Some Thoughts on Mark Driscoll

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Some Thoughts on Mark Driscoll

10 June 2015 Hits:8758

Social media was buzzing earlier this week over Mark Driscoll and his impending appearance at this year’s Hillsong Conference.  This was on the back of some protests, a petition with 3000 signatures and media reports about a controversial blog in which Mark refers to women as “penis houses.”

There is no shortage of material that outlines in detail the sins of Mark Driscoll.  In his books and sermons he appears to just go too far in trying to be funky and relevant to a new generation in order to reach them for Jesus.  He swears, uses crude humour and he encourages the people he trains to brew their own beer at home.

In one of his books, The Radical Reformission, he has a chapter titled ‘The Sin of Light Beer’ in where he makes the case that light beer came about to please feminists, and that good Christians should oppose feminism by drinking ‘good beer’.  On another occasion he taught women who had unbelieving husbands, “You need to go home and tell your husband that you’ve met Jesus and you’ve been studying the Bible, and that you’re convicted of a terrible sin in your life. And then you need to drop his trousers, and you need to serve your husband.” 

Things started to go wrong back in 2007 when Mars Hill Church changed its bylaws that shifted leadership from 24 male elders to a much smaller group.  Mars Hill’s former Women’s ministry leader, Wendy Allsup says, “Mark gave power to a few men that he hand-picked rather than trusting the full council of elders that he felt was slowing him down.  Mark wanted to grow Mars Hill into a big tree, but in the process he chopped away the root system by dismissing those qualified leaders who were actually shepherding the church — because they raised legitimate questions.”

In 2008 the church cancelled everyone’s membership, saying one could only renew their membership if they said they had no problems with the elders.  At that point many people left the church.

Later it came to light that Mars Hill Church had paid a California-based marketing company at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that Real Marriage, a book written by Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace, made the New York Times best-seller list.  In March 2014 Mark wrote the following apology to Mars Hill Church:

In August 2014, it was discovered that he wrote a blog-post patronising women in 2001 under a pseudonym.  His beliefs, written under the name William Wallace II, included the statements that have been highlighted by the media recently:

“The first thing to know about your penis is, that despite the way it may see, it is not your penis.  Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while.  While His penis is on loan you must admit that it is sort of just hanging out there very lonely as if it needed a home, sort of like a man wondering (sic) the streets looking for a house to live in.  Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.”

Driscoll apologised and took a six-week leave of absence while the leadership of Mars Hill Church investigated the allegations being made against him.  The investigation revealed “patterns of persistent sin” by Senior Pastor Mark Driscoll, who was accused of bullying and intimidating behaviour in a complaint by 21 former church elders.  They accused him of creating a climate of fear through his verbally abusive language, lack of self-control and arrogant domineering attitude.  The church’s leadership tried to put a restoration process in place but Driscoll resigned in October 2014.

The response of the Mars Hill leaders was as follows: “Our intention was to do this while providing for his eventual restoration to leadership.  The Board of Elders in agreement with the Board of Overseers are grieved, deeply grieved, that any process like that was lost to us when Mark Driscoll resigned and left the church.”

So where to from here?

Firstly, the Christian church needs to take some responsibility for allowing the culture of churches like Mars Hill to flourish.  Over my 30 years as a pastor I’ve seen the fads come and go and I’ve watched some of God’s people come and go with them!  Wendy Allsup, put it this way, “Mars Hill was projected on to us as this new and exciting thing that God was doing, but God has been building his church for centuries.”  While I celebrate the things that the Spirit of God is doing through the church all around the world, we need to exercise discernment and we need to stop putting people on pedestals.  The only man that should ever be exalted is the Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of us would do well to live humbly.

Secondly, we need to be wary of any church that is a boys club and that doesn’t recognise the valuable contribution and gifts of women – including preaching, teaching and pastoral care.  For more on this subject please refer to my blog, “Women should be silent in the church?”

Thirdly, there is obviously a world of hurt still being experienced by many people as a result of Mark Driscoll’s leadership.  I’m am not privy to what has or has not been done or said to this point but I do know there are former Mars Hill Church elders and leaders who are open and willing to be reconciled with Mark.  No doubt there will need to be some honest conversations, lots of listening, empathy, compassion and forgiveness.  Much of the New Testament was written to respond to conflict of varying kinds.  There are some wonderful principles therein to help with the reconciliation process – and it is a process!

Finally, let’s not write Mark Driscoll off as a lost cause.  Yes he has made some very public and very serious mistakes but that doesn’t mean that the Christian church should alienate him for all time.  A casual reading of the Bible reveals how much God is interested in using faulty people – Moses was a murderer, David an adulterer, Peter was a hypocrite and Timothy was, for a season, timid and ashamed of the gospel and Paul.  Some in the Christian church may want to put Mark Driscoll on the scrap heap, but God doesn’t have one.

Consider these words that Paul wrote to the Galatian Church, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”

The Bible teaches, God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  Jesus will continue to build His church, the unstoppable Kingdom of God will continue to grow, and all the people who’ve been hurt – including Mark Driscoll – have a place in it!

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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14 replies on “Some Thoughts on Mark Driscoll”

David Parkersays:

Well said.

