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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

Mark Driscoll: The ‘Trap’ & The Truth

The Roys Report
The Roys Report
Mark Driscoll: The ‘Trap’ & The Truth

Since his abrupt resignation from Mars Hill Church in 2014, Mark Driscoll has claimed he was the victim of a vindictive plot. But last week, Driscoll dropped a bombshell. He claimed that Mars Hill leaders were planning to accuse him of adultery if he didn’t resign.

In this week’s podcast, Sutton Turner—one of only three former executive elders at Mars Hill—joins me to set the record straight.

Turner says Driscoll’s claim about the so-called “nuclear option” is pure fiction. Plus, it impugns the character of the men who loved Driscoll and courageously sought to lead him to repentance and restoration.

Divulging new accounts revealing the extent of Driscoll’s bullying and rage, Turner paints a picture of a man who refused accountability and abandoned his congregation. Yet, instead of owning what he did, Driscoll crafted a false narrative that he’s been editing for the past eight years, Turner says. And in this narrative, Driscoll is the victim, not the predator—and the victims are the bullies!

Pictured at Mars Hill Church, l-r, Dave Bruskas, Sutton Turner, Mark Driscoll, and James MacDonald (Sept. 2012)

Also adding details about what really happened in 2014 and beyond is Miles Rohde. Miles was one of eight Mars Hill elders who investigated the charges of bullying, intimidation, and arrogance against Driscoll—and found him guilty. Miles has never talked publicly about his experience. But given the new claims Driscoll is making, Miles said he felt it necessary to defend the integrity of the men with whom he served.

This podcast is a powerful cautionary tale about the importance of good church governance, the pitfalls of celebrity, and the absolutely devastating impact of narcissistic pastors.

This Weeks Guests

Sutton Turner

Sutton Turner was Executive Pastor, Executive Elder and Board Member of Mars Hill Church from 2011 to 2014.  He, Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas served together leading the church. Sutton has over 30 years of experience leading companies as CEO across US, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, as well as two stints in full-time ministry with Mars Hill and Celebration Church.

Sutton is married to Marci Turner of 25+ years and has three kids. They live in College Station, Texas and he is currently CEO of Life Bridge Management, a real estate company with over 50 employees.

Miles Rohde

Miles Rohde was one of eight elders who investigated formal charges against Mars Hill founding pastor Mark Driscoll in 2014. He participated in the Lead Pastor Residency Program at Mars Hill and was planning on planting Mars Hill Spokane when Driscoll abruptly resigned. Instead, he planted Redemption Spokane, where he’s still pastoring today.

Miles and his wife, Pam, have been married for 25 years and have two children.

Show Transcript




Since his abrupt resignation from Mars Hill Church in 2014, Mark Driscoll has claimed he was the victim of a vindictive plot. But last week he dropped a bombshell. He claimed that Mars Hill leaders were planning to accuse him of adultery if he didn’t resign. Today, two former high level Mars Hill leaders join me to set the record straight.


Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And if you’ve been watching the news, you know that Mark Driscoll stunned just about everyone last week when he made a claim he’s never made before. Speaking to his congregation at the Trinity Church, Driscoll said that church leaders at Mars Hill were going to use a nuclear option against him if he didn’t resign in 2014. That nuclear option was a plan to falsely accuse Driscoll of adultery if he didn’t resign. At least, that’s what Mark says.


Well, joining me today is Sutton Turner. Sutton was at Mars Hill when everything imploded in 2014. At the time, he was one of only three executive elders at Mars Hill, and he had a front row seat to everything that was happening. You’ll also hear today from Miles Rohde. Miles was one of only eight elders at Mars Hill who investigated the charges of bullying and intimidation against Mark Driscoll. And Miles was at one of those meetings at Panera where Driscoll claims he learned of the plot against him.


