An Open Letter to Pastor Brian Houston, The Hillsong Church Elders and Members
From Doug Murren and Jim Henderson
We recently wrote a book titled Question Mark – why the church welcomes bullies and how to stop it, about the negative influence Mark Driscoll has had on the church in Seattle, the United States and around the world. We were pushed to write this book to give voice to the significant number of people who have been spiritually abused by him over the past 15 years. If Driscoll had truly apologized and repented those of us who have lived through this debacle would have been the first to know. Being a thoughtful person and a sincere follower of Jesus no doubt by this point you have carefully researched the plethora of reports provided not only from first hand accounts which you can find atwww.joyfulexiles.com but also the very public journalistic work of Professor Warren Throckmorten. We would like you to Un-invite Driscoll from your conference and withdraw your tacit endorsement of him. Consider instead the concerns and pain of these three groups of stakeholders in the Driscoll Debacle.
Driscolls closest friends and colleagues.
Sad to say but you would be hard pressed to find one person who actually knows Driscoll who is willing to come to his defense. The only people speaking up for him are pastors of large churches who have had very little personal contact with him. His former friends, co-workers, have been shunned, belittled, castigated in private and had their ministry reputations threatened by Driscoll. They have persistently attempted to reconcile with him to no avail. Since he has stubbornly refused to “listen to the church” they have been forced to take the issue public and are suing him for racketeering charges.
Young people possess the one thing Driscoll needed to control them – idealism, but lacked the one thing they needed to protect themselves – life experience. Driscoll is well on his way to producing more Atheists than Christians. Many of the young people he misled and essentially abandoned will not only walk away from Mars Hill Church, many of them will walk away from Jesus. No one deserves that kind of power not even the guy with the fastest growing church.
People who’ve seen this all before
Brian, I doubt that you’ve heard of me (Doug Murren). I planted and pastored a church of 8,000 in Seattle for 18 years called Eastside Foursquare. Because of my hard earned concern for the people of Seattle, when I heard about Driscolls abuse, I knew I had to say something. I had no idea that when some elders in the church world spoke up, Driscoll would be gone in six months.
I was a young leader when the Shepherding movement came on the scene. I remember Dennis Bennett warning the leaders that at its core this movement would end in abuse. Almost everyone else opted for tolerance. You know how that turned out
Brian in the US it’s estimated that sixty million people (1/5 the population) have been hurt enough that they say they will never come back to church. Mark Driscoll and his stream of churches are adding to this number daily. Any time a leader has 20 former staff publicly state that a leader has abused them you have pay attention.
Driscoll has harmed an an entire city. There are thousands wounded by his leadership era. Repentance as you know does not mean remorse, it means to turn around and clear up the issues. Our concerns are for the victims. Driscoll can take care of himself. By providing Driscoll legitimacy you’re sending a message to our nation and the city of Seattle that their injury is of second concern to you over making a spot for another celebrity pastor.
We beg you to think of the wounded saints. Encourage Driscoll to rectify things and take a break before he receives any further honors. Jim and I will be the first to invest in whatever his next phase is if he goes thorough the process.
Brian, If you choose to ignore our request please exercise the courage to ask Driscoll the following questions in your interview
Mark, why am I unable to find anyone who worked with you for years who is willing to come to your defense? I’m talking about leaders you ordained and who helped you establish Mars Hill as the fastest growing church in America. I’m talking about Paul Petry and Rob Smith and others.
Mark people think I invited you here to either “defend one of my own” or to “burnish my credentials as being merciful” they think the fact that I’m interviewing instead of giving you the “pulpit” is so I can “keep you on message”. Why are people so suspicious of MY motives? What does that tell you about the perception of Christian leaders? Is the media really to blame for all of that?
Why are your ex friends threatening to bring a lawsuit against you for above all things a “racketeering charge”? Did you or didn’t you use $210,000 of church funds to “game” the New York Times Bestseller list? What is all the fuss about the Global Fund? Did you guys raise money for orphans in India and Ethiopia and then divert them to local church planting efforts in Seattle?
Have you ever personally spoken with and apologized to Paul Petry or Rob Smith? Did you personally threaten to tarnish their ministry reputations? Did you or Mars Hill church actually “shun” them?
Thank you Mark, it’s been delightful