On Posting Dirty Laundry … about Mark Driscoll and other asundry mega church pastors.

quote-i-want-a-church-i-can-stay-in-for-years-i-don-t-want-surprises-scandals-or-secrets-from-my-ted-haggard-234408Recently, on Twitter and Facebook, I linked to a blog post from the former Director of Resurgence, Mike Anderson, on his departure from Mars Hill Church and his association with Mark Driscoll. It was a revealing post. It could be construed as “airing dirty laundry.” On FB I got a good question from Shaun Wissmann on the post. In my own words he asked: when is it appropriate to link these kind of blog posts by people leaving a church in disharmony? Should they at least be required to detail how their post is in compliance with the Matt 18:15-20 process of reconciliation? Aren’t we thwarting the work of reconciliation that God is doing when we broadcast these kind of posts? Indeed, aren’t we fanning the flames of antagonism thereby undermining God’s church? To me these are very good and important questions. To which my response is as follows.

As a Rule

As a rule, I don’t either comment or link to posts/information on church conflicts that come from people outside the actual church conflict. I, as a rule, don’t post or provide commentary on pastors/leaders’ sexual/moral failures. When it comes to moral failures in the church, I think it is up to those who are directly affected, who are part of that community to discern the conflict/seek healing and reconciliation under the auspices of the reign of Christ. This has got to be done locally. No one can discern/unwind the motives, the accusations, the conflicts from a distance. To comment from outside inflames. It leads to ideologizing the issue to seed antagonism against. Trying to discern what is happening from outside the community is speculation that turns the supposed conflict into an ideological tool to bring down a church or raise up another, which in either case is a bad thing.

So I try to stay away from anything that might short circuit the communal process. I have tried to stay away from the inner workings of TGC’s and SGM’s problems. Anabaptist theologian J H Yoder’s problems IMO have sometimes bordered on being ideologized. The inside details are glossed over. His actual sexual issues/abuses, the actual people involved, the stories are glossed over because it is probably the purview of those abused. As a result, Yoder’s sexual scandal is open to being used to breed antagonism beyond the actual local crisis, the people who have been hurt. ( I am in no way saying he is being wrongly accused or has not been responsible for serious abuse). Thankfully I think more and more of the actual stories are being discerned. It is most important that the MennUSA church deal with its history and the ills revealed in these episodes in a way that brings healing to those hurt and the church itself as it moves forward. I think the process is helped by keeping the loop of reconciliation closely tied to the ones actually involved. The victims voices need to be heard first and foremost, and outside voices, advocates for Yoder or the victims, be relegated to a lesser role.

When Cults or Mega Churches (built on hierarchy) foreclose Mutual Submission/Reconciliation

Having said all this, there are times when Matt 18:15-20 is thwarted by either the cultish malformation of a church or it’s mega size, which in itself (via massive hierarchies) thwarts the ways we called to come together in Matt 18:15-20. The process of mutual (and I emphasize “mutual”) submission is not possible due to distanced/protected hierarchies. Christian communities like this, IMO, will inevitably implode of their own self-contradictions, the revealing how their systems/behavior are in blatant contradiction with the gospel. In this case, IMO, Christian communities who do not exercise in some form the processes of Matt 18:15-20 mutual submission will eventually in some way become undone by being exposed. I believe the exposure of “false communities” is therefore part of holding Christian communities accountable for who they are. Such a revealing discredits their witness as false before a watching world.

This, I contend, will always happen eventually. And I don’t believe Christians outside these communities should work to make that happen. (That thwarts the process).

I do believe however that someone, who is part of such an abusive community, who has continually been shut out of Matt 18:15-20 practices, can and should give a loving direct testimony to the inner contradictions of their church for the sake of their own church’s repentance. They should be submitting such a testimony to other church members for correction. They should be voicing it humbly. They should be doing it as an explanation of their own reactions. This kind of testimony happens all the time, positively and negatively by leaders/pastors leaving their former churches. They leave often and they want people to know they leave in good standing or in disagreement. The church community always learn from these episodes. They learn whether reconciliation is necessary. And apart from reconciliation, there can be no furthering of the Kingdom.

