I was originally installed as an Elder at Mars Hill in 2005. Mars Hill was gracious to put me through the Acts 29 church planter process and Mars Hill Eldership process. I was approved, installed and sent to plant an Acts 29 church right away. Again, Mars Hill was gracious to send us and support our church plant.
In 2007 we merged our church plant back with Mars Hill to start the Eastside campus, soon after to become the Bellevue Campus. Pastor Mark was again very gracious as he approached me about the need/desire to plant a Mars Hill Campus on the Eastside. We were faced with deciding whether to continue our young church plant alongside the Mars Hill campus in our community or join them to make it happen. It was a tough decision. We were doing pretty well as a young church plant. I took a trip to fast and pray over the decision and concluded that God wanted us to merge with Mars Hill and start the campus. Less than 2 years later I resigned my position as campus Pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue.
This is my public confession and repentance for the sins I committed both implicitly and explicitly while I was a Pastor at Mars Hill from 2007 – 2009. I regret that it has taken me so long to grasp the depth of my sin during this period. God has convicted me deeply through many current circumstances and conversations. I can only attribute it to God’s sanctifying work in my life and personal reconciliation I’ve had with some.
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28 ESV)
To the flock of Mars Hill Church, I often failed at the one most important duty as your pastor – to pay careful attention to you. I used people to get a job done instead of caring for you. I cared more about success in numbers and keeping the program going than I did the spiritual health of people. I cared more about my reputation among the Elders above and around me. I cared more for the Mission of Mars Hill to grow the church at the expense of caring for people. I dismissed people and their gifting because they did not fit the brand. I did not care for the people in my leaving in 2009. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror anymore so I just resigned and left caring only for myself. To those whom I hurt by my sin and lack of Pastoral care, please forgive me. Please also know that by God’s grace I have and am still repenting. I now measure church success by transformation in people’s lives rather than in numbers or in my reputation among others. I have a long way to go but God remains faithful to his changing grace in my life.
To the people of The Vine (my former church plant), you trusted me and followed me in our merger with Mars Hill. You are some of the greatest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and serving. I failed to shepherd you well. I failed to shepherd you at all in my leaving. I owed you the transparency I’m trying to express here. I cared only for myself at your expense. I am deeply sorry. Please forgive me for my sin against you.
To Paul Petry, Bent Meyer and your dear families, I was a coward in 2007 at one of my first Elder meetings where you were horribly mistreated. My cowardice continued for the days, weeks and even years afterward until recently. I sinned against you by not upholding the office of Elder rightly and for not calling for your fair treatment and a peaceful way out of that situation. Please forgive me for the pain I contributed to by my cowardice and passivity. The details about how everything was handled is a bit blurry to me but I believe that your heart for the church was righteous and the concerns you were expressing were right. I sinned against you. Please forgive me. I now stand with you in the brotherly love that I failed to in the past and I encourage everyone everywhere to do the same.
To the Executive Elders and full council of Elders that I served with at the time, I failed you as well. My job, perhaps not as prescribed by Mars Hill, but as prescribed by God, was to care for the church of God. To fight for what is right and to hold each other accountable for sinful behavior. I regret not speaking up more where needed regardless of the consequences. I sinned against you in my passivity, fear, and selfish desires. Please accept this confession of my sin against you. I will never conduct myself among fellow Elders that way again.
I have sought out, and continue to seek out, personal conversations for confession and repentance. If you would like to pursue further or more specific reconciliation with me, please reach out to me so we can talk personally: jessewinkler at gmail dot com.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7 ESV)
This is my only hope and peace.