Archives For Mark Driscoll

I grew up playing and watching a lot of baseball. It was almost a religion for me and Fenway Park in Boston was my church (so to speak). To further the illustration, the elders and leaders were players on the Red Sox. I think of Roger Clemens, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski. When I would arrive at Fenway I can remember walking out of the tunnel and being overcome by all of the images and sounds. There was the fresh cut grass, the 37′ wall in left field, the Prudential Building, and the sight of the players warming up. I was absolutely invested–I might have even secretly felt like was on the team.

Several years ago one of these players, Roger Clemens, was investigated for cheating. He was found to have used performance enhancing drugs, or banned substances. Clemens, along with a bevy of other players, have received something of an asterisk on their career because they have dishonored the sacred tradition and integrity of the game.

As a baseball fan I can appreciate the way the league, players, and fans have renounced the way these guys tried to take a short-cut. Some players cared more about themselves than the game. This, according to baseball is unacceptable.

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Pastoral ministry is hard and there are a lot of ways that someone can go awry. This is brought to the fore in an article in Christianity Today noting that Mark Driscoll is retracting his best-seller status and “resetting his life.” This due to the fact that controversy seems to be as much a characteristic as blessing in his ministry.

As a pastor you can become inflated with pride and bang your head on the door frame, because you believe the lie that all of the good things that are happening in your ministry are because you are awesome. On the other hand, you can be thrown into the depths of despair because things are not progressing as well as the other guy or whatever your expectations might have been.

The danger on both sides is that our identity, standing, security, approval, etc are based upon us. Attendance is up? I feel good. Attendance down? I feel like a failure. Excitement over ministry? I’m excited. Issues of discontentment or discouragement? Suddenly I’m sullen. You see, pastoral ministry is hard because I am selfish.

I can relate to Driscoll. I don’t agree with everything he says and does but I see how he got where he is right now. And, if you’re a pastor, you should see it too. The idol self-approval is deadly. Whether you have 30 people or 30,000 people in your church, you are prone to this and so am I.

I don’t pretend that all of Driscoll’s issues should be swept under the rug now that he has owned up to some of what has happened. However, I am saying that of all people, pastors should be able to identify with him and be rooting for him to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. This we do while looking to ourselves lest we too be tempted–because we know we already can.

All the talk and controversy about plagiarism has made me somewhat uncomfortable. When I listened to the infamous interview between radio host Janet Mefford and Pastor / Author Mark Driscoll I was haunted by a phrase. I don’t know if it is an exact quote or not but it went like this, “You are stealing his ideas.”

I am a pastor. My whole life and ministry is about regurgitating someone else’s ideas. I believe it was Charles Hodge who said that he never had an original thought or idea. We read, listen, talk, think, integrate, pray, and listen. This is what we do. In one very real sense pastors don’t know what is original and what is not. Even our sermon outlines have a family tree.

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If you are a Christian then you have convictions. If you are a Christian who knows other Christians then you probably have realized that we don’t all agree on everything. As a result, it is incumbent upon those who name Christ to consider how we engage with those who have different doctrinal foundations and ministry expressions. The two loudest arguments we hear are those who tend to be overly critical and those who tend to be overly accepting. On the one side folks want to limit their full affirmation and support of a teacher and ministry to those within their “tribe” (referring to people just like them). Others, resisting this, build a big tent and welcome as many people in there as they can.

As I have thought about this more and more I find it ironic that both sides are after the same thing: influence. One side wants to protect people by minimizing it and others want to influence people by expanding it. It is truly fascinating to watch and observe.

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It’s Monday AM and I need some comic relief…

I was recently watching David Platt’s T4G sermon (highly recommended) and was struck by how much he looked like Tom Brady. Occasionally I’d have to untangle my mind as I thought Brady was telling me that I needed to be willing to go and die for world missions. That got me thinking about some other evangelicals who look like other notable figures. Here is a short-list. Add more in the comments if you got ‘em.

David Platt and Tom Brady.

