** My Capstone 3 article with responses to FAQs about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church is forthcoming. Here’s your chance to add to the list of questions. **
Months ago, I posted on my Facebook page and on my blog a list of 20 questions I was asking as I launched into research writing on the situation of Mars Hill and lessons we could learn from it. (Click that link and the list starts about halfway down the article.) I will eventually develop those into a FAQ format with short-as-possible answers, based on a lot of research and reflection between then and now.
I’ve added to that list about 10 more questions from other friends, plus 2 new ones I’ve been asking in light of the planned dissolution of Mars Hill Church:
- What did you hope to see happen before and during the winding-down of MHC?
- Given what’s happened with the shut-down, what consequences do you think will probably hang over the leaders and their future churches?
I wanted to open this up again. So, if you have questions you want me to consider adding to the list, you can post them here in the comments, message me on Facebook, or use the contact page on my blog. I’ll begin posting responses sometime in the near future, or perhaps just wait and post them all at once. We’ll see what develops …
SUMMARY. This article presents a critique of the three possibilities presented on October 31, 2014, by Executive Elder Dave Bruskas for individual campuses in the multi-campus system of Mars Hill, which tentatively will be dissolved by January 1, 2015.
- Becoming an independent, self-governed church.
- Merging with an existing church to create one independent, self-governed church.
- Disbanding as a church and shepherding current members to find other local church homes.
To gain the greatest potential understanding and benefit from considering this Capstone article, first read my series on Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse and the Research Guide to Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. The former series looks at the theoretical issues involved in abuse, repentance, individual restoration, and organizational renovation. The latter series provides frameworks for understanding personal and organizational problems at Mars Hill, along with extensive documentation, analysis, and interpretation. Continue reading
Introducing the Capstone Articles and Case Study
In August and September 2014, I posted six segments in my Research Guide on Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church (totaling over 22,000 words). I presented material on:
During that same time period, I blogged a large, 11-post series on Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse (30,000 words). It was sparked by a series of questions about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill that I’d developed weeks before, posted on Facebook, and gotten a few add-ons from friends. Coincidentally, the first article in the series – on “Culpability, Complicity, and Responsibility” – got posted earlier on the same morning that Mark Driscoll announced his six-week leave during investigations of the formal charges brought against him of character issues and abuse.
That was a lot of writing in a two-month period. Totaling over 50,000 words, those two series create the equivalent of a book of about 130 pages!
It’s been over six weeks since I finished those two series. Meanwhile, I’ve been working on capstone pieces that synthesize my research findings and my interpretations of their significance. So far, I’ve come up with three probable posts. These tentative capstone articles synthesize my theories about toxicity and responsibility, my research findings on Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill, and some of my interpretations about their significance. Continue reading
Part 5. Christian Industrial Complexes, institutionalized social movements, and the dark side of toxic systems
In my opinion, any variation of Christian Industrial Complex combines many elements of bounded choice and interlocking directories. It emphasizes specific Christian genres of theological systems or ministry practices, and promotes specific celebrities who embody them. This can be marketed and sold outright as “the best brand,” or somehow ends up as perceived as the right way to go among those vulnerable to looking for a “total system” that answers all their needs.
I do NOT think a Christian Industrial Complex is likely to reach the extreme end of the spectrum and become a total institution – although some of its celebrity leaders and/or partner entities may definitely go into that direction individually as toxic leaders or very sick organizational systems. However, the presence of the bounded choice and interlocking directory factors do put a Christian Industrial Complex at high risk for becoming institutionalized and stale. Also, the overfocus on black-and-white “best brand” thinking plus a limited cadre of communicators who promote the variant paradigm means that it’s no longer a vital alternative culture. At some point it has already “jumped the shark” – and is now overstating its current creativity and has overstayed the brand’s viability.
And perhaps it is at this very point in the in-between zone of interlocking directory and total institution when the dark sides of toxic Christian Industrial Complex systems emerge. From what we’ve witnessed in the past five or so years, we seem to have a couple examples where it’s become apparent enough that those who benefit from being in an Industrial Complex engaged in manipulation and disinformation to gain and maintain their power situation. Continue reading
Part 4. Framework #3. Psycho-social strategies and structures that lock people into toxic systems.
How do theologians (and others) with a pathological bent use their authority to turn a consumer-culture machine into a self-perpetuating toxic system?
This section cross-pollinates concepts about sick organizations with power-hungry people, to see how toxic systems step up control factors to exert dominion over groups and remove their freedoms. So, let’s think through the systems level of toxic organizations increasingly limit personal choice of the members therein: Continue reading