Mark Driscoll’s “Domineering Leadership Style” Does Not Disqualify Him as a Pastor According to Mars Hill Board of Directors
Mark Driscoll is giving up on Mars Hill Church like C.J. Mahaney gave up on Covenant Life Church. Driscoll he is leaving because the church is “unhealthy for our family-even physically unsafe” and he doesn’t want “aspects of my personality and leadership style” that have been divisive to “detract from our church’s mission.” “That is why…we step aside from further ministry at the church.” In other words, Driscoll is taking the high road! The church has done him wrong but he has done it right. He is resigning with “profound sadness” not because he should but because he is godly. In his mind, he is putting Mars Hill Church first.
Driscoll is also leaving having never talked to the church board about his decision. “We were surprised to receive his resignation letter.” Mahaney did the same thing. He unilaterally decided to leave Covenant Life Church without ever talking to his fellow pastors. They were shocked and grieved. Driscoll says he sought “godly counsel from men and women across the country” but not from leaders in his church. Mahaney did the same. They did not follow their own teaching on local church accountability and pursuing counsel from their fellow pastors for a major life decision.
Furthermore, Driscoll is only resigning as the “Vision and Preaching pastor” at Mars Hill Church. He is not stepping aside from further ministry anywhere else. Driscoll believes he has done nothing to merit removal from ministry and is quick to point out in his resignation letter that he is not disqualified according to the four man Board of Overseers.
Though Driscoll acknowledges he is an “imperfect messenger” and “fallen short,” he emphasizes he has come “a long way” and highlights his contrition. He appears to put his sins in the past as though over. “I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering sprit.”
All of this is reminiscence of C.J. Mahaney. He claimed Covenant Life Church was unhealthy and unsafe for his family. The puppet Board of Directors for Sovereign Grace Ministries declared him fit for ministry even though he split a church, divided a movement and abused many leaders and people. Like Driscoll, Mahaney made much of his meager “confessions” even though he never thought his sins were serious and he never thought they disqualified him in the least bit. He also lied about the real reasons for leaving his home church. That is, he was terribly offended at Joshua Harris, the pastors and the people. He claimed to be moving SGM to Louisville, KY because the cost of living was lower. It was a scandalous lie.
Neither Driscoll nor Mahaney have ever thought their patterns of sin have disqualified them from ministry though they have fired, removed and disqualified scores of men for far less serious transgressions. It doesn’t matter that both have led their respective ministries in a domineering fashion. That is why Acts 29 asked Driscoll to step down and get help. That is why so many pastors and churches left Sovereign Grace Ministries. But in Mars Hill Church and in Sovereign Grace Ministries, you can lord it over the flock and that doesn’t disqualify you from ministry. There is just one problem. The Bible begs to differ!
A pastor MUST be above reproach according to the Bible. When his leadership is characterized by lording, domineering, or heavy handedness, he is reproachable. That is why such men should not be in ministry no matter how gifted, entertaining, or numerically successful. There are 21 qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Only one has to do with gifting – the ability to teach. The other 20 deal with Christian character. They define what it means to live a life above reproach. They go far beyond “immorality, illegality or heresy” in what they demand.
Here is what the Mars Hill Board of Overseers said yesterday.
We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.
Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.
Michael Van Skaik
These men don’t define what they mean by “at times” but they do refer to a “domineering style of leadership.” According to Driscoll’s many critics, his “arrogance…quick temper…harsh speech…and domineering manner” were a consistent pattern of sinful “attitudes and behaviors” and not occasional occurrences. In 2007, C.J. told me there was a pervasive pattern of pride in Mark’s life that he did not see and others were afraid to address because of Mark’s sinful reaction to correction. It was not an “at times” problem. It was an “often times” problem.
Peter the apostle commands pastors to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you…not domineering over those in your charge.” (1 Pet 5:1-3) Domineering the flock is the opposite of shepherding the flock. You can’t have a “domineering style of leadership” and be a biblically approved shepherd.
C.J. resigned. Mark has resigned. But neither man resigned because they felt they needed to resign in light of Scripture. For Driscoll, his sins are in the past. For C.J., his sins were never serious.
The Bible is the authoritative Word of God. It tells us what to believe and how to live. It sets down qualifications for pastors. We defy its authority and disobey its teaching when leaders like Driscoll and Mahaney are permitted to be pastors. They are not above reproach. Far from it.
That’s the point. This kind of hypocrisy is destroying the evangelical church. Christians throughout the nation have seen well known leaders prop up Driscoll and Mahaney for years rather than obey the Word of God. These celebrity leaders have protected and promoted these men when they should have been rebuking and removing these men.
