1. Matt says

    Mars Hill has over 15,000 people and we have reports of things going badly for about 3-5?
    Thats probably a better percentage than 99% of churches out there.

    • Steve says

      There are at least one dozen websites and blogs dedicated to the abuse happening there. There are therapists specializing in treating the victims of MH and similar cults

        • CRS says

          I think 12,000 would like to see their church doors remain open, and I doubt their worried about the status of churches they don’t belong to.

          • A.E. Forest says

            For the record, this is a terrible argument. There were more than 12,000 Nazis that would like liked Hitler to retain power. Hussein and bin Laden had followers, too. People had their lives improved and gained wealth and relationships by following those leaders.
            That is not to say that Driscoll is like Hitler or MH members are Nazis, in any sense that references the level of evil they perpetrated, but it is to illustrate that the number of followers or the passion of those followers or the good received by those followers doesn’t justify any and all action of the leaders or the organization, and doesn’t justify others in allowing those leaders or their organizations to continue, especially in cases where the behaviors and standards of a questionable organization are being applied unilaterally and/or involuntarily to those who have no association or have ended their association.

      • Josh Stewart says

        Just don’t attend cults. Problem solved.
        Whatever. Other people do attend and people can still get hurt. Even if it’s not you.

        • CRS says

          So who’s going to be the cult police and decide which churches should be allowed to keep their doors open and which should be closed immediately?

          • says

            Whether their doors are closed or not does not negate our duty to call out cults for what they are. They will be held accountable some day. This way they have no excuse like, “no one ever said anything!”

      • Margaret says

        Yeah, um, that really doesn’t solve it at all. It just turns you into a silent enabler of abuse.

  2. says

    We were bullied and treated terribly by a major national moving company, and it was only after being treated so terribly that we sought out a news reporter to tell our story. After watching this video, I was reminded that very few people would want to tell such a painful story like that without being pushed to a breaking point. It must have been really bad to get to that point.
    On the other hand, we can probably give their stories the most validity by seeking these people out beyond the news report to share in their own words. When we told our moving story to a reporter, I thought it was pretty awful by itself, but the reporter kept asking emotionally charged, leading questions. That didn’t make my story invalid, but it did remind me that sometimes a news report like that may not tap into the whole story. I felt like I wanted to include details about our experience, but the reporter just wanted to focus on the fact that we were angry.

        • says

          If you look on the more stories page, this link is also posted below Andrew’s story, as is the first response Mars Hill gave. The point is to provide all the information so you can decide for yourself.

          I am sure you will reply that we do not have Mars Hill’s side of each of these stories. If they would reply to them or address any of the stories other than Andrew’s (which was a PR non-response, IMO) & Lance’s, I would happily post that as well. To be fair, I have tried to give Mars Hill credit when it is due:

          • CRS says

            I guess I’m just failing to see why MHC is accountable to the general public regarding internal church affairs. Just because a disgruntled former members make something public doesn’t mean MHC is obligated to take the next step in a public dialog.
            Find me one church that doesn’t have angry former members or non-members for that matter. With 12,000 regular weekly attendees, I would hazard to guess there’s just a greater quantity of one-sided stories to tell, but I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that MHC is above the national average, if that’s even tracked.

            I would guess people see that a church looks “hipster” externally and then develop certain exceptions as to what they think the church should be like. Once they find out they church’s doctrine and orthopraxy doesn’t align with theirs, they leave and leave loudly.

          • says

            They are accountable to the church, at large, because they continued to harrass and “discipline” people after they had surrendered their membership. At that point, the relationship is no longer voluntary, and the church (all of us, not limited to a specific congregation) has the right and the obligation to step in. Not only that, but the Mars Hill congregation, espeically Mark Driscoll, go to the national media claiming to represent the gospel and Christianity, so when the church sees them doing something counter to the gospel and Christianity, we have every right to speak up loudly and make it clear that we think they are wrong and they don’t represent us.
            Frankly, they can paint themselves green and plant daisies in their toes, if they want, but they can’t go all over the world, to any media that will listen, and claim to represent me or my God while they do it, and expect me to nod and smile.

          • CRS says

            Even if you’re right, are you to spend time crusading against teaching you disagree with or simply avoid it (Romans 16, Matthew 7)? Again, if you’re right, won’t Jesus protect his church, not you?

          • gary says

            Fine. How about we start with MD being accountable to ANYONE? That would sure be a nice start. Until that day ever comes (not holding my breath), I refer to him as Pope Mark.

          • Tod Merley says

            Mars Hill (perhaps more to the point Mark’s Hill) has lived and grown by public media controversy. Should it really be any surprise to you that they are now in the process of dying by the same?
            Jesus actually told many that he healed not to tell anyone else. They had a bit of a problem with that and so He and His disciples got swamped. Those “works” (healing, etc…) were the Fathers testimony that Jesus was the real deal.

            Mark’s Hill has destroyed many reputations, relationships, and along with all of that the trust and respect of the general public of things Christian. I can think of nothing that they have actually healed except their own bank accounts.