This is going to be an eye-opening podcast and I’m so glad you’ve joined me. But before we dive in, I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, The Restore Conference and Marquardt of Barrington. I’m so excited to announce the next Restore conference June 9 and 10th at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois. Joining us for this amazing two-day event to restore faith in God and the church will be many leading abuse survivor advocates. These include Wade Mullen, Scot McKnight, Mary Demuth, and Kyle James Howard. I’ll be there as well. But by far what makes this gathering so special is you the survivors, allies, activists andJULIEROYS.COM/RESTORE. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity, and transparency. That’s because the owners there Dan and Curt Marquardt are men of integrity. To check them out, just go to BUYACAR123.COM.



Well, again, joining me today is Sutton Turner. Sutton served on staff at Mars Hill from 2011 to 2014. First as a general manager and then as an executive pastor an executive elder and board member. And Sutton has done something that Mark Driscoll has never done and that is he has owned and apologized for the role that he had at Mars Hill. And he’s gone back and reconciled with people. And so, Sutton, I just really appreciate that you’ve done that. I appreciate the integrity that you’ve walked this whole season with. And so, thank you so much for taking the time and for joining me.



Thanks, Julie. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this.



And we’ve been talking about doing a podcast together for a really long time. So, I’m glad we’re finally making that happen, although not so happy about the circumstances under which we’re doing this podcast. My understanding is when you heard this allegation coming from Mark Driscoll it hit you pretty hard, right?



Yeah. And I think about the men that were elders at these Mars Hill churches that served so well during an investigation. I mean, like, pastors investigating their pastor. Many of the guys that investigated Driscoll were people that Mark led to Christ, and they looked at Mark as a father figure, and not only as a pastor, but a father figure. And that was one of the reasons why I just was like, you know what?, I can’t stand by and allow these statements to stick in this narrative. To stick because it hurts some really good men that are still leading churches today, small churches in the Puget Sound and other areas that are serving God and serving their people. And I just, I was like, you know what?, I’m no longer a part of ministry and church leadership. And I feel like I have the ability to say, wait a minute, I was there and let me communicate what actually happened.



Isn’t it kind of sad though, that you almost have to be out of the evangelical celebrity machine ministry before you can speak? Although I will say as I mentioned in the open, Miles Rohde, who is a former pastor at Mars Hill, also one of the elders who investigated Mark Driscoll, he did speak with me and I’m going to be playing clips of our interview that I had with him earlier this week. Just really appreciate him being willing to speak as well. And he pastors, one of those churches that was supposed to be a satellite of Mars Hill and right when everything blew up, he had a church planting team ready to plant this church in Spokane. And they ended up planting. It’s still a church, not Mars Hill Church, but wonderful what’s happened, and I know there’s been a lot of redemptive things that have happened as churches spun off from Mars Hill that were campuses there.


I know many of the folks listening probably have heard clips of what Mark Driscoll said. To listen to the full context, you’d have to listen to what is almost an hour-long sermon. He’s still giving very long sermons, which is his signature, I suppose. He’s there at the Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, and he gave this sermon on Nehemiah on October 23. And, again, if you want to hear that whole thing you can, it’s still posted online, last I looked, but I’m gonna play a four-minute clip of what he said, and then we’ll unpack that together. Take a listen.



Some years ago, we were in a season where massive media firestorm lots of conflict and controversy. I said okay, investigate everything. I know I’m not disqualified. I know who I am. I can’t wait stand before Jesus. It’s gonna be a great day for me. Not that I’m perfect. But I know who I am. And I know who he is. And we were asked to return, and I’ll share something with you I’ve never shared. I don’t know if it’s a good idea or us both, said you’re released, you need to resign immediately. And God told me a trap is set. He didn’t tell Grace that. So, she came in. She’s like, God just spoke to me. I was like, God just spoke to me. And she’s I said, what did you hear? She said, we’re released. I heard were released, that strap was set. So, so we walked away, didn’t defend ourselves. Took 18 months, didn’t do social media didn’t do public ministry. Just wanted to heal up and be with my family, get them into safety in a very dangerous season of our life.


