My Thoughts on Mark Driscoll

*If you are not familiar with "church world" and the Mark Driscoll situation, this blog post may be meaningless to you. 

"What I did was indefensible. Thanks be to Jesus it is also forgiven." Mark Driscoll

Social media, the blogosphere, and news related to evangelical Christianity have been abuzz in recent months with the supposed demise of Mark Driscoll - the infamous pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  Accusations of bullying, verbal abuse, inappropriate behavior and language, improper use of church funds, plagiarism, and a number of other charges have been leveled against the mega-church superstar.  Yesterday he announced to the church that he is taking a 6-week leave of absence as pastor. 

I have spent some time with Mark and was even part of a small group of young leaders who were mentored by Driscoll and a few other prominent pastors.  The church I started in Las Vegas was and still is a part of the Acts 29 church planting network that Mark started.  I have talked to Mark one-on-one several times and his guidance helped shape and develop me as a young leader and pastor.

I have also been verbally confronted by Mark Driscoll. It was not fun. When I resigned from ministry as a result of my choices, I received a phone call from Driscoll that was brutal.  His language was questionable and his tone was harsh.  I was not surprised.  And in one sense, I felt I deserved it.  Maybe I did. And I didn't and don't hold it against Mark for responding the way he did. Right or wrong, it fits his personality and style.  I expected no less. 

By the way, I received similar phone calls from other headline leaders who are not being tried in the court of public opinion.  I have spent time with many other pastors who use similar language and have a similar style but who have managed to stay out of the public spotlight.  Right or wrong, it is reality. Pastors are humans and struggle with language, anger, bitterness, resentment, pride, hatred, and every other temptation known to humanity. We all make choices that are indefensible. That's why we need the gospel.

I have no idea whether Mark Driscoll should or should not remain a pastor.  I wrestle constantly with the same question in my own life. I don't know the answer.  What I do know is that pastors have a high calling.  The pressure to succeed in ministry is immense. The temptation to lose focus is constant. The loneliness is overbearing at times. It is not a vocation one should enter lightly.

My heart goes out to Mark Driscoll. Even though we would not be considered close friends, I have spent enough time with him and around him to know that underneath all the aggressiveness, brashness, and arrogance is a man who loves Jesus, his family, and the gospel. 

I pray he gets the direction he needs and is able to rebound with humility.  I pray that his brightest days are ahead of him.  I pray for his wife and children.  And I pray for Mars Hill.  My wife is from Seattle. My in-laws still live there.  It is a city that needs Jesus.  God has used Mark Driscoll, in spite of his shortcomings, and Mars Hill Church to punch a hole in the darkness there.  I pray He continues to do so. 

From all appearances, Simon Peter had a similar personality as Mark Driscoll.  He constantly stuck his foot in his mouth, corrected people, cursed, and even rebuked Jesus Himself.  And let's not forget Peter even blatantly denied Jesus when Jesus needed him the most.  And yet in early Acts when God selected someone to stand on the center stage at Pentecost and preach, guess who was chosen? Peter, the disciple with the hot head and foul mouth. Thankfully God has room for the brazen and abrasive. 

I am not defending the actions or attitude of Mark Driscoll.  What I am saying is this: give God space. Give God the space to work in Mark's life.  Trust that God is big enough and gracious enough to use this time of difficulty to make Mark more like Jesus and less like Mark Driscoll.  After all, you and I need that same space.

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