Oct 312014
 

Screen-shot-2013-12-04-at-7.18.39-PMThe group of Mars Hill churches will either become independent churches or disband as of January 1, 2015.

Christianity Today coverage

Warren Throckmorton broke the story

According to CT;

The lead pastor of each current site has three options to choose from by January 1:

(1) becoming an independent, self-governed church

(2) merging with an existing church to create one independent, self-governed church

(3) disbanding as a church and shepherding current members to find other local church homes

Meanwhile, Mars Hill as an organization will dissolve in four steps:

(1) All of Mars Hill’s existing church properties will either be sold, or the loans on the individual properties will be assumed by the independent churches, subject to approval by the lender

(2) all central staff will be compensated for their work, and then released from their employment

(3) if any funds remain after the winding down and satisfaction of Mars Hill business affairs, they will be gifted as seed money to the newly independent churches

(4) the existing Mars Hill Church organization will be dissolved”

  62 Responses to “Mars Hill Leveled After January 1”

  1. So, is this a trick or a treat for the folks attending MHC?

  2. I guess I was wrong – that was a one monkey show.

  3. This church was obviously built on sand. I hope the faith of the people converted there isn’t.

  4. given what I observed about the bylaws in place this was one of the most likely of possible outcomes. Putting as much real estate as they did on the market in the wake of resignations of their two officers looked like a move the BoAA would take up as part of dissolving the corporation.

  5. I can’t see how any of those loans are easily moved. I could be wrong but I would imagine unless some wealthy private investors step up and assume the loans, the properties would have to be liquidated.

    Wenatchee….are all these loans in the name of simply Mars Hill (Seattle) and on their books? Did Seattle guarantee the loans or something?

  6. Zowie

  7. Market sovereignty strikes Mars Hill down.

  8. The entrepreneurs have moved on. Where will they turn up next?

  9. Bellevue Church already registered by BoO/BoAA member a Matt Rogers
    http://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/search_detail.aspx?ubi=603448198

  10. And the head clown is still raking in the cash and will be setting up a new circus in less than three months that is my guess.

  11. This is pretty shocking. I thought they would give it a run. Debt has to be the driver and the obvious collapse of support from those who were drawn by one voice.

    Morris called this a case of shooting the wounded when he introduced MD in Dallas last week. The category fails in this case.

    Wonder what happens next?

  12. Michael. Can you help us understand what to make of this? Seriously, this is nuts.

  13. ^^^^^^^ previously, Neo.

  14. actually, at least one still current elder has let a cat out of the bag that some of the BoE concluded Driscoll was unfit for ministry. Of course that’s never stopped Driscoll before but as PR goes it’s going to be harder to spin that. The BoO said MD wasn’t disqualified from ministry and it turns out the BoE 1) may not have actually been done with all their investigation and 2) had a restoration plan for Driscoll that Driscoll declined to accept and so he resigned and the BoO part of the BoAA seems to have accepted things. It’s begun to LOOK like the BoAA wasn’t going to accept a conclusion from the BoE that Mark was disqualified from ministry even in the miraculous event that the BoE considered the charges against Driscoll to be legit.

    So it’s starting to look like the claim of BoO members that MD wasn’t considered unfit for ministry may be a lie flying in the face of what the BoE findings were saying.

    If the corporation dissolves it is up in the air what happens to the respective debts and the real estate. It’s also not clear whether there could be an investigation by the attorney general into financial practices at MH once the whole corporation is dissolved anyway. The more that has come to light about the financials of MH the more questions emerge as to financial transparency and integrity. Driscoll and company may have conducted themselves in a way that gives atheists some special ammo to argue that churches shouldn’t have the tax exempt status they have and I’m sure there are Christians who would agree.

    Folks at The Stranger are stoked, unsurprisingly.

  15. Jedidiah,

    I liked Neo better…less letters to type.
    I’m holding back on analysis as I’m sorting out some offline info.
    What is obvious is that a celebrity led sect cannot support the expenses incurred if the celebrity is lost for whatever reason.
    I also believe we are seeing the hand of God move…but that’s something to speak of another day.
    I’m out for the weekend.

  16. Here’s my question –
    Is it all financial at this point
    or is there fear of lawsuit given the past?

  17. I cannot imagine any lender letting one of the local campuses turned independent congregation taking over the debt.

  18. Driscoll should open a Calvary Chapel franchise…the Moses Model would have prevented all this.

  19. I’m a CC guy so trying to wrap my head around this.

    CC churches have their own debt. They qualify for their own loans as independent churches with no connection whatsoever to Costa Mesa.

    CC Costa Mesa of course owns multiple properties around the world. Not churches but conference centers, colleges etc.

