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.”
 

Mars Hill Church Executive Elder Dave Bruskas on Mark Driscoll, NYTs Best-Seller List, Strange Fire and More

I suspect different people will key in on different aspects of this video featuring recent remarks from Dave Bruskas. Bruskas led the Albuquerque NM City on a Hill church into an alliance with Mars Hill and then left Albuquerque in July 2011 to become an executive elder at Mars Hill Church. He is now slated to return as preaching pastor for the newly renamed North Church. Bruskas spoke on December 3, 2014 to a member’s meeting at the church. The questions were pre-selected with public questions not taken from the crowd. Yesterday, I posted a brief segment where Bruskas said Driscoll’s resignation was not the most redemptive outcome. The following segment deals with Bruskas regrets following a question from lead pastor Donovan Medina. A transcript of the video is at the link.

Click here for a transcript.
At about 1:15, in response to Medina’s question, Bruskas said the Board of Overseers (Jon Phelps, Larry Osborne, Michael Van Skaik, and Matt Rogers) found three areas of “persistent sin” via the examination of charges against Mark Driscoll: arrogance, domineering leadership and harsh words. While these were the three areas identified by the Board of Elders’ investigation, the BoO did not use the term “persistent sin” in their communication to the congregation. Rather, it was the elders later who used the term “persistent sin” in their verbal report to the various Mars Hill locations. The elders wanted Driscoll to step down and enter an elder-directed restoration process, whereas, in contrast, the BoOsaid they didn’t ask Driscoll to resign, and said that he wasn’t disqualified.
Bruskas admitted that the problems were “painfully entrenched in our culture.” He acknowledged that many leaders felt Mars Hill was special; now he sees that “God’s grace was on us in spite of us.” Bruskas didn’t believe he personally had used harsh words as Driscoll did.
For himself the three things he felt grieved about were the New York Times best-seller scam, the Strange Fire conference, and the performance driven culture of ministry.
Bruskas said he was a new executive elder in 2011 who was informed about the ResultSource contract by Jamie Munson in a car ride to work one morning. He asked if the approach had integrity and was financially feasible. Bruskas said Munson answered yes to both. After that, according to Bruskas, he didn’t ask any more questions.
Bruskas disclosed to friends that he was going to take the #2 position at Mars Hill in July 2011. That was about a month after Mark and Grace Driscoll and their agent Sealy Yates met at Thomas Nelson to discuss the ResultSource approach to scamming the best-seller list.  This June 27, 2011 note from Sealy Yates to Kevin Small was included in a Mars Hill memo on the ResultSource-Real Marriage campaign.
Yates2SmallJun11
The question is who was Jamie Munson working with? Munson has not responded to email questions on this topic. Bruskas is correct that he was a relatively new member of the executive elders. I wonder when it became clear what was actually happening with ResultSource. For instance, I wonder if he ever saw this memo. To his credit, he now believes the scheme was clearly wrong.
The second thing that grieves Bruskas is the Strange Fire incident. He said he would apologize to John MacArthur and believes he should have said something at the time. It has been over a year since that incident took place. If I had been in the Albuquerque audience, I would have asked him about the famous Driscoll tweet that security confiscated his books. I would like to hear Bruskas’ view of that tweet.
Last, Bruskas said he was sorry for being complicit with a “highly performance driven culture.” Perhaps he is referring to the actions described in this 2012 memo. In it, Bruskas took the lead in informing campus pastors that they couldn’t advocate for the staff they had to lay off due to financial pressures. The pastors were supposed to get in line. At the time, Driscoll, Bruskas and Turner had gotten significant pay increases while about 40% of the staff faced layoffs.
According to those present, nothing was asked about the Global Fund, the severance packages, Driscoll’s plagiarism, and accountability for the current sitting Board of Advisors and Accountability.
Consider this an open request for an interview to really clear the air and answer questions about Mars Hill’s unfinished business.
See also, part one of this video in which Bruskas tells the congregation that Driscoll’s resignation wasn’t the most redemptive outcome.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mars Hill Ballard Moves Toward Independence Amid Unanswered Questions

Last night, a trusted source attended an organizational meeting at Mars Hill Ballard. Several changes were announced with information provided about the move toward becoming an independent church.

