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Author Topic: Open letter to Mark Darling  (Read 38920 times)
Anonamous X
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« on: March 19, 2007, 05:39:16 pm »

I got this open letter from a friend about Evergeen (GCM) in Minneapolis, I just wanted to see what others thought of this. It puts Mark Darling and Jim McCotter togethor, as Mark Darling as one of the students of JimMcCotter. Here it is:



JUST WHO IS PASTOR MARK DARLING?

A Detailed Explanation of Evergreen Community Church’s Public Relations Complex

Covering Their Back-History as a Great Commission International Church

AND

A More Correct History of Evergreen Community Church and the Rock

November 1, 2006

My husband and I left Evergreen Community Church (ECC), The Rock, and formerly Great

Commission International (GCI) that is currently known as Great Commission Ministries, or

GCM—and we are glad to be out now. We have spent sometime researching into Evergreen

Community Church’s past history, its questionable public relations activities and what we found is

quite scandalous. This narrative open letter from my husband and I is a depiction of a bona fide

concern about the Evergreen Community Church System, or “ECCS” as we call it. Many of us

were taken advantage by psychological manipulation by Ken Johnson and Brent Knox, but

ultimately by Mark Darling himself. And that we cannot, in good-conscience and in good-faith

stand back and allow these wrongdoings to continue and let the same events happen to others in a

community of good people we love so much. We beg you to just read this long open letter in full

and consider even slightly one issue we are writing about. It might be difficult to believe, but

this is the candid truth about Evergreen Community Church, The Rock, GCM and lastly Pastor

Mark Darling.

THAT’S WHY WE WROTE THIS OPEN LETTER TO YOU—

TO HELP MANY SEE THE TRUE NATURE OF THE MEGA CHURCH

BRAIN-CHILD OF MARK DARLING AND OF THE TRUE HISTORY OF

EVERGREEN COMMUNITY CHURCH AND THE ROCK

THAT IS NOT QUITE HARMLESS AS YOU THOUGHT IT WAS.

Based upon the results of our research, interviews, formal letters from Great Commission

International’s National Head Quarters: The 1991 Statement of Weaknesses Letter; many

personal experiences and noting the sheer obvious, we are convinced that the Evergreen

Community Church System, ECCS, The Rock, The Urban Refuge and any Evergreen “sisterchurch”

is very much a destructive religious faction.

The public face of Evergreen has changed dramatically since Mark Darling’s first days of

preaching in Regina Woman’s High School in South Minneapolis in May 1987. Not many know of

those early days since they at the ECCS and the Evergreen Public Relations Complex have

censored or controlled intentionally that part of their church history out of the mental psyche in

the public forum. We are now seeing a meticulously crafted, so-called kinder, gentler image that

Mark Darling wants people to observe, but far from the realities of what it really is: the Evergreen

Community Church is a manipulative organization that has specific end results for gains by Mark

Darling himself, as we will show in the following paragraphs. We will tell you by the letter’s end

what those appalling intensions are by the presentation of this multifaceted corroboration by my

family, others and good people that have loved Evergreen from the very beginning, from before

1989—the truer back-story behind the Evergreen Community Church experiment.

This complex story begins with the advent of a public relations campaign initiated by Mark

Darling and Brent Knox in the late 1980’s at that time. Enter a well-established and wellconnected

PR firm based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and New York City. This PR firm marketed

and managed image-development for the Evergreen Community Church System—it was called

then at that time “Great Commission International Church” that was located in South

Minneapolis in the early part of 1987 thru early 1989. Please note, interviews of early church

members, believe that Mark Darling was the initial and main contact, knowing how shocking

Darling’s jaded past would affect the growth the Evergreen Community Church System to become

a mega-church in the Twin Cities: something had to be done for image enhancement. So with

image development circa late 1980’s, press writing innovation, phone calling, PR writing skills,

network connections, this Evergreen Public Relations Complex was created to make a new and

improved “Evergreen” and a Mark Darling of a large and growing mega church in the Twin Cites,

even before it had that notoriety!

As we so fondly call it now, this Evergreen Public Relations Complex was in high gear from the

very beginning.

There were three distinct purposes for this PR campaign ultimately masterminded and authored

by Mark Darling himself. The first was trying to cover the past of Darling’s personal history, the

lack of competencies of Mark Darling as a leader; second, the consistent failures of Great

Commission International as a legitimate denomination because of the 1991 Statement of

Weaknesses Letter release; and lastly, and the social engineering of the church by Mark Darling

himself by Darling’s manipulation of the church leadership.

