Rose Madrid-Swetman

— Random Thoughts, Stories of Life, and Questions about the Journey —


September 10, 2014

Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church, Abuse, Grace, The Church, Jesus

Category: All Posts,Leadership,Mars Hill Church – Rose – 4:38 pm

I don’t have the time or space to fully think this out and edit it. I want to respond so here goes…

The last time I wrote publicly about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill church on this blog was in December of 2006. That was right after a small group of us met with Mark and his then right-hand man, Leif Moi. You can read about those meetings here and here

What I wrote in my blog after meeting with Mark and Leif was the most gracious way I could describe what I discerned and learned from the meeting. I was really hoping the best and that the future would turn out very differently for Mark and the church than what is unfolding minute by minute of late and within the public square (aka social media, the papers, magazine articles, blogs and more). What I said to my husband and a few trusted friends after the meeting in private was in the same spirit but was more direct, “From what we just observed and after working with many, many addicts, if Mark does not get help he and Mars Hill Church will implode someday.”

I think that day may be here. What is our response suppose to be? There is a mix of opinions within the Church and between followers of Christ on what is the correct response, the biblical response, the Christian response. I think if we are honest, anyone can make a case for what they think the correct response should be: silence, no social media responses that have any negativity about Mark or Mars Hill Church, don’t share links of what Mark has said in private whether years ago or recent, protect the man of God, don’t touch God’s anointed, share everything in order to get him to resign and get the help he needs, use every public space possible to uncover the abuse, sin and toxicity of the Mars Hill culture in order to be a voice for the 100’s of stories of abuse, give the victims the space to tell the truth so the public can bare witness, allow the victims to tell their stories, expose the illegal and unethical behaviors of the leaders of Mars Hill Church so that the abuse can stop, I could go on and on but you get the point.

There are many sides to this very tragic and complex story. Here is how I think about this. I am a female pastor in the Seattle area. I am the lead pastor of a Vineyard Church. I am a Regional Leader for the Northwest Vineyard Churches. I want to make it very clear that my thoughts and viewpoint in NO way represent the Northwest Vineyard or Vineyard USA.

These are my thoughts as a pastor in Seattle that has watched this up close and personal. After the 2006 meeting with Mark I have sat with and listened to countless stories of spiritual abuse laced with misogyny and twisted theology to endorse the abuse. I have listened to countless leaders from around the country and some in my own area ask me why I don’t think Mars Hill Church, its leadership and its theology are good for people, men, women and children? Some have even argued with me because Mars Hill Church is a success story! I have explained to people until I have been blue in the face that we are seriously off track in the American church when we measure success by the number of people attending any church. We have a lot of redefining what it means to be successful in our time in our context. That’s for another blog post.

The stories of abuse and unethical behavior have not just happened in the last few years, this is and has been the culture of Mars Hill Church for a very long time.

I was raised with a violent, abusive father. My mother was the victim of domestic abuse. I have born the cost of naming the truth about my story. I view Mark as a leader that had so much potential for good but went very, very wrong. I know that Mark’s twisted theology and lust for power comes out of his own story of brokenness. For that I have much compassion and grace. What I don’t think is helpful at all right now is for anyone to be told to be silent. I know of many, many people that have tried (including me) to talk to Mark about what could be in his heart and story that he would have such vitriolic rants filled with misogyny and get healing. He has never to my knowledge responded to that plea. This is evident by where he is today with all of the stories coming out of lying, cover up and continued abuse, shunning and bullying of anyone who tries to get at the truth or confronts him with truth in love. Numerous past and current elders of the church have tried to get at the truth so healing can begin for Mark, his family, those that have left and the church they love.

To tell people to be silent is in my opinion complicit with on-going abuse. That’s something to think about isn’t it? Telling victims and advocates that have been forced to public intervention to stop is abusive in its own right. These folks have gone public so the madness will stop and so Mark, Grace, his children and every victim of this tragic situation can get help.

In over eight or more years what we have learned is that there is absolutely no internal system that can hold Mark Driscoll accountable. That is why this was taken to the public sphere. Is that tragic and an embarrassment to Jesus and his Church? YES it is. But no more tragic than when Jesus walked this earth and publicly lashed out at the religious people of his day when they were abusing the people of God. I think a good case can be made that when all else failed, a public intervention is absolutely necessary for God’s sake and for the sake of everyone involved, not in the least being Mark Driscoll.

I pray for every victim of this tragic story. I pray Mark will resign and get the help he needs. May God’s mercy and justice (justice meaning putting things right) be the last word in all of this.

7 Comments »

  1. Very well said, Rose.

    Comment by Sam Middlebrook — September 10, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

  2. I was one of those who at first thought it best and biblical to keep it “in house,” but Driscoll has erased all accountability, and the public sphere seems to be the only place where change can take place. And it must take place.

    Comment by John Case — September 10, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

  3. Yes. I get frustrated when I hear people say that those crying out against the abuse make Christians “look bad” because we are piling on one of our own. Every time I have read a story about Mark Driscoll’s abuses in the secular media, there is inevitably a comment thread along the lines of, “Why aren’t other Christians calling this guy out on his bad behavior?” often likening it to sexual abuse in the Catholic church. If that doesn’t make us “look bad,” I don’t know what does.

    Comment by Lyndsey — September 10, 2014 @ 4:58 pm

  4. SO well said, Rose. I love love love your heart.

    Comment by Kim June Johnson — September 10, 2014 @ 5:48 pm

  5. Thanks for writing this Rose. I appreciate your perspective and calm, yet direct, words.

    Comment by Lisa Crawford — September 10, 2014 @ 8:38 pm

  6. Rose, thank you for your leadership and perspective these many years. I have always seen you as a voice of reason and a champion of those spiritually abused.

    Comment by Al Doyle — September 10, 2014 @ 9:42 pm

  7. Rose may it be so and may more step forward and tell story. Thank you for being a woman who speaks much truth and love.

    Comment by Martha hopler — September 10, 2014 @ 9:59 pm

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