According to the source:

Scott Harris is stepping down as lead pastor. It was announced that he plans to find employment and stay on at the church as a lay elder. The preaching pastor will be Matthias Haeusel. Adam Christiansen (paid) and Kirby Langley (lay) will remain as elders. Cam Huxford will remain as worship pastor. Anthony Ianniciello was described as “very tired” and will thus step down. He will continue as a church member and lead a community group. Joe Stengele feels called elsewhere.

The elders gave out paper to use to suggest church names. However, Harris said that the elders will choose the name. As the papers were distributed, the elders promoted “Seven Hills” Church. Seven was described as a “contextualization” specific to Seattle with Hills paying deliberate homage to the old Mars Hill name.

The church will probably not remain in the current location. The building hasn’t sold and the lease-back provision from the listing has been removed. They expect to take between 3 months to a year to find a suitable location. It was disclosed that the Ballard and Sammamish buildings are being liquidated to cover Mars Hill’s debts. The seed money then will be given to the different churches according to the location’s former budget and their attendance throughout this last year. Some locations will get cash, and others will get an improved equity position in their building.

The leaders promised that the new church will be “elder led, congregationally informed.”

Questions were asked about severance pay for executives and the Mark Driscoll investigation. The elders claimed they didn’t know.

I find that hard to believe, but if true, it lends some credibility to a comment made by MHInsida on another post that seed money from sale of properties and any remaining tithes and offerings is conditioned on silence and lack of disclosure. Perhaps, the pastors don’t want to know. However, it is stunning to me that the elders could go before a group of people, ask for their support, and not have answers to those questions.

Another implication of the possibility that the elders don’t know what’s happening in their own church is that the Board of Advisors and Accountability is still in charge and desires to run out the clock on the questions that have arisen about the Global Fund, severance pay, the credibility of BoAA statements about Acts 29 and Paul Tripp, and the Driscoll investigation.

Unanswered Questions at Mars Hill Church

Barring intervention, we now know that the trajectory of Mars Hill Church is toward dissolution.
However, several questions from members and former members persist without answers. Even in the increased communication from Dave Bruskas and lead pastors, some business is unfinished. I will list them here and hope the church will eventually address them.
Global Fund
How much was collected into the Global Fund from 2012 to 2014 and how much did Mars Hill Church leaders spend on Ethiopian and Indian outreach during that time?  Another question relates to the ongoing needs for support experienced by the Ethiopian and Indian church planters. Who will support them? The current Mars Hill leaders have a responsibility to see that those needy families get the money raised in their name. The church should address how the Ethiopian and Indian pastors are going to get their severance pay.
Severance Pay
Another issue about which I get many emails is the status of executive elder salaries and their severance packages. Members and former members want to know if the executive elders are getting a year long severance, how much they are getting, and whether or not the severance will be paid after the church dissolves. Church leaders continue to ask members to give, but haven’t answered some basic questions about the stewardship of those funds. This is a red flag.
Driscoll Investigation Report
A third common question I hear is: When is the report on the Driscoll investigation going to be released? I am hearing that some elders want to release it now, some want to wait until January 1, and others don’t want to release it ever. The elders went part way toward disclosure but have still not directly disputed the Board of Advisors and Accountability’s claim that Driscoll was not disqualified. The matter of disqualification is relevant to the second question above. If Driscoll was disqualified then his employment agreement would have allowed for the church to handle his departure differently with more favorable financial ramifications to the church. In tight times, when members are being asked to give to a church which is dissolving, this is a relevant matter.
Non-Disclosure Agreements
Although I don’t think these are binding, several former leaders have written to say they feel their hands are tied unless the church releases them from the non-disclosure agreement. Apparently, some of these men have asked for clarity and received no answer.
It is beyond me how the leaders of any church can ask non-voting members to give sacrificially without being transparent and providing disclosure on basic issues.
Readers, what questions do you have?

Are Changes Coming to Mars Hill Church?

Within the past two days, some members are being assured by the Mars Hill Church elders that greater transparency is coming to the church. One intriguing claim is that the Board of Advisors and Accountability is soon to be dissolved. An announcement to that effect is planned to come out soon, perhaps today. According to the members who related this to me, pastors are talking openly about this without restriction.
In addition, plans are in the works to open Mars Hill’s financial records. Perhaps, the public will get a look at the real Global Fund situation. Maybe the members will at last learn how tithes and offerings have been and are being used. I suspect there will be a multitude of questions which various stakeholders will ask.
A suggestion. Don’t gloss over the issues which have been raised. For instance, where the public has been misled in the past, correct the record. Calculate how much funding should go to Ethiopian and Indian mission work, and provide that level of funding.
If this isn’t the case, believe me, I will be back to correct any false impressions created here.
I hope I soon get to write some stories of redemption and repair.
 

