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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

Mark Driscoll Accused of Cult-Like Actions; 24/7 Surveillance, Mandated Loyalty

By Julie Roys
Mark Driscoll The Trinity Church
Mark Driscoll (Video screengrab)

Mark Driscoll is once again being accused of bullying, intimidation, and spiritual abuse. Only this time, the disgraced former Mars Hill pastor apparently has no elders to rein him in—and his tactics reportedly have grown more extreme and cult-like.

Simply because their teenage son kissed Driscoll’s teenage daughter, Angelo and Katherine Manuele say their family was kicked out of Driscoll’s The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The church then pressured other families to shun the Manueles, the couple says, and even filed charges with police against the Manueles for “threatening communication.”

The Manueles say they have threatened no one.

Trinity’s former head of security, Chad Freese, a cybersecurity expert and a former Marine, said Trinity hired a private investigator to surveille the Manuele family 24/7. He says teams, including pastors, tracked the Manueles as they went to local shops and businesses—even their own neighborhood.

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The Roys Report reached out to Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church for comment, but no one responded.

According to Freese and other former staff and volunteers at the church, what happened to the Manueles is the tip of the iceberg.

They say the church has an army of security to protect not just the church, but the entire Driscoll family, who are treated like “royalty.”

Freese said there’s nowhere on Trinity’s campus where people are not being audio- and video-recorded. And to serve as a volunteer, one must sign a non-disclosure agreement pledging “to protect the confidentiality of all information” about the church’s “business operations, staff, volunteers and guests.”

Bolo Trinity Church Mark DriscollThe church also maintains a BOLO list (Be On The Lookout), Freese said, with names, pictures, and sometimes personal vehicles of people the church has banned from its property. The list contains one VIP—Randal Taylor, a man from out of state who allegedly provides “wise counsel” for Trinity.

Freese added that Driscoll has initiated a system of ranking staff and volunteers on a loyalty scale from 1 to 10.

“It’s disgusting, like a cult,” Freese commented. “The more trust you have on the spectrum, the higher the number, the more access you will get to the (Driscoll) family. . . . Everything is about the Driscolls.”

In an email to Driscoll, which was shared with The Roys Report, former security team member Ben Eneas confirmed this loyalty scale.

Eneas writes that he once was in Driscoll’s “inner circle.” Yet because he was caught associating with a disfavored former worship pastor, Eneas received “a downgrade on the sliding scale of trust.”

The email also talks about top leaders in the church calling a crisis meeting to try to determine the identity of a “mole” who’s sharing “top secret information.”

At the end of the letter, Eneas announces he’s resigning his volunteer position because of rampant slandering by Trinity pastors and the pastors’ practice of treating families differently based on their perceived loyalty.

“(A)fter prayerful deliberation until about 2 am I determined that I could no longer be associated with men of this character,” Eneas writes.

Angelo Manuele, who said he used to admire Driscoll for his dynamic preaching, now openly calls Driscoll a cult leader.

“He’s the David Koresh of the Scottsdale church,” Manuele said. “He might not be getting arms and doing a terrorist thing like David Koresh, but he’s still a cult leader.”

Mars Hill 2.0

Though the recent accusations against Driscoll may be unique in their severity, this is not the first time Driscoll has been accused of fostering a toxic and controlling church culture.

In 2012, Driscoll openly bragged that anyone who didn’t fall in line with his leadership at his former church in Seattle—Mars Hill—would be run over.

“There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus,” Driscoll said, “and by God’s grace, it’ll be a mountain by the time we’re done.”

According to Freese, pastors at Trinity openly embrace this philosophy of ministry. He said Trinity even has a bus parked on its campus that Campus Pastor Brandon Anderson—a former pastor at Mars Hill, who followed Driscoll to Trinity—told Freese is just “a prop.”

“They’re openly mocking,” Freese said. “That’s the only reason they got that bus.”

Freese added that he’s also seen Driscoll berate his staff in meetings, saying they lack “balls” or are “p-ssies” and using the f-word frequently.

In 2014, this same brutal style of leadership led the elders at Mars Hill to conduct an internal investigation of Driscoll. That investigation found Driscoll guilty of a pattern of “arrogance” and abusive leadership.

Yet, rather than submit to the elders’ proposed two-year plan of restoration, Driscoll resigned.

Two years later—with the help of several megachurch pastors, including Robert Morris of Gateway Church—Driscoll rebooted in Scottsdale, Arizona, with The Trinity Church, which reportedly has a weekly attendance around 2,000. Driscoll also started speaking at events like Larry Osborne’s Sticky Teams conferences, writing books with Charisma House Publishers, and directing his own ministry, called Real Faith.

According to Angelo and Katherine Manuele’s son, Joey Manuele, a former paid intern at Trinity, Driscoll tells staff that he intentionally structured Trinity to avoid the “problems” he encountered at Mars Hill.

Apparently, this means eliminating any meaningful oversight.

An organizational chart provided by Joey Manuele shows that everyone at Trinity reports to Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace—even “Wise Counsel—Randal.”

Randal Taylor, who’s a chief strategist at a leading Christian marketing firm, Dunham and Company, is one of only two directors other than Driscoll named on the church’s articles of incorporation.

The other director is Jimmy Evans, a former pastor at Gateway Church and founder of Marriage Today, where Driscoll is listed as a “Team Member.” Evans does not appear anywhere on Trinity’s organizational chart.

The chart mentions a board, but there’s no board listed on Trinity’s website. Similarly, former staff members say they don’t know of any board.

The Roys Report reached out to both Evans and Taylor, seeking comment and clarity about their role at Trinity, but neither responded.

The Trinity Church elders

Another leaked Trinity church document openly states, “Our church is a family business.”

Joey Manuele said the church doesn’t publish a budget or financial statements and no staff know Driscoll’s salary. He added that Driscoll instructs staff to tell people who inquire about church finances that it’s “none of their business.”

All these concerning facts are now coming to light due to a recent exodus of the church by several families who say they’ve experienced Driscoll’s abusive leadership first-hand. This includes the Manueles, as well as other families, like the Freeses, who say Trinity’s treatment of the Manueles opened their eyes to the true nature of the church.

Forbidden teen kissing leads to excommunication

The Manueles started attending The Trinity Church around the end of June. They say they were looking for a church that was open during COVID. And Trinity was one of very few churches in the Phoenix area that met in-person and didn’t require masks or social distancing.

Quickly, the Manueles’ sons—Joey and 15-year-old Vince—got involved in the worship ministry. They also became interns—Joey as a staff intern and Vince as a junior intern, a Trinity program for students aged 12 to 17.

Vince and Joey Manuele The Trinity Church
Vince Manuele (on keys) and Joey Manuele (on guitar, far right) play at The Trinity Church. (Photo courtesy of Manuele family)

Before long, Vince and Driscoll’s 17-year-old daughter developed feelings for each other.