            So it is my prayer that people come soon to understand that Mark’s Hill has nothing actually to do with Christ and frankly has used His name for vainglory and gain. They have a word for that:

            Sacrilege is the violation or injurious treatment of a sacred object. In a less proper sense, any transgression against the virtue of religion would be a sacrilege. It can come in the form of irreverence to sacred persons, places, and things. When the sacrilegious offence is verbal, it is called blasphemy. “Sacrilege” originates from the Latin sacer, sacred, and legere, to steal, as in Roman times it referred to the plundering of temples and graves.

            I do not think that Mark or his group started out with this in mind but his and their hatred of correction along with their lack of experience and maturity has taken it’s toll.

            May God Have Mercy On Us All!!!

  3. Haven says

    Horrible. But far from shocking. To be honest, this sort of cruelty is what I would expect. I’m surpised it is just now coming to light

  4. Jacqui says

    It’s too bad that the reporters didn’t include statements from other churches about what’s going on here — churches who get it and can help dispel the fears and misconceptions that all churches are this unloving and unmerciful.
    Though I’m glad those who were hurt are feeling heard, I’m concerned for the message stories like this, about individual misguided churches, will send to those outside the (big C) Church, who don’t understand that there’s a difference.

        • says

          CRS, you’re right – it looks like the producer wanted a story and found one after looking hard enough. This is a non issue. I am not an apologist for Mars Hill, but they didn’t do anything wrong according to God’s Word. I’m not going to site references, but if you know the Bible they were seemingly in accordance to God’s Word. They followed the example jesus sets in the Bible for dispelling the immoral brother. Churches should follow Christ’s example and it should fall on the individual to find himself more Christlike, even when difficult, rather than the person feeling like the church should meet their need. Oh, yes, post-modernism in full effect.
          No church is perfect, but I can’t see anything the church has done wrong here except possible not go the extra mile in explaining ‘why’ they are doing what they are doing. Although, I have a feeling they probably behind the scenes handled it just fine (just an assumption). People say and do what they want in order to get sympathy and a camera has a way of shaping a story just right for the producer’s slant, etc.

          I sure hope God was satisfied with the action of the church leaders cause that’s who’ll they’ll answer to when it’s all said and done. Not these people or FOX news. I digress. Follow Christ. Christ’s rules don’t make sense to the world – see 1 Corinthians 1.

          • says

            Despite your proclamation of clarity, I know the text of the Bible quite well, and disagree with you. Apparently, God is more nuanced than you paint him to be.
            And, the example of expelling (the word I think you meant) the immoral brother wasn’t an example. It was an instruction. It wasn’t a general rule, it was a direction spoken into a specific situation. Also, it wasn’t spoken by Jesus. It was, most likely, Paul.

            And, Mars Hill has admitted to handling discipline incorrectly and claims to have fired two staff member recently because of it, so even they don’t think they “handled it just fine”.

  5. Grant says

    As unfortunate as this is, we hear about the horror stories because they’re just that. Look at the fruit of Mars Hill rather than a few hurt ex-members. There are lots of people that feel rejected by any church they go to regardless of whether or not their reasons are legitimate. People leave churches with complaints ALL THE TIME. Find me a church older than 10 years where someone hasn’t left on bad terms.
    Sensatiomalism is bad and unethical reporting. Sensationalism has no place in news about the church unless it’s sensation about the work that God is doing.

    No, I do not attend Mars Hill and I dislike “mega churches,” but be real and stop jumping on a bandwagon. There’s so much infighting in the Church and churches at large and we wonder why the rest of the world doesn’t take American Christians seriously. Quit perpetuating conflict. News programs also report news for their viewers, rather than honest reporting for the things that the news is made of, so I would take this with a grain of salt.

    Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. This most certainly isn’t beneficial.

    • says

      You as us to look at the fruit instead of the hurt people, but by your own statement, you’re asking us to only look at the good fruit and ignore the bad. The hurt people are part of the fruit. So far, the fruit of Mars Hill also includes the abolition of autonomous churches, controversy, and an abusive (overly sexual) stance toward women.
      Sensationalism has no place unless it’s about God’s work? So we shouldn’t stretch the truth or exagerrate unless we’re talking about God?

      One of the big reasons that the rest of the world doesn’t take us seriously is because we fail to stand up for the abused and oppressed and wounded. If you go to a lot of nations in crisis, one of the first things people ask is “where have you been?”. I think there are a lot of people here in America, wounded by the church, who would ask the same thing.

      So yeah, I’ll keep calling Mars Hill out. I’ll call you out too, because your comment was largely ridiculous.

    • megan says

      #1: You say, “look at the fruit” as though the quantity and quality of said fruit is self-evident. Quantity…OK, maybe. Quality…eh. Not so self-evident as you assume. MH can surely point to a lot of baptisms and conversions, but a lot of us feel that baptisms and conversions aren’t particularly laudable when people are being baptized into the gospel of “God hates you.”
      #2: Even if there is good fruit, I struggle to locate the biblical or moral rationale for “the ends justify the means”–which is inevitably what this argument boils down to.

