Over the the past few weeks, I’ve started and then stopped a number of posts on the now daily events surrounding Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. None seemed adequate to the situation and so many others closer to the situation were saying it all so much better anyway. I was not sure I had anything to add of any substance.
Maybe I do now. Maybe not. But I wanted to offer a few thoughts in a format you, my faithful readers, have come to expect.
1) One of the more expected responses I keep seeing is how people don’t like all the rejoicing over Driscoll being gone from Mars Hill and the dissolution of Mars Hill into a bunch of independent churches.
First, there are certainly some who have reacted in an unseemly fashion to these events. But this is story is big enough to be picked up by major news outlets, the reactions will be varied and there will be extremes just like there is for every other news story ever. If you are pro-life you won’t appreciate being branded by the extreme of those who justify the killing of those who do abortions.
Second, I’ll call their bluff. There are good reasons to rejoice and celebrate. Driscoll had no business being a pastor. Mars Hill was an abusive ministry (Paul Tripp’s words) bordering on a cult. I can only assume the fear and oppression that once prevailed no longer does. There is a lot to rejoice about.
Last, I’ve seen far more sadness and grief and joy at the repentance taking place than anything. That won’t get as much press. But if you are really paying attention, this is what you will see more than anything.
2) Apart from blogs, none of the good things we are seeing, happens. I truly believe that. You don’t like those blogs (watch bloggers!)? I really don’t give a care. Were they perfect? Of course not. But sometimes when you are helping the weak and wounded, it gets messy. Bloody and ugly. Sometimes you hope those who are speaking out against would emasculate themselves. The bloggers spoke up because no one else did.
3) Yesterday, a beautiful letter of repentance was released, exonerating Petry and Meyer and their firing and the shunning of their families. Go read it. Read it because that kind of repentance is so rare. Read it because you need to see the details of the evil perpetrated in the name of the gospel against these men and their families.
Here’s the thing, I’ve known about these charges for years. And I believed the stories. I believed the stories because I had pastored at an Acts 29 church and so much rang true from what I saw in my experience there.
Am I supposed to believe the leadership board of Acts 29 didn’t know these things? How is that even possible? The consolidation of power and “the bodies under the bus” comments were not exactly secrets.
They either knew and didn’t care or just couldn’t believe the stories were true.
Of course the problem is the Mars Hill brand was exported throughout the world. There are a number of Acts 29 churches out there with good men leading them. But I have had connections to two A29 churches. Both have/had manifested much of what we have seen in Mars Hill that is ugly. One of the churches no longer exists as a result.
4) The ripple effect of all these things will be seen for years to come. And the effects will be widespread. It would be inexcusably naive to think this is a local issue only. It is very local, I agree. But it became more than that through all the conferences, Acts 29 bootcamps, books (plagiarized and otherwise), and podcasts. Yes, it’s a cautionary tale for churches everywhere. But more than that, the “brand” of Mars Hill is everywhere.
5) When someone says they like Jesus but they are struggling with liking the church, this is one reason why. One among many. But a really, really good reason for you to listen and be patient.