First you must understand that this Evergreen Public Relations Complex for “Evergreen” circa

1987 – 1989, as it was then called, “Great Commission International Church,” meeting in Regina

Girl’s High School in South Minneapolis. So the first item on the agenda was to change the name

of the church. The name was changed into “Evergreen Community Church.” Many of us still

remember that Sunday morning at Regina Girl’s High School that 1989 spring day when Mark

Darling proposed the name change unilaterally. One day it was brought up, and it was basically

changed. We were told as a congregation if we wanted to “be better witnesses for Christ,” we

needed a more attractive name for our church. Great Commission International was not at all

attractive to the world we were told, even though it is a Scriptural based term, it was

“inappropriate.” Darling took this unilateral decision that he made as what we wanted as a

congregation. Note there was no vote, or no congregation discussion at all. And if any naysayers

voiced their concern in the services, Darling or Darling-supporters at that time would somehow

make their concerns invalid, as this was going to happen. And it did.

Step one: Change the name of the church. And it was changed. This Evergreen Public Relations

Complex was real and happening right under our noses, and many did not see it at all, or were

very oblivious to it. It was working. Some of us thought it made sense, but there was a subtext of

deceit through it all. None of us at Great Commission International (GCI) wanted this to happen.

We were a community run by the brain-child mega church Mark Darling wanted solely. Secondly,

there is no real paper trail via Padilla Speer Beardsley Public Relations as in a professional viable

contract to the church, YET the connected community and the public relations assets offered to

Mark Darling and Brent Knox was invaluable, FREE, and independent of us as the writing

professional at Padilla Speer Beardsley Public Relations was a member of Great Commission

International at that time! Thus, Great Commission International Church became the footstool, if

you will, of Mark Darling, and Brent Knox to do what they felt would make this small church into

a mega-church in twelve to eighteen months. Those two men changed the features of Great

Commission International in Minneapolis, at the core, from the name Great Commission

International to Evergreen Community Church, and moved us to the Bloomington site, at 106th

Street and 35W. You are most likely reading this at the 106th Street site, at The Rock, online or

received this by some other means.

Within weeks of the name changing, the mass mailing occurred and mass phone calling from a

small church in South Minneapolis, so inconspicuous, that if you were to go back to the church in

the Fairview-Riverside area of Minneapolis, no one would even glace a second at the church that

started the Evergreen PR Campaign, the Evergreen Public Relations Complex. Brent Knox was

the mastermind behind this phone-call campaign, administratively. Every night during the

summer of 1989 we were at the phones calling people all over the Twin Cities Metro area asking if

they would be interested in a short survey based on the mailing that they received mostly based

about what “church” meant to the homeowner. A basic bait-and-switch tactic for marketing our

church. We wanted them to come to this new and “large” Evergreen Church. Don’t get my

husband and I wrong that PR has its place in professional life, but when a whole church goes from

fifty-five members to a thousand in less than a year based on a public relations campaign, there

must be some re-considerations. This was pre-internet, so mass mailings and phone calling was

the spam of the day and it was working.

My husband remembers one day coming in one day early to the call center, and Mark Darling was

sitting there getting ready for the night’s calling, and it was a very candid discussion about what

the purpose of the phone calling was. Basically it was about the law of numbers to create a mega

church overnight. For every one-hundred people that were called on the phone, one person

would commit him/herself or family to this ministry. Darling had the PR assets and informed

them that this was the modern technology to glean new recruits at an accelerated rate.

The first goal was obtained by the Evergreen Public Relations Complex: a larger congregation by a

change of venue and en-masse mailing and phone calling campaign. Change the history of

Evergreen was the next step. Overnight, the Evergreen Public Relations Complex covered the

history of the fact that Mark Darling was a high school dropout, since he was a pastor of a large

and growing congregation, all based on the law of numbers of our phone calling and mass

mailings. No one new asked where this Mark Darling came from: he was an attractive, handsome

and winsome speaker. Why question his history? He was a successful church leader. The more

people we called or sent mailing out to, the more people came, and did not question the history of

the church or its leader, or where we came from or how we got there. We were just the large

church everyone loved to go to on Sundays that served donuts after each service. Other phone

centers opened periodically, and many mass mailings every month ensued. My husband helped a

lot in these early days. The early years Evergreen “dynamic duo,” as I liked to call it, was Mark

Darling and Brent Knox, believed more and more in the mass mailing so that more would come

and visit us at the new site in Bloomington. The church grew dramatically fast. The mission of

the new and improved Evergreen Community Church was gaining momentum. And there was no

stopping this mega church from growing larger by the month, a personal and deep vision of Mark

Darling.

