Monday, March 5, 2012

Why I Won't Be Answering the "Call to Reconciliation"

At least not on those terms...

On Friday, Mars Hill posted A Call For Reconciliation.  Here is my response:

I am glad that Mars Hill has acknowledged that there are many people out here who have been hurt by their church.   I appreciate their call to reconciliation, however, I won't be answering it on those terms.

Please know that I pray regularly for Mars Hill and its leadership.  It is my greatest desire to see good come out of all of this.  I love many people who are still at Mars Hill, and I am glad that most of them are happy there.  The positive experience of some does not invalidate the very negative experience of others though. For every story I have posted here, there are stories I did not share, because the person shared their story in confidence.

The statement seemed to blur the lines and imply that all of the people speaking out against Mars Hill were under church discipline and are taking those matters public.  To clarify, this is the exception and not the rule, as in our case and most others that have been shared here, we were not, in fact, under church discipline.  And since, in this post as well as the last two responses PR issued, they continue to stand by their stance on church discipline, one which I do not now or will I ever agree with, I am unable to be reconciled in the way that they wish to reconcile me.

Please know, that while I do not wish to be reconciled to Mars Hill in the way they understand it, that I am allowing God to give me a heart of forgiveness.  It is a process but I am daily growing it.  And I know that God is more than capable of healing my heart and helping me to forgive.

What the Mars Hill pastors fail to realize is that those of us that have told our stories about our negative experiences at Mars Hill would attribute the abuses we experienced to our Community Group Leaders, Elders & Pastors.  We trusted them to treat us with love and grace then, and that is not what happened.  Why should we trust them to now?  Forgiveness is not trusting someone who has hurt you.  And forgiveness is not neglecting justice for the oppressed.

I am not comfortable submitting my personal information on their form.  And I am not comfortable sitting down and meeting with Mars Hill elders on their terms.  I did not choose to subject myself to meetings with the CG leader when I left for the same reason I do not want to do it now.  It is not clear in their statement whether they are trying to get me to repent and be reconciled to Mars Hill, or if they wish to repent and be reconciled to me.

The only conditions under which I would ever consider the call to reconciliation are as follows:
1) The meeting was held in a neutral place, with an elder I am comfortable meeting with.
2) I am free to bring someone along, be that a trusted advisor, pastor at my new church, counselor, etc.
3) The meeting will not become a theological debate over "open-handed" or secondary issues that we may disagree on.
4) I am free to write about my experience afterwards.

My email is, and has always been, accessible through this blog.  While I maintain anonymity here, I am confident that my former pastors and CG leader know who I am from the details of my story.  I have never been contacted for apologies, reconciliation or the like.   However, I do not need an apology or reconciliation (as Mars Hill would define it) to forgive.

If any of my readers choose to pursue reconciliation through the website, please know that I will support you and pray for you and assist you in any way that I can.  We all need to handle our situation as the Holy Spirit leads us.


  1. Yes. Yes. and then yet another YES.

    This is exactly how I felt. Thank you for this post!

  2. Good job on your decision. I almost want to hear a report from someone who has met with them for "reconciliation" to see if they are more genuine during the meeting then they appear to be in their response. This is simply just to be fair, and see if they truly are trying to reach out to the hurt, though I am highly doubtful.

  3. I think people should fill out the form, as long as they protect their heart from expecting any real attempt at reconciliation on the part of Mars Hill. It would be beneficial to flood Mars Hill with the wealth of stories of those wounded, even if they come in 1 by 1. I think a lot of newer elders are ignorant of the wealthy of abuse that has taken place over the years.

  4. Wonderful. You're honoring yourself and them.

  5. Here's another post on the "Call to Reconciliation" that I find piercing, in a good way:

  6. Your caveats are spot on, and more importantly, Biblically sound, especially in regards to point 2. 1 Timothy 5:19 - "Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses." (See also Matthew 18: 15-17, though an elder is a special case, and not a "brother" as in Matthew, so step 1 can be skipped in that case) This is not only a protection for the elders, but a protection for the parishioner. This passage doesn't raise elders up as blameless, but rightly confirms that witnesses must be present when a charge against an elder, or any leadership, is brought forward. It protects the office, and it protects the offended.