When Mark Driscoll learned of his daughter and Vince’s relationship, Angelo says Driscoll called a meeting with him and Vince in Driscoll’s office. Vince said Driscoll communicated during the meeting that Vince and his daughter needed to remain in the “friendship” stage and that no kissing would be allowed.

Vince said after the meeting with Driscoll, John Welnik, Driscoll’s assistant, sent a text, saying: “I know that wasn’t easy but neither is trying to marry one of PMDs kids. Remember that from here on you have a microscope on you, not just from PMD but from everyone, and I mean everyone. Be a man and land the plane.”

John Welnik

Vince added that Landon Chase, a pastor at Trinity who’s married to another Driscoll daughter, repeatedly congratulated Vince for “landing a Driscoll,” and constantly gave him advice on how to “be a man” for Driscoll’s daughter.

Despite the warning and advice, Vince said he and Driscoll’s daughter did kiss—and somehow, Driscoll found out.

On the evening of Wednesday, March 24, Vince said he was pulled out of a band rehearsal by Pastor Anderson.

Vince said Anderson took him upstairs into his locked office and began angrily grilling Vince about his relationship with Driscoll’s 17-year-old daughter.

Vince said Anderson first asked if Vince had done anything “unbiblical” with Driscoll’s daughter.

Vince said he was surprised by the question and replied no.

Then Anderson reportedly asked Vince if he had “made out” with Driscoll’s daughter.

Vince said he felt awkward and intimidated because he had never talked to an adult about such private things, let alone a pastor he didn’t know well. Yet Vince said he answered yes.

Vince said Anderson then stood up, pointed at Vince, and ordered him to get his stuff and get out.

“My whole world just fell apart at that moment,” Vince said, adding that he recognized he probably would never talk to Driscoll’s daughter again. Vince said he also feared he might not be allowed to return to Trinity, given some of his prior experiences at the church.

Angelo said Vince then came out of the building crying and got in Angelo’s car, which was parked in the church lot. Angelo said while the two were sitting in the car, Anderson called and told Angelo and Vince that they needed to “sit out” a men’s meeting that night.

Angelo was offended and said he pushed back, but Anderson was adamant. Then, he said things got crazy.

Four to five security volunteers gathered in the parking lot near Angelo’s car. Rather than make a scene, Angelo said he drove away.

On the way home, a security volunteer texted Angelo asking what was going on. Angelo asked what he meant, and the next morning, the volunteer responded, “I was told that you are not allowed on the property for a men’s group tonight I was like what the hell.”

The Trinity Church

Angelo also was notified that he’d been placed on the BOLO list.

Vince, who said he was distraught, sent an email to Driscoll’s daughter the next morning, quoting Psalm 147:3 about God healing the brokenhearted.

Mark Driscoll responded on his daughter’s account, asking Vince to “delete all communication with (his daughter) and social media that pertains to her. Their (sic) will be no further communication. . . . Please do not . . . post anything online.”

Mark Driscoll Vince ManueleSoon, the Manueles began to hear from friends at church, telling the Manueles they could no longer associate with them. One friend texted Angelo that Trinity Pastor Eden Fine had told him: “I can’t tell you who to be friends with but if you want to stay in leadership you need to curtail communication.”

Angelo’s wife, Katherine Manuele, said she got a text from Jill Glennie, a longtime friend whose husband serves on Trinity’s security team. “Because of the choices and decisions you all have decided to make we can no longer remain friends,” Glennie wrote.Jill Glennie The Trinity Church

The Manueles said they also got a call from police, informing them that Trinity had reported the family for sending “threatening communication.”

The Manueles said they posted some comments on social media, complaining about Driscoll’s and Trinity’s behavior, but they never threatened anyone.

The Roys Report spoke this week with Scottsdale Public Information Officer Kevin Watts, who confirmed the report by Trinity and said there’s an open investigation concerning the matter.

According to Freese, the church began monitoring everything the Manueles posted online and provided text threads to prove it.

On April 1, Freese said Pastor Anderson texted him and several others about hiring a private investigative firm to surveille the Manueles. Freese said the church hired Celtic Cross Security Solutions for the job, which is owned by William Saunders, a member of Trinity’s security team.

The next day, Good Friday, Saunders and others from the church, including Brandon Anderson, John Welnik, and Landon Chase, began surveilling the Manueles 24/7, Freese said. Freese provided multiple screenshots of the surveillance chat group on Signal.

Trinity Church Mark Driscoll

The same day, police delivered a trespass warning to the members of the Manuele family from The Trinity Church.The Trinity Church Trespass

On April 7, Freese said Mark Driscoll pulled the entire staff into a “training session.” Driscoll then reportedly drew his “spectrum of trust” on a dry-erase board, rating people’s loyalty from 0 to 10 to determine their access to Driscoll’s family.

Freese said Anderson then said that Freese’s security team was at a “level nine.” But because Freese and his wife had appeared in a picture posted on social media with former worship pastor, Dustin Blatnik, who reportedly had been fired by Trinity, Freese and his wife were a “level 8.”

Freese said that was the “tipping point,” and he officially resigned the following week.

Freese said what bothered him even more than the loyalty scale, though, was the slandering of the Manueles by Driscoll and other pastors.

“Their slandering of them is out of control,” Freese said. “I’m telling you, across the entire church, everyone’s perception of the Manuele family now is that they’re a bunch of crazy conspiracy lunatics that went off the deep end because Pastor Mark asked them to take a break for the night. But that’s not what happened.”

The Manueles say that in the past several weeks, multiple former and current church families have reached out and told them about their own negative experiences with Driscoll and Trinity. Some are still employed at Trinity, the Manueles say, or have signed non-disclosure agreements and are afraid to speak publicly for fear of legal action or loss of pay or severance.

“They care more about their job and money than protecting people who are actually going through stuff,” Joey Manuele said. “They hide in the shadows because they think Mark is going to come after them and destroy them and take away their pay . . . That’s basically taking a bribe because he’s paying you to be quiet.”

The Manueles say they’re going to fight the charge of “threatening communication” the church has filed against them. Plus, Angelo Manuele said he’s filed a charge of “false imprisonment” with Scottsdale Police for Brandon Anderson locking Vince in Anderson’s office and interrogating him.

Scottsdale Police confirmed with The Roys Report that they are investigating the false imprisonment charge.

Manuele says he refuses to be quiet about what Trinity is doing because he knows people are getting hurt, and as a result, may walk away from God or Christian fellowship.

“We’re Christians,” Manuele said. “What we want to do is protect our brothers and sisters so they don’t veer from the Lord.”

Mark Driscoll’s 2012 statement: “There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus”

The Trinity Training:

The Trinity Church Training

Trinity NDA for Volunteers:

Trinity NDA (1)_Redacted


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107 Responses

  1. I debated posting a comment, but to say nothing is to condone this behavior. You guys can add my name to the BOLO list if you want to, but I won’t return to The Trinity Church anyways, because I believe you are acting like a bully Mark. I was aware of your history at Mars Hill when I started coming to Trinity, but I know men can change their behavior with Gods help. It doesn’t sound like this has happened, or if it has you have relapsed. Maybe it is time for you to step down. I am praying that no one else gets hurt by this man, or his team.

