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Why is not this a mainstream information story? — GetReligion

It’s been almost seven years since Mars Hill Church, the fabulously profitable multi-campus evangelical flock in Seattle, imploded when its pastor, Mark Driscoll, resigned. The church’s almost 13,000-person Sunday attendance totals rapidly dissolved, its headquarters and department campuses had been closed or offered.

I moved to the Seattle suburbs the next summer time and had an extended dialog with one of many church’s leaders. I’ve not often turned down an opportunity to do a narrative, however it was clear that overlaying this mess would take up extra time and emotional vitality than I had time for.

Dodging a lawsuit that accused him of misappropriating $30 million price of members’ tithes, Driscoll ended up shifting to Scottsdale, Ariz., (whose sunny clime is like Shangri-la to many rain-drenched Seattleites) and beginning a brand new church plant in 2016 referred to as Trinity Church.

Just lately, quite a few tales have come out about Driscoll’s heavy-handed management and dysfunctional pastoring at Trinity that sounded all too just like what went down in Seattle. The latest just came out Monday in Christianity Right this moment:

Practically 40 elders who served with Mark Driscoll throughout the last years of Mars Hill Church are publicly calling for him to step down from his present pastoral place and search reconciliation with these he has harm.

“We’re troubled that he continues to be unrepentant even though these sins have been beforehand investigated, verified, and dropped at his consideration by his fellow Elders, previous to his abrupt resignation” from Mars Hill, they wrote in an announcement launched at this time to CT. “Accordingly, we imagine that Mark is presently unfit for serving the church within the workplace of pastor.”

Christianity Right this moment is one in every of two shops which were following the Mars Hill story loads lately and I’ll get to CT’s podcast series in a second.

However first I ought to first point out investigative journalist Julie Roys’ two podcasts. She’s been following the Mars-Hill-in-Arizona beat for a while, however her newest is an act of warfare. From the transcript of Inside the Driscoll Cult Part 1:

The cultic actions of Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church have escalated to an entire new stage. As Julie’s company describe on this version of The Roys Report, Driscoll is now sending stop and desist letters, threatening to sue whistleblowers. And the risk is just not in useless. Driscoll reportedly has amassed a $10 million greenback litigation fund to sue whistleblowers into oblivion.

Each podcasts (here is part 2), are constructed round interviews of two former staff: Chad Freese, a data methods specialist and retired officer within the U.S. Marine Corps, who served as Driscoll’s head of safety, and Ben Eneas, who served with Freese on the safety element. Each have determined to go public with the catastrophe unfolding in Scottsdale. Not like the drama in Seattle, the place the weirdness dragged on for years, these Arizona of us have woken as much as this fashion earlier.

Roys’ latest podcast is in regards to the households of Trinity staff and the way they don’t seem to be allowed to see grandchildren and different kin. She talked a couple of purple flag being church buildings that don’t report their financials. In my expertise, church buildings do -– kind of. They provide a common funds overview however there’s nothing on particular person salaries, particularly what the pastor is getting.

Roys has accomplished one factor that journalists not often do for legal responsibility causes: Name Driscoll’s church a “cult.” Roys later likened the place to the Mafia. Are we talking about a “cult” in terms of management patterns (a sociological definition) or when it comes to errors in doctrine? Or each?

At this level, if could be applicable to ask a fundamental journalism query: The place are the Arizona media on this?

Driscoll is a nationally identified determine and his resignation seven years in the past was reported in every single place from the New York Times on down. But, I’ve needed to depend on smaller operations like Roys’ website online (which has been breaking quite a lot of tales lately) and blogs, like this Wandering Eagle one that ran an April 28 story about Driscoll going after a 15-year-old boy who kissed his 17-year-old daughter.

Tales are starting to emerge from Mark Driscoll’s The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. That is one in every of many which can be coming ahead. What occurred on this case is {that a} fifteen 12 months previous and seventeen 12 months previous feminine who was Mark Driscoll’s daughter mutually kissed. Afterward when Mark Driscoll discovered of it he turned unhinged. It led to an alleged marketing campaign of harassment together with false accusations made that the Scottsdale Police needed to examine. The approaching Trinity Church implosion goes to be Mars Hill 2.0 in Scottsdale, Arizona and will probably be very darkish.