And so during that time, I met with some of my critics and enemies, one on one or small group. People that had been friends, people who claimed to be Christian, some who were pastors, some who still are pastors. And I asked him, I said, God told me a trap was set. So, I asked them, do you know what that might be? And these people that we have known, said, yeah, the nuclear option was we were going to accuse you of adultery. This was at Panera multiple meetings at Panera. Like, you guys discussed accusing me of adultery? You know, that’s not true. I’ve been faithful to my wife my whole life; I adore my wife. I love my wife, and she loves me. We’ve been faithful to each other. We’ve been open our whole marriage about any struggles we’ve had, because we know that every married couple has some hardship to go through. And we have never been dishonest. But we have never done that. We’ve never done anything remotely like that. They said, yeah, that’s why we kept it as the nuclear option. I was like to get me why? They said to get you out of the pulpit. They said, because we knew that if we accused you of adultery, and enough of us signed the open letter, that ultimately there would be such a media firestorm that you would have to exit ministry, exit preaching God’s word for probably a year, while a full investigation was done. During that time, we could take over and lead and be in charge and then we figured one of two things would happen either you would come back, but we would be in charge. Or you would never come back, and you’d be done forever.


I came home I told Grace, it’s like, oh my gosh. Multiple people told me that to my face, on separate occasions and days. I want you to be, if I’m going to be your pastor and I love you, I promise you this, I will always tell you the truth. And I want you to love and honor and respect Christian leaders and pastors. Don’t assume the worst, assume the best. And don’t believe everything you hear and don’t contribute to the gossip that just takes lies and gives them life. The preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, he once said, he said a lie can get around the world before the truth can get its shoes on. And today, every algorithm and every social media platform exists to send bad things about God’s people as fast as possible, whether it’s true or false.



Wow. So much to unpack there and even watching your response as you’re listening. It’s emotional, isn’t it?



Yeah, and every time I hear His voice, it’s bringing back a lot of a lot of really, really bad memories. So yeah. And when he’s talking about those men, these were the best men that I’ve ever known in my life. And for him to say, you guys discussed adultery. This is exactly the reason why I released in January, all of the notes of all of the investigative meetings, from August of 2014, through the time that Mark resigned. They’re amazing notes, I took out the elders names, and I replaced them with numbers, because who said what is not important. But I did think that someone taking time to read through what these elders did and how they were praying for Mark and how they wanted Mark ultimately restored. They wanted to see him repent. They wanted to see him reconcile, but they wanted him to be restored. And that never happened. And then for him to say that those men were discussing adultery. It’s just a flat lie. I mean, like, I have every meeting note. And let me just tell you, there was none. When he talks about a nuclear option, that was a word that I used in early 2013, when we were talking about setting up the board of elders, and the nuclear option was basically all of these churches being separated in independent churches, which actually is what happened. These churches did, but that was the nuclear option. And that was around an investigation of one of the three of us that were executive elders. If we were found guilty of formal charges, and we were having to be removed from our position. That was what that was.


And when he talks about an investigation would have to be launched, there was already an investigation of 25 formal charges, that disqualified Mark Driscoll based on arrogance, domineering, and what was the other one? quick temperedness. And that’s what he still doesn’t acknowledge today, he was found disqualified. And the people that investigated him and had over 20 or excuse me over 40 different interviews with people that were directly sinned against. That’s the information that they did. They had full investigation. And that’s why I produced all of those notes, so, that don’t take my word for it. Read the elders of the church that investigated Mark Driscoll. Read their own words, read how they wrestled with this horrible thing that they had to do. And to go through and read Mark’s response to being formal charges. Read how he blows up, read all of those things, and see for yourself, make your own judgment. Don’t allow Mark Driscoll to sit there and say that he can. Sorry, like for anybody to be as arrogant to think that they can stand in front of Jesus. I’m sorry, like all of us fall short of the glory of God and Jesus, is sinful life. We all have fallen short. So, for anybody to me to say, I can’t wait until the day I stand in front of Jesus and tell him how good I am. I mean, it’s just It’s remarkable. It’s shocking to me. It gets me so upset around those men, like Miles Rohde. I mean, the reason why probably Miles was able to reach out to you,  he had a long history of military career. That guy’s not scared of anybody. And I’ll tell you, he’s dang sure not scared of Mark Driscoll. And that’s why he probably responded. Other of us. I know, I was terrified of Mark when I worked there. And most of those guys still eight years later, are probably terrified of Mark as well. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m still nervous to talk to you. But I know that I’m not in full time ministry, and I feel like that I am able to talk with you and share what happened.



