UPDATE FROM THE BOAADear Mars Hill,
Earlier this month Pastor Sutton Turner informed our board of his intention to resign from his current staff and elder position. His personal decision is a sober acknowledgement that it would not be financially feasible for him to stay on staff as the church rightsizes itself, and secondly, not emotionally prudent to subject his family to what has been an ongoing season of personal attacks. We want to be clear: there are no disqualifying factors related to his decision.
Sutton put it this way: “Since 2007, Pastor Mark has impacted my life in a significant way. I am thankful to call him my brother, my pastor, and my friend. When I came to Mars Hill in 2011, my plan was to be here for a year, get theologically trained, and focus on the adoption of my son before entering back into the business world. Three and a half years later, I have been able to serve a church that I love as a staff member, but it is now time that I transition off of staff and return to the business world.”
How much earlier this month? September 10?
Sutton Turner, as quoted by Michael Van Skaik, is credited lately with saying the plan when coming to Mars Hill in 2011 was to be there for a year, get theologically trained and focus on an adoption before entering back into the business world.
Well ... see ... that wasn't exactly how Mark Driscoll introduced Sutton Turner in November of 2011.
By: Pastor Mark Driscoll
Posted: Nov 23, 2011
Earlier this year, the Turner family moved around the world just to be a part of Mars Hill Church. They’d been listening to the podcast for many years, and when the opportunity arose to join the ministry, Sutton left a lucrative job in the Middle East to use his gifts to serve the church. [emphasis added]
Pastor Sutton’s experience has already been a huge benefit. He has a degree from Harvard Business School, led multibillion-dollar organizations, and even worked as an executive pastor for a number of years at a large church in Texas [WtH, for that go here]. More importantly, he is a godly man with a delightful family.
By God’s grace, Mars Hill Church is in an amazing season of growth. With that comes significantly more complexities, however. We need help and we’ve been searching for a leader of Sutton’s caliber for awhile. God is faithful and brought the right man at the right time.
So Driscoll's account in 2011 was that when the opportunity arose to join the ministry at Mars Hill Sutton Turner relocated himself and his family to serve the church. Driscoll also stated that Mars Hill had been searching for a leader of Sutton Turner's caliber for a while. So Turner seems to have been looking for an opportunity and by Mark Driscoll's account "we" had been looking for someone like Turner for a while. It was presented as a perfect fit, that doesn't seem to fit the "just a year for some theological training to head back into the business world", does it?
For those not inclined to watch the video associated with the page, here are quotes from the first video posted to the page linked above.
For those of you who don't know [the Turner family] they were podcasters that actually relocated back into the US. And Sutton had a business background as a graduate of Harvard Business School and was running $36 billion dollars a year of real estate with 1,600 employees internationally and then was listening to sermons, felt called to come and help Mars Hill Church and, you know Mars Hill Church, you know we need help. So we are very glad to have Sutton and as the complexity of the church increases we're very, very glad for his gifts and we want to thank the girls for joining us and your wife as well. Thank you guys for making the move and making the sacrifice. ...
He was also in his past executive pastor at a very large church and so his gifts are very necessary in this season, because if I do the accounting I'll be doing prison ministry from the inside. ... We really need Sutton's gifts in this season and God brought the right man at the right time with the right gifts and the right family and the right attitude and the right heart. ... We are very thankful to have you.
Driscoll's got a thing for joking about who has to do stuff so that he doesn't end up doing prison ministry from the inside. In the wake of the Mars Hill Global controversy and questions about where the monies given to that go ... it's not entirely clear whether Driscoll should ever crack that joke again.
Notice that Driscoll presented Sutton as already experienced in both business and executive ministry leadership activity.
ANOTHER MENTION OF TURNER NOT BEING NEW TO MINISTRY
Sutton Turner got a mention in a letter Mark Driscoll published on September 9, 2011 that referred to Sutton Turner as on staff but not as an executive elder.
Pastor Dave and I both believe Pastor Scott is the best choice for this role in this season. Pastor Scott [Thomas] has been very clear in his love and commitment to Mars Hill and has said he will gladly serve wherever he is needed, which we deeply appreciate. Administratively, Pastor Jamie was our senior "king" and his departure requires very competent leadership to cover his many responsibilities. Thankfully, Pastor Jamie was a great leader and humble man. He surrounded himself with great people. This allows us to not have the kind of crisis that could otherwise ensue. Pastor Dave and I agree that Sutton Turner should function as our highest-ranking "king." Sutton is new to staff, but not to ministry. He is a former executive pastor of a large church. Educationally, he is a graduate of Texas A&M, the SMU Cox School of Business, and Harvard Business School. Professionally, he has recently served as the CEO of a company that has nearly 1,600 employees. Prior to that he served as the CEO of another company that under his leadership grew from 0 to 500 employees in the first year. He and his family moved to Seattle sensing a call to serve at Mars Hill, and we believe he is a gift from God to us for our future. He is currently well into the eldership process so be in prayer for that as well as his many duties at the church. [emphasis added]
Then there's Driscoll following statement:
While we celebrate the past and honor the present, we also need to prepare for the future by God’s grace. We’ve been here before, many times before, in fact. As our church grows, we encounter obstacles and hit ceilings of complexity and need to adjust as necessary to get through the next size barrier. This was true at 200, 800, 2,000, and 6,000 [emphasis added, watch for this number], just like the experts predicted. At 10,000 we are there again. I’ve been working on the beginnings of a comprehensive plan, as I can see into the future to 25,000 people a week, Lord willing.
