Monday, May 04, 2015

2014-2015, a season of more Driscollian flip-flops on the celebrity vs pastor matrix

even though the way he resigned made him seem like the Richard Nixon of 21st century megachurch pastors in America it may be that Driscoll, like Nixon, has some ardent defenders of his reputation.

That Driscoll has in the last ten years transformed into the kind of leader he used to preach against seems so amply attested by his former words and more recent actions a smattering of references may suffice.
1 Timothy
Part 12: 1 Timothy 6:1-10
Pastor Mark Driscoll
March 21, 2004

Here’s the bottom line. They think that godliness is a means to financial gain. You want the sick, hard, cold truth, friends? Every time there’s heresy, error, church splits, divisions, factions, fighting, trace the money, and you’ll find the taproot. It’s always, it’s always, always financial. It’s money. It’s power. It’s control. It’s wealth. It’s affluence. That’s what it is.

These silly, stupid, little denominations, what they do is this. Hank in Dubuque, Iowa, is a union farmer. He goes to his local church, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, whatever mainline liberal denomination it might be. Hank loves Jesus. Hank gets radically saved. Hank takes 10 percent of all the money from his plumbing job, and he gives it to his church 'cause his pastor there loves Jesus, and he doesn’t know any different. The pastor’s a good guy, and Hank’s a good guy, so Hank gives 10 percent to the church. Hank thinks it’s going to the church.

Well, it doesn’t go to the church. Hank’s 10 percent goes into some fund that’s far away from Hank in some bureaucrat’s office. And that bureaucrat’s paid by Hank to sit around and make decisions and write silly little books that’ll govern Hank’s church. And if Hank doesn’t agree with it, that’s just tough 'cause Hank doesn’t have a Master’s degree. [emphasis added] He only loves Jesus. He’s just a plumber. He should shut up. He’s like Jesus. He’s a blue collar guy, not really fit to do doctrine.

And so this guy over here and his bureaucrat friends who get their salary paid by Hank’s 10 percent and his buddy’s 10 percent from the union hall, they decide that all the sudden Hank’s gonna have a homosexual pastor. All of the sudden, Hank’s not gonna believe that the Bible’s the Word of God 'cause they took a vote.

All of the sudden, they’re gonna send theologians in to do a conference telling Hank that maybe Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. And Hank wonders, “Why do I gotta put up with this? Am I not paying your salary? You don’t seem to love Jesus.”

And then those guys say, “Well, you know what, Hank? We own your building. You and your kids and your grandkids and your friends, you guys worked really hard, and you’ve given sacrificially to pay off that building? Ultimately, Hank, we own your real estate, so Hank, you gotta put up with this, meaning you gotta keep paying our salary to abuse you. And if you try to rebel, we’ll steal the real estate that you paid millions of dollars for, Hank.” That’s how mainline denominations work. You wonder why people don’t leave their denomination? Because the denomination – the liberal ones – own the property. Guys, think about that.

We bought this building a year ago. You guys are giving sacrificially. We’re paying for this building. Can you imagine working very, very, very hard as a church to pay this off and we don’t own it? Some bureaucrat in office somewhere that you never met, that doesn’t know you, that when you get sick won’t be at the hospital laying hands and praying over you, won’t baptize your kids when they get saved, won’t officiate your wedding, won’t sit down and study the Bible with you? A guy you can’t even meet with, you’ll never know, just some guy pushing paperwork somewhere who’s not your pastor, he control your building that you paid for. [emphasis added]

And yet ...
Nevertheless, Clem says, the structure of Mars Hill—which over time consolidated power and financial decisions in the central organization—did play a role. "As the structure became more refined, the driving motive became efficiency and growth, and those two factors began dictating church policy."

 Clem went on to explain further:

"Here's an example of what happens, then: When Driscoll quit preaching at my Ballard campus and went to Bellevue, I immediately lost 1,000 people. At $10 per head, that's $10,000 per Sunday that went out the door. And yet my people who stayed continued to give to the same budget; they actually started to give more.

 "But because my attendance dropped, Central says my budget needs to drop, and that means that I have to fire a youth pastor.
 "People don't want to lose the youth pastor and start asking, 'How much more will it take to keep Mitch?' And I'm saying, 'No matter how much more you give, we can't use a penny. It just goes to Central.' And they start going, 'This is communism!'"

Thus, Mars Hill came to be run by precisely the kind of "God Box" mentality Driscoll warned against a decade earlier.

There may remain those who would say Driscoll needs to be restored?  Restored to what?  Let's bear in mind that by Mark Driscoll's account he never opted to be a member of a church he didn't start himself.
That's one practical thing is, I'd never been a member of a church until I started my own. [emphasis added] So I didn't know a lot about church. But I wanted, I knew I was a big personality and pretty intense so I wanted to be under authority but I made a mistake of--how do I say this carefully?--trying to be under the authority of my elders but the truth is all my elders were new and young and green and they would want to help but they really didn't know what they were talking about.

And so what I should have had was a team of pastors outside of the church who were older and more seasoned that could, you know, help Grace and I put life together.

