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Former Mars Hill Leader Apologizes for Role in Controversial Plan to Boost Mark Driscoll's Book Sales

( [email protected] ) Apr 24, 2015 06:19 PM EDT
A former leader of Mars Hill Church has apologized for the now-defunct organization's attempt to boost the sales of a book by former pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace, but argued that his repeated attempts to halt the plan were ignored by other Church leaders.
Mark Driscoll resigned from his position as senior pastor of Mars Hill Church in October 2014. Mars Hill Church

A former leader of Mars Hill Church has apologized for the now-defunct organization's attempt to boost the sales of a book by former pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace, but argued that his repeated attempts to halt the plan were ignored by other Church leaders.

Last May, The Huffington Post reported that Driscoll, who stepped down from his position as senior pastor of Mars Hill Church in October, admitted to using a manipulative marketing strategy in order to help his 2012 release, "Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together," make the New York Times' best sellers list. At the time, he explained that he and several other church leaders had used a marketing company called ResultSource to purchase quantities of his book in order to inflate sales. However, the move was widely denounced as unethical when news of the contract broke.

"I am sorry that I used this strategy, and will never use it again," Driscoll wrote at the time.

In a series of recent blog posts, Sutton Turner, the former executive elder and general manager of Mars Hill, explained that he was not responsible for the ResultSource marketing proposal, and had, in fact, written to his supervisor on August 26, 2011, saying that the plan was poor stewardship and would reflect badly on Mars Hill and Driscoll. However, Turner explains that his advice was ignored, and he was forced to sign the contract in October as his supervisor had by then resigned.

"When you stay in an organization and you do not agree with a decision, you have to own that decision as your own," he said. "Unfortunately, I will always be linked to ResultSource since my name was on the contract even though I thought it was a bad idea. If given the same opportunity again, I would not sign the ResultSource contract, but honestly, my missing signature would not have stopped it. Someone else would have signed it anyway since the decision had already been made."

Turner explains that he attempted to change the  decision-making process and governance structure at Mars Hill by helping set up a new Board of Accountability and Advisors (BOAA) which agreed that the ResultSource programme would never be used again. Unfortunately, it was too late. Turner writes that by that time, Mars Hill reached a point where "the internal cultural struggle over governance collided with mistakes made years prior" and could "no longer operated in a loving, God-honouring way, practicing good stewardship".

He said he was "deeply sorry" for those who were "directly or indirectly disillusioned" by the controversy, adding: "To the people of Mars Hill Church, I grieve over what you have been through. I pray Jesus will continue to heal you and provide peace to your heart and mind."

Although Mars Hill Church has since dissolved, Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton notes that a GoFundMe page designed to raise money for a lawsuit against the Church and its former leadership is steadily gaining traction.

"It is time for Christians everywhere to stand up and say, "Enough!! We will no longer put up with pastors who reach for honor for themselves and who enrich themselves at the expense and harm of those they claim to be shepherding!" reads the page's description.

"When leaders in the Church choose to stay silent, others must speak up. Paul's mandate to Timothy regarding leaders who persist in certain sins (1 Timothy 5:19-20) must not be ignored by the Church. Most of those who were leaders at Mars Hill Church have chosen to remain silent."

It continues, "Please help us discover and make clear the truth about what happened at Mars Hill Church by contributing to this fund for a RICO lawsuit against the former top leaders of Mars Hill."