Archive for the ‘Confrontation’ Category

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Things Charismatic/Pentecostal/Renewal Preachers Do

February 25, 2014

This begins with true confession time. Hi; my name is Mike, and I’m a charismatic (“Hi Mike”). That is, I believe in the existence of and proper practice of the supernatural gifts of the Spirit. I speak in tongues occasionally. I have prophesied. I get down with Jesus, I have danced, laughed and laid prostrate in the Spirit, and I know what it is like to be preaching one sermon and have to stop to preach a totally different one.

I say all of that to say this: all of what I will say next applies to my tribe. This is an insider’s view, not a sniper’s shot from on top of the hill.

Unfortunately, I have come to my upper limit on being able to listen to podcasts by Pentecostals, Charismatics, Third Wavers, Renewal speakers and Holy Ghost Here-We-Go Anointed individuals.

It is not the content per se. It is not the ministry time at the end (well, maybe a little bit of that, but we’ll let that slide). It is the gimmicks that the preachers use in our circles that have got to stop. Guys and gals of the Holy Spirit persuasion: don’t you know they’re making fun of us, and not for the good reasons?

For the sake of bringing this whole shabang back to sanity, I propose we call for a permanent moratorium on some of the things charismatic preachers do. I have done three of these and I repent in dust and ashes. And no, I’m not admitting which three I have used. My friends know.

So, here are the most egregious practices of our tribe:

1. Simon Says.  This is where the preacher likes the point they’re making and tells the audience to “Say ____________”. Then the whole group repeats whatever the key phrase is. Let’s say the sermon is on Jesus raising Lazarus and the preacher wants to get across the point that Lazarus smelled bad after three days of putrification. The preacher might order the congregation, “Say, ‘smell bad‘” and then “Say, ‘Lazarus come out‘”.  And then it’s “Say ‘Take those stinky clothes off'” … and on and on. Some teachers do it so much that it is a constant litany of Simon Says repeat-after-me’s that you end up losing the point of the preacher. I suppose that Aimee Semple McPherson probably started this and since she was anointed, it became the acceptable way of hammering home the point. But to me, after 50 of these in a message, I actually get belligerent and say to myself, “I’m not saying that”. And then I have to deal with a spirit of rebellion.

2. FYI Moments.  If you listen to any charismatic preachers lately, you’ve heard this one. It all starts with the preacher saying “How many know…” and then it divulges some charismatic buzz concept that is making the conference rounds. As in “how many know the enemy only has a short time left” or “how many know that these are the Days of Elijah” etc. The problem here is that anyone who doesn’t know this meme feels like an idiot and most people will just agree even if this is a new teaching to them. Who wants to feel left out? In addition, I suspect a lot of teachers do this to let the congregation know that they are part of the latest instruction and listening to the Spirit. Let your congregation off the hook. They don’t need to get hooked on novel theories that will not be spoken of ever again. Fortunately, no one asks any more “How many know there’s a Jezebel spirit around these days?”

3. This Just In From Holy Spirit. You know the big gimmick that Fox News and CNN practice several times an hour. They know that everyone has been watching for a couple of hours and they need to make it interesting. So they pop up the words “Special News Alert“. It isn’t just the news. Preachers are now doing it all the time. They’ll be in a teaching message and they have to stop and tell us that Holy Spirit has just moved them to say something important. What I struggle with is not that Holy Spirit breaks in on their message or that they share it. But do they have to announce what they’re doing? Just do it. I can’t imagine Jesus stopping on his way to heal the Centurion’s son and then looking at the crowd and saying, “Wait, Holy Spirit just showed me someone may have touched me. And oh yeah….power just went out from me. How many know that power goes out from you sometime? Say “power goes out” people.” No, Jesus just turned around and said “Who touched me?” The mechanics behind his ministry in the Spirit stayed with him.