David Platt
tom brady
Mark Driscoll from and Joba Chamberlin from University of Nebraska (& that pro team in NY)
mark-driscoll joba

Then you have this remarkable pairing:

Peter Sellers (from The Pink Panther)

peter-sellers.gif

Ray Comfort (from Way of the Master)

ray-comfort.gif

Who else do you have? (And it is not valid to do the whole “Tim Keller & Yoda” comparison).

This is a good 4 minutes. He hits the nail on the head in terms of the cultural preoccupation with what is fake.

Also, “All the slots for hypocrite are taken. Do not quit!”

Good word. Forget the thumbs. Drop a fist bump and get to work doing something that matters.

(rss readers may need to click thru)

(ht: Challies)

I recently had a terrific conversation with a fellow pastor. We talked about how much we appreciate the accessibility of so many great bible teachers today. There seems to be a larger number of helpful books, blogs, podcasts, and videos available than ever before.

For this we remain thankful.

Well, sort of.

One of the things that has disturbed me in the last few years is the way in which the public debate so galvanizes us against one another. For example: Pastor so and so (let’s just call him John) who is highly successful with a substantial following takes a public shot at another pastor (let’s just call him Mark), who also is highly successful with a substantial following. (whether the first or second pastor were right is not the point at this point)

What is the result?

Well, a fairly awkward climate for discussion among the less visible pastors and lay people.

This is real life for me. I like John MacArthur. I have ever since I first laid eyes on The Gospel According to Jesus. In so many ways I want to emulate his pastoral & preaching ministry. At the same time I like Mark Driscoll. I have ever since I read Radical Reformission. I am thankful to God for Driscoll’s personal devotion to Christ, love for his flock and desire to reach those outside of Christ. You may recall that last year there were a series of blog posts that lit up the blogosphere, twittersphere and any other reformed sphere out there. This resulted in a lot of defending and accusing by a lot of different people (again, who is ‘right’ is beyond my scope here, it is the result that I’m after). The tension got so thick that I remember getting the stink eye from folks because I would speak favorably about either Driscoll or MacArthur. It got old. It is frustrating.

The weight of the issue/problem really came to light sometime last year for me. On a few occassions (either verbally or in writing) I would note that one of these guys made a great point or preached a particularly helpful sermon. The responses were often, “You know that guy is dangerous.” Or, “You know that guy is a…whatever.”

I would often attempt to defend the individual point and then have to give several qualifications letting people know that I am in fact aware of all the prevailing issues, while apologizing for all of their life shortcomings except their iPod playlists.

It gets exhausting.

The reason I am pointing to them is because they are exalting Christ. However, all of the little clones are running around trying to blow up the other guy all the time. And if you are taking ‘his’ side then maybe you are to be implicated in his shortcomings. (Believe me, I got the unpublished blog comments & emails to prove it)

Here is the issue: I was just wanting to point to Christ. That’s it. That was the point. However, all of the ground forces for the respective militia parties were grabbing their shoulder-launched missiles to take you out for suggesting something of value coming from such a source. And this is when it hit me: they can’t see the value of what is being said about the Savior because their Savior is in front of him. If you cannot find value in what one guy is saying when it truly exalts Jesus then you probably have an idolatry problem.  I think this is what Paul was getting at with those wing-nuts in Corinth:

For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1.11-13)

Paul goes on to remind them that their idenity is bound up not in men but in the God-man:

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1.30-31)

This would be really helpful for us to remember today. In an age where we can get instant updates from all of our respective ‘heros’ we should remember that they are men. And their value is in their giftedness in leading us to love and serve Christ. We as idol-craving people can quickly make the jump from leader-to hero-to savior.

The issue goes beyond and deeper than John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll, it really does. It is with us. It is with the followers. We have issues. This is why I am now committed more than ever to not being all about defending everybody. And with that, I am not all about qualifying everyone. After all, not everyone can be D.A. Carson, right? (just kidding).

But seriously, it does cause us to step back, take another swig of the 1 Corinthians reality and labor to be more dutiful in prayer for the leaders God has blessed and our own hearts as well. We don’t have to get a Johnny Mac tat or wear a tie with Driscoll’s grill on it. Let our lives be about the gospel; the promotion and defense of Jesus.