Mars Hill Church: Some Unfinished Business for the Board of Advisors and Accountability

I think the Mars Hill Church’s elders and the Board of Advisors and Accountability have forgotten something.
In August, nine elders wrote their peers and said, among other things:

At the retreat this week, Pastor Dave [Bruskas] spoke about our church’s credibility problem. Brothers, this credibility problem is directly linked to the fact that we have not loved the light.This is not the fault of one person, or even a just a small group of people. We all share in responsibility for this in one way or another, and we must all repent of it together, together calling for our church to step into the light.

One indication of stepping into the light would be to investigate the allegations against the Board of Advisors and Accountability raised in the elder’s letter.  Mark DeMoss, speaking for the church, said those allegations would be “processed” in line with church bylaws. DeMoss told the Religion News Service in August:

This letter, as with past letters voicing accusations toward Mark Driscoll will be processed in accordance with Article 12 of the church’s bylaws,” a statement provided by public relations firm head Mark DeMoss said. “This means the accusations will be thoroughly examined and a report issued when the review is complete. In the meantime, it does not seem appropriate to comment on specific accusations before/while they are being formally reviewed as we don’t want to circumvent the process prescribed by the governing body of Mars Hill.”

In the letter there are specific allegations against the BoAA. First, the elders claimed the BoAA was not truthful about the handling of the original charges against Mark Driscoll:

BOAA/EE Statements Claim That We Had No Way to Interview Witnesses from Dave Kraft’s Formal Charges
We have been repeatedly told that we could not hear from the witnesses mentioned in the document. This did not add up, since the document clearly states that there were seven individuals who were willing to testify when called upon, and Dave Kraft stated clearly that he hoped that they would be called upon. Through conversations separately with Dave Kraft and Michael Van Skaik, I (Dustin) finally got clarity on this on Tuesday morning at the elder retreat. The issue was not that the BOAA “could not”interview the witnesses, but rather that Michael Van Skaik “would not” open an investigation without Dave Kraft giving him the names first. This seems to be a completely unreasonable and unnecessary demand when the charges themselves reveal that the witnesses felt bullied and were afraid of the consequences of releasing their names outside of the protection of a formal investigation being opened. Mike Wilkerson, who helped prepare the charges for Dave, confirms that he recommended to Dave that the names of the witnesses be disclosed only after they were protected by a formal investigation process. Mike made this recommendation in part due to his perception of the danger and fear involved for the witnesses, and also because he had knowledge that a prior complaint had not been handled according to the complainant’s expectation of confidentiality, resulting in further harm to the complainant. Furthermore, this charge was not coming from an unknown critic, but rather Dave Kraft who is a respected former elder and Christian leader. Because of his reputation we should have been willing to give greater credence to his charges and want to hear them out. Regardless of whether this was a wise or helpful decision by the BOAA, it is clearly misleading to state emphatically over and over that there was no way to talk to these people and hear their testimony, when clearly there was.
This is no minor issue as we have been consistently misled about the key reason the Kraft charges were handled the way they were. How can Van Skaik claim that “the formal charges that were filed were…taken seriously and were not dismissed by the board lightly,” when he would not even open the case to hear from the actual witnesses? Sending out letters to former employees in an effort to find these people or others who experienced similar situations seems to be a failed effort from the start, for the same reason that the 7 would not release their names unless as witnesses in an official investigation. Because of this refusal, it is misleading to claim that the charges were taken seriously when the witnesses were never even interviewed. Michael Van Skaik confirmed this week that no formal investigation was ever opened in response to Dave Kraft’s charges filed last year.

Even though the BoAA said they took Dave Kraft’s charges seriously, they didn’t investigate them.
Another BoAA claim related to contact with the Acts 29 Network. From the nine elders we learned that, in contrast to the BoAA statement, there had been much contact between members of both boards and Mark Driscoll.