4. Hit Like on My Good Point. This next habit has been around for a long, long time. I can tell you as a conference speaker and preacher that we are some of the most insecure people on the planet. And small wonder: We are constantly putting out ideas for others to critique and comment upon. That would reduce a macho man to jello. The problem comes in when the preacher is fishing for “likes”. It sounds like, “can I have an amen at that point?” and then goes on from there. The preacher who always needs the crowd to agree with them lives in the same camp with the Facebook person who checks every ten minutes to see how many likes his latest observation has scored. Preachers even have their own particular phrases designed to garner these likes. “Can I have a witness?” “Am I alone in here?”, “Is anyone with me?”, “Amen all by myself?” etc. ad nauseum. You know, most of the prophets preached with an expectation that stones could start flying at any moment. The crowd in that day was saying “I’ll give you an amen brother…right between the eyes.” Man up and stop asking every twenty seconds for affirmation. It’s a little weak.

5. Lucky Lexicon. I am all for a teacher doing good background work. Get into the Greek, Hebrew, the lexicon, the bible dictionary and so on. That’s not this problem. I am pained lately at the preponderance of charismatic preachers who are discovering the original languages and when they find an unusual option for the interpretation, grab a hold of it. If your interpretation can’t be found in any of the translations, you are not ‘probably wrong’ you are ‘most definitely wrong’. This mistake is made because there is a mad dash these days to be an original voice in the wilderness. That is just not possible: There are too many teachers around to be the only one saying anything.

6. Where Was I?  Any teacher doing most of the above is going to run into this problem. They’ve taken so many side-excursions to play Simon Says and FYI and “This Just In” that they can’t remember the point they were trying to make. Believe me teachers, if you can’t remember where you are, the congregation got lost a long time ago. There is no virtue in starting in one direction and having no idea where you went only to have you arrive at a strange conclusion. Call it the “leading of the Holy Spirit” all you want, it is just bad teaching. And the only ones who will remember it are the ones who “fake it until they make it”, ashamed they don’t recall all your finer points.

7. Ritalin Aids. Let’s assume in this information age that the average person gets distracted so often we have a national crisis of ADHD. None of us can pay attention for that long. This may explain why so many charismatic leaders are constantly telling us that the good part is coming. “You’re going to love this” they promise. “Listen carefully, this is where it gets good” they predict. “You don’t want to fall asleep and miss this” they warn. Recently, I heard a guy everyone is calling today’s Prophet preach on 1 Corinthians 12. It is a difficult passage and one needs care in going through it. I actually thought he did a decent job of teaching, but then I had to stop listening. I counted 27 times where he told the listener about something coming that was critical. I finally just lost all credible ability to keep focusing. If everything is important, then nothing is.

That’s the danger of all of these. They pollute and dilute the truth of God. Nothing is worth doing if that is the result.

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The Person You Really Need

November 19, 2013

I don’t like this particular guy. His voice grates on my nerves and the things he talks about are annoying. I have called him “fake” and “plastic” to people who know me well enough to not take everything I say too seriously. This guy rarely listens to anything I say, and he perpetually lets me know all his life accomplishments. He pretends to always be successful, even when other people know it’s not true.

In recent months, he has said some nasty things about me to other people. These people are friends of mine and told him he was wrong to his face. Because they are my friends, they haven’t told me what he said, only that he’s been saying things to them and other people.

I wish he would go away. Why do I have to have him in my life?

Last night, I was thinking about a gathering I was invited to, a party I know he has also been invited to. I don’t doubt he will be there, which is why I was considering not going. I am still considering that. But last night, I read something which has made it harder to keep feeling the same way about this guy.

I was reading some quotes from The Lord of the Rings and one of them slew me with its truth and intensity. (Note: If you don’t know the story, let’s just say it’s an epic book about people on a journey to get rid of the cause of so much grief). In a scene in the underground mines of Moria, the wizard Gandalf is speaking to one of the young hobbits.Gandalf-Gollum-Wide-560x282 This young man is complaining about the wispy phantom who is dogging their steps through the mine: Gollum. To everyone’s minds, Gollum is the epitome of all things rotten in the world. Yet he will not leave them alone. Pippin complains to Gandalf that Bilbo should have killed Gollum when he had the chance. Gandalf’s answer is remarkable:

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many – yours not least.

