Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church Research Guide – Part 2B – General Background on Top Legal Problems for Non-Profits

PART 2. RESEARCH GUIDE TO MARS HILL CHURCH ORGANIZATIONAL/INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES

Part 1. Research Guide to Mark Driscoll’s Personal Issues

Part 2. Mars Hill Church Organizational/Institutional Issues

  • Part 2A. Four types of organizational forms found in “Mars Hill.” Official source links and summary profiles.
  • Part 2B. General background on top legal problems for non-profits.
  • Part 2C. Five potential legal/ethical problems: inurement; misappropriation of funds solicited with a specified designation; spoliation of evidence; constitution, bylaws, and board structure; and conflicts of interest.

Part 3. Recommendations for Public Remediation by Mark Driscoll, Other Mars Hill Leaders, and Mars Hill Church

Part 4. Research Guide and Recommendations for Issues Related to “Commenders” of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church

Part 2B. General Background on Top Legal Problems for Non-Profits

The Process in The Next Two Posts

Parts 2B and 2C together create a step-by-step tutorial to help take you to a basic level of understanding on relevant legal and ethical standards regarding key non-profit problems. This base is intended to equip you with a set of “system indicators” for healthy/toxic organizations, so you can evaluate for yourself various allegations of improprieties against Mars Hill and its leaders.

Part 2B covers general legal/ethical background from two sources:

  • IRS requirements for non-profit compliance,
  • An article on Top 10 Legal Problems of Non-Profits.

Part 2C focuses in on five specific potential problems for Mars Hill Church, most of the five being considered both unethical and illegal.

  • Inurement.
  • Misappropriation of funds solicited with a specified designation.
  • Spoliation of evidence.
  • Governance: Constitution, bylaws, and board structure.
  • Conflicts of interest.

At the end of each of these five issues is a do-it-yourself case study section. This features links to primary source original documents by those currently or formerly at Mars Hill Church, and/or to secondary research and analysis posts about Mars Hill Church. Here you can apply the discernment frameworks to specifics about Mars Hill’s organizations (from Part 2A), leaders, and activities and come up with your own conclusions about the relative health or toxicity of the its church system, and what potential consequences you think could and/or should ensue.

Regardless of your eventual findings about Mars Hill Church, if you are involved in a church or ministry non-profit organization yourself, the information in this tutorial could spare you from some potentially disastrous consequences. The problems discussed are ones that harm people. They also waste an organization’s resources. Some can also potentially put the non-profit’s tax-exempt status at risk. So, this information can help your organization to do good plus do no harm, and maintain its tax-exempt status as a corporation created to serve the public interest. Continue reading

Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church Research Guide – Part 2A – Five Types of Organizational Forms at “Mars Hill” (UPDATED)

PART 2. RESEARCH GUIDE TO MARS HILL CHURCH ORGANIZATIONAL/INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES

Part 1. Research Guide to Mark Driscoll’s Personal Issues

Part 2. Mars Hill Church Organizational/Institutional Issues

  • Part 2A. Four types of organizational forms found in “Mars Hill.” Official source links and summary profiles.
  • Part 2B. Five potential legal/ethical problems: inurement; misappropriation of funds solicited with a specified designation; spoliation of evidence; constitution, bylaws, and board structure; and conflicts of interest.

Part 3. Recommendations for Public Remediation by Mark Driscoll, Other Mars Hill Leaders, and Mars Hill Church

Part 4. Research Guide and Recommendations for Issues Related to “Commenders” of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church

Purposes and Sources for Part 2

The purposes of Part 2 in this series are to:

  • Give concise definitions and a few links for five different kinds of organizational entities involved in the multi-faceted business of “Mars Hill.”
  • Lay out the landscape of the greater Mars Hill horizon – “as best I can” because it’s complicated. There are at least eight active entities in four different organizational forms with separate governing regulations for each form. In addition, there are at least two active entities in one other organizational form, and at least four inactive LLCs, and an unknown number of other active/inactive related entities.
  • Lay out the background for five specific legal/ethical problems that I believe Mars Hill Church and related entities could be facing – some of which could potentially lead to the loss of Mars Hill Church’s tax-exempt status. These are:
    1. Inurement.
    2. Misappropriation of funds solicited with a specified designation.
    3. Spoliation of evidence.
    4. Constitution, bylaws, and board structure.
    5. Conflicts of interest.
  • Explore some of the crucial questions about these five problem areas that arise from issues of practices at Mars Hill.

