I want to talk about the recent events surrounding Mark Driscoll for a few moments, and to do so without talking about Mark at all. As you probably know by now, he has been invited off the Acts 29 board, and more than one opinion on it has been voiced on Facebook. For all the people who are in the same room with Mark, by his side, or facing him, I commend them to the work of the Spirit in all their conversations. Speak the truth, and say it in love. Respond with truth, and say it in love. But we are not in that room.
My concern here has to do with all the folks out here in the cheap seats. Ambrose Bierce once defined a Christian as someone who believed the New Testament was a divinely inspired book, admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. Out here, our temptation will be to spend a lot of time discussing what Mark Driscoll should do, or should have done, or what the Acts 29 board should have done, and so on. We should actually be thinking about what we should do. Given the public circumstances that we actually know about, what lessons should we take away?
The central concern I have, which I have not yet seen addressed, is not directed at those who are confronting Mark, or defending him, or explaining him, or just being a friend to him.
The concern is as follows: When the public mojo was with Mark, I saw a bunch of people clustering around him because they thought that this is where it was “happening.” This was the main chance. Now that the mojo isn’t flowing the same direction anymore, neither is the main chance, and so it is time to create a little prudent distance.
Some people support Mark because that is what they think is right, and others are critical because that is what they think is right. Those two camps do exist, but I am talking about a third category — the folks who are just catching a train. Their only question is whether or not the train is going their way, and going fast enough.
Just as there were people attracted to the ministry of Mark Driscoll for the wrong reasons, so also there will be many repelled for the wrong reasons. And often it will be the same people, and the same reason. Same people, same reason, different direction.
So there is really only one exhortation here — whoever you are, don’t be that guy. Don’t be the guy who can’t tell the difference between covering the controversy in prayer and covering his butt.
The only concern I ever saw with Driscoll is that he never seemed to have a lot of joy, especially in his preaching. I don’t know what’s going on with him now, but I would say he needs to bring some joy into his life, unless he’s one of those guys who just hides being happy really well.
Ben: I went to Mars Hill church for a number of years. I can happily report from personal experience that Mark D has a great deal of joy. He exhibits it, encourages it, and preaches for it.
Off topic, but I thought this was too good not to post:
Having witnessed such wild and unwieldy distortions of Doug and the people of Christ Church at large, it seems the wise to assume that most shots taken at public religious figures are on the cheap. And if their view is low rent, ours might therefore be discounted entirely.
This is a great article. Thank you Doug. My heart has been heavy the past two days. Mark’s ministry has helped me but above that I hate to see the name of Christ have reproach brought upon it in anyway.
It seems to me that Driscoll has not changed so much as the folks following him have grown up, and what was cool in your twenties isn’t so cool in your thirties.. Driscoll has always been a bit of a hard nosed jerk, and never advertised himself to be different.. I think you nailed it — same reason – different direction. I suspect most churches would burn if they had a high profile blogger airing ever ounce of dirty laundry he could get his hands on. If you hold a torch to anything long enough it will begin to smolder..… Read more »
Mark Driscoll certainly draws a crowd. A lot of the “nones” blame people like him for being “nones.”
I don’t actually buy it but Driscoll does appear to have some issues.
Cale, that link… Off topic, but very, very funny.
Thank you for taking the time to weigh in on this. Your insights and wise council are greatly appreciated.
I do not buy the idea that “nones” are nones because of Driscoll. I think that is ridiculous. I think that true Christians would not give up on church because of one allegedly jerky pastor.
If they said they became ex-Mars Hills members, I might believe them. Ex-Christians? Nope.