Video of Mark Driscoll Blaming Demise of Mars Hill Church on a Governance War; More Elders Respond

In early April, Mark Driscoll stunned many ex-Mars Hill Church leaders with his account on the Life Today TV program of how Mars Hill Church came to an end. Driscoll blamed the problems at Mars Hill Church on an “eight year governance war” and said it centered around disputes over power with his subordinate elders. Last week, one elder, Mike Wilkerson, went on the record on Matt Carter’s podcast to contradict Driscoll’s account. When Driscoll first made that claim, former elder Mark Dunford also denied Driscoll’s story.
Not long after the show aired, it was removed from Life Today‘s website.  Now, I can post a fair use clip of the show which contains Driscoll’s unique perspective. Watch:

Transcript:

Mark: At 22 we graduated; 25 we started a Bible study trying to reach primarily young 2 college-educated singles in what was at the time among the nation’s least churched cities. In the early years we were broke and we didn’t have kids and I was working a job and didn’t think it would amount to anything. Eventually, in God’s grace, God did some remarkable things through some wonderful people. We saw about 10,000 people baptized. We saw the church grow to 15,000 on a typical Sunday. We saw 15 locations in five states, just kind of superseded all expectations.
Randy: And this is the Pacific Northwest, this is not the Bible belt.
Mark: No. This is urban, single, young adults, all kinds of sexual issues, confusion, abuse, baggage and carry-ons — so lots of stuff going on. We had a governance war at the church that went eight years behind the scenes over who is in charge and how things play out. At the end we had 67 elders in 15 locations in five states, a large percentage of whom I had never met. They wanted to have independent local churches and we were one large church in many locations. So there was an eight-year battle that finally went public the last year and it was very painful for everyone involved, especially the wonderful, dear, generous, amazing people that served and gave and made it all happen.
So the governing board in authority over me invited us to continue and we prayed about it and talked about it as a family and felt like we heard from the Lord and I resigned. And left without — didn’t have an opportunity to say good-bye to the people so I want to let them know how much I love them and appreciate them and wish I would have had that opportunity. We took some time off just to heal up. I signed a non-disclosure agreement so you’re not going to talk about it, which was fair and reasonable and I agree with. And just decided to spend time as a family to heal up, to meet with wise counsel, to learn what we could learn and to see what the Lord had for the next season of our life.

Since the show, I have heard from a dozen former elders. None recall a war over power and control. Some gave me permission to use their comments anonymously.  One said:

Mark’s version is revisionist history.  There was no battle.  He was always in charge of the church.  He ruled it and steered it as he wished.  He mostly had “yes” men on board who did what he wanted. They only reason Mars Hill ended up with 67 elders at the end was that Mark lowered the standards for eldership so he could have more elders for more franchise locations. He pushed for more and more locations, and in this Life Today interview he is acting like it was the idea of the local elders.  No Mars Hill elder wanted to have an independent church in the sense of pulling a MH location away.  If an elder felt like being a lead pastor and preaching more, he would plant a church with Acts29. Since Mars Hill and Acts29 were closely related for most of the time, it was very fluid. A few did that, but it was very few.
Mark’s version is an example of him playing the heroic victim.  He’s not the victim of his elders.  They were his victim.  And when they finally recognized he did not meet the qualifications for an elder and the were going to remove him, Mark resigned like a coward and blamed his resignation on God.  Interestingly, Mark resigned the night before the elder report about his disqualification was going to be made public. I believe Mark resigned because it preserved his severance package.

Another told me:

I don’t ever remember hearing anything about any campuses wanting to break away. If they did, they would have been fired on the spot. I guarantee you that.

Another one said:

There was no “war”, Driscoll decided to rewrite the bi-laws and then fire a couple wise pastors asking legitimate questions.

Finally, a former elder concluded:

The common thread in all these events has to do with Mark’s character flaws, authoritarian leadership style, unresolved conflict and his biblical qualifications for being an elder being questioned, due to many specific and ongoing patterns, incidents, and behaviors. No discussions in elder meetings over those 8 years involved anything to do with church governance, as that was not even a consideration or topic of conversation.

For the record, I approached Rev. Driscoll via his ministry website for comment and to give him an opportunity to present his side of the story. He never responded.
Wenatchee the Hatchet has a major analysis of the Life Today appearance and takes down Driscoll’s narrative bit by bit. Start with part one and work your way through the details.