Yeah, well, and Mark has threatened legal action. He’s even bragged about, you know, I’ve seen the notes from the Trinity Church, even where he’s bragged about having this war chest of millions of dollars available to sue people if he needs to. And so that threat of lawsuit from what I hear, it has been something that’s been persistent and is always there in the background. Although It’s been more threat than actual action up until this point.


But let’s go back and I would like to kind of retrace some things from 2014. One because I think up until 2014 and maybe is fall, people are a little bit more clear on that. But what happened afterwards, to me is really a part of this story that hasn’t really been told that well. The rise and fall of Mars Hill that podcast which has been so popular and done so well has done a great job of kind of taking it to there. But Mark’s relaunched. He’s at a church in Scottsdale, Arizona. He’s getting back on the speaker circuit. He was just shown in a picture with Steven Furtick, who was out there on the Elevation tour, and the two of them you know, took a picture together, what great buddies they are. These disqualified pastors get up and spin a narrative and then they’re back. And I think this is an important story to tell because it’s not just Mark, it’s a lot of people, although Mark probably typifies it in a way few do.


So let’s go back to 2014, and the events immediately leading up to Mark’s resignation. So, there were accusations of plagiarism. There was a scheme to pad book sales that came out Result Source. There was news that he had trolled online discussion forums under the guise of William Wallace II, I think, was his foie name and he lambasted male lesbians and fie men. I mean, it was just kind of Mark on steroids on those forums.


Acts 29 and August 2014, kicks Mark out of the church Planning Network. And then on August 22, 2014, Warren Throckmorton publishes this letter by 21 former Mars Hill pastors accusing Mark of some of the things you said; persistent sinful behavior towards others, characterized by this pattern of abusive and intimidating conduct. And then we have nine current pastors at the time, at Mars Hill, writing a letter to their fellow elders saying Mark has a pattern of bullying and calling him to step down. And I have to say one thing I am so appreciative to the Mars Hill elders for doing is actually moving forward on some of these. It’s sad to say, up until this point, unless a pastor had a moral fall, you couldn’t get rid of him. It was like this, this idea that just your character, you’re such a nasty person, and you’re such a bullying person, you do not exhibit the character of Christ. Even though there’s those things are written in Timothy and Titus, and what the qualifications of a pastor are, that he shouldn’t be quarrelsome, he shouldn’t have outbursts of anger. Even though those are there, that was rarely called upon to disqualify a pastor. But let me just pause there and ask you since you had a front row seat, you were in this inner circle with Driscoll, the executive elders, were you, Dave Ruscus and Mark. Did you see these characteristics and qualities in Mark, the domineering the bullying?



Oh, repeatedly, sadly, many times. See in my role, all of the central staff reported to me so everybody, we had 200 some odd employees in the central staff resurgence, all of those things, Mars Hill books, Mars Hill music, everything like that reported up through me. And then I reported directly to Mark, he was my boss. I also sat on the board with Dave and Mark. So, we were the three that were on the board, and we had four board members that were outside. And anytime that Mark went to speak, I was there. I lived down the street from Mark. I would typically meet him at his house and his executive assistant, and we would drive to wherever he was preaching. I’d be with him the whole time. They’re there at this wherever we were preaching, and then I would come back. So, I mean, you could say during that time period between 2011 and 2014, nobody spent more time with Driscoll than I did. Dave and I were the only ones to have one on one meetings with Mark during that three-year period of time, we had to isolate him because he was so harsh on staff members that we had to literally relocate an office to house Mark. And then Dave, and I would go there as well, on the days that we met. So yeah, I saw a lot of that. Yes, there was a lot of accusations that were during it really started 2013. The formal charges, the 25 formal charges are listed. And I’ve actually in my notes that I published, pulled some of those items when the investigating elders literally asked Mark about each one of those charges. And many of those you will read, he says, oh, yeah, I did that. Oh, yeah, did that he admits to the sin.


