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Dave Kraft, Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll

Honesly I am a little reluctant to write again about Mars Hill church and Mark Driscoll for two reasons:

1. It caused a firestorm on March 8 with that article

2. I don't want this blog site to be all about Mark Driscoll, but rather about "Leadership From The Heart,"  the centrality of the gospel, and the person and work of Jesus in the life of a leader.

Due to people asking me so many questions about this and that, I feel the need to write one more to clarify a few things and set the record straight.

There is a feeding frenzy in the media regarding Mars Hill Church. Those with something to say (and who are saying it) probably fit into two main camps.

1.  Those who want what’s best for MHC and its core leadership led by Mark Driscoll

2.  Those who would like to destroy both the church and its visionary and teaching pastor Mark Driscoll

It probably comes as no surprise to those who know me that I belong to 1.

Perhaps a little historical perspective will help.

I have been around MHC since 1999 and was an elder from 2005 to 2013, when I stepped down. The truth is that I respect and appreciate Mark’s writing, vision and teaching. He is an exceptionally gifted writer and communicator. He is a brilliant visionary and Jesus has used him greatly in creating and developing a Mars Hill Church that has amazing influence. The vision Mars Hill began with Lief Moi and Mike Gunn who worked alongside of Mark Driscoll.

Having said this, I must also say that  there are some serious concerns and issues for quite a number of us who call (or have called) Mars Hill their church home.

I addressed these “concerns and issues” by filing “Formal Charges” in May of 2013, which I mentioned in my March 7 Blog Post

On September 19, 2013, I resigned my membership and Eldership, because I have serious questions about the ministry and leadership philosophy/practices of the Executive Elders of MHC, no longer trust them and, therefore, cannot submit to their authority.

Mark Driscoll’s sin(s) (for many of us who know him and have worked with him) are about clear violations of I Timothy 3, Titus 1 and I Peter 5.

1.  Not being self-controlled and disciplined

2.  Being domineering

3.  Being verbally violent

4.  Being arrogant

5.  Being quick-tempered

Now, no leader is perfect. All of us understand and agree with that and we are not demanding or expecting Mark Driscoll to be flawless. In the biblical passages cited above, a single instance might not be a disqualifier from eldership; but an established pattern of such behavior, supported and substantiated by eyewitnesses, would be. Such is the case with Mark. I believe (and so do many other former staff and elders) he has a long-standing pattern of consistently violating these leadership qualities and has done so with dozens of individuals with few, if any, signs of genuine repentance.

Mark’s communication of March 14, 2014 to the Mars Hill Church family renewed the intense debate and clogged the internet chat rooms once again.

Let me say that many I know are hopeful about the content of that communication piece from Mark. We hope, and are trusting, that it expresses the true intent of his heart and that he follows through with what he said. What a leader does, rather than what the leader says, is a more accurate predictor of the future.

Because of speaking out about my concerns and filing “Formal Charges,” some label me as a hero while others think I’m an evil person, and they use Titus 3:10 to label me.

I wish to be thought of as neither a hero nor an evil person, but a leader who simply wants to be obedient to what I believe Jesus is prompting me to do.

One more thing to set the record straight. There are people who are accusing me of sharing sensitive Mars Hill documents with the media. I can honestly say that I have not given any documents (Non Disclosure Agreement or the Formal Charges I filed) to the media. There are at least two media outlets that have both of these documents, but they did not get them from me, nor do I know who supplied them.

Additionally, some are saying I’m trying to destroy Mark Driscoll and MHC.  Actually, the truth is just the opposite. I’m trying to help, not harm, the church and Mark’s leadership. I want to see the Holy Spirit bring healing, wholeness, repentance and reconciliation with lots of hurt/hurting people. I want to see a safe and nurturing culture at Mars Hill Church, not a fearful culture that has existed for years.

Please join me in praying for Mark Driscoll that he will understand what he has done, repent of what he has done and experience reconciliation with those to whom he has done it.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6 (KJ)

I believe I’m acting as a friend to Mark and MHC, not an enemy in what I’m doing/saying, despite what some think.