That was the law that we were told over and over on those many summer nights in 1989 calling

people late into the night. “One out of an hundred will come to church….” We called basically the

whole Twin Cites South Metro area. Many people started coming to the new services that were

being held out in Bloomington at 106th Street off of 35W South. Evergreen Community Church

was born in fall of 1989, and nothing of Great Commission International Church was talked about

from that day forward. Even now the topic of Great Commission International (GCI) is avoided at

all costs in the current ECCS. This was Darling’s ultimate goal and first steps to mega church

ownership.

The second purpose of the Evergreen Public Relations Complex was to re-invent the man Mark

Darling. Please note, Mark Darling is basically a high school dropout from Ames, Iowa, and had

nothing but the kindness of a school counselor to let him “graduate.” As Mark Darling is a very

convincing speaker, as some or many of you believe, yet if you consider Darling’s yelling in

sermons as a constant reminder of his “powerful” speaking as convincing, he is uneducated when

it comes to basic theology and church teachings, and uses emotionalism and many personal

stories rather then biblical truth from the Bible to convince the audience of his ideas. He never

went one day to university, or Christian college and declined an offer by a family member to go to

Moody Bible Institute for biblical training in Chicago, Illinois since “it was not what the Twelve

Disciples did.” And if asked about higher education or theology of any leader especially Mark

Darling’s educational background or training, all the Evergreen pastors are trained to retort back

to this displeasing inquiry that none of the Twelve Disciples were not university educated. This

retort is used by Evergreen’s leadership since the early days: a retort designed from the mind of

Mark Darling to keep away any criticism. My husband was at many of the church leaders

meetings and they were solely dominated by Mark Darling, needless-to-say, and that is what he

advised all other leaders to say. And thus, the third PR goal to manipulate the leadership to

follow the lead of Mark Darling.

It is not well known that Mark Darling only received his theological teaching directly from a man

named Jim McCotter while a video game arcade clerk in a post high school job in Iowa via audio

tapes only—Zap Arcade, to be exact, was his place of education. To get the full back-story to

Darling’s educational background, just go and ask the Tape Ministry or Sermon Ministry of any

Evergreen church for the “The Awesome Love of God” series by Mark Darling himself. My

husband and I would be surprised if you could get this tape series; it is an old series, and it is

guarded more tightly now. But this tape series explains the extent of Darling’s education from

Darling’s own mouth. Basically, this tape-series has no real Scriptural basis from a controversial

leader, Jim McCotter. It is a tape series Darling listened to everyday by Jim McCotter. There will

be more on Jim McCotter’s and Mark Darling’s training relationships later in this letter, and that

is where the scandal is revealed.

Darling spiritually abuses people in his church by consistently hollering at them but with “biblical

authority” as the reason for his vigilance. Access a sermon online and see how many times the

issue goes back on you in and during the sermon, or mainly in these State of the Church addresses

at the Minnesota State Theater every January, and how he raises his voice or has some kind of

blaming-natured speaking in the yearly all-church sermons. Listen close to the abusive chatter.

Listen with new ears, as you understand Darling’s personal background.

So the Evergreen Public Relations Complex has to compensate for the verbal abuses by Darling by

reflecting that Darling is a great orator, and so people are more willing to forgive and donate their

finances to the ECC. But the back-history of Darling as a very aggressive and uneducated man,

really cannot be seen with his great speaking ability by the Evergreen PR machine. Darling’s PR

machine has done some great miracles, but this violent and aggressive streak to the Mark Darling

personality that many are not willing to address, but people just avoid this issue at all costs has

worked for Darling’s benefit because of the PR machine that Darling has instilled in the

community-psyche of Evergreen. “Mark is a great preacher…” is what is uttered in the hallways at

all the churches.

All these facts and truths need to be considered when it comes to the Evergreen Public Relations

Complex. A whole tissue of lies has been covered up by Brent Knox to protect their leader Mark

Darling who year-after-year brings in thousands to donate and give money in the hundreds-0fthousands

to the Evergreen mega church. We are not sure who is more liable for fault. Is it

Darling who was the church abuser or Knox and K. Johnson for covering it up with the Evergreen

Public Relations Complex?