      #3: I also do not take it as self-evident that non-Christians take us un-seriously because some Christians criticize a church that has gone awry in more than a few key areas. If anything, I believe silence on the matter causes more suspicion. Isn’t this why the Catholic Church is STILL losing the PR battle these days? It’s not just that there was abuse (though that’s certainly bad enough in itself) as it was the cover-up and code of silence around it. The next person I meet who says, “Well, they kept their yaps shut when they heard about abuse, but hey…no ‘infighting’ so I’ll take them seriously!” will, in fact, be the first person I meet who says that.

      But then, this is more ends-justifies-means arguing, isn’t it? We shouldn’t speak out because we believe it will achieve the desired of being or not being “taken seriously.” We should speak out because it’s the right thing to do, period.

    • Shelley says

      This is NOT sensationalism. MH has been overstepping it’s boundaries for years, and the pot is finally boiling over. This has been a very real topic in the Seattle community for years, and it’s just now getting a new level of press. Any church will have a few disgruntled ex members, but MH has them of a whole different level. And they’re not really disgruntled. They’re hurting and need to tell their story.

    • Anon says

      “Look at the fruit…”
      Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

  6. CRS says

    Am I missing something, or is there nothing new here? As far as I can tell, everything in that piece has been covered to death and addressed on both sides. Is this just an attempt to revive a dying story?

    • Margaret says

      I think you are failing to recognize the difference between disgruntled people and abused people. The level of the abuse that has not only happened, but is portrayed a normal and even praise-worthy as God’s will, is staggering and disturbing.

      • kisekileia says

        THIS. It scares me how many people even here are making excuses for Mars Hill. If you look at the material Mars Hill posted when Andrew’s story came out about their church discipline policies, it’s crystal clear that the church is abusive. The fact that so many Christians are so unfamiliar with identifying spiritual abuse makes me very worried, both that they will be abused and that they will abuse others.

  7. Griffin says

    “When you feel that this is wrong, chances are it’s probably wrong.” So that’s the standard for wrong these days? Don’t get ME wrong, it’s possible certainly that the church applies discipline too often, but let’s not make everyone out to be a martyr before we know the whole story. Every time I see these stories, what the church DID is clear. I keep wondering… what did the people do…. what if… *they* acted wrongly?

    • says

      Whatever happened to the Pauline idea of natural law? Are we so indoctrinated by our dependence on a local church that we must ignore our internal, God-given conscience? Conscience is what Kaylee’s referring to, and if a church is instructing its members to ignore pangs of conscience, then, yeah, THAT’S WRONG.

      • says

        Yay Dianna! When we chose to leave, our leader wanted us to sit down with him so he could determine if we were, in fact, hearing from the Holy Spirit (or following our conscience, if you want to put it that way). He told us that if we weren’t, we were endangering our family and hurting the church for our own motives. WTH?
        I encourage people to read Kaelee’s full story

      • CRS says

        No matter what the “pangs of conscience” are? A church has no role in the influence of its members? How is that biblical? We should does toss all that stuff about authority, elders, and overeers out the window? Paul had a lot to say about those little things too. Is Christianity really that individualistic?

        • Shelley says

          I don’t think anyone here is arguing that church discipline is wrong. The Bible actually teaches that it’s wrong when churches fail to pursue it. The issue at hand is the WAY they are doing it, and what they consider “discipline worthy”. Andrew was already repentant and on the restoration path. When he felt that MH wasn’t the best place for that process, they disciplined him because THEY weren’t in control anymore. As if they were worried that the Holy Spirit wouldn’t get involved.
          Many were ostracized when they disagreed with amoral issues and nonessentials. The body has plenty of room for Christ centered disagreement, but MH won’t tolerate it.

        • says

          That’s not what I said, and you know it. Way to go with the strawman, there.
          We have become so dependent on a local church or pastor telling us what to do, how to feel, how to react, and how to live that we ignore what are very likely tell-tale signs that things are wrong. We brush it off because disagreeing with the “man of God” who is preaching the Bible up there can’t possibly be wrong, right? Driscoll himself has instructed people (particularly women) to ignore their consciences by telling them that if they find themselves disagreeing with his sermons that they must be struggling with some sort of sin in their life – in other words, that pang of conscience you feel when your pastor says something off base? It’s just your problem with sin.

          That’s not what I see from Paul in the Bible – he tells us that God has given us a guide in the form of our conscience (natural law) so that we may be able to correct those who are doing things contrary to the gospel. Instead of Biblical discernment, instead of listening to the Holy Spirit and intuiting when something is wrong, Mars Hill, in particular, is telling its members to ignore those pangs of conscience, to ignore the red flags of discernment in order to maintain control – that is not a church’s job. A church is out of its place in a member’s life when they start instructing them to fall in line rather than to seek earnestly after the Holy Spirit.

          • says

            “disagreeing with the “man of God” who is preaching the Bible up there can’t possibly be wrong, right?” should not have the “disagreeing with” in there – changed the direction of the sentence halfway through and didn’t fix it. Apologies.