    1. The problem is that Mark Driscoll didn’t even submit to Mars Hills’ discipline process in 2016 or whenever it was that Mars Hill folded. God can change men, but not submitting to your own church’s discipline process (as an elder) is hypocritical and indicative of someone who believes they’re above their church’s congregants.

      1. excellent comment, Megan!

        Don’t drink the Kooi-aid!

        The Jim Jones Cult

        For a general look at cults

        Probably quite a few don’t consider Mark Driscoll falling into the above categories.

        I think he does have a similarity to Diotrephes though?

        3 John
        9 I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not acknowledge us.
        10 Therefore, if I come, I will call attention to the deeds he is doing – the bringing of unjustified charges against us with evil words! And not being content with that, he not only refuses to welcome the brothers himself, but hinders the people who want to do so and throws them out of the church!
        11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is bad but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does what is bad has not seen God. —NET

        The above verses alone would persuade me not to have anything to do with a Mark Driscoll organization

    2. Y’all are equally culpable for not carefully considering the warning and attempt at accountability brought by the MH membership/eldership (at least those “elders” who weren’t spineless yes men that later claimed victimhood or got on YouTube to vindicate themselves…as spineless men do). You enabled Mark. Ya get what ya vote for so you speak. Hard lessons learned for sure and I’m genuinely sorry. For future reference anyone who publicly claims extra-biblical authority aka “I hear from God” (even if it’s seemingly virtuous) should be stoned so to speak. It doesn’t work that way. Read Decision Making and the Will of God by Friesen for a hermeneutic break down on this topic. Will drop a prayer this evening on a quick and expedient end to this nonsense.

  2. Laypeople, learn about how churches are governed and refuse to attend or become a member of a church that does not have independent accountability structures in place over its staff.

    If we, as laypeople, don’t attend churches like this and don’t give our money to people like Driscoll, these types of churches will cease to exist and people like Driscoll will have to find other things to do.

    Easier said then done, but it is a powerful way we can hold people like Driscoll accountable.

    1. The problem is that Driscoll is so charismatic that he has a way of swaying the hearts and minds of people. It is a gift he has that he has chosen to abuse. Definitely not a man of God, but a god of self.

  3. “Despite the warning and advice, Vince said he and Driscoll’s daughter did kiss—and somehow, Driscoll found out.”

    Vince not only disrespected Mark – his girlfriend’s father, his pastor – but he, nor his father showed no signs of humility or repentance. When Vince was confronted he could’ve said, “Wow – I’m so sorry I disrespected you and your daughter.”

    In this article the writer, whether deliberately or inadvertently, presents Vince as the victim.

    “…Despite the warning and advice, Vince said he and Driscoll’s daughter did kiss.”

    Did you get that? “…he and Driscoll’s daughter did kiss.” Not, “Vince kissed her” but “they kissed.”

    Was that Vince’s response – softening his blatant disrespect “Yeah, WE kissed…” instead of “I totally disregarded Pastor Mark’s warning an I KISSED HER”…or was it the writer’s wording. I’m not sure. But I wonder if people would’ve read the whole article differently had the writer said, “despite the warning and advice, Vince blatantly and knowingly disrespected Mark’s clear instruction and chose to kiss his daughter anyway.” Since Vince was on the worship team, there is a greater judgment with those in leadership positions (James 3:1).

    To many Christians, respect appears to be no longer a value. It has been replaced by, “Let’s not hurt anyone’s feelings.” Read your Bibles. God hasn’t changed; read about God’s discipline for disrespect and what “abusive” Elisha did:

    “From there he went up to Bethel, and while he was on the road up, some small boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go up, baldhead!” they shouted. “Go up, baldhead!” ·He turned around and looked at them; and he cursed them in the name of Yahweh. And two she-bears came out of the wood and savaged forty-two of the boys. ·From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and then returned to Samaria.” – 2 Kings:2:23-25

    Yea, I know – that’s the Old Testament. Read Acts 5:1-6 in the New Testament. We’re under grace but God loves us so much that sometimes He intervenes with severe discipline (Rev 3:19). Was Mark’s response equal to the offense? I don’t know. To find that out, God gave us instruction on how to rebuke an elder and I’m not sure if that was followed.

    1 Timothy 5:19
    Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.

    I wonder if the writer tried to meet with Mark and get his side of the story?

    I’m a pastor and know Mark personally and really appreciate him. He’s been a friend to me. I do know he has accountability with quite a few leaders/Pastors.

    I’m simply addressing that which isn’t being addressed: the way this was written – making Vince the victim, and the fact that most are blind to the respect issue. It saddens me that the church has bought into the culture’s values: “someone’s feelings over respect and truth.” We will all stand before the Judgment seat of Christ, and who knows if this was the most loving thing to happen to Vince (giving him the opportunity to learn to put respect before his man-drives), which will give him a bold entrance at the Bema instead of shame (1 John 2:28).

    Is respect a big issue to God? Lucifer’s downfall seemed to have a lot to do with this respect issue. Just sayin’.

    1. “I’m a pastor and know Mark personally”

      Good for you? How do you reconcile all of that, with the allegations in this article, all amidst the context of Mars Hill? Do you also know Bent Meyer? How about Paul Petry? Your attempts at diverting attention to the teenager involved, while ignoring the plumes of smoke emanating from the ongoing “ministry” of Mark Driscoll is a poor reflection on your leadership. Be a real “friend” and love with accountability…not enablement.

      Is pride a big issue to God? Creation’s fall seemed to have a lot to do with it…Just sayin’

      1. According to Jesus is instruction in Matthew 18:15-18, offenses are settled in the local church one-on-one, and if not, then with “two or three witnesses.” If that local church has the maturity to resolve offenses – whether with a leader or a non-leader member, then that is a healthy church. If not, the Lord will discipline the leaders.

        Can you actually say with surety that you have all the facts so that you could make a righteous judgment about Mark? Apparently you can since you have already made a final judgment. And now, with your revelation (from God? or from real witnesses – not second hand witnesses?) if you’re such a “protector of the sheep,” and you believe these matters should be resolved outside of the local church, and if you believe Mark Driscoll is doing all this damage to God’s people, you are complicit in his sin if you’re not doing everything you can to bring God’s justice into the situation.

        Bottom line:
        • let’s not be so quick to judge unless you’re sure you have the whole story.
        Proverbs 18:17
        “The first to speak in court sounds right—
        until the cross-examination begins.”

        • let the local church work things out according to Jesus’ instruction*

        • if you sense the Holy Spirit is leading you to make a judgment in a church situation outside your local church and then to intervene, make sure you have all the facts, make sure God is leading you, and make sure you’ve first looked at the beam in your own eye

        * there may be an exception where somethings so egregious is happening in the church that there needs to be intervention outside that local church. But for Jesus’ sake, make sure you have the facts and make sure God is leading.