Recently, a very large mega church (not Willowcreek) near Life on the Vine (the church where I pastored til last year) went through massive disagreement/conflict over their pastor. Several elders offered public statements as to why they left the church but only after seeking Matt 18 process several times with the pastor/elders. When they were then falsely accused by the church leadership, they responded. I take this as a normal check on large mega churches who block Matt 18 mutual submission and allow dysfunction within the leadership to fester.

Therefore, I feel it appropriate for wounded parties to make public statements. I also view it as appropriate to post these statements when they are made by an insider (I never listen to outsider’s commenting/discerning rightness/wrongness of a community’s leadership/morality etc) and when I feel we all can learn something from the recounting of this person’s process. That is why I posted this post regarding Mars Hill. And I hope to remain consistent with the above rule whenever linking posts to other church/organization conflicts in the future.

What do you think? What am I missing here in my guiding rule on posting about church/organization conflicts?

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Posted in Ecclesiology, Incarnational, Missional Leadership, Neo-Anabaptist
33 comments on “On Posting Dirty Laundry … about Mark Driscoll and other asundry mega church pastors.
  1. dan jr. says:

    Fitch I appreciate this post because I too wondered about your repost of the Driscoll junk. This is helpful– “This has got to be done locally. No one can discern/unwind the motives, the accusations, the conflicts from a distance. To comment from outside inflames. I try to stay away from anything that might short circuit the communal process.”

    What is tricky here is the nuanced exception your laying out. I get it but I’m not sure I trust myself or others. The bitterness burning in our bodies delights in bringing down the “other”. We love vindication while holding the moral high ground. I’m always amazed at how pacifist can be so passive aggressive. I find that much of our modern whistleblower work is exerting force upon our own character in the process. This is where I see the Prophetic Impulse being deluded and made into a spectacle in #hashtag justice. Does the narrative of scripture have a formula for being “prophetic” without having to bear in our bodies the pain of these unjust circumstances? Can Prophets merely call out stuff from a safe distance? Prophets have to move into actual presence to embody their message. This act cultivates integrity in our critique of the Powers. Real-time Incarnation must be fused with the Prophetic impulse.

    Thoughts?

    • David Fitch says:

      I’m with you here Dan. I’ve seen it. The prophetic card is pulled in churches without actually having to be present in the community, being willing to respond in face to face encounters amidst the conflict engendered. This is where prophetic is used by God to bring real change. IMHO (In my humble opinion ala my bro Bill Kinnon).

  2. Bill Kinnon says:

    As one who has written extensively on Mars Hill, without being directly connected to it, might I suggest that any organization that sets itself up to directly influence the wider Christian community, and whose polity is held up in books, blog posts, videos and conferences as necessary for what ails the church, is more than worthy of a strong and public response. (Forgive the run-on sentence.)

    • David Fitch says:

      So Bill,
      my qualm is not with public response period, but how that response emanates. It should come from within, where the actual relationships make possible not only reconciliation but discernment. When Matt 18:15-20 is blocked … as I said in the post .. it is consistent to speak publically for al the public reasons I mention, including the nature of witness to the world who looks on all this stuff. My other concern, is the antagonism that airing dirty laundry, or attacking from the outside, generates. The celebrity figure, or the actual church, becomes the object around which the sides are divided and war now takes place between Christians. This too undercuts the Kingdom. So for all these reasons … I remain convinced on my “local principle” but respect all the differing opinions on this post.

      I have benefited from this discussion

  3. Becky Garrison says:

    I concur with Bill.

    In my 14 years with the Wittenburg Door, two signs a ministry was going off the rails 1) change in the church’s governance that placed all power in the hands of a select few and 2) refusing to release the ministry’s full financials for public inspection.

    Here I fully agree there has been some god-awful reporting of Mars Hill Church with people failing to vet their sources and do basic fact checking. But there’s also the issue that Mars Hill Church hides behind its tax exempt status to obscure their financials and other information – see Warren Throckmorton’s reporting.

  4. Micah says:

    I get your point. It makes sense and it’s probably defensible, but it still seems unseemly to me. Maybe it’s a personality thing, but I see no reason to pass on stuff like this. Who benefits? How?

