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5 Early Leadership Lessons from the Dissolution of Mars Hill Church

The events that have transpired at Mars Hill Church over the last few months have been dramatic and to some extent, unprecedented.

For me personally, they’re still heartbreaking as I’m a huge believer in the mission and potential of the local church.

After the resignation of Pastor Mark Driscoll October 14th, it was recently announced that Mars Hill is dissolving from one centralized multi-site, video teaching church into local, independent churches.

At this point, it’s not clear if all local campuses will survive. The properties will be sold, the centralized support staff released, and each church will have the autonomy to decide its future. As this post acknowledges, the economics of Mars Hill moving forward are tenuous. (You can read the announcement from Mars Hill itself here and a summary of events here from Christianity Today.)

I am in no place to stand in judgment over anything that transpired at Mars Hill and as I said in this piece written after Mark Driscoll stepped down, I don’t know Mark Driscoll or the leadership personally.

Even as I pray for Mars Hill and the Driscoll family (as I hope you do too), I realize I don’t pray with clean hands. You don’t. I don’t. No one does. Everyone comes to this conversation with sins of their own.

Yet it’s also important to learn. And while it will take months to sort out the details of what happened and years to figure out what it means, there are a few lessons that leaders can glean even now that can help you and me lead more effectively in our churches

Some of them might challenge you deeply. At least they challenge me.

Mark-Driscoll_Preaching

Photo: Mars Hill Church

Many commentators will focus on the negatives of Mars Hill, but don’t miss the positives. There are more than a few.

So in the spirit of learning from the good and the not-quite-as-good, here are 5 early lessons from the events and the legacy of Mars Hill:

1. Your Context Is No Longer An Excuse

If you can plant a church that’s effective at reaching unchurched people in Seattle, you can plant one anywhere.

I talk to church leaders all the time who use their context as an excuse for their lack of effectiveness in ministry. The conversation goes like this:

Well, you just don’t understand my city/region/culture…it’s almost impossible to reach people here. 

Really?

In 1996 Seattle was viewed as the most unchurched city in America, according to my friend Rob Cizek, executive pastor at Northshore Christian Church in nearby Everett Washington. If you’re ever been to Seattle (I’ve been there twice), you realize you are about as far away from the Bible Belt as you can get.

Mars Hill grew to as many as 13,000 in attendance and launched over a dozen campuses. It reached people that no one else was reaching. Frankly, it reached people no one thought were reachable.

Let that sink in. Your context might give you a reason it’s hard to grow a church in your area. It does not give you an excuse.

You can make excuses, or you can make progress, but you can’t make both.

Mars Hill dumped the excuses and made progress.

2. Counter-Cultural Works

If you were a consultant, advisor or leader advising an upstart church plant on how to reach people in left-leaning Seattle in 1996, you likely would not have said “Target men in their twenties with a hyper-conservative version of the Gospel.”

But it worked.

Love it or hate it, Mars Hill targeted young men stuck in an ever-extending adolescence and called them to faith and to responsibility. That direction changed the eternity and the lives of thousands of young men and many current and future families.

That’s a pretty amazing legacy and it shows you don’t need to cave to a culture to reach a culture.

The Christian message has always been counter-cultural. And whether you agree with the exact expression it took at Mars Hill or not, the Mars Hill story is a wake up call to the local church.

Don’t be afraid to be counter-cultural. It’s never held the church back in the past. It doesn’t need to in the future.

3. Personality Can Grow a Church, But Only An Infrastructure Can Sustain It

You’d be tempted to think that personality-based leadership is only a mega-church issue.

Hardly.

Personalities grow more than mega-churches. They also grow local churches, sometimes to their detriment.

I know many churches of 50, 100 and 500 who have grown because of the personality and charisma of a gifted leader. Small church leaders are not immune to placing themselves at the centre of all the life of their church.

The challenge of course, is when that leader leaves the church often collapses.  Even small churches revert back to much smaller numbers and stumble along, waiting for the next leader to come along and rescue things.

The lesson here is one for all of us….as your ministry grows, leaders need to grow the infrastructure to sustain it.

So what can you do?

Make sure you’re not the sole communicator…build into others. Even use video teaching to supplement.

Recruit other leaders who are better than you. If you have really solid leadership beside you and around you, your absence is less dramatic.

Replace yourself.

There was a day as a young leader where I was happy to be the centre of almost every decision and up teaching almost every weekend. No more.

Something very selfish in me might still enjoy that, but that’s irrelevant. So I’ve had to learn to get over my insecurity, step back and let others lead, teach and employ their giftedness. It’s the only way to set up a mission to succeed long term.

4. It’s Never Too Early to Start Succession Planning

Mark Driscoll was only 44 when he resigned.

It’s so easy to think—especially when you’re young—that you’ll be doing what you do forever.

You won’t be. I won’t be.

In a future episode of my Leadership Podcast, I’ll be interviewing William Vandebloemen, author of Next: Pastoral Succession That Works. William is so right when he says you should start planning for succession as soon as you begin your job.

Replacing yourself is hard for many leaders. We’re a little too insecure to let go (I’m not saying that’s what’s Mark’s issue is…all I know is I wrestle with that tension). We’re a little too threatened and fragile to imagine that the world will spin without us one day.

But the leader who raises up other leaders who can lead as well or better isn’t less valuable to the organization—they become more valuable.

Start talking about your succession plan now.

5. Criticism is Easier Than Contribution

Let’s just say it. Most of the people who take pot shots at Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill have done far less with their lives than Mark has or than Mars Hill has.

I’m not saying there’s nothing to take note of, be concerned about or to learn from. But it should always be done in a spirit of humility.

It’s easy to think you’d do a better job.

It’s easy to think “I wouldn’t have been as arrogant”, which, in itself, is arrogant.

And it’s easy to think you’re smarter than the people who did something bigger than you did.

We live in a world in which so many of the people who criticize football calls and coaches have never put on cleats. Some can’t even walk across the living room without getting winded.

But we all know better.

Criticism is easier than contribution.

Leadership means contributing, not just criticizing. As the character Anton Ego said so poignantly in the movie Ratatouille:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. 

