MUST READ: A fired Mars Hill Church pastor (Paul Petry!) releases story, history…

Slowly but surely the throngs of people who have been hurt, abused, and/or wronged at Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church (in various ways) are speaking up and sharing their truth…

And I am so grateful for every single story.

This time those speaking up are Pastor Paul Petry, and his wife, Jonna.

Paul was fired from Mars Hill Church in 2007.

Before now, it’s my understanding that Paul and Jonna have never shared their stories before…

But thankfully, both of their stories are being shared at the blog Joyful Exiles.

And their retelling is detailed, provides thorough support and documentation, and even includes a TIMELINE of their experiences at Mars Hill. The site even includes a documented account of the “trial” that Paul endured prior to his firing.

But why are they speaking up now?

I’ll let Paul answer that…

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Those who do not remember the past will have it rewritten for them.              

Well, not in this case. Not anymore. Four and half years ago, I was fired from Mars Hill Church because I refused to resign under pressure. I was a pastor on staff, an elder, and an officer of the corporation along with a group of other men.   I spent months seeking formal reconciliation and years hoping for a better course.   I have not spoken about these matters publicly until now. With the mounting stories and “histories” coming out regarding Mars Hill Church, it no longer seems right or beneficial to remain silent.

This website serves as a depository, a historical record of the events I and others  experienced at that time – including documents, written correspondence, and personal narrative – with the hope that greater love and reformation will emerge    and transcend our weaknesses and failures.

In addition to the straight history, my wife, Jonna, has written a personal narrative describing these events.  It is an important story and I am thankful she had the courage to write it. Our journey with Mars Hill Church began as a wonderful season God used to grow and strengthen our marriage, our children, and me – then came a very dark time, but by God’s grace, our marriage, our family, our faith (and our noses) remain intact, though forever changed.

For my part, what was written in these letters and documents speaks volumes and is enough for now. Perhaps at a later date I will have the time and inclination to contribute more. There are many fellow sojourners with their own stories yet untold. Though we are “joyful exiles,” we do not take joy in sharing this sad history. It is much like uncovering “hidden abuse” the family was unwilling to talk about for years, yet is necessary for healing and freedom.

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” — Ephesians 4:14-16

GO READ JOYFUL EXILES. It’s eyeopening, detailed, and worth the time it takes to get through all of the information that Paul and Jonna (read her story here!) have provided us here…

I’m so grateful that people are finally telling their stories.


  1. says

    Here’s a quote that really struck me from her story:
    “I have come to believe that when idolatry is at play, it often creates
    and allows for an unreality to take hold of those who participate, as if under a spell, unable to see or hear the truth because it is all filtered through a projected “reality.” But it is a false reality – a delusion. I believe this dynamic is often true in cults where there is one dominant, charismatic, controlling leader. As I look back, this “delusion” aspect makes sense to me and helps to explain why the abuse is allowed and continues, while so many people are unaware and/or unwilling to confront. At some point though, a circumstance with leadership arises that invariably places you in the fray. You either bow and submit, or resist and face searing retribution.”

    Being raised in the conservative fundy homeschool world, under the influence of Bill Gothard, this quote tells the story of so many of us. Replace “Driscoll” with “Gothard” or any number of cult leaders, and it still applies.

  2. says

    I have always loathed every negative post you’ve ever shared about Mars Hill/Driscoll. Including all the recent stories of former members coming out with their stories of ‘abuse’.This however, is quite compelling(and eloquently written), and for the first time I am truly wondering what does go on behind closed doors at MH. Though I am not quite turned on Driscoll yet, and still personally love his books/sermons, I am truly curious to see more of this come to light, and will be praying that I don’t get caught up in the controversy/battle of this, but that I would be able to discern truth and deception, and carefully consider what/whose teaching I allow myself to be inclined to. This is truly shaking my Driscoll fanboy foundation.

    • says

      I can understand not wanting to see negative stories about Mark (or anyone else you support), but my question, unrelated to his personality, his exegesis and general scriptureal understanding in his sermons and books is often found seriously lacking or distorted, for example Song of Solomon sermon series for one of the most obvious examples that comes to mind. His questionable use of scripture, way back with his Ruth sermon series years ago, is where I first fell out of sync with Mark, how do you deal with those aspects?

  3. says

    Pastors who dangle their congregants and fellow workers over a chasm of hell by a silk thread while holding a razor blade? This is spiritual abuse. And this is very real.
    Why any Christian would not find themselves incensed at what is done in the name of the One they follow completely eludes me.

