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Mars Hill Church in Seattle does the right thing! ! !

There has been much ado about Mars Hill Seattle having lawyers issuing “Cease and Desist” orders for churches to change names and logos…

The main issue, besides being presumptuous and arrogant, is that they violated (clearly) the instruction on how God’s people and the church should handle conflict and disagreement – and a prescriptive restriction that we are not to use the world’s court system to settle our disagreements, for even just courts do not handle matters in accordance with God’s command, and it is very hurtful to Christ’s name.  There are a lot of infuriated and flabbergasted people.

I just received this notification – part of which is copied here….

At Mars Hill we like to be generous with everything we’ve been given. For over ten years, we’ve made all of our sermons available for free online, invested significant time and money to help raise up thousands of leaders around the globe through theresurgence.com, and given millions of dollars to plant dozens of churches through Acts 29. Recently, this has grown to include such things a free Leadership Coaching and Campaign research to help other churches and ministries grow. We love other churches and ministries, and we love giving generously to serve them.

By God’s grace, our ministry has grown to the place where we’re recognized by people all over the world. With this kind of recognition, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the influence that God has given us to tell people about Jesus.

Sadly, in addition to giving things away, we’ve also had things taken. We’ve had churches cut and paste our logo, take our website code and copy it completely, had ministry leaders cut and paste documents of ours, put their name on them to then post online as if it were their content, and even seen other pastors fired for preaching our sermons verbatim.

We’re not the only church called Mars Hill, and occasionally there arises confusion between us and other churches that share the “Mars Hill” name, particularly as we now have our churches in four states. This was the case recently when one of our members called us to find out if we had planted Mars Hill churches in the Sacramento, California area. We had not, but when we went to these churches’ websites, it was obvious to us how people could be confused. Each of these three connected churches in the Sacramento region—planted in 2006, 2007, and 2010—bore the “Mars Hill” name and their logo was substantially similar to the logo we’ve used since 1996.

When cases like this arise in the business world, it’s customary for a law office to send a notice asking the other organization to adjust their branding to differentiate it. This is commonly referred to as a cease and desist letter. On September 27, 2011, our legal counsel sent such a letter to these three Mars Hill churches requesting that they change their logo and name. In hindsight, we realize now that the way we went about raising our concerns, while acceptable in the business world, is not the way we should deal with fellow Christians. On Friday we spoke with the pastor of Mars Hill in Sacramento to apologize for the way we went about this. We had a very productive conversation and look forward to continuing that conversation in the days and weeks ahead.

We made a mistake in not calling these churches prior to sending the letter. We should have picked up the phone before sending any other communication.

Celebrate this brave and bold humility of Mars Hill for doing this.  We commend Mark and the leadership for doing this.  It is very rare for people to do so today.  Thank you to MH for the humility to stand up, recant a decision and to do the honorable thing.  I admit – my faith is restored in the honor and dignity to do this.

My one counsel is that MH does not have the option, even if this church did not agree to modify its logo or name, to use the courts.  That is NOT a condition of God’s Word – it is an outright sin to do so…. they cannot do this, Biblically, even if wronged.  It is a matter of doing it God’s way obediently or not.  To use the courts, even to demand one’s rights, is sin.  It hurts Christ’s name, defames the church, and isn’t an exception the prescriptive command of God gives us.  I am really glad for this resolution, but the last paragraph is a conditional statement, not a full embrace of the Biblical command of how to settle issues…

Now, may we all – all stop being Americans and be the aliens and strangers, the ambassadors, the priests we are sent to be – may we be true to our King, even when it’s not fair, not right, not in our favor, not what we want… may we be humble and care and live as living sacrifices…. all references to passages you know absolutely intended!

Peace and Good night!
Mike

PS:  I’m truly excited a this humble and right step….  Thanks MH!

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One response

  1. drkaristai

    By comparing their situation to normal practices in the “business world” they really show their hand in regards to what framework controls their ethic. They’ve gone native to our capital-consumerist culture and perhaps if they didn’t see their name as a brand, their image as a commodity to be sold in the market they would have seen clearly God’s word on disputes within the church body.

    It’s a good thing that they’ve backed off these churches and approached them in a way that is right but I don’t know if I would call that humble. Its possible I’m not being gracious towards this institution but I’ve had enough. I see a pattern of being belligerent first, making apologies second with not only Driscoll but the leadership of MH. In the stretch of time that I’ve been aware of MH’s actions in church and culture I have not found humility to be amongst their virtues.

    24 October 2011 at 23:05

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