What God has done so far through Mars Hill is remarkable in many ways. And as regrettable as the current direction of the story might be, the work done through Mars Hill has been life changing for thousands. That can’t be taken away. And who knows what might happen in the future, even in a smaller, yet significant, way?

What are you learning from what you’ve seen at Mars Hill?

Scroll down and leave a comment. And as I said in my first post on this issue, please know any harsh or unfair comments on Pastor Mark or Mars Hill will be deleted immediately.

No stones. Not one.

This is about all of us.

_________

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128 Comments

  1. worship training on July 16, 2017 at 4:04 pm

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  2. […] Source: 5 Early Leadership Lessons from the Dissolution of Mars Hill Church – Carey Nieuwhof […]

  3. Greg Denysschen on January 2, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Joseph was given a dream. We can ask where the dream was from and we can answer God, but there must have been many moments that others and Joseph doubted that when you see the turns it took. Eventually he languished in prison probably under much criticism as a failure but after 13 long years Gods purpose came to its own. The last Chapter on Mars Hill or Driscoll has not yet been written. Glory to God

  4. timbole on November 4, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks Carey for writing this. I have read much of your articles although I have never listened to your podcasts. You are a gift to the church…especially here in Canada. Thank again bro!

  5. James on August 27, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I think a graceful approach to Mars Hills but i cannot affirm approaches to faith that are so sexist, divisive and shamebased. The fact that something “works” or gathers a crowd does not make it ok or Christian. I think the sexism of MH is as unhealthy as any sort of male irresponsibility. They both encourage passive femininity. Boooo…

  6. Bobbie Hinkley on July 25, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    I never heard of Mars Hill until my pastor shared Mark’s 2nd book (Confessions of a Reformission Rev.) I don’t know what happened but this is a truly eye-opening book for a fundamentalist church background girl. I’m sorry to hear of it’s demise but surely the satellite churches will remain true to the call to bring in the lost.

  7. Paul Cummings on July 23, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks Carey – totally unbiased, written with much grace towards Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll and definitely a lesson for churches of any size.

  8. Dave on July 23, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    One more. Finances matter. If we could pull apart the finances of Mars Hill you will probably find large revenue streams tied to the intellectual property of MD. They tried a new way of funding ministry that was not based on tithing, so when the day came for disciplining Mark or even removing him they could not do it.

  9. InMe on March 28, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Jesus Christ (as the best example for a righteous leader) got crucified because He hurt the feelings of those religious people trying to twist the Truth. MD can’t excuse himself for not being criticized because he made a mistake. In this world criticism is a very normal activity. Whether you are or you did good or bad people will always criticize you. Let’s face that reality!

  10. ErinErin on February 21, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I am not sure I would be so supportive of their all methods of challenging young men. Some of Driscoll’s best methods were his in-your-face boldness but it seemed to soon evolve into a form of bullying-berating-obsessive. I wonder how deep the commitment of those young men was and if it has been long-lasting. Sometimes, you respond because you need a father figure or you need direction, but once you begin to mature and figure yourself out, that “overly strong” mentor model begins to break down.

  11. Carol on January 21, 2015 at 1:24 am

    Coming from a Discovery Bible Study and obedience-based discipleship perspective of discipling the unchurched toward Jesus. (our mentor catalyzed the planting of 7,000 churches in four years among unreached Muslims), I just do not resonate with your conclusions.

    • frola on February 9, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Carol, you got me interested. Would you pls kindly elaborate?

    • terry on March 18, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      What does catalyzed the planting of 7000 churches mean? Where are these 7000 churches??? Give me 5 name please

  12. VMWH on December 11, 2014 at 10:36 am

    The first thing that hit me about Driscoll when I first heard of him about 8 months ago, was the parallel he was following to the early stories we heard about Jim Jones. I suspect that I am rather older than many of you and do remember hearing about Jones’ activities in the early 1970s.From that perspective, I am relieved that Driscoll is gone from his church and I am hoping he stays gone from any pulpit anywhere.

  13. James Martin on December 6, 2014 at 10:49 am

    There are a number of posts saying the MH didn’t work or wasn’t ‘successful’ prior to its downfall. I would ask those people to think of the baptisms & salvations that occurred over the years. God is still working in the lives of those people – they may be hurt or offended & may have even found another church by now – but they had God work in the life some time while they were at MH. Don’t be quick to judge what was ‘successful’ or ‘unsuccessful’ just because the church collapsed.

    • ErinErin on February 21, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      True…but if you only look at numbers of transformations, it is only a portion of the picture. Did it stick? Where are these folks in their faith walk 3, 5, 7, years down the road? Whenever a church and leadership becomes pastor-centric, they rise and fall with that pastor. And that can be a dangerous thing.

  14. Rob Smith on November 24, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Carey, I am joining this conversation late.. I am sorry. Given that Forbes Magazine called Mars Hill Church the Enron of American Churches, some thoughts about your positive lessons that can be learned.

    I tend to agree with all of them, but, as someone who was at the receiving end of Mark Driscoll’s abusive manner, and as someone who has a pastoral heart for the hundreds, if not thousands, of members shunned and mistreated, I would say that until I had counted to ten your words were received like an investor that had lost all his money after the Enron collapse listening to a pundit talking about the good Enron had done and the many investors that Enron had enriched as he pontificated over the good lesson to be learned.

    Failure to acknowledge the significant harm done by Mark Driscoll in a post that is looking for the positives means that a significant part of the audience feels somewhat punched in the gut. There are good lessons to learn in any calamity. But when people have been hurt, failing to acknowledge that show either a lack of care for those hurt, or a lack of understanding of the true scope of the harm that the calamity has caused in many lives.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Rob…so glad you joined it.

      I really appreciate your perspective and am terribly sorry for the trauma you went through as part of Mars Hill. I really do write as an outsider, and I’m so sorry to hear of your story. You sound like a great person…someone with integrity who really got caught in a bad situation.

      I think what I’m trying to do is to stop other people from being punched in the gut. I just have no first hand knowledge of Mars Hill so I didn’t want to rush to judgment. That happens all too often in the church. So this post really just sought to extract obvious lessons for the rest of us who weren’t part of what went on.

      Rob…praying about your experience today and for you to become part of a healthy community. Appreciate you.