          • Melody says

            Agreed. When people are more concerned with minding their own business and avoiding conflict than addressing legalistic abuse, they will come up with every excuse and straw man in the book. MH and Driscoll have acted abominably, and they must be exposed for the abusers that they are.

          • says

            Thank you! This was my point when I said the bit about if you feel something is wrong chances are it’s probably wrong. I am really loving the discussion going on here!

        • Anon says

          “Is Christianity really that individualistic?”
          But the self-appointed leadership at the organization you seem to be a rabid apologist for is certainly individualistic and accountable to no one. How is it that the leadership at the top constantly changes, except for the number one guy who has a lifetime job and is able to hire and fire pastors he wants to at will? Perhaps you have not read the constitution and bylaws of the organization. Or do you just turn a blind eye to it and ignore “the man behind the curtain”?

      • Griffin says

        Isn’t the Pauline idea of natural revelation so that the unbeliever is without excuse? It’s not so we all have an innate moral sense uninflected by the sinful nature. Certainly what these people are doing *seems* wrong to plenty of perfectly rational people.

        • CRS says

          You should probably read the rest of the Pauline Epistles to see how we’re clearly not meant to fend for ourselves. Check out the pastoral epistles for starters. General revelation is a starting point, but it’s hardly the pinnacle of being connected to Christ’s church.

          • Griffin says

            I agree with you; ’twas my point. General revelation is not enough. Keep in mind that God does give the authority to the church.

        • Eliot says

          In my impression, I see no reason why the believer would be immune from a natural conscience or natural law. Why would God lead a person, using natural moral law, to himself, only to remove that natural conscience once they pick up a Bible? It seems to me that THAT is the point when natural law (ie, The Holy Spirit) would be most necessary.

          • CRS says

            I’m not disagreeing with you in that we do have the Holy Spirit and that we are without excuse because of what he’s revealed to us. However… you can’t only read Romans 1. Paul’s also clear on church discipline and the role of elders. That’s why I was asking you to read further. We don’t just ignore the rest because we like one chapter so much.

          • Eliot says

            I agree with Dianna in that what you’re thinking of is a straw man. I don’t see where she said that we should get rid of church elders altogether (or where I said that!), but merely that churches are encouraging their members to ignore pangs of conscience.
            Church discipline has its place, sure, but that’s not what is being argued here. The church is not meant to take over the role of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life – it’s just not. It’s there to function as a community of believers for encouragement, edification, and, yes, sometimes discipline. The problem seems to be when the church tells you to ignore your own discernment in favor of the church’s opinion on something. That’s highly problematic.

          • CRS says

            “The problem seems to be when the church tells you to ignore your own discernment in favor of the church’s opinion on something. That’s highly problematic.”
            How confident are you that this is what goes on in general at MHC?

          • Eliot says

            Many of Driscoll’s comments toward his critics are indicative of this view:
            When asked to respond to his critics, Driscoll said he hadn’t read any of the reviews but that “sometimes reviewers will reveal more of their own struggles than actual problems with the book.”

            From a CNN interview that came out in January.

          • says

            I am quite confident as it has been our experience and we are not even in Washington state but at one of the far off church plants. And I have read and received story after story of this kind of situation.
            You obviously wish to play defense lawyer no matter what is said. Have you been to Mars Hill? Are you a member? Why are you unwilling to look at both sides of this issue?

          • Shelley says

            @CRS You seem to be a big fan of the apostle Paul. I’m sure you’ll love 2 Cor chapter 2, where Paul scolds the church of Corinth for going way too far when they disciplined the guy from 1 Cor 5. This is the same kind of stuff we are talking about here.
            Listen to story after story of former MH members with an open Bible and an open heart. Then see if you’ll still defend them.

          • Griffin says

            Never, at any point in 2 Corinthians 2 does he say that the people have gone way too far. He says, more accurately, that the man is repentant due to the obedience of the majority in discipline so that he may now be forgiven.

  8. Mike says

    I could go out and perform the same interview with no grounds whatsoever…..I would like for Mark to sit down and address these things.

  9. Shelley says

    @Mike Christians in Seattle have been attempting to lovingly sit down with Driscoll for years, hear his side, and share their biblically based concerns, especially over some hurtful things he’s said publicly. They’ve been trying for years and years, and he won’t have it. This was going on 6 years ago when I lived in Seattle.
    @CRS No this is not a new story. It’s a very serious and real one that is spiraling out of control- NOT because people are speaking up, but because MH has for years overstepped its boundaries beyond what the Bible considers a healthy relationship between church leadership and laypeople. Dialogue about this outside of MH is appropriate because it’s the only way to get the truth out so that people can be set free. I’m sad that MH has pushed it here.

    Any church will have a few former disgruntled members, and the media certainly likes to sell a story. But I’ve never seen anything as intense as this.

  10. Josh Stewart says

    I love how this has been accused as “one sided” from the MH camp. And yet more people keep coming forward confirming details that run counter to what the PR director said. (like the number of members made privilege to documents online.) The MH camp no doubt believes (as do many Christians) that the multitude of witnesses to Jesus’s resurrection proves its legitimacy and yet.. When it comes to tales of bullying and abuse within their own walls from multiple sources it’s called out as “one sided.” For shame.