Gandalf knows one thing about all men, even Gollum: He has some part to play in the events of the future. Even though some of those events may be evil, his part is important. If you know the end of the story, if it were not for Gollum, Frodo could never have cast the ring into the fire. His heart could no longer bear to part with his “treasure” and he pulled it back to himself with fierceness and stubborn will. As Gollum bit off his finger and ultimately fell into the fires of Mount Doom, Frodo and the rest of the world was released from the ring’s wretched power.

Without Gollum, Frodo’s life would have been easier; and he would have become a slave to that ease. The ring would have become his jailer and his death.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul says “Therefore, I was given a thorn in the Flesh, a messenger of Satan…three times I plead with the Lord to take him away. Then the Lord said “My grace is sufficient for you.” Many people believe that Paul is referring to a physical ailment. But the word “messenger” – the same word used for Angel in the Bible – always refers to a personal being, not an illness or injury. Paul is asking God to take away a person who is causing great pain in his life. But God has no intention of doing that. We know now that Paul had several people who followed him around talking him down and stirring up trouble for him. Maybe this is who he asked God about.

But God said “No way, Paul. This guy is yours to deal with, and I will allow it.”

Why? Often in life, we cannot become the person we were always meant to be unless there is a foil, a person we consider a villain and a rotten person. I am not saying we should welcome every horrible person into our lives, or live without boundaries. But, perhaps it is best to see that some of these people we can’t stand are actually there for a reason. And maybe we won’t find the “best” that God has for us unless we accept these people have to be there.

After hearing Gandalf and the deep truth of Paul, I thought about this guy I am having trouble accepting. My meditation did not instantly make him more palatable to my taste. I still don’t like him. But I can now embrace his place in my life. He may turn out to be one of those people who shape me in ways my friends cannot.

Perhaps.

Therefore, I will stop asking for God to take him away. I am still wary of him and I don’t have to like him. Now I am asking God to use him in my life.

Let’s see what happens.

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Open Letter from a Christian Pacifist

July 20, 2013

This is to all of my brothers and sisters. I don’t care if you own a gun. I care if you kill someone. I care if you kill an unborn child, a thug on the street, a death-row inmate, an elderly person suffering…and I care if you live in fear of being killed. My opinion of each of you does not change one bit if you have a gun. I just wanted you to start thinking biblically instead of just thinking with a cultural rationale for everything. It is amazing how hard it is to see a biblical truth when our culture teaches the exact opposite. It is my love for each of you that propels me to show you there are people who actually don’t believe in killing at all. I have done funerals for 3 police officers who shot themselves with their own revolvers. The pain in that room for everyone was greater than I have experienced almost anywhere else. The job they do involves the likelihood of taking a life. Most people’s souls go through discernible amounts of decay when they do that. Even seasoned veterans of wars cannot stop thinking about the souls they sent into eternity with a weapon. I think it is a loving thing I am saying to all of you to do me one favor: put aside what you have always believed about lethal weapons for a few weeks and study the New Testament with an open mind. After studying it and you are convinced your lethal weapon is what God wants you to have, so be it. I love you and wish the best for your soul and prosperity for those you will meet. Selah.

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My Nominee for “Mother of the Year”

March 27, 2012

I would love to post a picture of the woman who is my personal nominee for “Mother of the Year“, but I can’t.

I have never met her. I don’t even know her name. But I know what she did and I’m very impressed.

Last Friday, I helped chaperone a dance at our local high school gym. My job was to guard one of the back entrances so teens couldn’t sneak out that way or let their friends in without paying. To the credit of the students, no one tried to do either. 

But because I was hanging on the edge of the crowd, I witnessed many conversations between students. I noticed two 14-year old freshmen girls more than anyone. They were having a fantastic time, dancing with each other, laughing, doing the “Dougie”, eating pizza and giggling up a storm. Here’s how I knew they were 14.

