Mark Driscoll
Mark Driscoll preaches at The Trinity Church. (Source: Video Screengrab)

Leaked Audio: Mark Driscoll Claims He Has Elders But Won’t Name Them

By Julie Roys

In a recorded conversation leaked to The Roys Report, Mark Driscoll now claims that his church in Arizona has local elders. He just won’t name them.

In the past, Driscoll has said that a group of outside “wise counsel” provided guidance for The Trinity Church—the Arizona church Driscoll planted in 2016 following the implosion of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. This counsel has included Jimmy Evans of XO Marriage, Robert Morris of Gateway Church, Larry Osborne of North Coast Church, and Randal Taylor of Dunham and Company—all of whom live out of state.

But according to multiple former Trinity staff and interns, Trinity has no local elders. And an organizational chart leaked to The Roys Report earlier this year shows no one above Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace.

The Trinity Church

Yet, facing increasing criticism and calls from his former elders at Mars Hill to resign from ministry, Driscoll now says he has local elders.

Driscoll makes the claim in a recorded conversation released to The Roys Report by Keith Stone, a former volunteer at Trinity who has also served as a lay pastor and deacon at other churches. Stone says he made the recording without Driscoll’s knowledge on July 20, 2021, while in Driscoll’s office at Trinity. (Arizona is a one-party state, where it’s lawful to record a conversation with only one party’s consent.)

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Audio of Driscoll claiming to have elders:

“Do you have elders?” Stone asks Driscoll.

Driscoll responds, “Yeah, we have local—”

“Local? What do you mean?” Stone asks.

“Guys that are here,” Driscoll says.

“In the church?” Stone asks.

“Yeah,” Driscoll responds.

But when Stone asks for these elders’ names, Driscoll refuses to name them, citing concerns about the adverse impact naming the elders might have on the elders’ businesses.

“(W)e did install local elders that are here,” Driscoll tells Stone. “And they’re business leaders. And they said, ‘Mark, we’re going to get attacked and our businesses are going to suffer, and we’re going to get attacked. So, we’d love to serve. We just don’t want everybody in the universe attacking us.’”

Stone then questions why these elders would be attacked, and Driscoll responds:  “Everybody associated with me pretty much gets attacked.”

When Stone pushes back, saying that Christians should expect to be attacked and that the church has a right to know who its elders are, Driscoll appears to change his story.

“Here, the pastors lead and run the church,” Driscoll says. “So, the people interact with pastors. The pastors are the elders in the church. They make the decisions. They know the people. There’s a governance.”

Stone then asks if the five pastors are Trinity’s elders and Driscoll responds: “No, no they’re not. They’re pastors. . . . None of them are on the board.”

Stone again asks for the elders’ names and Driscoll refuses. This time, though, Driscoll appeals to the safety of his family, claiming “some of the things said and done just about my own family are illegal . . . the treatment is actually criminal.”

Four of Driscoll’s family members are staff members at Trinity and their names, and in some cases, pictures, are currently posted on the church website.

The Roys Report reached out to Driscoll for clarity about Trinity’s elder board, but Driscoll did not respond.

However, on its 2020 Annual Report filed with Arizona, The Trinity Church names only three officers besides Driscoll: Jimmy Evans, Randal Taylor, and Robert Morris. And according to a 2017 amendment to its Articles of Incorporation, The Trinity Church has no members with voting rights. So, it seems that whoever these “local elders” are, they have no governing power over the church. 

Earlier in his two-hour discussion with Stone, Driscoll refuses to answer Stone’s questions about elders because Driscoll says he’s offended that Stone came to him “with accusations without questions.”

Audio of Driscoll saying he’s offended and won’t answer questions:

In the excerpt above, Stone says, “You know you purposefully set this church up with no authority over you, sir.”

Driscoll responds, “See you don’t know that.”

“But where?” Stone responds.

“You see, you come in with accusations without questions,” Driscoll says.

“Okay, so did you have elders here?” Stone says.

“I’m not even going to have this conversation with you because of the way you began it . . .” Driscoll says. “You picked up offenses and you brought them in my office without asking whether or not they’re true.”

Church dwindling

According to Stone, The Trinity Church has dwindled in both attendance and donations since Driscoll kicked the Manuele family out of the church around Easter, and a 2012 “bus” video began circulating. (In the video, Driscoll talks about running people over with a metaphorical bus who don’t fall into line with his agenda.)

Driscoll also has been the focus of numerous recent podcasts. The Roys Report has published two podcasts, featuring the former head of security at Trinity and his colleague discussing the “cult-like” behavior of Driscoll and Trinity. Christianity Today also has published a series of podcasts about the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, documenting the devastation at Driscoll’s first megachurch caused by Driscoll’s abusive behavior, toxic masculinity, and ungodliness.

Stone, who used to count the weekend offerings at Trinity, said donations dropped by 75% or more from Easter through July 4. Stone said weekend offerings used to total $20,000 to $25,000 but in late June and July dropped to $3,000 to $5,000.