    I am not a Driscollian. I am a Christian.

    The saddest part of these stories is that a group took a person’s desire to serve God and twisted that desire.

    Jesus does indeed need new PR.

  4. Dan says

    I know the Petry’s and Meyer’s personally and watched their conduct throughout the events in question. Their accounting of the events is correct. Though not perfect, they did their best to navigate a painful process Biblically. Many people wondered why they didn’t say more publicly before, but I think they genuinely hoped things would work out differently privately.
    Now that a number of church discipline cases are becoming public and the heavy handed tactics of the church exposed, I’m glad the Petrys made this statement. If you read through the changes he proposed to the by laws in 2007 over which he was fired, it’s clear that the very things that are haunting Mars Hill publicly now are the things he foresaw back in 2007.

  5. says

    I find myself somewhat speechless. I can no longer be in shock or denial over a story like this. My initial response is sadness. Then it turned to anger. I don’t let it sit there though. I spent some time in prayer, and used the pain to remind myself to share some love with people I know who have similar stories. Thanks for bringing this story to the light.
    As a fan of the blog, I would love to hear some response from you, Matthew Paul Turner, on this article. Future post coming?

  6. says

    Somehow I connected with this Brad House guy a while ago on Twitter to ask him honest questions about Mars Hill, and ask him about dirt that gets leaked from time to time, with which he usually responds with Bible verse and denial. It’s like talking to a broken robot. I would be interested in hearing his side of the story (and I have asked for it) however I doubt that he is allowed to say anything without running by “authority” first. His twitter is @PBHouse if anyone else wants to ask questions…

  7. Sarah says

    wow. I read the whole thing and my heart hurts for them and I’m so glad they’ve found healing and not relied on man, but instead Jesus, as her dad reminded her. we moved from Nashville to the Seattle area this past year, and despite things I’d heard about mars hill, and despite a bad first impression of being threatened with a lawsuit for having the same name as someone who told me she also goes to mars hill, my husband and I decided to visit a mars hill branch one sunday. It was… the creepiest church experience we’ve ever had. we decided to leave early, even. the first 10 minutes were spent bragging about numbers and promoting driscoll’s new book. I believe it was called “Theology: What Every Christian Should Believe,” which I personally think the title alone is a little ballsy. I mean, we do have the Bible already. The entire service was driscoll preaching projected onto screens, not in person. I’ve heard mega churches do this, but to me it spoke of someone who doesn’t trust the word of God to come from anyone else but himself.
    Not wanting to end on a negative note, i believe kind people attend these churches who are growing and learning, but that is the work of the Holy Spirit, and not from a man.

  8. says

    From Jonna’s compelling story:
    “Shortly after this meeting, in my praying for the church that God’s will would be done in the
    upcoming changes, I sent a letter to the elders’ wives inviting them to join me in prayer, along
    with Scriptures I had been meditating on. Mark, who reads Grace’s emails, was livid about it and
    verbally lambasted the elders at their next meeting for not keeping their wives in line.”

    This smacks of control freak.

  9. says

    “One day we were in loving safe community (we thought) and the next day completely cut off and scorned. I have neverexperienced such cruelty or rejection in all my life. Seeing your loved ones abused, their hearts
    broken, their emotions heavy and dark, and their faith nearly destroyed, is the greatest pain of all.”

    Yep. And some people never have anything to do with God again because of this kind of abuse. That’s the most tragic part of all.

  10. Eagle says

    I can not read the blog on Joyful Exiles. It’s blank when I open it…
    Let me say this. Whether it be Mars Hill, Bethleham Baptist or Sovereign Grace I am struck by the inability of Christians to police themselves. Where is good hard investigative jounralism? Why doens’t magazines like Christianity Today and others really investigate and do good quality journalism. What Christianity needs is a Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

  11. Frank says

    I have invested the last 5 hours reading the account by Paul’s wife and most of the supporting documentation. I literally felt like I wanted to vomit multiple times while reading.
    Because of the good that results from Mark Driscoll’s preaching, I have wanted to believe that the mistreatment I have experienced firsthand and that I have heard of via friends was the result of a select few power-hungry, inexperienced rogue pastors.