I trust many of you will choose to comment on this post, but please do so with civility and Christian graciousness. May our Lord Jesus be glorified and the gospel advanced.

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Reader Comments (58)

Thank you for your gracious post. I also am in Camp 1. I have never met Mark, so know nothing of his personal sins or sins he committed against staff. But I am terribly disturbed with how much church money he used for selfish ambition, to become famous in the eyes of the world. As a former senior pastor and church planter, if I was a Mars Hill Church elder, I would demand all of the money back that Mark made on the book - for reconciliation. Not only did the church SPEND that $200k+ ego money, Mark MADE a lot of money off of it too.

I would not ask Mark to repay the $200k - as it was a church / elder / Mark decision to spend it. But Mark needs to repay everything he MADE off the book in full. No one is talking about that. Ideally, Mark would give all of his future proceeds from at least that book to the church.

I appreciate your efforts in the Mars Hill Church scandals and issues. But I am also disappointed.

In fact, your assertion of people being in one of two camps is stunning to me. If you believe your own assertion (and I do not believe you do) it says a lot that helps me understand how you and others have and continue to "fail to step up to the plate" (to use your words).

I am certainly not in camp number 2, but neither and I in camp number 1. Both camps center around MHC and its core leadership under Mark Driscoll.

Neither camp cares for the sheep. Neither camp cares for those that are hurt. So I propose a third camp:

Camp # 3. Those who want to protect, restore and minister to the people that have been harmed by Mars Hill Church and its abusive leadership.

This camp exists and consists of the people and pastors that have reached out to hurting members, while you and the 20 pastors have admittedly failed to step up to the plate.

The fact that you see yourself in camp number one, rather than camp #3, is why we are not hearing of repentance from specific sin from you or Mark Driscoll. Mark did not act alone, and what the hurting sheep need to hear is repentance from the Pastors at Mars Hill Church. True repentance that will ministers to their wounds.

I am highly skeptical, although slightly hopeful, that the 20 former pastors can come to a joyful reconciliation with Mark Driscoll. But already Driscoll is praising God for the current governance structure – the very structure that has paved the way for, tolerated, and stood behind his abusive ways.

The fact remains that these 20 former elders shared in the abusive harm to members. Some of them voted for by-laws that removed the protective role that existed in the old by-laws where the church was governed by a plurality of equal elders.

Only 2 camps?

If you cannot envision a Mars Hill Church without Driscoll then your vision of the church is skewed. If your first concern is not to minister to the harmed sheep then your vision of pastoral ministry is skewed.

I would love to see 20 pastors passionately repent and reach out to hurting people. Then, if there is time, they can seek mutual repentance and reconciliation with Mark Driscoll.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRob Smith
Thank you, Mr. Kraft, for your faithfulness to our Lord. It means a great deal to me personally to see you responding in a mature, biblical manner. Thank you again for all the mentoring you've provided through your books, your example, and your personal investment.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndre Ong
Very helpful post. I love Pastor Mark. Thanks. This looks like a watershed time of testing for Mars Hill. God is able to make both Mars Hill and Pastor Mark stand, but it does seem that things need to change going forward.

So many of the comments, Tweets, and blog posts have given more heat than light. Thanks for the clarity and love you show.

The Bible school I attended many years ago went through a similar time of testing recently. The leadership expressed deep repentance and grief. Things are better now. May God grant that kind of repentance to Pastor Mark and Mars Hill.

Nice to meet you. God bless.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Webfoot
From my perspective the individuals who are actively seeking repentance from Mark Driscoll all would like to see him fully restored including myself. I don't think that can happen without his resignation from the MH ministry, but that doesn't mean that over time through God's grace Mark can't lead again. I'm certainly not out to "destroy" Mark Driscoll. I do not want to see MH destroyed nor do the vast majority of people I am aware of. In my opinion a third category of people should be added to your list.
By His grace alone,
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarc Fulmer
@Rob Smith

THANK YOU!! Finally one of the former pastors understands. Watching 20 pastors who were complicit in the abuse call Mark on the carpet, all while not taking responsibility and following Matthew 18 to repent directly to those they've harmed (where possible) is very disappointing.