  5. Elle says:

    From the perspective of one who once left a church-cult-weird place, reading posts from leaders or others who have left is therapeutic. When you see the emperor has no clothes and choose to leave because of those contradictions with the gospel, knowing your not alone is healing.

    Those in power of malformed churches, where mutual submission is laughable, are able to keep the cycle of abuse happening because of fear and silence. When people choose to break that silence, and humbly voice their concerns, that is when freedom moves in and takes up residence.

  6. Rick Meigs says:

    David, I have to disagree with your statement that, “I don’t believe Christians outside these communities should work to make that happen,” i.e., exposing these ‘false communities’ and holding them accountable.

    My own concern is founded in the dangerous “cultish malformation” of churches and movements, and the narcissism of their leaders. It is out of these that abuse and sexual and moral failures frequently arise. This often leads to cover-ups, and the defamation, denouncement and mistreatment of the internal parties attempting to bring the issue to light. Should the community of Christ not come alongside these in support and encouragement and help give them their issues a greater voice?

    IMO, it is right to expose these ‘false communities’ and hold them accountable when, as Becky suggests, you vet your sources and check your facts.

  7. Some might call it “airing dirty laundry<" other might call it opeining a purulent wound to the light. Andersons concerns in his post wer not personal in nature and he made a successful attempt at being charitable in the expression of his concerns. His concerns were thoelogical and ecclsial in nature, as they involved significant breaches of trust, abuse of power, and mis-use of scripture. These were issues which were broached as "cleanly" as one could possibly so in such a situation. I see the actions of posting concerns like this on the Internet as very similar to Luther posting his theological concerns at Wittenberg.

  8. I appreciate the careful distinction being made between alarmist/hate mongering responses to alleged malpractices in a local congregation and the expression of those directly affected and speaking out in the hope of reconciliation. I have two thoughts to contribute-

    1) It seems to me that the distinction between “insiders and outsiders” or “locals and foreigners” fails to reckon with the reality of the indwelling relational presence of God in churches irrespective of their immediate physical location. While we are, of course, members of one another as that pertains to proximity, we are also that when proximity is not quantifiable. If I claim and attempt to bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus in any public manner, I am accorded the perspective and reputation of other public expressions of allegiance to that same Gospel by those who do not share my confession. I am lumped in with Driscoll and others like him because I am a Christian. I therefore find it necessary to distinguish (and often via renouncement) myself and position from that advocated by Mars Hill Seattle, etc. This especially because of the celebrity of persons such as Driscoll.

    2) And related to that last point, being a celebrity and thereby claiming to speak for the whole of a given “branch” of Christianity necessarily requires the public objection of those who wish that your celebrity did not represent them. It seems to me that it is the responsibility of those who represent Christ to the world to speak out against the famous abuses of those who are also claiming to represent Christ.

    These of course, as has been mentioned in several comments, need to be addressed without descent into mudslinging or provocative divisiveness. But as more and more stories of abuse surface surrounding this church and leadership community, is it not the responsibility of other Christian leaders to call them to account?

  9. Joe Pollard says:

    Great article and I agree with a large portion of it. My only issues are that we need to emphasize and discern from dissension within a church and heresy. Matthew 18 seems to be dealing with sin in the church, not argumentative power struggles. There are so many biblical warnings that tell us to bewareI For instance Romans 16:17 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.” I don’t agree to some of Pastor Driscoll’s “Disputable tactics” and I do believe God will deal with them. I don’t know enough to state whether he is teaching the gospel or not but I do know his job is not to tell people if they are saved or not, it is simply to tell them how to get saved and teach from the Bible, it is the individuals responsibility to check the scriptures, (As the Bereans did), to see if what mark is telling them is truth or not. And I do agree with you David, this needs to be settled within the church, by members of the church who are really aware of the facts and NOT in public by people who are merely listening to gossip and blogs.

  10. My thinking on this subject keeps going back to a couple key questions:

    * If we don’t expose to the light the evil that is perpetrated inside the Church, how can we embody any moral authority to offer personal or social transformation in the world outside the Church?