    After reading Paul Petry’s suggested edits (which were entirely disregarded) to the 2007 bylaws in order to address: 1) a lack of accountability for pastors/ leaders and 2) a process whereby accused members can appeal if they feel that they are wrongfully accused or wrongfully deemed unrepentant – after reading this, I am now convinced that the mistreatment and dare I say, abuse that is practiced by the Pastors and extended leadership of Mars Hill Church is systemic. And I question whether it is intentional.

    My heart is heavy with sadness. My heart is also hopeful that the Petrys’ story will bring about a much greater awareness within the broader church community as well as at Mars Hill and some willingness for the Pastors, Elders, Community Group Leaders and Members of the church to say “Enough is enough. This is not how Jesus would want us to be known. There are too many of these stories of mistreatment, abuse of power, bullying, unkindness, and lack of graciousness for these to all be sour grapes.”

    My prayer is that the all of the followers of Christ at Mars Hill (leaders and members) will take the church’s standard for true conviction, confession, repentance, restitution, & reconciliation and apply it to the unkind, unloving, un-Christlike ways that the Church has treated so many people.

  12. Joshua says

    Some pastors make their living by telling people what the Bible means to their specific situation. The problem is that they often ignore the words it actually says.
    Example: “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Matthew 16:18

    Who did he say will build the church? The pastor? Peter? Mark Driscoll? Nope, read it again.

      • Dan says

        Personally, Mark Bent, I didn’t think it was a dumb thing for you to say. It was true. A healthy part of what they shared was their culpability in that system. There are people who see the problems with the system and never join in. But there are many, many good people who don’t see the problems at first, do join in, then don’t know what to do when they finally start understanding what’s wrong with it all. I think your experience along with their acknowledgement, coupled with their example of realizing their own problems, is a good example for many more still stuck in it.

          • Leanne says

            all human systems are flawed from the beginning no matter how noble they start. They can start with their flaws subtly hidden. Or they can start with so much energy and doing so much good that people overlook the flaws. But all human systems have flaws. Those systems prove themselves to be Christian or Christ like when they handle the flaws as they are exposed or begin to stand in the way of their ministry and goal–that is if they handle those flaws with humility and grace–admitting their wrongs, crucifying themselves rather than others, and seeking God. Unfortunately the human side of us often causes us to blame others, crucify others, and to justify our behavior with Scripture.

  13. How does this build up? says

    Matthew,the problem with posting this is that you have a large platform from which to be creative and constructive, yet posting articles like this with NO instruction toward reconciliation or pleas for prayer over the brokenness you speak of makes you appear disingenuous and more like a reporter for The Enquirer.

    I don’t think it’s your intention to come across as cynical, defensive and heartless, but if you’re going to take your stand by being the ‘voice’ of Jesus and “advocate for the weak” then do so with the ‘heart’ of Jesus (see John 17). Among other things, Jesus blood was shed to unify his people. Callously posting articles like this come across as cheap shots at the “the man” as opposed to creative efforts aimed at reconciliation.

    • says

      Because I trust that God will lead people as they engage this story, and God can do that without my instruction or pleading. I also think that Paul’s and Jonna’s hearts for Christ are reflected nicely throughout and don’t need my words coloring inside their lines.
      Thank you for your comment friend.

    • KatR says

      Cynical. Defensive. Heartless.
      That’s interesting. Those are words I would use to describe Christians who reflexively defend wolves like Mark Driscoll, who can’t even come up with crocodile tears for his victims.

      Creative efforts at reconciliation? How does one “reconcile” with an abuser, exactly?

        • says

          Hal, its time to go play at somebody else’s blog.
          You’re trolling now.

          And your trolling is neither interesting or entertaining.

          So kindly take your comments elsewhere until there’s another post that you can bash.

          Until then, go away or be blocked.

          Thank you.

    • Chris E says

      Rick Philips – who I’m not a huge fan of – recently posted an article on why public criticism doesn’t involve Matthew 18, you can find the article here:
      There are various aspects to stories like this; but remember that as well as the private matter of reconciliation, there is also the more public matter of Mars Hill using their successes to push a particular model of doing ministry quite hard, both via the various platforms Driscoll has to speak out and their Acts 29 Network (which includes it’s influence on church planting networks overseas).

      To that extent, this story on it’s own is a valid one, and the same people who consistently bang on about reconciliation would probably found Paul’s public critique of others actions to be too harsh. Where were you these last few years when these stories were bubbling up?