    • James Martin on December 6, 2014 at 10:39 am

      I’m sorry you were on the receiving end of the hurt. I actually think Carey did an excellent job showing that he had compassion and a humble attitude towards the situation going on at Mars Hill. Rob, I have no idea what you went / are going through because of what happened. Think of all of the baptisms & salvations & discipleships that took place over the years at MH. Those are things that God accomplished by using imperfect people as his instruments. Think about this, God knew MH would collapse and yet he still allowed Mark Driscoll to plant the church and God further allowed the successes of baptisms, salvations and discipleship to happen. I’m sorry for the pain you’ve experienced.

      • ErinErin on February 21, 2015 at 2:43 pm

        True…James, but if you only look at numbers of transformations, it is only a portion of the picture. Did it stick? Where are these folks in their faith walk 3, 5, 7, years down the road? Whenever a church and leadership becomes pastor-centric, they rise and fall with that pastor. And that can be a dangerous thing.

        • RWilliams on December 16, 2015 at 10:07 am

          Are you implying that the people of Mars Hill will not actually be changed because of a misstep in leadership. Surely not.

          “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe…”

          The power isn’t in the messenger, but in the message. God uses all sorts of people to deliver the message….

  15. Parker Green on November 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    This is a great point that removes excuses from people that are part of church planting/building anywhere. I enjoy the lack of judgment but instead taking responsibility for our own leadership. “Do not complain of a servant to his master”. The man was carrying a lot of weight, right or wrong. I think these are the right lessons to draw that allow action in my leadership personally.

  16. Thomas Niblack on November 13, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Carey, your a beast bro!! 🙂 Keep following The Lord’s lead man, and thank you for this post!

  17. stephenncollins on November 13, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Leadership Lesson #1: How you treat people will make you or break you. Plenty of pastors in smaller churches need this one, too. This one thing, ultimately, it why Mars Hill no longer exists. It breaks my heart.

  18. TC on November 11, 2014 at 2:17 am

    Hello Carey,
    I wonder how a healthy accountability structure could have helped avoid so many similar problems in the “church”.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 11, 2014 at 5:53 am

      That’s a great question. I think culture starts with the senior team. Healthy at the top…healthy everywhere else. Unhealthy at the top…unhealthy everywhere else. Leaders create a culture everyone lives with. For me, an inner circle that loves me but pushes, challenges and corrects me is essential.

      • ErinErin on February 21, 2015 at 8:10 pm

        I’ll say it again. Whenever you become pastor-centric, the church lives or dies on the health of the pastor. People may slam denominations for their rules and regulations and hierarchical structures, but at the heart of them is a sense of being relationally connected to other churches and to a regional body so that if the church is going astray, others can come alongside and guide them back. That’s not to say that you cannot have that same model within your church, but it is healthier when you also have outside structures to oversee or hold you accountable. I first met Mark Driscoll 15 years ago at the National Youth Workers Conference and I was struck by his boldness, which soon became unabashed arrogance. All pastors have to fight against the desire of others to put you on a pedestal. Once you begin to “believe your own press” , you are headed for a fall and the higher up you are, the harder the fall. Remember Ted Haggard? There was a 4 foot photo of him in the lobby of the church.

  19. gwally on November 9, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    We don’t really know that “it worked” except in numbers; in fact, there is much evidence that it really didn’t, considering how quickly the whole deal is being dismantled.

    Here are some leadership lessons I suggest: 1) don’t be a bully, 2) don’t denigrate women, worship leaders, men who aren’t like you, etc. 3) remember that it’s not about you, 4) when you display patterns of sin over a long period of time and your board recommends a discipline/restoration process SUBMIT to it instead of resigning.

    • fb on November 10, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Totally agree. I’m shocked by the ‘lessons’ in the original post, which seem to ignore the sin that led to the downfall of the leader and the organization.

      • Carey Nieuwhof on November 10, 2014 at 10:24 pm

        Appreciate your points. That has been chronicled in much greater detail elsewhere. I wrote this post to try to pull a few lessons out of the situation that others weren’t talking about, and I’m trying to do it with grace. That’s the point of this post.

  20. Pam Garrud on November 8, 2014 at 9:32 am

    For anyone who has ever been involved in spiritual and/or psychological abuse, we saw the abuse clearly years ago. I have to admit, what I didn’t foresee is that Driscoll was going to be held accountable by his own people before he managed to crash in a flame of self-created disaster. I actually thought he was going to end up harming someone so irreparably that the law would have to intervene.

    Driscoll did not reach young men for faith and accountability. Unless faith is simply saying the words “Jesus is Lord.” Driscoll preached to young men the gospel of “Boys rule, girls drool.” Why should it be surprising that troubled young men who dislike themselves would be attracted to such a message? And of those young men who came close to him and his church personally: there are many, many stories of emotional and psychological abuse and manipulation on the internet. For all of his talk that sounded so hateful of women, it seems that in real life he picked on a lot of men as well.

    Driscoll is a deeply troubled young (in my reference point) man who clearly does not yet understand that God loves him. I am glad, however, that his years of preaching dualism are over. May God grant him the grace to learn that it is not necessary for God to hate our enemies in order to love us. May God grant him the grace to understand that God’s love is for all and that there is neither slave nor free, male nor female, sinner or saint, but all are one in Jesus Christ.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Love that you’re talking about love Pam. Ultimately, it is kindness that leads us to repentance. I do indeed hope that grace leads everyone involved to where we need to be.

    • Blair Grotbeck on November 12, 2014 at 4:54 am

      I hate to to get on here and start some argument. However, Pam, I believe you join the many people on the internet who slam this guy based off of no evidence, or by twisting words from his own mouth. I’ve listened to nearly every sermon of his online in the past 5 or 6 years because it seemed to me that he was the only pastor I could find that wouldn’t hold back from what often needed to be said, and content that most pastors are to afraid to talk about.

      I disagree with the points you make here such as “hating women, a ‘boys rule, girls drool’ gospel, and “preaching dualism.” DUALISM? Please provide support for such strong statements. Otherwise please do not stoop to the level of many of the haters online who have never actually even listened to him or read articles regarding his doctrinal and theological views (of which he usually always supported based on scripture).

