As a former member of Mars Hill Church, I used to receive emails from Mark Driscoll. But after Mark was effectively disqualified to pastor any church, the emails ceased. Until now. Out of the blue, I received a group email from Mark. The email begins by letting us know what the Driscoll family’s summer was like. After this, he quickly moves into the real reason for the letter, and that is to tell us about the new sermon series that he will be preaching. We learn that the Driscolls have moved to Arizona and that Mark plans to work alongside local pastors in the area. While there was a mention of working alongside other pastors, nowhere does it say that Mark has reconciled with the pastors who asked him to step down from leadership in the Acts 29 church-planting network. There was no mention that Mark has joined a local church or intends to. What we do learn is that archived sermons that were preached at Mars Hill Church, along with new material, will be readily available on his personal website. I can appreciate if you have dedicated a large portion of your life to preaching the Word of God that it would be very difficult to cease doing so. I can appreciate that if all those sermons were preached, it would be hard to simply scrap them. While these sermons can still be valuable, I’m afraid that this new development is indicative of a modern problem that is made possible in our highly technological age.
Mark Driscoll always talked about how part of Mars Hill’s growth was due to the fact that the church was planted at the same time that use of the Internet began skyrocketing. Mark always portrayed this use of technology as a great benefit to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, I think what we are seeing now is the negative side of a church and Christians who become deeply enmeshed in a digital world. In our day, a Christian does not need to be a member of a local congregation and under authority to create a personal website. One need not submit to anyone to post to Twitter and or Facebook on a regular basis. In fact, since Mark Driscoll’s website still labels him “Pastor Mark Driscoll,” I guess you don’t need a flesh and blood congregation either. I guess having followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook is good enough for Mark. While the general public is pretty divided as to whether or not Mark should begin preaching and teaching, I wonder what the men who worked under his leadership think? How do these men feel, knowing that their former pastor and friend is getting back to business as usual without first being reconciled to them? I’m not talking about being reconciled to all the trolls who slam Mark on social media…I’m talking about his brothers and sisters in Christ who suffered, solely because Mark did not have ears to hear how he was negatively effecting his fellow elders (not to mention parishioners). These were men whom he handpicked, men that he should respect enough to value their thoughts, feelings and opinions. How is creating your own personal website with a plan to post to Twitter every day “stepping down”? Before the age of social media, a pastor would not be able to preach to vast numbers of people without first submitting to the authority of the elders of a particular church. But in our day, he can. This is an unprecedented move on Mark’s part.
I went to Mars Hill Church. I love Mark Driscoll. He is a gifted man. While his heart may be soft in many ways, when it comes to hearing the Spirit inspired, constructive and collective criticism of many who worked alongside and for him, he is deaf. This latest email has given me the last little push that I needed to reflect on my time at Mars Hill Church. I love God and I love people, as I know Mark does. Mark is a person – rather than damn or deify him, I’d like to attempt to glean some wisdom from this whole charade. We serve and are served by a God who redeems. While Mark needs God’s redeeming grace, he needs it no more than I do. And with this fact sunk deep into the bedrock of our hearts, we press forward.
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