    • says

      I don’t think it’s possible for unity to be maintained by ignoring dangerous situations in which people in authority misuse their power to the detriment of others. Just because we’re to be of one mind and spirit as a church does not mean that we’re to tolerate abuse, especially when that abuse is committed in the name of the One who was crucified and lives.

      • Pam who likes chartreuse says

        Ah, unity. Too often also known as enabling, and complicity. But of course spiritualized with the word “unity”.

      • Tim says

        To add to this, Justin, you cannot be of one mind and spirit when the mentality of the leadership is blatantly anti-Christ.

    • says

      Unity is always the aim, but never at the expense of the weak, oppressed, or marginalized. The apostle Paul never hesitated to air his grievances against oppressive elements within the early church…and his sometimes inflammatory comments (Galatians 5:12, anyone?) are enshrined in sacred scripture for all to read.
      In some churches, “unity” can become a codeword for “uniformity.” Sometimes it becomes a club with which to beat people down.

      Sometimes “advocating for the weak” means speaking out against those who’ve wronged them. Sometimes protecting the marginalized has to come before reconciliation with their oppressors, particularly when their oppressors show no interest in reconciliation.

    • Tim says

      Here’s some suggested reading for you..Jeremiah 23:1-4
      Ezekiel 34:1-8
      Ezekiel 3:16 – 4:17

      Perhaps you should also read about Jesus’s dealings with the Pharisees. I recall him referring to these people as “broods of vipers,” “children of Satan,” “hypocrites…” There was even a story of Jesus *gasp* flipping tables over because the money changers were profitting from people’s guilt. Need I go on? He exposed their actions for what they were, which is why they wanted to kill him.

      Still think these posts aren’t in line with the “heart of Jesus” you referenced? Because I believe Matthews words have been very tame, considering that these “ministers” are DESTROYING the church body and the people who make it up. That’s not a light matter. I would caution you about making derogatory comments about Matthew’s character or his intentions, especially when God told these people in the Old Testament that it would be better for them to castrate themselves. To my knowledge, Matthew hasn’t told anyone to do that.

  14. says

    I don’t understand how people are still defending Driscoll and Mars Hill. Why should there be “reconciliation” between victims and abuses? Why should a cult continue to destroy lives? I’ve seen so much criticism of “negativity” lately. It’s too bad that rarely is this sort of thing recognized until it’s too late. Remember Jim Jones, anyone? He, too, started out with a godly motivation. Why is it okay to speak out against other issues, but not spiritually abusive churches? I wonder how long it will take before Christians stop defending the abuse that’s going on. If we sit here and do nothing–and say nothing–we become like the parent who won’t rescue a child from the other parent’s rape or beating.

    • Eagle says

      Some people dismiss information and arn’t bothered. I don’t get it. Why would you go into an Acts 29 church with all this information floating around? Why would someone attend a Sovereign Grace Church with all the blogs and stoires floating around on the net. It boggles the mind.

      • says

        In fairness to these congregations, many people simply don’t know. The world of blogs is much smaller than those of us in it like to think it is. Of course, it’s also much bigger than its occasional targets would like it to be, which is why revelations like this very well may catch up with the accused.

  15. says

    There is so much I can say about all this, from my own experience as a pastor/elder, personal exposure to Driscoll and how my travels as a speaker have revealed just how epidemic the unbiblical authoritarian abuse is in churches across the country (and not in just mega-churches). Many christian pastor “celebrities”, who are very gifted, type ‘A’ personalities, lack the personal character, maturity and humility to lead in a Christlike manner. Their organizational/administrative abilities, combined with a competitive spirit, “vision-casting” and honed manipulative skills (usually backed up with bible verses) and fueled with deep financial backing, make them a powerful and persuasive formidable force. More evidence why the church as a corporation violates every strand of biblical DNA Jesus intended for it. And also why we should never, ever mistake/confuse powerful personalities for the power of the Holy Spirit, no matter how big the organization or how much it appears that “God” is blessing them. Bottom line: learn to be a discerning, Spirit-controlled believer. If you’re a leader, don’t be an a-hole. If your a christian, don’t follow one.

      • Hal says

        I’m sorry, but your whole attitude through these Mars Hill stories has been voyeuristic, prideful, and political at best.
        I used to be a wholehearted supporter of Mark Driscoll but I have gradually come around through my own findings and some of yours, but your seem to take great joy in finding these things out, which is sad because 1) They are happening to real people and involve great pain on their part and 2) They involve the disgracing of the church, and indicate a lack of love and grace from you, and at no point should we enjoy the disgrace of a member of the body of Christ, even if he is acting like the armpit.