      Every time I hear a brother say things like “I hate Driscoll”, or “He is a heretic.” I say, “Oh really? What sermon did you listen to that you disagree with?” or “What article did you read that didn’t match up with God’s word?” To my un-surprise, these people have usually never listened to him or if they have it was based off of one sermon that must have hit them in a sensitive area in their heart that they couldn’t handle, or was considered to scandalous since most pastor wouldn’t “go there.”

      Maybe I’m the idiot here, and you actually went to Mars Hill and experienced all of this. I don’t know. But I can tell you this. My Dad is a pastor and he experienced bullying first-hand from another pastor and I watched my family fall apart because of it. I’m not saying Driscoll wasn’t wrong. I’m sure he did some terrible things. But he also did some courageous things, and boldly stepped out where many other leaders wouldn’t. And because of that, men like me, were challenged to get up off their butt, take of there life, take responsibility, grow up, treat women like Jesus did and as daughters of God, and be bold Godly men. I don’t know how anyone can personally argue against my experience and how he constantly convicted me of sin and opened up me up to areas of my heart that needed work while I was thousands of miles away. Glory to God for how the Holy Spirit reached me through Mark’s media online. If you cared, I’d love to go into more detail on specific sermons that I felt really challenged in joy to change specific areas in my life.

      And as many of the great leaders of our day and of our past, men who have done great things have also messed up. WE are messed up. I am messed up. Mr. Driscoll is messed up. And I agree that he is troubled. He needs Jesus just like you, Pam.

      And I’m sorry if this all sounds harsh, but please watch yourself. You seem very unforgiving and unwiling to see the entire side of things. I’ve read the articles, the titles, and the youtube videos that think he is a false prophet. But I’ve also read and listen to Mark for myself. The world doesn’t like to hear the truth. Which is in my opinion why he has been hated so much. I can’t speak for the Mars Hill leaders that were hurt by him, but I feel for them and I hurt for them.

      Hopefully my side of things here will give a little perspective.

      • Carey Nieuwhof on November 12, 2014 at 8:24 pm

        Hey Blair and Pam…thanks for your perspectives. Again, I was about to hit the delete key but I sense the heart behind both of your comments is good. Blair, I hear the hurt in your words from seeing your dad wrongfully or unfairly accused. And Pam, I hear the hurt in your words too.

        Wow…the reality is our actions have impact. I agree we have to be careful to judge from afar, which is why I refrain from making personal comments about Mark or the team, trying to extract wider lessons from what we can reasonably know.

        I think the biggest journey in all of this is the journey inward. How am I (bold, italicize) hurting or helping people and the Kingdom. That’s my focus.

        • Blair Grotbeck on November 12, 2014 at 9:01 pm

          Carey thanks for swinging us back in the right direction. The discussion should be focused on how we can, in humility, learn from such events. My main motive for the above novel I wrote was to talk about Mark’s positive impact on my life. I saddens me that others see him as only a destructive leader and speaker. I fully realize he may have hurt people enough to lose his job, but I also think through his content, there’s enough evidence to show he was incredibly passionate about Jesus and advancing God’s kingdom. I Apologize for letting my emotions get the best of me. Peace

          • Carey Nieuwhof on November 13, 2014 at 8:22 am

            Blair…no problem. Appreciate your heart and for your willingness to see the good in a super tough situation. Thanks for your leadership.



  21. mc on November 6, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    1. MH did bring in people, but after the 2007 firings it was not primarily the unchurched. They kept pulling in new members every year the numbers stayed the same because so many people were leaving because of the harsh environment. Even starting in new states didn’t bump the overall number bc so many would leave each year. The numbers they had for membership also included people from multiple states where they had campuses. In 2012 they started campuses in other states, which would start with like 400 people who were podcasters pulled from other churches.

    3. Turn over rate of staff/volunteer elders is like 40%, its crazy high. So not only was it about Mark, and his lack of building a sustainable infrastructure, it was about Mark building an empire around himself. six figure salary for Mark and two others. Volunteer elders giving 20 hours a week getting paid 130 bucks a month for their efforts. Having staff/volunteer staff sign noncompete clauses saying they won’t palnt a church in 10 miles of a MH is a problem. Building on greed was a problem. People were afraid to speak up because they would get fired and shunned.

    Criticism is easier than contribution. Nice catch phrase. yes mark did more with his life than me. Including fundraising for overseas and spending 10 million of that on church building remodels.

    Pease know any harsh or unfair comments on Pastor Mark or Mars Hill will be deleted immediately. **** We are aware of this, because for years if you raised concerns in Mars Hill, even in the smallest degree, then you were shunned, fired or both.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 10, 2014 at 10:30 pm

      I’m sorry your comments were shunned in the past. I wrote that disclaimer because I just don’t want to get into trash talk on this blog, which unfortunately characterizes a lot of conversation online. That’s why I talked about harsh and unfair. Some of the comments people have made on this post push my limits but I have let most (I think maybe all) stand so far, as I want this to be an authentic conversation. It’s a tough line to walk sometimes.

      • mc on November 10, 2014 at 11:25 pm

        It wasn’t comments, it was actual MH members/deacons saying I was not allowed to have contact with them anymore, all the while telling us publically and the rest of the church that we were “sent out with a blessing” to teach other churches about doing community, when in fact we brought accusations about elders lying.

  22. iamspinoza on November 6, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I am not trying to make any harsh or unfair comments to MD or MHC but reading the comments here I feel like too many people
    continue to (1) understate the depths of the issues surrounding MD/MHC and (2) believe that’s ok because MD is gifted and MHC saved a lot of people.

    This post, plus your previous post comparing Driscoll’s issue to CJ Mahaney and John Piper, does not appreciate that the issues go way beyond that. It is beyond reasonable doubt for anyone who bothers to look that, for example (1) MD’s salary
    was around the $850k mark in 2013 while the church was struggling financially, (2) Mars Hill Global deceptively (and probably illegally) raised funds from mainly international donors to buy real estate to expand MHC by suggesting funds would
    be used for church planting in Ethiopia and India, (3) the Board of Elders concluded in their recent investigation that MD was disqualified for ministry and they had a restoration plan for him, but he chose to resign instead of submitting to that restoration plan.