Another purpose of the Evergreen Public Relations Complex was to show that Evergreen was

theologically and socially competent. The reason for this outright need was because of The 1991

Statement of Weaknesses release by Evergreen’s National Head Quarters, Great Commission

International. This letter shows that any Great Commission International church (i.e. Evergreen

Community Church, The Rock, GCI, ECC or any ECCS adaptation of this church system) is but

what amounts to as a cult or a cult system that likes to control people. Ask Mark for a copy, or

Brent of the 1991 Statement of Weaknesses. We would be very surprised if they released a copy to

you. Basically, the 1991 Statement of Weaknesses is a document that reflects the fact that GCI,

Great Commission International, the pre-Evergreen national leadership, and any ECCS or GCI

system was highly a micro-management system of leaders and activities that they, the GCI

leadership, felt were wrong, sinful, and very cult-like. For example, women were not allowed to

cut their hair short, were told to keep their hair long, many forms of dating were forbidden,

sometimes even dancing among married partners was forbidden. Some pastors even encouraged

some couples to get married that are now divorced in 2006. As well, a very guarded view of

Scripture was taken, and any deviation from what the “leadership” believed as true that was

preached from the pulpit was dealt with harshly by that same leadership to the church member

who dissented publicly or even privately. Full compliance was what was desired, especially by

Mark Darling. And the list goes on in that letter: the formal apology letter itself is a very long an

involved letter that tries to cover the wrongful and neglectful behavior of Great Commission

International’s churches throughout the nation, casting blame only on a few national leaders. But

in reality, this letter shows how much the organization as a whole is a behavior cult. As a result of

1991 Statement of Weakness, Great Commission International HQ changed their formal name

into “Great Commission Ministries” immediately after the letter was published. A pattern among

cultish groups is constant name changes and history-modifications: a pattern the Evergreen duo

followed too, the pattern Mark Darling, and Brent Knox are so good at doing for their megachurch

objectives.

Note, if you ask the Evergreen Dynamic Duo or other pastors about pre-Evergreen (the years

before 1989), you will get some kind of excuse that those years did not exist, and if you ask about

the 1991 Statement of Weaknesses, you will get a whole set of other excuses, that the document is

a history that they do not want to even consider part of the church’s history because it is a

different church, but rather, they just changed the name, AND THAT IS ALL. That was a direct

statement from Brent Knox, that the history did not exist, the pre-1989 Evergreen. We were

shocked in that was the statement from Brent Knox, very flabbergasted that the pre-1989

Evergreen in Knox’s mind is non-existent. Knox suggests that GCI (Great Commission

International) and GCM (Great Commission Ministries) are not the same church, or offers other

manufactured lies that say the history does not amount to much. But the reality is that Evergreen

Community Church, the Rock, Urban Refuge, ECCS—the Evergreen Community Church

System—and the other churches are all one-in-the-same, have it’s history and social patternmaking

in the Great Commission International history.

AND THAT IS WHY THE WORK OF THE EVERGREEN PUBLIC RELATIONS COMPLEX WAS

HARD AT WORK IN CHANGING THE HISTORY AND AFFILIATIONS WITH GCI.

WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF BRENT KNOX

AND THE EVERGREEN PUBLIC RELATIONS COMPLEX: THE WORK WAS

COMPLETED BECAUSE OF MARK DARLING’S DESIRES WOULD BE DASHED.

It is well-known that the Evergreen system of all churches with all sister churches in the

Minneapolis proper area is currently the third largest church in the Twin Cities, and the Darling

PR expertise has paid-off big, and big it is. But based on the back-histories, manufactured history

and misinformation about name changing and deceitfulness of Brent Knox and Mark Darling, a

logical Evergreen Public Relations Complex has the following issues to deal with: a subsequent

purpose of the Evergreen Public Relations Complex was to keep the image of Evergreen as a firstrate

church even with all this deception of the past thirty years of Mark Darling’s past and GCI’s

history changing and buffering.

A historic note must be revealed at this point for a fuller picture of Daring’s spiritual history.

Rewind about thirty some years to Jim Coleman and Jim McCotter in Iowa, Colorado and the

University of Minnesota college campuses. Mark Darling’s main mentors and teachers

were Jim Coleman and Jim McCotter. These two men, McCotter and Coleman, started the

college ministry “to witness for Christ in their blue jeans” to the college kids of the 1970’s. They

felt if they could reach the men and women of the 1970’s, they would be the future leaders in the

21st Century, and they were correct in that assessment. People like Mark Darling were inducted

after the “training” in Ames Iowa. Then GCI recruited Mark Darling to the Twin Cities with Brent

Knox’s request, and so that is the historical backdrop to this next section and most notorious of

the Evergreen history and cover-up.

