Fired Mars Hill Church Elder Breaks Silence

Bent Meyer was fired by Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church in 2007. He spoke up on Sunday here. Bent’s backstory is offered here.
It’s not a long comment, but what he says is quite eye-opening and telling about the intentional narrow ministry mindedness of Mark.

I hope more people like Bent will speak up. Their stories are priceless to those who are suffering Mark’s consequences now.

I’ve heard from two Seattle journalists over the last couple days. Both said that former Mars Hill members are coming out of the wordwork to share their abuse stories.

It’s sad. And it keeps getting sadder.

I am one of the men fired the day of Mark’s rant about two elders he felt needed broken noses. Someone asked what has happened since that day.
I am happy to say, the next Sunday my wife and I attended another Church with far better expository teaching and a community that authentically and generously helps the marginalized.
I also finished my master program and have a private mental health practice serving the Seattle and Eastside area. This was a very good and satisfying result.
Regarding whether I spoke up or not. I have not been silenced by any direct or implied threats of retaliation. It is clear that the one who possess the air waves controls the content and spin of a story, so there was not much to be done.
I thought a lot about how I would response and just what my motives would be. I chose not to be lured into a public argument through the Seattle Times asking me for a blow by blow description of the events I have documented. I have a tendency to keep material for years and years.
I did prepare my narrative, including supporting documents, for members only to read who came to me for explanation. They had to agree never to disclose any of it to the media. These people have been honorable. As best I know, none have. By doing this I opened up myself to their scrutiny and possible rebuke. I have received nothing but kindness and support.
As to my motives, I want Mark’s best. In my opinion he is a very troubled man. He is caught in his own hell. The consequence, of course, is the influence he has on others, which is mixed.
He, Lief Moi, and Mike Gunn, together the founders of Mars Hill Church, sent out to focus on those that were young, upwardly mobile and future leaders. They wanted to position themselves to influence their faith decisions and their life choices. This is a lesson for many church leaders to learn from and choose for themselves.
The downside is Mark’s pathology shows up in ways that are impulsive, aggressive, irascible, shut off from effective relational influence, and most apparent not respectful and submissive to anyone, though he claims otherwise.
I have hoped and still hope for something short of him destroying himself that would bring about substantial change for this ever increasing population of worshiper. Some have fretted there will be a great loss of Christians with the demise of Mark and/or the Church. I don’t think so. The church that comprises all of us will survive. The chaff will be blown away, but the church will remain.
I would speak a caution to all of us. There is much to be learn for the Mars Hill phenomena. Don’t dismiss the hunger and openness to be influenced represented in those ages 18 through 30. Invent content that is useful and distribute it freely on the web. Always incorporate creatively some explanation of the gospel at the end of every teaching session with an invitation to do business with Jesus.
Even though Mark’s portrayal of masculinity is more like a comic book superhero and women needing to be protected and rescued is his focus, young men coming into manhood is richly important. Absent fathers is epidemic. Think about what it is that has caused them not to attach to their families. Mark comes at it from the standpoint of duty and responsibility, which is mechanical, missing other primary questions. Why do so many men not attach to their families? Why do they abandon family so easily? Mark uses shame and intimidation as the means of gaining compliance, which has the appearance of working, but is not transformational in the long run, or creates other issues of abusive relationships related to power and control. In many men, the tendency is understood in the short saying, “Monkey see monkey do.” Don’t over react, young men need to mature.
I feel like I need to give attention to the needs of women with equal if not more space since women are marginalized and silenced in so many ways. But, I will leave that for another time.
I hope this will satisfy the primary curiosity of those who wonder what has happened to me. I will say, the other elder fired at the same times is a good friend and is doing well.

Thankful that Bent shared.

I found this here.

Comments

  1. Noelle says

    That made me smile. I like resilient people. The strongest people in the helping professions are often the ones who’ve had to work through their own pain first. I’m happy for Bent that he could use the experience as a chance to go back to school for a degree that he can use to help others. He sounds quiet and thoughtful, measured and realistic. He has the right voice for a counselor and healer.
    This isn’t a sad story. It’s a happy one.

