RICO Lawsuit Filed Against Former Mars Hill Church Leaders and Alleged Co-Conspirators

Earlier today, Warren Throckmorton posted RICO Lawsuit Filed Against Former Leaders of Mars Hill Church. You can find a PDF of the 42-page complaint at this link. Filed by Brian and Connie Jacobsen, and Ryan and Arica Kildea, it names Mark Driscoll and John Sutton Turner, along with other alleged co-conspirators.

This RICO lawsuit against leaders of what was Mars Hill Church has been in the making for a long time. RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. This is an extremely serious matter, and I believe there is a significant amount of information about alleged wrongdoing available. I spent at least 300 hours during 2014, researching and analyzing details in order to produce a case study on Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll. If I remember correctly, it’s about 70,000 words – the equivalent of about a 160-page paperbook book.

On the first blog page of that case study is a summary of my reasoning for why I believe this type of lawsuit against Mars Hill leaders is justifiable; the allegations are not trivial matters. And note that I wrote most of the material on that page December 1, 2014. I originally put it on my blog as an article: Capstone 2-6: A Lawsuit Against Mars Hill Church Could be a Just Cause Because … I think you’ll find the entire article informative, but here is the key section of that page and post, just as it appeared over a year ago: Continue reading


Lawsuit Against Mars Hill Church Leaders – Resource Bibliography (UPDATED)


The two main purposes of this post are (1) to list and describe five key potential legal issues that are relevant to a probable RICO civil suit against at least four key leaders from Mars Hill Church, and (2) to compile links to research resources that provide historical background, analysis, and/or interpretation of those issues. Continue reading

Capstone 2-6: A Lawsuit Against Mars Hill Church Could be a Just Cause Because …

Introducing My Post

This post presents my case for a civil suit against Mars Hill as a biblically reasonable move to halt the corporate shut-down and (hopefully) bring about justice for those treated unrighteously, give relief for abuse survivors, and reinfuse integrity into a Christian witness in the public square.

I have studied Mars Hill Church intensively off and on for months now. I’ve concluded the organizational and spiritual situation there is dire. So, when it comes to writing capstone articles based on my research into Mars Hill Church, this is one of several posts that I’ve felt the most “fear and trembling” about. Their paradigm is excruciatingly complicated and the meltdown extremely messy. And so, I really have felt the weight of responsibility to consider various angles carefully when evaluating whether a civil suit against Mars Hill is warranted. I have concluded that it is. Continue reading

Capstone 2-5: Trends, Turning Points, and Tipping Points in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities (2014) – Part 2: New Observations, Analysis, Interpretations

It’s been nearly two years since I last posted an article about emerging trends. Overall, it looks like some of the trends I noted before are seeing further development and perhaps differentiation as far as subgroups who are affected. For instance, de-churched Christians are starting to be divided into post-Christendom “nones” (who do not profess a particular religious or denominational affiliation, but consider themselves “spiritual”), and post-Church “dones” (who have given up on enduring church services where everything has been same-old, same-old for decades).

Other trends seem to have become more intensified. They definitely look to be moving toward longer-term influence in driving change. So, they’ve moved up a notch to turning points or perhaps even tipping points. Here is some of what I believe I’m seeing emerge from the fog of observation and gradually into more clarity of interpretation. Continue reading

Capstone 2-4: Trends, Turning Points, and Tipping Points in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities (2014) – Part 1: Setting the Stage

Futurists, Scenarios, and Spiritual Abuse Survivors

All the futurists I know do a lot of general research and reflection on culture and change. But at some point the information needs to be narrowed down to help specifics client or group figure out how they want to navigate the issues that are most relevant to them. One of the ways futurists do that is through scenarios. Scenarios take into account the information gathered on trends, and related analysis, and put them into a realistic story form that seeks to capture the emotional impact people will feel in struggling to cope with unavoidable changes. Rather than dictating answers to the client’s questions of “So what?” (meaning) and “Now what?” (resolve to act), the futurist facilitates a process for the client to discern and decide his/her/their own answers to them. The scenario doesn’t have to be about distress and disaster to be effective. Various kinds of conflict can be effective sparks for discussing where the client is at in the midst of these changes, and what is plausible in moving on from there. “Success” can create change just as much as conflict can. Continue reading

Capstone 2-3: “Decisive Moments” and Trajectories of Transformation

Dans les champs de l’observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits prepares.