    • Melody says

      Well of course. Driscoll worshipers can’t handle the truth, they’re so blinded by their prejudice and brainwashing.

  11. CRS says

    You’re saying Scripture affirms the testimonies of those who came forward against Driscoll in the way it affirms the testimonies of those who saw our resurrected Christ?

    • Pam says

      I think Josh is simply referring to the great number of witnesses themselves, whether their words are canonized or not.

  12. Helen says

    Could the Mars Hill members on this thread please enlighten me as to where oral sex is mentioned in the bible? I’ve a hunch that Driscoll meant male oral sex heh heh. I would love a raft of bible verses thanks CRS. Red letter ones would be even better.

    • says

      Driscoll claims that Song of Solomon talks about this…if you go to the website there is a series called the Peasant Princess that is an absolutely awful twisting of scripture. But, that is a whole other controversy.

      • Phronsie Howell says

        Driscoll isn’t the only one who says Song of Solomon talks about it. I don’t see why it couldn’t be talking about it. It is a book about sex…

      • Ric Booth says

        The Song of Solomon talks about oral sex like Exodus talks about camping. Which, I suppose, is a relief to all you campers out there.

  13. chris says

    Learning all about the History of the Jim Jones, the Hitlers, the Creflo Dollars, the tragedy of Waco, and all those others mind controllers that have brainwashed many people by power and control. These people are brainwashed and manipulated by Driscoll. IT’S A CULT! God has open the eyes of those who sincerely seeking God and MADE A WAY OF ESCAPE! Driscoll only prey on those who a younger generation. Because these are the future that the Devil wants to destroy through a false teacher like Mark Driscoll. He is poisoning the minds of these people by manipulating and controlling them with guilt and shame. Jesus died for our SINS! WE ARE A NEW CREATION AND MOMENT BY MOMENT WE ARE BEING TRANSFORMED INTO CHRIST IMAGES AND LIKENESS. I don’t see CHRIST IN DRISCOLL AND WHEN I LISTEN TO HIM ALL HE DO IS TWIST THE SCRIPTURES. God has given us HOLY SPIRIT to GUIDE US TO ALL TRUTH, TO TEACH US GOD’S COMMANDMENTS, We gather with believers (with is the church) to freely worship and love God. To enjoy and love one another. To encourage one another. Not to have someone like Mark Driscoll belittle you and talk down on you. What he is doing is brainswashing the men because they are very vulnerable and he is able to control and overpower them with initimidation. Mark Driscoll is from the seed of an cult. My prayer for that those people in Mars Hill church will RUN, RUN, RUN TO THE LIGHT. WHOM IS JESUS. The bible says, that we must expose those wolf in sheep clothing. READ THE BOOK OF JUDA. Mark’s name is all over those chapters. God bless all of you. Pursue a Holy and Pure life after Christ.

    • Eliot says

      Oh look: My shift key works too.
      Yours might not be working properly. You may want to get that checked.

      • chris says

        Well thank you guys….I feel the love here.My shift key Works too.

        I am very thankful MPT for being courageous and informing many about the spiritual abuse that is going on with Mark Driscoll and his disciples. Many people, and I am one of them have known about his false teaching of Mars Hills church. I have saw right through this guy for the longest. He takes scriptures and pervert them by manipulating and distorting them into the minds of these young hipsters of a generation that are sincerely seeking TRUTH. (oops there goes my shift key)The sad thing about it is that he takes these young hipsters and beat them down to his macho perverted teaching by telling them behind that screen what a REAL MAN should be. Like Marky once said in a video, he has to BREAK THEIR NOSE. Like they do to people in karate in order to discipline them….I would love to break his nose!!! Anyway, He is just one of those celebrity oxymoron that thinks he is smart and you all are STUPID. (oops)

        While many of you are using theology like swords. the Bible have spoken about these kinds of false teachers. Read Judas. Mark is one of them.

        Al Mohler, (another false teacher) said in pastors conference that they are there to preach and teach the people and save them from their ignorance.
        But God said it better, My people perish for lack of knowledge.

        Are any of you Born Again? Well, you must be born again to enter into the kingdom of God. Once you born again God generously bless you with His spirit that dwells and is secured in you. That means that we have God’s nature in us which is Holy Spirit ( Holy Spirit is a person, not a “it”, part of the Trinity)
        Imagine that God dwells in us!!! Jesus send us Holy Spirit to help us in our time of need, to guide us to the right path, and to teach us ALL TRUTH.(oops) Let every man be a liar and God be true.

        Yes, God have ordained Preachers to encourage and feed His sheeps, (which Mark is not considered a preacher of God, but of man. I am thankful that He has given HIs chosen people His Holy Spirit that dwells in us that convicts us of SIN, and show us if the preacher or teacher of the Word is teaching truth or a wolf in sheep clothing.
        He called us to be like Noble Bereans. So we are without excused. If you don’t search the scriptures and see if you have eternal life, then you are allowing these false teachers (Markism) control and manipulated you. God gives great discernment to His children and the power to flee from such perversion. We are to depend totally on God to help us to live a life of FREEDOM IN CHRIST. (oops) The Blood of Jesus has washed away ALL of our sins.
        I pray that you would surrender your ALL (oops) and follow a living Shepherd that will guide God’s people home which is heaven. Shalom!

