ministry.