‘Step down’: Full text of Mars Hill pastors’ letter to Mark Driscoll

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Mark Driscoll was an influential but edgy pastor within conservative evangelical circles for several years. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church

Mark Driscoll was an influential but edgy pastor within conservative evangelical circles for several years. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church

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(RNS) The letter is perhaps the most significant to date, as the pastors represent the backbone of the church.

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  • Semone Simmons

    Praise God for transparency and especially for repentance. Praying for Mark Driscoll and for Mars Hills. May God bring restoration and may He bring light. He is the God of second chances … and third and fourth. I pray that this church understands that they don’t need to be culturally relevant …. the GOSPEL has the power to save!

    “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” 2 Corinthians 2:1-5

    God has the power to transform lives … my prayer is that this church be transformed from the inside out.

  • amanda patricia

    Brothers and sisters,

    It is utterly heartbreaking that elders ever had to write this letter. Heartbreaking to me, the church and I believe profoundly, devastatingly heartbreaking to our Supreme Elder Jesus Christ. Because I know Jesus, I know He mourns with these brave pastors.

    Jesus will protect you from the evil this church repeatedly casts on it’s own brothers and sisters for speaking truth and choosing to live in the light. With gratitude and respect I call “Bravo, bravo brave shepherds” (former, current, BOAA, A29) to stand for Jesus and his bride First! May you rejoice in the truth, light and hear our eternal Master’s words:

    “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”

    Your sister,

  • Ellen Matthewson

    I know that where there is great sin there can also be great redemption. That is my prayer for Mark and for Mars Hill Church. The seed must die for the fruit to be brought forth.

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  • Ted

    Why on earth is this being published??? Jesus never said to go beyond the church with the discipline of Matthew 18! As stated in the recent edition of FBNS’/Way of Life Literature’s “Friday Church Notes”, “What we want to know is why haven’t his current accusers issued a warning about such things as his X-rated sex sermons, his heresy that apostolic sign gifts have not ceased, his mocking of the biblical Rapture, his vicious slander of biblical fundamentalists, his social-justice, kingdom-building gospel, his New Years’ Eve champagne dance parties and other aspects of his “cultural liberalism,” which is nothing more than old-fashioned worldliness, his rejection of biblical separatism, and his rock & roll ‘worship.'”

  • Artus

    Do you see the self-contradictory nature of your comments? First you say that according to Mt. 18 discipline should never go beyond the church and then you accuse MD of all kinds of awful things in public.
    And BTW – there is no “biblical rapture.” Look at Mt 24 – the ones that are “taken away” are the unconverted…into judgment – just like the flood in the days of Noah “took them all away.” Not the believers but the mockers…read you Bible carefully and don’t be so angry.

  • Mark

    Thank you so much for allowing me to crawl in bed at night and spend time with you and Jesus we have laughed,cried,wept and repented together and you don’t even know it!
    Thanks for answering the call and being faithful. I have been in some dark places in my life after Jesus saved me (some self inflicted gunshot wounds)

  • Ted

    Artus, I don’t see a contradiction. His “globally” published and broadcasted heresies should be likewise publicly rebuked in order to recover those whom he subverted; while the discipline for his private offenses should have never gone beyond the walls of his church. But the whole situation is rather absurd–the accusers and “authorities” don’t all belong to his local congregation, and neither does the perpetrator belong to theirs. Mars Hill, as with any mega church, television or radio ministry, is a comforting place for those who have itching ears more so than those who have been born again and are convicted to live “obedient unto righteousness”, in my opinion. (Ezekiel 33:32; 2 Timothy 4:3)

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    Hi! I think that this is also a good time for the EV mega-church movement to practice some self-analysis and see what has already gone wrong in just a few decades since the Jesus Movement began (circa 1966). Mark is just one of a number of EV stars to go down. Humility might be a good place to start. it’s EZ to knock the old churches (centuries old) about their problems, but the mega-church movement is already doing the same behaviors after only a very short time. How old is Mars Hill? 20+ years? Compare that to Catholicism (around 1800 years), Greek Orthodoxy (around 1800 years), Lutheranism (over 500 years), Reformed (over 500 years), Anglicanism (almost 600 years). It can give the current rock star preacher churches a bit of perspective. Peace

  • James

    You tell Ted to read the bible carefully, yet you use a passage (out of context) in Matthew to argue that there’s no “biblical rapture”. That’s a curious and false statement, especially when you seem to show a total disregard for the final, and most important book of all scripture, the book of Revelation-the revelation of our Lord. This book, of course, speaks very clearly of a rapture, though that specific term [we know] isn’t used. As far as Mark Driscoll it’s concerned, everything Ted stated is spot on…

  • Debbie

    I would like to comment on what you wrote at the end of this post:
    “… is a comforting place for those who have itching ears more so than those who have been born again and are convicted to live “obedient unto righteousness”, in my opinion. (Ezekiel 33:32; 2 Timothy 4:3)”.