    * If we’re only allowed to critique the theory and theology of some person’s or ministry’s praxology, and not the actual destructive impact that the testimony of their problematic patterns of beliefs-into-behaviors inflicts, then aren’t we back to the same old Western dualism that splits mind from matter, and we lose the integration and integrity that matters?

    * While the process of *personal* repentance, reconciliation, and restitution certainly needs to be worked out at the local level where the relational damage occurred, what about the *social* systems damages done at the global – and now, in a digital world, virtual – levels?

    Maybe I’m missing the necessary nuance in your argument, but it seems to me that it doesn’t take much to go from a view of “only those directly involved have reason to say/do something,” to the kind of isolationism that gives UNqualified leaders (by reason of personal/spiritual immaturity) and DISqualified leaders (by reason of anti-Christlike character and behaviors) a covering of silence to continue inflicting damage. This is even more the case in an increasingly interconnected era where podcasts, eBooks, blog articles, tweets, and a host of other hosted media grants a ubiquitous presence to “christian celebrities” … and what if they’re not just sinners (as are we all), but their specific forms of brokenness are ones that may even border on evil and severely wound people in both church and Church, neighborhood and society?

    Part of what I perceive going on in the last two years or so is seeking to hold what I’ve called “Commenders” accountable for lending the weight of their own reputation and organization to prop up people who not only don’t deserve it, but whose continued presence in public ministry perpetuates a counterfeit of Christlikeness. Whether through silence about obvious harm, or through overt endorsement despite documentation of evil, Commenders prop up a system of destruction. I believe survivors of abuse are no longer tolerant of or silent about publishers, conference promoters, seminary presidents, certification organizations, etc., that all play a role in keeping such systems going.

    I don’t want the Church or the world thinking that these so-called “leaders” deserve to be considered a role model for us, or that they represent Christlike maturity — when it is documented and verifiable that their beliefs and behaviors bring people into bondage. And I have chosen at times to expose “malignant ministers” and toxic systems, but seek to do so in reasoned ways that presented a clear and compelling case of the local situation and the global implications. I intentionally seek to do what I can to diffuse inflammatory reactions, and to move from deconstruction of wrong to reconstruction of what’s right. Once engaged on this kind of task, my chosen approach costs me hugely in time and effort, and requires much discernment, input from others, and dependence on the Spirit’s leading. But it’s part of what I see as my contribution to the Kingdom, and helps justify what efforts I also make toward social transformation in the name of Jesus Christ.

    http://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/thoughts-on-redemption-in-the-wake-of-abuse-agents-of-damage-versus-agents-of-healing/

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

      Good points. I would add that while I greatly appreciate David’s attitude there is one important thing re: Mars Hill. They are not limited to a local church setting. Through the use of new media, they have influence on millions of Christians around the world. They are a public ministry, so public accountability seems appropriate.

      • David Fitch says:

        Procto …
        This plays into my second point in the post. That in such situations it is up to those thwarted in the Matt 18:15-20 to provide a more “public” critique in line with the public nature of the church. Why the need for outsiders to begin the critique if we empower those with this process? a prcess I still see in line with Matt 18:15-20.

  11. Nathan Smith says:

    Thanks for posing this topic and question David. I would echo Bill Kinnon’s response. When a “local” body seeks to act and speak on behalf of those who are not local, then there is room to address the material they project beyond their local sphere. That to me is at least prudent given that we would do that with any community, business, government, etc. – even if we aren’t directly part of it.

    At the same time, my biggest question to you would be how Paul would interact with your ecclesiology on this. We have a number of letters written by him in which he deals directly with local issues of incest, drunkenness, inequities, doctrinal error, etc. and yet he proceeds to have that information circulated to other churches. He’s open about his internal disagreement with another church leader, and yet makes that known to a young and immature church. Not only that but the early church published these letters so that we are reading these churches dirty laundry hundreds of years later.

    I am not dismissing the wisdom in maintaing local boundaries on issues in most cases, but I’d be interested to hear how you would engage Paul with this discussion and/or his texts.

    NS

    • David Fitch says:

      Nathan … on Paul, wouldn’t Paul know the perpetrators in many of the cases you’re talking about? And when he does not, isn’t he given direct overseer authority as apostle? That’s definitely not an outsider eh?