Stone also said that after Easter, Trinity canceled its second Saturday service due to low attendance. He said the church also removed 200 seats from its auditorium to make it appear less empty.

The auditorium used to hold 800 people and services were “standing room only,” Stone said. Now he says 350-400 people attend services on Saturday, and Sunday services aren’t full either.

Stone attributes the loss in money and attendance to Driscoll’s character.

 “I’ve been to a lot of churches and this guy is in a league all by himself,” Stone said, adding that he believes Driscoll repeatedly lied to him in their recorded discussion.  “He doesn’t have any fear for God. . . . Either this guy repents, or he needs to go.”

The Trinity Church’s 2020 Annual Report Listing its Directors:

The Trinity Church 2020 Annual Report

*This article has been updated to include information on The Trinity Church’s documents filed with the state of Arizona.

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21 thoughts on “Leaked Audio: Mark Driscoll Claims He Has Elders But Won’t Name Them”

  1. Maybe figure out who his buddies are, cross reference that with business owners… If they actually do attend the church, then they clearly have some association with him. But he would have to spend time with them outside of church, most likely to continue securing donations from people who have money.

  2. Leaked Audio: Mark Driscoll Claims He Has Elders But Won’t Name Them

    Was he waving a list of names like Tailgunner Joe McCarthy?
    Too bad there’s no video.

  3. This is bullying a person. Why would you record a person without their knowledge and the make it public? If Christ is Lord, then there is need to give space for Him to act.

    1. What if asking Mark Driscoll these pointed questions in a very respectful manner, might I add, recording his answers and then releasing the audio was Christ acting?

      Didn’t Jesus say, “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” Luke 8:17

      Does this make Jesus a “bully”?

      1. Purging the church of unrighteous leaders is very much a part of restoring her. I’ve been reading through Deuteronomy recently and am struck by how often God tells His people to “purge the evil among you” by executing judgment. This is repeated in the NT in verses like 1 Tim 5:20 that instruct the church to publicly expose sinning elders. It is very odd that Christians today don’t have a better understanding of God’s requirement of holiness among those who claim His name, and especially among church leaders.

        1. Greg I have a simpler solution. See what kind of homes and cars are driven by the king err pastors. If it’s a modest home and car under $20,000.00 then you have a church worth going to. If it’s rock star level then STOP TITHING and go elsewhere. My special discernment from god was if I see a fiefdom run by kings and knights and overlords. Runnnnn and god promised not to fault me for giving anymore to a church that is a profit center for the king with not much more than a tony Robbins feel good fest on every Sunday. Remember there making the big bucks off of the same Bible i read from. Coming from the evangelical industrial complex doesn’t make it more powerful. And read what scripture says about speaking in tongues and prophecy. I don’t see many interpretation and there are so many scriptures about how you can trust a prophet or interpretation of tongues. I see none of that with the godless evangelicals of today. Google it and see for yourself

          1. Gary,

            Unfortunately, a new Honda Accord will set you back 25 grand-and that’s not the luxury version.

  4. I just looked up the records for The Trinity Church, a Domestic Nonprofit Corporation, on the Arizona Corporation Commission’s website.

    Mark Driscoll is listed as President/CEO and Director. Randal Taylor is a Director. Jimmy Evans is a Director. Robert Morris is a Director. With the exception of Driscoll, none of these guys live in the state of Arizona. Last updated 1/7/3020

    I’d also note that Mark Driscoll Ministries is also registered as a Foreign Nonprofit Corporation. Again, Driscoll is the President/CEO and Director, with the following as directors:

    Randal Taylor (also secretary & treasurer)
    Brandon Thompson
    John McPherson

    The last update for this record was 9/20/2018.

    If Mark Driscoll has elders, then they’re STILL not legally responsible for The Trinity Church, at least according to the most up to date corporate records. In fact, it still looks like a one-man show in Scottsdale.

  5. Once again, a thousand thanks, Ms. Roys, for your faithful work in exposing godless false brothers like Mark Driscoll. The damage done by sons of hell who masquerade as Christian leaders is incalculable. Imagine how much grief and horror the Church would have been spared if frauds like Bill Hybels, James MacDonald, Ted Haggard, Tullian Tchividjian, Jerry Falwell Jr (I’ll stop here – I’m afraid it’s a long list) had similarly been exposed years ago.

    Driscoll, like his father the devil (John 8:44), spews lies nearly every time he opens his mouth. That is one of the things that makes him so dangerous. If a man is a proven habitual liar, why should anyone believe him when he says that Jesus is divine, and did miracles, and rose from the dead, and is Lord of heaven and earth? Jesus silenced and expelled a demon who truly said, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24). Indeed, Jesus was, and is, the Holy One of God. But when such truths are proclaimed by demons and Driscolls they tend to provoke contempt and unbelief.

    1. If a man is a proven habitual liar, why should anyone believe him when he says that Jesus is divine, and did miracles, and rose from the dead, and is Lord of heaven and earth?