    Several years ago I broke my back. I am very, very fortunate that I did not end up in a wheelchair. I went through very painful procedures and surgeries over the years, and also was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I am sure that if you ARE a loving, caring follower of Christ, that it was an oversight that brought you to make such a sweeping comment. I have wept so many times as I have desired to be back in a church with other people in it!

    I am certain that there are many thousands of people like myself who are dealing with long-term illnesses or pain that keeps us out of the pews, not to mention those in other countries where the GOSPEL IS UNWELCOME. There are so many people who are incredibly grateful for all of the resources available at the “mega church, television or radio ministry,”. that you pointed out is a “comforting place for those who have itching ears.” Ouch. Not a cool thing to say at all after you have become aware of just HOW much pain is out there, and how many Christians live is areas where the only way to hear the gospel is on the internet. I wonder if you would look them in the eyes and tell them that they were just looking for a comforting place with itching ears.
    I understand the reasons that one has to be careful about just who they are listening to, but THANK GOD that by his mercy, there ARE the streaming sermons, radio programs, YouTube videos of wonderful conferences, sermons, debates with Christian Apologists, etc..
    Believe me, I am discerning. I know the Word, and I don’t distort it. I am old enough to remember all the scandals with the televangelists. I have seen clips of things going on right now that look downright satanic that are supposed to be Christians. But, I believe that more good is done than not. There are many ministries that are so valuable and the fact that they are freely available on the internet is an unimaginable gift for people in my shoes. I am giving you a chance to think about being in my shoes.

    With God’s grace and with the Holy Spirit being there to help me (I don’t take credit for this) , I KNOW I am “born again and AM convicted to live “obedient unto righteousness.”
    I started to listen to Mars Hill Sermons when I first broke my back and also found that I had an auto-immune disease. These things did not bode well for my desire to be in a building with other believers on Sundays or any day of the week. This is a very painful thing to accept.
    I didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes at Mars HIll, and I do believe the teaching that I heard was the truth. I am not a baby in Christ and do have the discernment to know when someone is going of the tracks when teaching the scriptures. ( Ha ha! I sound like Barak Obama saying that he sat under Jeremiah Wright for 20 years, was married there, had their children there, and never heard a single word of Black Liberation Theology!)
    I might not be the best person in the church at large to address this, but I did not come across anything that I thought was un-biblical. The first time I was REALLY uncomfortable was when Mark wrote his book about marriage and I started to hear some serious criticism from other pastors I respect, and from people who attended Mars Hill.
    I guess what I am trying to convey to you is that there are probably many like me who were very happy to have the online sermons and an incredible amount of study resources available. Much of this was not even from the mouth or pen of Mark Driscoll. I also know people who had started attending Mars Hill just a few years ago, and were not privy to what was apparently a serious blow-up many years ago. The time period to which I am referring to left a lot of damaged people. Had it been handled correctly by Mark Driscoll AND individuals who wanted Mark’s approval at any and all cost, would have prevented what is going on now.
    I say this to let you know that there are many people who are serious about the Word of God, and would not put up with it ever being taken out of context and would not put up with what we now know was/is the behavior of the senior pastor had they known about it then. But they didn’t because as the above letter states, transparency has been a huge problem. I don’t think people like that (or like myself) are the kind of people who are described in the verses you quoted above who just want their ears tickled, but don’t want to know and understand the meat of God’s word. I guarantee you that is not what I want in my life.
    Especially in a large church, you have to be careful about what you say about the people that were either attending services there or were listening online. They WERE not all people who have “itching ears”. I can honestly say that through the several series I listened to from my bed at home, I didn’t find fault with the teaching or I would have stopped listening immediately. I am very sorry that all of this is going on right now.

    It’s not just the mega-churches that have problems, believe me. I worked in the church office of a smaller, very biblical church. That church body was ravaged by pain and families were torn asunder when the pastor and the youth pastor’s wife “fell in love” with one another. I put that in quotation marks, because the very pastor that did this had taught for decades that it’s not falling in love; it’s sin, and it is “falling in lust.” I was very close to everyone involved and it was a nightmare. I am just letting you know, small churches, big churches and mega churches can have serious problems when the HUMAN, SINFUL (like all of us) pastors go down the wrong road.
    By the way my adult son spent about a year just repenting of his earlier years, and getting right with the Lord while attending Mars Hill. I look at the fruit and I am not sorry for one single Sunday he sat in those pews. The woman he ended up marrying was saved on an Easter Sunday at Mars Hill two years before she met my son. They are very grounded in the Word, and for the part Mars Hill played in that growth, I am thankful.