    Those are the facts, the source documents and testimony from current and former pastors/elders are on the internet for those who want to see them. I won’t draw any conclusions from these facts here as people can draw their own conclusions.

    Once you open your mind to these things, it’s a little hard to stomach some of the comments here about how much people hope he comes back to ministry, and how they wish people wouldn’t criticise a church when it’s done so much good. Of course not all the critics love Jesus, but for people who do; Praise God that this has come out that His name may be honoured, thank God MD is out of ministry, we can
    pray that God will humble MD and lead him to repentance. (Though the lack of confession of these sins to date is very discouraging and does not show signs of repentance.)

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      The point of this post is not to try Mark or Mars Hill or exonerate anyone. It’s to learn, hopefully humbly, as leaders together from points that have not been talked about as much. That’s my goal.

      • iamspinoza on November 12, 2014 at 1:30 am

        Understand that’s the goal, just not totally sure why that should be the goal. Let’s put it this way, if MD had sexually abused a child, and it was common knowledge and could easily be proved beyond reasonable doubt, and he’d just resigned without being held to account in any way, would the tone of your post be the same? Would the tone of the commenters here be the same?

        And perhaps that is an unfair comparison – I don’t wish to imply he is a child molester in any way – but reading the stories of spiritual abuse is very heartbreaking, and there is some point where the desire to be so-called gracious and humble can be unhelpful/misleading and you can’t be on the fence about what’s been done. That’s all.

        • timbole on November 4, 2015 at 2:05 pm

          Late into this. Just wanted to say that it is an unfair comparison because the “lessons learned” would be completely different. What MD did is not even in the same category as the comparison. Carey’s goal here is legit. People know that MH and MD did wrong. As Carey said earlier, you can read about that else where. I don’t think he ever intended to give an exhaustive treatment of the issue. Just what he learned from the positive aspects. The damage done may have greatly diminished the things that should be celebrated there but it doesn’t negate them altogether. And I would also say that that MD is not the only demon here. The blame here lies far beyond just him (Leadership and congregation) Thank you Carey for writing this.

  23. Leadership Roundup | Worship Links on November 6, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    […] Carey Nieuwhof shares five things we can learn from everything that has happened at Mars Hill: […]

  24. Garrhet Sampson on November 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    There is a lot of wisdom here. It’s nice to find a blog that is devoted to learning from the incident instead of throwing more gasoline on it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 6, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Thanks! I always try to find the positive in the situation as a leader.

  25. josh n on November 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Great wisdom here! Thanks for pointing out the positive. I don’t have any direct relationship with Mars Hill, but their online resources have had a profound impact on my relationship with Christ over the years, and for that I’m thankful. Criticism is easier than contribution…everyone can learn from that!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 6, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Appreciate that Josh.

    • Cmj3 on November 6, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      same here… Mark is an amazing teacher and I have learned more listening to his teachings online over the years than any other church I have attended… So sad all around..

  26. BJB on November 5, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Great article- appreciate the look at the many lessons we can learn— agree “no stone”— there was a work done there and that work stands on its own. Now to lift up all those impacted by the fall-out and pray their foundation is firm.

  27. ChickOK on November 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I echo from the Scriptures your line of thought in point #3 about not being the sole communicator and having other leaders. From Acts 14:23 “And when they (Paul & Barnabas) had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

    And simply to note that elders(plural) were appointed in every church.

  28. Des Morgan on November 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    There is a pretty good chance that you would not have allowed Jesus’ opinion of the Mark Driscoll situation or of your response above, to be published. Success is never a sign of godly behaviour. Your blog sort of puts an end to any discussion of the situation.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      Kind of strange to hear that Jesus would have had an opinion on it that someone could publish. But I appreciate your respect for the tone I’m trying to create on this blog. Thank you.

      • Des Morgan on November 7, 2014 at 1:22 am

        Carey, I’m not sure I understand you but yes Jesus does have an opinion on this whole situation & I’m not sure it would have been ‘nice’ and ‘polite’ It would have been full of love for that is who he is but he certainly challenged the ‘church’ leaders of his day about how they exploited people for their own ends. He ended up on a cross for his honesty. I don’t know Mark Driscoll personally so I can’t comment on him from that perspective. I can only trust he would come to terms with what God is wanting in this situation. I’ve listened to his responses on video; they seem to lack an understanding of the problems with his style of dealing with people. His success is no indicator of anything except that his techniques work.

        • Timbole on November 25, 2016 at 4:27 pm

          Didn’t Jesus end up on a cross because of obedience (Phil 2) and not because of honesty? Am I missing something here?

          • Des Morgan on November 26, 2016 at 1:21 am

            If you are going to be obedient, you are going to be honest. Being obedient as a Jesus follower will get you into trouble again and again. One thing we know is that it won’t make you popular with the in crowd. Obedience isn’t a technical term – it is very practical.



    • timbole on November 4, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      “Discussion” and “criticism” are two different words with two different definitions. I think you may have the two confused. Also, Carey’s post seems to not be a post about ones opinion of MD’s ministry but rather a post about what HE learned from only one side (the good and not-quite-as-good) of the issue.

      Blessings

  29. Patrick Craig on November 5, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Interesting article but it misses the point.
    1.
    Your Context Is No Longer An Excuse – Context has never been an excuse,
    really. Paul established churches in the heart of Gentile regions that
    had been worshiping trees and hugging rocks for centuries. How did he
    do it? He preached the gospel. He created small churches under an
    eldership system and then moved on. He did not read the latest church growth books. He was not afraid of the culture of the cities he preached in. AND once he established a church he did not stay long enough to get forced out. He took all kinds of criticism but stayed the course as a church planter yet he did not stick around trying to be the top dog in a big church.
    2.
    Counter-Cultural Works. Counter-culture for counter-culture’s sake is a
    misnomer. Mark Driscoll did not give an example of Christ-like
    behavior. His organization might as well have been EST or Silva Mind
    Control which were also counter-culture. The sixties were
    counter-culture. Driscoll offered a different way to be, but was it
    really Christianity? Many, many of those thousands who were “reached”
    will turn away from Christ because of disappointment in the “leader.”
    That’s hero-worship brought about by good oratory and there’s nothing
    eternal about it.
    3.
    Personality Can Grow a Church, But Only An Infrastructure Can Sustain
    It. Again the writer misses the point. It’s not about personality or
    infrastructure, it’s about the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the
    grower and sustainer of the church. If you rely on personality and
    infrastructure you’re dead meat as we are seeing right now at Mars Hill.
    4.
    It’s Never Too Early to Start Succession Planning. You don’t plan for
    the next King in a church. You disciple and build up the people God
    sends to you and let their giftings come forth in leadership roles. A
    man like Mark Driscoll makes no room for spiritual growth because he is
    all about protecting his throne. And when a church gets that big the
    leader is no longer a pastor. He is at the least an administrator and
    at the worst a tyrant.
    5.
    Criticism is Easier Than Contribution. If you can’t stand the heat get
    out of the kitchen. If you want a huge church you’ll get lots of
    people who have plenty to say. If you’re not humble enough to take
    whatever you get, sell cars instead.