Former Mars Hill Church Elder Disputes Mark Driscoll's Account of Church Demise

Mark Driscoll 2016
Mark Driscoll 2016

On April 6, Mars Hill Church founder Mark Driscoll claimed to Randy Robison and Sheila Walsh on the Life Today TV show that he left Mars Hill Church over a “governance” conflict which lasted eight years. At the time, I surveyed former Mars Hill Church elders and not one of them remembered it that way. Now another Mars Hill elder has spoken out in response to Driscoll’s claim. Yesterday, former elder Mike Wilkerson said on Matt Carter’s podcast, Break it Down, that the reason Mars Hill ended was not governance but Driscoll’s coercive and abusive style of leadership.
The video of Driscoll’s appearance on Life Today has been removed from the program’s website but the transcript is still available. Here is what Driscoll told Walsh and Robison about the end of Mars Hill Church.

Mark: At 22 we graduated; 25 we started a Bible study trying to reach primarily young 2 college-educated singles in what was at the time among the nation’s least churched cities. In the early years we were broke and we didn’t have kids and I was working a job and didn’t think it would amount to anything. Eventually, in God’s grace, God did some remarkable things through some wonderful people. We saw about 10,000 people baptized. We saw the church grow to 15,000 on a typical Sunday. We saw 15 locations in five states, just kind of superseded all expectations.
Randy: And this is the Pacific Northwest, this is not the Bible belt.
Mark: No. This is urban, single, young adults, all kinds of sexual issues, confusion, abuse, baggage and carry-ons — so lots of stuff going on. We had a governance war at the church that went eight years behind the scenes over who is in charge and how things play out. At the end we had 67 elders in 15 locations in five states, a large percentage of whom I had never met. They wanted to have independent local churches and we were one large church in many locations. So there was an eight-year battle that finally went public the last year and it was very painful for everyone involved, especially the wonderful, dear, generous, amazing people that served and gave and made it all happen.
So the governing board in authority over me invited us to continue and we prayed about it and talked about it as a family and felt like we heard from the Lord and I resigned. And left without — didn’t have an opportunity to say good-bye to the people so I want to let them know how much I love them and appreciate them and wish I would have had that opportunity. We took some time off just to heal up. I signed a non-disclosure agreement so you’re not going to talk about it, which was fair and reasonable and I agree with. And just decided to spend time as a family to heal up, to meet with wise counsel, to learn what we could learn and to see what the Lord had for the next season of our life.

Now go here and listen at 32:31 into the podcast to Carter ask Wilkerson if Driscoll’s recent statements on Life Today were accurate. The following is a transcript from 32:31 to 34:02.

Carter: A couple things, so the way that you’re describing that is, I’ll at least bring up and say that it seems to me to be at odds with what I saw Mark say on TV recently which was, which really tripped me out when he said it, yeah, there was problems there but it was an eight year governance war behind the, power struggle behind the scenes and it didn’t work out right and so God told me to leave. When he said it on there, I was like, hm, maybe I’m crazy and that’s what happened but I felt so weird like maybe I’m the crazy one because it sounded believable what he said the way he said it, but I think he, if I’m not right correct me on this, some of the stuff that you’re already discussing and whatever that is that he’s describing would largely involve you and other people.
Wilkerson: Presumably
Carter: How does that strike you when you hear him say that?
Wilkerson: What strikes me is that’s not true, but…
Carter: Do you think he thinks that’s true?
Wilkerson: I don’t know. I mean I don’t know. What I can tell you that I know is there I was in 2013, early 2013 dealing with these highly escalated issues and they had to do with the bullying, kind of domineering, that kind of stuff. There was no context about governance in that.

Then Wilkerson said he continued to hear stories of domineering and bullying behavior even after he resigned. About the reasons for Driscoll’s and the church’s demise, Wilkerson said clearly, “None of it was about governance, none, none of it was about governance. It was about the issues he was eventually charged with.”
To read those formal charges, click here. As you will see, none of the issues related to governance, eight years in duration or otherwise.
In the coming days, other Mars Hill Church elders may speak out.

From the Archives: Mars Hill Church Elders Post Letter of Confession to Bent Meyer and Paul Petry

Screen capture from Mars Hill Church video, 2014
Screen capture from Mars Hill Church video, 2014

Recently, current pastor of The Trinity Church in Phoenix and former pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle Mark Driscoll told Sheila Walsh and Randy Robison that Mars Hill Church ended due to a church governance dispute which lasted eight years. Driscoll added:

We had a governance war at the church that went eight years behind the scenes over who is in charge and how things play out. At the end we had 67 elders in 15 locations in five states, a large percentage of whom I had never met. They wanted to have independent local churches and we were one large church in many locations. So there was an eight-year battle that finally went public the last year and it was very painful for everyone involved, especially the wonderful, dear, generous, amazing people that served and gave and made it all happen.