Police are having to analyze? There’s greater than sufficient for a neighborhood reporter to sink his or her tooth into.

Then once more, the Seattle Instances hasn’t been following this both. But when Driscoll had been a former politician pulling comparable methods. you possibly can wager reporters would have been throughout it. Different blogs which were following this story embody WenatcheeTheHatchet and Warren Throckmorton, each of whom have numerous additional (and juicy) particulars. There’s no lack of eyes on Mark Driscoll.

The opposite current reporting on Mars Hill has come from Christianity Today, the brainchild of Mike Cosper, director of podcasting for CT. In accordance with a Fb put up from his boss, CEO Timothy Dalrymple, “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” has been a venture within the works ever since Cosper was employed 17 months in the past.

What makes Cosper’s venture so attention-grabbing (and I’ve listened to the primary 4 podcasts so far), is the reason of the theological undercurrents that induced a church like Mars Hill to occur within the first place. It evaluations the actions and the zeitgeist of the late Nineties, when the church was based by a 27-year-old man who was the primary Web-age pastor when it comes to his use of blogs and social media.

CT additionally asks the bigger query: Why does this occur time and again in present church circles? Driscoll is however one in every of many names of pastors who’ve gone off the deep finish. The podcasts conclude that these had been leaders whose talents to guide rose earlier than their character matured. Or their presents didn’t line up with their character.

No kidding.

I want CT had fingered different villains on this, such because the Christian ebook publishers that elevated these guys (and their books) whereas turning down completely good folks (who’ve a great deal of character however no fame) on the grounds that the latter don’t have the platform to attract within the readers. Then there are the Christian conferences that invite these of us as headliners. Driscoll obtained quite a lot of prime talking engagements that the majority 27-year-olds are usually not aware of.

Relating to this huge — and spectacular CT investigation — one other query arises: Why now? Why seven years after the actual fact? Was this as a result of phrase is out that Driscoll is repeating the identical stuff in Arizona?

Additionally — I’ve seen nobody reporting on this — what’s going on with Driscoll’s transformation from being Reformed to charismatic? Earlier this 12 months, some 80 leaders within the prophetic motion signed a statement pledging accountability. Driscoll was one of those who signed. What’s up with that? Driscoll has been identified for being quite a lot of issues, however becoming a member of the ranks of Pentecostals and charismatics isn’t one in every of them.

I’ll shut with a number of notes on CT’s presentation to this point:

* The podcasts discuss in regards to the pleasure that based the place to start with: The magic years when all on the church had been of the identical spirit and thoughts; the place spontaneous miracles and conversions occurred.

In 2009, I came out with a book in regards to the rise and fall of an analogous church in Houston and the identical components had been current there: The brilliance of the lead pastor firstly; the gifted elders who got here collectively, the individuals who gave every part to this church and had been obtainable to whomever walked within the door. After which this charismatic chief falls off the wagon when he calls for loyalty as a substitute of honesty; the elders find yourself pulling punches and selecting peace over honesty, leaving the strolling wounded among the many members, (a few of whom fully depart the religion over fallout).

* One factor lacking from the sequence so far are voices of girls, both as pastors or as commentators or specialists, apart from one former feminine worker, All these elders and pastors needed to be married to somebody. Did these wives have affect on what went on? (Cosper has stated that the rule of girls will probably be in a future podcast, however we’re midway by way of the sequence and so they’re barely there.)

* All this goes to point out that Mark Driscoll continues to be very a lot within the information, however the one ones paying consideration are Christian information shops and some weblogs.

I hope the secular media catch onto this fashion earlier than they woke as much as what was occurring in Seattle as a result of the stakes could also be larger the second time round and the autumn higher.

FIRST IMAGE: Early Trinity Church announcement, drawn from social media.

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