Mark Driscoll, the Mars Hill founder and charismatic alpha male mega-pastor, has resigned his position as lead pastor after a very public battle with former assistants, congregants, elders and large online community of critics.
Here is a link to Driscoll’s mea culpa and resignation letter that first appeared in Religion News Service: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/15/exclusive-mark-driscolls-resignation-letter-to-mars-hill-church/
A lot of critics have been really hard on Driscoll. Here is a key portion of Driscoll’s public response:
“I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things I have confessed and repented of, privately and publicly, as you are well aware. Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit. As I shared with our church in August, “God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day.”
Prior to and during this process there have been no charges of criminal activity, immorality or heresy, any of which could clearly be grounds for disqualification from pastoral ministry.”–Mark Driscoll.
Driscoll and Mars Hill church had come under fire for reports by many former members, elders, employees who alleged he was basically an asshole and shouldn’t be a pastor. Initially Driscoll and Mars Hill took a stonewall approach and tried to deflect the criticism as largely “anonymous” online complainers who were bitter and disgruntled. That public response prompted a Group to name themselves and it seemed to throw gasoline on an already raging fire.
The Group “Dear Pastor Mark & Mars Hill: We Are Not Anonymous” exploded onto Facebook with over 1,200 members…many calling attention to specific allegations of general douchery by Driscoll.
The media has since well-covered the resignation…and many of the Groups that criticized Driscoll have pretty much panned his resignation as insincere and not good enough.
CalvaryChapelAbuse.com Commentary and Opinion:
Critics of Mark Driscoll…what is it exactly that you want from Driscoll and Mars Hill? You want Mars Hill to erect a pyre and burn Driscoll at the stake? You want his body drug through the streets of Seattle? What?
It’s hard to be intellectually honest sometimes because it is always guaranteed to piss someone off.
In this case, the majority of Driscoll’s critics have lost their rational minds.
The man acknowledged specific sins. He resigned. Mars Hill accepted his resignation. I am, frankly, quite shocked by the public apology and the public church discipline…and more shocked that Driscoll fell on his sword and didn’t drag the thing out any further…and over him being a dick no less, not even something as serious as Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Adultery, or Financial Misconduct (though we’ll discuss that one in a bit…something might be a bit off there).
Driscoll didn’t molest or beat any kids, he wasn’t boinking his secretary or make-up artist and while he was/is paid a reportedly big salary/compensation package…there are no allegations of financial malfeasance…except one specific concern we’ll discuss shortly.
If it turns out that Driscoll’s “sin” was him being an asshole…then he’s come clean and he’s resigned. Well done Mark Driscoll. If he stops being an asshole, then he should be allowed to pastor again if he wants to do so. Pretty simple. Good example by Mars Hill and Driscoll of actually dealing with sin in a Church Org…something Calvary Chapel doesn’t nearly do.
Here’s the one caveat to my opinion above: There is a question about money that was donated to a particular mission’s fund that allegedly ended up in the Mars Hill general fund for Driscoll to spend. If that is the case…then big trouble in little China…and all bets are off. If it turns out that money was collected under the guise of “this is for overseas missions!” and then it simply went to pay the bills of Driscoll and Mars Hill…well, then, this scandal takes on a whole new light…and Driscoll’s quick resignation may be a smokescreen to take the heat off of folks digging any further into that one.
After analyzing the macro-Mars Hill/Driscoll scandal…that’s the big red flag. If there is anything more serious than Driscoll simply being an asshole…then that’s the issue they (Mars Hill and Driscoll) are afraid of…because that is the issue that, if true, could be illegal and could have much greater implications than a resignation.
Time will tell…but again, if it proves out that Driscoll’s only sin was being a douche…then he’s come clean and he’s resigned…and if he demonstrates repentance by not being a jerk any longer…then he should be restored…in my opinion.
Calvary Chapel could learn a lesson from Mars Hill. CC has seen resignations…but usually at the point of a metaphorical smoking gun to the head of a Bob Coy or an arrest like Dino Cardelli, Chris Olague, Jimmy Kempner, etc. Guys like Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia make Mark Driscoll look like a choir boy…yet Calvary Chapel stonewalls and even defends their embattled pastor and invites him to their annual official Pastors’ Conference.
Ironically, Grenier is accused of something similar to the allegations of Driscoll’s bait-and-switch. A separate Reaching Youth non-profit entity was set up by Grenier and Calvary Chapel. A prominent area home builder, Andy Mangano, gave a large one million dollar donation to the separate charity…and got a headline in the Fresno Bee for it. According to former staff, board member and bookkeepers of Calvary Chapel…a huge portion of the Reaching Youth monies…estimated to be in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars…ended up in Bob Grenier’s general fund at Calvary Chapel Visalia…where he compensated his household to the tune of over $150,000 per year in salary/perks/benefits. Nice trick. An inside source also alleged that Matt Bixler’s law firm that handled the very precarious transaction was quite nervous about it…which in my opinion is very telling that it stinks to high heaven.
We’ll see what happens with the allegations about Driscoll’s money issue and I’ll change my opinion about his coming clean and resigning if it turns out it was just a strategy to deflect attention from a much more serious issue.
Note to Driscoll and Mars Hill…instead of doing what the bible tells you, maybe you should consider pulling a page from Calvary Chapel’s and Bob Grenier’s book and simply sue everyone in sight to try and shut them up. That seems to be a better worldly strategy to silence critics and protect an abusive pastor. Your bad. Maybe next time.