So yes, I saw some. And I’ll just give you an example to give you from that. We were at Ballard. That was one of our churches, our 15 church locations. The oldest church location, and it was eight o’clock. So, we had an eight o’clock service. So typically, sometimes we would do five to seven services. Mark would preach five to seven services on a weekend, and we would go to different churches, typically. The eight o’clock service at Ballard was very young. A lot of young people would come, there was no time limit on the outside of it. So typically, he could preach for as long as he wanted to. And one night, we did a call to baptism. It was an incredible response to the Gospel; a lot of people wanted to go and get baptized. During the day at Ballard, they had run out of towels, and shirts, because we would provide shirts and shorts to people. So, when I saw the response, I was backstage trying to find towels and things. The campus pastor and some of the other people were running. Mark, when he realized what was going on, you know, we’re playing music, people are getting baptized, Mark grabs somebody by the throat against the wall, and says, and I’ll clean this up, because there was a lot of cuss words. He was mad at the person for not having enough shorts and enough shirts. And I’m about to rip your head off and excrete down your neck. And this is full up against the wall was somebody that was actually a pastor of the church. Those are the types of activities. So, when people say, why were you scared of Mark? Like, like, Yeah, I mean, you would be scared. And this is also the person that you saw terminate people, like, I mean, so. So.



I’m just trying to wrap my head around this. There’s an incredible move that the Holy Spirit, people are getting baptized coming to Christ. In the midst of that, that’s how Mark behaves. I mean, this is it’s, it’s mind numbing, like, I mean, I just, I’ve been in moves of the Holy Spirit, maybe not quite that dramatic, but I just can’t I can’t fathom that. You’re so full of the moment of what God’s doing, and the love of God and the grace of God and to behave. I mean, it makes you wonder, why does he even? Yeah, that’s, that’s just shocking to me. That’s shocking to me.



Yeah. Saw lots of that kind of stuff. Because I was, you know, one of those people that was super close to Mark and saw him react to people,. He had a massive temper. Still does, I’m sure. That’s why one of the charges was quick temperedness and abusive language. That’s a specific example that I witnessed. There was many, many others. But that’s kind of an extreme example of what we saw all the time. And that’s why, for a lot of people, they don’t understand why there was such fear on staff, incredible fear, and a culture of fear. And so, I give you that as an example.


One of the things that you were talking about, as we look towards the investigation of 2014 is how did the investigation happen? Because a lot of churches might have charges or allegations against their pastor, but nothing ever happens. If you go back to 2011, 2011, I had just arrived. Jamie Munson had just left. I was first the general manager and then was asked to take Jamie’s role as executive pastor, and Result Source was signed during that time period. And by October of 2011, I was shocked that Result Source could have been approved by a church board.



And Result Source again, this is a company that bought like thousands and thousands of Mark’s books so that his new book, Real Marriage, so that that book would get put on the New York Times bestseller list. So, it’s really a way to manipulate yourself into being a bestseller.



Totally buying the New York Times bestseller title.



And using church funds.



Oh, absolutely. And so, I was shocked at that, coming from the outside and corporate world. I’m like, there’s got to be authority and accountability somehow that this doesn’t happen.


So fast forward the spring of 2012, I set up a new board. I asked Mark, who would you be accountable to? Because I know that there’s, I mean, the current board, he was not going to be accountable to them. All those guys worked at the church and all those guys, most of them he had led to Christ. Like, there was not going to be any accountability in that group. And he said to me, someone with a larger church and a bigger platform. Those were the only people that I said, okay, and not knowing how big a church John Piper, so somebody like John Piper? He goes, no, I would never be accountable to Piper. Okay. And so, I literally went down a list. I didn’t know many of these people, but I went for him. And I was thinking, okay, these guys, and so put those together in a board of accountability. Okay? So those are four outside board members, and then the three of us.


