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Former Mars Hill Exec. Pastor Writes on Repentance, Forgiveness in High-Level Church Leadership

Sutton Turner, a former executive pastor and executive elder of what once was Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has posted a heartfelt treatise on repentance and forgiveness as the megachurch continues to disband. Turner, self-described as pastor Mark Driscoll’s “right-hand man” on Sunday mornings, wrote on the InvestYourGifts.com website he has experienced an unprecedented season of spiritual growth and personal sanctification in his work with Driscoll and Mars Hill churches and pastors.

“I am writing this post to help other leaders like me,” Turner began. “I pray that someone—even just one person—can be spared the consequences of his/her own mistakes by paying careful attention to mine beforehand. I also pray that my public confession of sin and admission of mistakes will further enhance opportunity for reconciliation and restoration among those with whom I have experienced conflict.”

Turner wrote in retrospect he acted sinfully as a leader and teacher with Mars Hill by perpetuating the damaging culture that had existed since the church’s early days. In the early 2010s, Turner realized his error and began to repent and make changes. “I do look back on 2011 and 2012 with a lot of regret,” he admitted. “But I’m also very thankful for the Holy Spirit and his ability to grow us all to be more like Jesus.”

Turner then explained in detail what he’s learned personally about biblical repentance, forgiveness and God’s great grace. He described true repentance as “confession to contrition to change,” urging leaders not to be deceived: “Our sin wreaks havoc on our lives when it grows because it goes unchecked, unevaluated and unrepented.” He then instructed readers to “preach the gospel to themselves.”

“His perfection was credited to my account,” he concludes. “The punishment has been paid in full. It is finished. This would be double jeopardy if a Christian’s sins were punished twice. This truth gives us full freedom to repent freely to God and others, knowing that it does nothing to affect my standing with him.”

Turner spent several years in the business world, working in Texas and the Middle East before serving at Mars Hill. According to his biography, Turner oversaw Mars Hill’s central operations and business functions, including finance, property, media and communications, and technology. He also trained and mentored the executive pastors and deacons across all Mars Hill Church locations. His book, Invest Your Gifts for His Missionpublished in 2013 and tells how he accumulated wealth, position and leisure in the business world, only to later gain an eternal perspective, count the cost, and give it all for the glory of God.

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Toni Ridgaway is a content editor for the Outreach Web Network, including churchleaders.com and SermonCentral.com.