I have spoken to a dozen former Mars Hill Church elders and no one remembers it that way.
The eight year period must refer to the time when Bent Meyer and Paul Petry were removed from eldership because they questioned the changes which were eventually enacted at Mars Hill. After those men were publicly shamed and removed, others did not dare vote against the changes. There was no eight year dispute. The governance changes were made.
A remarkable letter written in 2014 provides a counter point to Driscoll’s account. As is clear from the letter, the elders other than Meyer and Petry feared being treated in a similar manner and fell in line. While those who left the church kept hoping for change at Mars Hill, those who stayed got with the program.
As Mars Hill Church was unraveling, a group of men who were elders at the time Meyer and Petry were fired got together to write a letter of confession to Meyer and Petry. Now seems like a good time to remember what they had to say.
The letter was originally posted at the Repentant Pastor website which is no longer working. I found the letter archived via the Wayback Machine and is reproduced in full here.

Letter of Confession to Bent Meyer and Paul Petry
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Dear Paul and Bent, we want to publicly confess our sin against you regarding events that took place at Mars Hill Church back in 2007. We were wrong. We harmed you. You have lived with the pain of that for many years. As some of us have come to each of you privately, you have extended grace and forgiveness, and for that we thank you. Because our sin against you happened in a public way and with public consequences, we want to make our confession public as well with this letter.
On September 30th 2007, you were both terminated from your employment as pastors at Mars Hill Church. Your status as elders of the church was suspended, according to the church’s bylaws at the time, pending an investigation of your qualification for eldership. It’s hard to imagine just how disorienting and painful this experience must have been for you. That night, Bent, you called Mike Wilkerson, your direct supervisor, to let him know that you’d been terminated. Within hours, Paul, you emailed all of the elders to notify us of what had happened to you that night. We had the opportunity and the responsibility to intervene, to care, to listen to you, and to make sure that any harmful treatment against you was corrected. Instead, we allowed the process of your investigation and trial to continue unimpeded and we participated in it. By failing to intervene and by participating in that process without protest, we implied to the members of Mars Hill Church, to each other, and to you and your families that your termination was above reproach. We stood by as it happened, and that was wrong.
We now believe that you were grievously sinned against in that termination. We believe that the termination meeting’s content and tone was abrupt, one sided, and threatening. Hearing each of you recount your experiences of this meeting is shocking and sad. By failing to intervene, we enabled a growing trend of misuses and abuses of power and authority that would be feared and tolerated by the rest of the churchs eldership. We now understand that these sorts of overpowering actions against elders were some of the very concerns that you had each expressed regarding some of the pending proposed changes to the bylaws. It is tragic that you were proved right by your own experiences. The harm permitted by our failure to protect you has had a devastating and lasting impact on you, your families, Mars Hill Church, and the watching world.
Paul, On October 15, 2007, all twenty-three elders at the time—including most of us signers of this letter—voted that you were in violation of the biblical qualifications of eldership. The alleged violations included a “lack of trust and respect for spiritual authority”. All but two of the elders then voted to remove you from eldership based on these perceived violations.
We now believe our decisions were invalid and wrong. The entire investigation and trial process was skewed by the implication that your termination was above reproach and for just cause. If there had been sin in your life that might have warranted a warning about possible disqualification from eldership, we should have patiently, carefully, and directly addressed it with you before the matter became so extremely escalated. By reporting our wrongheaded assessment to the church, we put doubt about your character in the minds of church members, though you had done nothing to warrant such embarrassment and scrutiny. By doing this, we misled the whole church, harmed your reputation, and damaged the unity of the body of Christ.
Bent, On October 29, 2007, all twenty-three elders at the time—including most of us signers of this letter—agreed that you were guilty of “displaying an unhealthy lack of trust in, and respect for, the senior leadership of Mars Hill Church”. We also unanimously approved that, based on your repentance, you would remain an elder of the church on probation.
Bent, we were wrong to have called you guilty of lacking trust and respect for the senior leadership of the church when you had good reasons for challenging the church’s senior leadership. We were wrong to have insisted that you repent of this lacking trust as a condition of your continued eldership, because it was not sinful on your part in the first place.
Bent and Paul, you each had every right as an elder to openly express your strong concerns about the bylaws and to influence our thinking so that we might have made the most informed decision possible. You also had good reason to contact the church’s attorney about those bylaws. These were not sinful acts of mistrust on your part, but reasonable acts of due diligence. We needed to learn from you at that time and we should have trusted you and respected your spiritual authority as elders of the church to educate us about potential problems with those bylaws. Instead, we silenced your voices through our complicity in your terminations and our decisions to remove Paul as an elder and keep Bent on probation instead of examining the issues more closely.
Paul, On December 5th, 2007 those of us who were elders at the time voted to instruct the members of Mars Hill Church to treat you as an unrepentant believer under church discipline after you had resigned your membership from the church. This treatment was to have included “rejection and disassociation” in the hope that you would “come to an acknowledgment of [your] sin and repent.” This instruction was given with the weight of all twenty-seven elders at the time. This disciplinary rejection led to great loss to your family in extreme financial hardship, sudden loss of long standing friendships, spiritual and emotional trauma to your family, and the public shaming of your character. We share responsibility for those losses due to our participation in the vote.
A church disciplinary act of this magnitude is extreme. It’s perhaps the most powerful that can be enacted upon a pastor. We now think that motion was hasty and harmful. We should have challenged the motion rather than approving it. Instead, we used our voting power as elders in a way that resulted in further harm to you. Further, we brought disrepute on the Church and its responsibility to exercise church discipline in a godly, loving and redemptive way. We failed to love you as a fellow elder and brother in Christ.
Confessing our sins against you has been a process that has taken us some time. We have engaged in self-examination, challenged our memories of what happened by reviewing the documents and interviewing one another, and spent time listening to you and your wives tell your heartbreaking stories. Many of us have met personally with each of you over the years to confess our sin and to seek forgiveness for our sinful actions and inaction. We don’t intend to convey by this letter that we are the only elders or former elders who’ve come to similar conclusions, and we hope that in time, the others will join us in public confession. Our desire is to clear the reproach from your names.
We hope that our confession also brings healing to the many past and present members of Mars Hill Church whose hearts were broken for you and your families as a result of our sin. As part of our commitment to walk in repentance, we invite anyone who has been impacted by our sins against you to contact any of us so we can continue to walk in repentance by listening, confessing, and asking for forgiveness.
Paul and Bent, we are sorry for our sinful behavior toward you, for harming you, and for bringing shame to Christ’s church. We hope that you will forgive us. May the peace and grace of our Lord heal our hearts.
Signed,
Mars Hill Elders as of October, 2007
—Scott Thomas
—Dave Kraft
—Gary Shavey
—Steve Tompkins
—Brad House
—Phil Smidt
—Mike Wilkerson
—James Harleman
—Lief Moi
—Adam Sinnett
—Jesse Winkler
—Zack Hubert
—Tim Reber
—James Dahlman
—Dick McKinley
Additional Mars Hill Elders as of December 5th, 2007
—Jon Krombein
—Matt Johnson
—Joe Day