James Lowndessays:

The fact that my mother mentioned Mark on the weekend means he is out in the mainstream.

Jay johnstonesays:

Very mature reflection.
As a fan of Driscoll this has been a very disappointing season. Seeing him fail to live up to much of what he preached. Seeing many Christians gleefully tear into him and delight in his travails instead of come together as a family.
There is much to learn and prayerfully reflect on from the Driscoll experiance. The place and expression of masculinity. The penchant for personality cults. The appropriate use of ‘business’ practice within the church. Most of all, how do we handle dominant, assertive personalities that find great success even as they leave a path of broken people?

Rob Buckinghamsays:

You ask some great questions Jay. I certainly don’t have all the answers but I think that walking humbly with a group of humble people is a good place to start.

Steve Bryarsays:

I think we need to be very careful before we use terms such as “gleefully tear into him and delight in his travails instead of coming together as a family” in reference to Christians who opposed Mark Driscoll being publically interviewed at Hillsong Conference. I have been one of Mark Driscoll’s strongest critics and I signed the petition and was one of those that Brian Houston seem to infer that he “…would not write off Mark as a person simply because of the things that people have said about him, a small minority of people signing a petition.” That is a very presumptuous statement and one that I refute completely. No I don’t “gleefully tear into and delight in his travails”. Yes I grieve when the body of Christ is in turmoil which only gives the devil ammunition to keep the unsaved out of the Kingdom of God. I definitely do not delight in any of God’s people falling and suffering as a consequence of that fall. Mark Driscoll for a long, long time as behaved as a spiritual bully and has made many outrageous statements I’ve listen to some of his messages and he comes across to me as an egocentric and someone that seems to delight putting others down. I hope that Mark receives all of the ministry and support that he needs from his peers. I’m glad Brian Houston is going to visit with him one to one. This is an appropriate response, not being interviewed at a public conference. Mark needs to surrender his ego to God and I believe that requires healing and restoration which may take years. God wants Mark Driscoll, not his public ministry. I have been the victim of bullying at various stages of my life and spiritual bullying is probably the worst form and can spiritually damage the individual to such an extent that they reject God. Please remember the victims who are not gleefully tearing into him and delight in his trevails

Sue Earlsays:

This is a good reflection
The church needs to learn to deal with real issues of dominating leadership and people being crushed in the name of church growth
But also, all leaders have failed, and we all need reconciliation to learn to love one another. Maybe church models that see “numbers of people as success” needs to be changed? Maybe we need to learn to walk as Jesus did, not as the greatest in this world, but giving up all our glory to walk with the broken hearted and poor to lift them into life?
Loving healing embracing community, rather than numerical leadership, may be a better focus for church health. Jesus is ultimately the churches’ leader, and he leads as a shepherd king…. Seeking the lost, and carrying the wounded on his own shoulders.
The question of abusive and self-protective leadership needs to be addressed in the church, so all people can be empowered with the Holy Spirit, and hear Gods voice, and be taught by the Spirit, and follow Jesus, to be the church that God intended.
Maybe the problem is that we have a worldly focus to the question of success, rather than a godly focus? What I do know is that God is good and loves all people and sent Jesus, not to condemn us, but to save us, and we all need the same attitude for all people.

Sherid Cartersays:

I have very little support 4 any “pastor” that has had serious partaking in directly causing & inflicting spiritual abuse. “Pastors” who have done this definitely need 2 walk out the process of forgiveness & openness but they never should be allowed back into ministry. God will open a door 4 him in another area.

Pamsays:

Hear! Hear!

Sherid Cartersays:

Self correction: He should never be allowed back into leadership role ministry.

Ken Morenosays:

What I believe about Mark Driscoll is that he never should have held a position of leadership in the church becaus he never really was a man of God. He was a con artist who played the people who filled his mega-church and made him wealthy. One of false prophets the Bible warned about.

It’s wonderful to relate how God uses sinners to spread His message but let’s note they had what I don’t think Driscoll has yet had; a “Come to Jesus” moment. A moment of sincere repentance where he committed to turning his life around.

What Driscoll had was an “Oh s@$/!, they’re on to me!” moment, He’s now playing penitent and scrambling to recover.

Maybe he needs to make an act of contrition. Give up his wealth. Volunteer to work at a battered women’s shelter. Turn down misguided offers to show well he’s learned his lesson.

And stop trying to fool well-meaning people.

Rachel Ivellsays:

Interesting points. Added to that, I think only God knows the heart and while I believe the church has a responsibility to react and respond, it is God who will be the ultimate decider in what Driscoll does next (more or less ministry work, what he does with his finances and reputation, his future new place in the church). This is good news. God is a God of justice and I believe he will give Driscoll the correct dose, as well as those who have been hurt.

Steven Offensays:

I completely agree that some of his comments were over the top, however we need to be very careful to read everything in context, not just the one line exerts in the media. Also, while his execution has not been great, it seems some people are quick to make assumptions about his intentions, only he and God knows these.

Benjamin Adysays:

Steven,

Which people have been quick to make assumptions about Mark Driscoll’s intentions?

Steven Offensays:

I’ve read lots of different articles implying that he has done what he did for status/fame or money. I personally don’t know if his intentions were for selfish reasons or he had the right intentions, which he executed poorly.

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