“Add Your Voice” ~ By Completing a Spiritual Abuse and Recovery Survey

January is "Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month"

January is “Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month”

I recently received information from Dr. Barb Orlowski about a new phase in her research on spiritual abuse and recovery. I connected with Barb in 2007, and completed her Doctor of Ministry project survey in 2008.

The time I invested in completing her 20-question survey was one of the most important things that happened for me, in terms of entering an in-depth processing of what I’d experienced, defining the specifics of spiritual abuse involved, and how it affected me emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and physically. I highly recommend it as a helpful step along the way in our journey out of spiritual abuse.

Also, I believe that both quantitative statistics of victimization, and qualitative descriptions of abuse tactics and recovery, are crucial to church and community. Taking the survey continues to add to that knowledge base. And that will continue to make a difference for us as survivors in the long run.

If you haven’t taken the survey already, please consider whether this might be a providential time to do so! Continue reading

Capstone 2-8: Conclusions: Lessons to Learn from the Meltdown of Mars Hill


Since January 2009, I have been developing a curriculum for churches, social enterprises, start-ups, and non-profits. I’m covering topics that help their participants identify and avoid problems which will harm people, as they seek to create healthy endeavors that are designed to help people through personal and social transformation. And this past year, Mars Hill Church became a sort of “negative checklist” for this project, helping me ensure that I cover the system of potential problems that could arise, along with practical solutions and preventive measures.

My studies led me to conclude that, basically, just about everything that potentially could go wrong at every level and aspect of Mars Hill Church’s existence as a tax-exempt, non-profit, multi-campus, church-and-ministry-network entity, did go wrong. And, overall, no one heeded the warning signs, or the witnesses from both insiders and outsiders.

So, what was once a 15-branch multi-campus entity, valued at $28 million on their books, ended up in dissolution. It left the scene as brick and mortar, but there are still significant questions about potential ethical and legal issues hanging over the heads of the former executive leaders, board members, and staff – plus over each and every surviving spin-off/start-up congregation that was due to receive “seed money” from the shutting-down of Mars Hill and distribution of its remaining assets. Those issues may well still boomerang back upon these men and their followers, but so be it. That may become an unavoidable consequence of their avoidable decisions.

Although I’ve had Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church on my radar since 1997, I’ve only been paying very close attention to him/it since March 2014. This article offers a series of conclusions related to their personal/corporate meltdowns in 2014, based on my research writing.

Continue reading

Capstone 2-7: Mark Driscoll’s Culture of Contempt

I am nearing the finish line to my Mars Hill Case Study – which turned out to be a 10-month research project totaling over 50,000 words. The few remaining posts deal primarily with my conclusions, with some last recommendations mixed in here and there. This particular article focuses in on what I have distilled from considering some of Mark Driscoll’s toxic behavior patterns and the underlying characteristics that disqualify him from positions where he is given authority over people and/or is commended as being a public role model. (For extensive information on those personal issues, see the Case Study page 05 Leadership Problems.) I have not seen evidence of repentance necessary to even consider suggesting he should be restored to leadership. Rather, there is a continuing evidence stream of his contempt.

Contempt involves an arrogant attitude of superiority about one’s self, beliefs, abilities, opinions, etc. This in turn leads to bullying actions like scornful comments and sarcasm, reviling and mocking, minimizing and invalidating, and other forms of put-downs and control. You may be able to hide contempt for a while behind a veil of “charisma” or “edginess” or “relevance.” But sooner or later, the core of contempt will ooze out of the depths of darkness in such ways that can no longer be disguised. A pattern this deep is not accidental or inadvertent. It is practiced and intentional. Care to claim that it’s Christlike – even if there are likewise instances of appropriate attitudes and ministry?

Continue reading

Case Study on Mars Hill Church Meltdown Posted

I have just posted a series of pages that captures six months of my research work about failures of pastoral, organizational, and non-profit systems at Mars Hill Church.

I have reduced duplication, reorganized the material, and hopefully made it far easier to navigate. I still have a few links to add and related articles to finish, as time allows, but this represents the bulk of the research I have done to date.

To access the material, click on the main page for Mars Hill Church Case Study. There you will find a complete Table of Contents, with links to the subpages.

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

Thoughts on the New Apostolic Reformation

The Wartburg Watch (TWW) recently posted the article What is the New Apostolic Reformation? (NAR) as part of a series exploring where it appears Mark Driscoll may land for “ministering” in his post-Mars Hill Church career. I contributed several comments to this thread, since I had done some in-depth studies of the NAR as part of my case studies on involvement of the NAR Council of Apostles and Prophets with Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Outpouring, and with its incubating the Strategic Level Prayer and Spiritual Warfare movements. Continue reading

Thoughts on the “Strategic Level Prayer and Spiritual Warfare” Movement

The Wartburg Watch (TWW) recently posted the article Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Demons, Tongues, and Healings at Chris Hodges’ Church of the Highlands (ARC). It is, in part, an expose of ARC – the Association of Related Churches – which seems to have a substantial level of involvement in the “strategic level prayer” and spiritual warfare practices, and possibly also elements of a prosperity gospel and Word of Faith teachings. This critique applies to the New Apostolic Reformation movement as well.

Because of my background in studies of this particular prayer movement, along with spiritual warfare and spiritual mapping, I added several comments to the thread on this TWW article. I recommend reading my article on Strategic Level Prayer and Spiritual Mapping (2008) as a more systematic backdrop to the detailed analysis pieces here. Continue reading