    In my opinion, this whole fiasco is just another reproach on the name of
    Jesus. Mark Driscoll flies the coop leaving a giant mess and thousands of broken hearts. Just exactly what the world expects of the big name “pastors.” The only leadership lesson to be learned here is to stop trying
    to grow huge churches and start building the body of Christ by telling
    the truth about Jesus Christ in HUMILITY and love. (Acts 13) (MHO)

    • Des Morgan on November 5, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      An excellent response, Patrick. For the most part you express my heart in what you write.

    • Kevin on November 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      After reading your response I question whether you read Carey’s article. Your responses to his points miss the mark entirely.

      • Patrick Craig on November 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm

        Oh, yes, I read it. And what I saw was an attempt to defend what I and many others see as an unchristian system that passes for “church.”

        • Carey Nieuwhof on November 6, 2014 at 3:58 pm

          Patrick I appreciate your emphasis on humility. Obviously we share different views. Size and humility are not mutually exclusive. I know more than a few arrogant leaders of very small churches, and some very humble leaders of large churches. I won’t rebut your points individually. I’ll just let them stand. Thank you.

    • Stuart on November 7, 2014 at 4:53 am

      @Patrick…It really does sound like you’re going out of your way to try to be negative.

      • Patrick Craig on November 7, 2014 at 8:35 am

        I’m not having to move an inch to try to be anything. I’m just responding to an article that misses the point about the ENORMOUS damage Mark Driscoll has done to the church. Contrary to what the writer says there are no leadership lessons to be learned here except sorrow and repentance. Why would we try to make this disaster into something that keeps the same ungodly paradigm alive.

        • Stuart on November 7, 2014 at 9:45 am

          Then you are just plain ‘being negative! The only thing that this article will do is build up, encourage and cause leaders to think a little about their leadership. All you are trying to do is take away from that. What is the point?

          I’m sorry but this article is not belittling what has happened or ‘missing the point’. What is talked about in this article is things that can, and will, help church leaders based on the good that Mars Hill has done and if you say Mars Hill hasn’t done any good then you are just ignorant.

          Also, of course there are leadership lessons to be learned. Yes, of course mistakes were made – but it wasn’t these mistakes which enabled Mars Hill to reach the number of unsaved people that it did. So why shouldn’t church leaders take the good aspects and implement them in their churches, without, of course, implementing the mistakes?

          • Des Morgan on November 7, 2014 at 11:48 am

            We must remember that it is ‘leadership lessons’ that is the title of this blog. The leadership lesson to be learnt is that this is not the way you should lead – ‘if you want to be great in God’s kingdom, you will have to be the servant of all’ May we learn the lessons that Jesus demonstrated by the life he lived.



  30. Joe Carr on November 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Is this a sign of a deeper flaw in the multisite plan? Did God intend for this leadership structures in churches? In addition, I am not aware of many courses in seminaries that train pastors to manage multi-million dollar entities. Will this become the norm for churches of this size and number of sites revolving around a central leadership and, often times, single personality, especially as those lead pastors age?

    I agree that context is often a misused excuse, but couldn’t this be a tell that churches may not be intended to function from a centrally located leadership? As I read Acts and the Epistles, I do not get the sense that Paul was carbon-copying his design for churches in differing contexts. So how can we expect that one leadership (person or team) can make decisions for what is needed in multiple regions?

    I recognize that we live in a “McDonalds world.” However, I am still not convinced that God would intend for churches to function in the way that many multi-sites practice. Let us grow churches, start new venues and plant new churches. Period. Let Jesus be the head and Holy Spirit be the guide from there. Anything more and I fear that church becomes a human entity instead of a divine one.

    God bless, Mark and all the people who have come to know Jesus through Mars Hills. However, I am afraid that this is only the beginning of a trend for other multisite churches.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 6, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Joe these are great questions. I think the challenge is that Mars Hill did not anticipate a break up at this point. The explosive growth of many large churches is about 3 decades old, with many of the original leaders still leading. The jury is out on how succession will go, but William’s book is an excellent start to the conversation. Many large churches I know are working on a healthy succession plan. It will be good to see how that pans out. Remember that succession planning is not just a big church issue. Many small churches and denominations do it poorly. Others do it well. It’s a mixed bag across the board.

  31. Gary on November 5, 2014 at 11:36 am

    very inspiring words of leadership. good leaders hire their own replacements. I’ve been idle in my ministry, and it’s time to move forward. Time to hire my replacement so I can go start another ministry in an area that needs God.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 6, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Glad you got that insight from this Gary.

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  32. joel on November 5, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Growth, in and of itself, is not a measure of Godly direction. Otherwise you are left to rubber stamp Osteen and any other ‘successful’ growth model. A church shouldn’t need an emotional triage center to respond to the actions of its leadership.
    Most have no idea that the questionable methods employed by MD (which has left a wake of wounded people) have infested a generation of young “be a man” preachers wreaking havoc across the country.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 5, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Or just see Blair’s comments below. It’s more of a mixed bag than many critics want to admit. For sure there were issues, and for sure much good was done.

