Dear Pastor Mark
I’m saddened, albeit unsurprised hearing today of your resignation from Pastoral Ministry at Mars Hill Church.
I have – with most of the evangelical community – been following the unravelling of these events over the past year. I have however, refrained from commenting online, believing that the mire of online journalistic speculation and hype are unhelpful additions to a painful process of Church discipline.
I understand that the prevalent charges bought against you were reflective of a forward and frequently blunt approach to leadership, manifested as arrogance and short-temper. None of the substantiated charges contained heresy, illegal or immoral activity.* Many bringing the worst of these charges refused to participate properly in the investigation process. This, as your council of elders have shared, doesn’t disqualify you for ministry, particularly in light of the repentant, accountable and maturing attitude that you have shown.
You have, in my eyes, demonstrated exceptionally clearly how a Pastor ought to act in the midst of conflict. You have apologised continually, worked with those in authority, subjected yourself to every level of scrutiny, continually pointed to the grace of Jesus and the sufficiency of the scriptures and you have answered these charges by reaching above and beyond what was asked of you. You have made sacrifices to protect your family, and made a final decision in favour of their health and the health and safety of Mars Hill Church.
I believe that some in the Christian community should be ashamed of how they have interfered in Church discipline, refused to let investigations happen unmolested, jumped on the bandwagons of seismic assumption and attacked you through cheap tabloid satire and comedy.
Psalm 1 clearly defines two groups of people; those who soak their roots in the word of God and continually grow and mature – pointing back constantly to the source; and those who sit in the seat of mockers, throwing fire into the ring from the outside. Godliness is measured by recognising weaknesses within us, and making God-driven changes in community to rectify these issues. You have been a tremendous example of this. Much of the commentary and social media exploitation of these events however have been textbook examples of sitting in the mocker’s chair. I’m ashamed of my and your brothers and sisters who readily jumped into bed with pop-speculation rather than allowing the judicial process of Mars Hill and others to continue discreetly.
I have never been a direct, personal recipient of your ministry or correction and I cannot put myself into the shoes of anyone who has been hurt by your personality, leadership decisions or ministry. I cannot therefore speculate on the validity or their situations or the painful journey of healing and reconciliation that I’m sure they may have to live through now. I’m grateful that you have publicly invited them into that reconciliation journey.
I have, however, benefited hugely from your ministry. By virtue of your Bible-saturated, God-glorifying, bold, assertive and uncompromising teaching (which I have oftentimes taken with a pinch of salt) I stand as a worthier husband, a finer man, a sharpened exegete of both the Word and culture and – because of your most recent examples – I hope a humbler leader in the midst of conflict.
I’m sure the world of celebrity Christianity abounds with snares that none of us can imagine, and there are those who will ignorantly interpret this as ‘Mark Worship.’ Pastor Mark, you have made me fall deeper in love with Jesus, a debt that I will continually carry with me and will not readily forget with your resignation.
God bless you. God bless your wife. God bless your children. God bless your future. And thank you!