    By the way, in case you are wondering, I am a Christian who has grown with the help of the teaching of reformed pastors and preachers. I care deeply about the lack of truth and many times the lack of any biblical teaching in the churches not only in our country, but what we have exported to other countries. I didn’t want to leave you with the idea that I was some kind of nut case just because for several years I got my teaching from Mars Hill. I am grieved for what is going on, and for what has come out, and I believe MD needs to step down, and not just for 6 weeks. I am grieved because of how many people will be disillusioned by all that is going on.
    I just wanted you to know that the comment you made really didn’t describe anyone I knew who was attending Mars Hill. So, we have to be careful about making blanket statements like that. That can hurt people who have thinner skin or, who might be babies in Christ. Be careful, i.e., Be full of care.
    In Christ,
    P.S. I wrote this in several stages throughout the day, which was a painful day for me. I hope that the message is clear and that my grammar or sentence structure doesn’t cause problems. Too, too tired to go through the entire post.

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  • Matt W

    It is impossible to know what has gone on behind closed doors…so let’s pray!
    It is good to see that –
    this letter is written with clarity and care.
    The love of Jesus is in it.
    Mark’s words in the preaching in following Jesus from 2006 are fantastic!

    Let’s pray that all our brothers can walk in the light, as he is in the light, and so have fellowship with one another. Jesus matters; living like him, doing his words, relying on his justification, trusting him when all else won’t make sense. The size of a congregation is secondary, and also belongs to him. If we follow him with all our heart, then we are fulfulling our call, everything else follows and is subservient to that. That’s the only way to overcome.

  • Ted

    Debbie my friend,
    I have never to my knowledge attended a small Bible church that didn’t make every effort to visit members who were unable to attend the meetings, or else conference call them in etc., whatever they could do to visit with them and minister to their spiritual as well as physical needs. Bearing one another’s burdens is an important part of any church family and is normally given a high priority among the elders, pastors, deacons, bishops, etc. I would look at assemblymap dot com or wayoflife dot org’s directories for good churches nearby to look up if I were in your shoes. Mars Hill is an apostate church teaching false doctrine (see my first post), while radio and television ministries always have to filter (i.e. soften and compromise) God’s Word on sin and doctrinal reproofs in order to maintain sustainable offerings, and you can bet there are exorbitant budget requirements for any such megachurch or broadcast ministry. Also, that youtube is a minefield of sophistic babble in my opinion and is no substitute for the commandment in Hebrews 10:24. I don’t know of anywhere in the Bible that God blesses pragmatic compromise (e.g. looking for more “good” than “bad” in the midst of things that look downright satanic as you have said), but there are plenty of examples where He finds obedience preferable to worship, likening such rebellion as King Saul’s to witchcraft when he disobeyed. Modern false teachers might say “but Saul’s heart was in the right place!” Not so according to God in 1 Samuel 15 who thereby rejected Saul and became his enemy (1Sa 28:16). It’s a serious matter to give audience to false teaching and the most horrific and chilling descriptions I know of concerning God’s punishment in the Bible is reserved for false teachers. (2 Peter 2, Jude 1). Sometimes the truth does hurt, but then “faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Prov 27:6) I hope this helped clarify and affirm what I’d said previously and that you will consider it in light of God’s Word over my or anyone’s opinion, emotion, or anything else contrary that may otherwise “seemeth right”. (Prov 14:12) . May God bless.

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  • Jeannie Saum

    I pray that the leadership of Mars Hill can faithfully plan and carry out a means of restoration for fallen leadership. This is something “the church” has not done well, as a whole. We plan for, mentor and support a way of redemption for the flock, but it seems that once our leaders fall (and their sin nature comes out like in all the rest of us) that there is no plan for a way back for them. In some ways,the 12 step program of AA is more merciful to the fallen than the church.

    Mark is a wonderful teacher, and our small group has benefited from his teaching, across the US in Ohio. But sometimes, our greatest character assets – leadership, strong personality, charisma, intelligence… – can become our biggest character defects when taken too far.

    So I will pray and hold on to Romans 8:28, that “God will make all things good to them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose,” and help you carry out a plan of restoration. This then, could be a model for other churches around the world, to practice the grace and mercy of Jesus, when disciplining their fallen leaders. Because your church certainly does not stand alone in this kind crisis.

    Keeping you, your church and Pastor Mark in my prayers,
    Jeannie Saum, Groveport, Ohio

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