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Megachurch's Harsh Disciplinary Tactics Raise Questions

  • Religion Today Blog
    Religion Today
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2012 Feb 14
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February 14, 2012

A former member of Seattle's Mars Hill Church who spoke out against the church's internal disciplinary procedures after finding himself cast out has led to questions and accusations from other Christians of the "cultlike leadership style" of the megachurch and pastor Mark Driscoll, Slate reports. Andrew, 25, told his story in January to a Christian blogger: After confessing to a member of his small group that he had cheated on his fiancee, he was kicked out of the small group, subjected to meetings with church leaders, given a contract to sign requiring that he share with his fiancee his "sexual and emotional attachment history with women," and told to give his pastor a list of his sexual and emotional sins. Instead of signing the contract, Andrew left the church. After a three-page letter from Mars Hill that included instructions on how to ostracize Andrew appeared on the church's online network, Andrew spoke out. With his accusations, the Christian blogosphere exploded with outrage as well as accounts from other unhappy ex-members, one of whom compared his experiences at Mars Hill as "how people wound up drinking Kool-Aid." So far, Mars Hill's only response has been to post on its website an excerpt on church discipline from one of Driscoll's books. Driscoll, a controversial figure with recent claims to "see things" about his members' past sins, made it clear in 2009 that he did not tolerate "troublemakers" at Mars Hill. "You can really change the culture of a church by just removing a few 'negatives,' and elevating a few 'positives,'" he said. "Most of the 'neutrals' change."