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Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

Charges Against Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church Executive Elders 'Non-Disqualifying,' Says Advisory Board

  • (Photo: Mars Hill Church/Will Foster)
    Mars Hill Church Preaching and Vision Pastor and founder Mark Driscoll is seen in this undated photo.
March 27, 2014|7:38 pm

Nearly a year after a now former elder filed charges of mistreatment against Pastor Mark Driscoll and other leaders at Mars Hill Church, a board of advisors and accountability for the church said the charges were determined to be non-disqualifying. At the same time, the church has taken the charges seriously and "corrective actions" have been taken.

In a letter to church elders and leaders sent late Wednesday, Michael Van Skaik, who is chairman of the Board of Advisors and Accountability for Mars Hill, wrote that the Board made an effort to substantiate the charges made by former elder Dave Kraft (although his name was not mentioned in the letter) and at least seven unnamed witnesses.

"In an effort to substantiate the validity of the anonymous charges, we immediately sent out over one hundred letters to former elders and staff at Mars Hill Church from the previous two years, inviting their feedback and perspectives regarding their time on staff at the church, particularly their interactions with Pastor Mark and the Executive Elders," Skaik stated in the letter (full letter below).

"… After a thorough review, the charges were determined to be non-disqualifying. However, the Executive Elders were individually and corporately given corrective direction by the Board. Those corrective actions have been followed and have been bearing fruit over the last seven months. We have been very encouraged to see the Executive Elders learn, grow, and repent where needed."

Mars Hill Church Communications Director Justin Dean told The Christian Post that he hopes the letter helps clarify other reports about the controversy surrounding Driscoll and the church from media and bloggers "who have not been reporting full truths."

Patheos columnist Warren Throckmorton, who has been regularly commenting on various issues revolving around Driscoll and the church's executive board through his blog, responded to the board's letter, saying it did not seem to specifically address a recent request made by 20 former Mars Hill pastors "to enter into a process of mediation designed to lead to mutual repentance and reconciliation."

The pastors, including Kraft, were seeking to involve specialists in conflict resolution.

"As far as I can determine, the BOAA has not responded to the March 17 letter from the 20 former pastors," Throckmorton wrote.

Throckmorton published a statement from Kraft released on March 21, in which the former elder who was considered a leadership pastor, chronicled his formal charges and resignation.

In his statement, Kraft writes:

On September 19, 2013, I resigned my membership and Eldership, because I have serious questions about the ministry and leadership philosophy/practices of the Executive Elders of MHC, no longer trust them and, therefore, cannot submit to their authority.

Mark Driscoll's sin(s) (for many of us who know him and have worked with him) are about clear violations of I Timothy 3, Titus 1 and I Peter 5.
 1. Not being self-controlled and disciplined
 2. Being domineering
 3. Being verbally violent
 4. Being arrogant
 5. Being quick-tempered

Now, no leader is perfect. All of us understand and agree with that and we are not demanding or expecting Mark Driscoll to be flawless. In the biblical passages cited above, a single instance might not be a disqualifier from eldership; but an established pattern of such behavior, supported and substantiated by eyewitnesses, would be. Such is the case with Mark. I believe (and so do many other former staff and elders) he has a long-standing pattern of consistently violating these leadership qualities and has done so with dozens of individuals with few, if any, signs of genuine repentance.

In the church advisory board's response released Wednesday, Skaik said church leaders 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," Skaik wrote. "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. … Additionally, each of the Executive Elders has taken the initiative to reach out to people with whom they may need to reconcile. Our prayer is that as a church we can learn from this experience as we continue to grow in love and grace."

Throckmorton stated Wednesday that he knows "numerous people who believe Driscoll should step down or go on sabbatical but at the same time have the best wishes and intentions for the church. They believe Driscoll's removal or sabbatical would be best for both the church and Driscoll."

"In any case, with this post, Kraft has pulled back the curtain a little more on the upheaval that has been roiling Mars Hill for months, if not years," he wrote.

Skaik, meanwhile, stated in his letter that he and the other Board members "have witnessed the Holy Spirit's work in Pastors Mark, Dave and Sutton as they've grieved deeply over the hurts and sorrows that they've been the source of."

"By God's grace, the reconciliation process will continue to move forward one person at a time."

Below is the letter from Skaik published in full with permission from Mars Hill Church:

Mars Hill Leaders,

I wanted to take the opportunity to update you, the current leaders of Mars Hill Church, as to the status of some of what we've been working on as a board over the course of the past year. Thank you for all that you do. We know it is extra difficult right now, but good fruit is coming out of these trials!

On May 10, 2013, a now former elder filed formal charges against Pastor Mark Driscoll and other leaders at Mars Hill. While stating that he had not personally been sinned against by Pastor Mark, he had at least seven unnamed witnesses who would testify to the offenses and hurts he claimed, which if found to be substantiated, could result in disqualification. We requested the names of the witnesses to exercise Matthew 5:23-25, but he refused to disclose them. While the issues cited as evidence from these charges came from anonymous sources, the issues all revolved around the theme of mistreatment of fellow leaders and staff. As the governing body responsible for the accountability of Mars Hill's senior leaders, the Board took these charges extremely seriously.

In an effort to substantiate the validity of the anonymous charges, we immediately sent out over one hundred letters to former elders and staff at Mars Hill Church from the previous two years, inviting their feedback and perspectives regarding their time on staff at the church, particularly their interactions with Pastor Mark and the Executive Elders. We received eighteen responses. While some were very positive, every response was read and reread, looking for anything that would disqualify Pastor Mark and any other Mars Hill leaders from serving, or that would require further investigation. Additionally, the Board looked for repetitive patterns that may also lead to potential disqualification. After a thorough review, the charges were determined to be non-disqualifying. However, the Executive Elders were individually and corporately given corrective direction by the Board. Those corrective actions have been followed and have been bearing fruit over the last seven months. We have been very encouraged to see the Executive Elders learn, grow, and repent where needed.

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. He has also been in conversation with a person who is very capable of facilitating these reconciliations. Additionally, each of the Executive Elders has taken the initiative to reach out to people with whom they may need to reconcile. Our prayer is that as a church we can learn from this experience as we continue to grow in love and grace.

You need to know that I and the other Board members have witnessed the Holy Spirit's work in Pastors Mark, Dave and Sutton as they've grieved deeply over the hurts and sorrows that they've been the source of. Their hearts yearn for repentance and reconciliation with those that have been hurt and offended. By God's grace, the reconciliation process will continue to move forward one person at a time.

Michael Van Skaik
 Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/charges-against-mark-driscoll-and-mars-hill-church-executive-elders-non-disqualifying-says-advisory-board-116924/