      2. According to Jesus is instruction in Matthew 18:15-18, offenses are settled in the local church one-on-one, and if not, then with “two or three witnesses.” If that local church has the maturity to resolve offenses – whether with a leader or a non-leader member, then that is a healthy church. If not, the Lord will discipline the leaders.

        Can you actually say that you have all the facts that you could make a righteous judgment about Mark? Apparently, since you have already made a final judgment, you can this. And now, with your revelation (from God? or from real witnesses, not second-hand “witnesses”?) if you’re such a “protector of the sheep,” and you believe these matters can and should be resolved outside of the local church, and if you believe Mark Driscoll is doing all this damage to God’s people, you are complicit in his sin if you’re not doing everything you can to bring God’s justice into the situation.

        Bottom line:

        • Let’s not be so quick to judge unless you’re sure you have the whole story.
        Proverbs 18:17
        “The first to speak in court sounds right—
        until the cross-examination begins.”

        • Let the local church work things out according to Jesus’ instruction* and pray for the people involved and pray for God’s judgment (with mercy) to prevail.

        • If you sense the Holy Spirit is leading you to make a judgment in a church situation outside your local church and then leading you to intervene, make sure you have all the facts, make sure God is leading you, and make sure you’ve first looked at the beam in your own eye.

        * There may be an exception where somethings so egregious is happening in the church that there needs to be intervention from Christians outside that local church. But for Jesus’ sake, make sure you have the facts and make sure God is leading.

        1. Mr. Lender, what part of Matthew 18:15-18 was followed in removing this family from the church?

    2. Thanks Michael for letting us all know that you think like Mark! That gives the discerning a warning to stay as far away from you as him. Thank you for your honesty! We need more of that in the body of Christ.

      1. Ralph,

        You probably know what
        ad hominem means:

        Typically this term refers to a rhetorical strategy where the speaker attacks the character, motive, or some other attribute of the person making an argument rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself. This avoids genuine debate by creating a diversion to some irrelevant but often highly charged issue.

        I’d invite you as my brother to address the points I made and then give your understanding of the Bible passages that I quoted. I’d prefer to do it thru email, phone or face to face over a cup of coffee. You know…civilized, brother to brother. Perhaps we can both learn something. Let me know if you’re interested.

        1. Ah yes, “knowing what ad hominem means” – the classic get-out clause for making such a terrible argument that people would rather insult you than bother to pick it apart.

          Seriously though, you make such a huge deal about “he kissed her” as opposed to “they kissed” – is she just a slab of meat with lips, lacking in bodily autonomy? Does being a Driscoll function as a “get out of jail free card” in these circumstances? To answer your question in your original comment, I very much doubt that most people would read the article differently if it was worded as “despite the warning and advice, Vince blatantly and knowingly disrespected Mark’s clear instruction and chose to kiss his daughter anyway”. It’s still describing the same action, and Driscoll’s / the church’s response after that was still completely disproportionate. That is the issue here, not “who was at fault for the kiss” but rather “why are whole families being excommunicated and surveilled, and why is Driscoll putting people on a loyalty scale”.

          If you can understand what an ad hominem argument is, surely you can also look at the whole issue instead of just the one bit that (in your opinion) works in favour of Mark Driscoll

    3. Mr. Lender, you said, “I wonder if the writer tried to meet with Mark and get his side of the story?” Did you actually read the article? It said, “The Roys Report reached out to Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church for comment, but no one responded.”

      You also said, “I’m a pastor and know Mark personally and really appreciate him. He’s been a friend to me. I do know he has accountability with quite a few leaders/Pastors.” Are you actually one of those who holds him accountable?

      By the way, what culpability do you place on Driscoll’s daughter, since she is not only older than this boy but was also a participant? Was she not being disrespectful to her father? By the way, need it be said that locking a child in a room and holding him against his will is illegal?

      Satan fell because of pride, not disrespect. God does not want our respect; He wants our obedience.

      1. Darren,

        My mistake – I did read that there was an attempt to contact Mark. But what kind of attempt?

        The article says: “The Roys Report reached out to Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church for comment, but no one responded.”

        What if it was just a message left on an answering machine? So, the Roy’s Report goes ahead and interviews all the offended parties, writes an article as if all they said was true, and that’s it?

        What do you think of this scenario: if a few people came to me and told me that John MacArthur’s leadership style was abusive and then they shared some horrible things he did to them. Then I call John McArthur and ask him to give his perspective on the subject. I leave a message with his secretary. He never responds. I interview the people that were offended and then publish the horrible things they said he did to them, letting the reader know I tried to contact Pastor McArthur but he didn’t respond.

        That would be wrong. And that’s why we should let the local church deal with these matters unless something terrible (that you are sure of) is happening and God is clearly leading you to intervene, and with a humble heart. Publishing this kind of stuff without knowing what really went on only stirs up strife and brings in division. And we know how our Lord feels about that.

        Michael Ledner

        1. Mr. Ledner, first of all, please accept my apology for spelling your name wrong. Second, thank you for the response. I can tell by your comments here that you genuinely do not want division, and I appreciate that very much.

          I think your points about there being more than one side of the story is certainly true. That is why it is unfortunate that TRR was not able to hear Trinity’s side of the story.

          Julie Roys, whom I do not know personally, is a well-respected, well-balanced journalist who has been around for a long time. She is not an amateur want-to-be blogger, and I trust that she always does her due diligence in gathering facts before reporting them, not only for the sake of general journalist integrity, but even more so as a believer. Otherwise, her tagline, “Reporting the Truth,” would not carry any weight.

          I think your example about leaving a message, either on an answering machine or with a secretary, is a little flawed. How long should a journalist wait then before publishing an article if she does not hear back from someone she has tried to contact? How many attempts should a journalist make before deciding to go ahead and publish an article? And if there is never a response, does that mean that a journalist should not publish that article at all? You can certainly see the problems with that. Individuals and churches that do not want scrutiny would simply never respond, but people cannot expect to remain silent just because someone else refuses to talk to them.

          Furthermore, if an individual or a church knew that the media is involved it seems that they would deem that of some importance, and one would think it would be a priority for them to respond. And what is the likelihood that this simply got overlooked? If any of the allegations about surveillance and lookout lists are true, then certainly any attempts to reach them could not have been overlooked. So if they chose not to respond, why should people be upset that they only get to hear one side of the story?

          While I appreciate the fact that you know Mark Driscoll personally and that your experience has been positive, it does not negate the experiences that others have had which have not been so positive. I am sure that he has been a good friend to you, simply because you said so and I believe you. I am also sure that he has hurt other people and is a responsible for a system that has hurt other people, because they have said so. There are multiple sides to a story, for sure.