The 1970’s Great Commission International started on the correct path, but they wanted to reach

out in what amounted to was a basic Gospel message, but add into this equation, thought-control

and behavior-control. In the early years of the Great Commission International that Mark

Darling and Brent Knox were under, church member’s houses were told to be sold for the

churches budgetary purpose based in the book of Acts, “they sold their homes and gave the

proceeds to the apostles…” Some in that Great Commission International members obeyed these

ideas and some did not in the McCotter and Coleman years. This led to a church split since some

did not want to sell their house and give the money to Coleman or McCotter. This is the history

and social context that Mark Darling grew up in with DIRECT training from Jim McCotter, a

fraud himself asking people for mortgage money. McCotter was Darling’s main teacher, and

McCotter was the man who asked members to give up their mortgages for the “Gospels’ sake.”

And this is the history Mark Darling does not want anyone to recall of the GCI history pages, and

in his “training,” or the annals of the 1991 Statement of Weaknesses. This deception is unmasked,

however, once you get below the surface and see what Evergreen is at a baseline perspective, and

what Darling true purposes are. He amounts to more than a Jim McCotter: the organization has

not changed on a fundamental level—Darling has simply become more adept at covering the past

with the PR Machine he manufactured, and getting more money then ever before, now in the

millions of dollars in investments and in donations.

A second and more darker side to ECC and Mark Darling is the deprogramming and

brainwashing tactics used at New Life, a college ministry, and other ministries. At some points, in

the Evergreen church life at the University of Minnesota, brainwashing tactics were used for

people who wanted to leave New Life by Mark Darling himself. These events are very hard to

document, but deprogramming and brainwashing tactics of soon-to-be ex-church members were

facilitated by Mark Darling and Brent Knox, my husband can assure you. If a man or woman

wanted to leave this group or other ministries, Darling would stay up all night “talking” to that

person, until the next morning, and would not allow the person to leave, not eat, and somehow

the person would decide to stay for a short time after the “meeting.” Faces were exhausted and

food was deprived. The very definition of deprogramming and brainwashing. This not only

happened at New Life, but also at other ministries headed by Darling.

Therefore, Mark Darling has used the Evergreen Public Relations Complex Machine to his

advantage, to make his mega church; to honor and respect him as a legitimate leader even

without a day of training in the classroom; glean masses amounts of money to the church;

covering his past since of his no educational training; cover the deprogramming or brain-washing

tactics Darling so liked in the early days; and foster full-acceptance of his controversial teachings

and practices. The twisted truths of the Darling belief system is seen everywhere in his sermons

as he continues to foster an us-against-them mentality, augmented by a false sense of superiority

of Evergreen or The Rock, and if you leave the church, you are no longer as-good-of-a-Christianas-

you-could-be with deprogramming devices facilitated in the past, and we wonder if they use

deprogramming and brain-washing devices now.

Mark Darling is a fraud like Jim McCotter. One in the same. The student has become better than

the master in this instance.

A SIMPLE POST SCRIPT NOTE TO CONSIDER: IF YOU HAVE ANY REAL ANXIETY REGARDING THESE FACTS AND DO NOT

BELIEVE ANYTHING IN THIS OPEN LETTER, GO AND SPEAK TO BRENT KNOX OR MARK DARLING TO DISAVOW ANY

POINT OF THIS LETTER. YOU MIGHT BE VERY VERY SURPRISED IN HOW ACCURATE THESE DEPICTIONS ARE.
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hope
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2007, 05:40:26 pm »

dear anonymous x-



ok- i’m sure i am missing your whole point here-



but what is so wrong about wanting to advance the kingdom of God and get more people into church?



ok- so maybe if the motive behind it is wrong (like MD wanting to glorify himself or cover up his past- whatever) but only God can judge motives…and didn’t the apostle paul say:



“The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”



I’m with Paul- I rejoice that the Gospel is being preached.

Ok- So maybe its not necessarily being done by a method that i’m comfortable with- i certainly don’t like to get telemarketer calls myself- I don’t feel God calling me to evangelize that way. but hey, it worked didn’t it? Can someone point to some scripture which might command that this method is wrong?



besides being boringly long- this letter isn’t written very well. and it certainly didn’t convince me of anything. i think the letter actually makes the people behind it look silly.



(i mean no offense to your friends…i just think they should have written the letter a little better if they really wanted to convince people of their theory…)
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2007, 05:40:39 pm »

How was this letter presented? Was it handed out to people?