  14. Griffin says

    If I may, I think it would be wise to keep 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 in mind here. God will judge the heart of the leaders here (more strictly I might add). We can not deny that there is fruit coming out of this ministry. If there are serious problems otherwise, let God determine that. What say you all in light of this Scripture?

    • says

      I say that context matters. That scripture is about quarreling over who has the best leader. In fact, when read in context, it discusses that each leader’s work must and shall be tested to see if the quality of the work is good. The good will survive and that which has faulty foundation will not. In fact, it says quite the opposite, and also indicates that serving the gospel should trump serving any leader, no matter how great his “fruit” is. Together, all of it is about sending someone to them, to keep them in check, because they have become arrogant in their perception of their own knowledge and in boasting about the human leader they follow, and they need to be corrected.
      There is plenty of fruit. Some of it is good, and some of it is downright rotten. Nothing in the passage you present, or in any of the surrounding text says that Christians should ignore bad fruit. In fact, the letter is calling out bad fruit from a good church full of people the writer loves.

  15. elp says

    These stories will continue to surface. We were members of mhc four years ago, for about 3.5 years. We are so thankful that the Holy Spirit opened our eyes to the truth of what was happening there.
    What started the spiral was the firing of two elders in 2008. These well-respected men were fired because they challenged the new bylaws that were about to be put in place; bylaws which would give an executive board of 4 men, hand-picked by MD, the power and authority to make decisions for mhc, and taking away plurality of eldership. Out of thirty elders, only these two older men were willing to challenge MD and the new executive board, knowing that this type of leadership structure would not be good for MD or for the church.

    Members questioned the firings, especially after we received a 140+ page document, telling us to treat one of here men like an outsider, that he was an “unrepentant sinner” and a “wolf.”. Some members simply followed instructions, while others of us knew this description didn’t match up with the man some either knew personally or whose reputation we had heard spoken of so highly.

    We didn’t know this family, but our consciences would not let us blindly follow without knowing all of the facts. We spent the next 8 months asking our good friends, who were prominent elders (one was formerly part of this original executive board), many questions. We also went to both of the men who were fired to get their stories. These two men had well-documented personal accounts of their experiences, unbeknownst to the other. Our elder friends justified the firings by pointing to the fact that 30+ elders all voted to have these men ousted, and we just needed to trust our leaders.

    Our personal conversations with these elders were revealing. We did not want to leave this church that we had loved like no other. We prayed earnestly that God would show us something that would cause us to stay, as we so desperately did not want to leave. We were accepted, looked upon with favor, and my husband was on the road to pursuing eldership. But the more we asked hard, direct questions of leadership, the more clear it became that things were not right. We were heartbroken, but knew we could not submit to this type of fear-based leadership.

    We chose not to renew our memberships, and sign the new member covenant. I honestly did not think at that time that our leaving the church would affect our close friendships with our elder friends and their families; we double-dated, had playdates with their children, and I had intimate friendships with each of these elders’ wives. Our letter to many of the elders we knew, informing them of our leaving, was respectful and left out details regarding our reasons.

    We were shocked to receive no response from most of them, including our friend who was on the executive board. His wife told me how devastated and hurt she was that we were leaving, and we were scheduled to meet to talk about it a few weeks later, but the day before our talk, her husband emailed mine to tell him he was cancelling our meeting . I was told by one elder’s wife that she could “no longer be in intentional community with me,” and when i asked her for reasons, she said “i can’t speak to that right now, I need to talk to (husband’s name) first.” The third couple met with us a month after we left, accused us of “sinning in our suspicion” and “leaving the family.”. The wife also said, “because of your leaving, it causes me to mistrust my own husband.” They, too, said that they could no longer be in “intentional community” with us.

    I could go on and on with more details about our story, as well as the number of others we know who chose to leave, who also have similar stories. I have only sympathy for people who continue to stand in staunch defense of mhc and MD,because they do so blindly. MD admittedly ignores his critics, and this encourages his people to do the same. They refuse to hear anything that might challenge his teachings, his sin, and the abuse that he and his people inflict on others in the name of Christ. The scary part about this is that it means be can do or say no wrong, which makes him almost God-like, or at least someone you had better not even think about questioning (or at least not to his face).

    I am grateful that the stories of spiritual abuse are surfacing. As in any case of abuse, it starts with the testimony of one, then many more follow. This is good and healing for the Church.