At least four times during the evening, a tall older-looking young man approached one of the girls and asked her to dance. I didn’t hear every one of their conversations, but each time he left alone without her on his arm. However, I did hear the final conversation and I am impressed. Here’s how it went down.

The young man asked the girl to dance with him again.

“You’re sixteen, aren’t you?” she asked

“Yeah…I’m a Junior”

“Well, I’m fourteen and you’re too old for me. All night long you’ve been hitting on me and I keep telling you I am not dancing with a 16-year old. My mom told me all the lines older guys would use tonight and you’ve used every single one of them. I’ve asked you nicely to leave me alone. You’re too old for me. I just want to dance with my friend. If you don’t go away, I’m going to get angry!”

This boy’s eyes came an inch out of his skull and he quickly slinked away. The girls went back to giggling and dancing as I stood up and applauded them. They didn’t even notice I was there.

But I noticed one person who wasn’t. Her amazing mother.

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Who is Laughing Today?

November 25, 2011

A percentage of those reading this rant will label me a humbug. But remember that the role of social commentator is an important one; one whose responsibility includes saying the hard things. So let me make an observation on the lines of people camping out at Target, Best Buy and Toys R Us this morning. People are laughing at you and it’s not just your family members who stayed in bed.

It’s the so-called “filthy rich” that you are protesting on Wall Street and Main street.

On the same news broadcasts that featured people camping out at city halls across America, even on Thanksgiving, we saw identical tents and tarps in front of the major retail stores getting ready for Black Friday and its step-sister, Grey Thursday Evening. The people who got pepper-sprayed, evicted, ridiculed and thrown in jail could have snagged a big-screen television if they had moved a few blocks away. (Update: This scene from Los Angeles underscores that the wrong people are moving from one location to the other).

Don’t people realize it is the system of buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have that helps the Wealth Gap to form? If the wealthy know one thing it is that there is a sucker born every minute. In Jesus’ day, there were people who camped out in the Temple to sell pigeons at a 500% markup to the poor, who could only afford a pigeon for their offering to God. Jesus “occupied” their storefronts and turned over their tables as a prophetic act, proclaiming the original intention of the Court of the Gentiles was prayer not marketing. But I can imagine that even though people were mesmerized that someone would have the audacity to take this stand, an hour later someone was already back in line to buy a pigeon or exchange their money for the temple offering coins.

If it really bothers you that the rich are getting richer, stop allowing their advertising to split your brain into purchasing cubicles. You decide (totally apart from marketing) what you want, need, should purchase. In addition, look at those companies, especially smaller ones, whose approach to business takes more into account than profit. Look at how they re-invest their profits, how they treat their employees, how they add to the community.

My wife and I were traveling through Portland a few months ago, and we stopped into Panera Bread for lunch. We sought it out because we knew what that particular store stood for. They are a non-profit business that does not have cash registers or prices. They take donations for the food they offer and almost all of the money goes into local concerns. From their explanatory letter, here is a sample:

Panera Cares is a new kind of cafe – one that exemplifies an entirely different way of giving
back. It is a community cafe of shared responsibility. One of the goals of this charitable program
is to ensure that everyone who needs a meal gets one. People are encouraged to take what they
need and donate their fair share. There are no prices or cash registers, only suggested donation
levels and donation bins.
“The vision for the Panera Cares cafe was to use Panera’s unique restaurant skills to address real
societal needs and make a direct impact in communities,” said Shaich. “Thus, the Foundation
developed these community cafes to make a difference by addressing the food insecurity issues
that affect millions of Americans.”

There are hundreds, if not thousands of such businesses. I ate at this restaurant and it was just as delicious as all other Paneras in the country. The difference is my soul felt fed more than my body when I left that place.

Can you say that about the store you muscled your way through at 5 a.m. this morning? If you think I am just peeing on everyone’s parade, let me tell you why I am writing this. I believe there is a way to bring prosperity back into our communities and end the cycles of economic inequity around us. It cannot happen by legislation, taxes, protests or rhetoric. It happens when we take action to support local companies who give us what we need, who take care of their employees and who invest in their communities. Yes, for the most part, I am speaking of small businesses.

