I've made a lot of mistakes and one of them was going too fast. There's the Lord's calling and there's the Lord's timing and I should have waited longer. I should have been under godly spiritual authority, for Grace and I to be under a godly couple, that was [a] senior pastor, so that we could learn and grow. I, I, my character was not caught up with my gifting and I did start to young. And I believe God called us to start the church and he was very, very, very gracious to us, uh, but had I to
do it over again I would not look at a 25-year old and say, "Do what I did."
... We went into the urban core and we felt, specifically, called to go after young, college-educated males. That was really my heart. I wanted everybody to meet Jesus but I felt particularly if we were gonna make in the city and the legacy of families and, you know, the way that women and children and culture treated, that getting young men to love Jesus would be paramount. So that was really the focus and I didn't think the church would amount to much. [emphasis added] The first three years we didn't collect a salary; it was very small; we met at night; we moved a lot because we kept losing our rental location; the offices were in our house, so it wasn't a big deal and we didn't anticipate that it would become what it ultimately did.
Okay, let's revisit some earlier research on this matter of "we didn't anticipate" stuff. If Mark Driscoll didn't anticipate that Mars Hill even "could" become big, let alone "would" become big what was the deal with the long-running dream of just the music label, discussed over here:
But that wasn't even all that Mark hoped could be done. Observe this screen capture ...
God's Work, Our Witness Part 1
Pastor Mark Driscoll
about 12:30 in
You know, and I thought, for sure, we’d probably tap out at two hundred. I thought if we can get this
thing to two hundred, that would be amazing.
And I had big vision for more. I put together a forty-page vision statement. I said, “We’re going to
start a school. We’re going to plant churches. We’re going to do a record label.” I had this whole vision, and I handed it out to, like, fifteen people, and they’re like, “Are you kidding me?”
So I had big dreams. But to be honest with you, man, if we could just get up to two hundred, I thought that would be amazing.
Say what? About 200?
From "Seasons of Grace" by Mark Driscoll
In the fourth season, we launched the church in October 1996 at 6pm with an attendance around 200, which included many friends and supporters. The attendance leveled off shortly thereafter, somewhere around 100 adults, and we continued meeting until the Christmas season.
So at the launch of Mars Hill Church, according to Mark Driscoll's "Seasons of Grace" they had already launched at the number that Driscoll was saying in the 2011 film would be "amazing".
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
CHAPTER ONE: Jesus, Our Offering was $137 and I Want to Use it to Buy Bullets
from pages 53-54
So in an effort to clarify our mission, I wrote down on paper the first of what would eventually be many strategic plans. I shot for the moon rather foolishly and decided that our church that was not big enough to fill a bus would plant multiple churches, run a concert venue, start a Bible institute, write books, host conferences, and change the city for Jesus. I started handing out these goals printed on boring white paper without any graphics, colors, or cool fonts, naively assuming that it would all happen eventually just because it was what Jesus wanted.
To get leaders in place for world domination, I also spent time trying to articulate the vision in my head to good men who would be qualified to rise up as fellow elders-pastors. So, as Jesus did, I spent time in prayer asking the Father which of his sons should be trained for leadership. The church started as an idea I shared with Lief Moi and Mike Gunn. Lief is a descendant of Genghis Khan and his dad was a murderer, and Mike is a former football player. They proved to be invaluable, except for the occasional moments when they would stand toe-to-toe in a leadership meeting, threatening to beat the Holy Spirit out of each other. Both men were older than I and had years of ministry experience, and they were good fathers, loving husbands, and tough. ...
World domination? Shooting for the moon, decided that the church as small as Mars Hill was would, nevertheless, plant a bunch of churches, run a concert venue, start a Bible institute, publish books, host conferences and change the city for Jesus. Oh, yes, plus that music label. From the Capstone Institute to the Resurgence Training Center to Mars Hill Schools the seminary/college thing didn't work out. From Re:Sound to Mars Hill Music to an apparently fizzled partnership with Tooth & Nail Mars Hill seemed to have three strikes and an out on the music label side, too.