    So my question is were these Mars Hills churches simply owned (with debt) by the mothership, like CC owns a conference center….and unlike how the CC church structure is set-up

    If so, there is no way these lenders will loan a thing – unless they go through an entire new underwriting process and qualify which I imagine even if things weren’t falling apart would be difficult to satisfy. I agree with Matt if that is the case.

  20. If a corporation loses its product and has nothing to market any longer because they did not wisely diversify products; the banks may not allow others who depended upon the aforementioned product, for their existence in the market place, to assume any loans predicated upon the product in the first place.

    This is a sad day for church loans as a whole.

    Banks depend upon predictive data much the same as insurance companies do in determining business decisions.

    This will register a major blip on that data.

    BD you cracked me up with your comment #6, especially while looking at your Homer pic.

    Made my evening!

  21. With two major pastors having issues due at least in part to the empires they built leading to swollen heads, I hope that other multi site churches will take heed.

  22. Bruskas rode MH up, and now he’s riding it down. I wonder if he thinks it was a good choice to sell out the Albuquerque church now….

  23. If there is no Mars Hill, then Driscoll cannot be called in accountability……

  24. Surprised to see this CT article. For a season I thought MH was one of the biggest revivals in recent times but this is a sober reminder that all works of human origin centered on man and not on Christ, will eventually come to nothing.

  25. Jeepers.

    That letter… not very much concern for the people, is there? It was “We are all about Jesus, we are shutting the door of your church in your face, please send money,* we are all about Jesus don’t forget, good bye and good luck.”

    But it was all about Mark, wasn’t it? He quits and the whole edifice collapses.

    I just hope:

    1. The people haven’t given up on church and
    2. When they look for a new church they don’t fall for the same set of gimmicks.

    *You’d have to be a lunatic to send them any more money.

  26. BoO/BoAA/BoE member Matt Rogers has already registered Bellevue Church as of today’s announcement.

    http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/10/in-wake-of-closure-announcement-boaaboo.html

    Justin Dean has clarified that none of the spin-offs get to use “Mars Hill”
    http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-news-tribune-quotes-justin-dean.html

    Even if the branding is worthless it still is off the table, which might be one of the few positives for any of the individual churches that might survive. But Bellevue, man, Bellevue has insurmountable baggage because it’s not just that Matt Rogers has built up a rep for defending Driscoll in spite of everything, Thomas Hurst was involved in last year’s PR debacle.

    http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/08/follow-up-on-sutton-turners-we-are.html

    Nobody at Bellevue Church is going to be bathed in credibility at this point. MH seems to have cross-collateralized all its debt and assets into a unified loan package so dissolving the corporation may have been their only plausible option. Considering that questions and controversy about Mars Hill Global has not been entirely cleared up it remains to be seen what, if anything, may develop from here on out. But people may want to shine more of a spotlight on Rogers and other pastors that may be attempting spin-off campuses.

  27. My prediction MD will be back in less than three months, maybe six if the rebranding does not take. He will be in line with TD Jake$ and his ilk in some form and will regain some following. The disillusioned followers gutted by this man will struggle, some may well leave the faith (thats on them because MD is a man of God), MD will write a tell all book of some kind with in a year and it will do well and he will make money, that is holy. The disillusioned throng will struggle, hurt cry and feel deep spiritual pail, all totally irrelevant and I get that. Eventually it will fade away and the machine will move on. I admit I am a heretic but I dont think that is what Jesus had in mind concerning His church.

  28. What I hope will happen, I know Gag Christians should not do that, hope that is. MD will repent, his family and him be restored and in some fashion he returns to a humble ministry where he helps other pastors avoid the pitfalls he fell into, his relationship with all those hurt is restored and forgiven and there is healing. God is totally glorified and the Gospel is shared with the world in action and in word. If this post is not a clear reason I should go right to hell and I am servant of Satan I dont know what is.

  29. Driscoll should open a Calvary Chapel franchise…the Moses Model would have prevented all this.
    _________________________________________________________________________

    In a way you are right Alex. However, I agree with Michael that we are seeing the hand of God move in this Mars Hill situation which is altogether difficult for me to see in the current CC construct of Moses Model.

  30. Brian’s number 10 and Xenia’s number 26….you both said just what I am thinking.
    Thank you!

  31. Just saw Piper’s tweet from yesterday afternoon. He links to press release and hopes each new church flourishes with an exclamation mark. He must really, really care.

  32. A measure of the courage displayed by said leader loading those he led with unfathomable debt, then leaving with a year’s severance and whining of how his family suffered. Perhaps, one day…..we will learn to value what is true and good.

  33. Great men are a wearying burden to the true church–may we see an uprising of good men and women that reflect what is true about Jesus…..

  34. Not long ago I perused the website of our local Mars Hill franchise. It was rather anemic, with very little info, nothing about the local leadership (is there any?), but did talk about “Pastor Mark” a lot. Seems this local outlet has nothing without Driscoll.