        Just once I would like to see you post a story about the good that is being done by some evangelical church, rather than you opportunistically leaping at every chance to degrade, mock, and condemn them.

        • says

          I don’t think MPT is taking joy in the stories, that these things have occurred – but I think we can all rejoice when people who have experienced spritiual abuse find the courage to come forward, to speak their pain, to bring their stories into the light so that the healing process can begin. This is something I have only been able to do in bits and pieces, but I know if more people from my former church brought their stories forward, particularly the elders who have left, we would all feel more free to get honest and to heal.

          • Hal says

            But do they have to come to light in so public a manner? Is that a necessary part of the process? Or is that (at least partially) a chance for those who oppose Mars Hill to revel in their disgrace?

          • Eliot says

            Yes. They do.
            If you read Jonna’s story, she says that they purposefully did not go public because they wanted to avoid looking like things were sour grapes and wanted to handle things biblically. That’s failed, so they’ve gone public, with great consideration.

            MPT seems to be much the same way – it’s not his fault that these stories are important. And I can tell you, I know of very few Driscoll detractors who actively delight in this sort of thing – I do not, and most of the bloggers I know do not. It makes our hearts heavy and our spirits sad. But one thing we will not do is stand by and allow this sort of stuff to be silenced because of some misguided notion that putting something out in public – bringing it to light and knowledge among the masses – is somehow wrong or sinful.

          • Hal says

            Maybe “in so public a manner” was not the best choice of words. I agree that they should become public knowledge, but it seems like MPT and others are only sharing them for the sake of sharing “just so you know” what Mars Hill/Driscoll is really like, without the real purpose of action being taken.
            I can think of at least three more effective means of getting this situation changed/something done than just reposting a blog.

            1) Gathering a group of publicly-known Christians to confront Driscoll.
            2) Appealing to Driscoll’s own church network in an attempts to confront him.
            3) Entreating someone Driscoll is likely to respect to address this issue directly.

          • Sheens says

            1. You clearly didn’t read Jonna’s story. She and her husband contacted the likes of John Piper and CJ Mahaney about the injustices, and they refused to get involved.
            2. Again, if you read Jonna’s story, you would understand the extent of control that Driscoll exercises in his organization. Paul Petry’s disagreement with the re-structuring of the ministry granting Driscoll immense control with very little accountability is what got him fired. If you’ll read the story, Driscoll fired his administrative assistant for praying that he’d have strong male leaders around him that would go toe-to-toe with him. In Driscoll’s own words, she was fired for “disloyalty.” Driscoll admonished the elders to keep their wives in line after he found out Jonna sent an e-mail asking the women to join her in prayer.

            My point is, no one in his church network who values their job is going to confront him. Even the most innocent, Christ-loving motivated actions will get one axed and frozen out if it’s suggested there’s dissension from Mark in some way. It’s about authority and control. Driscoll’s, not God’s.

            3. All I can say is, read her story. After what they’ve been through, I’m amazed they’re still people of faith. Their story needs to be repeated as publicly and as often as possible. Not only is it a cautionary tale about idolatry, pride, and many other things, it’s re-telling is a vindication for victims of such a large organization, who once were ostracized and isolated, but now find support in others who have gone through the experience.

            There’s this confused notion of grace floating around where it’s somehow considered better and godly to look the other way when rampant abuse and manipulation has taken place. When a person, particularly a LEADER, is using his authority to hurt others in the name of Christ, they need to be called to account, PERIOD.

        • Jes says

          I don’t see how being grateful for these stories coming out is a bad thing..and your second point about MPT finding joy in the disgrace of a member of the body of Christ?? He never said that. Anyways, it’s a great thing when the people of God share their hurt from abusive ministries because it opens up people’s eyes to the true hearts of those pastors. It also lets people know that they’re not alone in their thoughts of their pastor when he plays Holy Spirit for them.

          • Hal says

            In this post, no, technically he did not say it, but the way he lambasts Driscoll and Mars Hill, often in a mocking manner, every time anything major or minor appears to be done wrong, indicates otherwise.

        • Tim says

          And… you sitting here blasting MPT is a demonstration of grace how? I don’t mean to be a jerk, but did you ever think that maybe you jumped to the wrong conclusion about what he wrote?

