Beliefs Revelations

Lawsuit accuses Mark Driscoll of misusing Mars Hill Church tithes


Controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from his church Tuesday (Oct. 15), according to a document obtained by RNS. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church

Controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from his church in 2014. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church

(RNS) The pastor whose Seattle megachurch imploded two years ago now is accused of raising funds for overseas missionaries and spending it at home, among other allegations.

Four former members of the now-defunct Mars Hill Church are suing its controversial former pastor Mark Driscoll, accusing him of “a continuing pattern of racketeering activity.”

The 42-page civil racketeering lawsuit was filed Monday (Feb. 29) by Brian Jacobsen, Connie Jacobsen, Ryan Kildea and Arica Kildea in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The lawsuit was filed as part of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, intended to prosecute the Mafia and criminal organizations.

It comes as Driscoll recently announced he is starting a new church in Phoenix.

The suit alleges that Driscoll and Mars Hill executive elder John Sutton Turner solicited donations through the mail and Internet, then used that money for other purposes.

Among the allegations: It contends that millions donated by church members to support missionaries overseas appear to have stayed in the U.S. It also claims the church paid $210,000 to a company called Result Source to land Driscoll’s book, “Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life Together” on the best-seller lists of The New York Times and others.

Because of this, it said, “a deadly toxin was injected into the (Mars Hill Church) body, ending in the complete destruction of the church.” Driscoll resigned from the church in 2014 amid claims of plagiarismabusive behavior and critical comments he made about feminism and homosexuality under a pseudonym on a church message board. The church’s 15 campuses closed that December.

The lawsuit does not name a specific amount the plaintiffs are seeking in damages, but it said the Jacobsens had donated more than $90,000 between 2008 and 2014 and the Kildeas, $2,700 between 2011 and 2013. Had they known how the money was being used, they would not have donated nor made Mars Hill their home church, according to the suit.

An email to Driscoll was not immediately returned, and efforts to contact Turner were unsuccessful.

(Emily McFarlan Miller is an RNS correspondent)

About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.


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  • If you can believe in the trinity than you will believe in the Mark Driscolls of the world. As George Carlin said ” my God ain’t short on cash ” .

  • Grifters gotta grift.

    And the fields of the lord are the very best place for grifters to grift. There are so many sheeple who gotta get shorn.

  • I can’t speak for Kent but allow me to cite some scripture in support of One God and not the false religious teaching called the trinity. God manifest in the flesh. (I Timothy 3:16) He was in the world and the world was made by Him and the world knew Him not. (John 1:10) And she shall call His name Jesus … Emmanuel interpreted ‘God with us.'” (Matthew 1:21-23) The first man is of the earth – earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven. (I Corinthians 15:47) Jesus said, “I and My Father are One.” (John 10:30) If you have seen Me ye have seen the Father. (John 14:8-18) The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man … (Isaiah 42:13) After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs…

  • They are absurd concepts; the trinity and Driscoll’s trustworthiness. Belief in one implies a gullibility which makes belief in both more probable.

  • Arica Kildea (formally Arica Devine) personally accepted money from Mars Hill via fundraisers (including my extended family who donated graciously until I discovered her lies) when a few years ago her child was tragically diagnosed with cancer. I %100 know she used some of this money for purchases such as Coach sunglasses and a Las Vegas trip with the excuses that she deserved and needed these things. Our friendship went south soon after this as I was not brave enough to ever confront her. Always left me with a sick feeling. Thankfully her child fully recovered but seeing this lawsuit all I can think is how hypocritical to bite the hand that provided her with thousands of dollars of support in a time of need and strife.

  • Jayson,

    When you believe in the true Triune God, you know to test men. You don’t believe them without wisdom. Sort of like testing your current statement, which I have found to be gullible in the other direction because I have seen God heal people at the direct result of praying in Jesus’ name. So….. are you a sucker for man’s wisdom in lieu of the fact that you comment on things you do not understand?

    That is laughable logic.

    That doesn’t mean people in their effort to love unconditionally cannot be fooled sometimes. The people who gave in earnest will be reward for their work in spite of the motives of those leaders who did wrong with their resource. Faith is accredited as righteousness. Not being a sucker.

    I hope the victims of this story understand that before they ever get their restitution in courts.