Seven years after he stepped down from Mars Hill, a church he founded, the Mars Hill elders are calling for Pastor Mark Driscoll to leave his current pastoral role at another church.
The call came July 26, when Mars Hill’s elder board released a statement to Christianity Today saying that Driscoll was still “unrepentant” for the reasons that led to his exiting the megachurch that was once at the forefront of the young, restless and Reformed movement. Driscoll’s resignation at Mars Hill followed a formal church investigation of his time as pastor.
Since 2016, Driscoll has led The Trinity Church, which he also founded.
In releasing the statement, the elders told CT that, “they felt a responsibility to clarify the charges against him as a way to warn current members of his church and continue to call the well-known preacher to the kind of repentance and restoration process he was never able to complete under Mars Hill.”
“This letter isn’t new information. It’s just information that hasn’t been widely spread,” said Ryan Welsh, who had been pastor of theology and leadership at Mars Hill. “Our hope is not just to point a finger. Our hope is to protect people and, by the Spirit’s work, that Mark would respond.”
The 41 signatories represent the majority of the pastors who served at the church between 2011 and 2014, when formal charges were raised against Driscoll. The list includes former executive pastor Sutton Turner and former teaching pastor Dave Bruskus, who made up the executive team alongside Driscoll.
Their statement also includes a never-before-released document from October 2014 that details how the church investigation, conducted by members of the elder board at the direction of Mars Hill’s board of overseers, found Driscoll to be quick-tempered, arrogant, and domineering.
The church asked him to repent and seek reconciliation as a result of these patterns of sin and set out a restoration plan. Driscoll resigned before the plan could be implemented.
Notably, the restoration document included the church’s intention for Discoll to return to leadership at Mars Hill. The elders decided to share the years-old plan after hearing that members of The Trinity Church began to go public with stories of their time in the congregation.
Seven years later, after reaching out to him privately and individually, those elders are again pleading with 50-year-old Driscoll “to participate in and submit to Christian conciliation” and resign from any position of spiritual authority “for the foreseeable future.” Monday’s statement represents the largest-scale effort to call their former pastor to repentence. The signatories recognize the parallels between the allegations made by former Trinity members and the situation at Mars Hill.
“We are saddened to learn that Mark Driscoll has continued in a pattern of sinful actions towards staff members and congregants as he pastors The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona,” their statement opens. “These sinful leadership behaviors appear similar to what he exhibited in his leadership role at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.”
Several former members of The Trinity Church, including its recently resigned director of security, Chad Freese, have begun to share their experiences online. Their accounts and criticism predate Christianity Today’s recent podcast, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, which looks back at the factors around the former church’s growth and collapse under Driscoll.
The outgoing members have raised concerns about the relational health of the Arizona church, citing specific examples of severed relationships in the congregation, including within families. Some of these people, according to Freese, had been barred from church grounds. He also described what he sees as favoritism, distrust, and threats from Driscoll, including threats of legal action.
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