  35. If you build a church on the principle of “addition”, you can grow the flock with satellite campuses, but all the growth depends on (and credit is taken by) one leader, so he can justify his compensation based on the his total numbers. The downside is that if he fails, there is no one else to take the helm. It’s like a house of cards. The risk of a failing pastor in this environment is heightened, perhaps even inevitable, because as the Bible says money is at the root of all kinds of evil. Who can resist various temptations in the midst of the adoration of thousands and the bringing in of $millions?

    On the other hand, if you build a church on the principle of “multiplication”, you grow both the pastors and their flocks; growth is exponential. Additionally, if a pastor fails, the other congregations are not impacted at all. The downside is that the movement’s founding pastor can’t justify his compensation on the total sum of the movement, because he has to give some credit to all the other pastors who are actually pastoring and leading souls to Christ.

    This is the abomination of the “satellite” campus movement.

    On a closing note, didn’t Proverbs say something about the debtor being the slave of the lender? Why is the Bible so easily ignored, by the people who promote as their distinctive that their church follows the Bible?

  36. Very good word @36, Jean.

  37. I wonder if some of MD’s detractors are now feeling remorseful, never intending for things to go this far. They wanted MD brought down a peg or too but didn’t mean for MH to fall into total wrack and ruin, for which they might be feeling a little guilty.

  38. Well, I think the critics and abused had some legit beefs. I also think that Mars Hill as a church org tried to do the right thing (finally) and then Driscoll wouldn’t cooperate and take his medicine so he took his toys and went back to his million dollar home.

    I think the decentralization of “Cult of Personality” is a good thing. Too much Driscoll worship…similar to what has happened in other Movements at times.

  39. Chuck Smith gone, Bob Coy caught, Driscoll ousted by online coup….American “fallen” Idol.

  40. I agree, Alex. But human nature being what it is, I still imagine some people are telling each other “I never expected this to go this far.”

  41. X, agreed, count me as one of those. I’m frankly surprised after seeing how ineffective trying to bring accountability to Calvary Chapel for similar (and worse) abuses has been.

  42. Maybe what would be fun is a new TV talent show variation, such as “So You Think You Can Preach” or “America’s Pastors got Talent”. Then we could all watch and vote each week on the next great American celebrity pastor. The prize could be $1 Mil. seed money for the winning pastor to plant his church and commission nifty marketing and book ideas, and of course a state of the art sound system, complete with lighting, smoke and bubbles.

  43. Xenia, no one should feel ‘guilt’ or ‘bad’ over what has happened-it would have been better for all if his powerful peers (Piper, Mahaney, Keller, etc.) had reached out to help Driscoll years ago. If any should feel bad, it is them–they (at least according to Keller), knew of his problems years ago. A manifest lack of concern for the people Driscoll purported to lead is manifest in their prolonged silence. If Driscoll had continued longer at MH, more damage would have been done. In a sense, all Christians have to cross a river–the river of recognizing that charm and personality are not a replacement for truth and humility. Christians have to cross the river from seeking a Saul to rule over them to looking for Jesus among the meek and humble.

    The tragedy is that not all will make it across that river–but to leave them in ingnorance in an abusive system will cause perhaps greater loss than this circumstance.

  44. Genuine fatherhood could have prevented the destruction of Mars Hill.
    Genuine fatherhood could have prevented the public disgrace of Lakeland FL.
    Genuine fatherhood could have resolved Alex’s injustice years ago.
    Genuine fatherhood could have found a way to heal Ted H. and his church without exile
    Genuine fatherhood could have seen redemption upon Lonnie Frisbee’s demise
    Genuine fatherhood could have solved problems without disconnection in VCF
    Genuine fatherhood could have prevented law courts from sorting the CC problems

    We still “have countless leaders in Christ but not many fathers”

    Maybe I am wrong … but it seems to me there are leaders but not fathers. Fathers care about the generations and the impact of their lives on the future. Fathers do not live for just today. Father are not afraid of bloody confrontation because they are committed to family connection as the solution. Fathers care more about integrity than they do about reputation. Fathers care more about the Gospel than they do about their agenda. We have to get this thing right.

  45. Good word Dreadly…which is why my number goal (and number one success) in this life is to be a good Father. So far, so good.

  46. A true “father” loves his kids…whether it is spiritual or familial/biological more than he loves himself.

    Unfortunately, many fathers are not true fathers, they are selfish a-holes.

  47. Rick, I’m not saying anyone should feel guilty, just that some of them might be feeling shocked that the pebble they started rolling gathered so much moss.

  48. I thought that was a snow ball (?)

  49. #45, BabyD, that was brilliant!!!