Public Statements Claim That There Was No Contact Between Mark/BOAA and A29 Board Prior To A29 Removing MH From Network
We have been repeatedly told that no one from the A29 board talked to Mark or to our board prior to removing Mark from the network. This is only true if by “talk” you mean “told us beforehand that they were kicking us out,” and if you dismiss contact between individual board members with Mark and with each other. The impression created by these statements was one where it seemed that the A29 board had made their decision having had no communication with people close to Mark or with Mark himself, with no actual insight into the situation, and with no care for Mark or Mars Hill. The truth is that multiple members of both boards had been in direct contact with each other, and with Mark, exhorting and rebuking him over the course of months and years, and to say or imply otherwise is deeply misleading. Paul Tripp has confirmed that he specifically was in contact multiple times, while on the BOAA, with Matt Chandler, Steve Timmis, and Eric Mason about the state of Pastor Mark’s repentance.
To be fair, when specifically pressed on the issue at the elder retreat, Van Skaik did admit that he was sure that some members of the two boards had been in contact with each other individually, and clarified that they had not met together as full boards. But this does not change the fact that we have not corrected our public statements and rhetoric, nor does it change the fact that Van Skaik would not have admitted this without being pressed into by Pastor Miles during our first session at the retreat. As a whole, MH’s communication surrounding this event is very misleading.

The elders then asserted that many other instances of questionable communication between the BoAA and the public.

An On-Going Pattern
Beyond these two examples, there is no dearth of examples in the last two years of very questionable transparency and truth-telling, including the Mars Hill Global Fund, Result-Source, Strange Fire, ghost-writing/plagiarism, explanations for staff transition, the resignations of BOAA members, etc. Even this Thursday we put out a statement claiming that Wilkerson’s formal charges were being “reviewed by the board and the elders.” This is misleading as it gives people the impression that the elders as a whole are able to take part in reviewing and adjudicating the case.

Currently, the BoAA is in charge of Mars Hill Church and the allegations in this letter may not be investigated unless the current Board of Elders take initiative or the BoAA act consistently with their title.

Mars Hill Church Board of Elders: Mark Driscoll Resigned Instead of Entering a Restoration Plan

This morning in all Mars Hill Church locations, a statement from the Board of Elders was read to the congregation by the lead pastors. The BoE was given the task to investigate the charges against Mark Driscoll which were lodged by 21 former elders and a group of private witnesses. The BoE’s report was referenced by the BoAA in their statement accepting Mark Driscoll’s resignation. Driscoll submitted his letter of resignation on Tuesday, Oct. 14 and the BoAA issued a statement on Oct. 15. It turns out that the BoAA statement did not completely represent the process or outcome of the BoE’s work. As I reported yesterday, the BoAA’s statement may not even have accurately represented the BoAA’s initial response to Mark Driscoll.

According to this statement made at Sammamish location, the BoE concluded their investigation and wanted to provide a restoration plan for Driscoll. However, instead Driscoll resigned.

The investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll has revealed patterns of persistent sin in the three areas disclosed in the previous letter by the Board of Overseers. In I Tim 5:20, it requires that an elder be rebuked for persistent sin. Our intention was to do this while providing a plan for his eventual restoration to leadership. The Board of Elders in agreement with the Board of Overseers are grieved, deeply grieved, that any process like that was lost to us when Mark Driscoll resigned in position and left the church. Now is the time to move on and consider what God is calling us to next as a church as we participate in Jesus’ mission to make disciples in His name. Today begins a new chapter in the history of our church which has proceeded in one direction under one leadership for many years now, but I want you to understand this, God is our Father. That does not change. Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church and that has not changed.

The elders of Mars Hill Church acknowledge as we’ve gone through all of this investigation, and heard all of these stories, we acknowledge that we have personally led in some of the same ways that demonstrate some of the same ways that Pastor Mark had. And those things require repentance and forgiveness and restoration. We realize that there are ways that we have led as elders in ways that have been domineering, sometimes arrogant and sometimes boastful and at least for my part, I want to say I deeply regret those sins and I ask for your forgiveness.  We want to lead you into the future in a way that displays more grace, more love as we speak the truth to each of you. If there are people that I have offended in ways I have pastored this church, I would welcome that you come to me and speak with me to allow me the opportunity to reconcile with you.