Fast forward. So that was the spring of 2012. Fast forward 12 months later, I realized that yes, we had this outside board. But those guys were not participating in an ongoing basis to be able, if there was ever any allegations against Mark, and there started to be. Dave Kraft first came out with the allegations, in that early part. I was like, Okay, we have to put together a group of people that are going to do an investigation of one of the three executive elders. So, including me, including Dave Ruscus, and Mark. And so, I formed what was called the board of elders. And we went together, and we put together this group of elders, and they were lead pastors of the different churches, Mars Hill churches. So, they’re internal to Mars Hill. And they were led by somebody that was not only on the board of elders, but he was also on the board of accountability with Mark and Dave and I. And so like, he had one foot in the local church, he was a volunteer elder, which I thought was very important that he was not on staff. So, he would not have, you know, some of those issues. And so, we formed that board of elders, the spring of 13. And really, that’s what is the group of men that went together in 14 that did the interviews of 40 people that investigated the 25 formal charges, and that found Mark disqualified on those three items.



Several things. There’s so many things that come to mind, actually, when you speak . Most, most people their eyes glaze over when it comes to church governance. And I get that. It’s not really that exciting or sexy, but it is so super, super important. When you talk about the outside elders, the board of what was the Board of Overseers and accountability. That’s what was. That reminds me of a lot of these ARC churches right now. Association Related Churches, they have other mega church pastors who are supposedly holding the pastor accountable. Which is a joke, because they’re not there. And also, are their sympathies going to be with the celebrity pastor because they’re one? and they are big mega church pastor. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s really a bizarre governance model. But it’s become, you know, something that’s used in a lot of these churches.



Absolutely. In August of 14, okay? So, this is literally the month that the Board of elders is about to start the investigation. Mark is on sabbatical, okay? He had been on sabbatical for two months. Acts 29 just cuts us out of being an Acts 29 church. I think it was like the 14th of August of 2014. I get a call. I was actually on vacation. Vacation in the same place that Mark was, and I got a call from James McDonald, who was a part of the board of advisors and accountability for the whole time since 2012. He called me, said I need to resign. I was like, you can’t resign right now. Any other time. We need you to be here and help us through this time period. And he said, I will quote, “I can’t stay on this board because I don’t want my elders to do the same thing to me that they’re doing to Mark Driscoll.”



And that does not surprise me because one James was every bit the bully, and every bit as arrogant as Mark. In fact, I had people tell me who knew both of them that James McDonald was kind of like the older brother to Mark and when the two of them would get together, which we know from some of their antics at the Strange Fire conference that John MacArthur had, you know them in the parking lot. It’s just two megachurch pastors in the parking lot passing out, you know, flyers and books. And I mean, it’s just bizarre.



So, I hate to say it, but I was there.



Oh, you were?



I was in the car with Mark and Dave. We met James at Strange Fire. And that was on a dare. We were at Act Like Men in Long Beach California.



Which was James McDonald’s big thing.



Which was James McDonald, but it had Matt Chandler and it had Larry Osbourne and I mean, it was the who’s who.



And it was Act Like Men. I mean, quite frankly, the spirit of those was to me the spirit of William Wallace II, wasn’t it? I mean, it was sort of this, I mean, promoting almost toxic masculinity as biblical. Not always. I mean, it was it was tempered with protect your wives and serve them, but also very over the top, it seemed. But go ahead. Yeah. So, you gotta dare.



We were having breakfast. We had future Mars Hill, lead pastor interns with us with us. Big long table. James is, you know, bigger than life holding court with all these young pastors. And James had a relationship with MacArthur and said, you know, wouldn’t it be funny Mark, if we went over and dropped in on Strange Fire? And it was like a light bulb in Mark, like a dare.


Big brother Darren, the little brother. And he was like, and he turned to his executive assistant and said, don’t we have a couple of boxes of books? And he was like, yes. And he goes, I’ll go sign books, let’s go. And literally, we got up and headed that way. And Dave Brusque, and I don’t want to speak for Dave, I’ll say for myself, that was one of the most embarrassing, like, if I look back on foolishness, and sinful behavior that I participate in, right there, like there was not a better example of some of the foolish sinful behavior that I participated. And I have to own that. Like, and I’ve tried to own that as much as I can, by doing stuff like this and meeting one on one with the people that I’ve offended and sinned against. At the same time need to communicate some of the sinful behavior and the foolish behavior that I did with Driscoll so that people can see what is now happening eight years happened way back then. Yeah. And not that I don’t think Strange Fire deserved being pushed back on. But there’s a way to do things and showing up in the parking lot is not the way that I would suggest doing that.