    #46, Alex, after the atrocities of your childhood, I have no doubt that your children are very much loved and very well cared for.

  50. Michael can you erase #51 when you get the chance?

    Thanks.

  51. “This is the abomination of the “satellite” campus movement”

    ____________________________________________________________________

    Jean, what do you think of Willow Creek? Bill Hybel seems to let every notable brother and sister that is the “who’s who” in evangelicalism and politics to speak at his church. Maybe he’s not the celebrity himself but the church seems to host every other celebrity.

  52. Hi Andrew,

    I don’t know Willow Creek or Bill Hybel, and I don’t want to suggest that it or he suffers from the corruption we’ve seen at MHC, but I stand by my critique of the satellite campus movement.

    Check out this paragraph from Willow Creek’s website in the “About Us” section:

    “No matter their location or language, each regional campus is both an extension of Willow Creek and a unique church family. On weekends, regional campuses offer the same great teaching (via videocast) that South Barrington enjoys. Services are hosted by the campus pastor and feature live worship music. Each campus offers student ministries for middle and high school students, as well as Promiseland, Willow’s children’s ministry for infants through grade 5. Each regional campus is a fully functioning church with its own staff and ministries to meet the needs of their community.”

    This is were the “great teaching” is available. What do you think the message is here and where is the focus? There are subtle messages here about Willow Creek vs. other local churches, about what church is, and about what people are in need of most. The explicit message is that Willow Creek has great teachers. That is a claim that Paul never made in his battles with other teachers and apostles.

    Here is the text from 1 C. 1 that most effectively reflects Paul’s heart on the subject:

    “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

    That last sentence “not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” is exactly the opposite of what Willow Creek’s message says. Do you agree?

    Finally, in case I’ve run on too long, I’ll end with this question: What is a campus “host” pastor? Is that like the host/hostess at an Applebees?

    There’s more that could be asked about, for example, how a pastor goes about writing a sermon for a particular congregation at a particular time and query whether that can be done on a greater Chicago basis, but this probably is a good question for the pastors on this blog to weigh in on.

  53. Has anyone on here been a part of a church that sent out a new church startup/plant?

    We’ll see how many new church plants get started out of all of this….
    Guesses?

  54. Jean,

    In the market driven church era that we are in the preacher is the brand. This is especially but not exclusively a nondenominational phenomenon. It is not the doctrine, practice, or ethos that makes the thing run it is the voice. Now you are decrying the multi-campus model and that model is pretty much the exclusive domaine of churches who thrive on the ‘brand.’ This is the first time that I have seen that the brand fail and the house of cards tumble. Is anyone aware of others?

    Robert Morris was labeling Mark Driscoll as the ‘wounded’ and the unnamed bogeyman called ‘the church’ as the shooter. That is horse hockey. When the brand FAILS then the wounded are everywhere. In this case the wounded are those who lost jobs, who lost community, who lost security, who lost hope, and on and on. The wounded are those who trusted the BRAND. No doubt MD is wounded too but his wound was self-inflicted. There was an NFL player who accidentally discharged a weapon in a public place shooting himself. That guy’s career was over and he was charged with a crime for his self wound. I digress.

    All of that to say that your decrying of the phenomenon of campus churches is a well worn path but in market economies what sells rules. We are stuck with this for a while. Best for those who reject the model to listen to MLD and Xenia as their critiques come from models who’s brand is their dogma and history and the particular preacher is incidental and accepted to be temporal. In those models the voice is scripture and tradition.

  55. Anyone on the ground in the land of Skip Heitzig know what the local MH situation is? I know a few people, most of them are shaken up significantly.

  56. Their plan is to franchise themselves. They announced it already via social media.

  57. BD. your 45 on Fatherhood is priceless and the prophetic word to learn from and build on going into the future. This word along with your description of the meek is the fiber of the Kingdom. Thank you.

  58. victorious… grace to you and God’s peace.

  59. I’ll echo what Vic said in 59!

  60. No, Xenia, I’ve been watching closely and no one is communicating that they feel guilty.
    1. They couldn’t pull it off. The Mars Hill leaders did that. The surprise was felt by all. It opened the eyes of some of the staunch Driscoll supporters who were pastors and elders. They can’t believe how the BOAA, the BOO, and Driscoll failed in their responsibilities and quickly planned the demise.
    2. The place is so unhealthy that it seems unwise & unloving to continue, as is. Julie Anne Smith posted the following on the Repeal the By-laws (Mars Hill) FB page, that explains why it would be unhealthy to continue:

    Brad Sargent nails it here:
    “And, until each individual leader documents and demonstrates otherwise and clears his/her reputation, everyone else should assume that he/she brings the exact same, corrupt “spiritual DNA” to the table for any future ministry developed from scratch or joined in through a merger.”

    http://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/capstone-1/

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