Capstone Series – Your Chance to Add to the FAQ List

** 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 …

“His Eye is on the Sparrow” – A Bit About eBay and Me, and Thanksgiving for God’s Provisions

The Chirp-Chirp Bird Reminds of God's Faithful Provisions ...

The Chirp-Chirp Bird Reminds of God’s Faithful Provisions …

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31, NIV)

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Capstone Article 1 – A Critique of the Three Official Options for Dissolution of Mars Hill Church

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.

  1. Becoming an independent, self-governed church.
  2. Merging with an existing church to create one independent, self-governed church.
  3. 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

Synthesizing the “Mars Hill Research Guide” and “Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse” Series – Introducing the Capstone Articles and Case Study

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

Watch for This Book by Deb Hirsch on Sexuality and Spirituality …

Deb Hirsch has a book due to be released from InterVarsity Press in May 2015. I have no doubt that it will become one of the most important books of the decade on the integration of gender, sexuality, and spirituality, because of her unparalleled perspective drawing from both personal life and ministry.

I first met Deb 20 years ago at an international forum on sexuality issues and recovery, and then reconnected with her almost a decade ago when I became more involved in the missional ministry movement in which she and her husband Alan are pioneers. Deb’s been working very long term on this book, and from all I know of her, I expect she will present a deeply informed and challenging integration of these very relevant topics.

Deb is an author I gladly promote, and I’d encourage you to sign up for IVP updates on Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations About Sexuality and Spirituality. Also, see this preview from Brad Brisco, which includes an intriguing excerpt on how Deb connects spirituality and sexuality.

Congrats Deb … looking forward to reviewing your book!

Deconstructing the Christian Industrial Complex, Part 5 – The Dark Side of Institutionalized Systems

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

Deconstructing the Christian Industrial Complex, Part 4 – Psycho-Social Strategies and Structures

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