It’s Time to Evacuate @marshill

Some thoughts on Gospel Community by Bryan Zug

Update: This is part of a series of posts from March 2014 that publicly noted key indicators of the toxic culture of Mars Hill and what to do about them. They played a part in the groundswell that eventually lead to the resignation of Mark Driscoll and the corporate dissolution of Mars Hill. For a post-mortem overview of events, see The Atlantic’s article “How a Megachurch Melts Down”.

In this doc…

TL;DR Too long, didn't read

It's time to evacuate @marshill

Ask Me Anything (AMA) about this stuff tonight, March 20, 2014 at 8pm pacific time

What are some good Gospel Communities (aka churches) in Seattle

Sound Gospel Communities

Hold off on these Churches until reconciliation has taken place

If you stay at @marshill, you have an obligation to raise hell about…

TL;DR Too long, didn't read

Mars Hill will not be a healthy Gospel Community for at least 2-3 years. It’s time to evacuate it in an orderly manner. Background that lead me to this conclusion is below, along with tips and tricks for an orderly exit.

I will be doing an Ask Me Anything (AMA) about this stuff tonight, March 20, 2014 at 8pm pacific time. Details will be posted here sometime before 8 tonight.

It's time to evacuate @marshill

Now that 20 former pastors have publicly acknowledged they have invited the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability to enter into a process of mediation designed to lead to mutual repentance and reconciliation, I now feel released to advocate publicly for the calm, steady, graceful evacuation of @marshill

The public acknowledgement of this action by these 20 former pastors is one of the final steps to a long, steady, walking out of the Christian principles of reconciliation in Matthew 18.

@marshill will not be a healthy Gospel Community anytime soon.

Even if you have not seen the issues of leadership abuse first hand, you now have public confirmation by a multitude of credible witnesses that something deeply tragic has occurred – and a plurality of faithful folks believe that the actions of the Executive Elders and The Board of Advisors and Accountability, have not swiftly repented of the problems.

I believe it is wise to conclude that it will be at least 3 years before Mars Hill can return to being a healthy Gospel Community – and that can only happen if there is deep, swift humility/repentance from…

  1. Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner.

  1. The other executive elder, who, having talked with him extensively, I believe is not as complicit in these things as the other executive elders. I reserve the right to reverse my position on this as any new information comes to light.

  1. Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability.

  1. The ECFA for endorsing @marshill – an organization that spends several hundred thousand of dollars in tithed money/resources/volunteers hours to advertise books, the profits of which go to what seem to be private shell corporations. They have a responsibility to explain in Plain English how this works to those of us who tithed these resources over the years.

Ask Me Anything (AMA) about this stuff tonight, March 20, 2014 at 8pm pacific time

I will be doing a public ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) on Google hangouts tonight, March 20, 2014 at 8pm pacific time. Come back here for details and I will post directions on how to access before the start of the hangout.

I believe wholeheartedly that the relational, face to face, conversational process of reconciliation we see in Matthew 18 is one of the tragic things that had been suffocated in this whole ordeal.

But we have the ability to try and fix that. Here’s one thing I’d like to try.

If you are unfamiliar with AMA’s, here is background on one Bill Murray did that was awesome. I doubt I will be as awesome as Bill, but I will sure try.

Here’s the link -

https://plus.google.com/events/cep8lf6vsnug01oo4r7ljbhmj5k

What are some good Gospel Communities (aka churches) in Seattle

One of the reasons many folks are still at @marshill is because they honestly don’t know about other sound Gospel Communities (aka churches). Here are some places I feel comfortable recommending and ones I would avoid until reconciliation takes place.

Sound Gospel Communities

  1. Quest - Eugene Cho is awesome. He almost joined Mars Hill back in the day as a preaching pastor. That’s when I met him briefly. Their one days wages project makes me happy.

  1. Anchor -  My great friend (and biz partner), @Wygle goes there and several people have told me it is sound and awesome.

  1. All Souls - Several former @marshill folks are going there from what I hear.

  1. Bethany - Their 20/20 vision is what the Mars Hill campus model could have been.

  1. Grace Church Seattle

  1. Downtown Cornerstone – DTC was originally on my “Hold off” list, but we reconciled through a misunderstanding from a couple of years ago – Here’s the details – and that that is a testimony to Jesus's ASTONISHING GRACE!

  1. Jen and I are part of a small Gospel Community called A Seattle Church. It’s new, has rough edges, and is full of people I love who are on a mission I cannot shake.

  1. There are many others I’m sure I’m leaving out. Will try to add them as I have time.

Hold off on these Churches until reconciliation has taken place

There is one Gospel Community I believe has neglected the damage done by (and not aggressively protected victims of) the ‘Suspicion first, believe the best later’ culture endemic to @marshill (which also has significantly affected Acts 29). I am calling publicly for mediation on this topic (‘Suspicion first, believe the best later’ culture, and its fruit) between the leaders of this org and one particular set of victims I am intimately familiar with.

  1. Soma Renton

If you stay at @marshill, you have an obligation to raise hell about…

If you stay, you have an obligation to raise hell about these specific issues (and probably more, but we'll start with these)…

  1. On May 15th 2013, in a 1:1 meeting at his office, Pastor Dave Bruskas confirmed to me that when a Pastor of Mars Hill’s downtown campus tried to gracefully resign, Pastor Mark Driscoll tried to force him to sign a non-compete clause for the city of Seattle and beyond.

The kind of culture that leads men to impose such demands begets a deep misunderstanding of sound Gospel Community principles laid out by the Bible.

While repentance of this specific incident may or may not have occurred, the culture that begat it is still bearing deadly fruit.

  1. The ‘I am the Brand’ speech.

A couple of years ago, Mark Driscoll gave a speech in the Ballard Paradox theater which is commonly referred to as the ‘I am the brand’ speech. In that speech he advocated that marketing and communication be centered on his personality, name, and brand (in lieu of the name of the great Shepherd himself).

While repentance of this specific incident may or may not have occurred, the culture that begat it is still bearing deadly fruit.

  1. Spending upwards of ?$500k?, ?$600k?, ?$700k? of church funds and resources (money + volunteer hours + staff hours) to market the book Real Marriage, while profits of the book go to a very confusing matrix of private corporations that seem to be owned by Mark and Sutton (again, hugely confusing).

  1. The huge MH salary of elders who, while employed full time for MH, create intellectual property (books and curriculum) that they own privately and gain profit from. I believe the salaries of the executive elders and any financial compensation to the BOAA need to be publicly available to former and current members of the church body – lest this thing Jim and Tammy Faye forward any longer. The cloudy confusing nature of this becomes unsupportable at some point.

So, if you stay, I believe you have an obligation to shake the fog and think hard about becoming a True Detective.

As Newbigin says (my paraphrase), if we do not police ourselves, our Gospel Communities have no credibility to the unbelieving world around us.