          Finally, about division, I am heartbroken about these things. Churches should use Matthew 18 as the model for resolving problems, and these problems should be resolved within a local church; but if what has been reported here is true, then that process was not followed, and the guilt is with the church itself for removing, not just an individual but an entire family, from fellowship without following that process. If that is not something terrible, then what is?

          As I write this, I am convicted that I should not just be putting my comments out here, which have obviously gone on way too long, but I should also be praying more.

          The church needs godly pastors who love the Lord, His word, and His people; and He is not done with any of us, including Mark Driscoll. I trust that the Lord is going to keep on working in His life as He continues to work in my life and your life. Maybe articles like this and conversations like ours are part of how the Lord is using us to sharpen one another and make us more like His Son.

          1. “I trust that the Lord is going to keep on working…”. That’s the hope here.

            You gave calm and reasonable responses to Mr. Ledner. Thank you. After listening to the entire podcast, “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill”, I’m beyond dismayed that Driscoll is still pastoring. Iceberg ahead…

        2. The problem here Mr Lender, is that we have all seen this behavior from Mark Driscoll before. This is not his first rodeo bullying those who dared go against his will. Mark is a control freak. His poor kids are going to rebel hard when they finally get away from his iron grip. I just hope none of them fall into drugs or commit suicide because daddy was so abusive.

          My mom always taught me that to get respect you must earn respect. Mark Driscoll has earned no ones respect. He is a sinful unrepentant man who blamed all of his sin and destruction on Mars Hill. It was his fault, just like the destruction I predicted would happen in AZ that is happening now. Mark is a toxic human being who needs to work on fixing himself before he ever pastors another Church.

    4. “Vince not only disrespected Mark – his girlfriend’s father, his pastor – but he, nor his father showed no signs of humility or repentance. When Vince was confronted he could’ve said, “Wow – I’m so sorry I disrespected you and your daughter.”

      …But I wonder if people would’ve read the whole article differently had the writer said, “despite the warning and advice, Vince blatantly and knowingly disrespected Mark’s clear instruction and chose to kiss his daughter anyway.”

      Mr. Ledner, how is it that you know that it was Vince who “kissed her”?

      how do you know that she didn’t kiss him?

      further, how do you know that it wasn’t mutual?

      Vince is a young person — i’m sure he was completely overwhelmed if not terrified by the senseless out-of-proportion response. i’m blown away at your rigid expectation for how you think he should have responded.

      Furthermore, a mutual kiss (regardless of who inched forward first) is in no way disrespecting anyone.

    5. Pastor Michael,
      I suggest you do a little deeper dive into what other fellow elders have said vs. just focusing on the words or angle that is taken by bloggers. The interview by Warren Throckmorton (largest critic of Mars Hill Church) of the 2 Executive Elders that served with Mark. Interview was recorded long before these specific issues came out of Trinity.

      What do the guys that walked with Mark say, then make your own decision.
      Get all the facts.
      I do appreciate your openness to additional information.
      All the very best in your ministry.

    6. Hi Michael. I know you are pretty stuck on the kiss issue. Brandon asked vince if he kissed her and vince said yes. He did not make excuses or lie. He told the truth. He was then told to get his stuff and leave. There was no talk or discussion. He was immediately dismissed.

      We waited and hoped to see if we would get together with everyone and have a healthy conversation. That never happened, they were not interested. If you knew background you would understand that.

      If you knew more details about the relationship and what went on leading up to this situation you would not be commenting with such ignorance.

    7. Michael, what’s not addressed here, and is of critical importance to the point you’re trying to make is what the daughter wished as well. To say that a teenage boy disrespected a girl’s father by interacting with her is to implicitly take away her agency and value as a human. That is to say, if this teen boy kissed this teen girl and she didn’t want to be kissed, then he has assaulted her. Her feelings and humanity matters. As parents we would rightly grieve for our children to experience that and try to protect them from it and help them heal if it did happen, but that boys “disrespect” of the father is really quite secondary.

      But if two 17 year old kids decided to kiss each other, it’s really none of the father’s business. His desire and attempts to control her in this way ate unhealthy, to say the least. Parents can coach their children and raise them up in the way they should go, but we cannot control their behaviors, and attempts to do so will backfire and do damage to the children and the relationship.

      Also, the long history of Mark interacting with critical press is informative – I can’t recall a single time he had elected to comment on a story like this.

      1. 17 is a minor in all states unless legally emancipated. So yes it is Driscoll’s business, she is his child. Were she 18 and on her own, then yes it isn’t his business then.

    8. It’s 2021 for Pete’s sake, live & let live… it’s a completely NORMAL part of growing up to KISS! Kissing is not a sin! Remember “LOVE THY NEIGHBOR” – just because someone is doing something you don’t want to do, does not mean you can’t be CIVIL toward them – you don’t have to do what you don’t agree with, but can’t we just get along???

    9. Hey Michael,

      I don’t know you or Mark Driscoll or anyone associated with y’all, so it is accurate to say that I am relatively ignorant on everything around Mark Driscoll and his ministry, in a direct sense. You may be right, the event in and of itself, where Vince kissed Driscoll’s daughter, may have been a problem, even a sin. However, the point of the article was not to highlight the act, but the pattern of behavior exhibited by Mark that has been going on for decades now. I have never been to a church nor have I heard/studied where such a drastic act was necessary when responding to a sin, especially one as normal and somewhat innocent as kissing another teenager. The description given by the writer felt like it came right out of an action movie. Security guards surrounding a car so that two harmless men can’t come in??? Instructing staff and church members to shun and ignore former members of the church family??? Responding to an email sent by Vince using his daughter’s account? Invasion of privacy much??? Non-disclosure agreements for volunteers??? Ranking staff to determine trustworthiness??? What the heck!? I don’t know. It may just be the way the writer portrays everything, but Mark sounds like a power-hungry guy who is desperate for control over his environment. He can’t stand to be challenged or disobeyed in any way. Even if half this stuff was true, that is super scary for a pastor. He is tasked with shepherding the body of Christ, calling them to see God’s grace and forgiveness, and pushing them towards righteousness. Not shunning people who don’t do what he likes! That is in complete opposition to what God’s word says. There is a time and a place for appropriate church discipline (which I’d like to point out Mark did not go through when Mars Hill tried to do it with him). If Vince had sexually assaulted Driscoll’s daughter, that is also a different situation. But none of that happened. What happened is literally crazy. You don’t see any of this type of behavior in Scripture. I would compel you to consider that, despite the fact that God has and will do good things in and through Mark’s ministry, he is a deeply flawed man in desperate need of help. The very first thing that needs to happen is he needs to step down from leadership until he can figure some things out between him and God. I would hate for what happened at Mars Hill to happen all over again. Too many people have been hurt and left in the destruction left behind by Mark’s actions. If you need anymore proof then this article, consider listening to the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill by Christianity Today. The podcast is very well done and seeks to educate and equip the layman to enable them to discern wise leadership from destructive leadership.