 

Mark Driscoll Spins the End of Mars Hill Church

DriscollBuildingFounder of the now-closed Mars Hill Church in Seattle Mark Driscoll showed up on the Life Today Show with Randy Robison and Sheila Walsh last Thursday with a surprising revelation about the end of Mars Hill Church. According to Driscoll, the church folded and he resigned as the culmination of eight years of a struggle with elders over power.
To fully appreciate the new revelation, you should watch the show here.  You can read the transcript of the entire show here. Here is a taste:

Mark: At 22 we graduated; 25 we started a Bible study trying to reach primarily young 2 college-educated singles in what was at the time among the nation’s least churched cities. In the early years we were broke and we didn’t have kids and I was working a job and didn’t think it would amount to anything. Eventually, in God’s grace, God did some remarkable things through some wonderful people. We saw about 10,000 people baptized. We saw the church grow to 15,000 on a typical Sunday. We saw 15 locations in five states, just kind of superseded all expectations.
Randy: And this is the Pacific Northwest, this is not the Bible belt.
Mark: No. This is urban, single, young adults, all kinds of sexual issues, confusion, abuse, baggage and carry-ons — so lots of stuff going on. We had a governance war at the church that went eight years behind the scenes over who is in charge and how things play out. At the end we had 67 elders in 15 locations in five states, a large percentage of whom I had never met. They wanted to have independent local churches and we were one large church in many locations. So there was an eight-year battle that finally went public the last year and it was very painful for everyone involved, especially the wonderful, dear, generous, amazing people that served and gave and made it all happen.
So the governing board in authority over me invited us to continue and we prayed about it and talked about it as a family and felt like we heard from the Lord and I resigned. And left without — didn’t have an opportunity to say good-bye to the people so I want to let them know how much I love them and appreciate them and wish I would have had that opportunity. We took some time off just to heal up. I signed a non-disclosure agreement so you’re not going to talk about it, which was fair and reasonable and I agree with. And just decided to spend time as a family to heal up, to meet with wise counsel, to learn what we could learn and to see what the Lord had for the next season of our life.