You are correct that there are more than 2 camps. I believe there are 4.

#4 The bodies behind the bus. There are more than you think. Some have lost their faith, communities, family members and friends.

Until these pastors care more about those of us in #4, trying to restore an abusive church and pastor should not take priority.

Where is the effort to reach out to this group? I haven't seen it yet.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam Werner
@ Rob Smith - Totally agree!

An entire culture of unGodly leadership needs to change in MH and in the Church at large. I dare say that most of this culture is mixed up with church becoming a business and peoples' livelihoods being dependent upon the church business. Some people are willing to put up with a certain amount of unGodliness in order for them and their families to be financially secure. This blindness then becomes a slippery slope.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBridget
Thank you Dave for you honesty and trying to do it in a way that glorifies God and is focused on furthering the gospel.

I honestly want Mars Hill to get better and Mark to find resolution, however that comes about. I have been at MH for almost a decade. Part of me wants to be part of the solution and hang around church and be a force for positive change. However I am not in leadership, just a handful of volunteer positions. On the flip side my concern is hanging around makes me complicit and doesn't deter anyone from questionable/sinful practices. I have no idea if Mark needs to take a year sabbatical and go through his own redemption groups so to speak, or leave forever and still get help.

I will continue to pray for my church and Mark. The thought of leaving has never crossed my mind in my time there, and it feels very weird to even be having those conversations with my family and CG. Many in my CG want to leave and I am having trouble coming up with solid reasons for them to stay. I am also having trouble getting up for Easter at MH and wanting to invite my non christian friends to come to MH to celebrate with us.

Regardless what happens, may got be glorified!!!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLuke Ryan
Since everyone is suggesting new camps I'll suggest a... what, 5th now?

Camp #5: A group of folks who see themselves as in authority over this church even though they are no longer under any authority, let alone in this church. They don't like to hear hard words and instead, desiring to have their ears tickled they turn away and seek teachers in accordance with their desire (2 Tim 4:3). Jesus taught hard truth, and sometimes in harsh ways (Matt 3:7, 12:34, 23:33, etc. [uses this term frequently]), and because of hard truths and/or harsh words many of his "disciples" turned away (John 6:66-71).

The fact is, these men that left did so because they disagreed with Mark's style. They interpret hard words as domineering, violent, and quick-tempered because they are unable to muster the same passion for the mission of making disciples and instead spend their days blogging about how mean Pastor Mark Driscoll is to fire them.

Have Mark and other pastors at Mars Hill Church poorly managed some of these disagreements? Undoubtedly. Did they fire some people and did others leave because of the massive pace of change due to growth and the missteps of management and stress related to it? Absolutely. Does that give those that left some entitlement to make Mark and others repent for that disagreement? I'm sorry, but no.

If you love Mark so much and want Mars to benefit, you should have stayed there and contributed to that effort. You left, so you need to stop whining and find a nice quiet pastor in a country church that will pat you on the back and tell you it's all okay.

Sorry folks, but half of the story is just that... 1/2 of the story. You have no authority over this church and what you're doing is contributing NOTHING to this church or the "big C" Church. It's self-serving, disunifying, distraction and the Enemy is LOVING it.

You want to help Mars Hill and the Church at large? Stop pouting over having your feelings hurt and start praying for this church. Better yet, start your own church and do it better.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNot buying it
"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." -- Romans 12:18
"Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering." -- Matthew 5:23-24