      I’m not going to argue with anyone over this. It’s not worth it, especially over the internet. But I would urge people to be so careful when picking a church. Know who you’re submitting yourself to. Don’t be blind to their actions and history. Be wary, even, of overly charismatic preachers. If there is even an ounce of manipulation, fear-inducing, or anything along those lines, get out!!

      I hope everyone will join me in praying for Mark Driscoll, his family, Trinity Church, those left in the wake of Mars Hill, and the church in America.

    10. Michael Lender, Mr. Driscoll is not a Godly man. He cheated his way to the top of the best seller list by paying a company to purchase his books while the head pastor of Mars Hill. He also took money that people gave to build missions abroad and ‘refurbish’ Churches stateside.

      When he was asked to go through a 2 year restoration process to fix these and other sins, he refused and instead left to Scottsdale, AZ where he repeated the process of abuse. He is an abuser with a silver tongue. Nothing more nothing less. And an unrepentant one at that.

      I will pray for your understanding that your eyes will be opened.

  4. I just will start by saying I’m thankful for how God used Mark Driscoll in my life at my time at Mars Hill. He helped me really understand Christianity, come to Christ, and reform my life in many ways. Mark has some truly amazing talent in many ways that can be a blessing. But he also has the power to really hurt. I was hurt by Mark both indirectly and directly. I’m thankful that my encounters were not as specific as what happened in this story.

    But in all cases, when Mark feels wronged or that you haven’t treated his word as sovereign, look out! Based on this story (which seems to be supporting Vince), I see where Vince likely went wrong. But let’s say Mark thought he did or that he was in sin… where’s the attempts to resolve, to restore, to teach, to love? How does banishment and surveillance even come close to being in the realm of how Jesus would call any father to resolve this level of infraction? That is not an acceptable from anyone much less a pastor. I’d love to see Mark repent, get the help he needs, and in time be in a place to deliver the actual Word again. He has such a potential gift to offer.

    For context, I was at Mars Hill for over a decade. When the end of the church came, there was a small set of men at the center of the problem living in hidden details that came to destroy the campuses, communities, and families by the thousands. As “just a member,” it was devastating navigating the impact and reconciling all that had happened. And Mark – well he flat out rejected all brotherly attempts to help and find a path forward. And with not even a word of acknowledgement (much less apology) of the impact to the entire church family, he put forth a statement that said God told him he forget about MarsHill and just leave. Gone like that. We never heard from him again.

    But at risk of some weird remote BOLO entry, I’ll just share where I personally had an intersection with Mark that apparently got me cursed out. Early on at my time at Mars Hill ( a decade before it’s end), I served in lighting. At some point, there was the introduction of these huge close-up live video shots on the stage background of the musicians during worship. I personally found it very distracting from being able to actually worship. I both simultaneously knew others might feel differently but just wanted to share my opinion as a single data point to those making those decisions. I figured they’d want to know how things helped or hindered worship. I looked/asked if there was any sort of comment box but apparently no such thing existed. I asked my service lead, who referred me to the music lead, who told me it was decision from Mark himself (which seemed odd) and that I should reach out to him. So I wrote what I thought was a polite email to Mark simply mentioning the effect. His assistant immediately wrote me back saying Mark didn’t have time for personal engagement and that proper place to mention this was on the church web forum. So I followed the advice and posted a comment there and asked how others felt… the topic exploded overnight. I immediately felt dread as I didn’t mean to be divisive at all and tried to figure out how to take it down. Fortunately/unfortunately some moderator took care of yanking it. Next Sunday when I showed up to serve, my lead pulled me aside and told me that Mark was really pissed and had been yelling about me by name during a staff meeting for causing such a stir about the worship choice he’d made. I was so shocked given that I had followed every piece of advice along the way from leadership in how I raised a question. I felt like I had sinned against the pastor. I didn’t have any other context of his shortcomings nor a solid enough foundation in my faith to help me know this wasn’t right and I wasn’t actually completely in the wrong. Could I have possibly made a wiser decision to not post to a public forum, perhaps. But the resultant wrath is something I was wronged by. I can trace out a number of bumps and challenges in my faith that resulted from that experience. I can only imagine that if this was enough to trigger Mark, there must be a ton of cases and people as well whose stories don’t make the news.

    Again, I am thankful for how God used Mark net in my life. He has many giftings, but his current retaliatory nature and lack of love negates all of it. 1 Cor 13: 1-3.

    1. Brian, thanks for sharing all of this. I appreciate the fact that you were able to be blessed by Mark Driscoll but also admit that he hurt you because of his unloving character. I have had the same way about various pastors whose teaching I have followed, and even some pastors that I have known personally. We can be blessed by someone at one point, but also hurt by that same person, either directly or indirectly.

      As you shared, a simple comment about a legitimate concern is no reason for anybody to respond the way that Mark Driscoll did, who, as a pastor is not supposed to be pugnacious, but gentle. That is a biblical qualification for ministry. When a pastor falls shorty, he needs accountability and correction so he can address it; when he rejects that accountability and correction, as Mark Driscoll did, he is no longer fit for ministry.

  5. People, really, if you don’t like Mark Driscoll, then don’t attend his Church. I enjoy his Bible based teachings every week, he is amazing! I have lived in this neighborhood for many years, even attended the first Easter service in this building and I am happy it is being used to teach the gospel once again. Like I said, leave us alone, there are Church politics in every church, if you don’t like Trinity, go somewhere else. The “kiss”, sorry but a father has a right to dictate his daughter’s life, and there is, I believe more to this story. This article is just sour grapes…………be nice.

    1. Sara, this article is for the everyone else’s benefit to stay away from an ungodly, unhealthy church community. Your own words, “Leave us alone,” speak volumes. That does not sound anything like the welcome I have received in churches I have attended.

      Also, a father does have a right to dictate his daughter’s life–not other people’s. There is more to this story, but Mark Driscoll has not talked about it to TRR, probably because it is worse than what has been reported.

      1. Darren, The “leave us alone” simply means you don’t have to attend if you don’t want to, not meant in an unkind way…… took it wrong.

        1. Sara, I take you at your word and believe that you did not mean that statement in an unkind way. All the same, it reflects very poorly on you and your church, and all it does is further confirm what has been reported in this article.

          I wish you would add something constructive to the conversation, and actually address some of the points that have been discussed. You said there is more to this story, but you have not shared it. Worst of all, you seem very unconcerned about this boy and his family, and how they were treated.

          I wonder how many victims have to come forward before people stop blaming them for telling the truth. This same thing happened at Mars Hill when Mark Driscoll was there, and it has happened in countless other situations. Read Mark Zimmerman’s comment below to get an idea of that. In every single case a powerful person took advantage of someone who was weaker, and then blamed that person for speaking out against it. This is to be expected from ungodly sinners, not from saints, and most of all, not from pastors.