So, let’s go to, we’ve talked now about the investigation that came, and it was led by eight elders. Interestingly, though, they weren’t independent elders, in the sense that normally, you’d like to get as many independent elders as possible who aren’t on the payroll, because I mean, I’ve seen it firsthand. Like I’ve been threatened when I was at Moody by a trustee member. You know, we’re going to tell the President about this?, or we’ve told the President about this. And so, there is a fear of blowing the whistle or of trying to hold accountable because you’re gonna lose your job. But these men, bravely from everything that I’ve seen, did step up, and did do an honest investigation. And so, we’ve mentioned Miles Rohde, who was one of those eight, I have spoken to him. And he describes the results of what they got and what their heart was, when they delivered the results of that. So, take a listen.



The last meeting that I remember having was letting the board know what our findings were, which were quick tempered, arrogant, and domineering. And then we’ve listed a potential plan for him to receive some counseling and care, as well as work with those who will be older than him, that he respected, who are outside of the church, who would serve as a mentor and as a kind of a coach of sorts, through reconciliation. And that’s what we presented, it’s much more detailed. It was very hope-filled because we took I Timothy 5:18 very seriously that there was persistent in these sins in which we found him to be, that he was to be rebuked publicly, before the church, and then brought into a process of restoration over a course of time, which was not determined at that time. And then he resigned and made it all moot.



Well, let me just ask you, was there any desire to get rid of Mark on that board?



No, there wasn’t a desire. There was a desire to protect the flock. And there was a desire to see what the Lord had done in and through Mark and in and through Mars Hill, to be done again, the Lord to do that, and to even tell a better story than in the first 18 years. Nobody had an axe to grind. Nobody was saying that he needs to go indefinitely or, you know, to kick him out, but that he needed to be removed, so that the process of healing for the church and for his own soul can be allowed to take place. And we weren’t using the disqualifying word at that time. But I think his actions of resigning the way he did proved, in my opinion, from that point, that was disqualifying for someone Miles is not willing to enter into a process that is obvious for the health and protection of the church, as well as his own soul proved ultimately to be disqualifying.



So according to Miles, the heart of the elders, was restoration. There was no plot, there was no trap. In fact, that doesn’t seem to make sense for me, because what I’ve seen is everybody understands at a big mega church like this, especially with the kind of platform and even Driscoll used to say, I am the brand, right? And he was the brand. And if he leaves, everybody understands, we’re not sure this thing survives without our charismatic leader, right? I mean, was that an understanding of the board?



If you read the notes, from these men at the time, just kind of like what Miles was saying, the day before the formal charges were sat down with Mark  and read, and where Mark blew up. One of the elders says, I want him to hear it, that we love him. And that it’s for him to see us and not for him not to see us as his enemy. I really want this to be expressed to him tomorrow. Like, these guys really loved Mark. And they wanted to see him healthy, and in a healthy place, and they wanted to see him restored. And by the way, you have to also understand the context of Mars Hill. Mars Hill took church discipline very, very seriously. And you can’t leave a church-on-church discipline. That was the that’s what Mars Hill believed. That you had to stay in and work through those issues before you were able to leave Mars Hill church, or Mars Hill church would not give you like a bill of good health or whatever you want to call it.



And what do you think of that today?



Oh, it’s ridiculous. I mean, everything. It was so controlling, and just over the top. Oh, my gosh.



I mean, that’s the same thing I heard. I mean, I know John MacArthur’s church, when Eileen Gray, you know, when they excommunicated her for simply wanting, you know, her husband out of the house, who was abusing her children. And then she gets discipline for it. She wasn’t allowed to leave the church, when she asked because she realized this is ridiculous, I’m gonna leave, that she wasn’t allowed. And Harvest had similar things. I mean, it’s just how church discipline is used as a club. But the double standard, I think, is what you’re getting to.



