I must apologise upfront, I am blogging while incensed which is dangerous. I have asked friends to check over this post as a buffer, but all the mistakes and feelings are mine I do not speak for anyone else but me in this post. Part of me wonders if it is worth trying to engage with Mark Driscoll, there’s been a lot of blogging relating to his ministry and sometimes its not worth responding to someone’s outspoken comments as it gives them more airtime than they deserve. On the other hand if we don’t engage in conversation nothing will change. Judging by this conversation that took place with Mark Dever who dares to take a different view to Driscoll on satellite church plants, even though they are both on the same page with reformed theology, role of women etc, it is unlikely we will see a change in heart – but you never know. So here I go…
I was incensed by the first quotation leaked from his upcoming interview in Christianity magazine.
“Let’s just say this: right now, name for me the one young, good Bible teacher that is known across Great Britain. You don’t have one – that’s the problem. There are a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth.” (source)
The church does need people who are able to speak bluntly, I am sure the apostle Paul knew how to be blunt and direct. But there is no doubt he knew about humility, partnership, working together despite not being on the same page on every detail.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Philippians 1:15-18
It doesn’t sound like Driscoll is rejoicing the ministry of Mike Pilavaci, Andy Croft, Jo Saxton and the impact these preachers are having on tens of thousands of young people each summer at Soul Survivor. Doesn’t sound like he’s particularly appreciative of Rico Tice coming from the other end of the theological spectrum whose course is being used by hundreds of churches. We can’t call Nicky Gumbel young anymore but I haven’t heard a lot of love coming from Mars Hill for Alpha either. Apparently he hasn’t got anything good to say about Karl Martin in Edinburgh nor Pete Greig at HTB or Ness Wilson in Loughborough. (I know the women preacher thing is going to be a problem for him but I am just saying…) With one dismissive comment he writes off all of their ministries and many other fine preachers too many to mention here.
To write off a whole nations worth of preachers based on the criteria that they need to be “well known” is unhelpful anyway. It plays to the celebrity culture that Driscoll has become enmeshed in. Its one of my problems with the satellite church model – why beam yourself to campuses where you are not physically present so that people can watch you – why not raise up local pastors who know their sheep. So how Driscoll can say that we don’t have any young preachers that are any good without looking at the ministry week by week by young pastors in some very difficult places is arrogant and self absorbed.
There is lots to commend about Pastor Mark’s ministry – there is an evangelistic fervour, a cultural connectedness to their praise and worship that i have not seen anywhere else and passion for church planting which I can rejoice in. But please Mr Driscoll its time not just to “Man up” but “Grace up” your brothers and sisters in the UK need less judgmentalism and more encouragement.
I am fully prepared to eat my words if the rest of the interview shows the gracious and encouraging side of Mr Driscoll – so we await the full script.
I have been sent an audio version of the interview from Justin Brierley who presents the “Unbelievable” radio show which focusses on apologetics issue.
Pastor Mark has said that we may have taken his quotes out of context. So you might want to listen for yourself from 34 minutes in. Mark does make some helpful points in his interview – but I don’t think we have taken his quotation out of context.