          • Hal says

            I may have had a different conclusion than the one he intended, but I think it was a perfectly reasonable one based on what he wrote.
            As for this ‘blasting’ not being a demonstration of grace, I don’t think it is in the sense you are using ‘grace,’ but I have been reading this blog for over 2.5 years, and I patiently let hundreds of “articles” go by before I comment, and I have tried reasoning in the comments before, and it has yet to work, so honestly, I’m done with being “graceful” to someone who isn’t to others.

            And that argument just regresses into infinitude, because how is your comment about my comment a demonstration of grace? And how is my response to it? And how will your response to my response be? We can’t keep passing the buck.

  16. says

    For a long I tried to give Driscoll the benefit of the doubt, but this combined with Andrew’s story last month is too much. What is going on up there? Honestly though on a bigger scale most evangelical Christians bear some of the blame for situations like this. I have been to a Christian college and two seminaries and can say that everyone has their “people” they listen to via podcast. books, or whatever and essentially worship the ground they walk on. This entire celebrity culture must end. Every church now wants a pastor who is going to lead them to be the next big thing. Why is it not enough for a church to just be a neighborhood church, worship together, and love the people around them? Why do we need all the vision casting, hero stuff?

  17. Nick says

    I’m really disapointed in seeing how you enjoy posting these stories about Mars Hill. The church is doing SO much good through the power of the Holy Spirit, especially in Seattle, let alone the world. Are there issues? Yes. Does any church not have issues? No. I was a member at Mars Hill during this period, I knew Pastor Paul and I was his daughters JH leader, and the Elders came out with an over 100 page document answering questions about this and many other questions. The fact of the matter is that you don’t know the whole story, only a few people do and for you to criticize and enjoy bashing a church is embarrassing to me as a Christian, and this is just not because it’s Mars Hill, any church would be the same thing.
    It’s sad to me that just because people disagree with his theology, which is not sexist, or Mark Driscoll, who is a lot more humble then most people seem to think he is, they want to take any opportunity to tear down the Church (not Mars Hill, the capitol C church.) This was and still is an internal church matter and isn’t anybody else’s business. If you disagree with Mark and Mars Hill, don’t pay any attention to them! That’s what I do with Joel Osteen, Rob Bell, Brian McClaren and numerous other teachers I don’t agree with.

  18. says

    What is personally interesting about these recent situations is that as much as I might disagree with the actions of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill, Matthew appears to also hold to the same type of authoritarian structure within his blog and Facebook. A month or so ago, I (and another individual) challenged Matthew on his Facebook page about his treatment of Mark Driscoll and our comments were summarily deleted and our “liking” of his page were rescinded…

    • says

      I do sometimes delete comments on my Facebook page. And it’s never because somebody disagrees with me, it’s always based on how they disagree. As you can see, I let people disagree with me all the time here at the blog. So next time, bring your grief here and chances are (unless you’re over the top mean or insult my wife and kids) you’ll always be able to speak your mind.

      Thanks for the commen, man…


    • Frank says

      What a joke. I hope I’m the only one who wastes time responding to this foolish at logic. MPT should have full control over what he wants to display on his websites (blog, FB, etc). The comparison with Mars Hill would be to say that they should let anyone post anything that they want to their public websites (church site, FB, etc). No one thinks that Mars Hill Church is authoritarian because it doesn’t offer its website as a platform for The Stranger or the Church of Scientology, or anyone else they disagree with.

      • Hal says

        The difference is Mars Hill (as everyone here has been quick to point out) does not welcome debate and disagreement, nor is it dedicated to these kinds of discussions.

    • Leanne says

      MPT is not a pastor. And while he can exercise or exorcise his blog any way he wishes, it is not the same as a church and pastor. The authority of a pastor is far different than a blogger. A pastor is shepherding people–guiding them to be more like Christ, teaching them what Christianity is, they are seen as “experts” in theology and on the Bible. A blogger, while they may teach and offer advice are not authorities in the same manner in the personal lives of people. The goal of a blog is different than the goal of a church. A church is a place where God’s people worship God and are given the opportunity to serve. A blog can do part of that but cannot do all of that.If you are coming to MPT’s blog or Facebook page like its church, that might be a problem.