Unlike you, I'm willing to take Mark Driscoll at his word and believe that he would like to reconcile with these 20 brothers. It certainly seems that there is a biblical imperative for all parties to strive to do this earnestly. I pray it happens, and happens with such speed and decisiveness and unanimity that all will see it was only possible due to a work of the Holy Spirit.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDennis HC
PS: My last response was to the commenter "Not buying it," and not Dave Kraft. As for the rest of the post by Not buying it, first, it doesn't surprise me that he is in support of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill, because his attitude seems very similar to the leadership's there. Second, he sure is reading a lot into the hearts of the men seeking reconciliation... personally, I will let Dave Kraft (and others) speak for their own heart motives. Third, although I take Mark Driscoll at his word in terms of seeking reconciliation, time will tell what happens with this. I don't think we need to rush to judgment either way, and a healthy amount of letting the dust settle is more than appropriate, in my view.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDennis HC
I'm a Mark Driscoll fan because he's a Jesus fan and I stumbled onto this website via the Seattle PI. As an outsider looking in, it seems to me that the people up there in Seattle are too sensitive. That's not an insult, just an observation. Do you think Pete Carroll ever yells at guys? The late Steve Jobs? Successful actors and directors? The leader of a church in an un-churched city? Leave the guy alone and let him do his work.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony (from Boston)
I've been listening to Pastor Mark via the internet feeds for years and find him to be an incredible orator, one of the best that I have heard. I've also, through Mars Hill been able to link into Leaders that Last, Pastor Dave to which I enjoy much. From an outsider looking in, 20 pastors leaving a relatively new church seems to be excessive and there would appear to be good reason. If Pastor Mark does have these issues then it is good that these guys step up and would seem to be a good starting place. What I am not understanding is why people like Mr. Smith are so angry and seem to be hindering the cause more than helping by calling for this and that creating dissension where there need not be more than there already is. People, if there is indeed a problem, let the Holy Spirit work here and keep your anger to yourselves. We are called to love each other. Lets watch how Jesus works here and join in by our most powerful tool…PRAYER!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFrom Afar
‘Not buying it’ says: “’re...contributing NOTHING to this church of the “big C” Church. It’s self-serving, disunifying, distraction and the Enemy is LOVING it.” That’s genuinely funny, coming from a Driscoll-supporter. Have you considered comedy as a career?

He also says, “They interpret hard words as domineering, violent, and quick-tempered because they are unable to muster the same passion for the mission of making disciples...” Because we all know that nothing is passionate unless it’s also violent and bad-tempered w00t

And also says, “... find a nice quiet pastor in a country church that will pat you on the back and tell you it’s all ok.” Bigotry much?

When a member writes such, there is, beyond doubt, something deeply awry at Mars Hill Church.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatrice
You're either in Camp 1 ("what's best"--my side) or Camp 2 ("destroy"--those who disagree with me).

Black-or-white, false dilemma thinking is what led to the abusive culture of Mars Hill in the first place. It's not even thinking per se, it's sloganeering and manipulation, poisoning the well. Where did you learn these tactics?

As Mr. Smith rightly points out, very little in this blog post is about those who've been abused, cycled in and out of a corrupt system, many of whom who are now perhaps beyond the reach of the Gospel ("Tried that once--hurt too bad."), but a great deal is about Driscoll and his creations (exceptionally gifted...brilliant visionary...amazing influence) and yourself (not to blame).

Until the tone of you former leaders of Mars Hill has shifted from hand wringing over Mark's potential destruction to hand wringing for those whom he has already destroyed, until the tone changes to: "My Dear God, what have we done?", I will see this primarily as one group of superapostles bumping against another. How dreary and prosaic.

Mr. Driscoll has one great gift, and that is the willingness to exercise raw force to get whatever he wants at any given moment and to surround himself with those eager to assist him. My two year old also possesses this gift, but he shall grow up and out of it.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLawProf
To "from afar . . ." with all due respect, since you are from afar you aren't up to speed. Fair enough. You say "if there is indeed a problem" - well, let your fingers do the walking and you'll find tons of content online that does, indeed, identify and acknowledge that there is a problem. This cannot be denied. It's obvious that the leadership HASN'T been loving each other-or the flock, as you recommend. Keeping our anger to ourselves is not biblical, either. There is accountability. We might not get it from our leaders in corporate America or Washington DC or even with our own families and friends. Why? Because we don't do accountability. It's inconvenient and messy. What I am watching is exactly what you suggest-Jesus at work here! Whether as a result of prayer or frustration or . . . what if He just said "I've had it with you idiots" and an earthquake wiped Seattle/Mars Hill/the accused 20 right off the map! He's done it before! Don't laugh-Seattle sits right on some fault lines. What I'm saying is that I fully believe that Jesus gave us the tools and instruction on not only how to mitigate/deal with this, but more importantly, not get into these fixes in the first place (pride, arrogance, etc) . . .
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBob Sluys
From Afar,
Yes, 20 pastors is quite a few, however, it's been noted that over 35 pastors have left Mars Hill in the last 3 years.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
I'm a MH member, fairly long term. II have been in leadership. I'm older. 30+ years as a believer.

