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Mark Driscoll speaks at The Trinity Church on Sept. 27, 2020. (Source: Video Screengrab)

Former Insider Urges Megachurch Pastors Associated with Mark Driscoll To Stop His Abuse

By Sarah Einselen

Several outlets, including The Roys Report, have recently published numerous allegations of abuse and financial misconduct concerning disgraced former Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll. Yet, several high-profile pastors who have longtime supported Driscoll have stayed silent, including Jimmy Evans of XO Marriage, Robert Morris of Gateway Church, and North Coast Church’s Larry Osborne.

Now, the former head of security at Driscoll’s new church in Scottsdale, Arizona—The Trinity Church—is pleading with these pastors to act.

In an email to the three pastors obtained by The Roys Report, former head of Trinity Church security, Chad Freese, alleges that Driscoll and his staff have committed “immoral, unethical, and unbiblical behavior. . . including mishandling the reporting and investigation of possible child abuse.” The email also links to an open letter to Driscoll, detailing the accusations.

Freese addresses Driscoll directly in the open letter, alleging a slew of questionable behaviors ranging from fostering a toxic culture to avoiding oversight; implementing over-the-top security measures out of distrust and paranoia; harassing others and allowing subordinates to do so; and mishandling a case of possible child abuse.

“We all came into Trinity with a clean slate for Mark, thinking he changed from his Mars Hill days,” Freese wrote to the pastors. “. . .However, the last year he has proven he never truly repented nor changed. He continues to hurt many people and it is now getting out of control.

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“The Trinity Church family needs honest, loving, pastoral care. They need a Shepherd for the Flock. They need local elders. They need each of you to take action.”

Megachurch pastors ongoing support

The three high-profile pastors Freese emailed were named in his open letter as “overseers” for Driscoll.

The Trinity Church has never had a local board with authority over Driscoll and no elders are listed on the church’s website.

Robert Morris
Gateway Church Senior Pastor Robert Morris

However, when the church first launched in 2016, Evans and Morris were on a non-local governing board for Trinity, and Osborne was named as “wise counsel” for the church.

Robert Morris also was the first to give Driscoll a platform after Driscoll resigned in 2014 from Mars Hill Church in Seattle for a pattern of “arrogance” and abusive leadership. Just days after Driscoll’s resignation, Morris welcomed Driscoll to speak at a Gateway Church conference, urging attendees not to believe everything they read on the internet.

Morris stated at the time that Driscoll was “going through a difficulty that most of you have probably read about.” Morris then claimed that not everything on the internet is true and added, “There are some pastors, myself included, and some others that you would know, that were speaking into his life — and he’s listening.”

Jimmy Evans
Jimmy Evans of XO Marriage

Jimmy Evans is named as a director of Trinity Church on the church’s articles of incorporation. Also named as a director is Randal Taylor, who’s a chief strategist at a leading Christian marketing firm, Dunham and Company.

As recently as this past February, Morris, Evans, and Taylor were named on the website as providing “wise counsel,” but now their names have been removed.

Morris also publicly supported Driscoll less than eight months ago.

“I love you man, I respect you, I honor you. . .” Morris told Driscoll in a “special birthday message” on a video posted to The Trinity Church’s Facebook page this past October. In the video, Morris was identified as “wise counsel” to the church.

However, Mike Brisky, who manages Morris’s office at Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas, told The Roys Report that Morris doesn’t provide oversight for Driscoll’s church, and hasn’t for some time.

“For over a year, Pastor Robert has not had any official position of oversight with Trinity Church but is available if counsel is sought by the church leaders,” Briskey said.

Brisky couldn’t say when Morris’s official position of oversight ended and didn’t answer how Morris planned to address the concerns raised in Freese’s open letter.

Brisky also didn’t specify whether Morris’s availability for counsel extended to all church leadership, including volunteers like Freese. (Freese said in his open letter he had felt led to fulfill the director of security role as a full-time volunteer.)

Evans continues to list Driscoll as a team member with the marriage ministry Evans founded and continues to lead, XOMarriage.com (formerly MarriageToday).

Screengrab of XO Marriage’s website

“I’m so proud of you for who you are as a husband, as a father, as a man of God, as a pastor. I have tremendous admiration for you,” Evans told Driscoll in a similar birthday video The Trinity Church posted.

Osborne also helped boost Driscoll’s post-Mars Hill profile, allowing him to headline leadership conferences hosted by Osborne’s church consulting ministry. Driscoll remains a speaker on the lineup for the ministry’s 2021 conference on building “healthy, thriving ministries,” scheduled for October.

