I mentioned hearing Mark Driscoll (my June 21 blog) at the Acts 29 Network retreat this week. His new book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (Zondervan, 2006) has just been published in the past few weeks. It is worth your time if you want to know the story of how a young man and a young church emerged in the last decade in the most unchurched city in America. I refer, of course, to Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Mars Hill is not only innovative but theologically sound and fast growing, reaching over 6,000 in less than ten years while openly affirming solid teaching and spiritually sound church practice at the same time. It also has one of the most carefully planned and developed strategies for new church planting of any megachurch in America. For thirty-five years I hoped and prayed that pastors of large churches would adopt this type of approach to planting local churches. Read Mark’s excellent book and you will better understand why I believe this church is truly a missional powerhouse.
Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill are anything but perfect. That is precisely why I have come to love these folks so deeply. (I saw the same humility in the seventy-five or so pastors that I met with over the past four days in Colorado.) The Mars Hill leaders know that they have made some huge mistakes and they talk about them openly. Mark’s fine book will give you the good, the bad and the ugly. And it glorifies the Lord of the church in a fresh and wonderful way. My friend Robert Webber is right when he concludes that Mark Driscoll’s book will "school you, shape you, and mold you to have the right kind of prioities to lead the church in today’s messy world."
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Driscolls’ book was one of the best of 2006.
Anyone who liked the book should also read “Confessions of a Pastor” by Craig Groeschel. Two ‘confession’ books by two of the most influential leaders in the church today. Both are brutally honest portrayals of the struggles of young pastors planting churches in a postmodern age. Must reads for any pastor or church planter.
Driscoll may have some good things to say about church planting or being missional, but his insulting remarks towards several of my emerging church friends, his extreme sexism, and his hyper-“masculine” view of Jesus (according to his warped definition of masculinity), make me rather disinclined to waste my time listening to anything further from him. There are plenty of other authors who write about the same kinds of things Driscoll does, but that don’t come with all the negative baggage. For instance, if you want to read about a cutting edge, missional mega-church, I’d recommend looking into the other Mars Hill – the one in Michigan.
Mark is prone to making bold and aggressive comments. I have winched at some of them myself. He is also willing to boldly repent and to admit his weakness. I disagree with him regarding some of the same points that you make here Mike but I also know him well, love him deeply and believe he is God’s servant, to whom he stands or falls.
I also have come to know and love Brian McLaren as a friend. I am weary of the choosing of sides on such personalities thus I encourage readers to profit from both of these men, and others like them, and to reject what they see as wrong in spirit or fact. A real weakness of all evangelicalism is the “personality” drivenness of our movements and churches.
One advantage of my age is that I have made enough mistakes in public and private to know that I need people to show me more charity. I believe you will see Mark continue to grow and to have a great impact for good while at the same time I expect the same for Brian. Neither man is looking for popularity but rather to be faithful to the Savior.
I just don’t have time for him. There are so many better leaders to be looking to for good examples, why should I waste my time on someone who is just going to piss me off?
I’m glad you have a relationship with him. That, I guess, gives you a reason to pay attention. I suppose I should do more to listen to people like that whom I disagree with. But to be honest, I spent the first 26 years of my life immersed in Christian environments that preached variations of Driscoll’s gospel. I’m about full up of it now. I need something better. And I need to detox for a while from people like Driscoll.
But that’s just where I’m at.