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

      It was actually 2007 at the culmination of the Nehemiah series. Not meaning to be picky but I was a member at the time, too. I didn’t renew in late 2007/early 2008 but it wasn’t just about the fired elders or the by-laws, it was also about contract renewal fatigue and learning that the capital campaign from 2005 turned out to have been a boondoggle. I know folks have said people make mistakes but roughly 1.5 million dollar mistakes made with the money given by church members when the zoning and licensing requirements could have been reviewed before the purchase? That’s a really expense mistake to make with someone else’s money and Driscoll even told us what the proposed use for the would-have-been second campus was going to be in Reformission Rev back in 2006. Then in 2007 we found out, amidst all the stuff about fired elders and by-laws that, well, the building couldn’t get used for what we’d been told it was going to get used for. I don’t now if MH still owns the property but I feel obliged to add that not everyone who stopped being part of MH did so “just” over the fired elder situation.

    • gary says

      So sad for you and what you had to go through. This is simply cult like. Yet the MH cronies…..sorry….henchmen….sorry…meant to say members, wil continue to follow the company line and continue to harrass, threaten, and intimidate people.

  16. mirele says

    I see little difference between Mars Hill and Scientology. They’re both abusive cults. One is more acceptable in society because it claims to follow Jesus. But it is just as abusive in its own way as the space-alien cult.

  17. Mike says

    You also cannot trust local tv news investigations. I worked for local news outlets for 15 years. This is a sweeps piece and it’s sole purpose is to get attention and drive ratings. The producers look for a story and will find whoever will talk about it to support the story they are looking for. Ive seen it happen and been part of the process. Disgruntled former church members are probably not very credible sources.

    • says

      Can you offer any support for your comment? Proof that you worked local news? Proof that all local news investigations can’t be trusted? Proof that this piece is just a sweeps piece that shouldn’t be trusted?
      Please. If you’re going to make such broad assumptions you should at least offer some proof that you’re not completely full of crap.

      Because lets face it, while you might be legit, you also might be a liar. And me thinking that you’re a liar is easier for me to handle because it means I don’t have to think or consider anything that’s outside of my comfort zone. And by telling other people that I think you’re a fake, perhaps I can get them to stop thinking and considering opinions of others too!

      So… proof?

      • says

        …..this response is perfect haha.
        To Mike, I honestly don’t care what their intentions were in doing the piece, my conscience made me feel that it would be wrong to keep silent. I am not disgruntled, I am deeply disturbed and concerned by what is going on there. It is no loger part of my life and I hadn’t given Mars Hill much attention or thought after I left until I began to hear these stories. When I heard them I decided it was time to break my own silence.

    • elp says

      Mike, I know at least 20 people who were giving, serving, active, God-fearing members of MHC (community group leaders, Grace group leaders, elders, deacons) who would each share painful personal stories of what happened to them as a result of using discernment and questioning decisions made by leadership. None of us wanted to leave our church body, nor did we leave in haste. We needed to ask questions, we were seeking truth and wanted so badly to be proven wrong- to give the benefit of the doubt. Which is why for so many of us, the process of leaving took many grueling months. All of us have experienced some sort of shunning and/or accusations, and we have all experienced the process of doubting our own selves, wondering if we were somehow responsible? And yet, our stories are eerily similar, which confirms that we are not out of our minds, “demonically influenced,” or “quitters”; we were spiritually abused.
      Oh, and each of these 20 or so people could each name 20 more… It’s real, it is true. I do hope that you will someday choose not to ignore the testimonies of those people who suffered and are still suffering. The Scriptures call us to be discerning, no matter how influential and charismatic the person we choose to follow may be.

      • chris says

        Many people have borrowed the definition of the term spiritual abuse, found in the book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen:
        “Spiritual abuse is the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment.”

        These two authors go on to refine this definition:

        “Spiritual abuse can occur when a leader uses his or her spiritual position to control or dominate another person. It often involves overriding the feelings and opinions of another, without regard to what will result in the other person’s state of living, emotions or well-being. In this application, power is used to bolster the position or needs of a leader over and above one who comes to them in need.”

      • says

        This is so good to hear. The subtle message to not trust my own discernment has been so hard to shake as I go through this process. It always helps to hear that other have doubted themselves while experiencing this.

      • Jeremy says

        So, if I understand this correctly, if a MHC member decides they want to leave MHC for various reasons other than they are moving away, the leadership automatically suspects that you’re committing some prideful sin of division, questioning, or distrust in leadership and puts them under unofficial church discipline in order to get them to conform and not leave? Is that an accurate summary of what people have said?

  18. Erin says

    Such good timing for a Mars Hill post. I had a dream last night that I was literally being held hostage by Mark Driscoll.

  19. Anon says

    Mike (15 years working for local news outlets) said: “The producers look for a story and will find whoever will talk about it.”
    Well, they didn’t have to look too hard, did they?
    Apparently, there are a lot of people out there hurt by this organization.
    Check out ELP’s post just above yours, Mike.

  20. Phronsie Howell says

    Just wanted to point out that by definition a cult is “a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.” and/or “a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.”
    Using that definition, technically any church could be called a cult. Liberals could be called members of a cult, Conservatives could be called members of a cult, Muslims could be called members of a cult, etc.

