Responses to be added. If you happen to be anxious to find out what my answers are, or if I don’t get to answering them soon, actually, they’re probably already woven into the material (though in expanded form) in one of these three series:
- Mars Hill Case Study (more accessible in these pages than in the regular series of posts)
- Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse
- Deconstructing the Christian Industrial Complex
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My FAQs about Mars Hill Church and Its Leaders
- What factors and character issues make it easier or harder for someone to experience significant transformation when they’ve demonstrated deep-seated problems over a relatively long period of time, and have refused to heed a series of prior warnings?
- What indicators help us discern whether an organization that’s become toxic can be repaired and renovated, might be partly salvaged if dismantled, or definitely needs to be shut-down?
- Why are you writing about this about Mars Hill when you don’t go there?
- Is the Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll situation really as simple – or as complicated – as some people seem to think?
- What’s happened that could/should disqualify Mark Driscoll from public roles of leadership at this time?
- He’s a gifted guy and done a lot of good. Shouldn’t that be taken into account?
- Why are people outside of Mars Hill “jumping on the bandwagon” against him at this time, and doesn’t that ultimately hurt how the world views the Church?
- When it comes to removing a leader who is abusing his power/authority, you talk about documentation, verification, and reconciliation. What is that about, and what do you mean by those terms?
- Is Mars Hill sound, organizationally speaking?
- Mars Hill is a member of ECFA (Evangelical Council for Fiscal Accountability). Doesn’t that count for something?
- What about other organizations connected somehow with Mars Hill – do you think they should dissociate themselves from Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill, and why or why not?
- Is Mars Hill a “cult” – and what constitutes a cult anyway?
- From your outsider perspective as a student of both abuse of power and toxic organizational systems, what sources would you recommend for getting a perspective on this that’s as balanced as possible?
- If these problems have supposedly been going on for a long time, why does all this push-back seem to be happening now?
- What are the standards of evidence for figuring out spiritual abuse – for churches and for non-profits?
- What can a congregation do if they do not wish to be subject to governmental regulations?
- If Mark Driscoll and his other two executive elders end up no longer at Mars Hill, will that fix the organizational problems? Or, would there be more to do then, and if so, what?
- In a personal or organizational transformation process, what exactly needs to be adjusted, and how?
- Mark Driscoll co-founded the Acts29 Network, which recently removed all Mars Hill Churches from membership. Does that action mean they’ve done enough to clear their organization of responsibility?
- Seems like a lot more people are distancing themselves from Mark Driscoll these days, and even talking about how it was supposedly obvious that he had problems years back, perhaps even enough to disqualify him from ministry leadership. If these people apparently knew that back then, why weren’t they being so vocal? Whether they challenged him in person privately back then or not, aren’t they partially responsible for his continuing to inflict harm on people during all the years in between? What would they need to do to make things right?
Note: Just so you know, I’ve already worked out one- to two-paragraph responses to almost all of these questions. I may post those at some future point, but not for a while at least, so you have a chance to wrestle through them yourself. I wouldn’t want to remove the learning experience of your doing this very practical “homework” to practice being a Berean!
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Questions from My Friends
The following questions come from friends of mine and they are presented here with their permission. These are very astute people, and I appreciate the hearts and minds for the Kingdom that I know undergird their concerns.
From “Celtic Son,” who is active in leading a church in Australia
- IF indicators do lead us to discern that an organization that’s become toxic CAN be repaired and renovated, what processes are there that can be engaged to redeem the organisation?
- The church should operate in certain areas on a different set of moral values from the general society that the church is located in – how do we determine what those values are? What measures should the church engage to determine what aspects of behaviour or attitude from a leader in a church compromises church moral values, even if it complies with a society’s standards?
- How could outsiders, particularly Christians who have genuine concern about the reputation of “the church” in the wider community, contribute meaningfully to this discussion with a redemptive outcome in mind?
- It’s regularly said that “hurt people hurt people,” in what ways might we consider understanding and support for leaders who are abusive as the consequence of themselves being victims of abuse?
- What could a reinstatement process look like for someone who has been removed from leadership of a Christian church or organisation, because of their abusive use of power?
- What level of personal and corporate responsibility applies to co-leaders who fail to voice concerns about abuse of power when it is happening – and particularly in the case of people who appear to “jump on the bandwagon” after the fact?
- What level of personal responsibility applies to people in a church congregation who fail to voice concerns about abuse of power when it is happening – and particularly in the case of people who appear to “jump on the bandwagon” after the fact?
- With such a wide ranging understanding of Biblical teaching and published Christian materials, who has the right to make the significant point of accusing another of “heresy” and how should that be determined?
- Hey Brad, a question that occurs to me too is to consider what level of concern there is that a fourth “interrelated issue” – the complicity of church member. People by their attendance and financial support enable pathological leaders, accept bad theology, and engage with a toxic organisational culture. They may feel disempowered, but are they simply victims? At what point should/could an individual take responsibility to act in the face of injustice, etc.? What are the lessons for church members in recognising their own complicity and enabling of an ungodly culture, and what processes might be helpful to empower congregational members to embrace freedom in the Spirit, speak truth in love, and set captives free? A concern for me would be that lessons can be learned, so the same patterns are not simply repeated again elsewhere, and people are equipped to make a difference. As long as believers simply see themselves as victims, they won’t recognise or take responsibility for their part and won’t grow through the experience, to become more complete as human beings and more transformed as followers of Christ.
From Rachel Collinson
- Will the people from that church go to other ones, or will they be fed up with churches in general?
From Jan Collins
- Is there anything one can do to assist in the redemptive process of a leader about whom they are concerned?