I think the 20 former elders and pastors are doing a service to our church. The truth will come out this way. I applaud what Dave and others are doing.

Here's what I wish would happen with everyone else:
1. If you will really pray, thank you.

2. If you are outside the Mars Hill family, please act like you would with anyones family. Reserve judgment and let us work it out. All the comments and calls to action and what not are frankly a waste of time unless channeled like Dave is doing here.

3. I wish everyone who is a believer and not a member of MH but focused on this issue would take that time and energy and visit a widow. Become a Big Brother. Help a foster child. Feed a hungry person. Share hope with someone. God will square Mark away if and when he needs to. Can we all have faith for that? So let God do that, and the rest of us can be faithful to whatever God is asking us to do. The church is getting famous for all the wrong reasons in this conversation. Sure its blowing up in social media, but is it causing this to be said about us by the world who is watching?
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

4. For those who feel reconciliation is needed before they can move on because they have been hurt. First, I'm sorry you were hurt. Second, reconciliation is a rare beast in this world...when you get the person who harmed you to take responsibility and make amends and the relationship is restored fully. Restoration takes two. Forgiveness however can be done by one, and that is what we are called to, every one of us, every time. Jesus is clear on that. So those who are encouraging people to walk out, demanding this or that, I think you do those who are hurt a disservice. I know you think you are pursuing justice, so I am not judging you. But mercy triumphs over judgment, even for Mark Driscoll. Let those who were hurt forgive and move on. I think by continually focusing on the past hurts, you anchor people to them. Forgiveness allows us to move on. Those hurt by Mark...and I'm sure there are many (why am I sure? because he is human and is in contact with many and so his humanity will by default help and HURT some...just like all of us do)...need to forgive and go focus on something NOT Mark Driscoll. Let it go. There is freedom whether or not Mark admits anything to anyone.

5. Fast from this issue. Set it aside. Stop the crazy. I think the 20 former leaders coming forward will be instructive. If they are rejected and ignored, then that will be a different issue to address. But let that process run. Allow Mark to be just like you...a sinner who is being transformed from dark to light a tiny bit day by day. He's not a monster, he's a human being. His sins are magnified because he's on a big stage. But could any of us stand that level of scrutiny ourselves? I say this not to excuse Marks sins if they are there. But simply to address the spirit of the conversation. Jesus had justice on his side when the woman caught in adultery was to be stoned. The OT punishment was clear. And Jesus clearly believed the bible. So why did he let her go unpunished?

James 2:13 tells why: 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMH member
@MH Member,

•standing ovation•
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaude
It's been neat to me to hear of elders involved in the Petry's shunning slowly coming to them to repent and repair with them for their part in the process. Ultimately, it's hard to envision any repentance by Mark as real if it doesn't involve those who bore the most public humiliation. I don't mean to minimize what other elders have endured since then, but I think we can all agree that the Petry's endured a particularly intense manifestation of Mark's disqualifying anger problem.

I too think that Jeff and Jennifer Roach deserve specific apologies from other elders for looking away when Mark told Jeff to shut his wife up or Mark would do it for him in front of 1000's of members on the internal message boards. I can't believe how easily I justified that awful public verbal humiliation they received. I've reached out to Jen, and I think others who were there at the time who did not step up to shepherd at that point should as well.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWendy Alsup

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