    I’ve seen the word “cult” used a bit in the responses and wanted to point that out…

    • Dictionary says

      World English Dictionarycult (kʌlt) — n
      1. a specific system of religious worship, esp with reference to its rites and deity
      2. a sect devoted to such a system
      3.a quasi-religious organization using devious psychological techniques to gain and control adherents
      4. sociol a group having an exclusive ideology and ritual practices centred on sacred symbols, esp one characterized by lack of organizational structure

      Cultural Dictionary
      cult definition
      In anthropology, an organization for the conduct of ritual, magical, or other religious observances. Many so-called primitive tribes, for example, have ancestor cults, in which dead ancestors are considered divine and activities are organized to respect their memory and invoke their aid. A cult is also a religious group held together by a dominant, often charismatic individual, or by the worship of a divinity, an idol, or some other object. – Cults in America
      Some people have said there are more cults in America than churches…All cults share some common points, the main one being that they follow a single leader who demands total commitment and doesn’t accept questioning.

      It’s pretty well understood to mean a group of people, with a charismatic leader, that employs devious methods to dominate and control people. People seem to be using it a lot, because it applies to accurately in this situation. I’m sure a lot of churches, religions and political group do fit the definition. That doesn’t make it incorrect.

    • mirele says

      Well, let me just skip the word “cult” and get right to the point: Mars Hill church engages in the same types of abusive behavior as the so-called “church” of Scientology. The difference between MH and Scientology is that one claims to worship Jesus and the other thinks Jesus is a figment of the imagination implanted in the human spirit 76 million years ago. However, the abusive behavior seen in both groups is the same, and comes out of the same authoritarian spirit seen in so-called “high control” groups.
      And like David Miscavige, the leader of Scientology, Mark Driscoll thinks he’s above having to actually deal with the fact that his church abuses people. However, Driscoll’s doing this abuse in the name of Jesus, not L. Ron Hubbard.

      You probably think I’m exaggerating when I compare Mars Hill to Scientology. I’m not. That letter about how to treat “Andrew” which was posted to the Mars Hill internal website “the City” is the exact equivalent of a Scientology “Suppressive Person Declare.”

      There, I didn’t use the word “cult.” But Mars Hill can be, and is, a despicable organization, even if it does wrap itself in the mantle of Jesus.

  21. DrBlevy says

    1 Peter 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness”. Him is not the pastor… Him is Jesus. To write out your sexual history??? There is not enough ink in the world to write down my sexual sins. Does that include thoughts?? Because I would be in serious trouble. Christ has no memory of my sins… why should I put Jesus back upon the cross by digging up my sins, albeit sex, greed, envy, lust, or the time I changed the odometer on my truck before I traded it in. Does every business man/woman have to write down all the times he/she claimed lunch on their taxes when in fact it was not? Did we see a list of sins from the pastor and elders?? I think this Mark dude just wants to read about other peoples sex life. Do not put your faith in a man/woman … I went through this in the shepherding movement in the 80’s. Man will only let you down, leave you hanging and then burn you. God will not. Your faith in Him (Jesus Christ) has to be strong and just know that your pastor is human. Born of sin… like everyone else.

  22. says

    I grew up in a situation similar to this. It is ABSOLUTELY not Biblical what they are doing. The “do what I say/ask no questions” thing is not biblical. Paul admonished believers to submit to EACH OTHER, this includes leaders “submitting” to what the non-leaders may have to say. They are also told to not lord over their church members. Many of today’s non-denominational churches have adopted this “just do and don’t ask” mentality and it is crippling the church.
    I also have issue with so much focus on training up the children. I grew up in a cult similar to this one. I grew up thinking that I had a “normal” upbringing, but in fact I was brainwashed into fearing the leader more than God. When I came out of the cult in my late 20’s, I discovered that my social interactions were, in fact, marred. I’m not talking about “being like the world”, I’m talking about every day conversation and friendship things.

    Anytime, someone is shunned because they won’t conform to someone else’s standard- not GOD’S standard, THAT IS A CULT. When people are afraid to speak their minds or feel they need to question every little decision that they make for their life, THAT IS A CULT. When they are forced to open up about their past and then get condemned for it, when the BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST ALREADY WASHED IT AWAY, THAT IS A CULT. THAT is control. THAT is ruled by someone who is power-hungry and insecure. If there is fear and dread, I say run.

    Like I said earlier, I grew up in a cult church. Life decisions were made for me: when and where I went to college, whether or not we bought a house… They even tried to prevent my husband and I from getting married, because they had other people in mind for us. They forced me to change details about my wedding. They tried to peer pressure me into naming my daughter something other than what we wanted to. With the things that I did what they wanted, I was “rewarded” with ministry position, but as soon as I asked questions or didn’t do what they wanted me to, (non-sin issues,) I was demoted from my position as punishment, yelled at from the pulpit and labeled a troublemaker. Please note that I am over these things and have forgiven, I’m just giving examples because I want people to understand what goes on behind the scenes in places like these.

    I’ve been accused of closing down a church that I attended a few years ago. And honestly, if I’m the reason, I’m glad, because it was straight on the road to becoming something very similar to Mars Hill and the church that I went to in central IL. Reveal the wolves. Jesus said to.

Leave a Reply