Pastor Provocateur: Christianity Today Profiles Mark Driscoll

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He begins his talk about lessons learned as a church planter with common-sense advice about how pastors can blow off steam. Driscoll, 36, plays T-ball with his three sons or feeds ducks with his two daughters. Hardly the stuff that provokes raging blog debates and church pickets. As Driscoll's Mars Hill Church in Seattle has grown to 6,000 members in 11 years, quiet moments like this with his family have preserved some of his sanity.

"I'm playing hurt right now," Driscoll confesses to prospective church planters at a March meeting of Acts 29, his network of 170 churches around the world. "I wore out my adrenal glands at the end of last year, just living off adrenaline too much. My sleep has been really jacked up for some months."

Those glands must have a little something left in the tank, because Driscoll warms up when he recounts the history of Mars Hill.

"My first core group was single indie and punk rockers committed to anarchy," he says. "Needless to say, they didn't naturally organize themselves or give generously. If I would have said, 'Everybody tithe,' it would have been in cigarettes."

Driscoll can't stand in front of a crowd for long without stirring things up. That's what you get from a pastor who learned how to preach by watching comedian Chris Rock. Before long, he has the audience going. "If you're going to be a fundamentalist or moralist … pick things like bathing with your wife to be legalistic about," Driscoll says in his distinct, gravelly voice. "Don't pick something stupid like, 'Don't listen to rock music.' I don't know who's choosing all the legalisms, but they picked the worst ones. Eat meat, bathe together, and nap—those would be my legalisms. Those are things I can do."

Driscoll "comes off as a smart-aleck former frat boy," according to The Seattle Times. Guilty as charged. If he hasn't offended you, you've never read his books or listened to his sermons. On any given Sunday at Mars Hill, it's possible that a visiting fire marshal will get saved. But it's just as likely that a guest will flip him off before walking out.

The spectrum of response speaks to his sharp tongue—his greatest strength and his glaring weakness. But Driscoll also disturbs many fellow evangelicals because he straddles the borders that divide us. His unflinching Reformed theology grates on the church-growth crowd. His plan to grow a large church strikes postmoderns as arrogant. His roots in the emerging church worry Calvinists. No one group can claim him. Maybe that's why they all turn their guns on him.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

Posted October 8, 2007 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. bob carlton wrote:

Why is Driscoll even featured in this magazine? Because his church is big and growing fast? Because he draws attention by being outrageously offensive? Because he has long-standing disagreements with emergent folks? Weath, fame, glitz, and public conflict are all reasons to cover Paris Hilton in Star Magazine! The article suggests that Seattle is an important place to look at because of its low number of believers. If that is so, why not cover a church like Church of the Apostles, an intensively relational, ‘small is beautiful’ collection of believers who aren’t in media-covered conflict with anyone?

I used to be concerned about the overrepresentation of white, American, women-excluding, power-holding men in evangelical leadership of my parent’s generation. Now I’m concerned about it in my generation. Wearing jeans, being web-savvy, and drinking beer/smoking/swearing might make new pastors cool, but it doesn’t make the church or the world more just. Until women are included as full humans, emotional and rational, leading and being led, protecting and protected, gifted and limited, then it’s just a new inning of a very old game.

October 9, 9:38 am | [comment link]
2. Crabby in MD wrote:

Loved the article.  I couldn’t help but think that Driscoll’s church is in Ballard, the same section of Seattle where the Episcopal Renewal movement began in the 1960s (or was it the early 70s?).  Wonder how many are left at St. Luke’s.  I’d go to Mark’s church anytime.  AND #1:  I am a woman, and think he is right on!

October 9, 5:45 pm | [comment link]
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