I was a little confused. Is it saying that it’s bad to have a PR campaign? Or is it saying that Mark Darling is trying to hide something with a PR campaign?
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Anonymous50
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2007, 05:41:18 pm »

Not that this comment is to give credence to all that is presented in this letter, but I personally know that Mark Darling, after being relieved of the office of Deacon many years ago in Ames (I can’t exactly remember the reason, but I know it had to do with a pride issue), became quite despondent and crushed (depressed?) and, while working at Zap Arcade (I visited him there several times; the first time after ashamedly putting quarters into the video game machines; at that time, it was a shameful thing to spend your money so foolishly on something that did not count for the kingdom, and you felt extremely embarrassed to be found out spending money at an arcade or on a sandwich at Hardee’s), he spent nearly all his time wired up replaying tapes by Jim McCotter and memorizing the verses mentioned in those tapes. This was his admitted diet for many months. I think over a year. It was his goal, as I recall, to wash out the low view of himself and his failures. It was sometime after this that Mark became a force in Ames and then Minneapolis. I was there, so I vouch for the overall accuracy of this statement, albeit anonymously.



I also know Jim Coleman (and had occasion to hear and talk to Jim McCotter). Jim McCotter was the most dynamic speaker and individual I had ever met, even to this day. His influence was profound and lasts to this day. Jim Coleman, in all my interactions with him, and there had been many, was one of the sweetest, most enjoyable, and genuine and grace-filled persons I had ever met. I have no negative thoughts about Jim Coleman at all. He left GC I’m guessing well over ten years ago now, and since leaving began pastoring (I think I recall) a missionary alliance church somewhere in Colorado (don’t know if that is still true).



Just offering some context, and some confirmation about some of the contents of this letter, without much negative or positive spin attached (even though I have opinions).
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puff of purple smoke
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2007, 05:43:04 pm »

The long letter is a little bit too inflamatory to sound credible, even though it seems like it’s based on some semblance of historical events. It’s kind of hard to take it seriously with phrases like “Evergreen Public Relations Complex ” being thrown around. Not that I discount it entirely, just think it would need to be researched and certainly not taken at face value. Some things that did stick out and have me curious:

In the early years of the Great Commission International that Mark
Darling and Brent Knox were under, church member’s houses were told to be sold for the
churches budgetary purpose based in the book of Acts, “they sold their homes and gave the
proceeds to the apostles…” Some in that Great Commission International members obeyed these
ideas and some did not in the McCotter and Coleman years. This led to a church split since some
did not want to sell their house and give the money to Coleman or McCotter.


I swear I’ve heard something like this before mentioned before, from you Nate? Anyone know the details of this?

Mark Darling’s main mentors and teachers were Jim Coleman and Jim McCotter.

I guess I’ve never looked into who exact was raised up by who, but Mark Darling is VERY influential in the movement is he not? I remember hearing his name mentioned a lot, and I was many states away from his church. He also visited a few times for events. If he was discipled by McCotter, and he’s teaching some of the problematic things McCotter used to teach him, I can see how easily they’d continue to propagate 20 years after McCotter left. I don’t honestly know that much about Mark Darling, but I want to know more. How much of an influence does he have, how “McCotter Era” was his teaching, and is it an absolute fact he was discipled by McCotter?
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Anonymous50
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2007, 05:43:46 pm »

I don’t know how DIRECTLY discipled Mark was by Jim, but he definitely was from that era in Ames, and he was heavily influenced by Jim’s teachings - as all of us were. And as I said in my previous post, Mark immersed himself as he was trying to rebuild what he had lost in influence, in character, and in position when deaconship was taken from him. It was a big blow for him. He said to me that he was essentially “washing” his mind with Jim McCotter teachings and the Word over the course of over a year. The Mark Darling of today is very different than the Mark I knew back then, but the Mark of today is surely much the result of the influences on Mark back then. The single Jim McCotter teaching that he focused on most was “Feeding Daily on the Bread of Forgiveness” and, I think, “With All My Love, God.” And he immersed himself in the Word and memorization.
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Anonymous50
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2007, 05:44:01 pm »

Quite a vacuum was created when Jim left the movement, and there was a sense that we had lost strong leadership and direction. Who were we now? What did we need to do to address the new dynamics of the ’90s and the new millenium? I don’t know this for sure, but I would guess that Mark has desired to fill those shoes in some capacity and move ahead the baton Jim held (I’m not so sure of that though - speculation on my part since I really can’t get into his head). The success of Minneapolis under Mark’s (and Brent’s) leadership encouraged others to follow suit elsewhere (Rock groups popping up around the country), and Mark believed that anyone could do what he was doing. “Franchise” came up often in his language. All the GC leaders could do what he was doing, and should. All the churches could copy what was being done in Minneapolis, and they could have their success. The point he was making is that we needed to get serious about the Great Commission in a way that we weren’t doing at the time. Otherwise, we should drop our vision of reaching the world in this generation and drop our identity as “Great Commission Church.” Again, I was there.
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exshep
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2007, 05:44:44 pm »

Post 111 does interest me. Briefly the renewal by Mark is interesting. When I started going to the GC church in Texas, the pastor and I were comparing notes. He understands how I was bashed up by the loss of a friend. He is quite taken with Minneapolis. Mark promoed Faithwalkers 2006. From what I gather, it sounds like both churches were trying to distance themselves from the shepherding milieu which gave GCI a black eye.

