“Leaders assume that toxic forces can be regulated through reasonableness”
October 15, 2014 Mark Driscoll resigned as pastor of Mars Hill Church
Driscoll was a very successful church planter in Seattle in the early 2000s. After a few local and national leaders mentioned their concerns about him I decided to start a personal campaign to get him out of Seattle.
In 2004 I began to “track” his activities and investigate his levels of influence. I also began looking for opportunities to periodically test his resolve and capacity as a leader. Driscoll’s influence on young people was intolerable and for me at least, a sin to ignore.
In 2006 Paul Chapman and I organized the first protest against Mark Driscoll. Being a pastor myself made this an even more egregious act. How bad did things have to get to provoke us to hold up signs quoting the Driscolls own words so the people in his church would be forced to see them in writing and have to tell their kids to look the other way!
In 2008 Driscoll mocked the best selling book The Shack on YouTube and insinuated that Paul Young, my friend, was a heretic. Almost 500,000 people viewed the video. I asked Paul if he would be wiling to come to Seattle for a live interview where Driscoll was a no show
In 2013 I turned my personal Facebook page over to daily exposes about Driscoll. I received many complaints from my friends and told them to unfriend me.
In 2014, the Ex Mars Hill Insiders Group led by Paul Petry an elder Driscoll had fired in 2007 for questioning his authority introduced me to Rob Smith. Rob had been a deacon at Mars Hill in 2007 but had resigned his membership in protest over Petrys firing. Rob invited me to help organize a second protest against Driscoll. This time however it would be led and supported by many of the people who had stood opposite Paul Chapman and me seven years earlier in 2006.
Three weeks later Driscoll was on the front page of The New York Times but not for his supposed best seller.* This time he was exposed for being a bully. Three weeks after that Driscoll announced he would be taking six weeks off to reflect on his leadership. Within a few days of that announcement 9 of Driscoll’s pastors wrote a private letter (later leaked) asking Driscoll to extend his six weeks break to a year plus a lot of counseling. Within 3 days one of them was fired and three had “resigned”. The remaining 5 would all be “off the payroll” within 45 days.
Mars Hill leaders then announced that due to a dramatic drop in giving (which they blamed on negative press) they would be laying off 30-40% of their staff, closing three of their churches and putting a fourth campus on a short financial leash. Shortly thereafter Driscoll’s photo and an article The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill appeared on the front pages of his hometown paper the Seattle Times.
Then the news broke about Mars Hill using Ethiopian orphans as a cover to raise money to plant churches in the far-flung mission field known as Everett, Washington. The memo stated that “the public should not know this” and that they could raise millions for only $10K per month. In fiscal year 2014 this fund brought in over 2 Million dollars of which $120,000 was given to the people who were supposed to get most of it. Essentially Mars Hill created a “help the helpless” marketing campaign to pay off Driscoll’s $1Million Mansion.**
45 Days later Driscoll was gone
Why did I do this?
Spiritual pride is more dangerous than sexual immorality because sexual immorality is something you and others can actually see, while spiritual pride can be hidden and appear to be benign for long periods of time. It’s easier to change your behavior than to change your beliefs.
How do you know if you’ve been infected with spiritual pride? Here are some of the symptoms. You believe…
• You have discovered something no one else has ever discovered
• People who disagree with you are ignorant, idiots or evil
• Your church/denomination is the only church with the truth
• You believe you’ve been granted “cosmic specialness”
• Other people need to join your group in order to experience the real thing
• Most other churches are deceived, compromised or…?
• You have received special revelation about the bible
• Your forms of worship or bible teaching are superior to all others
• Everyone needs to speak in tongues to be filled with the Spirit
• Anyone who speaks in tongues is deceived
• You have no friends who are nonbelievers
• You use Christianity as a cover for your anger, meanness, jealousy and pettiness
The pervasive presence of spiritual pride (technically, epistemic arrogance) is the chief reason religious bullying is active in the church. Spiritual pride weakens our immune system and makes it easier for bullies to emerge into influential roles in religious systems. Our systemic lack of humility, high degree of reactivity to difference, epistemic arrogance and uncertainty avoidance conspire like a deadly cocktail to both blind us and bind us to religious bullies. Thousands of young people are being robbed of their faith by this disease.
“Why The Church Welcomes Bullies and How to Stop It” addresses the causes and cures for spiritual pride of which bullies are a symptom. It will be released as an E-book in late November. Check www.jimhendersonpresents.com
*Due to lack of space, I’ve refrained from listing the other major Driscoll scandals that include plagiarism, nondisclosure agreements and use $210,000 of church money to scam the New York Times best seller list. You can read about that here.
**The sales price was $1,055,888.00 and sold to a grantee/buyer that had its base at the physical address of the corporate headquarters of Mars Hill Church http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2013/09/mars-hill-church-in-may-and-june-of.html