2.png
Dear Driscoll(3).png
Search

DEAR PASTOR MARK

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

Abstract: My family attended The Trinity Church for nearly three years, and my wife attended Mars Hill several years ago. I served on the security team for eight months. I served as the Director of Security for only seven weeks (Feb 27th – Apr 18th, 2021) until I resigned due to the pastor’s immoral, unethical, and unbiblical actions. I did not see these issues until I became part of the inner circle where I attended meetings and participated in “top-secret conversations.” I acknowledge I was complicit in executing the duties of my position. I did not get fired, nor was I kicked out of the church as others have been. I could not continue down the same path as the “leadership” of the church, as that is not who I am, nor who God called us to be.


Many of you reading this have read other articles released this past month. I have had people reach out saying those things are not valid and the stories are one-sided. These folks were not part of the meetings or conversations I describe below. I directly witnessed these things happen, participated in meetings and discussions, or validated information others shared with me.


For those that seek truth, I encourage you to read with an open mind. This article is lengthy, so I linked a Table of Contents below to help navigate. I have also included as many emails and messages as possible in an attempt to show this is not “hearsay.” I encourage you to read them as they help paint the full picture.


Feel free to reach out with questions or clarification.

Table of Contents

Dear Pastor Mark,


I love you and have been in constant prayer for you, your family, and the church.


To say that you are a gifted and charismatic speaker would be an understatement. God has given you the ability to teach the Word in a manner I have never seen before. It is captivating and keeps people yearning for more. You speak with boldness, especially on controversial issues, and I have heard many say that is what they love about Trinity and why they love to listen to you preach. The same passion drew my family and me to Trinity and kept me there for two and a half years.


My wife attended Mars Hill in 2007 and 2008. My family and I began watching your sermons online in early 2018 and later moved to Phoenix that fall and began attending Trinity in person. I was aware of issues at Mars Hill, but I wanted to come into our new church, our new home, with a fresh perspective that was my perspective and not what others had experienced or shared. Until recently, I never investigated any of the previous articles that were published or the interviews.

Truth and Ownership

I contemplated not even writing this letter. I have prayed about it many times over. I was not going to bring anything forward. I wanted to walk away peacefully and part our ways and just move on. I tried bringing things up to you and your pastors on numerous occasions. I witnessed you and your pastors slander those you kicked out of the church, including former pastors and those that left willingly, on their own accord. I knew it was only a matter of time before my family's name was tossed around like the others as "demonic, lying, one-sided, etc." The recent articles published with my name were missing some key details to paint the complete picture. Understandably, the story is nearly impossible to cover in a few pieces, especially if the author did not live it first-hand. I felt it is important to speak my narrative as I am the one who lived it and will have to live with this for the rest of my life here on Earth.


I am not claiming innocence in the events outlined below. I take full responsibility for decisions I made, given the information I had and the personalities I faced. I also understand I was complicit just by pure association. The church has been blaming me for saying things like, "Well, Chad was the Director of Security. He recommended this or that…". That is true. I did make recommendations for various situations, as anyone in my position would do. Grace told Kim Thompson "Chad made us do it," referring to the hiring the company to follow the Manuele family. You and I are both well aware that nobody at Trinity makes you do anything.


In many cases, your pastors lied about and exaggerated the scenarios. They habitually make the threat conditions around you and your family seem more inflated and severe than they are. There were many times along the way that I spoke up but was dismissed. I knew it was only a matter of time before my family became another statistic and became excommunicated.


As you have stated, "Cowardly Christianity just wants to do good things, but doesn't want to say hard things." I am here to say the hard things, especially for those who feel they cannot.


Director of Security

On Saturday, February 27th, 2021, a man got on stage during service. The man was asking for prayer. He did not try to attack you or anyone else. He was removed from the stage and taken out front, where he was arrested on the church's front steps for an outstanding warrant not church-related. Even while being handcuffed, he was asking for prayer, to which some of our men graciously prayed over him.


