Monday, April 24, 2017

on the Walsh/Robison interview with Mark Driscoll, part 6--on how his converts were like his children, reviewing a Driscoll family history of leaving the Driscoll clan legacy behind to build a new life


With all of the history of Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll’s role within it considered this far, we know that what Mark Driscoll told Sheila Walsh and Randy Robison can’t seriously be considered “the whole story”. A televised interview being what it is has inherent limitations.

Sheila: That's a lot of information! What I want to talk about Mark, is you start so small, see God do amazing things and it grows and grows and then suddenly there's like this death by committee. I just want to know, what did that do to you as a person, not just as a pastor, what did that do to you?
Mark: I felt about the church as I did about my children. Once you share the gospel of Jesus with someone and they become a Christian it is kind of like you're a parent. They're born again and now they need to be fed and loved and raised up and encouraged. And so for me in my heart, I adore my five kids; we've got three boys, two girls. And Grace is my nearest and dearest friend and she is still with me and she is the best. So we kind of felt a little bit about the church like we did our family. These are people that we love and care for and they've met the Lord Jesus under the ministry and we want to help love and encourage and raise them up.

Since Mark Driscoll went to the trouble of saying that when you share the Gospel of Jesus with someone they become your metaphorical baby, a good number of passages from Confessions of a Reformision Rev and other writings from Mark Driscoll over the years can be taken as laments about the stink of constantly changing that baby’s diapers.  Before we get to that, however, let the record show that Mark Driscoll couldn’t remember by 2013 that there were even kids in the earliest days of Mars Hill.
about 57:27

Here’s where we’re at: Recently, 10,177 adults in attendance across Mars Hill. Fifteen churches, five states. We count people because people count. We count people because people count, and it’s not just numbers, it’s faces and names. There are also almost 2,500 kids, right? Can we say, “Praise God”? We like kids. When we started Mars Hill 17 years ago, there wasn’t even a children’s ministry—because there were no children. [emphasis added] People are coming in, getting saved, getting baptized, getting married, getting pregnant. Ideally, that’s the order, OK?
But, in fact, by Mark Driscoll’s own testimony, there were children, the children of the men he recruited to help him co-found Mars Hill, Mike Gunn and Lief Moi 
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan
page 54

... 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.  [emphases added]...
This is another case in which what Mark Driscoll remembered around 2013 couldn’t be squared with what he said in the previous ten years.  
Furthermore, that Mark Driscoll simultaneously actively wished for his family to be in family ministry within Mars Hill while not always liking the results is something he’s shared on any number of occasions:
2001-04-07 Women's Meeting Part 3
answering a question

Best case scenario, I think, in ministry, is husband and wife working together. Beautiful. Like Priscilla and Aquilla, that's ideal to me because it's not good for the man to be alone, that includes ministry. So the wife is very helpful when she's a good fit. All our elders have wives that I admire and that I hope you would admire because they're admirable women. [emphasis added] And that's what it talks about in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, that the elders should be a certain way and so should their wives, because those women will know everything that is going on in the church; they will have more responsibility and have a higher profile. 
That's why, you know, how many of you are in a home group with one of the elders? Some of you are. You should be. The way we set those up is that the elders are opening up their homes and teaching with their wives so that you can get to know them in a natural context.  That's the way it's generally working. And the reason is that because we feel that the husbands and the wives working together serve for the best model of how the church should work. It should NOT be 'the wife stays home with the children and the husband goes out and does ministry', it's that the WHOLE family does ministry TOGETHER. [emphases added] Our children are a part of our ministry. It's great. I love it. I love it when people come over and my daughter opens the door and welcomes them, sits them down--if you've been at my house you know how this works, she's little Miss Hospitality.
Now her big thing before our Tuesday night study [is], she likes to open it in prayer, and then she likes to take the children upstairs and be the little hostess, which is great.  We have seen, I have seen, my daughter minister to people. I saw her, on one occasion, share the Gospel with a convicted pedophile, which was beautiful.  She was about, I think, right around about three years of age. About two and a half, three years of age. We were talking and he wanted to know as to whether or not God could forgive him for his sin. She came downstairs from her nap, saw him crying on the couch, and sat on his lap and asked me why he was said and I told her that he'd committed a sin against God and so she prayed for him. 
And so I view my daughter as having a spiritual gift, or two or three, and I see her knowing Christ, that means I see evidence of the spirit of God in her. That means she is a member of this church and she is a part of this church and that every part, as Paul says, is necessary and vital. So to kick her out, or to kick the women out, or to kick the children out, and relegate them to some secondary position, it harms the church and it harms them.  [emphasis added]
Best case scenario--husband, wife, kids--doing the Gospel together as a family with Dad functioning as the pastor of that congregation. That's best case scenario.  
If that doesn't happen because the man abdicates his responsibility or he sins, we'll put scenarios in to help work around that.
You'll get bored in your life if all you have is just you and your husband. When you're serving Christ and doing things NOW your life is going somewhere. You're doing something and it's fun. Most of my wife and my conversations are about OTHER people that are coming to Christ. People who are getting married. People who are having children. People who are learning Scripture. People who are getting their life together by God's grace. It's great because we don't get bored. There's always something to do. There's always something that God is up to. 
Five years later, however, Mark Driscoll would describe this period of ministry at Mars Hill Church in different terms.  The first extensive quote deals with an earlier period of Mars Hill history in which Mark Driscoll, in 2006, stated that he began to resent his wife Grace's involvement in ministry at the church because he began to feel as though he was being neglected.  In the second extent quote referring to the 2000-2002 period, Driscoll describes how the church was functionally run out of his house (which, if memory serves was the Montlake address at the time) and how he was sexually frustrated and burned out and suffering frequent demonic attack:
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
page 101-102
During this season my wife, Grace, also started to experience a lot of serious medical problems. her job was very stressful, and between her long hours at the office and long hours at the church, her body started breaking down. I felt tremendously convicted that I had sinned against my wife and had violated the spirit of 1 Timothy 5:8, which says that if a man does not provide for his family he has denied his faith and has acted in a manner worse than an unbeliever. I repented to Grace for my sin of not making enough money and having her shoulder any of the financial burden for our family.  We did not yet have elders installed in the church but did have an advisory council in place, and I asked them for a small monthly stipend to help us make ends meet, and I supplemented our income with outside support and an occasional speaking engagement.
Shortly thereafter, Grace gave birth to our first child, my sweetie-pie Ashley. Up to this point Grace had continuously poured endless hours into the church. She taught a women's Bible study, mentored many young women, oversaw hospitality on Sundays, coordinated meals for new moms recovering from birth, and organized all of the bridal and baby showers. Grace's dad had planted a church before she was born and has remained there for more than forty years. Her heart for ministry and willingness to serve was amazing. But as our church grew, I felt I was losing my wife because we were both putting so many hours into the church that we were not connecting as a couple like we should have. I found myself getting bitter against her because she would spend her time caring for our child and caring for our church but was somewhat negligent of me.