      • joel on November 5, 2014 at 7:31 pm

        Sorry, but you really have no idea. We were direct witness and victims of a pastor that idolized Driscoll and his methods and inflicted untold damage. When people you love lose their vocational ministry and wind up in counseling for spiritual abuse get back to me. Shame on anyone that even attempts the slightest justifaction for Driscoll or others that employ his methods.

  33. Blair Grotbeck on November 5, 2014 at 1:36 am

    I’m a single man in his 20’s. No one ever got to me with so much spirit led conviction like Mr. Driscoll did even from across the country. I hope he teaches again. Devastated for the people of this church and for Mark and his family.

    • Blair Grotbeck on November 5, 2014 at 1:40 am

      One of his particular sermons (which receives a lot of flack) where he goes OFF on men, led me to my knees weeping to get up and correct some very destructive behavior in my life. I’ll never forget it. I still go back to that same sermon for reminders.

      • Carey Nieuwhof on November 5, 2014 at 8:57 am

        Blair…thank you for sharing this. I so so appreciate it.

  34. Steve Taylor on November 4, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    “Most of the people who take pot shots at Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill have done far less with their lives than Mark has or than Mars Hill has.”

    This statement seems a little off. I don’t think that you would label all criticism of MD or MHC as being of the “pot shot” variety, but we need to make sure that we judge criticism of pastors and churches by how accurate and biblical those criticisms are, not by whether the critic has “done far less,” whatever that may mean, than the church/pastor.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 5, 2014 at 8:56 am

      Have you ever been on the other side of those pot shots Steve? Just wondering. And for sure, we all need criticism. Ideally it comes from people who know us, can speak into our lives, and helps us change. Taking random shots at people in the name of truth doesn’t help the church, it hurts it in my view.

      • Steve Taylor on November 6, 2014 at 10:07 am

        Carey, I am a teacher, so I am on the receiving end of criticism regularly–occasionally it is even from people who know what they are talking about. That criticism is nowhere near the level of the criticism offered of Driscoll or Mars Hill. Let’s pretend that that is relevant. Should I be concerned with the criticism that I receive, even if I receive it from those who do not have direct knowledge of what happens in my classroom? The answer depends. If the criticism is valid, then I must take it seriously, even if the person delivering it does so in a way that I don’t prefer. What I certainly should never do is evaluate the quality of the criticism on the grounds of whether or not the critic has met my arbitrary threshold of achievement. That was the point that I was attempting to make in my previous comment.

        I think that the sentence that I quoted in my original comment is unnecessary and hints at a false standard.

      • mc on November 6, 2014 at 9:30 pm

        I have from MH elders. We brought biblical accusations and they “sent us off with a blessing” and then told other members and our friends that we were liars, although we had emails and witnesses to back up our accusations.

  35. Steven on November 4, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    These are ALL very good points….. Grace!!

  36. Guest on November 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    As a Mars Hill member and leader I can’t express how much it means to me to read something that is written with humility and concern for the people involved in this. It seems like most of what I read is written by people who have been waiting for this to happen and are glad it did. This is incredibly refreshing and something I needed.

    Thanks

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 4, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      Thank you for this. It means so much. I hate that we jump on each other. I really hope that you find hope and healing in what has to be a tough season. Thanks for ALL you’ve done for the Kingdom.

  37. Alastair on November 4, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    So helpful, thank you.

  38. Michael on November 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Carey,
    Thank you. As a leader at Mars Hill, it’s been completely heartbreaking to see Christian brothers and sisters saying horrible things about the ministry here at our church. I’ve seen some amazing work of the Holy Spirit through the people here and although I will acknowledge people have been hurt and sin has been present and it needs to be addressed, that doesn’t discount the amazing work Christ has done here and will continue to do. I pray more people can approach the recent events of our church as a lesson through your writing.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 4, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      MIchael…thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. Like I said, I really don’t know your team and I’m so thankful to hear from you.

      I trust you have seen some amazing things over the last 18 years, and for sure, I think so much about Seattle has changed because of God’s work among you. And…the story isn’t over yet. I think the acknowledgment of sin that your team has embraced is actually a sign of God’s continuing work among you.

      Thank you for your faithful leadership. The issues before you don’t discount God’s work or God’s presence with you now. Hope to meet you one day Michael.

    • Jerry Edmonds on November 5, 2014 at 6:56 am

      “although I will acknowledge people have been hurt and sin has been present and it needs to be addressed,”

      Michael, you have just described pretty much all churches. How can I say this? Because churches are full of humans. Hopefully, we’ll see more and more churches full of sinners clinging to grace, instead of Pharisees hurling stones.

      If we can focus on Christ; offer grace instead of guilt; have open hearts & hands instead of stone hard hearts & hands filled with stones; then perhaps more churches will experience “the amazing work Christ has done (here) and will continue to do.”

    • mc on November 6, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      It’s more then just people being hurt, 10 million dollars that was collected from members for overseas missions went to US church remodels and salaries. It is heartbreaking. How many people are saying but look what a voice he was for the gospel in Seattle. Yes, look. People outside the church are seeing someone use religion to line his pockets. What a wedge it is.

  39. Dale on November 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for a great article and several nuggets of wisdom.

  40. Karen on November 4, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I also hope that this is not the last we will hear from Mark Driscoll. I also agree that Christians should not “shoot their wounded” (pleased at the sad news from another believer). Lastly I would point to Sir Winston Churchill. Why? 1915 – Battle of Gallipoli; 1940 – Battle of Britain. Lessons learned in catastrophic failure can be used unprecedented good later on.

  41. ben on November 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Thanks for this article, Carey. I was a follower of Mark Driscoll during my time at seminary. My feeling is that we have not heard the last of him. I always admired his conviction.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 4, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Thanks Ben. We don’t want to discount the good that happened for sure.

  42. Mike Wehde on November 4, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Fantastic insights given through a subtle cry for humble soul searching. Thanks for your heart on this.

  43. Aaron Fillmore on November 4, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Carey-
    I truly believe this is your best article yet. We all have much to learn (a process that has no end) and so easily forget it is ONLY by the grace of God we are where we are today. “Counter-cultural works” could be an article itself (hint-hint). There is a church out there for everybody, but you cannot be a church that will accommodate (or please) everybody-some people will not like your worship, or preaching, or kids ministry, etc. I will let God define what kind of church we will be and that is no dig on any other church, but every church that preaches Christ crucified has a specific role to play in building THE Church-I just pray we do our part according to his will and strive to thrive. Grace, Aaron.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 4, 2014 at 10:36 am

      Thanks so much Aaron. I appreciate the feedback. I think Mars Hill will be studied for years for more than just the events that contributed to its current crisis.