What Was the Problem at Mars Hill Church?
It is stunning to listen to Driscoll toss his former elders under the bus. While he may not have known all of his elders, I don’t recall any of them, in my many conversations with them, advocating independence for the video locations. In fact, I contacted several of them who were around during those years and none remember any movement or rumblings in favor of separating from the Mars Hill mothership. One told me he felt sure that if the issue had been raised by an elder, then that person would have been fired on the spot. Mark Dunford, who served at the Portland and Ballard locations, provided a statement regarding Driscoll’s claim:

I spent time at both the Ballard and Portland churches, though only 4 months of that was at Portland. I knew of zero conversations at either location that discussed any sort of desire to separate from Mars Hill as a whole. There were official contingency plans that spoke of the churches becoming independent if Driscoll were unable or unwilling to continue in his role. But, to the best of my knowledge those were initiated from higher levels of church leadership (above the local church level). To my knowledge none of the local churches had any intention of separating from the whole.

In fact, it was the then-current elders of Mars Hill who extended an offer of reconciliation and restoration to Driscoll after an investigation of charges filed by former elders found that Driscoll should step down from preaching and come under the care of his elders.  Driscoll’s account sounds like the “67 elders” wanted power and engaged in a struggle over eight years to get it.
I can understand why Driscoll wouldn’t want to remember this, but the struggle at Mars Hill did not relate to elders wanting power. Remember what MHC Board of Accountability member Paul Tripp said about Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church?

This is without a doubt, the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with.

If the elders of Mars Hill Church wanted anything, it was for Driscoll to address this problem.
Non-Disclosure Agreement
Perhaps Driscoll did sign a non-disclosure agreement, but who could enforce it now? Mars Hill Church has ended and filed a dissolution plan with the state of Washington (click here to see it). Mars Hill Church used NDAs to threaten former employees but there is no one left to enforce them.
In fairness, Walsh and Robison could now have former MHC elders and their wives on to talk about “tough times” and how to survive an “abusive, coercive ministry culture.”
See also Wartburg Watch on this video. Click here for all posts on Mars Hill Church.

Mark Driscoll's Recycling Ministry

This came in the mail:
Driscoll Set Free Book
This is a recycled version of the Set Free to Live Free Campaign financed by Mars Hill Church in 2013. Naturally, Driscoll kept his intellectual property but apparently he got all of the other materials produced by the church (study guide written by church staff) and purchased by the church from Docent Research (the 75,000 word academic research brief) as well. Note that the beneficiary of these donations is Mark Driscoll Ministries and not The Trinity Church.
Hey, recycling does lead to more green.

Read the Plan of Dissolution for Mars Hill Church

At the end of 2014, Mars Hill Church closed down. Several ends were loose as MHC ceased to hold services. Mark Driscoll had left the church but there was much curiosity about the report prepared by his elders which called on him to step down and enter a plan of restoration. That report was never released.
The status of the assets of MHC was also of interest to many members and ex-members. The plan was to distribute the remaining funds and proceeds from sales to 11 MHC video locations that became free standing churches. Nothing was explained to the public by remaining administrators Kerry Dodds and Caleb Walters.
Recently, I have obtained the plans of dissolution for MHC and the MHC Foundation for Planting Churches as filed with the Attorney General’s office. The latter was a trust on behalf of MHC and had $154,732 remaining in an account. After expenses, the proceeds of those funds went to an Indian mission, Visions Nationals, and the mission to Ethiopia, New Covenant Foundation. After these groups had been used to solicit funds for Mars Hill Global, it is nice to see them benefit.
Read the Dissolution Plan for Mars Hill Church Foundation for Planting Churches
Although no figures are given, the distribution of remaining assets owned by Mars Hill Church were given to the 11 churches according to their attendance and offerings. See the distribution percentages below:
MHC dist plan churches
Although the plan doesn’t specify the amount of money involved, the assets were distributed according to financial and attendance numbers.
Read the Dissolution Plan for Mars Hill Church
The church’s official date of dissolution was June 30, 2016:

Plan of Distribution. The Board hereby approves, authorizes, and consents to the voluntary dissolution of the Corporation, such dissolution to be effected in a reasonably expeditious manner but in no event later than June 30, 2016, and in accordance with the Plan set forth in this Agreement.

For Those Interested in Mars Hill Church History, Wenatchee the Hatchet Has Organized Some Links. A Former Elder's Wife Speaks Out

marshilleverettaskfundsFor Mars Hill history buffs, Wenatchee the Hatchet has done a service for you. Go check out his post with links tagged and organized topically.
Also, wife of a former elder Jen Smidt has spoken out about her experiences at Mars Hill. According to Jen, she once said something Sutton Turner didn’t like and the next day Turner rebuked her husband for it.
WtH has a lengthy account and analysis which I won’t try to compete with.
It occurred to me recently that a final accounting of Mars Hill was never made public. I assume the assets were sold and divided up between the legacy churches but no final reporting ever became public. Secrecy persisted until the end.
For all of my posts on Mars Hill Church and The Trinity Church see below:
Mars Hill Church
The Trinity Church (the post-Mars Hill church Mark Driscoll started in Phoenix)

#GivingTuesday: Donor Illusions

Although dated, I have found this 2009 article on donor illusions to be helpful.  The article was published on the blog of the Give Well organization, a donor support group. Give Well publishes a recommended charity list each year. Here is 2016’s list.
The Give Well description of donor illusions focuses on international charities but illusions can be found in domestic charities as well (e.g., today’s post on coats for pledges at K-LOVE).