At this time Mars Hill Church is going to move ahead under the Board of Overseers established plan for transition.Pastor Dave Bruskas will serve as the teaching and preaching pastor during an interim period of time until we establish a direction we are going as a church. The Board of Advisors are going to be working in the weeks to come on a plan for moving forward and for how that will unfold, what the next steps are, there are a lot of things to consider. As we discover what those things are, what the spirit shows us, then we want to communicate clearly to you and transparently to you what’s happening, the directions and the changes that will be taking place.

This statement does not address the reasons Driscoll was asked to step away from the pulpit. Did the BoE report disqualify him or not? Having a restoration plan certainly sounds like disqualification. From what would Driscoll need to be restored, if not disqualification?  Since the congregation is footing the bill for the severance, shouldn’t they find out what is happening? If Mars Hill is going to move forward transparently, shouldn’t the congregation see at least an executive summary of the report?

Also, this statement ignores the promise of Mark DeMoss speaking on behalf of the church that the allegations against the BoAA would also be investigated. There are credible claims that the BoAA did not accurately represent Acts 29 Network and Paul Tripp in their public communications. And yet, nothing is said about that here and the BoAA is in charge with apparently no accountability.

If the BoE is going to move forward with transparency, this statement does not appear to be the beginning of moving forward. This looks like more of the end of the previous chapter.

 

Mark Driscoll's Resignation: What is the Real Story?

On Wednesday, Mars Hill Church let the world know that Mark Driscoll submitted a letter of resignation the day before. According to Driscoll, he stepped down because he was being divisive. Specifically, he said:

Other issues, such as aspects of my personality and leadership style, have proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context, and I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

That is why, after seeking the face and will of God, and seeking godly counsel from men and women across the country, we have concluded it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church we helped launch in 1996.

Driscoll also implied that controversies have taken a toll.

Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family—even physically unsafe at times—and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill.

For their part, the Board of Advisors and Accountability said Driscoll had not disqualified himself but was at times arrogant and domineering. About his resignation, they concluded:

Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. 

There may be more to this story.
After the letters from Driscoll and the BoAA, Driscoll’s sister Melanie Thompson commented on her public Facebook page (under the name Erma Gauthier). Her narrative adds a new wrinkle. According to Thompson, “they” (I presume the BoAA) would not let Driscoll preach. Yesterday, she posted Driscoll’s resignation letter and followed it with comments about the BoAA (image of the thread).

Erma Gauthier They would not let him preach
Erma Gauthier Yeah. I think they really did a number on him. Not biblical or keeping with The Word or process.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Driscoll’s sister is suggesting that the BoAA was not going to allow Driscoll to preach. She could have been referring to the Board of Elders report, but the simplest explanation is a decision by the BoAA. More about the BoE later. In any case, Thompson is not impressed with the work of those who decided what to do about Driscoll. To reinforce her opinion, she points out that the church has the Ballard campus for sale which to her implies that the leadership would keep Driscoll from preaching again.

Erma Gauthier If they were going to let him come back …ever…then why would they sell mars hill Ballard behind his back.

Erma Gauthier Yeah. The people would have to bring him back. The Pastors have blocked him without disqualification.

Erma Gauthier I want Ballard back. We are the body. We want our church and pastor
Read the entire page to get all of the narrative. Despite the fact that the BoAA determined that Driscoll was not disqualified, Driscoll’s sister implied that that the BoAA, and perhaps the BoE, blocked Driscoll from preaching even though they did not disqualify him. According to Thompson, there is more here than has been disclosed by either Driscoll or the BoAA or the BoE. If so, then the BoAA softened their statement and perhaps didn’t accurately reflect the investigation.
There may be even more.
The BoE may have more to say about the BoAA’s statement. A number of sources indicate that the investigation found something more than the BoAA reported.

Update from Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability on Mark Driscoll Investigation

Just out in the Mars Hill Weekly:

UPDATE FROM THE BOAA

Six weeks ago Pastor Mark stepped aside while our Board of Advisors and Accountability examine accusations brought forward by former staff and elders. That extensive process is nearly complete and we expect to have those results to share with you very soon. In the meantime, we ask for your continued prayers for Pastor Mark and his family, Pastor Dave Bruskas and the lead pastors as they continue to preach and lead during this time, and also for the Board of Elders while they prepare their final report. Lastly, please pray for our Mars Hill Church family that Jesus would be glorified in our lives.

