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Have Mercy!

A few days ago all I knew about Mars Hill Church (of the Seattle strain) was that lead pastor, Mark Driscoll, was a macho, often irreverent, stage strutting, dominating speaker whose preaching appealed to waaaay more people than I could understand. I’m no feminist but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that Driscoll’s interpretation of the Bible regarding women turned my stomach on more than one occasion.

Because of our different views on doctrine I it's not likely I would choose to be a member of Mars Hill. However, I support any ministry that effectively draws people closer to The Word of God (once we get within the sound of His voice He is more than able to speak for Himself and overcome arguable points of doctrine) Say what you want about Mark Driscoll but there is no denying he’s been effective as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

But now he’s the central figure in a series of accusations that could bring the mega ministry to its knees.

I spent several hours reading about some of the accusations and heartaches expressed by ex Mars Hills members and staff. I genuinely feel awful for all of them. Getting your heart broken by a church leader you've placed your trust in hurts like nothing else I know. From what I read there is widespread anguish among those who have believed and trusted in the leadership of Mars Hill. They want desperately for Mark and the remaining leaders to make a full disclosure and prove that they have nothing to hide. Many of them have been loyal “Martians” for many years and would love nothing more than to have their trust in Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill to be proved well placed. Sadly, in response to their outcry; the leadership team (what's left of them anyway) have circled their wagons around Mark Driscoll. There's been a whole lot of minimizing, blame shifting and spinning from the sound of it. Adding insult to injury was that they literally hired a PR firm to handle the public perception.Can't believe anyone thought that would be a good idea.I'm trying to picture the board room filled with Mark and his leadership team; "Mark they're saying you've misappropriated funds, mistreated staff, bullied members and declared yourself the only reason Mars Hill is so great. What should we do?" "Well fellas, how bout we use more of the money from the general fund and hire a PR firm to come in and clean things up for us?" "All those in favor?" "I!!!" 

It’s not that there is another church leader involved in a scandal that bothers me the most; it’s that there is an entire leadership team who've been fostering the crumbling ethics for years!. Well, to be fair, the Mars Hill leadership team has lost a few members recently. Each one who cried foul was unceremoniously dismissed and silenced with threats. Most who are speaking out publicly are using pseudonyms because they are so afraid of retribution. From a CHURCH! How sick is that? 

"If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers." Psalm 55:12-14

We have to remember that the world is watching us! When outsiders see us behave as if God would cosign our corruption they don’t just think less of us..they think less of God. We do more to dissuade people from coming into the Family of God than an atheist ever could.

Speaking of which, I can almost hear the gleeful “AHA!!” from atheists all over the country singing, “Another one bites the dust! And another one gone and another one gone, another one bites the dust….!”

They take these scandals as proof that there is no real God; Only the arrogant shouts of those who use the delusion of The Good Shepherd to fleece the sheep and use them for their own sick agendas.

To them I say, “Who do you think shuts these guys down, but God Himself” We serve a just and a jealous God. He will only put up with our bad behavior until He’s convinced He can’t humble us, change us and bring us back under submission to Him and His plan for us.

I don’t pretend to know what the truth is at Mars Hill. But I know God is good. I know He is more than able to lift up those who serve Him and He is more than able to shut us down the minute serving Him isn't our primary goal anymore. The price for protecting His children from corrupt leadership is high. That should both comfort and terrify us.

And don’t we dare gloat over a brother who is probably STILL trying to figure out when and how he came to be so deceived by his own vanity. It should humble us to realize that God sees us more clearly and plainly than we are able to see ourselves. Think it could never happen to you? Don't be so sure.

Imagine yourself surrounded by fame and success you only achieved because of a gift you did nothing to earn in the first place. You’re given the talent and the power and the opportunity to preach the Gospel in the Name of God! God, Himself, anoints you and sets you on your way. You have hundreds and thousands of people who practically bow before you and hang on your every word. You build a church so big that you make dozens of men wealthy right alongside you. Your success is their success so they support everything you say and do even when they shouldn't; because everything you touch turns to gold!

How easy would it be to forget that you’re only there because God put you there? How easy would it be to start thinking you deserve the kudos and the rock star status? How easy would it be to think that while God gave you the talent to get you started… you’re the one who has so successfully taken it to such great heights!? Let’s face it, that’s just human nature.Well, to be more specific, that's our sin nature.

Let’s now add in the constant chatter of the enemy who strokes your ego while plotting your undoing morning, noon and night. he provokes you to be suspicious of anyone and everyone who challenges you and insists that they are the enemy. You’re convinced their motives are to undermine you and interfere with the good work God’s given you to do. The higher you climb the more the enemy pats you on the back. Constantly reinforcing the notion that all the success is because of YOU.

Don’t think you could be deceived in such a way? Don't be so arrogant.

God is good. I have no doubt He presented Mark and his leadership team with many opportunities to right the ship before it ran aground. And I feel certain in my heart …that making a public spectacle of a once admired ministry …was a last resort.

Take no joy in seeing what’s happening to Mars Hill. No matter what you think of Mark Driscoll don’t mock him. I doubt he set out to do anything that would break the heart of our Father. And when all is said and done I imagine our brother will experience a depth of sorrow and turmoil we can only imagine. 

The Bible says this in Micah 6:8: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly before your God."

Have mercy.

In His love and service,

Sharon Bollum

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Sharon and her husband of more than 30 years, Mike Bollum
Sharon Bollum
Sharon Bollum is a minister, writer, producer, church activist, wife, mother and grandmother. Not necessarily in that order.

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