Dear Mark Driscoll (How to Apologize)

Posted: October 16, 2014 in Uncategorized, When Church Hurts
Tags: , ,

Dear Mark,

I’m sure the world is all a-flutter today regarding your resignation from Mars Hill Church. I don’t have anything to say about that. You can resign any way you want to. And then you can point fingers at the flutterers who are tearing apart every word – what you said and what you didn’t say, what you meant and what you didn’t mean, and all of that.

But Mark, I just want to tell you, so far, you have entirely missed the point. And the point is that you have not (yet) apologized. I’m not sure you know how. Some will say you do, you’re just too arrogant and self-righteous to believe you need to. Maybe.

But if you really want a God-honoring conclusion to what has happened, here’s what you need to do. And even if you are thinking, “Who is this woman and what does she know about it?” Well, I know plenty. Because I was in a church under leadership who was abusive and the only thing I wanted . . . the only thing I needed . . . was an apology. A true, sincere, deep apology.

And I can guarantee that the day you are able to even begin following my advice – well, that’s the day people will begin to consider that, just maybe, you are starting to get it. And though it would probably take a while – a long while – if you kept at it and stayed the course, the tide would begin to turn.

First of all, Mark, you need to get in your car or SUV or whatever it is that you drive and go to one person. Just pick one. And knock on their door. And face-to-face, without justifying anything, tell them you are so very sorry.

I’d recommend that you take a digital recorder and give it to them. Tell them that if they want, they can record your words, your conversation. The recording is theirs to do with as they wish. You have nothing to hide and if they want a record, you want to make sure that they are prepared to have one.

And then tell them that you are sorry. And what you are sorry for. Specifically. I’m sorry I _______ (fill in the blank). And let them respond. They may tell you to get the hell off their property. They may invite you in and offer you a cup of coffee.

If they want to, let them talk. Ask them to tell you how what you did made them feel. (Do not say to them, “I’m sure what I did made you feel ______.” You can’t possibly guess how it made them feel. And they need to tell you.

Ask them to tell you how what you did affected their relationship with God. With the church. With their spouse and children. How did affect them financially? Ask them to tell whatever is on their heart – whatever they have wanted to say to you. Let them say it. They may not be able to say it all in one sitting. They may need time to gather their thoughts and you might need to offer to come back to hear them out. Offer to do whatever it takes.

Also, ask them to tell you what you need to do to make amends. Then do it.

Do it. Do you need to give them money because they suffered from a job loss? Give them money. Do they need you to apologize to their wife and children? And make amends to them? Do it. Whatever they need, Mark, you do it. Whatever they need. Not what you think they need. Not what you want to do. Whatever they need.

If they refuse to hear you and send you away, tell them you will come back if they ever want you to – just let you know. And mean it. And do it. Tell them how they can reach you and if that call ever comes, you drop everything and go.

And after that first person, you go to the next. And the next. And the next. And don’t stop until you’ve run out of people who need you to come to them. And really apologize.

And let them tell the story about how Mark Driscoll came to them. On his own. Without any agenda except to apologize and make amends. And let them tell the story about how you meant it because you kept your word. Let them tell how you did everything they asked (and perhaps even more) and never asked for anything in return.

And they may forever tell the world that you are a scoundrel. And they may never truly believe you. But God will know. That you tried. That you did all that you could.

Do all that you can, Mark. Start today. Get in your car and go.


  1. JS Park says:

    This is really great. I found this through Donald Miller’s Twitter. You might be getting some traffic. Woo!

  2. Chris flores says:

    Exactly right – I’ve been hurt in this way too – more damaged than I ever thought possible – I’ll never get the apology that I wish I got – if I did it would be filled with manipulation and ingenious statements – for those who are hurting through things like this – you gotta tell yourself daily Jesus is better – better than prophets , better than Angels, better than man – latch onto him and he will meet you and heal you!

    • Ellen says:

      Chris, I had to remind myself several times a day that God will never leave me nor forsake me. I had been so convinced that He wanted nothing to do with me because the church wanted nothing to do with me. I know now that God is not like them and they are not like Him. One day, I would love to write my final post. The one about the apology I receive. The God-honoring conclusion to my own experience. Wouldn’t it be great if I could do that?

  3. Michaela says:

    Good writing Ellen!

    In the case of Mark Driscoll, not only should he apologize in person to the people he harmed, he should apologize in public as well. The harm he caused was public and so should his apology.
    He owes apologies to several of the godly elders whom he wrongly fired and wrongly accused and had shunned. Mr. Petry and his wife are owed an apology. Publicly.

  4. Michaela says:

    Hi Ellen,

    I just found repentantpastor dot com where some of the pastors at Mars Hill Church in Seattle have written confessions of how they sinned against pastor/elder Paul Petry and Brent Meyer and forced them out on false charges.

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