Screengrab of North Coast Leadership Conference website

The Roys Report reached out to Evans and Osborne through their ministries but has not heard back.

Allegations mount

In his open letter, Freese says his family attended The Trinity Church for almost three years and his wife attended Mars Hill under Driscoll’s leadership there. Freese volunteered on the church’s security team for eight months and he served as director of security for seven weeks. What he saw made him sick, he said. He detailed numerous allegations, among them:

—Trinity kicked a security team member out of his role and off the church campus after the member reported “serious concerns about a staff member’s actions with a child.” Freese wrote:

“When we requested access to the video cameras to properly document (the staff member’s) innocence I was ignored. Luckily, (Driscoll’s personal security lead) followed protocol and created an incident report with the staff members name redacted. When I asked Pastor Brandon (how to handle this report, he instructed me to delete everything.”

At a later meeting, Driscoll and other staff members “laughed about the accusation, just summing it up as a laughable absurdity,” and accused the former security team member of being “demonic.”

—The church staff “walks on eggshells,” Freese said, afraid to make any decision that might upset Driscoll. After Driscoll blew up at one of the pastors, repeatedly shouting the f-word at him, Driscoll mandated that all staff attend a threat assessment two days later or lose their jobs, Freese wrote.

To meet Driscoll’s demand, one staffer canceled his son’s birthday party, another disrupted long-anticipated vacation plans, and a third canceled crucial marriage counseling with his wife, Freese said.

—Trinity kicked a father out of the church, after Driscoll discovered the man’s 15-year-old son had kissed Driscoll’s daughter. (These actions were previously reported by The Roys Report). Freese said Driscoll called the father “demonic” and vulgar names and had him tailed by a private investigator. 

Freese added that Driscoll threatened to bankrupt the father “and bleed him dry in court” using a church litigation fund whose balance had been tripled to $10 million.

Randal Taylor
Randal Taylor of Dunham and Co.

—Church staffers use campus surveillance technology “to spy on congregants and those working or volunteering” and rated people on a sliding loyalty scale, Freese said.

He added that Randal Taylor, the marketing strategist, also used a law student’s login to a legal system to dig up “all kinds of dirt” on a former church member. Taylor did not immediately respond to The Roys Report’s email inquiry.

—Driscoll distrusts everyone “to the point of installing a firearm safe with assault rifles in your office and even having your detail carry collapsible carbines around campus,” Freese said.

—Engineers are drafting plans for a private entrance from the stage to Driscoll’s office so he can avoid interruptions from church attendees— just one example, Freese said, of Driscoll’s increasing isolation.

—Driscoll’s staff failed to inform church attendees when staffers had had COVID-19 or whether any had been contagious while at services.

—Driscoll and his staff slander people and cause division in the church and in personal relationships, rather than bringing their concerns directly to those they criticize, Freese said.

—Church staffers and security team members “started following and taunting” a man who was walking home on the sidewalk in front of the church, Freese said. That man, Freese explained, had been peacefully escorted off the stage at a church service about six weeks before. After that incident, Freese said, one of the pastors told him Driscoll was upset “because I didn’t draw my firearm on the man that got on stage.”

—Driscoll lacks any local church oversight and speaks of the church like a family business with an emphasis on his influence.

Freese included some screenshots and copies of incident reports along with his allegations. He also said he resigned from his role as director of security “due to the immoral, unethical, and unbiblical actions by the pastors and staff.”

“Many are in fear of your retaliation. You have threatened people with lawsuits, Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) and even threatened to cancel severance payments to those whom you kicked out. This is a form of abuse,” Freese wrote in his open letter.

He concluded his letter with a call to Driscoll to “repent, resign, and step down and away from Trinity.”

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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18 thoughts on “Former Insider Urges Megachurch Pastors Associated with Mark Driscoll To Stop His Abuse”

  1. Sheila Boland

    You will know them by their fruits Jesus said. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. What I don’t understand is why the people in Driscoll’s church stay. Blind guides.They apparently do not hear or talk to God for discernment. Very sad indeed. When He returns will God find anything that resembles His bride?

    1. This Mark Driscoll is a deranged psychopath. I’m sure that Morris and Jimmy Evans are trying to distance themselves from Mark at this point. The big question still remains, how could they have ever supported him in the first place? I’ve said it before that these CEO pastors see themselves on a level far above and superior to the little church members. The joke of celebrity pastors and mega church leaders will continue until people with an ounce of discernment choose to walk away. The sad reality isn’t the fact that there are men like this in positions of power but that church attenders evidently love to have it this way.