      • Lydia says:

        His letter to the Corinthians was 2nd hand information, was it not? Had he even been to Rome when writing Romans? I don’t understand the thinking he had special authority over people as an apostle. I don’t understand the concept of authority in the Body at all except for Jesus Christ. Elders were those thrown to the lions first.

      • Nathan Smith says:

        Again, thank you for opening up this discussion. I’ve had to think a lot about it since I’m somebody who breaks your rules of engagement when it comes to local oversight. I want to continue being challenged.

        As far as Paul, in most instances, he has direct oversight, even if it’s from a distance, but I don’t find that to be true in all instances. One example is his recorded challenge to Peter.

        When he addresses Peter’s mistake to the Galatians in Galatians 2, he is speaking to immature new Christians which had little to nothing to do with the church in Jerusalem, except that the supposed Judaizers (Acts 15) came from Jerusalem likely to distort the Galatian church’s understanding of the Gospel.

        It became advantageous to Paul to defame Peter based upon Peter’s wrong choice in the eyes of new and impressionable Christians. The goal for Paul wasn’t to denigrate Peter, but to elevate the true nature of the Gospel in contradiction to the Judaizer’s Gospel, which Peter capitulated to. As such, Peter became an appropriate whipping boy for the sake of clarifying a distorted Gospel – deference to church leaders became redundant when the Gospel was at stake.

        If we follow your principle to its end, Paul shouldn’t have exposed Peter’s mistake to another church because he wasn’t local nor had he been to Galatia. If I am misunderstanding that application, please correct me. Paul then had his letter circulated exposing Peter’s failure to others. Following Paul, it would seem that we can break the “local” guideline when a church or church leader acts in such a way that the Gospel is distorted. The bottom line for Paul seems to be the Gospel, not whether or not issues are dealt with locally.

        Again, there is wisdom in local oversight and using that as a boundary for how we engage current church debacles, but I am not convinced that “local” is a concrete virtue as much as it is a wise guideline that at times can be transgressed in submission to clarifying the Gospel.

        So it seems that if a church or a church leader is distorting the Gospel publicly or privately, as I believe Driscoll has, he places himself under scrutiny from the wider church.

  12. Lydia says:

    “Having said all this, there are times when Matt 18:15-20 is thwarted by either the cultish malformation of a church or it’s mega size, which in itself (via massive hierarchies) thwarts the ways we called to come together in Matt 18:15-20. The process of mutual (and I emphasize “mutual”) submission is not possible due to distanced/protected hierarchies.”

    Practicing Matthew 18 in a mega.

    http://coffeetradernews.blogspot.com/search?q=matthew+18+mega

  13. Lydia says:

    Sunlight is the best disinfectent. They want it behind the closed doors or the “local church” where the leaders still have power/control and can control the message and communication.

  14. Lydia says:

    Whistle blowers are often treated horrible. As traitors, positioned as mentally unstable, etc. It is even hard for them to find similar employment once they have gone public.

    So we have laws to protect them.

    It is worse for those coming out of cultic church movements that are cult of personality driven. Then, “other” Christians pile on with concerns about gossip, dirty laundry, etc. Some of them are deemed bitter and angry. Or disgruntled employees.

    I appreciate them even if they were part of the problem at one time because their stories provide a warning to others to think carefully what they become involved in. Their “first hand” story is not gossip. It is their experience in their own words. And they do not have the platform the celebrities do in getting out their message.

  15. Anne says:

    Lydia, I appreciate your comment about whistle blowers. Wendy Alsup (an occasional writer for Gospel Coalition and lives in Seattle) was a member of Mars Hill a few years back and worked in women’s ministry. I believe her husband was an elder at the time as well. Wendy waited a LONG time before exposing the damage that was happening at MH, hoping Mark would listen to those who were repeatedly addressing the problem. As time went on and more and more people were being “thrown under the bus”, she felt it was time to “go public”. One of her recent posts describes how some “locals” (who have been directly hurt by Driscol’s leadership) have become bitter as a result of their personal pain, yet Wendy points us to the deeper issues, the root of this bitterness, and I think she makes a very valid point as to how the broader church community needs to play a role in the healing process: http://www.theologyforwomen.org/2014/06/the-root-of-bitterness-at-mars-hill.html

    • Becky Garrison says:

      Spot on – I connected with Wendy and found her to be a woman of strong integrity. Her critiques of Real Marriage should be taken seriously as she points to the deeper issues and why Driscoll’s teaching on human sexuality is out of sync on so many levels.