  2. Lucy says

    I’m not a Christian but bless you, Bent, you’re right. Particularly about the state of Mark’s own troubled self, which I and other outsiders find to be so obviously apparent but that seems obscured sometimes in the to and fro about his latest contraversial outburst and the influence of his ministry. I know a lot of Christians who look to Mars Hill to provide certainty and a compass for them on the minute details of their inner lives and daily interaction. It seems that the trajectory Mark is taking makes some kind of melt-down innevitable, I only hope that my friends aren’t too hurt if this happens.
    Very happy for you that you’ve found a way out of this mess and are happy and doing well.

  3. says

    I’m so encouraged to see how gentle and kind he is in spite of the rough treatment he received. I’m also glad to see that he recognized the need to address the ways women have been mistreated. It’s good to see that someone on the inside has been able to sort this out and I pray that it will continue to happen.

  4. says

    I worked under a few pastors like Mark. One was exactly like Mark. This elder hit the nail on the head. There is a lot of hidden disturbance there with a deep need for control. One pastor I worked under was a 300 pound ex-football player who shook with anger and told me he wanted to rip me apart., but let his wife talk him out of doing so. Another pastor similar to Mark ordered me to build a shelf in the sound booth of church, knowing full well I suck at carpentry. When it didn’t meet his standards, he ripped it apart with his bare hands and threw the pieces across the sanctuary. An elder, ordered not to help me, disobeyed orders and helped me anyhow to rebuild. Once I got it right just in time for the deadline, I got screamed at because the paint was wet.
    These pastors get worked up in power and control, and prey on milder, well meaning personalities such as myself. They need a lot of help, and they cause a lot of pain. They normally aren’t held accountable as many people are attracted to their confidence and their methods have immediate and surprising growth/results. In the end there is more harm than good.

    • Melanie says

      These are lies. Total lies. If you sit in church and listen these are lies and that is false witness and that is sinful. It is not Mark’s church it is Christ’s church and the the statements made above about approaches to men and women are total lies. God will not redeem a person from their own false statements if they don’t own up to it and these are false statements. Why is attacking Mark Matthew Paul Turner’s ambition. I think because he knows t his is a great way to get googled and found. In the about me section there is nothing of his beliefs or values to be attacked. So, put it out there and let everyone shred you. See how it feels!

      • Melanie says

        Sorry for the human reaction! I just get frustrated that we want redemption but don’t allow it for others. We want Christ to grow us but don’t think he does the same with others. Remove the plank, and I will try and pull mine out.

        • kisekileia says

          Last I checked, redemption involved repentance. Mars Hill’s statement about the way Andrew was treated, if you follow the link, basically admitted that everything they did to him was stuff they normally do. Mars Hill has been utterly unapologetic about their abusive conduct, which is not conducive to redemption.

      • kisekileia says

        I think you are seriously in denial about what is going on in your church. If you look at the Driscoll book chapter that Matthew linked earlier, you’ll see that the discipline methods are clearly abusive. MPT is not trying to attack Mark–he is trying to give a voice to the many people who have been spiritually abused at Mars Hill.

      • says

        I worked under personality types like Mark Driscoll, and let me tell you, once you’ve been emotionally/spiritually injured by a guy like that, then you might be so defensive for him. It sucks…I mean royally sucks….like “I think I want to end my faith” kind of sucks. The elder is spot on in what he’s saying and MPT isn’t out of bounds to call it out.
        If you want to know where MPT stands, then read his memoir, “Churched”. BTW, my wife grew up in the same fundamentalist church/school as MPT, and she has had to go (and is still going) to therapy, her brother is an angry atheist, and numbers of people (including pastors/teachers) have killed themselves there. When you understand where he’s coming from, then it makes more sense when he calls out what he sees as abuse.

  5. Liz says

    Yes, it is. Men get girls pregnant and leave them with no support financial or otherwise and no father-figure for the child. Or, he leaves his wife for a better-looking woman and is less involved and interested in the child’s life than that of his new wife.Do you not live in the same world as the rest of us?

