This is no minor issue as we have been consistently misled about the key reason the Kraft charges were handled the way they were. How can Van Skaik claim that "the formal charges that were filed were...taken seriously and were not dismissed by the board lightly," when he would not even open the case to hear from the actual witnesses? Sending out letters to former employees in an effort to find these people or others who experienced similar situations seems to be a failed effort from the start, for the same reason that the 7 would not release their names unless as witnesses in an official investigation. Because of this refusal, it is misleading to claim that the charges were taken seriously when the witnesses were never even interviewed. Michael Van Skaik confirmed this week that no formal investigation was ever opened in response to Dave Kraft's charges filed last year.
Public Statements Claim That There Was No Contact Between Mark/BOAA and A29 Board Prior To A29 Removing MH From Network
We have been repeatedly told that no one from the A29 board talked to Mark or to our board prior to removing Mark from the network. This is only true if by "talk" you mean "told us beforehand that they were kicking us out," and if you dismiss contact between individual board members with Mark and with each other. The impression created by these statements was one where it seemed that the A29 board had made their decision having had no communication with people close to Mark or with Mark himself, with no actual insight into the situation, and with no care for Mark or Mars Hill. The truth is that multiple members of both boards had been in direct contact with each other, and with Mark, exhorting and rebuking him over the course of months and years, and to say or imply otherwise is deeply misleading. Paul Tripp has confirmed that he specifically was in contact multiple times, while on the BOAA, with Matt Chandler, Steve Timmis, and Eric Mason about the state of Pastor Mark's repentance.
To be fair, when specifically pressed on the issue at the elder retreat, Van Skaik did admit that he was sure that some members of the two boards had been in contact with each other individually, and clarified that they had not met together as full boards. But this does not change the fact that we have not corrected our public statements and rhetoric, nor does it change the fact that Van Skaik would not have admitted this without being pressed into by Pastor Miles during our first session at the retreat. As a whole, MH's communication surrounding this event is very misleading.
An On-Going Pattern
Beyond these two examples, there is no dearth of examples in the last two years of very questionable transparency and truth-telling, including the Mars Hill Global Fund, Result-Source, Strange Fire, ghost-writing/plagiarism, explanations for staff transition, the resignations of BOAA members, etc. Even this Thursday we put out a statement claiming that Wilkerson's formal charges were being "reviewed by the board and the elders." This is misleading as it gives people the impression that the elders as a whole are able to take part in reviewing and adjudicating the case.
There are many problems in our church, but the lack of transparency is itself a huge problem and keeps us from dealing with all the problems that it covers over. Christians have a biblical responsibility to speak plainly and clearly.
"Mars Hill Needs To Deal With It's Sin Or It Will Die" (Dr. Paul Tripp)
This talk of transparency leads us to share some staggering information that was shared with a number of MH elders by Dr. Paul Tripp.
Before going further, we want to make clear the following three things:
1. Paul did not seek us out, but rather was sought out by us.
2. At every point in our communication with Paul, he was emphatic in expressing his deep love for Pastor Mark and for Mars Hill Church.
3. At no time did Paul divulge any information from his private interactions with Pastor Mark, and made clear that he would not do so in the future.
We are very grateful for Paul sticking out his neck to help serve Jesus' church and to care for his brother Mark.
Let's stop for a moment and anticipate what might be an objection here, namely that this is just the opinion of one man. Why should we listen to Paul Tripp at all?
•He is known internationally as a pastor to pastors.
•He has worked in a similar capacity as he did at Mars Hill with literally thousands of pastors and ministries.
•He has taught Re:Train.
•He has preached in our Best Sermon Ever series.
•He has taught parenting seminars at Mars Hill.
•We obviously trust him to the point that we elected him to our BOAA and we recommend and give away his book on what it means to truly means to be a pastor (Dangerous Calling).
•His book (Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands) is foundational to our biblical counseling ministry.
•He had a level of access and involvement with the events of the last few months that exceeds that of anyone reading this email.
•He has absolutely nothing to gain personally by speaking to us on these matters, but is fully aware of this action potentially causing him much personal hardship.
• Above all continues to deeply love Pastor Mark and wants good for our church, evidenced by his willingness to continue to help.