That evening, during Trinity Students, I served security at the west gate entrance to the back yard (children's area) I had many times before. Christian Gonzalez, a Mesa, AZ police officer and Pastor Landon's part-time assistant, came to relieve me at my post to meet with Pastor Brandon in the sanctuary to conduct a de-brief and walk through of the situation. I could tell John Welnick was frustrated, so I asked him how he was doing. He responded,


"Not good. Pastor Mark is really upset with me because I didn't draw my firearm on the man that got on stage. Pastor Mark said I didn't respond quick enough and I put him in danger."

I told John, "Pastor Mark is wrong. In a situation like this, you should always aim to deescalate. Drawing your firearm would have immediately escalated the situation."


Pastor Brandon asked to speak with me outside, where he informed me he relieved the previous Director of Security and asked me to take over as the new Director, full-time. I told him I would need to pray about it and talk it over with my family; as Brandon stated, it would require me to leave my current job.


The following morning, we had an early morning emergency security meeting with all volunteers. In this meeting Pastor Brandon let the team know that he had asked the former head of security to step down. Mistakes were made and it was time to take security to a new level. This didn’t sit well with many of the men who confided in me that the pastors lack of ownership in the lack of support they gave the previous lead was abhorrent. He is a good man who served faithfully for a long time and this is how he was treated? This should have been my first clue.


Brandon and I met for coffee the following Monday afternoon, where we discussed the role and responsibilities of the position. I already had a few days to pray about this and felt God telling me to continue volunteering and not taking a paid position with the church. At the time, I did not know why God was telling me this as I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to fulfill this role at Trinity, where I could serve God full-time. Over the next seven weeks, I continued to volunteer an average of 50 hours per week, as did many others. I never pursued the role of Director, nor did I ever ask for it. I never tried to get close to the Driscoll family, nor did I ever care about that.


Resigning as the Director of Security

On Sunday, April 18th, 2021, I resigned as the Director of Security after serving for only seven weeks. I did not get fired from my position, nor was I asked to leave as many others had been. I tried to be polite and professional, as I was still planning to attend the church and pursue the Chaplain Certification Program. I was careful with my wording because I feared my family would also be shunned and kicked out, as I had witnessed happen to many other families.


I spoke with you and Pastor Brandon on the phone that evening, once again sharing many issues and frustrations with the poor pastoral behavior. You shared with me that you were going to meet with those that remained on the security team to hear them out and understand their concerns so you could game plan a positive change. I decided to write an email to clarify some issues that were not sitting well with me. This email shows some examples of frustrations and the toxic culture forced upon the security team. Each service was a battle with the pastors and staff.


In this email, you will see the conversation I had with you and Brandon on the phone. I was optimistic and hoped there would be some good in me and others resigning. I prayed for positive change as I have consistently recognized the need for a strong security team. We need that across all groups and the entire church. The last part still holds true. My goal is not to be divisive or damaging. Instead, shine a light on the darkness in hopes others will know the truth and make an informed decision for themselves.


Conflict Resolution

Mathew 18:15-20 tells us how to handle issues if your brother sins against you. Many of us involved tried this approach many times over with no success. We brought concerns to your pastors and other staff members on numerous occasions. I brought many items of concern up to you directly, both face to face and over the phone.


  • How do you expect anyone to bring forth concerns when your immediate action is to kick people off the property and out of church altogether?

  • How can anyone bring forth a concern and resolve issues without a proper and accessible board of Elders to hold you and the other pastors accountable?

  • How can anyone feel comfortable bringing forth a concern when you threaten to "bankrupt them in court and bleed them dry?"

  • How can anyone feel comfortable bringing forth a concern when you and your pastors gossip and slander church members and their families behind their backs?

These concerns are evident in the ever-increasing list of people who have been officially trespassed through the Scottsdale Police Department and the internal Be-on-the-Lookout (BOLO) list.