It also happens when we stop buying things because of advertising and peer pressure. Take a long look at your life priorities and see if your spending matches up to them. Or, get some life priorities.

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Mars Hill Lives Up to Its Name – Good News

October 24, 2011

As we have said previously, Mars Hill (Areopagus) was a place of heated discussion and a platform where the greatest issues of Greek society were discussed and, potentially, resolved.

I am delighted to report that Mars Hill Church in Seattle and the Mars Hill churches here in Sacramento have come to  a great resolution of their Name dilemma.

You can read Pastor Scott Hagan’s response to the phone calls he received from Mars Hill Seattle on his blog: www.scotthagan.net. Here are some highlights of that letter:

The issue of the Cease and Desist Letter seemed to strike a raw nerve in the broader body of Christ.  I will say more about that in a moment.  But first, I want to confirm that three staff members from Mars Hill Seattle called and asked forgiveness for any stress and confusion that was caused by the letter we received from theStokes & Lawrence law firm.  That meant a great deal to me and the other pastors involved (Jason Yarbrough of Mars Hill Church in Fairfield and James Seiler of Mars Hill Church in Galt).  Both Chris Pledger and Dave Bruskas were clear and sincere that the proper step should have been to call us first.  We accepted their apology and would like the Mars Hill Seattle congregation to know that your leaders took this step (We are assuming on behalf of Pastor Mark Driscoll).  They assured us they would not seek any type of legal action, even though they did apply for and were awarded a federal trademark in August of this year for both the name and the logo design.  Mars Hill Seattle also posted on their blog late saturday night a message of clarity and grace.  It was greatly appreciated.

Our concerned stemmed from a letter we received from Stokes & Lawrence asking that we cease all use of our name, domain names and all artwork. The letter stated we had a two-week window for compliance.  It was very unsettling knowing that, if enforced by a court (which it appears it could), it would cost our ministry and our two satellite plants thousands of dollars to rebrand, redesign, reprint and re-educate our regions of the changes……

Plans for our church here in Sacramento began in 2005. At the time we planted this work, I had never heard of Mars Hill Seattle or Pastor Mark Driscoll.  I was aware of the Michigan Mars Hill Church (I pastored in Grand Rapids from 2001 to 2005)  and also the college located in Mars Hill, North Carolina.  By choosing that name, I was not out to emulate anyone, I simply thought it to be a great name for a church……

My first knowledge of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle happened sometime in 2007, nearly two years after the planning and launch of our church.  Our logo was designed in 2005 by Scott Taylor, the husband of our worship pastor, Darnisha Taylor.  He reassured me a few days ago that, when he designed the logo, he also had never heard of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  Scott Taylor’s design is completely coincidental.  As a matter of fact, our original design was a square with the shaded circle and ‘M’ inside the square……

The letter from Stokes & Lawrence instructed us to contact their law office (not the church) with a response. I sent an email, of behalf of all three of us as pastors very early on Wednesday morning, October 19th to Leslie Ruiter of Stokes & Lawrence.  I asked if she would pass our cell phone numbers on to Pastor Mark Driscoll, as we felt this should be a pastor to pastor conversation and not something involving a secular lawyer.  By noon the same day (October 19th) we received an email from Leslie Ruiter:

Sent from my iPhone

On Oct 19, 2011, at 1:06 PM, Leslie Ruiter <Leslie.Ruiter@stokeslaw.com> wrote:

Dear Pastor Hagan and team: Thank you for your response. I am completely on board with an organization-to-organization conversation, without me (the trademark lawyer) in the middle. Mars Hill’s goals, and I assume yours as well, would be to gain an understanding of the situation and reach an amicable resolution that causes no harm to either. I will pass on your information below to Chris Pledger at Mars Hill, and he or one or more of the other pastors will be in contact.