I explained to Grace that her primary ministry was to me, our child, and the management of our home and that I needed her to pull back from the church work to focus on what mattered most.  She resisted a bit at first, but no one took care of me but her.  And the best thing she could do for the church was to make sure that we had a good marriage and godly children as an example for other people in the church to follow.  [emphasis added] It was the first time that I remember actually admitting my need for help to anyone.  It was tough. But I feared that if we did not put our marriage and children above the demands of the church, we would end up with the lukewarm, distant marriage that so many pastors have because they treat their churches as mistresses that they are more passionate about than their brides. 
Although I was frustrated with both my wife and church, I had to own the fact that they were both under my leadership and that I had obviously done a poor job of organizing things to function effectively.  [emphasis added] And since we did not yet have elders formally in place there was no one to stop me from implementing dumb ideas like the 9:00p.m. church service.  So I decided to come to firmer convictions on church government and structure so that I could establish the founding framework for what our church leadership would look like
page 120

A friend in the church kindly allowed me to move into a large home he owned on a lease-to-own deal because I was too broke to qualify for anything but an outhouse. The seventy-year-old house had over three thousand square feet, seven bedrooms on three floors, and needed a ton of work because it had been neglected for many years as a rental home for college students. Grace and I and our daughter Ashley, three male renters who helped cover the mortgage, my study, and the church office all moved into the home. This put me on the job, literally, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, as the boundary between home and church was erased.

We ran the church out of my house for nearly two years, including leadership meetings and Bible studies for various groups on almost every night of the week. It was not uncommon to have over seventy people a week in our home. Grace got sucked right back into the church mess. She was a great host to our guests. But I started growing bitter toward her because I was again feeling neglected. [emphasis added]
Page 128
I was burned-out, underpaid, in debt, sexually frustrated due to an unspectacular sex life, under frequent demonic attack, and so stressed that my blood pressure hovered somewhere between heart-attack victim and mulch in the ground [emphasis added], and now found myself alone with an attractive woman in a foreign country. In retrospect, I think the decision I made in that moment was perhaps the most significant ministry decision I have ever made. ...
Shortly after returning home a few weeks later, I absolutely cracked. In one day I had around ten hours of back-to-back meetings with young single men in the church, which pushed me over the edge. Every one of them was older than me, a chronic masturbater, a porn addict, banging weak-willed girls like a screen door in a stiff breeze, not tithing, and wanting me to hang out with them a lot to keep them accountable. ...