Absolutely. So, Mark, which would never let somebody leave the church in the history of Mars Hill on church discipline ever. Like that he would leave, basically on church discipline is shocking. And I honestly think, and this is my opinion, it’s not in the notes. I don’t believe that anybody really thought that he was going to quit. Because it was so foreign to the culture, especially in the eldership that somebody would leave that’s an elder, on church discipline like that, that would just not even occur. And of course, it occurred in an historic way. And Mark now says that God, he uses the God card, God told him to leave and now he had to use the God not only told him to leave, but he told him, that was a trap. And now we’re adding on. So, by the way, this story first started, so Mark called me that Sunday, the 12th, October 2014. He called me and said, you know, I talked to Larry Osborne, and he just doesn’t feel like that we’re gonna be able to get out of this. And, you know, we went on, basically, he was saying that Larry had told him what had happened in the conversations with the BOO, which wasn’t supposed to happen. And then secondly, he told me that, you know,



Board of Overseers and Advisors.



That was the first time he used the word trap, you know, just feels like a trap. But it was not like there’s a trap. Oh, and then fast forward. The first time I heard Driscoll using that was the same month in October at Gateway Church. I listened to Mark and I’m like, there’s a trap?, where did this start? And that was one of the reasons why I released all those notes is because this story continues to evolve, for Mark to be the victim, and I just want real information out there for real people to read and go, okay, this is total make believe.



This concludes part one of my interview with Sutton Turner. But in part two, you’ll hear Robert Morris and Mark Driscoll at the 2014 Gateway conference just six days after Mark abruptly resigned. And you’ll hear the crafting of a narrative a narrative that’s very sympathetic to Mark. But as Sutton says, it’s very far from the truth. You’ll also hear 2015 interview between Mark and Hillsong’s Brian Houston. And in this one, it’s quite clear, Mark believes he’s the victim.



Lord revealed to me that, you know, a trap has been set. There’s no way for us to return to leadership. And I didn’t know what that meant or what was going on at the time. I said, we’re released, and we need to resign. So.



You’ll also hear more from Miles Rohde and what actually happened in those meetings between Mark and Mars Hill leaders at Panera, and you’ll hear the heartbreak both Miles and Sutton feel, not just for people still being hurt by Mark Driscoll, but for Mark himself. This is a powerful story, and I believe it has so much to teach us about leadership and accountability in the church.


Again, thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And just a reminder that we’re able to do this podcast and all our investigative work at The Roys Report because of support from people like you, if you appreciate our work here at The Roys Report, would you please consider donating to help us continue. To do that just go to JULIEROYS.COM/DONATE. Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcast, Google podcast Spotify or YouTube. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. I hope you were blessed and encouraged.

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6 Responses

  1. The dude should be a case study. Let’s also give a shout-out to Robert Morris and Jimmy Evans for helping this clown set up his business in Arizona.

  2. I attended Mars Hill 2004-2014 . . . had close friends right in the middle of the melt-down = inside scoop . . . Sutton and many others never spoke up: job security. They chose personal gain over serving Jesus. Par for the course. Driscoll/Trump . . . pretty much the same person. Evangelicals/MH staff and attendees, also pretty much the same thing. Easy picken’s for Driscoll. Keep up the good work . . .

    1. Sutton and the others may have kept quiet for job security, but there may have been other factors. Sutton said on the podcast that he was terrified of Driscoll and made reference to Driscoll’s temper. There are additional reasons why someone might be afraid of the pastor. A pastor holds the keys to his little kingdom. He holds the keys to the Lord’s table. He holds the keys to whether you’re in the body or you’re out, approved or disapproved, to whether you are accepted in the community or whether you are put out. That is a lot of power for one man and it takes tremendous courage to oppose him.

    2. Bob Sluys, what do you think about Sutton Turner’s comments on this podcast? Is his account of events accurate? Is he sincere in his regrets?

      1. Part II of the podcast answered my questions shown above. The post-interview section beginning at 48:14 of part II is quite moving.

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