Best regards,

Leslie C. Ruiter

By Thursday afternoon we had not heard from the church. With our two week window closing there was growing concern because of the potential financial ramifications.  The same day I received a call from a close pastor friend here in Sacramento, Mike Phillips.  He and I, along with a group of about 8 others, meet weekly as pastors for relationship and prayer.  He is a seasoned leader who pastors Gateway Church here in Sacramento. I had shared with them on Monday what was happening and asked for their guidance, prayer and counsel.  These are Baptist, Charismatic, Non-Denominational and Reformed guys with various backgrounds.  It’s a great cross section of friends who are church planters in the area. Mike told me he knew of some people that currently attend Mars Hill Seattle and asked for my permission to contact them to see if they had heard anything about this publicly. He also asked to blog about it to see if any other churches had received the same communication.  I gave him my blessing, but I did not read or proof Mike’s blog before it was posted.  Mike’s blog on the same day was a plea on behalf of a friend (me) whom he felt was facing a potentially unjust situation.

I was speaking Friday (October 21st) in Boston when I finally received a very congenial voicemail from Chris Pledger.  By now the social media networks were buzzing with some knowledge about this cease and desist letter.  There was zero antagonism in Chris’ voice or the message he left.  That afternoon we had a conference call between myself, Chris Pledger and Justin Holcomb.  Both of them were great and shared they were very sorry for sending a legal letter first. They communicated that their intent now was simply to remove confusion and to ask if we could alter the logo that they had been using since 1996.  I shared our story, including how our design by Scott Taylor in 2005 was totally innocent, and that when our church was planted in 2005 we had no knowledge that a Mars Hill Church in Seattle existed.

I agreed to start the process of a logo redesign since they now owned the trademark.  They assured me that even though the letter from Stokes & Lawrencecalled for a name change, that was off the table.  On Saturday, I received a voicemail from Dave Bruskas reiterating the same information and again reaffirming that the letter should not have been sent as a means of first contact.

I want to thank the Mars Hill Seattle staff for demonstrating a genuine brotherhood and passion for the Kingdom of God.  It feels like I’ve made some new leadership friends over the weekend in Dave, Justin and Chris.  I also want to say from the bottom of my heart that I am honestly sorry for any part I may have played in fueling the fires of disunity.  My emotions ran high, and in hindsight I should have tried to call the church office directly instead of communicating only with the lawyer as I was instructed to in the original letter.  I could have demonstrated more patience as a leader and for that I am sorry. Would the leadership of Mars Hill have ever called me ( Remember, I had given them our numbers via the lawyer) had there not been such an intense social media backlash last thursday?  All I can say is that the three men who did call me sounded more than legit, so I will choose to believe they would have and enjoy living reconciled instead of suspicious.  I look froward to meeting with Chris, Dave and Justin someday.  Justin even mentioned that he is from an Assemblies of God church.

We all know that social media is a powerful thing, and last Thursday’s plethora of posts, reposts and comments proved that once again.

Scott has some more great things to say and I advise you to go there and read it.

My final word is this: This is how the Body of Christ is supposed to work. I applaud both Mars Hill churches for living up to their historical, biblical context. May God’s blessings rest on all of you. Now I go back to my 100 readers a day instead of 45,000.

Mike P.

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Another Argument on Mars Hill

October 20, 2011

UPDATE: The matter has been resolved…go to our link here for details

In ancient Athens, there was a place called the Areopagus where philosophers and theologians of all kinds met to discuss various ideas and movements. We know from history there was a certain decorum expected there, no matter how strange the ideas. Within the Areopagus, all people were allowed to present their ideas and could leave unscathed (except perhaps in reputation). The Areopagus was found at the top of Mars Hill and the debates there are sometimes referred to as Mars Hill discussions. I am calling all the parties I will refer to in this blog back to that founding principle of Mars Hill.

I don’t know how many churches in America are called Mars Hill. I do know three of them; I have been assured there are many more. As far as I know, most of these churches have no connection with each other. Some of them belong to denominations, and some do not. The only ones who seem to be organically connected are those which have been “daughtered” off one of the other churches. But this short article is about the three Mars Hill churches I do know about.