I admit I have been too tired to read the entire string. I will get to get a more acurate assessment. It did get my attention.
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Had friend in Columbus church 80's and 90s. Member left in 1993  Involved GC in Texas  2005-2007.  Empathy to both  with  positive and negative aspects.
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2007, 05:44:58 pm »

Thanks for the replies Anonymous50.
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Reba
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2007, 05:59:29 pm »

To Anonamous X:

It is obvious that Mark Darling is someone that you don’t have a lot of respect for and probably deservingly so.

I did not know any of his background when I knew him. I was a member of GCC/mpls when he moved up from Ames. I thought that is young and dymanic elder.

One of the most negative aspect of knowing him was that he was into total control. I’ve mentioned in another category that I had a relationship with a man a GCC, that with permission from this man that Brent Knox be involved in any issues. I was not OK with this and wish to this day that I had just dropped that friendship. Anyway, this involvement by Brent became common knowledge among some leadership. I got a phone call in early 1987 from one of the small group leaders (it was actually from the women that this man married), that Mark Darling wanted to meet with me. This meeting was schedule late at night, after 10:00 PM. He wanted to know what Brent, myself, and this man was talking about. This whole situation ended up that I left GCC and today I am happy that I don’t have a pastor totally involved in my life.
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2007, 05:59:45 pm »

Reba,
I am stunned again by the moxie these leaders have to insert themselves into people’s personal lives. I guess when Gene started this blog, we had absolutely no idea that the experiences we had and observed were so widespread. Yet they come up again and again.

I have never experienced this over-familiarity in any other church or organization that I have been involved with. I am sure there are many other organizations that have problems like this, but your story is really shameful on the part of the leadership in your group.
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« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2007, 12:39:55 pm »

The original message here did not sound credible to me.

I've never been to the GCM MN churches, but have heard Mark speak off/on over 15 years.  I like the guy.  I believe his wide spread acceptance within GCM nationally (~1991) was based on his humility and helping people see what truly loving your neighbor looked like in today's world.

Around 89-91, all "Great Commission" named churches and campus groups were told to drop G.C. from their name.  That was around the time that GCM had many first time changes like a statement of faith, ELCA accrediation and a formalized national organization.  This is also the time of the "weakness paper" and there were probably some "spin control" at work, but this was not specific to Evergreen.

Some of Mark Darling's early conference messages related to Hudson Taylor (a famous missionary to China)  Hudson truly embraced Paul's charge to be all things to all people. Hudson shocked the religious establishment of the time, by adopting Chineese dress and hairstyle and living "native."  I believe Mark truly embraces that belief as well and will try to be as acceptable to society as possible without compromising his purity or the gospel message.  (Availing himself to marketing experts and others show a greater willingness to accept outside help than many GCM pastors are accused of.)

I could see how:
A.  Rapid growth opens the doors for unqualified leaders, and will stretch a church's ability to adequately equip, train, and pastor new members.  This can result in all sorts of improper actions by people too quickly given responsibilities and without adequate support/accountability.

B.  GCM Minn leaders could share common GCM beliefs in the role of pastoral authority and odd involvement in relationships etc..  Volumes have been written on pastoral pride, arbitrary decision making, loyalty to leaders etc.  

Either of these of these can result in hurt people.  It is hard to place a level of blame on "B" since one could argue that pastors in that case are still acting on good intentions.  Anyhow, last I heard Mark is probably in his early 40's and had just bought his first home, (a modest townhome if I recall) so I don't think he has been spending his last 15 years trying to build some personal empire.  I'm not saying he's right, but this should give some perspective on the "open letter."
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jehu
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« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2007, 04:13:20 pm »

One thing that is legitimate about the letter is its reference to "The Awesome Love of God" sermons, in which Darling does wax autobiographical to his early days.  I've heard them.  I'm wondering, especially since I know copies are still out there in digital form, why they are so hard to get a hold of.  I'd sure like to take another listen.
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« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2007, 07:16:24 pm »

Well, this is my first post here.  I think I'll respond to this thread and then post an introduction in the intro forum later.