As a result, international charities tend to create “donor illusions” by implying that donations can be attributed more tangibly, reliably and specifically than they really are. Some charities are more purposefully misleading than others, and some have more prominent and clear disclosures than others, but we feel that all of the cases below end up misleading many donors.

The illusions illustrated in the post include loans to third world entrepreneurs, child sponsorship, and giving livestock to needy families.
Livestock Gifts
I have written about these in previous years as being a good example of a compelling illusion. Donors can easily sell the idea of giving an animal to a third world family to Sunday school classes or church groups. The marketing certainly creates that illusion. Check out World Vision’s 2016 catalog.
WorldVision 2016 goat
Here is what World Vision says about the gifts in the new Christmas catalog.
world vision fine print 2016
In other words, your donation will be used where “it is needed most.”
Church Illusions
Other illusions I have covered include Mars Hill Church’s promotion of Ethiopian pastors via Mars Hill Global. In fact, most of the money donated to Mars Hill Global went to expand the Mars Hill Church video locations in the United States.
Gospel for Asia for years told donors that 100% of donations went to “the field.” The illusion was created that poor church planters and Asian children were getting most of the donations. However, we have since learned that Gospel for Asia’s Texas leadership sent millions to Believers’ Church in India, also controlled by GFA founder K.P. Yohannan to build state of the art for profit schools and medical centers. While a small percentage of the money went to evangelism and helping the poor, much of it went to projects designed to make Believers’ church self-sustaining and a large portion went to India and then back to Texas to help build GFA’s state of the art headquarters.
Today, I wrote about K-LOVE’s claim that a $40/month donation to K-LOVE provides a warm winter coat to a needy child. The only reason that claim might technically be true is because K-LOVE and Operation Warm set up an artificial scheme to tie coat distributions to pledges. K-LOVE holds captive coats from Operation Warm and tells prospective donors we will give a coat if you pledge. What K-LOVE doesn’t tell donors is that the coat will be given to a child anyway, pledge or no pledge.
Do Donors Want Illusions?
Tim Ogden at the Philanthropy Action blog says they do:

David Roodman pointed me to a typical reaction post to the Kiva story. In summary, the authors lament the lack of direct connection to a specific person they can give to and wonder why they can’t just dispense with the intermediaries.
I think the post is quite revelatory about why so many charities create the illusion of direct connection. They do so because donors demand it.
The demand for direct connection is baffling to me since most donors absolutely refuse direct connection to the people in need that are closest to them. Consider: how often do you or your friends take advantage of the opportunity to give directly and establish a connection by giving $20 to the guy standing at the corner with the cardboard sign saying, “Will Work for Food”?
I’ll bet the answer is “never.“ And there’s a very good reason for that. You believe that to actually help that person you should give the money to a knowledgeable intermediary like a homeless shelter that will do the research to understand this person’s situation, and ensure the money you give is actually used in a responsible way.
So if you would only give to an intermediary in order to help someone on the street outside your home, why do you want to do away with intermediaries between you and a person on the other side of the world whose circumstances you don’t understand at all?
I just don’t get it.
In the end I guess the donor demand really is for an illusion. They don’t just want connection—what they want is the illusion of connection where they can feel directly connected but not actually have to be directly connected—with all the messiness that such connections would entail—to people in need.

This somewhat cynical explanation for the persistence of illusions doesn’t quite fit for me. As I have learned that charities are using subterfuge to raise money, my reaction has been anger. I want the nuance. I want to know what they are doing with the money.
Guilt Illusions
I am sad and angry that K-LOVE artificially creates guilt in their listeners. I know people who agonize over how much to give to K-LOVE “to keep them on the air.” When K-LOVE’s well-paid on-air personalities top off their appeals with the promise that the $40/month will trigger a coat for a needy kid, that tips the scale toward a pledge, even though the family income really can’t absorb that level of giving. It should keep K-LOVE executives up at night that their Christian brothers and sisters are denying their children and themselves basics so that they can get a quarter of a million per year (the CEO made nearly $600,000 in FY 2015).
On this #GivingTuesday, give to those you have investigated. Give locally. By all means, give a needy person a coat, but do it yourself, or through a local group who is locally accountable.
 

