“I wouldn’t worship a god who couldn’t win a bar fight.” I’ve used that line and variations of it over the years. Mark Driscoll was the inspiration for it. It is a good and accurate line. In a day and age when many secularized voices within the church preach an emasculated, effeminate Jesus who offends no one and is a creation of the worshipers, Driscoll has not been afraid to point out that Jesus could throw a punch.
Over the years his star has risen rapidly and he has made a lot of enemies. To be sure, there are a lot of people of faith in America who have been very concerned he had started making it about himself, not Jesus. I have had that concern. There have been a lot worried he could do great harm in a fall from grace and he was riding too high with too little grace. I think there was some of that. There have also been many, myself included, who have thought he might be enjoying the bluntness of his mouth more than a pastor should. But there were many, many people who hate Driscoll and, despite even their present words, have been cheering on his destruction because he has been rather effective for a number of years.
Driscoll has been willing to call out heretics and fools and name names in a way few preachers in America have been willing.
Put plainly, though I do not even know him, Mark Driscoll and his ministry have been an encouragement to me as I try to be bold in faith and withstand the barbs and arrows of many — some who hide behind the label “Christian” to undermine the very faith they claim to be a part of.
But Mark Driscoll’s rise and present troubles also give me pause and show me paths on which to be cautious. The plagiarism issue, though I think greatly exaggerated, still had merit. I would not put my name on a book unless I wrote it. There was both an issue there and too much a willingness to circle wagons in defense of Mark Driscoll by some.
Under attack so much, a lot of reformed pastors circle the wagons rather quickly or stay silent when they should not.
The lack of strong accountability within his church, Mars Hill, as his star rose has also been a problem. It seems the church invested too much in Mark Driscoll and he became the foundation of their church, not Jesus. They couldn’t hold him accountable as a result. Likewise, Mark Driscoll acted less Job and more Jobs in his relations with others in his church. Outside of the gossip, there seems to be a real issue within that church related to a lack of humility and, for a church whose core mission is Christ given to “go forth,” a weird sense of corporatism complete with covenants not to compete for people on staff.
Many people are happy that Mark Driscoll has “fallen from grace” as headlines have read these last few days. He is taking a few months away from his ministry. He needs to. He needs to understand and address a lot of hurt and concerns related to his ministry. He needs to recalibrate his ministry and ego.
But I am praying for Mark Driscoll. I really like the guy’s sermons. One day I hope to buy him a beer and even pray over him and with him. His material has inspired a speech I am now often asked to give about Christ. I know solid Christians who would have never opened their hearts to the Lord but for Mark Driscoll in their lives. Though more blunt than perhaps a preacher should be, Christians need bluntness in their lives. Mark Driscoll needs some bluntness in his life right now. He needs prayer and grace and a penitent heart too.
Sometimes we go through wilderness on the way to the promised land. Mark Driscoll is in the wilderness right now. And I’m praying for him, his family, his church, and those who will surround him, counsel him, and admonish him. I will pray that when he returns he does not do what so many restored pastors do and go all in on grace, abandoning law. But I pray he finds the proper balance between old and new, law and grace, mercy and justice, and Mark Driscoll and Jesus.
God bless him.