      1. >What I don’t understand is why the people in Driscoll’s church stay

        >how could they have ever supported him in the first place?

        I think people in this forum could do a lot better at understanding this. I’m a new skeptic here, having been a huge fan of Mark’s preaching for the past 10-15 years. I hope this is received in good faith.

        >evangelical male leaders are apparently vulnerable to narcissism

        1. This is a line from another comment, and it’s one reason why people will circle up around Mark. It’s totally possible to critique him without trying to make some broader statement about complementarianism/evangelicalism/Christianity/masculinity/Trumpism or whatever other hobby horse one might have. But most of the critics don’t. If the choices are to throw in with Mark or throw in with exvangelicals going on about toxic masculinity, that’s not going to be an easy decision for many.

        2. Most of the criticism around Mark has surfaced from behind closed doors. Which, I dunno, should pretty clearly make the point that there’s a public facade over all of this stuff, and it must be really good.

        3. None of the criticism out of Arizona (and, if you think about it, very little criticism out of Washington apart from the earlier preaching days) had to do with what was coming from the pulpit. If you don’t like evangelicalism or traditional gender roles, you won’t like it, but the preaching is high-quality content. Maybe that’s because he got better at editing – but if that’s true, it makes point 2 even more clearly.

        Picture a world where you like the preaching and the criticism is mostly coming from people who seem to have an axe to grind with the person, the church, or the theology. You’re gonna give that person a long leash, especially when you’re not really in a position to do firsthand investigation.

        The fact that the same pattern is emerging is what’s giving me pause now. And one story by a former security guy in the inner circle corroborated by emails and texts is worth about 1000 posts by discernment bloggers that lament the price of a thing/who gets credit for buying it/which person’s salary was on a particular tax document/etc.

        When the pandemic was heating up, I learned that some people will jump on board with anything, some will never jump on board, and everyone else is going to come on board at different times based on a lot of factors.

        If you guys really believe Mark needs to come down, be patient with the people you want to convince. They might be out here, lurking, trying to discern things for themselves.

    2. Yeah. I think He will. I’m just not sure he’ll find it in the western “church.” Sounds like a ridiculous statement, but I’m telling you, its something to ponder.

  2. evangelical male leaders are apparently vulnerable to narcissism, a disregard for what is ethical (if not an inability to understand the concept), stupidity, and a clueless lack of awareness of common sense.

    i mean, the list of individuals, what they stand for, and what they do goes on and on.

    1. Frances Christenson

      Scotte, I don’t think narcissism is only a male trailt in ministry. There are a lot of women in that catagory as well. What is wrong with the women that support and carry water for these guys? I hate to say it but there are many women that aren’t sugar and spice and everything nice. That is a myth.

      1. According to Dr. Ramani narcissism has classically been mainly a male trait but with the feminism movement the girls have been catching up increasingly in recent years. The worst aspect of feminism is when its adherents decide that they want to get even by becoming the abuser. Her channel is full of videos on narcissism for those who are ignorant of what it is and how it works: https://www.youtube.com/user/DoctorRamanDurvasula

        You can find this in the Bible too. From whom did the most famous of the Prophets: Elijah run from, from the King or the Queen?

        Beyond that this man is wasting his time in writing this for these celebrities only listen to other celebrities. This is a class system, just like in India, and the upper class could care less what the pawns that do all of the work for them think. And they all are robbing God of His glory by taking as much of it for themselves.

        It is my hope that the people who leave Mark’s church will actually do more than just get angry, but actually look inside for what drew them into this mess in the first place. Leaving is the first step in repentance, not the last. There are deep questions about who Jesus is and what kind of relationship they want to have with Him that they need to honestly ask themselves. Looking for Jesus and an anti-Christ are opposites paths. They obviously found an anti-Christ. If they do not follow through in repentance fully they will just soon end up repeating the same pattern with a different anti-Christ pastor.

        My friends who are GFA Diaspora members were involved in three different cults. The first no one has heard of. The 2nd was Bill Gothard’s legalism. The third was working at Gospel for Asia headquarters. It was only after that third which cost them two years of their life and much more that they started asking these bigger questions. Someone who is solid with Jesus will quickly notice that things are wrong when they walk into a place like The Trinity Church.

  3. It’s also possible a pastor gets involved thinking maybe he can make a positive difference, then realizes the guy is a sociopath. Helping a Diotrephes is like stepping into a bog.

    I don’t see any way these other pastors can “stop” Driscoll. The only people who can stop Driscoll are the authorities, if he’s committing crimes, and the congregation by separating from him.