          The standard for pastoral leadership is that a man be “above reproach,” meaning that nothing can be held against him, that his reputation is so stellar and clean that people would know whether it is true or not. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of Mark Driscoll, not only because of his past at Mars Hill, but because of how he left without submitting to accountability from the elders there. This cannot be overlooked or ignored, and it is completely relevant to what this article is discussing.

          So before you publicly tell other people to leave your church alone, you may want to be clear about who and what it is you are defending, and offer up a reasonable and compassionate response to what is being said here.

    2. Sarah Blake, it would behoove you to research what happened at Mars Hill, how many lives he destroyed, the pervasive abusiveness, and the level of corruption.

  6. The list is far too long in recent years of spiritually abusive, grossly hypocritical pastors and ministry leaders, e.g. former MBI President Paul Nyquist and trustee Jerry Jenkins, James MacDonald, Bill Hybels, C.J. Mahaney and many others in the Sovereign Grace crowd, John MacArthur, Hillsong implosions, Paige Patterson, Thomas White of Cedarville University, Bryan Loritts, Dave Ramsey, Benny Hinn, Jerry Falwell Jr., Ravi Zacharias, Mark Driscoll…, just to name a few prominent examples, who maintain their inner circle coterie of enablers and peripheral supporters even after the plain truth is evident to the overwhelming majority of people both in and outside of the Church.

    In all the cases mentioned above, a combination of improper accountability structures and a failure of those tasked with oversight, often close friends and family, allowed for the long-term, major damage to be done by these rogue so-called leaders.

    When the local church or organization fails to do its duty in reigning in and kicking out those disqualified from ministry, those in the global Church have the authority and responsibility to try to do so, for God’s glory and the benefit of individuals’ spiritual and physical lives.

    1. Mark, thanks for sharing this. You are absolutely right in everything you say. All churches are part of the body of Christ, and that means that even local churches are accountable to that larger body.

      I am thankful that the list of names here, although not exhaustive, is not very long compared to the countless godly, humble, overworked, underpaid, loving pastors serving in churches all over the world. Only the few people they shepherd will ever know who they are; the rest of us will not know about them until we reach heaven, but they are the ones who represent Christ, His kingdom, and His church.

      1. Yes indeed, Darren, I also believe what you say about most pastors is true. It’s very sad some people unreasonably use a few large rotten apples hiding in the Church to reject it and Christ entirely.

        1. I’m sure there are many honorable pastors quietly at work. However, they are part of a subculture that is more concerned about advancing their program than they are about right and wrong in their own ranks.

          i think people observe the Church’s apathy in its own doublestandards, while at the same time having a sanctimonious message that disparages ‘the world’ (everyone else).

          the degree to which such pastors stay passive and do not take a stand on christian leaders’ corruption, cruelty, & crimes of all kinds (whether against the law of the land or against what is good and right and honest and kind), they are active participants in the hypocritical culture of compliance.

          the disgust people feel is the only reasonable response.

          1. Scottie, I’m glad we agree there are many honorable pastors quietly at work, and also that there are many churches and pastors with lots of problems of all kinds.

            To cut to the chase about where you’re coming from spiritually: Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Do you worship Him?

  7. Darren,

    First of all, apology accepted. People read my name wrong all the time. No biggie.

    I appreciate your response – I sense a real heart for unity in the body of Christ and a man who looks for common ground with those, like myself, that have a different perspective.

    What I think we do agree on is that Jesus conferred authority on the local congregation to settle offenses. If the leadership doesn’t follow Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18:15-18, then we can trust our Lord to discipline those leaders, for we are all accountable to the One whose Church it is – especially the leaders.

    All I’m saying is that normally, we should just leave it there. Of course there are exceptions, but since it takes so much time and effort to get the whole story, and even if we do, to actually be a help in the situation, the enemy can have a great time
    getting God’s people spinning in these issues, exposing every church flaw to the public (and there are many), and distracting us from a simple, fruitful life, the one like Paul subscribe in 1 Thess 4:1-12: after exhorting us to grow in pleasing God, keeping ourselves from immorality, and growing in love one for another, he says:

    “…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (emphasis mine).

    Like you, I abhor abuse of authority. But I’m very slow to accuse a pastor of abuse.

    Yet, if something really bad is happening in a church other than your own and you have proof, I see two godly responses:

    1. Do something about it. Through prayer, another reliable witness or two, and, without exposing it to the world, talk with the leader(s) involved or people they’re accountable to. The Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthians because the weren’t settling disputes “in-house” and were exposing them to the unbelievers. It was mainly concerning lawsuits but it’s clear he didn’t want unbelievers involved in our “in-house” disputes (*see reference below).

    2. Pray – for the people involved, trusting Jesus to bring justice with mercy into the situation.

    *1 Corinthians 6:1
    Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?

    Again, thanks for your response and your desire to see Jesus’ church be something the unbeliever desires to be a part of because of our love one for another.

    John 13:35
    “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    1. Pastor Ledner, the only 2 responses you allow above have been tried repeatedly in these kinds of situations with renegade, abusive leaders and they generally don’t work. What then?

      Do you really believe those are the only 2 proper responses in such cases as a Hybels, MacDonald, or Zacharias, for instance, or are you glad those wolves were finally exposed with the public help of the global Church? They had and still have some defenders, but most of the world now sees the reality of their deeply duplicitous double lives, and is thankful their evil deeds have been brought to light so that their ability to do further damage is minimized, and hopefully they themselves could come to repentance, including the Zacharias family that’s still alive.

      In fact, the charges now being brought against Driscoll, as at Mars Hill, are coming from those inside his family business/”church.”

      Driscoll is not just a local church pastor, but a person of national and international influence, and as such is especially accountable to the global Body of Christ, which is now coming to the aid of those who were trampled on and whose voice was silenced by Driscoll’s runaway bus of multifaceted ungodliness.

    2. Pastor, how is it going with the “pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill Bus”?

      And the thousands still living that may not have been run over, but were abandoned by their shepherds, a tangled mess of harassed and helpless humanity.

      Given the level of casuistry and flattery in your prose, I commend to you Acts ch. 20, describing men who will arise to draw disciples after themselves. Malefactors such as Marc Driscoll could never succeed without a myriad of enablers.

      God’s true shepherd’s would mark and avoid these characters and plead with the double-minded and weak, as though speaking with their dying breath, to stay far away from such men and their enablers.

      Evidently, it remains true that “the devil appears as an angel of light” in the church.

      The Wages of Balaam are still being paid.

      I hope you exhort those under your care ( we have to hand it by the way to the always-humorous Marc Driscoll for expanding the semantic domain of “sit under my ministry” to an ultra-savage level of irony) to accept the personal responsibility to test everything, including elders, and that more than once.

      Along with another voice here, I Thank God Almighty at least you we can see coming from afar off.

      1. Charles,

        You said, “God’s true shepherd’s would mark and avoid these characters and plead with the double-minded and weak, as though speaking with their dying breath, to stay far away from such men and their enablers.”