Note to Mark Driscoll: Racism Doesn't Evolve from Evolution

See updates at the end…
Although he doesn’t believe in Malthusian eugenics now, Mark Driscoll told his The Trinity Church audience on Sunday that he once did. Watch:

Transcript:

Some would say, Pastor Mark, I disagree with you. Let me speak to you very personally. You’re wrong. You’re wrong. Now I know you’re not supposed to say it like that, but if you don’t say it like that, people are confused, so let me make it clear.
I started in a home, my parents were um, Irish Catholic, okay? So we were the O’Driscolls from County Cork, southern Ireland, and Catholics are pro-life. I somehow grew up, and I started studying in high school, and I was a debater, and a thinker, and a bit of a hack philosopher. And I came to actually take not only a pro-choice position, but a pro-abortion position. Forced population controls.
So when Gracie and I met, she came from a pastor’s home, she was strongly pro-life, and I was strongly pro-abortion. And we would have these debates. And we were friends in high school. And she was right, and I won the debates, because I’m a terrible person to debate. My mom said it was like raising a small attorney. That’s what it was like. So I can debate, I can think on my feet, I can articulate a position, and I can win a debate, even when I’m wrong. And so I would win these debates with Grace, and she would get very frustrated, because she was right and I was wrong.
And I came to believe in the position, for a while, end of high school, early college, called Malthusian eugenics. Now if you’ve done your homework, I’ve done mine, too. I probably know your arguments and I could probably argue your arguments. And it comes out of this evolutionary belief that certain people and races are more evolved and fit than others. And that other races are less fit and less evolved, and as a result, we should terminate the life of those who are less fit, so the race can excel.
This Malthusian eugenics position was held by Nazi Germany. This Malthusian eugenics position was held by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. She was a disciple of Malthus. I read all of their literature, I did my homework, I actually won a high school debate, and a college debate, on this position. I was so good at it, in college, in a large philosophy class, I won the debate, and my professor, who was an African Marxist, asked to mentor me as a student leader for abortion rights.
I did believe for a season, in a full evolutionary ideology, that certain people are more advanced and more valuable than others. We should keep those who are valuable, we should get rid of those who are not valuable, and like all arrogant people, I assumed that I was one of the more valuable evolved ones.
This is why Planned Parenthood puts its clinics historically in poorer neighborhoods to serve certain races, to eliminate certain people from having children and entering the world. You may not have known that, but you can trace the history. Just do your homework. Look at Malthusian eugenics, and look at the history of Margaret Sanger.

I asked a former insider at Mars Hill Church if Driscoll ever mentioned these views. The source had never heard about the debate victories but had heard in general terms about an interest in Malthus. Although he did mention the debates in this Mars Hill Church article, it is a little hard to place when his African Marxist professor wanted to recruit him based on the history he described in Real Marriage.
In any case, I post this because I want to address a misconception about those who accept the scientific foundations of human evolution. Driscoll implies that those who accept an evolutionary account of origins also believe in eugenics.  This, of course, is not true. I accept the evidence for evolution but I certainly don’t believe in eugenics. I work with numerous colleagues here at Grove City College who accept evolution and none of them believe in eugenics.
Holding to an evolutionary account does not require an individual to believe “certain people are more advanced and more valuable than others.” Also, believing God created in six days does not prevent such a belief. I grew up in small town Southern Ohio where many young Earth creationists believed whites were superior to all others.
UPDATE: Wenatchee the Hatchet wonders if Driscoll fully abandoned his Malthusian beliefs. I had forgotten about Driscoll’s quaint “shoot the dogs” strategy of handling underperforming church leaders and strategies. Furthermore, Driscoll’s teachings about demonically inspired “family lines” may reveal left over influence from those Malthusian days. Time will tell if Driscoll continues his Mars Hill mentality at the new church.
UPDATE: I updated the title since some concern was expressed by readers that I focused unnecessarily on Driscoll’s past views. As WtH points out in his post, those views may have infiltrated his current views, but even so, I think the new title (thanks to Ragan Ewing) better captures the reason I posted.
 

RICO Suit Dismissed Without Prejudice; Sutton Turner Reveals Mars Hill Church Global Fund Figures

The RICO lawsuit against Mars Hill Church was dismissed without prejudice.  The plaintiffs have not lost their rights to sue again. From the order (read it here):