    I speak from experience here. I have been through the process of confronting elders in sin with two other witnesses, plus more who kept us accountable. The elders tried to separate us, and when we wouldn't go for it, they tried to say it was our fault for not "doing it right", though we were very clear on how we were following a biblical model. When we finally "took it to the church" per 1 Timothy and Matthew 18, someone asked them "Why don't you all get in front of the church and answer each others' concerns, and let the church decide?" This was deemed "not helpful" by the elders. We asked the people who brought it up if it would be helpful, and they unanimously said "yes!", but apparently the "elders" knew better.

    I say all this to finish with: God is good. He brought healing and is continuing to heal those who were hurt by the issues we confronted. There is still much unresolved, and tied much closer to the MH situation than I care to say right now, but I encourage those believers who have left MH - If you are submitting to the Holy Spirit through the Word, and somehow that submission is at odds with those who call themselves leaders, I can say with certainty that The Holy Spirit trumps the self-asserted authority of men everyday, and you can be assured it is of the Holy Spirit if it aligns with Scripture under all scrutiny. So fear NOT man who would manipulate you to crawl to their feet, but stand firm in Christ, with humility and love and an ear to the Holy Spirit, and He will lead you to all understanding. (Too loooooong... :-) )

    1. totally agree- that verse came to mind today, and you are so correct about what it is saying

  7. I think those who are considering answering the call or who would like to confront in person should do so in a large group....A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart...But reconciliation should be attempted because otherwise we just look like complainers. We need to allow mars hill a chance to prove repentance, how is it fair to complain about Andrew and those who have been treated unfairly through their reconciliation process without allowing them the opportunity we claim they robbed others of? You know what I'm saying. I feel like their post is bullcrap too but it's only proving we're hippocritical if we don't allow them a chance to repent.

    1. I had this same question. From what I'm learning is that there is no past pattern of reconciliation occurring to even approach it in this "healthy" way. Whether it be a church or someone in your life, if there isn't the rhythm of forgiveness, there is no safe harbor for the abused/hurt/wronged to speak up anymore. They have no voice. They have been dismissed countless times. What I see that is happening (blog stories), is giving people a voice; that they can know that they are not alone; not taking "crazy pills," and can start moving forward in the process of reconciliation with God, because so far, it hasn't happened with the one that hurt them.

      Though, sometimes, I know something "big" has to come and explode in the person who is hurting another's life, and then, there could be the miracle of waking up to see what they are doing and how they are hurting others and themselves. But, as individuals, we need to come to terms with God if we are the "agent of change" that God is going to use. So many are so badly bruised and beat up, they just need time to heal, breathe, get their bearings, etc...

      Anonymous, if you are convicted to be an "agent of change," by all means, find a brother or sister that needs support in confronting and be a part of that cord!

  8. I have to say you have a gracious, godly attitude about what you are working through, and it is encouraging to read your thoughts and feelings here. I have read through and commented in detail in my blog on the way the "call to reconciliation" was worded and set out, and I could copy and paste my blogpost, but it is pretty long, so the link, if it works, is!/2012/03/moving-on-and-reconciliation-in-no.html

    What really bothers me about Mars Hill's approach to this is that: instead of taking responsibility for hurts that leadership have caused people who are not in serious sin/needing discipline, as well as those who have been mishandled in discipline, Mars Hill appears to me to be suggesting that Mars Hill Leadership alone will determine what the problem is, if and when people contact them. Basically, this looks like a PR move to cover their butts whilst fending off anyone who actually would like to have a real, honest, and fair conversation with them. They've adequately covered themselves in such a way that no one is going to want to come forward. I still hope they get plenty of email. Really praying for the church at this time in history.