Chances are you’ve heard the news about Matt Chandler and Acts 29 removing Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership in their church planting network. (UPDATE: On October 14, 2014, Mark Driscoll resigned from pastoring Mars Hill Church). If you’ve followed Driscoll-related news in the last year or so, this may not come as a huge surprise. He’s been a controversial guy.
I don’t feel the need to run down a list of his vices or add my scathing comments to the conversation for a couple of reasons:
- Knowing a catalog of someone else’s sin rarely helps anybody, and
- I don’t have scathing comments to share. (Truthfully, I actually haven’t looked too deep into the matter.)
I have never read any of his books and I have only listened to a few sermons (I watched more clips on YouTube). What I wish to do is productively add to the conversation with thoughts on how we can learn from this ordeal and use it to sharpen us to live holier lives that bear more fruit for the Kingdom.
Six Suggested Responses to the Mark Driscoll Controversy:
Hearing the news of a disgraced pastor of any stripe should deeply sadden us. Instead of being saddened, it seems like some bloggers have gone into attack mode and have analyzed his every comment and action. And to some degree, that is good because we need to hold our leaders accountable, make sure they are above reproach, and are leading God’s people according to Scripture. We should mourn for their sin, the destruction caused by that sin, and for the name of Christ being tarnished. This controversy is a lose-lose matter for everyone–even if you disagree with some of Driscoll’s theology or antics. For the sake of the body of Christ, mourn with me.
2. Remind people of their need to pray for their pastors.
Be on your knees for your pastor and the pastors who influence you through social media, podcasts, TV, or books. Everyone is susceptible to let power corrupt and everyone is in daily need of the grace of God to help them live and minister righteously. Don’t gossip about pastors or celebrity pastors, but rather pray for them. The truth of John 15:5 applies to them as well: without Christ they can do nothing.
3. Pray for Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church.
Be on your knees for Pastor Mark and his church at this difficult time. Pray that Pastor Mark would be humbled and changed forever to live and serve as God desires–regardless of what man thinks. Pray that God would protect his sheep from believing lies and pray that the name of Christ would not be trampled upon. Pray that Mars Hill Church would stand strong in the Lord in the midst of this controversy and that the devil’s work would be thwarted. Pray for vision and direction in the future of the church and Pastor Mark’s life.
These next three responses are geared more toward pastors, but apply to everyone seeking to make an influence in the Kingdom.
4. Examine yourself in light of 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1:5-16, and 2 Timothy 2:14-26.
God tells us how He wants church leaders to act and behave. Read through these passages slowly and ask yourself, “Do I meet these requirements?” If you are arrogant, quick-tempered, violent, greedy, lacking self-control, undisciplined, and unholy, then you shouldn’t be leading God’s people. If you see areas of weakness, let trusted people know so they can pray with you and work with you to grow. Pray for God to help you in areas you may lack–and commit yourself to rely on His grace to change you.
5. Submit yourself to a higher authority to whom you can be accountable.
To quote Lord Acton: “Power corrupts.” The reason the US government has a system of checks and balances is so that each one of the three branches of government will be accountable to each other. Leaders are sinners just like the rest of us and need accountability just like the rest of us. Christian leaders: submit yourself to the authority of your denomination, elders, or wise older Christians. Don’t think that you are some special class of Christian leader who can beat temptation–submit yourself to authority and be accountable.
6. Know when to say no.
Today’s technology allows us to have great influence. But as I have already stated, “Power corrupts.” We need to learn to say no to things that might be a snare for us in the future. That might mean we are to get off social media, stop writing books, stop trying to market every aspect of your ministry and care for those God has entrusted to you. We are to be on our knees, daily seeking God’s leading in everything we do.
Pastor–you have been selected by God to care for His flock. Don’t take your task lightly and don’t think that being an “ordinary” pastor isn’t enough. Don’t think that your role is worthless. God will sustain you if you abide in Him.
I close with 1 Peter 5:2-4 to remind us of the pastoral duty and the promised reward:
Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
What would you add?