I read on several Christian themed news sites within the last 48 hours that the worst kept secret in West Coast Christianity is now official, former Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll is to set up a new church in Arizona in the Phoenix area entitling this new mission as “The Trinity Church”. I am proud to say that I have quite a wide spectrum of Christianity as far as viewpoints on my social media feeds but even I have been surprised about the veracity of criticism levelled at Pastor Mark. I thought I would add some words to the debate, these are my personal words and by no means are representative of any of the ministries that I am involved in. I am not a paid pastor and really I am speaking as myself only, but I feel led to add my voice to the mix and that I have to do so as possibly a voice that may look at some of the thinking behind the criticism of this man of God.
I am of no doubt of a few things, having heard podcasts of the man himself in his previous position as pastor of Mars Hill and as a former leader of Acts 29 I know that the man is a truly gifted teacher of the word of God. I am not all “doe eyed” and a supporter of any man or any man’s ministry because they have a name but God has certainly used Mark to reach many people and modern Christianity is a better place because of his input. Personally, I have never met the bloke but I do know him by his positive impact to others in the ministry that he was blessed to be a part of for Jesus.
Why isn’t he pastor of Mars Hill anymore?
For further clarification I had written an earlier blog on Mark Driscoll, The board at Mars Hill in the Seattle area accepted Mark’s resignation in October of 2014 after a group of former Mars Hill congregants made certain allegations about him accusing him of using his position as a Pastor wrongly and there were allegations of what could be construed as bullying.
I am not going to defend what he was accused of because I was not there and to be honest I have no idea what went on or whether 100% of the accusations were 100% true or is it a case that as emotions have ran high, have things been pulled out of context, exaggerated or possibly manipulated because let’s face it, when you mention Marks name there are folks out there with an agenda.
Type in Mark Driscoll into a popular search engine and you will already see sites that have the words “Mark Driscoll” and “Controversy” in the headers, the title, I am not saying he hasn’t flown close to the wind or ben a choirboy in the pulpit, man he had even turned so many people away because people would rather report that he used a four letter word in a sermon as opposed to any decent application or life changing message of the gospel that could be applied to someone’s life.
What was he accused of?
As covered a little bit above he is accused of the following according to Wikipedia…
“In May 2013, now former Mars Hill elder Dave Kraft filed formal charges (under Mars Hill Church bylaws) of “mistreatment” against Mark Driscoll and other leaders at Mars Hill. He specifically accused Driscoll of being “domineering, verbally violent, arrogant, and quick-tempered”. Kraft further argued that this “established pattern of… behavior” disqualified Driscoll from church leadership.[note 1] Mars Hill Church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability responded, saying that they sent one hundred letters to former elders and staff in an effort to substantiate Kraft’s charges. They received eighteen responses, which they reviewed, and determined them to be “non-disqualifying” with respect to Driscoll’s leadership position. However, the Board did initiate a “reconciliation process” to address “many offenses and hurts that are still unresolved”. Dave Kraft worked at Mars Hill from 2005 to 2013 and was Driscoll’s personal “coach” during that time.”
Other controversies include an issue with a company used by Driscoll to promote a book who used methods to manipulate sales figures on a book that would later be designated to be on the New York Times bestseller list and another book he faced accusations of plagiarism. Lastly as the controversies raged it was found that Driscoll had posted online messages under a pen name of William Wallace II and the content of those messages.
How should we react biblically?
Paul talks about these very things in the epistle of Ephesians…
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
I say this because really, unless you were personally hurt by Driscoll, or any of the group that call themselves “Repentant Pastors” (They have their say here) or anyone associated with him or the Mars Hill movement then really you have no axe to grind and you may just have an agenda against a man who was popular for a wee while in Christian circles. From what I see, he is not guilty of any heresy, he is not prohibited from leadership and has taken a year out to pray, contemplate and reassess and he is starting again in a new city with a new group of people and I have no doubt that he probably will have learned so much from this on a personal level in what must have been a terribly challenging season as a pastor, but I do know that if this is truly his calling (I cannot speak for the man and do not know his heart) then he must follow Gods plan for his life.
Should you do have that axe to grind then I do urge you to do as Paul commands here and use your words to…
• Build up
• Not corrupt
• Fitting for the occasion
• Giving grace to all who will hear
• Not grieve the Holy Spirit
• Be kind
• Be forgiving
• Be tenderhearted
And the reason is stated here also “as God in Christ forgave you” and this is no great theological mystery, this is Sunday school stuff here, if you think Paul is talking nonsense then will you take it from Jesus Christ in the gospel of Matthew chapter 18?
And here is what we should not be…
• Filled with wrath
• Filled with anger
• Filled with malice
People will use words like “I am protecting the flock of Christ” or “I am being a watchman” or my personal favorite “I am exposing a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and I agree that false teachers should be exposed, however many folks who do these “exposés” are often times being divisive for the sake of being divisive. Again I wrote about that in my article “Why is division long?”
So you are okay with it?
I am okay with Mark going back into pastoral ministry because like him, I have messed up, I have been extended grace and I have extended grace to others. The main difference between me and Driscoll is I don’t have hundreds of people waiting to pounce on my every failing. For that reason I hope that I never have “a name” or “popularity” in the Christian circles because once you “make it” the knives come out.
You expect that from the world but you expect more from your Christian brothers and that works both ways in the forgiving stakes and I would hope that those who want to flame Driscoll would not wish the same on themselves. The guy is like me, a flawed sinner who is saved by grace just wanting to use the talents and giftings that God has given him for his glory and if he truly is doing it “Soli Deo Gloria” then I wish him all the best and I pray for impact in the souls that he is sent to minister to. I pray for life change, revival and Jesus name to be praised in that city; wouldn’t that be a better main story? Let’s advance the kingdom of Jesus!
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to