(“In the fields of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.”)

~ Louis Pasteur ~ Lecture at University of Lille ~ December 7, 1854

Intuition and Intention, Perception and Preparation

The idea of intuition fueled by preparation is nothing new. What Pasteur commented on 160 years ago related to science was reiterated 60 years ago in the arts by photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. The thing that Cartier-Bresson was known for was clicking his camera at the exact right second to capture “the decisive moment” – something that showed the essence of the subject’s identity, or perhaps a turning point in someone’s decision-making process – but in a way that helps the viewer intuitively sense what is likely next. His influential book, Images à la Sauvette, images “on the run,” was published in 1952. Providentially, his “photos on the fly” book is about to be republished in French and English editions this December, making it available again for the first time in 60-plus years. Check out some of Cartier-Bresson’s iconic photos and see what you think about what he saw when he thought … and what clicks. I have reflected over the years about this idea of a decisive moment, and wondered how it applies to skills of strategic foresight – futurism. Continue reading

Capstone 2-2: Restitution

Thought #2 ~ For Current and Recent Mars Hill Leaders:

“If you do not show genuine pastoral care now for parishioners harmed in your past, why should anyone think you will do anything different or better in the future?”

From the number of personal stories, articles, and comments posted in social media, it seems obvious that Mars Hill Church has produced a lot of “walking wounded.” Some remain inside the system. Others have gone out or been forced out. While disciples must discern and decide for themselves where, when, and how they will move forward, what do we do if we see they have been hurt in a situation – or will be harmed if they enter it or stay in it? And what will you do if you were part of the system that harmed them? Continue reading

Capstone 2-1: Consequences

Thought #1 ~ For Current and Recent Mars Hill Leaders:

“You may only think a new race is beginning. Finish the old one well, or its consequences will continue to follow you.”

It doesn’t seem that either the Mars Hill theology or its organizational system take kindly to the idea of “mutual submission” of leaders to others, especially to subordinates and members. Are leaders above questions, above challenges, above scrutiny? Or will they take time and effort to listen to the voices of concern, and resolve what is as yet unresolved?
Continue reading

Capstone Article 2 – Some Words for Discernment by Those from Mars Hill

Introduction to Capstone 2

The purposes of my “Capstone” series of articles on Mars Hill Church are to synthesize what I have learned in the last 4+ months of research on relevant subjects, and, as best I can, summarize my findings without re-documenting all the resources I used to reach those conclusions. (For my assumptions and theories about toxic systems, see the Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse series, and if you want details on Mars Hill, see my Research Guide on Mars Hill series.)

I posted Capstone Article 1 on November 2nd. I wrote most of Capstone 2 by 10 days later, but decided not to post it then. Now, another 10 days on since starting this series, it seems the right time to complete some of these and start posting them. Unfortunately, not much has changed in 10 days. It’s all been about Mars Hill splitting into independent entities, and nothing about resolving the same remaining questions about potentially unethical and/or illegal actions. So, I expect challenges to and/or consequences for Mars Hill leaders to become amplified in days to come. I doubt the dissolution of this $20 million plus enterprise to go unchallenged.

Here, then, is the first segment of Capstone 2, which I completed on November 13. I have two other segments to post shortly that were substantially done around the same time. And then I will plan to add other segments for various target audiences in days to come. Continue reading

Conducting Restitution When Our Leadership Causes Damage


In May 17, 2014, I wrote a guest post for Zach Hoag’s blog, The Nuance. It expanded on a series of tweets that I had posted for the #IStandWithSGMVictims (Sovereign Grace Ministries) hashtag campaign to challenge their leaders about allegations on multiple kinds of abuse. The entire post shares what I believe “restitution” means for the leaders who caused damage to take personal responsibility, how to develop a safer congregational setting, and how to deal with leaders who refuse their responsibility.

I previously only posted a section of this article on my blog, plus other snippets of articles and tweets related to the Sovereign Grace Ministries hashtag campaign. You’ll find that at Thoughts on Abuse, Position, Power – and Restitution. I am now posting the entire guest article on restitution here, because I will refer to it in my Capstone series that synthesizes and summarizes my research findings about toxicity in the Mars Hill Church system. Its leaders seriously need to take responsibility and make restitution, so this article’s suggestions for similar needs by leaders at Sovereign Grace Ministries is even more relevant now. Continue reading