Nothing sows distrust more than hypocrisy. When leaders cover up for leaders they disobey Scripture and destroy trust. When are 1 Timothy 3:1-6 and Titus 1:6-9 going to be obeyed! When will sinning elders be rebuked so other elders fear sinning (1 Tim 5:20)? When will charges against elders be heard without partiality and favoritism (1 Tim 5:21)? When will leaders stop laying hands hastily upon new leaders who are not proven in terms of their character (1 Tim 5:22)?
1 Timothy 3:10 says this about deacons. It is also true for elders. “And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.”
Driscoll and Mahaney should be removed from ministry, and before they are restored to ministry, they must “be tested first” and “prove themselves blameless.” That is the teaching of the Bible. Because it is not obeyed the Church is being harmed by pastors whose "attitudes and behaviors" who are proud, deceitful and domineering.
Church members should be able to trust that their pastors love Jesus Christ more than all and will therefore be governed by the teaching of Scripture. When the Board of Overseers for Mars Hill Church says Mark Driscoll is fit for ministry they are not loving Jesus and they are not submitted to the authority of Scripture. The same is true for the Council of Elders in SGM in relation to C.J. Mahaney.
MARK DRISCOLL’S LETTER OF RESIGNATION
October 14, 2014
Michael Van Skaik
Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability
Mars Hill Church
By God’s grace I have pastored Mars Hill Church for 18 years. Today, also by God’s grace, and with the full support of my wife Grace, I resign my position as a pastor and elder of Mars Hill. I do so with profound sadness, but also with complete peace.
On August 24th I announced to our Mars Hill family of churches that I had requested a leave of absence from the pulpit and the office for a minimum of six weeks while a committee of elders conducted a formal review of charges made against me by various people in recent times. Last week our Board of Overseers met for an extended period of time with Grace and me, thereby concluding the formal review of charges against me. I want to thank you for assuring Grace and me that last Saturday that I had not disqualified myself from ministry.
You have shared with us that this committee spent more than 1,000 hours reviewing documents and interviewing some of those who had presented charges against me. You have also shared with me that many of those making charges against me declined to meet with you or participate in the review process at all. Consequently, those conducting the review of charges against me began to interview people who had not even been a party to the charges.
I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things I have confessed and repented of, privately and publicly, as you are well aware. Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit. As I shared with our church in August, “God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day.”
Prior to and during this process there have been no charges of criminal activity, immorality or heresy, any of which could clearly be grounds for disqualification from pastoral ministry. Other issues, such as aspects of my personality and leadership style, have proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context, and I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
That is why, after seeking the face and will of God, and seeking godly counsel from men and women across the country, we have concluded it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church we helped launch in 1996. I will gladly work with you in the coming days on any details related to our separation.
Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family—even physically unsafe at times—and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill. Grace and I pledge our full support in this process and will join you in praying for God’s best for this, His church, in the days and years ahead. Grace and I would also covet your prayers for us as we seek God’s will for the next chapter of our lives. Therefore, consider this written notice of my voluntary termination of employment.
Finally, it would be my hope to convey to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor Jesus Christ who has always been only good to us.
Pastor Mark Driscoll
PASTOR MARK DRISCOLL’S RESIGNATION
Posted: Oct 15, 2014
On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.
it is well known, inside and outside of Mars Hill, Pastor Mark has been on a leave of absence for nearly two Imonths while a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him. This investigation had only recently been concluded, following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.
While a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers was charged with conducting this investigation, the full Board of Overseers is charged with reaching any conclusions and issuing any findings. In that capacity, we believe it appropriate to publicly mention the following:
- We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.
- Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.
- We found some of the accusations against Pastor Mark to be altogether unfair or untrue.
- Other charges had been previously been addressed by Pastor Mark, privately and publicly. Indeed, he had publicly confessed and apologized for a number of the charges against him, some of which occurred as long as 14 years ago.
- We commend Mark for acting upon the vision God gave him to start Mars Hill Church and for his ministry of faithfully teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years. We commit to pray for him, for Grace, and for their children as they transition from ministry at Mars Hill Church.
We would ask for patience as we now make plans for the first transition of pastoral leadership in the history of Mars Hill Church. We have asked Pastor Dave Bruskas to serve as the primary teaching pastor while we work on long-term plans and decisions. Our elders and board members will work closely with the church staff to support the ongoing operations of Mars Hill in the days and months ahead.
Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. While he can speak to his decision as he chooses, we would point to just two things from his letter. He noted that he had concluded “it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church.” Secondly, he specifically wanted to convey “to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family, how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ, who has always been only good to us.”
Mars Hill Board of Overseers
Michael Van Skaik
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