The court finds that Plaintiffs have not acted in bad faith, recklessly, or with an improper purpose. Accordingly, in light of the court’s duty to carefully exercise its inherent powers, the court declines to impose the drastic sanctions Defendants seek. See Hearns, 530 F.3d at 1132 (noting drastic nature of sanction of dismissal with prejudice); Chambers, 501 U.S. at 44 (noting courts must exercise inherent powers with restraint). Mr. Turner’s allegations about Plaintiffs’ behavior in filing this case, apparently adopted by Mr. Driscoll (see Driscoll Mot. at 3), are conclusory at best and do not demonstrate that Plaintiffs have acted improperly. Merely filing a complaint alleging RICO violations for Defendants’ part in the alleged misuse of Plaintiffs’ donations to MHC does not constitute bad-faith conduct, even if the allegations case Defendants in an unfavorable light. (See Turner Mot. at 9-10.) In addition, Plaintiffs’ complaint is not frivolous on its face (see generally Compl.), and there is no evidence other than Defendants’ conclusory allegations that Plaintiffs filed this suit merely to harass and disparage Defendants (cf. Turner Mot. at 4 (arguing that Plaintiffs’ failure to serve “can lead to only one conclusion. . . . The Plaintiffs and their counsel sought to harass, disparage, and defame Mr. Turner through the public act of filing a lawsuit”)). Furthermore, Plaintiffs refute this allegation, stating that they “never had a desire for retribution nor to harass [Mr.] Turner or [Mr.] Driscoll.” (Resp. at 6.) Plaintiffs also did not act in bad faith by publicizing the case to garner support for their cause. Finally, Plaintiffs’ failure to raise the necessary funds to fully litigate their suit before filing it, Plaintiffs’ counsel’s failure to respond to Mr. Turner’s offer to accept service, and Plaintiffs’ failure to dismiss their claims of their own accord after the 90-day window for service had passed are not so far outside the bounds of acceptable litigation conduct that Plaintiffs should be sanctioned. Simply put, Plaintiffs have done nothing to “defile the very temple of justice.” Haeger, 813 F.3d at 1244 (internal quotations and alterations omitted) (quoting Chambers, 501 U.S. at 46). Plaintiffs have not committed any acts that indicate bad faith, recklessness, or an improper purpose.

For these reasons, the judge dismissed the suit without prejudice:

Based on the foregoing analysis, the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants’ motions to dismiss (Dkt. ## 4, 7). The court DISMISSES Plaintiffs’ claims without prejudice.
Dated this 25th day of August, 2016.
JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge

According to Brian Jacobsen, the plaintiffs would consider moving forward again if funds were available.
Even after he left Mars Hill Church, Sutton Turner was told by Mars Hill lawyers that he shouldn’t reveal how much Mars Hill spent from their Global Fund on missions. Now he has done so.

Mars Hill Global

Mars Hill Global began in 2009 to raise money from the global audience (those who listened via podcast) to help fund the mission of Mars Hill Church: “Making Disciples and Planting Churches.” Until late 2011, Mars Hill had not significantly funded international church planting but was heavily invested in US church planting. From 2009 to 2012, Mars Hill spent $8.6M in U.S. church planting and $170k outside of the U.S.
When I joined Mars Hill in 2011, I built relationships with the Kale Hewyott Church in Ethiopia to train church planters there. My passion for Ethiopia (which existed before I arrived at Mars Hill) began to dominate the message of Mars Hill Global. In hindsight, I see how many believed that the only reason Mars Hill Global existed was to fund Ethiopian church planting.
When people started to question the distribution of funds given to Mars Hill Global, the church brought in ECFA and independent auditors, Clark Nuber. Both groups gave Mars Hill a clear opinion that the church had done nothing wrong. In spite of these findings, we felt led to send 3765 emails and 6000 letters to 100% of donors to Mars Hill Global from 2011 to 2014 to clarify their gift intent. Less than 40 families responded; Mars Hill Church sent an additional $40,000 to Ethiopia because donors requested their donations to Mars Hill Global be for Ethiopian church planting.
A full and total timeline from 2009 to 2014 with videos, blogs and other information is stored here.
From 2012 to 2014, Mars Hill Church spent $13.7M in church planting in the US and sent $545k to Ethiopia and India. During its existence, Mars Hill Church invested over $23M in church planting in the US and around the world. This amount is over and above the general and administrative costs of Mars Hill Church’s central operations and staffing. (47% of the funds given to Mars Hill Global from 2012-2014 were large donations from a small number of donors who specifically asked prior to giving for their donations to be counted in Global.  Many of these donors did not attend one specific Mars Hill location and wanted their donations supporting all Mars Hill operations including U.S. and international church planting.)
Many have asked for these numbers. There was I time when I was restricted from providing these numbers. Now, everyone has the Mars Hill Global information that I had when I resigned in September 2014 (Eph. 5:13).

I knew it wasn’t much in comparison to what was spent on the US locations, and as it turns out, it wasn’t. This still doesn’t tell us how much came earmarked for international missions and how much was spent on international missions. And by earmarked for missions, I mean how much was given to the Global Fund from 2012-2014?
The rest of the post provides additional information on executive compensation, the governing board and Result Source.