Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mark Driscoll Lights A Fire

Readers of this blog will have know that I have mentioned Mark Driscoll a few times. Mark is a pastor at a fast growing church in Seattle and an increasingly well-known preacher. He has a direct, even combative approach, and strong views. He also takes a 'traditional' approach to the relationships between the sexes. He obviously relishes controversy, but even he must be surprised at the fire he has lit with some of his latest comments. His blogs can be read here:

A couple of his recent blogs have lead to all hell breaking loose. Christians around the world have gone for him and some are even planning to stage a protest at his church early in December. The language being used is often extreme. And, of course, many, many outside the Church are loving it and jumping on the band-wagon. I have been thinking about it and what is the right way to react.

1. I can't begin to see what is to be gained by Christians protesting at a Church service. I seriously question the motives of those doing this. Imagine if fundamentalists were to protest at the service of a church that was liberal. You can imagine the adjectives! Even if people feel passionately that he is wrong, how can this be the right way to deal with it? What sort of a witness to those outside is this?

2. What Mark says is often harmless, it is the way he says it that gets people going. He has a great gift, but there is a dark-side to his gift when he gets it wrong. He has an ability to grab people's attention and make them think. He is an effective communicator. But he has had a lot of success while still young. Most of us in the ministry have to learn to cope with failure, and that is hard enough. Only a few have to learn to deal with success, and that is harder and with fewer around to help! I hope people will calm down and that mature Christians will offer him the help and training that he needs to use his gift as it should be used. Maybe with all the success he has had, Mark has not realized that he, like the rest of us, needs guidance and training. Maybe now he will.

3. For Mark, I pray that he will see how some of his comments affect people. How they hurt, wound, and offend. If he sees this, perhaps he will pause before he speaks or writes. I pray that he will want more to be humble than to be famous. But I also pray that those who are jealous of his success will stop seeking his downfall and humiliation.

4. For myself, I pray that I may learn from Mark and that I will seek to be less cautious in what I say. I realize that the reason why I do not offend people more, isn't because I am a nicer person than Mark, but because I don't have the courage to speak out on what is important in the way that he is prepared to do. Paul asked the Ephesians that God would enable him to speak the Gospel boldly as he ought to. Being diplomatic, being willing to listen, and wanting to enter into dialogue can just be an excuse for spiritual cowardice.

Those of us who argued for compassion and understanding towards Ted Haggard should not be slow to offer it to Mark. I hope he does not lose his edge, and I hope he does not do anything that will lead to his fall.

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