  19. says

    Abuse should never be swept under the rug, ignored, and hidden, or it will just continue. It must be brought to the light and spoken against and exposed so that the victims can be healed and the perps can be called to repentance and/or pay the consequences of their actions. I see no joy in anything posted here or anywhere else against Mars Hill. I’ve been calling MHC a cult for years now and I have no desire to say “I told you so”. I don’t know anyone that is gleefully rubbing their hands together, waiting for the downfall of a church and it’s leader. I see relief, heartbreak, sadness, righteous anger, and grace. Just because someone calls out the sin of another, doesn’t mean they take joy in doing so. The truth is being spoken, but it’s being spoken in love, the way it should be. I saw so much grace in Jonna’s story, much more then I would be inclined to offer the ones who wronged me. I was amazed at the grace and love for undeserving people that she and her husband showed. But there’s nothing wrong with being angry at the abuse done at the hands of people who are supposed to be shepherds and servants of God.

  20. kisekileia says

    Hey, Matthew: In case the email gets lost in the shuffle, I emailed you about my Mars Hill article. It’s set for publication on The Slacktiverse, with significant additions to give background on the situation for people who aren’t familiar with it, but I’d like your blessing because I cited a lot of your work. If you could check and reply to that email soon, I’d really appreciate it.

  21. says

    To the “this should be a private matter within the church…”
    You do know that’s what people used to (and still do say) about abusive parents and spouses right?

    And that’s kind of how these things go by unnoticed and people get hurt and victims get silenced?

    And is basically saying that the church wants to be exactly like an abusive culture?

  22. Hil says

    I’ve been keeping up with these stories this year and have to ask, did anyone get bad vibes from smaller things before this? A friend sent me some youtube clips of MD disdainfully talking about how church interiors were “too feminine” in their color choices. Just the way he seemed so abrasive in speaking was a red flag. (I don’t feel respected when someone derisively uses the word “chickified.”) That kind of attitude does not come from a respectful place, but I could not predict how that style would backfire. As he puts himself out there on a national level and has been profiled on major news shows, it is appropriate that his actions in leadership do indeed get scrutinized. I had no idea things would get this “high-conflict.” But I do think my spidey-sense picked up on some bad vibes a few years ago, and now I know to honor it more. Sometimes anger and offense are warning signals that something is indeed wrong. Proceed with caution and/or leave.
    Regarding reconciliation: I have read that with controlling people, there is no win-win deal. The person with the win-lose mentality will be in control of the dynamic when dealing with a win-win person. Until the offending person changes his mindset and believes that what he is doing is wrong, he will probably keep doing it.

  23. Christelle says

    This story should and must be told – if for nothing else – so others will know THEY ARE NOT ALONE! Anyone who has gone through anything remotely similar to this knows how isolating the situation is. Depression, tears, sorrow follow… and then, one day, hopefully, we look up – and realize THE MAN, THE CHURCH… THAT’s NOT Christ! And despite or in the midst of such struggle, we find out that our Christ is so unlike our Christians. And then, we find what true LOVE looks like… And we seek to share our new finding: True Love to all… and promote our new found love to THE LEAST OF THESE, who would never be allowed to set foot in a church… Yep, their story – is my story… Different situation. Different players. Same abuse. Same hurt. Almost destroyed my family. Almost destroyed me. Which Jesus will you follow? I choose the one who was too bloody and dirty for the stained glass crowd (thanks, Todd Agnew!). I choose to remain outside the 4 walls…

  24. Dave says

    My first and lasting question is concerning accountability from outside the church. Isn’t Mars Hill part of a network.?Have any pastors from that network looked into these accusations? Isn’t that their responsibility? If Driscoll is opposed to accountability, as he is accused of, it would be confirmed pretty quickly when an objective group of his perrs approached him with their concerns.

    • Frank says

      That is a great question, Dave. As mentioned in the recent announcements of Mark Driscoll stepping down from the Acts 29 Network as President and the The Gospel Coalition as a founding member (, it appears that Mars Hill is still in the Acts 29 Network. If that is the case, then it’s fair to ask what that membership actually means. It does portray some image of accountability though I would bet there has been none. I hope that Matt Chandler and his staff add a level of accountability to the Acts 29 system and that they investigate the accusations that continue to stack up. In addition, I would urge church leaders or church members who are reconsidering their A29 association (and not already associated with an existing denomination) to ask – “What is the accountability structure/ process for my church leaders?” And the second question – “what is the appeals process for leaders/ members who feel they are wrongfully accused of being in sin or being unrepentant about sin?”

