And in a bunch of other places.
The whole situation that has been brewing at Mars Hill Church has been painful for many, with no one feeling more grief than those that truly love Mark Driscoll and his ministry. And this is, of course, is referring to those who love him despite his flaws and not because of them.
For those who have followed Driscoll over the years, there has been much to love. He served as the voice of many young church leaders for a good stretch of time. He engaged young men -- Christian or otherwise -- in a way no Christian pastor had before. He turned a dark corner of the country into this.
He had no fear. That's what made him so engaging.
And that's what ruined him.
As Religion News aptly quoted Driscoll from 2006, he has said, "Every year, I want the church to grow. I want my knowledge to grow. I want my influence to grow. I want our staff to grow. I want our church plants to grow. I want everything — because I want to win."
The charges against him essentially amount to him being a brute, a bully, a dog without a leash in regards to other members and leadership at his church. Apparently, he wanted to win so badly that he forsook love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. He really lost touch with what a biblical elder should be like.
Side note: As Driscoll began the final slide toward what has become his resignation (there were several mini slides before it), another hugely influential, hip, engaging young pastor was getting blown up left and right from pulpits to news stations. In fact, he was from a church also named Mars Hill. Rob Bell -- ever heard of him? I bring that up to say that Eric Geiger wrote one of the best Christian editorials of the year and you need to read it.
So, back to Driscoll. His resignation on Tuesday (which was publicly announced Wednesday) was at the same time pleasing and upsetting to me. He needed to step down, but he most certainly didn't have to put himself in that position. He was the first "preacher guy" I ever got into, and I grew a lot in my early years of being a Christian through his ministry.
I remember getting hooked on his sermons through the Trial series in 2007. And then he went through the Doctrine series and I learned a ton. In those days, I basically had two sources for Bible answers -- Driscoll and my youth pastor. One was an ultra-Reformed, anti-traditional occasional drinker and the other, my youth pastor and great friend, was not so much those things. Both were used by the Lord to form me into the kind of Christian guy I am today.
But over the years, things started to get weird with Driscoll. He would do something weird, say he felt bad, apologize, and then go a little while before starting the process over again. A light-hearted version of this sort of thing can be found here around the 3:00 mark. He didn't repent for all of these things, but here's a list of some of the weird stuff that started to make me distance myself from him.
- He was involved in that whole T.D. Jakes and the Elephant Room thing which was a disaster from the get-go.
- Teaming up with MacDonald once again, he showed up at MacArthur's Strange Fire conference and pulled off a pretty immature stunt in protest (though he denies that) of the conference.
- He had a super-shaky book deal with a strange company that ate up a lot of church dollars.
- He said, from the pulpit, mind you, that Jesus may have made mistakes.
- His general attitude has not smelled of true humility (in my opinion...obviously).
So now, with all of the other stuff that has come out in regards to his bullying church leaders that were "below him" and his constant on again/off again state of repentance, it is here I sit typing, feeling incredibly sad about the whole ordeal. He is an incredibly gifted man who has been used by God in great ways. He was used by God in my life in a great way. And now he's on the sidelines, where he belongs.
It hurts to say that. He had a great thing going that can only be attributed to the grace of God. But his sin ruined it. And now I hope that he truly, really, absolutely, without blinking, repents. I need to pray more for him and his family. He's 43 and has many years ahead. He has five children. He has huge influence. He needs to be restored.
Nine pastors from Mars Hill Church who had recently asked Driscoll to step down brilliantly quoted vintage Driscoll, circa January 2006 in a somewhat-open letter. His own words will serve as the ending to this post:
"And if at any time in the history of this church the elders discipline me, do not be loyal to me. Be loyal to them; be loyal to Jesus. And if at any point – God forbid – I should say or do something that would disqualify me from being your pastor – and I have no intentions of, and I do live a life above reproach. And I’m not a sinless man, but I do love Jesus and I do love my family and I do love you. And if by – I just shudder to say this, but if I should ever say or do anything that the elders would need to fire me, do not be loyal to me. Be loyal to Jesus; be loyal to your elders. Be loyal to the pastors in your church. Trust them. Follow them.