Yes, I heard the latest and the deluge of questions that followed. It is an interesting place to be, so here is my response for those asking. Hopefully we are all learning through this:
A pattern I started in ministry is to follow intensely a local church for a year or two. Mars Hill was one of numerous other churches, and the most recent completed. The reason I do this is to catch the central theme of the church, what lessons I can learn (both from their strengths and weaknesses), and to gain new insights for ministry. It is VERY dangerous to follow one ministry exclusively. A question often asked is who do I follow? Meaning: what big name are you about. My response is I’m eclectic. Some see this as a cop out. Being eclectic is based on advice from an older mentor the national church will never know. Learn from all, but follow Jesus.
The Bible does not give an exemption to biblical peacemaking if a figure is a ‘celebrity’. Much of the mess in the news is slander, gossip and bitterness. I agree with Pastor Mark’s recent statement that the court of public opinion is not the best route to take. Biblical repentance and restoration is a process. Church discipline stops when repentance starts. Further, love does not keep an account of wrongs suffered (1 Cor 13). Dredging up old, repented, and forgiven sins is unbiblical in large measure. It’s what Satan does. The church as a whole dropped the ball.
Focus on the mission Jesus gives us. I have read statements to the effect that he glory days of Mark and Mars is over. Such a statement fundamentally misunderstands the Gospel. Is it possible, yes. But, it is also possible that the best years are ahead for both Mark and Mars. I am confident no one wants to declare that once you blow it God will never mightily use you again. Peter, Paul, Samson, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. would disagree. The other side of conflict is worship. This will further Christ’s kingdom and the purifying of His bride, the church. Focus on being a peacemaker.
A healthy look in the mirror would do us all good, especially pastors. Few people, if anyone, can handle all their past failures being thrown out there with every new ‘development.’ The ‘yeah, but he…’ statements do not help. But for the grace of God, you and I could be in a mess too. Truthfully, many non-celebrity pastors damage churches and church staffs as well. I hear about it regularly. We can blame the pastor, but equally to blame is our cowardliness inaction of biblical peacemaking. Our lack to practice biblical forgiveness. The whole situation says much more about us than about Mark and Mars. We can do better.
Yes there are issues. Yes I’m confident they are serious. To yeah, but the ‘yeah, but…’ is it our place to deal with this? Is our national attention helping or hurting the local church? Psalm 73 states how we need to be careful how we speak so as to not undermine a future generation. James’ advice to be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger is missing on many sides. I’m more concerned with the lack of character demonstrated by Christian media than about the situation. So, yeah, but God has a way of working these things out for good.
The bottom line:
God will use this whole situation to His glory. Jesus will use this situation to purify His bride. My response? I think biblical peacemaking is a critical need in all of us and I think we all need to remove that blemish. My prayer is that from this Pastor Mark and Mars Hill comes back stronger than ever. Why? Because God is cool and able to make that happen. He did, after all, cleanse us from ALL our sin. Christianity is about a relationship, repentance and reconciliation. It is not a religion where once we blow it we are done for good. That is legalism and a false gospel.