This update pertains to the allegations brought forward by former staff and elders, the BOAA has been silent on the concerns raised by the then-current pastors who raised issues regarding the BOAA. I wonder when those concerns will be heard.
Feedback from sources has been mixed. Dave Kraft made a public statement after his meeting whereas all others have commented anonymously. Some have expressed optimism that the allegations will be validated but that the results might not reflect the gravity of the findings. I expect a public statement from the church by the end of the month.

Mars Hill Church Investigation: Some Charges Are Being Investigated And Some Are Not

Almost six weeks ago, Mark Driscoll told his congregation:

I have requested a break for processing, healing, and growth for a minimum of six weeks while the leadership assigned by our bylaws conduct a thorough examination of accusations against me. I believe their review can best be performed without me being in the pulpit or the office, and they have agreed to this arrangement.

As it turns out, the leadership assigned by the by-laws (Board of Advisors and Accountability) formed a committee of elders (Board of Elders) to investigate accusations presented by 21 former elders and 21 witnesses. In addition, nine then current elders (eight of whom resigned or were laid off) made allegations against the executive elders and the chair of the BOAA, Michael Van Skaik. What is going on with these allegations?
Some are being investigated and apparently some are not.
After a slow start, the formal charges presented by the former elders are being investigated. I contacted many of the former elders and asked for comment; those who replied wanted to remain anonymous. Generally, they said the interviews were being conducted by the Board of Elders. Some interviews have yet to be scheduled but the pace of discussions has quickened in recent days.  Given that there are interviews remaining, the investigation will not be completed by this Sunday, and probably not for another week or two. Thus, I doubt we will see Mark Driscoll in church on Sunday.
Some of the anonymous protected witnesses referred to by the 21 former Mars Hill pastors have dropped out of the process. Those I have spoken with tell me that the interviews did not feel safe. They were concerned about their identities being revealed to those outside the investigation process. Others felt that the process was a sham. Elevating Matt Rogers and Jon Phelps to the BOAA was viewed as stacking the deck in Driscoll’s favor since they are not perceived as being independent. One protected witness told me that the executive elders and BOAA have heard the charges in times past but did not take them seriously. This person believed the leadership is giving appearance of a serious investigation because the charges became public.
On the other hand, the letter written by nine then-current pastors has not been acted upon. In that letter, various allegations were lodged against Driscoll and other members of the executive elders and BOAA. In that letter, Paul Tripp was cited as saying that Mars Hill was “the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with.” However, despite the fact that the lead pastors told the congregation that the letter would be “taken seriously,” no further action, serious or otherwise, has been taken. In late August, the Mars Hill lead pastors told the congregation:

Despite the way the letter was sent out, please know we take its contents very seriously and will be taking the appropriate actions to honor Jesus, address the allegations and concerns, and work toward becoming a healthy church.

Furthermore, Mark DeMoss, speaking on behalf of Mars Hill Church told Religion News Service that the letter would be handled in the same manner as the formal charges:

This letter, as with past letters voicing accusations toward Mark Driscoll will be processed in accordance with Article 12 of the church’s bylaws,” a statement provided by public relations firm head Mark DeMoss said. “This means the accusations will be thoroughly examined and a report issued when the review is complete. In the meantime, it does not seem appropriate to comment on specific accusations before/while they are being formally reviewed as we don’t want to circumvent the process prescribed by the governing body of Mars Hill.”

However, according to former pastors I spoke with, none of the concerns or allegations have been investigated or addressed. They have not been contacted about the letter since their last days at the church. One told me that the lead pastors’ response might have been a “public relations” effort to change the subject. Despite promises from lead pastors and a church spokesman, nothing has happened on that front.
In response to my question about the status of the investigation, including the letter sent by the nine then-current elders, Justin Dean responded on behalf of Mars Hill Church:

As our Board of Elders shared in The Weekly on 9/12/14, we do not expect to have any updates on the review process until it is complete.

“While Pastor Mark continues to take a break to focus on his personal growth and family, our Board of Elders is conducting a formal review of allegations that have been presented against him. This board has completed many interviews already with more scheduled, but they also anticipate that this review will take a number of weeks to complete. Until such time as they issue their report, they do not anticipate commenting on the allegations while they are being reviewed. We want to be sensitive to the process and allow the board and the Holy Spirit to work. Earlier this week Pastor Alex Ghioni released a blog post that we hope provides more clarity on the process this board is taking. We encourage you to read that post here.”