After Mark Driscoll Resignation, Mars Hill Church Leader Issues Apology, Admits to Idolatry, 'Contributing to Hurt'

( [email protected] ) Oct 30, 2014 06:32 PM EDT
A leader at Mars Hill has apologized for his role in the negative culture of the megachurch, admitting to idolatry and asking for forgiveness for his actions.
Steve Tompkins was the former pastor of Mars Hill Shoreline (Photo: Mars Hill Church)

Two weeks after Mark Driscoll announced his resignation as senior pastor of Mars Hill, Steve Tompkins, the former pastor of church's shoreline congregation also issued a heartfelt apology for his conduct over several years.

Tompkins, who is now Mars Hill's director of schools, wrote an open letter saying: "I am deeply sorry that so many people have experienced profound hurt over the years at Mars Hill. It breaks my heart that many continue to live with deep emotional and spiritual wounds, even long after leaving the church.

"I also realize that in my role as an elder, including as Lead Pastor at Shoreline, I share responsibility and complicity in some of the ways you have been hurt, disappointed, and sinned against at Mars Hill."

Mars Hill has been embroiled in controversy over the past year as multiple allegations emerged against Driscoll, the church's founding pastor.

Tompkins also added that "what has been happening at Mars Hill is the work of Jesus in our midst", adding that "the root of the problem is not satanic opposition or attack, nor is it social media or vocal online critics, nor is it the members or attenders of the church (past or present). Nor is it elders, deacons, staff and leaders who have called for change from within."

In fact, he said, "the root of the problem has been the leadership of the church who have been blindly committed to maintaining the status quo as if we simply need to push through what has so frequently been referred to as a 'difficult season'."

He added that he had been seeking "diligently and humbly" for eight months to respond to a new awareness of his complicity in Mars Hill's culture of arrogance and domineering leadership. "I am now beginning to see how my own idolatry of performance and ministry "success" played so well at Mars Hill," he said. "Again, I do not blame my sin on others or our culture. Rather, I am now seeing how I contributed to the hurt of faithful and trusting members, attenders and leaders."

He continued: "But there is another-and related-area of great sin and blindness that I need to address. In fact, I would say I consider this to be the darkest, most destructive and most hurtful aspect of Mars Hill's ministry culture by far. I call it the 'ad hominem' narrative."

This "great sin," he noted, was due to dissenting voices being silenced through personal attacks by Mars Hill leaders instead of addressing their arguments.

"What I have seen on multiple occasions is that when a leader raises an issue with Mars Hill or Mars Hill leadership, they themselves soon become the issue rather than the issue they raised. What they said, for example, is invalidated by how they said it, or because they did not follow proper procedure or protocol.

"Then, almost inevitably it is not long before they are gone from their position, their job, or the church itself. Often, their integrity was then slandered and their character maligned."