If you are not following the Mark Driscoll resignation, you should be.
There was big story in Sunday involving Pastor Mark Driscoll.
Driscoll announced to his congregation by video that he will step down from being Pastor for 6 weeks while Mars Hill Elders investigate formal charges he abused his power.
The charges stem from 21 former pastors of Mars Hill Church that he abused his power.
It has been a tough summer for Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. Pastors have stepped down. Revelations of insults on a message board. Allegations of plagiarism. There has been a long list of issues well documented over the years of Mark Driscoll.
Now, some of you might be thinking that is just another blog on Mark Driscoll. Someone who is taking advantage of Driscoll’s demise. Or, you are not surprised by the story of abuse of the church and religion.
I would argue as while the story is about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church, it’s actually about more. And for believers and non-believers, this is an important story to follow.
First, let’s look at the facts of the announcement.
It was a 17 minute video announcing his departure. Here is a portion of the quote from the video. Above is a link to it.
“I want to say to my Mars Hill family, past and present, I’m very sorry. I genuinely mean it. I’m very sorry for the times that I’ve been angry, short or insensitive. I’m very sorry for anything I’ve done to distract our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention.”
“I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help my maturity before God and men”.
” Storm clouds seem to be swirling around me more than ever in recent months, and I have given much thought and sought wise counsel as to why that is and what to do about it. Some have challenged aspects of my personality and leadership style, and while some of these challenges seem unfair, I have no problem admitting that I am deserving on some of those criticisms based on my past actions that I’m genuinely sorry for.”
At face value and first glance, this seems like a very sincere and genuine response. However upon some further examination, I think there are some very important things to consider.
First the actual process of investigation. This will be done by Mars Hill elders. I do not like this. I think there should be an independent and impartial review of this. Given the history of the issues, I would be very concerned having the church board investigating their own leadership. There can be a perception if bias. It is important to note that it has not only been Driscoll, but other Mars Hill Pastors accused of abuse of power. I would also be asking what this process of investigation involves. Who conducts and how is it conducted?
Second, and this may come across as a cheeky response to the “given much thought and sought wise counsel”. It is interesting to note that Mark Demoss, who worked on Mitt Romney’s Presidential Campaign was hired to work in a PR role with the congregation. Obviously, a significant and expensive hire. Clearly, Driscoll and Mars Hill have been thinking about the “storm clouds” and are prepared, or preparing a plan of response.
Third, this is very interesting. Mars Hill raised a total of $ 3 million, for a festival called the Jesus Festival. A festival that has been quietly cancelled.
An early look at the investigation, communication, and financial plan. I’m very concerned that this may handled in a fair, just manner. Not only for Driscoll, but the people he has hurt over the years.
That’s very sad. Because there is an opportunity here.
The sad fact of the matter is that as much focus as there been on such “sins” of homosexuality, or sex outside of wedlock, the church has had a deafening silence on one.
Spiritual Abuse is not specifically a “Driscoll” issue. This has happened too many people by people in “spiritual authority”. Pastors, Priests, and other church leaders. They will use terms like Biblical, Spiritual, and Godly to ensure their followers comply with their beliefs. They will then threaten eternal damnation or personal separation from community for not.
In the meantime, the church has not spoke up. They have been silent. Or worse. They have brushed it under the rug. Using terms like “there is no perfect church, or perfect pastor” or “All you can do is pray for them” .
In the meantime, those who have been hurt sit in silence. Not being heard and concerns being ignored. Some sit in defeat in the church. Others leave faith all together.
This is the opportunity to say something. This is the opportunity to speak into that conversation.
Many of Driscoll’s defenders have reminded us about his gifts and contributions to the church community. They remind us of his gifted speaking style. His teaching. The gifts and talents are not up for debate. Let’s not forget how many “gifted and talented” leaders have abused people. There have been times victims of abuse are afraid to come forward because the leader is gifted. There is a fear that no one will believe the victim. Many times, the victims of spiritual abuse are not believed. This leads to another one.
This is the opportunity to actually discuss what spiritual abuse is. This the time to ask what are the signs, and triggers we should watch for the potential for abuse.
This is also the opportunity to watch how this is handled. This is a mega-church. They have lots of wealth, power and influence in the community. How they handle this issue will be telling to both victims of abuse, and quite frankly, abusers how this will be handled going forward.
Will the church in a position of power listen,and take these concerns seriously? Or, will it be another time when victims are silenced?
This is why this is worth watching.