Leadership

I retired from the Marine Corps in 2018. I had the opportunity to serve under some of the best and worst leadership the world has to offer throughout my career. I learned a lot from both. Whether it is military, corporate, or ministry, the culture and tone for the organization start at the top, with the Senior Leader. In this case, the Senior Pastor.


Jesus is the perfect example of servant leadership. Scripture gives many examples. In his book, Lead Like Jesus – Revisited, Ken Blanchard shares about Leading an Organization.

"Leading like Jesus in an organization creates a new culture that affects all relationships and every result. When people know the leader cares about them and wants to help them grow, a new culture of trust and community develops, resulting in both high performance and great human satisfaction. By valuing both relationships and results, Jesus created a culture for an effective organization."

What I see missing from Trinity's leadership is the value of relationships. You talk endlessly on stage about how you are driven by results. However, the concern is the lack of true pastoring and shepherding God's people. The relational aspect is lacking, even with those working directly for you. I have witnessed you and your staff slander and put down people within the church, even those serving closest to you, then act friendly to their faces. There is a lot of talking about people, but not to people. How is this relational? How is this loving? How is this Christ-like?


Why did you mention in January that Trinity is no longer a relational church, but the Pastors and staff need to focus on the relationships with those who donate a certain amount of money, at a minimum remembering their names and saying hi to them?


The church family needs genuine relationships.


Relationship Questions

Speaking of relationships. Here are a few questions of concern. I am fully aware they are personal familial questions, but it shows a pattern of how you treat those that should be closest to you. This pattern carries over to the church staff and their behavior.

  • Why do you not have a good relationship with Pastor Landon's parents?

  • They are your daughter Ashley's in-laws.

  • Why do you not have a good relationship with Chloe's parents?

  • They are your son Zac's in-laws.

  • I discussed with Brandon about the in-laws not allowed on the property as I heard this across the campus throughout the congregation.

  • Why did Pastor Brandon kick Chloe's mother, Jolie Monea, off campus the Wednesday before Zac and Chloe's wedding?

  • Why do you cause division with Pastor Brandon's in-laws, specifically Lanna Andersen's stepfather and the family?

  • Why is it that when there were serious concerns of a staff members inappropriate behavior with children, you and your pastors swept it under the rug requesting me to get rid of the paperwork trail?

  • Why did you laugh and make a mockery of the situation?

  • Why is it that Pastor Brandon told me that Pastor Landon had been the biggest thorn in his side this past year, yet nobody has done anything about it? Is it because he is your son-in-law?

  • On my phone call with you on Sunday, April 18th, 2021, I told you Pastor Landon causes the biggest issues across your campus: his personality, demeanor, lack of professionalism, lies, slander, toxicity, etc. I told you my genuine concern was if this didn't change, what type of husband and father would he be going forward. Your only response was, "Well, at least Ashley gets the best version of him."

  • What are you doing to develop him positively? Why create division with his parents and his brother, Luke Chase, who recently resigned after working for you for several years?

  • How many coincidences need to occur before it is no longer a coincidence?

Young Pastors & Harassment

As the Senior Pastor, you are responsible for the training and development of your staff. You have an incredibly young crew of pastors who lack discernment and professionalism on a deep level. They slander, gossip, and curse church congregants and volunteers. Your pastors consistently overreact and have even harassed people and kicked them off the property for crazy reasons, such as complimenting someone's shoes and a lady's name.


You have a staff of "yes men" that will do nearly anything you request, with little to no pushback. Some of them are scared to speak up because, as history with other pastors shows, they will get fired or sued.


On Sunday, April 11th, the man who got on stage walked on the sidewalk in front of the church when your pastors, staff members, and a few security members started following and taunting him to his apartment. Pastor Eden and John Welnick were the primary individuals harassing him, walking alongside him the entire way, only a couple of feet away from him. You can read the full details in my Incident Report and Kevin Pankey's Incident Report. A few weeks later, Kevin resigned and wrote a letter to Brandon expressing his concern and letting him know he and his wife were leaving the church.