For the times Mark Driscoll said he just imagined he'd be a local church pastor, we've got Driscoll's old testimony to the contrary from his 2006 book. Just when everything had settled into a stable place Driscoll, as he put it, got bored:
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
CHAPTER FIVE: JESUS, WHY AM I GETTING FATTER AND MEANER?
350-1,000 peoplepages 135-136
A very wise friend who is a successful business entrepreneur, Jon Phelps, [WtH, for more on Phelps]shared an insight with me around this time that was very clarifying. He said that in any growing organization, there are three kinds of people, and only two of them have any long-term future with a growing organization. First, there are people on the rise who demonstrate the uncanny ability to grow with the organization and become vital leaders. Second, there are people who attach themselves to the people on the rise as valuable assistants who rise by being attached to someone else on the rise. Third, there are people who neither rise nor attach to anyone who is rising, and they cannot keep up with the growing demands of the organization. These people fall behind, and the organization can either allow their inability to slow down the whole team or release them and move forward with out them. This is difficult to do because they are often good people who have been partly responsible for the success of the organization. But the needs of the organizational mission, not the individual in the organization, must continually remain the priority if there is to be continued success.
Up until this point, nearly everyone in the church had been connected to me, and I could no longer pull them all up with me. Simply, leaders needed to rise on their own or attach themselves to other people on the rise, or they would have to be let go.
So we made all these difficult decisions, and the church stabilized. Finally, we had facilities, money, men rising up to lead, intentional community housing, a successful concert venue, and a church that seemed organized to us. We had grown a church of one thousand people in a tough urban culture despite massive hardship. With things going so well, I feared we'd get too comfortable, and so I decided it was time to blow it all up, create some strategic chaos, and start over again. [emphasis added]
CHAPTER SIX JESUS, TODAY WE VOTED TO TAKE A JACKHAMMER TO YOUR BIG CHURCH
1,000 to 4,000 people
from pages 140-141
It was a warm spring day and I sat in my office at the church, gazing out the window at large white clouds blowing through a clear blue sky, enjoying our success. I had lost about forty pounds by shifting from the Fatkins to the Atkins diet, had paid off all the personal debts I had accrued as a broke pastor, had fitted up the old home for my family, was getting closer to my lovely wife, was enjoying my three children while looking forward to a fourth, finally owned a vehicle with less than 200,000 miles on it, and was the pastor of one of the largest churches in our city at the age of thirty-one. My eye no longer twitched, I wasn't throwing up from acid reflux, and my vertigo had cleared up.
I was sitting at my new desk, which was the first piece of furniture I had ever owned that was not a donated hand-me down. ... We owned our church building outright and had money in the bank. I had a large staff for a church our size and was sleeping like a Calvinist at nights because things were under control.
On that day I had only a few appointments, with lengthy breaks in between. I decided to walk down to the deli a few blocks away and get a Reuben sandwich on sourdough bread and some fresh air. On the way back, I walked barefoot and remember thinking these simple pleasures had made the day one of the most relaxing and satisfying days I ever had. But by the time I walked back to the church, I realized I was already getting bored. There was no dragon to slay, no hill to charge, no battle to fight, and no foe to conquer. [emphasis added]
In other words, it looks like when Driscoll finally got the nascent Mars Hill to take shape as a stable and viable spiritual community he felt like there was no dragon to slay, no battle to win, no foe to conquer. It was time to bow it all up, create some strategic chaos, and start over again.
Driscoll fairly early on had that stable local little church and it was clearly, by his own testimony, not good enough for him so he blew things up, introduced strategic chaos, and started again and it seems he did that for about eighteen years. If Driscoll didn't anticipate that Mars Hill even could get big why did he cast a vision of starting a record label and a Bible college and hosting conferences before the church had even reached 200?
Bear in mind this, if you've listened to the recent audio, Wenatchee The Hatchet has only blogged so far to clarify statements made by Mark Driscoll within a three minute excerpt from almost an hour's worth of stuff. We'll get to the Social Gospel of Mars Hill (first formulated to Wenatchee's recollection by Dan Gogue over at City of God) a little later.