Continue reading

Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church Research Guide – Part 1

SERIES INTRODUCTION

I have compiled this information of select resources to provide what I think will be a helpful guide to those who want to research and decide for themselves about the serious set of issues involving Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church, and other present and former leaders there. I have been tracking many aspects of this situation since at least 2008, some even earlier. This represents my best attempts to synthesize what I have learned and present it in an organized way that can help introduce the concerns to others. My tentative plan is to post four sections, with the first one in this article and the others probably in the near future.

Part 1. Research Guide to Mark Driscoll’s Personal Issues

Part 2. Research Guide to Mars Hill Church Organizational/Institutional Issues

  • Part 2A. Four types of organizational forms found in “Mars Hill.” Official source links and summary profiles.
  • Part 2B. Five potential legal/ethical problems: inurement; misappropriation of funds solicited with a specified designation; spoliation of evidence; constitution, bylaws, and board structure; and conflicts of interest.

Part 3. Recommendations for Public Remediation by Mark Driscoll, Other Mars Hill Leaders, and Mars Hill Church

Part 4. Research Guide and Recommendations for Issues Related to “Commenders” of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church Continue reading

Updated Index to Posts on Spiritual Abuse

Regardless of the season, every so often the urge to Spring-Clean my desk sweeps over me, so I gather up all those to-do notes written on envelope backs and napkin corners and Post-Its halves – and just do ‘em. One of them said: “update index.”

Hence, I’ve spent time bringing up to date my Index to futuristguy Posts on Recovery from Spiritual Abuse. I do this every few years, and for whatever reasons, the time was now. I’ve recategorized a few posts, added everything up through my current series, and done some general clean up.

Hope you find it of help in thinking through your experiences with toxic systems and abusive leaders, and discovering again the grace and truth needed for renewed spiritual stability and community.

New Page: Resources for Research-Writing on Spiritual Abuse

I’ve just posted a new page at the top of my blog, Resources for Research/Writing on Situations of Spiritual Abuse. For a long time, I’ve wanted to collect together bits and pieces of research writing I’ve done on technical topics that keep cropping up in the spiritual abuse survivor communities. And I finally got that together.

I still have a few sections to add, but this covers most of what I think will be helpful to pass on to next waves of people who are considering how to share their own accounts of surviving spiritual abuse, “citizen journalist” bloggers, case study writers, church-change social activists, etc. Here are the topics covered:

  1. Key Legal and IRS Problems for Tax-Exempt Non-Profits
  2. Filing a Complaint/Referral with the IRS Against a Tax-Exempt Non-Profits
  3. Types of “Threshold of Evidence” Required / Spoliation of Evidence
  4. Child Abuse and Neglect / Child Sexual Abuse
  5. Recording Phone Calls and Conversations
  6. Sexual Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
  7. “Citizen Journalists,” Blog Reports, Digital Dissent
  8. SLAPP and Anti-SLAPP Lawsuits
  9. Documenting and Writing Your Account of Spiritual Abuse

NOTE: This page is meant to be informational and motivational, to give a framework and some key links for starting your own research projects. The content at the linked pages may not be the most current available, so don’t rely solely on their information. Also, the material here is NOT meant to be legal advice. If you have legal issues, see a lawyer who can help you with the relevant local, state, and federal laws.

Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse – Part 2B – The “Pyramid of Responsibility” in Toxic Systems

Part 2A and Part 2B – The “Pyramid of Responsibility” in Toxic Systems.

Part 2A / Post #1

  • Section 1. Culpability, Complicity, and a Pyramid of Responsibility
    • Power and Its Abuse, In Social and Spiritual Settings
    • What is “Spiritual Abuse” and Who is “Abusive”?
    • Moving from Culpability to Complicity
    • Why Does a Mayan Pyramid Capture Such Systems?