TURNER IN INTERVIEWS AFTER TAKING THE JOB
DRISCOLL DIDN'T WANT TO UPDATE THE BYLAWS SO TURNER DID IT
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
by Rez Gopez-Sindac
The reporter describes Turner's return in 2011 to America as a return to his ministry calling, and then mentions the executive pastoral role. When asked what his role as an executive pastor entailed, Turner told the reporter his job was to complement the lead pastor and try to model that relationship to the campus pastors. Turner stated that Driscoll was a capable speaker but didn't like doing spreadsheets, drafting budgets, attending meetings, recruiting employees, establishing policies and procedures, or updating bylaws. So that's what Turner did.
EXCEPT THAT IN A 2013 VIDEO DRISCOLL WAS CLAIMING HE WAS THE ONE WHO REWROTE THE BYLAWS IN 2007
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgl6QmHrXEo [video has been made private since Throckmorton transcribed it]
transcript of Mark Driscoll statement in a video called "Stepping Up", discussed over at Warren
I don’t know what the most courageous thing I’ve ever done is. I know the one thing that was one of the hardest was, the church was growing, it had exploded, it had grown to, I think, maybe six thousand. So it made it one of the largest, fastest growing churches in America in one of the least churched cities, and in a conversation one night it was just up in our bedroom on a couch we were visiting, Grace and I were talking about past relationships and just kind of a casual conversation and we’d been together at that point for maybe seventeen, eighteen years or something. [WtH, i.e. either 2005 or 2006] I mean we’d been together a while between dating and marriage. And she just explained to me a few occasions where she had been sexually assaulted, raped, and abused [prior to my meeting her, (WT's transcript differs from what is presented here and this is punctuation that WtH believes makes more sense of Driscoll's actual words)]. I just broke and I just started weeping, thinking that I had not known that about my wife, and she just said it matter of factly, like she was just reading the script of someone else’s life. And there was no emotion in her, and I could tell she didn’t even really understand what she had just explained. That sort of led to a season of me really getting to know her, and her getting to know her past, and us getting to know Jesus in a deeper way.
It was around that time I could just tell that she’s gonna need me available more.
Emotionally present more, we just had our 5th child. So the timing’s not great. We just decided to go multi-site in video, cause we had outgrown our location and everybody’s looking and all the critics are around and is this gonna make it? A couple of things combined at that season as well, overwork and stress and everything else. I fatigued my adrenal glands, I was in a bad place health-wise, was not sleeping. It was a pretty dark time for me, and I told Grace, “For me to recover, for you to recover, for us to build our friendship, I feel like we’re kind of at that watershed moment where our marriage is gonna get better or it’s gonna get colder, and you’ve really opened yourself up and I need to love and serve you better and pursue you more.”
I said so I got to change the church. I mean all the way down, I have to rewrite the Constitution, bylaws, I got to let some people go. I have to put in place some hard performance reviews. I’ve got to be willing to lose a lot of relationships, endure criticism, preach less times, hand off more authority, and I said I don’t know if the church is going to make it and I don’t know if I’m going to make it.
I told Grace, I said “I’m going to give it one year, and if it doesn’t get fixed, I’m going to quit, because you’re more important to me than ministry, and I feel like if I quit right now, the church will probably die, and there’s all these thousands of people that met Jesus.” I said “So we’re either going to change it or I’m going to quit, but we’re not going to do this forever and you’re my priority,” and that led to everything that I feared, quite frankly. [emphasis added]
It was really brutal, and I couldn’t tell the story at the time of and here’s why- because Grace is really hurting, and I love her, and I’m broken, and we need to pull back and make some course corrections because it’s Grace’s story to tell, and she wasn’t ready at that point to tell that story, and I had no right to tell that story for her.
And so everybody got to speculate for years what the motive was, “oh he’s power hungry, he’s controlling, he wants to take over, he doesn’t love people, you know he’s just a bully.” And no, it’s actually he’s broken and his wife is hurting and the church is gonna probably literally kill him or put him in the hospital and his wife needs him right now, so he’s gotta make some adjustments. So, you know, by the grace of God, we weathered that storm.
Of course it's impossible to consult the entire timeline at Joyful Exiles without having the impression that it was Jamie Munson who was revising the bylaws and that it was on account of not respecting Munson's authoritah that Meyer and Petry were fired. But in Driscoll's 2013 video "Stepping Up" Driscoll explicitly took credit for having to do the kinds of things Sutton Turner said in an interview Driscoll didn't really want to have to do.
Okay, maybe that's the case but the evidence that Driscoll ever spent so much as an hour drafting bylaws has never been established in the history of Mars Hill.
