Marc Driscoll founded Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. The church had its first official meeting in October of 1996 and had an attendance of 160. It would eventually grow to a membership of almost 6,500 with a weekly attendance of over 12,000, and swelled to 15 campus locations in 5 states.
The rapid growth of the church created the need to revise its by-laws several times and restructure leadership creating some friction among the staff. Some lost their jobs in the restructuring. Charges of plagiarism by Marc Driscoll and growing dissension from alleged bullying of staff and abusive leadership led to Driscoll’s resignation on October 14, 2014.
Within months Mars Hill broke up. The rise and fall of Driscoll’s meteoric celebrity conservatism has proved to be the most notably disruptive event in recent church history here in America. Among those who know who he is, few straddle the fence of opinion; they either love him or hate him.
Driscoll is on the verge of reinventing his ministry in Phoenix, Arizona. Those who love him must believe he has corrected any failings of his past failed pastorate and are willing to move on into a new ministry with him.
Brian and Connie Jacobsen, and Ryan and Arica Kildea are not among them. They allege Driscoll and other church leaders at Mars Hill misappropriated donated funds of $90,000 between 2008 and 2014, and $2,700 from 2011 to 2013, respectively. They claim the funds were designated to go to foreign missions, but were instead used for other purposes.
In their lawsuit the Jacobsens and Kildeas further allege Driscoll and certain church leaders ran Mars Hill Church like an organized crime syndicate using finances illegally. If Driscoll and others had acted illegally it is hard to believe they did so under the radar of law enforcement agencies that track racketeering activities.
Paul told the Corinthians, “Actually, then it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7). Paul’s point is it is better to be wronged or defrauded than to squabble over financial matters before unbelievers.
I give to my church regularly and cheerfully. I do not designate how my giving is to be used trusting those who handle the church’s finances to use it where needed. But if I did designate those funds, I do not think I would object to their being used for another legitimate church need. My reason for giving is to invest and participate in the spread of the Gospel, if I did not trust my church, I would find another ministry I had more confidence in.
We do not know the motives of the plaintiffs. They may want a refund or may want their giving redirected to their designated charity, but if they merely wish to give this fledgling ministry a black eye at its inception they would have been better off to be defrauded and forgive.