So it turned out that Mark Driscoll admitted in 2006 he resented his wife’s immersion in ministry at Mars Hill during a season because he felt he was neglected as a result.  As best can be assessed on the timeline of events, this period in which he admitted that he privately began to resent his wife’s immersion in ministry as a source of her neglect of him was apparently during the same season that he was singing the praises of family ministry in which his daughter got to minister to a convicted pedophile.   This is paradoxical, however, rather than contradictory. At this point we can appreciate that Mark Driscoll the public persona is never necessarily Mark Driscoll the actual person, however much his public addresses often depend upon an assumption that these two things are the same.
But let’s revisit that comment Driscoll made to Walsh and Robison again:

So we kind of felt a little bit about the church like we did our family. These are people that we love and care for and they've met the Lord Jesus under the ministry and we want to help love and encourage and raise them up.
Yet the Driscolls pulled up stakes and moved away from all that family in 2014.  At a spiritual level, perhaps, could what Mark Driscoll did in moving away from the Mars Hill family wasn’t altogether unlike what he said of Joe Driscoll’s decision to move away from his biological family. Here’s how Mark Driscoll described what his father did in moving away from the Driscolls in North Dakota:

Part 8 of Genesis
Pastor Mark Driscoll | Genesis 9 | November 21, 2004

My family – the reason I’m here today preaching and not working off my hangover is because of my dad. My dad’s name is Joe. I was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and my whole family is a bunch of drunks and thugs and criminals and people that are nothin’ to speak about. My dad got married to my mom. She got pregnant with me, and they decided that everything would stop with their kids. That’s how we got to Seattle. [emphasis added] They said, “You know what? We’re not raising our kids around the rest of the extended family that are filled with sin and violence and folly and drunkenness and shame and nonsense.” They literally moved out here with nothing. I was a baby. That’s how we got to Seattle. My dad for over 20 year hung sheetrock as a union drywaller. He would come home at night and lay on the floor ’cause his back hurt so bad. He did that ’til one day on the job, he literally broke his back and had to go through reconstructive surgery on it. He did that to feed five kids, of which I was the oldest, and my mom stayed home with us kids.

I grew up behind a strip club down by Sea-Tac Airport, and I was the only kid that I can remember (there may have been more) in my neighborhood that had a dad. My brothers and I all make good money, happily married, own homes, responsible, don’t abuse drugs, alcohol – doin’ good. My two sisters, nice ladies, one’s in college, one’s married – doin’ good. The only reason why our family looks so much different than everyone else with my same last name is because of my dad. Children grow up in the world that their father creates. [emphasis added] We’re not individuals. We’re not autonomous. We don’t show up on the earth with a blank slate. We’re part of a family history. And if you have a good dad, you’re born privileged. If you have a bad dad, you’re born in trouble.

My kids eat what I eat. They eat what I provide for them. They live in the home that I purchased. They drive around in the vehicle that I provide. They are raised by the woman that I married. The fact that she stays home is because it’s my responsibility to feed my family and to pay our bills. And I learned that from my dad. I learned that ‘cause everything stopped with my dad. My dad is different than the other men in our family. He’s a hardworking, faithful guy, who would swing a hammer, come home, play catch with his sons, have dinner, coach Little League, and told us, “You’re Driscoll boys. That means something. You do this, you don’t do that. The Driscoll boys are different.” I still tell my sons that. “You’re Driscoll boys. We’re different. We do things different.” And it started with my dad. [emphasis added]
The analogy is clearly an imperfect one since by Mark Driscoll’s account his father moved away from a toxic legacy that already existed in the Driscoll clan in North Dakota, whereas in 2014 Mark Driscoll was moving away from what some might say was a toxic legacy that was largely the long-term result of his own character and conduct issues.  Nevertheless, it may be pertinent to observe the possibility that history, in a sense, has repeated itself.  One Driscoll patriarch abandoned his flesh and blood family to build a new life for his wife and children and another Driscoll patriarch left behind his spiritual family, and by his own estimate his spiritual children, to build a new life in another state for his wife and kids.
It’s not difficult to imagine that Mark Driscoll can talk about how anyone who came to the Gospel under his preaching was like a baby to him there’s probably no shortage of moments where, like a new parent, he may have resented the impositions having such a baby could make on his life. Around the 2000 period Driscoll became so exasperated with the spiritual children he had at Mars Hill he vented his frustration as William Wallace II.  During a season in which Driscoll says he was in bad health, undersexed and resenting his wife for her immersion in ministry in a way that neglected him, such a 2000-2002 season might not have been the most ideal time to decide that, once everything finally stabilized, that it was time to blow things up and start all over again.  But Driscoll just might have a history of making decisions that effectually blow things up before he starts over again and the latest iteration may be taking place in Arizona instead of Seattle.  The singular difference this time is that whereas Joe Driscoll left the flesh and blood Driscoll clan in North Dakota to escape what Mark Driscoll called their toxic legacy, Mark Driscoll fled the spiritual children he says he got through responses to his preaching so as to make a new life for his flesh and blood offspring in another state.  

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