  44. Tandy Adams on November 4, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Very good. Finally a post that doesn’t drag the already weary through the mud. I will admit I have been critical of Driscoll for awhile, but have come to realize there is a great lesson for the church here and in that way, God is using Driscoll in a way he probably never envisioned. It’s a contribution he has made to the Church as a whole that we should be grateful for. And really the only difference between him and me is that his issues have been aired on a much bigger screen. “There but for the grace of God…” Thank you for writing this!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 4, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Tandy. That’s such a great perspective. Haven’t thought of that, but it’s such a helpful angle. God does use us even when we think he doesn’t or isn’t. Great stuff!

  45. Jimmy Cazin on November 3, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Carey, super helpful post for everyone in a leadership position in church. Love this comment as well,”you should start planning for succession as soon as you begin your job.” Jesus didn’t wait until his last week to choose who would carry on. He knew from the beginning. Thank you!

  46. Traci Espeseth on November 3, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    Thank you for this…thank you.

  47. Brent Dumler on November 3, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Powerful post, Carey. The ‘never too early to start succession planning’ piece was point on. The health in that mentality forces us to think beyond ourselves, which will hopefully make us look further into the future. One of the biggest dangers for leaders is to get overly comfortable with today.

  48. Joe Robideaux on November 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks as always for a great post Carey. I happened to be in Tacoma a few weeks ago when mark resigned. I was attending soma school led by Jeff Vanderstelt and we happened to be using the mars hill facilities when the news came down.

    It was very encouraging to be in a room of church leaders who immediately felt led to pray for mark and for Mars hill(some in the room had previously expressed skepticism about his leadership but didn’t let that get in the way).

    It’s always disappointing to me that we’re so quick to fill gaps in our knowledge of a situation with suspicion rather than choosing to fill those gaps with love

  49. Mike on November 3, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Thank Carey,

    As a pastor in Vermont which is the least “churched” state in the Union this post was so encouraging – even though the events at Mars Hill are currently discouraging the eternal impact will continue! I really like the statement “•You can make excuses, or you can make progress, but you can’t make both.” We are making progress in Vermont! No more excuses!

  50. dave anderson on November 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    im just sad. the church should be glorious without spot or blemish and this has all just been so unlike that image. i am heartbroken for mark, for mars hill, for the church at large. you did a good job of summarizing some great learning points. what i want to know is how could this have been prevented? i guess we will never know. i hope grace prevails on all sides.

  51. Matt on November 3, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Always love hearing your voice in leadership Carey, thanks!

    I love and am wresting with Criticism is easier than contribution. Wresting in the sense of trying to be a better builder of a community that models turning criticism into a learning point.

    What are some ways you have helped build that culture? How can we shift the armchair quarterback to the person who is on the field? Then, helping them, speaking positively as they are winded and want to give up to grow to be an in shape, quality contributor to your team. I can’t help but believe that when we help others get in shape that it helps shape us…for the better. Now, how to do that well, still trying to grow!

    Thanks Carey!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 3, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Hey Matt…great question. For me there’s a difference between criticism and discernment. Criticism tears down. Discernment sees the same issue, but extends a hand to help. Discernment imagines a better future for the person. Criticism enjoys their downfall.

      • Matt on November 3, 2014 at 1:53 pm

        So is there ever a time where you can make criticism a teachable moment for someone even if they do it with the intent to tear down? Or is it something that in your experience is better to just move on and instead look to those who want to jump in and help? I love the differentiation between criticism and discernment, acknowledging the spirit with which opinions come and their investment to make it better is huge.

      • Daniel A. Stippinger on November 4, 2014 at 3:04 am

        No offense, sir, but I think that’s a very narrow definition of criticism, since there is such a thing as constructive criticism.

        • Greg Strickland on November 4, 2014 at 11:43 am

          I don’t think he’s denying “constructive criticism” here, Daniel. I think he is replacing it with the term “discernment”. We use the phrase “constructive criticism” – but most of the time – it LOOKS just like DEstructive criticism. Constructive criticism “extends a hand to help” with a problem – which is how he defines “discernment”. I think Carey just gave us a better way of understanding what that is.

  52. brianbecker on November 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Great post Carey. As a church planter in urban Portland OR I’ve experienced the influence that Mars Hill has had in the Northwest in a positive way. They gave hope to every church planter who felt called to this area. I don’t carry the same theological convictions as they do, but I respect their passion for the gospel and the lives it impacted. Seattle has been greatly influenced by them and other churches such as East Lake, The City Church, and others…10 years ago it was a different climate – but faithfulness to Christ has sprung open the doors that once seemed locked.

    May we all focus our efforts on contribution over criticism. We don’t have time to waste on wounding others when so many people need to be reached. Cheers!

  53. Dave on November 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Great points…as always. Nobody comes with clean hands. And there is an industry now gaining followers off attacking other church leaders. Their blogs are now attacking Robert Morris for personally standing with Driscoll. It’s evil.

    Mars Mill releasing the campuses to become independent churches was part of their post-Driscoll planning as early as 2012 when I was researching succession planning at another church.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 3, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks for that point Dave. I think that makes sense for sure…in most large multi-site church planning. The timing I’m sure was not by design, but it’s a smart strategy when intentionally planned.

  54. Trevor Stultz on November 3, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Excellent post Carey! I find it very troubling that the church is so quick to shoot it’s own wounded. No wonder the unchurched aren’t drawn to visit many of our churches…

    I especially appreciate the positives you point out here, most notably #1. Excuses, excuses, excuses “we can’t do this”, “you don’t understand our community is…” until someone else does it, then it’s “game on”. Way to lovingly challenge church leaders everywhere! I needed that!!!

    Keep up the great posts! I’ll keep reading and keep being sharpened!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 3, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      Thanks so much Trevor. The excuses point owns me too!

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