Why the Abuse of Authority at Mars Hill Matters, Part 1: The Planters

My first thought when asking myself the question, “Why does the Mars Hill problem matter?” may not be the most important thing I could have thought of. And it is probably not the most obvious answer to most people. But for those who have been a part of Acts 29, it might be.

My first thought was with all who have invested so much in Acts 29 and Mars Hill.

I thought of the guys who looked to Seattle for guidance and inspiration and motivation. I thought of the men, who when confronted with doubters looked to the men at the helm, saw their confidence and sailed ahead. Many have had to debate the merits of the church planting movement, of which A29 was at the center. More debated the merits of Calvinism and Complementarianism. Against family, friends, colleagues and the wider evangelical world. They had to respond to the accusations of inherent danger in a masculine Christianity.

And there was a certain pride of being associated with Acts 29 and the Driscoll/Mars Hill brand. And I don’t necessarily fault them for any of this. I was among them.

I know what it’s like to defend and defend and defend and then be faced with the fact the Emperor has no clothes. It’s humbling in the worst since.

Being on the A29 website map was a thing to hang your hat on and count on. (It also makes it easy for people to find your congregation.) Now it feels like bruise.

When questioned by older and wiser men and women about the ways and means of Driscoll and Acts 29, we questioned their commitment to mission. We questioned why they could not direct their passion towards “the mission” instead of criticizing us. We questioned their character. We questioned their theology. We assumed they were dumb. We caricatured them. We laughed at them.

And now? Reading the story of Paul Petry feels like a punch in the gut.

So I assume there are men and women in Acts 29 churches throughout the world, who are questioning their affiliation with the network. They feel let down. These are good people, of which there are many in the Acts 29 network.

I know the inner conflict of having to either admit something is wrong or excuse it away, hang tight, and hope things get better. And there will be good men who will ignore the spiritual abuse at Mars Hill. “They aren’t bad, they’re just wrong” as Rich Mullins once said.

All these men need our prayers. I know, it’s cliche. But I can say that as guy who was in their shoes to some degree about a year and a half ago. And I say that as a man sorely tempted to rail and not pray and wallow in cynicism.

So I guess we should pray for courage and hope and love and faith and compassion and freedom from condemnation. Even we “watchbloggers” need a good dose of that.