Pastor Mark Driscoll Apologizes for 'Mishandling' Mars Hill Controversy

( [email protected] ) Jul 24, 2014 06:27 PM EDT
Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll
Mark Driscoll is the pastor of Seattle-based Mars Hill Church. (Photo: Mars Hill Church)

Pastor Mark Driscoll recently broken his social-media silence, admitting that himself and other Mars Hill leaders were not "as sympathetic as they should have been" during the church's recent transitional period.  

In a 30-minute video posted on the church's website, Driscoll addressed the Mars Hill congregation, saying he mishandled the dismissing of several of the church's former staff.

"Substantive organizational changes were really caused by our church going to multiple locations and leaders being spread out across our various locations," Driscoll explains in the video released over the past weekend. "At the time we were not, I was not, as sympathetic or empathetic as we should have been."

Driscoll, who has stayed out of the spotlight for several months since being embroiled in controversy this past year, also commented that he said he should have "acted with more love and pastoral affection" to parishioners who were hurt by his actions.  Following the changes, "a group of largely anonymous leaders of our Mars Hill Church family" have gone public with complaints against Driscoll and the church leadership.

On March, 20 former Mars Hill pastors called upon Driscoll to retain an outside mediator and engage in a reconciliation process with those hurt by his actions.

A leader in the group of 20, Dave Kraft, a former Pastor of Leadership Development at Mars Hill, described Driscoll as "domineering, verbally violent, arrogant and quick tempered."

Kyle Firstenberg, a former executive pastor of Mars Hill-Orange County, also wrote:  "I participated in a cult of fear and promoted it through my actions with others.  I wrongly believed the lie that Jesus is not working in other churches and that He is only working in Mars Hill."

In response, Driscoll says, "we want to reconcile with those men, our brothers in Christ," revealing that he initiated an open, reconciliation process in which he invites those who want to address the problems at Mars Hill to attend formal meetings through September.

"During this season, as well, I have been rather silent and there are some reasons for that. First of all, we, including myself, needed to determine exactly what was happening," Driscoll said. "If I'm real honest with you, at first, it was just a little overwhelming and a bit confusing. We, and I, were not exactly sure what was happening, so it took a little while to sort that out."

He continued by adding that Mars Hill wanted to determine how to respond, "not in a way that was angry, but godly, not in a way that was defensive, but was helpful, and so I didn't want to act in a way that was impetuous or premature or ungodly, and so it was with the team and trying to learn and grown and patiently wait to say the right thing at the right time and the right way with the right heart."

The popular pastor and author noted that it is difficult to make amends with many as "a lot of people that we are dealing with remain anonymous and so we don't know how to reconcile or how to work things out with people because we are not entirely sure who they are."

The reason he has not addressed this season directly during Sunday services, Driscoll clarified, is because "the pulpit is sacred and belongs to the Lord Jesus. The last thing I want to do is turn Sundays into talking about me instead of Jesus, or pointing to me instead of Jesus."

The pastor concluded by saying that he excited to share what God has been revealing to him through prayer and the Bible when he returns to the pulpit this fall.

"It's been a very encouraging and sobering time to appreciate those that allow me to teach the Bible," Driscoll said.