Friday, July 03, 2015

Driscoll told Houston "we felt, specifically, called to go after young, college-educated males". The Social Gospel of Mars Hill

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. [emphasis added] So that was really the focus and I didn't think the church would amount to much. 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.

... young men aren't going to church. Young men aren't going to college. Young men aren't marrying women. Young men are not raising their children and I have such a deep burden and passion to see men--you know, 1 Corinthians 13--I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I acted like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me--I want, I want to compel young men to grow up, to take responsibility. And sometimes, in doing that, I have communicated that in a way that
demeans women and that's not helpful and that's not right. In the grace of God I need to repent and be better about that  but I still want, I mean no one would say young men are, in the Western world, highly impressive and we're all encouraged. There's a lot of work to be done. [emphasis added]

And so I regret the times that I have not communicated in such a way that, in trying to compel the men up it seemed like I was pushing the women down and that's my fault.
A lot has been said about what has been called Mark Driscoll's Testosterone Gospel.  While a case can be made that what he has become most known for was not necessarily that prominent in his earliest interactions with the press, it's worth noting that once Driscoll found the mission of getting young males he has come back to it so relentlessly it has justifiably been one of the highlights of his public career. We'll try to get to the gap between what progressives have seen in that mission and what conservatives saw in it and compare and contrast that somewhat to what people who were actually there thought was going on.  However, for this post, revisiting the continuity of Driscoll's views on gender and adulthood will suffice.  We'll see that a lot of what lays at the heart of this is what Dan Gouge over at City of God once called the Social Gospel of Mars Hill.

If the video doesn't still work, Wenatchee The Hatchet has quoted Driscoll on this point previously:
about 3:00 in
The question is, you know, if you want to be innovative, how do you get young men? The whole war, all this nonsense how to grow the church and how to do this, one issue, young men. That's it. That's the whole thing. They're gonna get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate, they're gonna MAKE the culture of the future. If you get the young men you win the war. You get everything. The family, the money, the women, the children, the businesses, everything. You don't get the young men you get nothing. Nothing. Most churches are built to cater to 40-something-year-old women and their children and the guys are nowhere to be found. We built this church going after young, single, non-Christian perverted, educated, technological men. ...

If you attempt to reduce what this gospel of markulinity was only to Driscoll's style you can miss the sociological/reverse-engineering cultural enterprise in it. Let's revisit a long comment from Bent Meyer describing what he saw in the earlier years:
Bent Meyer UNITED STATES on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:06 PM said:

I am one of the men fired the day of Mark’s rant about two elders he felt needed broken noses. Someone asked what has happened since that day.

 I am happy to say, the next Sunday my wife and I attended another Church with far better expository teaching and a community that authentically and generously helps the marginalized.
 I also finished my master program and have a private mental health practice serving the Seattle and Eastside area. This was a very good and satisfying result.

 Regarding whether I spoke up or not. I have not been silenced by any direct or implied threats of retaliation. It is clear that the one who possess the air waves controls the content and spin of a story, so there was not much to be done.

 I thought a lot about how I would response and just what my motives would be. I chose not to be lured into a public argument through the Seattle Times asking me for a blow by blow description of the events I have documented. I have a tendency to keep material for years and years.
 I did prepare my narrative, including supporting documents, for members only to read who came to me for explanation. They had to agree never to disclose any of it to the media. These people have been honorable. As best I know, none have. By doing this I opened up myself to their scrutiny and possible rebuke. I have received nothing but kindness and support.

 As to my motives, I want Mark’s best. In my opinion he is a very troubled man. He is caught in his own hell. The consequence, of course, is the influence he has on others, which is mixed.
 He, Lief Moi, and Mike Gunn, together the founders of Mars Hill Church, sent out to focus on those that were young, upwardly mobile and future leaders. They wanted to position themselves to influence their faith decisions and their life choices. This is a lesson for many church leaders to learn from and choose for themselves.

 The downside is Mark’s pathology shows up in ways that are impulsive, aggressive, irascible, shut off from effective relational influence, and most apparent not respectful and submissive to anyone, though he claims otherwise.

 I have hoped and still hope for something short of him destroying himself that would bring about substantial change for this ever increasing population of worshiper. Some have fretted there will be a great loss of Christians with the demise of Mark and/or the Church. I don’t think so. The church that comprises all of us will survive. The chaff will be blown away, but the church will remain.
 I would speak a caution to all of us. There is much to be learn for the Mars Hill phenomena. Don’t dismiss the hunger and openness to be influenced represented in those ages 18 through 30. Invent content that is useful and distribute it freely on the web. Always incorporate creatively some explanation of the gospel at the end of every teaching session with an invitation to do business with Jesus.

 Even though Mark’s portrayal of masculinity is more like a comic book superhero and women needing to be protected and rescued is his focus, young men coming into manhood is richly important. Absent fathers is epidemic. Think about what it is that has caused them not to attach to their families. Mark comes at it from the standpoint of duty and responsibility, which is mechanical, missing other primary questions. Why do so many men not attach to their families? Why do they abandon family so easily? Mark uses shame and intimidation as the means of gaining compliance, which has the appearance of working, but is not transformational in the long run, or creates other issues of abusive relationships related to power and control. In many men, the tendency is understood in the short saying, “Monkey see monkey do.” Don’t over react, young men need to mature.
 I feel like I need to give attention to the needs of women with equal if not more space since women are marginalized and silenced in so many ways. But, I will leave that for another time.
 I hope this will satisfy the primary curiosity of those who wonder what has happened to me. I will say, the other elder fired at the same times is a good friend and is doing well.

We have a few testimonies here that Mark Driscoll had a vision. The vision was to get the young men.  Driscoll said explicitly in the Houston interview his desire was to compel the young men to grow up. We'll get to the problems in that and the uniquely rarified focus on the alpha males only need apply element of it elsewhere.

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