    • says

      Or the use of “is”, rather than “our” following a plural non. Either way, it’s really lame when you comment just to make a snide remark over something like that, but can’t be bothered to address the actual content of the post.

  6. Jay says

    “People are coming out of the word work” …”woodwork,” you mean?
    There. I said it.

    On a more serious note – I think I am glad you’re offering these stories as ways to ‘speak truth to power.’ One does wonder what is next for Pastor Mark and Mars Hill.

      • Melanie says

        Hey Matthew. Reaching out on a limb here. Read that you are an author. Obviously you have networks. Here is something that came upon me as a charge or challenge to you. I think that my problem is that we are taking the focus away from Jesus. So, with wanting to walk in Christ I have an idea for you. Please seriously consider and pray about this idea. Reasearch through actual stories hardships people have gone through and publish articles in ways that other Christians can best support each other during these times. Allow there to be a place of witness of God’s works through these people. I am being serious. Pray about it. MiscarriageLoss of a child
        Chronic illness
        so many to choose from
        What were the lies from the enemy? How to pray against them. How to network and support each other.
        Let their be rejoice and witnessing stirring in the hearts for God. Don’t just stir the pot of anger. It may make for great hits, but in the end be a witness

  7. says

    “But the church will remain.”
    God’s church will always remain. I appreciate that comment tremendously. We can get so caught up in personalities, worship tendencies and denominational survival–and that’s only to name a few things–that we forget that the church is God’s. God’s church has remained through persecution, division and apathy.

    I have appreciated the recent posts regarding this matter because they have served as cautionary tales for my own church leadership. Stay blessed…john

  8. says

    As someone who has been in a situation where I was asked to step down from ministry, I find it in really bad taste for someone to go around telling people why he was fired (and then launching silos). My firing happened in 2005, and I’ve never left it to the “court of public” opinion to fight for me. And I’ve never publicly attacked (or hurled nuanced insults at) my former pastor. I’ve wanted to. I’ve wanted to set up web sites that debunk the awesomeness of my old church, but I didn’t do it. It’s obvious that God is at work in my old church. It’s obvious that God is at work through Mars Hill. Feeling the need to “break the silence” typically reveals a “pathology” to want to justify one’s self or seek revenge.
    I just don’t see how this builds unity in the body of Christ. Sometimes the best thing a follower of Jesus can say is “no comment.”

      • LRA says

        I’m not a Christian, but I seem to recall a certain 1st century Jew who, rather than saying “no comment,” threw certain money changers out of the temple.
        Just sayin’.

    • says

      And sometimes the worst thing that somebody can do is say “no comment”… It depends on the circumstances, but “silence” is not the rule nor should it be…

      • says

        As someone who’s wife was fired as a pastor after dealing for 8 months with an illness that was yet undiagnosed, and her boss’s refusal to permit her to tell anyone in the church what she was dealing with and/or ask for prayer. Because he didn’t want the congregation or their children to worry. He said that since her attendance was spotty at best over the past 8 months, they were relieving her of her duties. She’d attempted to take FMLA, medical leave, anything. She showed up where and when required, most of the time to the detriment of her own health. We felt utterly betraed. Still do. No comment, just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you have to tell the church when to act as the church.

      • Melody says

        Exactly. As Simon and Garfunkel once said, “Silence like a cancer grows.” The church cannot be edified if we don’t address its weaknesses. We are only as strong as our weakest link, and people like Mark are the weak links.

      • Melody says

        Agreed. The “Just ignore it and it’ll go away” method does not work in these situations. Well it does–it keeps the victims silent and the tyrants in power.

    • Leanne says

      One cannot have unity and peace when there are injustices and when there is abuse. Only when we stop using power and influence for our own egos and ends, only when all are cherished can we have unity and peace. To say “no comment” is to continue the injustice and brokenness. It does not bring Christian unity but a shallow, empty fake version of unity.