THAT OLD TURNER QUOTE WHERE "MARS HILL REALLY DID NOT GROW UNTIL 2007 ... "
While the original piece was pulled some time ago (for reasons that can't be known) there's an interesting quote attributed to Turner
And, Sutton days “Mars Hill really did not grow until 2007, from 1 location and 2,000 in attendance.”
Of course that's impossible to assert truthfully that Mars Hill did not grow until 2007 since the constant specter of meteoric growth outpacign the competency of Mars Hill leadership was a topic brought up by Mark Driscoll in 2007 as a reason for the necessity of a re-org.
Then again ... given how little Turner seems to have actually known about the history of Mars Hill it's not a surprise he couldn't get such a basic thing about its history right. For a more detailed explanation of how attendance was at 6k by the 2007 re-org, here's a long quote from Driscoll in an interview with Justin Taylor.
As we expand to more campuses, states, and possibly even nations, I wanted to do all I could to ensure doctrinal fidelity and clarity for our church. As the tree grows and the fruit increases, the roots need to sink deep as well. So, when our attendance was at about six thousand people a few years ago, we did something unprecedented. We canceled out the membership of everyone in our church [emphasis added in both types] and I preached the Doctrine series for thirteen weeks. Each sermon was well over an hour and included me answering text-messaged questions from our people.
Those who made it through the entire series were interviewed, and those who evidenced true faith in Christ and signed our membership covenant were installed as new members.[emphasis added] We had always had a high bar for membership, but I wanted to raise that bar higher as we pursued our goal of becoming, by God’s grace, a church of fifty thousand. In so doing, we lost about a thousand people, dropped to five thousand total, and missed budget for the first time in our church’s history. [emphasis added] We then rebounded over the next few years to ten thousand people a week and as many as thirteen thousand on our peak weekend. We had pruned, which hurt, but then we harvested, which was healing. It’s not all about the numbers, and we were willing to lose a lot of people, but God proved that there is power in the gospel and that a people united around core biblical doctrine can be used by God to bear much fruit by grace.
STATEMENTS ATTRIBUTED TO PAUL TRIPP BY THE NINE
Turner's short quote about Mars Hill not really growing until 2007 is not just not true in terms of the history of Mars Hill struggling to adapt to growth, by Driscoll's account, the Doctrine series led to the loss of 1,000 people who were leaving during the period in which many left out of objection to the terminations and trials of Petry and Meyer. So Mars Hill not only wasn't that small and not only didn't only start growing in 2007 they LOST PEOPLE because of things that happened in 2007 and early 2008.
This may or may not serve as a conceptual transition to statements credited to Paul Tripp.
It would appear in light of statements attributed to Paul Tripp, former member of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability that Tripp had a drastically different assessment of Turner's suitability for ministry compared to Bruskas and Turner.
from page 5 of 7
“Sutton is fundamentally unhelpful for Mark. Sutton plays to all of Mark’s weaknesses and none of Mark’s strengths.” He pleaded with them saying that what Mark needs in an Executive Pastor is a “55 year-old seasoned godly man who watches over Mark’s soul as he administrates the church, and who can pull Mark into a room and say ‘you can’t do that in a meeting’ and you need to call another meeting and ask for forgiveness from the people you just spoke to. He doesn’t need a man who is his trigger man.” He made it clear that Sutton lacks the emotional and spiritual maturity to be where he is at in leadership.
From behind the scenes on the BOAA Paul observed that “A statement that comes from somebody, through Sutton, to you guys, just changes dramatically.” He followed this by saying that he did not think Sutton intended to be consistently untruthful, but that regardless he does end up spinning things constantly out of fear.
SUMMING UP TWO DIFFERENT NARRATIVE THREADS
So, for the sake of review, while Van Skaik's account on Sutton Turner's behalf states that Turner figured he'd come by for a year, get some theological training, and had back into the business world,
But this is ... a difference in emphasis compared to years of stating that Sutton Turner was the perfect fit for Mars Hill, that he was experienced in business as well as in ministry and that Mars Hill had badly needed someone of his skill set. Furthermore in subsequent press coverage Sutton Turner let reporters indicate he'd found his calling in being an executive leader at Mars Hill.
So, all that suggests that the recent statement by Michael Van Skaik should raise some questions about why, if Sutton Turner really only planned to train theologically for a year, that none other than Mark Driscoll described Turner as coming to America in 2011 specifically because a ministry opportunity arose in Mars Hill for which Turner was a good fit and for which "we" at Mars Hill were seeking a candidate of Turner's abilities, education and experience? Every executive elder explanation Wenatchee The Hatchet has been able to find referring to Sutton Turner between 2011 on previous to Van Skaik's recent account of Turner explaining himself seems to indicate that Turner was in for the long haul and for the executive leadership position for which he was considered "kingly".
This change of narrative seems abrupt and it may be a change in emphasis but if so it raises the question of why, if Turner felt he needed theological training, he was presented by Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas as so already perfect for the job they had in mind for him?