        Show me where I was defending Mark. You can’t. Do you know why? I am holding back judgment one way or the other because I don’t have the whole story, and I’m not sure if all these “witnesses” are reliable. Maybe they are, maybe they’re not.

        Here’s what I said:
        “Was Mark’s response equal to the offense? I don’t know. To find that out, God gave us instruction on how to rebuke an elder/pastor and I’m not sure if that was followed.”

        I said that because I am not sure. But you seem to be sure of exactly what happened, and upon your thorough examination, you made a judgment about Mark, and also judged all those “enablers” – who are not “God’s true shepherds” – as complicit because they aren’t pronouncing condemning judgments about Mark. Well, if your judgment is right, you truly are doing the body of Christ a real service. But if your judgment is wrong, I pray, honestly, that God would have mercy on your soul, for with the same measure you judge you shall be judged. Yes, I will be judged if I SHOULD have made a judgment and didn’t. But I’m just a little slower about making condemning judgments about a Pastor. The Judgment seat of Christ is at hand and each of us will give account for our words, deeds and motives.

        1 Corinthians 4:5
        “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”

        Sleep well.

        – Michael Ledner

        1. Mr. Ledner,

          “Show me where I was defending Mark.”
          Please review your post from the 14th, at 9:53. In your post, you repeatedly addressed what you saw were wrongs committed by the family involved, while giving the benefit of the doubt to your friend, Mark Driscoll. You were persistent in not assuming the worst of MD, while going out of your way to present a one-sided approach to viewing the actions of these former-Trinity-members. This is easily viewable as offering a defense.

          This is quite simple: Can you please address the call for Pastors/Elders to be above reproach? Can you please explain how the very-well-documented allegations and FACTS against MD lead you to pervasively grant him the benefit of the doubt, as you have done so consistently on this forum?

          Since you’re (rightfully) focused on things we know, I’d be grateful for you to share your thoughts on these items specifically:

          – William Wallace II and history of abusive, angry, domineering speech

          – Paul Petry and Bent Meyer: & specifically

          – ResultSource:

          – Janet Mefferd:

          – The open letter/call for MD to step down by nearly a dozen of his fellow-elders (This is one that I’m particularly curious for you to respond to. Dismissing the (many) concerns over your friend, in-turn casts doubt on the judgment of the many men MD himself surrounded himself with.)

          Here’s a fantastic compilation of details on the many years prior to Trinity:

          Additionally, here is an interview conducted with two former Mars Hill elders, addressing much of the ‘smoke’ I’ve referenced: &

          Pointed Question: Do you consider this “above reproach?”

  8. Chris,

    I go back to what I said: when egregious sins are done by a pastor at a congregation in which you are not a member, and you sense the Lord is leading you to do something about it, there seems to be only 2 godly options (maybe there are more but I only see two)…

    1. PERSONAL RESPONSE: Do your best to really understand both sides, then ask God to show you how to PRAY for the pastor(s), elders & congregation and PRAY, believing that He hears you, and then TRUST that the local church will deal with it or the leaders will be dealt with by the Lord (i. e. mind my own business). Remember Who it was that was that was personally disciplining 6 out of the 7 churches in Revelation ch’s 2 and 3. It is HIS Church and He really does see it all and has ways to get leaders attention.


    2. IF GOD LEADS: Pray, and if you’re led by God to be involved – first, as best as you can, get the whole story and then, if you’re sure that the pastor is in error DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT yourself, then with one or two others and DON’T STOP until you see a resolve – which is: the pastor submits to discipline, or he is removed.

    Your approach should be relationally, only with those folks involved – not publishing the PROCESS for all the world to see and make their quick judgments. Wait until you can publish the RESOLVE, which would be: “he submitted to the discipline,” or, “he was removed.”

    Those are the only two responses I understand that can bring any real resolve and health to the body of Christ. Any other response can so easily come across as self-righteous “virtue-signaling” and/or sophisticated gossip cloaked in “I’m just doin’ my part to protect the sheep – making them aware that there’s a big bad wolf out there.” That could actually backfire big-time. It could encourage people to visit Trinity – those who want to find out what’s really going on. They’ll talk to the pastor and elders and get their side of the story and may become members. You’ve just grown Trinity Church. Or, a member of Trinity can read this and, after talking to Mark and the elders, getting their side of the story, they’ll be more defensive for Mark. You’ve just strengthened their relationship with Mark. In this way you’ve helped grow and strengthen Trinity Church; Mark would see this as a way God using what the enemy meant for evil (false accusations) to grow God’s kingdom.

    On a lighter note, one that I know we can agree on: church really IS messy, isn’t it? We do the best we can and still have so much to learn.

    In His grasp,
    – Michael Ledner

  9. I grew up in a top down leadership church that was built around the senior pastor. Many things were done “for my good.” Long story short, I’m still recovering from the abuse my siblings and I experienced. To be honest, there’s not much left to my “faith sweater”, especially after reading stories like this.
    I don’t know who this guy is, but if he is your pastor…run.

  10. Remember this from his apology at Mars Hill:

    “In the last year or two, I have been deeply convicted by God that my angry-young-prophet days are over, to be replaced by a helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father. Those closest to me have said they recognize a deep change, which has been encouraging because I hope to continually be sanctified by God’s grace.”

    Then there’s this:

    “In the past few years, we have also made significant improvements to how we are governed and organized as a church. This has been difficult, but long overdue. The Board of Advisors and Accountability is a great blessing to us all, as they combine wise counsel and strong oversight during this process.”

    Anyone feeling foolish yet? Driscoll is still a raging foaming at the mouth ego maniac. The worst part is people are still buying it. He has created another kingdom for himself with absolutely no accountability. I don’t believe all of this insanity was caused by a teenage kiss either. I suspect something more happened between the two and his daughter, 2 years senior in age. was likely the aggressor.

  11. Reading about this is triggering my PTSD from a church here in Michigan. The kicking out of people, the lies, the “stalking” and the abuse of the system. So crazy to hear the similarities. The only difference is the money to sue people.

  12. All the bitter words spewed here just makes me appreciate my small church even more. Mega Churches are so large you cannot simply speak to your pastor and work out the issues you may have as the Bible instructs in Matthew 18: 15-17.
    May God touch all of those involved in this dispute and help them to all understand the truth behind God’s word in handling issues instead of turning them into news stories used by the secular world to further undermine God’s Holy plan for Christians.

  13. Guys.

    Let’s just take a step back here.

    A family was removed and banned from a church over a kiss between 2 teenagers.

    I think that says it all.

  14. This is just sad. A pastor must be carefully chosen and of course, gotten to know real well. He is the spiritual leader of people and he must demonstrate the qualities of a good Christian man. Here in Houston TX, we have Keion Henderson, to really teach us and guide us on the ways of our Lord Jesus.

  15. Satan loves churches that have stage performances with rock music and bright lights.
    Maybe it’s time to push for singing Old Rugged Cross to the notes of a simple organ?

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