      To paraphrase St Augustine some 1600 years ago:
      “If you talk nonsense about things I DO know, why should I believe you when you tell me something I don’t?”

  6. “Stone said, adding that he believes Driscoll repeatedly lied to him in their recorded discussion. “He doesn’t have any fear for God. . . . Either this guy repents, or he needs to go.”

    Seriously? After Driscoll’s repeated demonstrated inability and unwillingness to self-correct over 20 years, Keith Stone imagines that “repenting” is even an option? What would that even look like? How would anyone really know if Mark Driscoll ever repented?

    Let me suggest that Mark Driscoll should go and find an honest manual laboring job somewhere and embrace anonymity. It would be better for everybody.

  7. Even if there are “elders”… How do elders help “oversee” the church if they remain nameless and nobody in the church knows who they are? This appears to be a way for them to say there are elders but (again) avoid any accountability — regardless of how many years “teaching the Bible” (which is debatable) church isn’t supposed to be led by one person.

  8. As a former MH member I am definitely not a Mark Driscoll follower. I resigned soon after Paul Petry and Bent Meyer were thrown under the bus and have long since moved on. I do like the idea of people getting to see Mark the pastor behind the curtain. That is what initially motivated my wife and I to get out of MH altogether. I could no longer reconcile Mark’s inspiring messages and simply ignore the way he mistreated staff and volunteers at the same. It went against everything I knew was right.

    About this former Trinity volunteer that secretly recorded Mark in his office? Gutsy, but I never would have done that. Why did he? I believe its because he knew that Mark would lie about elders in the church and he baited Mark to lie as he knew he was going public with it later. In the interview he implied he respected Mark, but did he? This was total disrespect. In the end Mark said he had elders, but wouldn’t name them and had a reason for not doing so. So the guy got nothing. The secret recording didn’t really accomplish anything, but could only point to speculations. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that charges will now be filed against him for recording that conversation. It doesn’t matter if the law is on his side. This could cost him dearly for pulling a stunt like that. He will be sued and before its all over he will lose his home and his money from lawyers and court costs. Remember Mark supposedly has 10 million for things like this. I have no respect for Mark after everything learned, but I’m afraid there will be reckoning now with that volunteer. I wouldn’t want to be him right now.

    In the meantime I would think this would only increase Mark’s paranoia. He will have security check anyone else around him for “wires”. You will see more volunteers let go and security will be ramped up. Marke will be wondering who else at Trinity is gathering information on him. Who can he trust now? Maybe no one. All staff and volunteers are now suspect. I prayed for Mark last night and was torn in how to pray for him. Its one thing to sincerely ask God to bring a spirit of repentance where needed. Its quite another to just want to see him torn down. I don’t want to be one of those.

  9. Vance you missed the point. I bought a 2016 VW for $16,000.00. It’s about living a modest subdued life style. It’s about serving God and not making excuses to grow wealthy. If you claim god called you then you don’t live the life as if your the center of attention and live large. The Copelands and this guy all the rewards they will ever see is here on earth. It’s about god saying to them I never knew you. It’s about the TBN lady who spent $100,000.00 for a trailer for her DOGS. I live in Orange County Ca and since the eightys I’ve seen so many of these grifters grow wealthy while in there own community’s family’s go hungry. Copeland once said about a poor person, they must not any faith. If you actually watch him he looks demon possessed. Google it.

    1. Gary… I have no words. SMH…

      But I do have a question…. Are you going to fault Jospeh of Arimathea for misusing his wealth? Feel free to Google him to help save face if you don’t know who he is or how he spent his money.

      By the way… gossip, slandering, rebellion, envy… all sin.

      Just sayin…

  10. Why People continue to put up with Mark Driscoll is beyond me! He is clearly not well and unfit to lead anyone any where!

  11. Travis Hutchinson

    Here is what Mark Driscoll wrote under his alter-ego, William Wallace II, “Pastors don’t want authority, so they don’t have legitimate peer based elders ruling with and over them. Men don’t go to churches with other strong me who will call them to their duties . . . And, none of us wants Christ as Lord, but we’re happy to take Him as Savior. This amounts to saying that you’ll let Jesus die for all your sin but your life is still your own, and this is simply not a Christian. Christ Himself came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father and taught us to pray “thy will be done.” Jesus was completely selfless, but not for us, instead for the glory of the Father and we
    happen to be benefactors of that but not the primary focus of Jesus efforts. Think about it, who do you willingfully [sic] submit to? Who has any spiritual authority over you?”

  12. Overall, this was informative–though I can’t say I’m surprised conidering Driscoll has no theological discernment.

    One point I want to address is the viewpoint and terminology the Roys Report uses. The term “toxic masculinity” is not a valid term for Bible-believers to use and is rooted in the anti-Biblical doctrine of feminism. Is the Roys Report an egalitarian/feminist organization in direct violation of God’s order?

    I never hear criticisms of the far more prevalent usurping femininity. Women are increasingly rebellious and exercising authority over men. This is the never-ending pendulum swing and the Roys Report seems to be in harmony with the prevailing culture.

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