      • h says

        I actually contacted a popular local ACTS 29 church a few years ago and asked how much they agreed w/ MD when it came to his sexist comments…the pastor who wrote me back shared that while they liked the network and believed it was doing good things worldwide, he personally did not like MD’s style of church leadership. I felt relieved because I know a lot of smart, nice ladies who attend there and would probably NOT go if they really knew more about MD and ever heard similar stuff coming from the pulpit. I think the network is wise to not have him as the president anymore because he probably does not represent all network members.

  25. says

    It’s obvious they are only trying to take away the importance of posting 50 posts a day on Facebook about the importance of sex in all things in the Christian life, including illicit stuff we should do after reading the Gospel of Mark. It’s so good they are coming out with a youth edition of Real Marriage: New and Improved with Even MORE Sex!

    Gospel of Mark, get it?!? Heeheehee…

  26. Miriam says

    I am a Catholic born on Capitol Hill when it used to be called Catholic Hill with all the church going Irish. I have never lost my faith. A priest who reveals a penitent is automatically excommunicated. Likewise, 95% of the priesthood is excellent, and in spite of the scandals, our parishes are growing.You never hear a priest get on the pulpit and condemn other Christians.
    Today, people have no idea of chastity and celibacy for Christ. We have the sacraments that nurture and support one to desire to give one’s total life to Christ. And to give totally, but misrepresent my faith to vulnerable young people seeking God, better moral standards, and new hope and direction for their lives, it is sad to see them gradually revolve their lives around this type of anti-religion religion.
    The universal Church’s assembly of Sacred Scripture — deeming that which is public revelation — meaning particular books of Scriptures can speak to all men in all times, was the work of the Church…the liturgy’s parts, spirit and tone of the ancient Mass, the Apostles Creed, the episcopal form of church governance….all this existed by 100 AD….Mary was held in highest esteem by the ancient Christians….Theotokos….and the communion of saints…

    True religion brings us to communion with God….and with each other….and when a preacher has to condemn other’s faith or not serve the humanity of Christ Who lives before the heart of every person…I would those seeking God to continue to seek the truth….seek the Church that will truly bring you to the one true God…and not the opinions of men…especially those with little credentials.

    Seeing how believers are being treated in this congregation are very indicative of spiritual and ecclesial abuse…I will keep them in my prayers…and pray for people who are not in any religion or hurt by it…find Christ and participate in what is truly Divine and truly human.

  27. jason says

    I went to Mars Hill for a while, but quietly left while I had time when I saw the writing on the wall. I always liked Paul. He was a good teacher and a better man. I honestly never thought he fit in there…he seemed so nicer, gentler, and humbler than Mark, but I thought it was a good cop/bad cop thing. Glad he shared his story. Sadly, Mark will think it’s persecution and Satan out to destroy his church. Really, it’s God bringing “what is hidden to light” (1 Corinthians 4:5) and giving them the chance to repent and reform before He tries a harsher method to get Mark’s attention.

  28. Bobby says

    I notice myself and several others here have similar stories. I just stumbled upon the Petrys’ website recently and read through much of the material. We were Mark Driscoll fans but now all this evidence just keeps mounting. And it’s really, really hard. Driscoll was (is) one of my biggest heroes. He’s had such a MASSIVE influence on my Christian walk and I adore(d) him. So when people like MPT, Tony Jones, Rachel Held Evans, etc. criticize Driscoll, it can get frustrating.
    “Can’t you just let the guy minister his own way?”

    “There’s a tiny, itsy bitsy part of you that enjoys this, isn’t there??”

    “Just ignore him!!”

    I’ve said them all. Regardless of anyone’s intentions, this stuff needs to be made known. Something I ask myself is, why can’t MH and MD come out and address these things? Why the talk of a corporation: “What happens in MH is OUR business and no one else’s.” Yes, that’s true to an extent, but come on, we’re the Body of Christ, not a corporation. There’s just too many question marks, too many areas of concern. Too many stories of senior leadership in the Young, Restless, Reformed movement being called out or stepping down from pride issues. I think there’s a boatload of potential in the YRR for good, but there’s also potential for corruption due to the self-assured attitude that rules the roost in those circles. Let’s give critics of MH and MD the benefit of the doubt and instead of immediately jumping to MD’s defense (who, really, if he wanted to, could come out and address all this. He’s a big boy after all), ask, well, is there a need for correction here?

  29. Eric says

    There are many many more stories from members who have been shunned because of simply asking a question of the elders or pastors. As a former MH member, Mark rules with an iron fist. We need to pray for Mark and all the leadership because many are being shamed and not loved.

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