Part 2B / Post #2

  • Section 2. What’s the Big Picture of the Pyramid of Responsibility?
  • Section 3. Layer #1 – Dictators – Highest Culpability
  • Section 4. Layer #2 – Propagators – High Culpability
  • Section 5. Layer #3 – Extinguishers and Reinforcers – Moderate Culpability/Complicity
  • Section 6. Layer #4 – Enablers and Pawns – Lower Culpability/Complicity
  • Suggested Readings/Resources

Section 2. What’s the Big Picture of the Pyramid of Responsibility?

The Pyramid of Responsibility (c) 2014 Brad Sargent.

[All 10 illustrations in the Pyramid are © Scott Maxwell and usage is licensed from Fotolia. See details on each illustration when shown individually below.]

You might be expecting for me to lay out my theology first. Instead, I have based this post on personal experiences, because my learning styles are geared to “action-reflection” more than to “theory-into-practice.” From what I experience, I develop real-world questions that launch me into the Scriptures to explore for relevant concepts that respond to those questions. I believe that helps ensure that whatever theology I come up with covers both beliefs and behaviors. And I’ve been involved with “malignant ministries” from some very different systems. The 10 roles here come from things I’ve witnessed in all of them.

Here is how I set up my “Pyramid of Responsibility.” I put the highest level of direct involvement and therefore attributed blame (i.e., culpability) to the few in the very top Layer. Down at the bottom Layers are the lowest levels of direct abuse and therefore of culpability, but the highest levels of complicity for keeping the system afloat and therefore supporting spiritual abuse/abusers indirectly. Continue reading

Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse – Part 2A – The “Pyramid of Responsibility” in Toxic Systems

Series Summary: Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse

Part 1- Questions of Culpability, Complicity, and Recovery for Spiritually Abusive Individuals and Toxic Organizations. Real-world problems in discerning what constitutes a toxic organization, who is a spiritually abusive leader, and what to do about them and others who keep a harmful system going. This post includes a list of questions. Some apply generally to any individual or organization apparently engaged in spiritually abusive practices, and some deal specifically with the current situation of the leaders and institution at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington.

Part 2A and Part 2B – The “Pyramid of Responsibility” in Toxic Systems. When it comes to spiritual abuse, who has higher or lower responsibility/accountability and for what – whether they are leaders preaching from the pulpit, or people sitting in the pews, or outside individuals and organizations that keep a sick system propped up? This framework is based on my own experiences of malignant ministers and ministries. I suggest a pyramid of people with different roles and levels of responsibility in creating and perpetuating a toxic system that ultimately harms people, despite any good that its leaders or members may do.

Part 3 – Onlookers Aren’t Necessarily Innocent ~ Moving Toward a Theology of Complicity. This moves from questions and initial ideas of how to organize observations, to figuring out relevant biblical concepts about levels of responsibility when things turn malignant in a ministry. I’ve been writing extensively on personal and organizational aspects of spiritual abuse since 2008. But, this is my first attempt to forge my reflections into a more coherent theological approach on moral responsibility and accountability for spiritual abuse.

The issues I’ll deal with arise out of my own experiences of figuring out peace-making responsibilities I had for reconciliation and restitution as a result of involvement in several churches that turned out to be toxic. I’ll address both the culpability of those who are primarily responsible for creating sick systems, and the complicity of those who might general consider themselves nothing but bystanders and therefore without blame. But are they innocent? I’ll also talk about how I discovered hope and help in the midst of attempting to cope with the confusion, anger, and grief of realizing I’d been victimized … and also served malignant ministers as a surrogate victimizer.

There may be a Part 4 – Current Case Studies from Abuse Survivor Communities ~ Looking for Larger Patterns. Several situations have dominated the focus of spiritual abuse survivor communities the past few years, and there is far more use of “digital dissent” and online documentation to push back on people/organizations who need to be held accountable for the direct harm they inflict under a guise of righteousness. But, this has expanded to holding “Commenders” accountable for indirectly keeping abusive people and their systems propped up though endorsements, certifications, speaking engagements, publishing contracts, positive-spin media exposure, etc. What might these patterns mean for a more transparent, accountable, and responsible Church in the internet era? Continue reading