While I didn't attend Mark's church, I had many chances to hear him speak at GCM conferences throughout my teens and early 20s.  During those sermons (often with members of his own congregation in attendance), he would often reference his troubled past.

I don't know if he was hiding anything, as the original poster claims, but I can clearly remember him sharing stories about his lack of education, his fierce temper as a young man, and problems in his early life.

With Mark, it never occurred that he was hiding anything about his past.

Just my recollections...

GCCKiddo
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« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2007, 10:17:00 pm »

All I can say is that I went to pre-Evergreen, and there were many things that would shock many in today's youth at ECC and GCM abroad.  One example is the all-night meetings of college kids wanting to leave our group at the U of Minnesota, and Darling trying to "stay' them, starting the "meeting" at 9pm, right after group, and ending it at 4am chatting away.  Mark has a lot to hide, and be ashamed of.  You just don't know all the details.  "Mom never tells you what her and dad fight about between them behind closed doors."   The same with Mark Darling.  Let alone the F-bombs he has dropped at youth confs.  Damn scary there!  Mark is more than a shock-jock pastor, he is a man with deep seeded emotional troubles.  He has a lot to hide.

- The Clone who knows too much
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2007, 06:25:18 am »

Clone,

I'm sure there are many things I don't know anything about.  I just wanted to relay my [limited] personal experience with Mark Darling.

Thanks for adding your thoughts.

GCCKiddo
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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2007, 10:00:23 pm »

From a good source about ECC's fast growth was from a VP at a great PR firm in Minnesota.  Was it the Holy Spirit that made Evergreen grow so fast.  Probably not.  It was Public Relations, named Thomas Jollie.

See an addendum to the "Open Letter to Mark Darling":

This complex story begins with the advent of a public relations professional who attended the ECCS at that time.  Please, enter a man named Tom Jollie, a Vice President of Padilla Speer Beardsley Public Relations.  Jollie was part of a well-established and well-connected PR firm based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and New York City.  Jollie marketed and managed image-development for the Evergreen Community Church System—it was called then at that time “Great Commission International Church” that was located in South Minneapolis in the early part of 1987 thru early 1989.  Please note that the professional relationship with Tom Jollie was requested by Brent Knox, and some, by interviews of early church members, believe that Mark Darling was the initial and main contact, knowing how shocking Darling’s jaded past would affect the growth the Evergreen Community Church System to become a mega church in the Twin Cities: something had to be done for image enhancement.  So with Tom Jollie’s innovation, PR writing skills, network connections, this Evergreen Public Relations Complex was created to make a new and improved “Evergreen” and a Mark Darling of a large and growing mega church in the Twin Cities, even before it had that notoriety!  As we so fondly call it now, this Evergreen Public Relations Complex was in high gear from the very beginning.  

There were three distinct purposes for this PR campaign ultimately masterminded by Mark Darling and authored by Tom Jollie.  The first was trying to cover the past of Darling’s personal history, the lack of competencies of Mark Darling as a leader; second, the consistent failures of Great Commission International as a legitimate denomination because of the 1991 Statement of Weaknesses Letter release; and lastly, the social engineering of the church by Mark Darling himself via the manipulation of the church leadership.  

First you must understand that Tom Jollie did this Evergreen Public Relations Complex work as a volunteer for the “Evergreen” circa 1989 – 1990, as he was a member of the what then it was called, “Great Commission International Church,” meeting in Regina Girl’s High School in South Minneapolis.  So the first item on the agenda was to change the name of the church.  The name was changed into Evergreen Community Church.  Many of us still remember that Sunday morning at Regina Girl’s High School that 1989 spring day when Mark Darling proposed the name change unilaterally.  One day it was brought up, and it was basically changed.  We were told as a congregation if we wanted to “be better witnesses for Christ,” we needed a more attractive name for our church.  Great Commission International was not at all attractive to the world at large we were told, even though it is a Scriptural based term, it was “inappropriate.”  Darling took this unilateral decision that he made as what we wanted as a congregation.  Note there was no vote, or no congregation discussion at all.  And if any nay-sayers voiced their concern in the services, Darling or Darling supporters at that time would somehow make their concerns invalid, as this was going to happen.  And it did.  
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jehu
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2007, 10:26:45 pm »

So does that mean there are copies of "Awesome Love of God" still available?
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« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2015, 02:51:32 am »

Yes.
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« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2018, 11:52:45 pm »

The Awesome Love of God sermon, attached, of sorts, attached in MP3 in a hyperlink: https://tinyurl.com/yazhtomj
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