Questions some of you might be thinking about right now having read the title:
“What was Mark Driscoll right about?”
“Did I miss something?”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Barf, barf, barf…what?”
“Has this blog and its writer joined the dark-side?”
Let me clarify what Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church was right about before the pitchforks come out and the mobs with torches attack.
We all know him because of the recent news stories and the controversy surrounding his ministry in the recent years. If you have been living under a rock or haven’t really cared one way or another, here’s a link to read up on: Driscoll Controversy
I am not here to throw more fuel on the funeral pyre of Pastor Driscoll’s ministry. I think there are plenty of bloggers out there who are doing a bang up job in that department…maybe a little too much. I do not wish to become a bitter blogger who dances and celebrates whenever a “celebrity Christian” falls from grace. I pray that this never becomes my identity or the identity of this blog http://www.pastorspondering.org.
Mark Driscoll’s response – Update from Mark Driscoll
Here’s what Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church got right:
Mars Hill Church was founded in 1996 and has since become the largest multi-church “Mega Church” in the United States.
Why did they grow so fast?
What was their secret?
Mars Hill Church understood and was a major catalyst for the Emergent Church movement. Along with its modernistic church/rock feel they had a way of connecting with younger generations of our country. They were able to plug tech-savvy generations into a very relevant God with whom they could relate to and understand. Mars Hill Church, not just Mark Driscoll, branched out and created a relevant heavy worship music driven service(s) to reach the young adult/single adult communities in over 5 states. At their peak they had a weekly attendance of over 12,000 members. They were successful at being cutting edge. They were willing to take risks. They were creating other disciples and branching out through small groups and para-churches…they. got. evangelism. right.
What We Can Learn From Them:
There is much to learn from Mars Hill Church and other churches out there who have been very successful at reaching people for Jesus. There should be something good to take away from such ministries. Are there downsides? Negative implications? Controversy and inaccurate/jumbled up theologies? Yes, yes and yes.
Could we be more cutting edge?
Could we take more risks in evangelism and discipleship?
Do we develop leadership based ministries that cultivate and grow additional disciples and leaders?
Another lesson to draw from Mars Hill Church in my opinion is this:
Success is not solely about numbers.
We can play the statistics game. We can do “splashy” events to draw in a few extra families…but is it only about sheer numbers of attendees? No.
Success in ministry is about being faithful to the place(s) God has called your ministry to be. If He has called you to minister to a senior citizen demographic then minister to those seniors through relevant and dynamic methods that will be suit them. If God has called you to minister to the outcasts and rejects in society, then prepare relevant and hard hitting applicational methods to best suit the down and out. Where God has called us, we must respond and be willing to step up and extend a hand to all who would hear and receive.
From Discoll to Willow Creek – Change is tough!
A few years ago (2008) Mega Church Willow Creek recognized that their ministries needed to have a “re-alignment” from Seeker-Sensitive services to developing a more mature discipleship growth initiative (to read more on this, see this article: Willow Creek’s change). This adjustment took guts and could have been seen as a detriment to their ideology and mission as a church…but they took this step anyway.
I am not trying to lump Willow Creek in with Pastor Mark Driscoll here. But what I am attempting to do is display the need for change in any church regardless of where God has placed us. We cannot operate in the long term using the same tools we first began with. Perhaps for Mars Hill Church the old tool here is Pastor Mark Driscoll…perhaps a long term change requires a new identity and new leadership…I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling here.
When it comes to change there are some truths here to be grasped:
Life changes. Times progress. Culture and society changes. I also do not believe that the Holy Spirit is ever static in reaching out into our brokenness and restoring shattered lives. We too should recognize the pivotal moments when change must take place. We too ought to be prepared to move when the Holy Spirit tells us to move.
Can we learn something from Mars Hill Church? Yes.
Can we learn something from the whole Mark Driscoll debacle? Yes.
Are we willing to adjust our ministries and are we prepared to move when the Holy Spirit moves us?…..um…maybe? I don’t know if we truly are. I’m just being honest. I can’t say that we are really prepared for such a venture. It’s scary. Change is frightening to a lot of people. Risks also have their downside which is known as failure. Are we prepared to face failure?…I don’t think we truly are.
My Two Cents:
Mark Driscoll, Lief Moi and Mike Gunn did something right when they founded Mars Hill Church. They longed to engage a younger generation. They took risks…and they adjusted and changed. I cannot say that I agree with Driscoll’s stance on a lot of topics, especially Women in Ministry, his use of language (in the past), his treatment of former staff members, his use of mission funds… I cannot say that I am all too pleased with what has taken place on either side of this debacle in Seattle…honestly it’s quite sad for the Church (big ‘C’). I also know that I have no right to judge. I also know that I am not in any position to criticize, but I would rather err on the side of grace, prayer and compassion than I would on harsh judgement, negative responses and name calling.
Jesus was very harsh with certain teachers of the law in His day. He did not hold back…but He was also God’s Son. He understood what people were thinking and He cut to the quick when dealing with judgmental, hypocritical law abiding scholars. I sure don’t want to end up on the wrong side of that conversation with my Lord. That is why I think it prudent to prayerfully point out inaccurate theological teachings. We should conduct ourselves with prudence and respect while attempting to live out holiness practically and reverently. Does that mean there isn’t room for debate, constructive criticism and disagreement? No, not at all…just be careful because in the process we may miss out on or overlook some very teachable moments.
Just something more to ponder today.
Okay, now you can light your fires and hoist your pitchforks. 😉
thanks for this- really good posting on this subject- what can we learn from those who spectacularly mess up… in the UK about 20yrs ago there was a similar debacle around an alternative worship church in Sheffield- they got some stuff very wrong, they hurt some people badly, they let folks down- BUT they also inspired many of the people who’ve now gone on to lead some of the great things that God is bringing up today- its not ignoring the mistakes, but allowing God to redeem them, if that makes sense.