Then again, he did, but he managed to omit mention of them over the years. And if of late Driscoll claims he was audibly told by God he's released from ministry, well, bear in mind something Driscoll said about the problem with guys who talk like that.
Pastor Mark Driscoll
ACTS (5:12-42)
May 04, 2014
So I want to be careful with this because this can be an opportunity for spiritual abuse. Because sometimes people say, “God told me.” Well, we’ll see, OK? You can’t just pull out the “God told me” card. [emphasis added] Ladies, let’s say you meet a guy and the guy says, “God told me to marry you.” “Interesting, he didn’t tell me or my dad, you know, so I don’t have to just assume that because you say the Lord says that the Lord in fact has spoken.”

You need to be very careful. Somebody comes along, “God told me to plant a church.” Let’s check that. All right, you can’t—I mean, 1 Corinthians 14 is clear. If you think you got a word from the Lord, you’ve got to check it by the leaders. So what we’re looking for, if you believe God has told you something, especially to do something that is difficult like this, we’re looking for a godly person—Peter’s a godly person. In godly community—it says he’s with the apostles, they’re all agreed. Under godly authority—they all agree on this. With a godly motive—to talk about Jesus. Doing a godly thing—wanting to minister to people. In a godly way—by being open in public and not hiding anything. So if you believe the Lord has told you something, he may have, but I would ask, “Are you a godly person in godly community under godly authority with a godly motive doing a godly thing in a godly way?” ... [emphasis added]
The likelihood that we'll ever see a report, if the BoE from last year was even really working on one (which we can't be sure about), seems remote.  And while last year it was said of Driscoll he was advised by godly counsel to resign the new iteration seems to be a divine mandate that he quit.

Back in 2014 Driscoll issued a statement in which he said the following:

From a 2014 missive, Driscoll wrote the following:
While I’m still young, I suspect when I’m old I’ll be known for many things—some good, and some not so good. But I hope that the longer God leaves me on this earth, the more I’ll be known for one thing—that I loved Jesus and His Church, the Church He promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against. I may be an author, a speaker, and a thought-provoker; but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’m a local church pastor, and that’s what I want to give the rest of my life for. [emphasis added]

To date he's failed to provide a very compelling explanation for why someone who in the deepest recesses of his heart considered himself a local church pastor let his leadership team sign off on Result Source.  Even Sutton Turner has sounded off in the last month about how ill-advised and bad it was. 

Yet before the year 2014 was out he quit.  Even if we'd grant for sake of conversation God said something to the effect Mark Driscoll was released from the ministerial calling he'd spent the last twenty years affirming really happened, the biblical textual precedent for any kind of calling being rescinded tends to crop up more in the case of a King Saul than a King David.  Since Driscoll's invoked the "struck shepherd" meme that might thematically link.

From a March 2014 missive, Driscoll wrote the following:
in recent years, some have used the language of “celebrity pastor” to describe me and some other Christian leaders. In my experience, celebrity pastors eventually get enough speaking and writing opportunities outside the church that their focus on the church is compromised, until eventually they decide to leave and go do other things. Without judging any of those who have done this, let me be clear that my desires are exactly the opposite. I want to be under pastoral authority, in community, and a Bible-teaching pastor who grows as a loving spiritual father at home and in our church home for years to come. I don’t see how I can be both a celebrity and a pastor, and so I am happy to give up the former so that I can focus on the latter.

So who is Driscoll submitted to these days?  Under whose pastoral authority does Mark Driscoll serve in community?  Driscoll wrote that he didn't see how he could be both a celebrity and a pastor, so he wrote he was happy to give up the former so he could focus on the latter.  And before the year was out he quit being the latter and of late would suggest this was at a divine prompting?  Driscoll warned against assuming guys were telling the truth by invoking "Jesus told me ... ." 

That Driscoll resigned his pastoral role the way he did yet has appeared at conferences invites the question of whether in the end he is happier to be a celebrity than he is to be a pastor.  If he's still a charismatic and still aims to re:launch and re:brand himself then the seatbelt may be officially off. 


Samuel Smith said...

My thoughts on Mark Driscoll's leadership failures:

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

If Driscoll could be humble enough to become a regular rank and file tithing member of a church and stay away from ministry (maybe even taking up a joe job that pays the bills) that might be his only decent shot at getting back into it. If he tries to go back into ministry as he is, with so much of his credibility self-destroyed, he might as well just shift to TBN because that's the level he's unfortunately descended to. He's already coming across like the Dick Nixon of 21st century megachurch pastors, right down to resigning in the wake of a proposed disciplinary action that was not allowed to run its course.

Justin Dean might sincerely believe a few bloggers snowballed disaster but Justin Dean did more to destroy the credibility of Mars Hill in public relations terms than anyone in its history. Mars Hill seems more and more like the Nixon administration, perhaps full of men who genuinely believed they were doing the right thing for the right reasons but that was brought down in the end by internal strife and the consequences of chicanery (ie Result Source).