Organizational Structure and Eldership

In an Organizational Chart you shared with the staff, the "wise counsel" falls under you. You do not list your Elders on this chart, but you have often referred to them as “Overseers”. Many may be unfamailiar with the term overseer, so I wanted to share an excerpt from Dr. Wayne Grudem’s book, "Systematic Theology":


"Another term used for elders in the New Testament is a Greek work episkopos, which is variously translated as “overseer” or “bishop,” depending on the individual passage and the English translation. But this word also seems quite clearly to be another term used for elders in the New Testament usage. For example. When Paul has called to him the elders of the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:17), he says to them, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (Gk. Episkopos)” (Acts 20:28). Paul quite readily refers to these Ephesian elders as “overseers.”

Other articles have been written about you not having a board of elders. When, in fact, you do have a board of overseers that are geographically distributed, or translocal.

You no longer list this team on The Trinity Church Leadership page. You used to have them listed, and they can be seen on an archived version of the Trinity Website from February 2021. Why are they now hidden?


At Mars Hill, your elders were mostly local. I remember sitting in your office with you discussing some security issues and how the church is structured. You said something along the lines of


"I learned a lot of lessons from my last church. I set this one up differently on purpose. We have a solid defense strategy. Don't forget; I am the one in charge. If things go south this time, I won't go down the way I did last time".

What exactly did you mean by this?


You speak extensively about the need for Elders in a church, their qualifications, and how an elder board should be structured in your book titled "Doctrine."


You shared on your Mars Hill Leadership Page:


"Jesus calls qualified men to lead his church as elders, whom we also call pastors. Qualifications for eldership are found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and include leading their families well, a record of serving Jesus well both in the church and in everyday life, a thorough knowledge of the Bible and a mature Christian walk, and a good reputation both in and out of the church.
The primary duties of elders include praying and studying Scripture, leading the vision of the church, caring for the people of the church, teaching, living lives that are exemplary, protecting the people of the church from false doctrine and teachers, and developing other leaders."

One of your overseers, Jimmy Evans, spoke about Church Governance at The Trinity Church. He said some remarkable things about how translocal governance doesn’t work.



“There's something wrong with their form of governance, I can't, I can't put my finger. They do have a plural leadership but their plural leadership has translocal and they don't have a local leadership.
Now if your church is new, like Pastor Mark, Robert and I are on the board here at The Trinity Church and so and we will be until they have local elders and then they'll raise them up. So, if your church is new, it takes a while to get elders.
So I was praying one day about this issue. And I was thinking about my friends who have this translocal elder, that’s their form of governance.
But I was praying and here's what the Lord said to me, their form of governance requires too much integrity.
That's exactly what’s wrong. If you have a really Integris person, who is the senior pastor and they have a translocal…you don't live with me, how do you know how I treat people. I only invite you in when I want you to come. You know I may I may invite you to come in every two or three years to preach, but you don't know me, you don't know how I treat my wife you don't know how my kids are. And because of that you're over here…and they're setting their salaries, the trans local people are setting their salaries. So the accountability is as close as I want it to be.
Remember the story I told you about New Life Church? Elaborate overseers, eldership, board, not one single person knew what was going on in the church, until it hit the international media. Church of about 10,000 people.
A pastor can hide. So there needs to be a form of governance that requires the right amount of integrity, and that is in our form of governance we live among you. The people that hold us accountable are the people that we meet with monthly live with daily. And so that you look at my eyes and smell my breath. You know what's going on. And that's the way it needs to be.”

How can your overseers execute the duties required when they are translocal?

How can anyone in the church, especially staff, raise concern when the elders are not accessible and your pastors, including you, have a decorated history in mistreating people in egregious ways, including immediately kicking people out of the church for simply bringing up a serious concern?