      One thing to bear in mind is that MANY ex-Mars Hill staffers CANNOT talk because they signed non-disclosure agreements – if they speak out, they can lose their severance, health care and other items they need to care for their families. Also, a sizable number of ex-MHC folks are in counseling for problems like PTSD and are not in an emotional state at all to go public. Some of them have chosen to speak to a few of us to guide us in areas where we should investigate.

      Add to this the fact that other staffers have been thrown under the bus by MHC – see the Real Marriage fiasco where Driscoll blamed plagiarism on a research assistant who could not counter these charges due to his non-disclosure agreement. He works in the academic field where charges of plagiarism would have kill his future career. Hence, I had to work behind the scenes to clear this person’s name as he could not do so himself.

      I concur completely with the concerns that some bloggers like SCCL are out to get Driscoll – and their reporting is frankly god-awful. Their sources are not vetted and as such, they lend credibility to MHC claim that the media is out to get them. And yes a # of folks know that by dissin’ Driscoll will result in page hits – a sizable # of the US emergent debates since Driscoll left have, as well as his recent battle with Rachel Held Evans when both of them had books coming out by Thomas Nelson at the same time were clearly PR battles designed to generate traffic and interest in people’s respective products. These battles should be called out for what they are – PR ploys.

      This is why in large part I’ve stayed silent in my reporting – my interest is not in personalities or even theologies but simply following the money – IF Mars Hill would open up their books (especially the salaries for the executive elders), explain their myriad of LLCs (both those w moniker Mars Hill Church and Driscoll personally), demonstrate who paid the tab for the ResultSource scandal, stop erasing material from their website and other moves, I’d walk away from covering this story. My years with the Door tells me that when a church hides their finances under the guise that as a church they don’t have to show us the money, I have an obligation to dig. This is especially true as MHC is about to launch a $40 million dollar campaign to build a new campus in Bellevue, WA.

  16. Tom says:

    The mega size of these churches, many times, excludes the use of Matthew 24 actions. These pastors have the ability to influence way beyond the local church. The have the ability to deceive and hurt a lot of people which I think is why the Church as a whole is loosing ground.
    Our refusal to speak out enables these guys, and they are mostly guys, to continue their abuse.
    I believe we are call to judge false doctrine. I don’t believe we should judge weather someone is a believer or not.
    When we see false doctrine or evil activity, we have an obligation to speak out.

  17. David Cornwell says:

    Regarding the Yoder controversy: My physician is a member of a local Mennonite Church in Goshen. She says her church is dealing with this situation in a deliberate, considered, and prayerful way that is meant to lead to healing. These things do not happen quickly, and healing takes time, and leaves scars.

  18. Jez Bayes says:

    I agree that the internet shouldn’t be the first option for addressing these situations, but also feel that in addressing a public/global ministry, the definition of affected or involved parties is hard to pin down.

    An organization that aggressively promotes itself and furthers its influence online, at times attacking other points of view, must expect some kickback in the same arena.

    The question is then whether the response should be personal and specific, or based on general principles and wisdom.

    In Anderson’s case, his specific experiences, and the lack of ability to make an impact at a personal level, seem to have led him to the point where he is finally going public in order to be heard primarily by those to whom he was appealing to change, rather than you or I.

    That’s fine, but what is out of order is where opponents with no personal connection then also leap in to give the chosen ‘villain of the piece’ a kicking, with little genuine connection to events being described.

    At times, this can all get a bit too over eager.

    “There almost seems a barely buried desire to see someone from the identified other fall from grace, and the rumours of misdemeanours spread like wildfire and are lapped up a bit too eagerly.