The first of these to be started was Mars Hill Seattle, pastored by Mark Driscoll. He founded the church in 1996 and to this day it is one of the fastest growing churches in America and certainly one of the largest in Seattle. I am not exaggerating when I observe that Pastor Mark Driscoll has become one of the most controversial pastors in America. He regularly makes statements concerning the books, sermons and beliefs of other Christians. Many people consider his views on family, family life and procreation to be ultraconservative.

The second Mars Hill was founded in 1999 in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan by Rob Bell. Pastor Rob Bell is known for his books and videos and is perhaps just as controversial as Mark Driscoll, though often for much different reasons. His latest book, “Love Wins” presents a much different view on hell than most other Evangelicals. I do not know if Driscoll and Bell know each other personally (I suspect they do), but I doubt there is much appreciation of one man for the other. Let’s agree to say they do not line up with each other doctrinally.

The third Mars Hill I know seems caught in the middle. It is pastored in Sacramento, California by a friend of mine, Scott Hagan. Scott planted another church years ago in the Sacramento area, then moved to pastor a mega-church in Michigan and is now back leading at Mars Hill in Sactown. I have Pastor Scott’s permission to share what I am going to write next. Several weeks ago, Scott and his Sacramento congregation received a “Cease and Desist” letter which came from attorneys representing the Seattle Mars Hill Church.  They were told that the Seattle Mars Hill had copyrighted the name “Mars Hill” and they demanded that the California Mars Hill churches stop using the name and any logos with similar lettering.

I was flabbergasted. First, I could not believe that a church would try and copyright the name of their church. I suppose if you wanted to make some money on the side, you could lease the name out to others. (My friend Ken thought it would be smart to copyright the name “First Baptist” and stick franchise stickers on the name and concept…I applaud his entrepreneurial spirit). But to outright disallow others from using a name that is found in the Bible because you want a monicker and label that only recognizes YOU seems the very epitome of pride and arrogance.

Second, that a church would take legal action to require other churches to comply violates both the letter and the spirit of the Word of God. The Bible is explicit when we are told not to take other believers to court when the issues regard spiritual matters. The naming of a church is certainly a spiritual matter and it is hard to see how someone could theologically skirt around this.

This issue should have been placed before the Body of Christ. Since it wasn’t, I decided to do that here. I am hoping word of this spreads quickly across the country. Why should we allow Mars Hill Seattle to do this without the rest of us voicing our opinion? If you are as outraged by this as I am, then I ask you to let friends on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus know about it. Reprint this openly on your blogs. Call Mars Hill Seattle and let them know how you feel about this. Perhaps if we try this case in the court of public opinion we can prevent this from making evangelicals a further laughing stock in the media.

Please hear my heart Pastor Driscoll….Mars Hill was a place where anyone could freely come and present their ideas. You called your church Mars Hill with at least some of that in mind. I call you back to that principle now and publicly call you to renounce this silly and ill-advised cease and desist order.

UPDATE: Several people from Mars Hill church in Seattle have contacted me and let me know the intention of the Cease and Desist letter is to have Mars Hill Sacramento change their logo. Pastor Hagan has not given me permission to post the letter from the lawyer: However, though I am not a lawyer, the first two paragraphs make it pretty plain they are to change the Name of the church, the Name of the website and the Logo and artwork. The next two pages explain the rationale in legalese. If the original intent was only to have Mars Hill Sacramento change the artwork, that should be communicated clearly by legal counsel. At this point, it clearly says they must change their name also. That is all I can say about this issue without being able to post a copy of the document.

A FINAL WORD: Some things are taking place between the two Mars Hill pastoral teams at the moment for which I am grateful. More power and prayers to them all. If anything is resolved, I will have Pastor Scott himself post the results here so everyone can see what can happen outside of the court system. Thank you everyone for wonderful comments and discussion. I have ended the discussion for now on this topic since we have covered just about every angle. I am overwhelmed by the response.

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