Your overseers are complicit by allowing this behavior to happen while they remain inaccessible.


Family Values and Family Business

In another security meeting, you told the team that you are the "Head Coach," and no decisions are made without your guidance and ultimate approval. You told the team if they did not like that, they could find another team. You went on to say the church is structured on your family's values and the security team is to support what you and your family believe. How about what God's values are and supporting what the Bible says? This struck a nerve with many because you have referenced the church as a family business on numerous occasions. Your social media managers even attempted to mock the situation on Facebook and then edited it later. Was that also your decision, or just immaturity on your social media manager's part?


There have been occasions where church members have wanted to assist with planting and growing some ministry presence at other churches and organizations. They were told this is a family business, and they needed to keep it in-house. Out of curiosity, what would Jesus say about this? Isn't the Church the body of Christ, not a building or business, and are we not called to go out and spread the Gospel?


As Ron Wheeler shared: "You can't preach Jesus and then force your people to not compete with you in spreading the gospel."


First Security Meeting With You, As the "Director"

On Wednesday, March 10th, 2021, we held our first security meeting with me as the new Director. This meeting was in your office during the discussion time of Real Men's. I had only been in the position for a little over a week. I prepared a detailed Security Plan Overview brief for you to outline a comprehensive security strategy.


Earlier that morning, during Flourish, a lady yelled at Grace in front of the church. Marc Stirton was standing beside her and did nothing to intervene or deescalate the situation. There were two male staff members nearby. They did not interfere because, as we were all told, if a Driscoll Detail member is nearby or handling a situation, no one interrupts. Why would your staff inject themselves when Marc Stirton had it under control?


I was barely a minute or two into the briefing when you interrupted me to give me an overview of your background as a Pastor. You proceeded to talk endlessly about yourself, saying things like, "I have the fastest growing church in the nation. I have the largest ministry presence in the southwest United States. My content reaches more people per month than any other church, and in December alone, I hit over 10 million people around the globe. Every church in the valley is shutting down, and I am exploding. It's miraculous how quickly I have grown." It was alarming to me how much you talked about yourself. It was all about YOU. It was all about numbers. It was apparent to me that "It's all about Driscoll."


You also shared some things about what you and your family went through at Mars Hill. You shared with me that many people turned on you, and even your head of security had "crossed you." You then proceeded to talk about the incident that occurred that morning with a lady yelling at Grace. You began to curse and slander the men on your staff, even saying, "I don't trust any of the men on my staff, and I mean any of them." You talked about how weak they are, and you could not believe none of them stood up for Grace and how you should fire them. You said it with such anger and hatred in your tone. Shortly after, we were discussing a Threat Assessment I had scheduled for that Friday. I had to tell you several times the threat assessment was not a training event. You kept demanding all the men on your staff to show up for the training, even though I assured you the Arizona Counter-Terrorism Officer specified it is NOT training, and only Brandon and I could be there. You persisted and made it known once more that you did not trust any of the men on your entire staff. You turned to Brandon, pointing at him, and exclaimed, "It is your f*cking problem, and you will f*cking fix it." I could see the anger in Brandon's face as his skin turned bright red and his eyes wide open. How is this behavior Godly or pastoral? How are you effectively leading your men with a loving, fatherly approach, as you claim?


You told Brandon to let the staff know that all the men better show up for training that Friday or else they would lose their jobs. It was a careless and knee-jerk decision, causing much pain for the men on your staff. Tyler had to cancel his son's birthday party. Pastor Eden had to disrupt vacation plans with his wife months in the making, and another had to cancel marriage counseling that was crucial to their relationship. These personal family issues may seem minor to you, but to them, it was crushing. I talked to them right after that meeting, outside near the parking lot. I could see a mixture of hurt and anger in their eyes, emotions I would continue to see over the next several weeks.


During this meeting, I saw first-hand why your staff walks on eggshel