    1. Respectfully, you are ignoring the fact that Christians are supposed to be led by the Spirit instead of being lead by their emotions, intellect or pure ignorance. Beyond that a “pastor” that makes his way into something this cultish is really the blind leading the blind. Jesus DOES NOT lead His children and especially NOT HIS LEADERS into this kind of thing!

      “Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.'” Matt. 10:25 A strangers voice, like Driscoll, they will not follow. It was at this point that the religious leaders picked up rocks to stone Jesus. The truth really stings.

      You have totally ignored everything I wrote about looking deeper and going full on with the repentance. This is true of any common sheep who spent more than a few weeks inside a cult like this. It is true 10 fold to some “pastor” who wonders in wanting his slice of the pie. A true shepherd will not ever even begin to fit in with a den of thieves or a brood of vipers as our holy book calls such.

    2. Driscoll did not submit to his own church’s (Mars Hill) discipline before he high-tailed it out of there. While it could be argued that maybe he’s not acting as an unbeliever, no pastor worth their salt should have supported Driscoll’s drive to open a new church — and at that, so quickly.

  4. If the blind lead the blind they will both end up in the ditch. Robert Morris is every bit the greedy abusive monster that Driscoll is.

  5. My husband and I were just talking about Gateway church since we live in Frisco. He accidently called it Gateway Drug.

  6. per WenatcheeTheHatchet on Thu Jun 03, 2021 at 10:01 AM said:

    “The question of why Jon Phelps, Matt Rogers, Larry Osborne and Michael van Skaik on the Board of Overseers decided to disregard the Board of Elders conclusion that Mark was unfit for ministry is something that those four men have yet to explain based on reports for the record so far.”

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2021/06/01/dear-mark-driscoll-hes-back-and-if-the-stories-are-true-he-appears-to-be-bonkers/

    Michael Van Skaik, I’d like to know why you gave a pass to MD. That he’s been able to go on destroying more lives with a ministry platform certainly links back to you.
    https://www.onethree12.com/about-us

  7. I hate to say it but the vast majority religious people are gullible – not sheep but just flat out mindless lemmings.

    How else could an inveterate liar, serial adulterer bragging about assaulting women con-artist who was convicted of overt fraud at least twice (Trump University, Trump Foundation) and is entirely anti-Christ now completely engaged in “the Big Lie” destroying the greatest country on the earth be the darling of the white American evangelical community….:-(?????

    HOWEVER, Trump and Driscoll are NOT the problem – they are the symptom of the complete failure of religious people to remotely “consider Jesus”. Of somehow being so lost to the desperate religious ego need, they have chosen to give up the least bit of “testing all things”, etc.

    Thanks to Roys for fulfilling the actual call of the Kingdom of God in Christ.

    Greg Logan

  8. Here is the question I address to all of these “mega” pastors who feign their humility and godliness for all to see…

    While Piper, MacDonald, the Mars Hill Elders, the Acts 29 Leadership, Matt Chandler (too late), Paul Troop, the Gospel Coalition—whole all of these completely blind “friends”were trying to “Iove” Mark Driscoll through their “private counsel”, who was trying to LOVE the Church Universal while Driscoll was running around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

    Seriously, Who? Nobody. and you know what? The Driscoll story and the Willow Creek story and the Harvest Story and the reports of pastors buying their own books to become NYT best sellers and the money that just keeps rolling in to fund these wolves in sheep’s clothing…

    Pastors all over the globe should have publicly communicated stern warnings regarding all of these incidents. Scripture says we are to do it that way so that the church fears this happening again.

    These tumors all metastasized and continue Toto destroy all of the healthy cells in their path. It is disgusting and these men will all be judged as will their congregations who kept funding these sharp tongues hooligans who found they could get rich quick through deceiving the church.

    There are now too many to count. They are all gifted speakers and they are all the leading speakers of the next big evangelical conference that everyone will pay $600 to attend.

    So sad

  9. That Mark Driscoll continues as a Pastor to whom some are drawn, while others are drawn to condemn him; speaks to a complexity. I think its easier to be a lone adherent to Biblical meaning making; than it is to be an adherent within a Church. What is involved in the collectivism of any Church, has to be negotiated before getting to whatever adherence to Biblical meaning provides us. There is then a vast field stemming from individual difference in pathways, across which Mark can simultaneously be followed and condemned. At the end of the day, in grappling with such difference in pathway and understanding, we encounter theology and individual theologising. The issue and question, it then seems to me, is how we indvidually view Mark as a partner in theological discussion, where we and he, as individuals, share and discuss what Biblical meaning and adherence to it, means for us.

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