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

      Bent didn’t say anything about why he was fired. Anyone who was a member of Mars Hill at that time (like I was) was told clearly he got fired because he disagreed with the direction of the 2007 by-laws revisions. Mars Hill elders made a point of stating this to the whole church (which I was part of at the time). When literally thousands of people are told something it only stays secret if it’s something connected to DARPA.
      As to remarks about pathology. Well, you can choose to disagree but if you’ve read what the Driscoll’s describe about their marriage in Real Marriage I’m not going to begrudge a mental health professional from making comments that, at this point, can be informed by the Driscoll’s best-seller. When I read a part of the book where Driscoll said that the only thing that helped him deal with his moodiness was more frequent sex I wondered how anyone would miss this straightforward statement of using sex as a mood stabilizing technique. If a regular Mars Hill member husband said something like that he’d probably get a different reaction than a defense.

      I was at Mars Hill from about 1999 to 2008 and decided the bad was outweighing the good by 2008. The bungled capital campaign project alluded to in Reformission Rev was another thing that caused long-standing members to have doubts about the leadership. Mark went public with the capital campaign project from the pulpit around 2005 and the property got purchased. By 2007 when the firings happened members also began to realize that the purchased buildilng had not been put to the uses publicly announced during the run-up for the capital campaign. Since I know people with businesses in that neighborhood I learned that the church had not adequately researched zoning and land use codes before making the purchase, which was why it isn’t Ballard campus 2 as was so prominently advertised in the campaign. The 2007 firings were the most famous problem but not the only problem that eventually led about 1,000 members to withdraw membership.

      Driscoll publicly said in a Nehemiah sermon that there were some guys, even in the leadership of the church, where if he wasn’t going to end up on CNN he’d have gone Old testament on them. The “I break their nose” remark was from a sermon that is available to the public. Simply saying you’re one of the pastors who was fired during the time Driscoll made those statements is not dragging into the light any dirty laundry Driscoll has not kept conspicuously in the public record.

      The trouble with Mark Driscoll at this point is that while his supporters think everything’s cool and that “private” stuff shouldn’t get mentioned Driscoll’s problems are observable enough in just the stuff he says to millions of people through his media presence. The double standard in which Driscoll and his fans can lament old guys in dresses preaching to grandmas on the one hand while not wanting people coming forward confirming facts on the ground that any member from 2007 learned about by New Year’s 2008 seems weird. People who weren’t at Mars Hill in 2007 and think that these stories need to be viewed through suspicion need to think again. I made a point when I left (on good terms) in 2008 of sharing on my way out that if Mars Hill didn’t revise its disciplinary approach or the assumption that all sin is deliberate and motivated by pride rather than fear, misunderstanding, and decisions with unintended consequences that at some point there’d be a disaster in the implementation of discipline that could cause someone to go public.

  9. says

    An elder fired by a pastor? Doesn’t that usually roll the other way…where a pastor is subject to the elders of the church?
    At any rate, bravery continues to abound on this site. Thank you, MPT, for all that you do for the face of Christianity.

  10. Wendy says

    Anna, I know and respect Bent. He left a COMMENT on a website. I doubt he edited it before he wrote it, and no one has edited it for him. He’s being honest about a very painful thing. And you call him pathetic? I’m offended and angry, and I won’t write more until I can do it without anger.

  11. Patrick Olp says

    On a completely unrelated/maybe semi-related note, I just watched the “I See Things” video… even if this whole Mars Hill thing doesn’t work out, the 700 Club is bound to pick up on this.
    I just want to walk up to people with a deadpan expression on my face and say, “I see things…” and see how they react. I think I’ve got some great fodder for a YouTube sensation ;)

  12. says

    I would propose an alternative gospelization of all our Christian theology found at this web site.Being correct in doctrine depends on having sound Biblical Emphasis.God is love.
    That much must be clear in all our theology.
    We need Francis Schaeffer’s The Mark of a Christian. (link to free online version available)

  13. says

    I would propose an alternative gospelization of all our Christian theology found at this web site.Being correct in doctrine depends on having sound Biblical Emphasis.God is love.
    That much must be clear in all our theology.
    We need Francis Schaeffer’s The Mark of a Christian. (link to free online version available)

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