To members and former members of Mars Hill Church,
I am writing this confessional now because of recent events that have taken place at Mars Hill Church. My wife (Tonya) and I have discussed this and she as well as all my children are in full agreement that this is the right thing for me to do. I have also sought the counsel of my pastors and am in full submission to their leading in regards to my motives and actions with writing this. That being said, I will not be commenting on the current issues at Mars or with Mark Driscoll. I still regard Mark as my friend and love him and his family with the same passion as I did 20 years ago. My hope and prayer in doing this is to offer an apology to those with whom I have sinned against and a sincere desire for reconciliation if desired. I will be providing an email address for those of you who would like to speak to me further. I pray that the love of the Father and of His Son (Jesus) and The Holy Spirit will guide us all into true repentance and forgiveness. Amen
When I resigned from MH I was not in a good place spiritually. I was in physical pain due to failed back surgeries, deep emotional pain, even though I was not aware of it and was having financial difficulties due to a 50% reduction in my salary. I was also being seduced by my successes and all that came with it. I had turned to alcohol to kill the pain and was using it to free me morally to behave in ways that were disgraceful and destructive. I was full of myself and behaved in ways I swore I would never do. For those of you that know my story, when I was 14 I pledged to God that I would never be like my father but over these last many years I had become just like him. Over the years the alcohol consumption increased and finally resulted in 2 DUI’s within a few months a little over a year ago. I was depressed, felt hopeless, angry, alone (my own choosing), beat up and wrecked. My bride of 28 years finally had to leave the house and I was all alone. I felt dead inside. I didn’t want to talk to Jesus and I didn’t want Him to talk to me. But He loves us, me, too much to turn away. I could not run from Him even though I tried and finally after doing to me what He had to do to Jacob to get his heart, I found myself beaten but not broke. This was the beginning of my return to sanity and God’s healing and restoration. My fists had to be opened, so that I could surrender and Jesus met me there, just like he did 37 years before. It has been a little over 14 months since I have consumed alcohol and I am truly thankful for the grace of my family and friends that have seen me through this.
Somehow in all the mess of moral, financial, and mental depravity Jesus has chosen to use my sin to expose and free me of long held beliefs and behaviors that I had created to function and survive in the story of my past. I learned that much of who I was and how I thought and behaved was driven by Narcissism and anti-social tendencies. To say the least my world was rocked and I didn’t accept it at first but as I have learned more about it and myself it has begun to make sense. I tell you this because this is who I was when I helped plant MH and I believe some of the values and practices of MH have come from this perspective. In saying this I want to make it clear that neither myself nor any other leaders of MH as far as I know made decisions that we did not believe were for the glory of God and the best for the church. We continually sought unity and holiness, but speaking for myself many of my decisions where clouded by my brokenness. And for the decisions that resulted in injury to you I am truly sorry.
For the past seven years I have been silent. I truly believed that at the time of my resignation it was best for the church for me to leave quietly. There was a lot of tension and some very major changes in how the church leadership was structured; I did not want to add to the difficulty and definitely did not want to see a split or factions arise, so, I decided to slip away in silence. I now believe that it would have been best if I had spoken up and for not doing so and leaving you all just wondering, “What happened?” Again I ask your forgiveness for not trusting you enough to be honest and open with my concerns and apprehensions.
We (Mark, Mike and myself) began MH with a desire to not ever become like so many mega churches who have a sole king and when he falls the whole church falls, so we set up the bylaws so that every elder would have one vote and all decisions would be unanimous. This is an easier thing to do when you are small but as the church grew (and it grew) this became more difficult. The process was slow and difficult but it was functional. Myself and a few others believed that it was doable and remaining unified and equal was of higher importance. For those who were doing most of the administrative leadership and out front leading it was especially difficult for them and so the decision was made to change direction. I was not on board with this, neither were a number of other elders. This resulted in a very trying and difficult time for the elder board. The final result was two elders Paul Petry and Bent Meyer leaving the church. And within a year I left as well. I have met with both Paul and Bent and have asked their forgiveness for not doing more to stand up for them and I am thankful that they have both extended to me grace and forgiveness. My family to this day go camping with the Petry clan at the end of summer and Bent was kind enough to meet with Tonya and I during our struggles and offer biblical counsel and Christ-like love. These men were unjustly judged and treated, and all the elders at that time stand accountable. They deserve full exoneration and their good names made right.
I now feel it necessary for me to ask your forgiveness for not standing up to what I felt was the right thing for MH, and that was to remain an all-elder, one vote, and unanimous elder board. You trusted me to do what was right and I gave in. I let my fear of man as well as my personal gain and well-being persuade me to go along with something that I believed would hurt MH and ultimately the Gospel.
It has been written, spoke of and declared, that in order for a church to be “On Mission” that sometimes people need to be “Run over by the bus” and a large pile of bodies is a good thing. I know where this kind of thinking came from because I believed it to be true and was in full agreement. While it is true that those who desire to lead people astray (the bible calls them wolves) need to be dealt with, I believe we went way too far and responded with anger and self-righteousness’ in throwing people under the bus. I ask your forgiveness for my part in promoting and approving this kind of behavior, it was godless!. I believed that growth, commitment, loyalty and service where the indicators of a healthy church and the mark of a godly leader, but if these are done without love they become the fuel for pride and control. True health is found when a people are changed from one pattern of life to another, from darkness to light, from sin to holiness, from despair and hopelessness to faith and joy. I believe now that the true sign of God’s presence and blessing on a church is when His people walk humbly, kindhearted, patient, joyful, caring of others, peaceful, and above all else treat each other with a true love. A love that is rooted in sacrifice and grace . This is my prayer for Mars Hill; it is this kind of love that changes the world. AND THAT IS OUR TRUE MISSION!
So, for the many of you that I was not kind, patient, caring, peaceful, joyful and loving towards I ask your forgiveness and would love the opportunity to shake your hand or give a hug (whichever you prefer) and seek reconciliation in Jesus’s name.