    There also seems to me – as one who has significant disagreements with the current version of Reformed Theology, with its associated definitions of Atonement and Sovereignty – there seems too much willing to write off the entirety of someone’s work, rather than just the aspects of their message we would identify as questionable.

    In essence, anyone who can spread bad news or land a punch on Driscoll or Piper is hot.”

    http://omg-occasionalmuffledgrunts.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/mental-assent-is-not-belief-part-3.html

    I think we need to be careful that in promoting a Christlike Cross-centred Gospel of Peace and Reconciliation, and in opposing those who at times dostort it, we don’t accidentally act in a way that fails to sync with that message ourselves.

  19. Mike Wiggins says:

    The Bible is one long, protracted airing of dirty laundry, two thousand year’s worth. Paul very publicly upbraided Peter and went after the Superapostles at the church at Corinth, apparently without ever confronting them face-to-face. I think Matthew 18 has long been misused by those who seek to shut off all opposition and do their ugly deeds in the dark. I’m tired of it, the truth is always the safer bet, let the chips fall where they may.

    If the dark truths were something such as Driscoll’s private struggles or bedroom talk with Grace, that would be inappropriate to debate on public fora, if it were the struggle of some obscure pastor in a remote congregation, ditto. But Mars Hill and Driscoll have very openly sought to become the next big movement, as big as the Reformation, they’ve spread their version of the Gospel and polity around the world, Driscoll tried to do it through his own (former) denomination, Acts 29, Mars Hill has solicited funds from people around the world (many of which were apparently misappropriated), this is a global ministry, it has a global impact, it demands a global response.

  20. A. Amos Love says:

    David

    Isn’t the “Dirty Laundry” for Mark Driscol, and these other Mega Church pastors?
    That they have taken a “Title/Position,” shepherd/leader/reverend?
    That belongs only to Jesus? – In The Bible?

    In the Bible, Did any of *His Disciples* call themself – shepherd/leader/reverend?

    Are today’s shepherd/leader/reverends, taking the Name of The Lord thy God?
    And taking that Name in Vain?

    Ex 20:7
    Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain;
    for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

  21. Sonja S says:

    I really thank you for this post Dr. Fitch. It’s almost providential how I came to find it, since I wasn’t looking and now a bit after the fact. As an ex-MHC leader (and ex-member)you nail it on the outside looking in. Matt 18 really doesn’t even come into play regarding MHC; particularly when the by-laws were changed to consolidate all power in all areas to three men who are accountable to a “board of accountability” consisting of men who have a financial interest in the continuing success of MHC.

    That being said, many members, leaders and concerned outsiders had attempted to go the Matt 18 route and it just has never worked. A dear sister was told to leave after years of faithful service and tithing for simply asking a question. The Executive Elders are not accessible to members let alone their fellow elders.

    MHC has always been controlling in many ways and since I loved the church so much I was blinded for too long. Not everyone. I had a different friend scream at me because he was asked to gather the personal info of everyone who walked through the doors of the main campus (Ballard) at the time.

    No, this needs watchmen on the walls sounding trumpets.

  22. David,

    Thanks for this. Really helpful particularly the intro and “as a rule sections.” Here’s one of the texts that I think all of us . . . (see below) need to do some serious work studying, meditating on and thinking about its applications.
    (* the offended parties
    * the grieved onlookers
    * the un-involved brothers looking on
    * the jealous brothers eager to see someone fail
    * the confused onlookers not knowing what to think
    * the “fans” of pastor x or y who want to defend because of value we have seen in the past)

    I’m going to start doing some of that myself. So thanks.

    13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should asuffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the ahope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a agood conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

    New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Pe 3:13–17). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

  23. jonna petry says:

    When a so called ministry that proclaims Christ is corrupt don’t we, as followers of Christ, have a duty and responsibility to warn those who are or may be deceived, abused, and wounded? How can we justify being quiet when Christ’s name and people are being selfishly used and dishonored for personal ambition and gain? Thank you for posting this. I am amazed at how long at takes people to wake up and see the damage and do something about it.

  24. FreeTestimonial says:

    ######## Message ##########

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David Fitch
Betty R. Lindner Professor of Theology
Northern Seminary
DMin in Missional Leadership
Prodigal Christianity
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