Mark Driscoll is back and wants your money
Mark Driscoll, the blue jeans-clad, controversy-plagued former lead pastor at Mars Hill Church, has resurfaced with a new website, just eight days before the Seattle based mega church he co-founded formally dissolves.
The website, its layout bearing striking resemblance to that of his former church, is offering “free exclusive resources directly from Pastor Mark Driscoll” for those who sign up. The initial offering is a Christmas-themed e-book, “The Boy Who is Lord: Jesus’Birth in Luke’s Gospel.”
The Driscoll site also asks for gifts, saying: ”Your tax-deductible donation allows us to continue hosting and distributing Pastor Mark’s Bible teachings and resources.”
The donations “apparently go to something called Learning for Living, described as ‘an application-pending registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible in full or in part,’” Warren Throckmorton reported on Patheos.
Driscoll took an “extended focus break” from Mars Hill in late August, and resigned on Oct. 15. The church announced 16 days later that it was dissolving. Driscoll has surfaced just once since, in a cameo appearance at the Gateway Church Conference in Dallas-Fort Worth that he was once slated to keynote.
Driscoll related tales of threats and persecution.
The resignation followed an implosion, from charges of plagiarism to Mars Hill’s paying $200,000 to a consulting firm to put Driscoll’s book “Real Marriage” onto The New York Times bestseller list. This was accomplished by purchasing 11,000 books and disguising the methods of purchase.
A group of 21 former pastors and elders at the mega-church brought charges of bullying and intimidation against Driscoll, which were sustained in an internal investigation.
The new website is bedecked with Driscoll titles, e.g “Spiritual Warfare: Satan’s Schemes,” “Spiritual Warfare: Fighting Back,” “Jesus Loves His Church” as well as a “Real Marriage” sermon series about Jesus, the Gospel and marriage.”
It gives the following “About Pastor Mark” biography:
“Pastor Mark Driscoll is a Jesus-following, mission-leading, church-serving, people-loving, Bible-preaching pastor. In 2010, Preaching magazine named him one of the 25 most influential pastors of the past 25 years. He’s grateful to be a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody.
“Pastor Park is the author of many books, has written for CNN, Fox News, and The Washington Post, and has been featured as a columnist in The Seattle Times.”
The website goes on to say that Driscoll “is the co-founder of the Acts29 Network, a “church-planting” group that founded more than 400 churches in the U.S. and 13 other nation.
What the site does not say was that Acts29, in August, removed Driscoll and his church from membership and deleted Mars Hill from its website.
While proclaiming their love for Driscoll, Acts29 directors sent him a letter saying: “Over the past three years our board and network have been the recipient of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior.”
The letter concluded: ”Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.”
The resignation of Driscoll brought multiple mea culpas from deputies for hurt inflicted, domineering leadership, lack of transparency and the shunning of deposed pastors.
The new website dwells on Driscoll’s days in the limelight and puts his ministry in a different light. It boasts:
“With a skillful mix of bold presentation, accessible teaching and unrelenting compassion for those who are hurting the most — particularly women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse and assault — Pastor Mark has taken biblical Christianity into cultural corners rarely explored by evangelicals.
“He has been grilled by Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters on ‘The View,’ gone head-to-head with Piers Morgan on CNN, debated the existence of evil with Deepak Chopra on ABC’s ‘Nightline’ bantered with the gang on ‘Fox and Friends’ and explained biblical sexuality on ‘Loveline with Dr. Drew.’ ”
Throckmorton has found that the website is registered to Mars Hill Fellowship. The domain was created in 2004 and renewed this month. Mars Hill Church is still listed as contact on the registrant email.
“I don’t understand the legal issues here, but the information makes me wonder if Mark Driscoll might make a a comeback as pastor of a Mars Hill Fellowship.
But a spokesman for Driscoll said Wednesday that the new website has been registered to Learning for Living.
Driscoll built the church, in 18 years, from a living room operation to 15 “campuses” in five states. He sounded off on a much-read Twitter account, keynoted evangelical conferences and hosted an annual “Resurgence Conference” of big-name preachers.
Before the fall, Mars Hill raised money for a “Jesus Festival” set for Aug. 25 at Marymoor Park.
Major questions remain as Mars Hill prepares to dissolve. They involve executive compensation, Driscoll’s severance package, what was found in the internal investigation of Driscoll and whether donations to the Mars Hill Global Fund went to advertised purposes of planting churches in India and Ethopia.