Mark Driscoll, former lead pastor at Mars Hill church, stepped down from his position as pastor following investigations brought about by reports of abusive leadership and un-Christ-like character. The resignation, which happened in 2014, was followed by the church's closure weeks later.
Driscoll's exit from leadership at the church he founded didn't happen overnight. Various leaders reported having experienced different kinds of abusive or wrongful treatment from him over a couple of years.
According to a letter from 21 former Mars Hill pastors, Driscoll exhibited behaviors or actions that could be grounds for his "disqualification" since 2010. These actions included "bullying," "slander," "sexual harassment ... by way of inappropriate comment about his sex life," "threatening," "domineering," "arrogant" attitudes, "shaming," "violence," "gossip," cussing, and lying.
Driscoll eventually resigned from Mars Hill in 2014, after more than a decade of ministry. Two years after his resignation, he started another ministry, The Trinity Church, in 2016. He currently leads the church with his wife Grace and other pastors under him, some of whom have known him since his leadership in his former church.
Now, nearly 40 former elders who worked with Pastor Mark Driscoll during his tenure at Mars Hill have released a statement calling for his resignation from his new church over the same concerns: un-Christian attitudes and behavior.
The statement, sent to Christianity Today, is signed by 39 former elders who admit to feeling a "responsibility" to warn the current members of The Trinity Church about Driscoll's attitude and behaviors and urge him to continue a process of repentance and restoration that he never completed.
"This letter isn't new information. It's just information that hasn't been widely spread," Ryan Welsh, former pastor of theology and leadership at Mars Hill, said. "Our hope is not just to point a finger. Our hope is to protect people and, by the Spirit's work, that Mark would respond."
The signatories, who served with Driscoll between 2011 and 2014, arrived at their decision after hearing from some members of The Trinity Church talk about the same concerns.
"We are troubled that he continues to be unrepentant despite the fact that these sins have been previously investigated, verified, and brought to his attention by his fellow Elders, prior to his abrupt resignation," the said in the statement.
"Accordingly," the continued, "we believe that Mark is presently unfit for serving the church in the office of pastor."
Some former members of The Trinity Church spoke out about their concerns with regards to the health of relationships inside Driscoll's new congregation. Some relationships, including within families, have been severed. Some of the people in these relationships were prohibited from entering church grounds.
Chad Freese, the church's former security director, revealed to Warren Throckmorton that staff there "walk on eggshells," and that there's favoritism and much distrust. He talked about an incident where church leaders were threatened about a certain member's actions, and asked him to hire a private investigator to get all the details they can get about the member in question.
Freese indicated that there were "false reports" of the member "attacking the church." The member was banned from stepping on church property. As a volunteer security director, Freese indicated that he only gave recommendations as to what can or cannot be done. The turn of events, however, made people think he was "picking sides" when in fact he was just doing as told, and "wants the truth to be shared."
Former worship staff member Luke Chase also shared how The Trinity Church put him in a situation where he felt he had to choose between family or his loyalty to the ministry. He said this happened despite his brother being a pastor at the Driscoll-led church.
Chase indicated that church leaders also chose who he is allowed to hang out with, and angrily confronted him with "cursing and intimidating" whenever he associated with people they don't like.
"The church leaders dictated who I was allowed to be friends with. There were some employees I was allowed to spend time with outside of work, probably because of their trust rating," he said.
Chase indicated the intensity of such control of association. He described how, after his resignation, a church staff member reached out to him and was fired after the leaders found out about their meeting.
The former worship staff member revealed that he resigned after discovering that Driscoll "yelled at and wounded my mom emotionally." He said his dad tried to mend the relationship, but Driscoll "did not feel like he had done anything wrong." Chase added that his parents were labeled as "toxic" after the incident.
All of this happened while his brother remains a pastor at The Trinity Church, obviously separated from his family due to his loyalty to the ministry - or the "fear of being fired" from it.
It's worth noting that unlike the time he spent at Mars Hill, Driscoll is now devoid of accountability since his new church doesn't have elders at all.
"In the current church, there are no elders who are putting on any brakes. There are no elders to whom appeals can be made. Several former members and staffers have told me that The Trinity Church does not have elders," Throckmorton wrote.
The former Mars Hill elders reportedly tried to reach out to Driscoll privately to plead with him and ask him to "to participate in and submit to Christian conciliation" and to avoid taking any position of spiritual authority at the current time until "the foreseeable future."
Their recent statement, however, indicates that Driscoll didn't respond to them favorably; rather, he has continued to act the same way that he did prior to his resignation from his former church.
"These sinful leadership behaviors appear similar to what he exhibited in his leadership role at Mars Hill Church in Seattle," the elders said in the statement.
"We are saddened to learn that Mark Driscoll has continued in a pattern of sinful actions towards staff members and congregants as he pastors The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona."