mars hill

Beau Underwood 10-06-2014

Churches—like everybody else—needs accountability. 

Paul Tripp was on the Board of Advisors and Accountability before he resigned in June. Photo courtesy of

A letter from nine Mars Hill Church pastors to their fellow elders offers the most trenchant criticism yet of controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll, who recently stepped down for at least six weeks amid a series of accusations.

The pastors did not mince words in their lengthy Aug. 22 letter [full text] concerning Driscoll, who has been caught up in allegations that include plagiarism, inappropriate use of church funds, and abuse of power:

  • [W]e direct that he steps down from ministry, submitting himself under the authority of the elders of the church, who will oversee the details of his restoration plan.
  • He must step down not only from the pulpit, but from all aspects of ministry and leadership.
  • He will continue to receive his salary so long as he continues to cooperate with the restoration plan set before him by the elders of Mars Hill Church.

The letter was posted within a Mars Hill online network and provided to Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City College psychology professor who has been blogging updates about Mars Hill.

The 4,000-word letter suggests there were insufficient layers of accountability at Mars Hill, a congregation of an estimated 14,000 people at 15 locations in five states, and that power was consolidated at the top with Driscoll given free rein to do what he wanted.

Photo of his announcement courtesy of Mars Hill Church

Driscoll has been an influential but edgy pastor for several years. Photo of his announcement courtesy of Mars Hill Church

Controversial Seattle megachurch founder Mark Driscoll will step down for at least six weeks while church leaders review formal charges lodged by a group of pastors that he abused his power.

The 43-year-old pastor has been under fire in recent months for plagiarism, inappropriate use of church funds, and improper behavior toward subordinates.

Returning from vacation Sunday, Driscoll addressed Mars Hill worship services through a pre-recorded message.

“I want to say to my Mars Hill family, past and present, I’m very sorry. I genuinely mean it,” Driscoll said in his address. “I’m very sorry for the times I’ve been angry, short or insensitive. I’m very sorry for anything I’ve done to distract from our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention.”

Driscoll said he will not do any outside speaking for the foreseeable future and postpone the publication of his next book.

Adam Ericksen 04-02-2013
Cross shadow on earth, Cardens Design /

Cross shadow on earth, Cardens Design /

Tripp Hudgins touched on something in his post yesterday that is essential to this discussion about Rob Bell and his book What We Talk About When We Talk About God. He wrote:

Why does Rob write this stuff? Whose side is he on? Yours. Mine. Ours … Rob is on everyone’s side. He’s trying to live like the God who meets him when he’s surfing, hanging with his kids and friends, walking along the city streets, or doing just about anything.

Tripp, how can you say such a thing! “Rob is on everyone’s side”? How could Rob possibly be on the side of those who ruthlessly criticize him?!? I’m sorry my friend, but that’s just ridiculous and absurd.

And yet the ridiculous and absurd is at the heart of the Christian message. I hope that Rob is for everyone. Not because I need Rob to be on my side, nor because I need his approval or acknowledgment. (Although, I wouldn’t mind it!) Rather, I hope it’s true because at the heart of the Christian message lies the ridiculous, absurd, and even scandalous message that God is for everyone.

Heidi Fenton 08-24-2012

Mars Hill Bible Church has appointed a new teaching pastor, months after founding pastor and well-known author Rob Bell departed for California.

In an email sent on Wednesday to members of the Grandville, Mich., church, leaders announced Kent Dobson had accepted the lead position.

Dobson served as a worship director in the church’s early days and has preached as a guest speaker in the months since Bell left. He is the son of Ed Dobson, pastor emeritus at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids.

Christian Piatt 04-26-2012
Graffiti artist photo, Warren Goldswain /

Graffiti artist photo, Warren Goldswain /

I had a stew of emotions when I read about an activist group in Portland calling itself the “Angry Queers” vandalizing a satellite church of Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill network. Neighbors in the area reported seeing a handful of young people in black masks smashing stained glass windows and damaging other property on the church campus early Tuesday morning.  A group called the “Angry Queers” sent a letter to a local news affiliate taking responsibility for the damage.

I get the anger. I feel that anger when I read things that pastors like Mark Driscoll say about the LGBT community. It’s wrong and it should be confronted publicly.

But please, for the love of God and one another, not like this.

Stephen Beaven 04-26-2012

A satellite church affiliated with controversial Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll was vandalized early Tuesday (April 24) and a group calling itself the “Angry Queers” has reportedly taken responsibility.

Stained glass and other windows were broken at the Mars Hill Church, according to a post on the Facebook page of Pastor Tim Smith.

“Neighbors of the church reported seeing several young adults in black masks throwing large rocks into the windows,” a church news release said. “Police stated that a bank in the area was also vandalized in the same way and that they believe the vandalism was planned ahead of time, most likely by an activist group.”

Christian Piatt 03-15-2012

Here is a condensed version of a workshop I offer on the concept of “Church 2.0.” I talk in it about the popularity of things like the “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus” video and Mark Driscoll’s Acts 29 Network of churches.

But while we can learn something from what these kinds of voices are saying and doing, we can also do this while still offering the world a more liberating theology and a radically inclusive community.

Watch the video of Christian's workshop inside the blog...

Cathleen Falsani 12-19-2011
Rob Bell via

Rob Bell via

Editor's Note: Rob Bell, 41, the founding pastor of Mars Hill church in western Michigan, bid adieu to his congregation in a 5,000-word epistle about grace and peace, which he preached on Dec. 18 to thousands in the converted strip mall that has housed the "Jesus community" for a decade. He said, in part:

"this church, this place, this community, was once simply a

hunch. a dream. a vision. a picture in the mind of a new kind of church for the new world we find ourselves in. a church that was fearless in confronting the injustices and systems of oppression that lurk around every corner and at the very same time deeply committed to the personal, intimate experience of following Jesus, of experiencing the joy and peace that transcends space and time. a church that found the stale, old categories of liberal and conservative boring and irrelevant because we'd experienced resurrection, which includes and affirms anything and everything that brings liberating, new life wherever it's found irrespective of whatever labels and categories it's been given because of an abiding conviction that the

tomb is,

after all,


a church where the main thing was actually the main thing."

Joshua Witchger 10-21-2011

Occupy Writers; Wild Turkey Chases Camerawoman; Mars Hill Plays the Name Game; Knitting Sweaters For Penguins; Essays on Faith and Life; Music Interviews and News.

Julie Clawson 09-03-2009
Recently, while traveling through Michigan, I attended Mars Hill for church one Sunday.