I have not spoken publicly on this topic for two reasons.
1. I didn’t want to be seen as trying to capitalize on the story for the sake of podcast or blog traffic.
2. I was not hopeful about the future of Mark and Mars Hill. But at this point, given the nature of BadChristian, the relevance of the topic, and the amount of people asking me about it, it seems inconsistent and avoiding not to address it.
I have seen Facebook and Twitter flooded with people commenting and posting about the sad and difficult news that Mark Driscoll has resigned, but my immediate thought upon hearing the news was the exact opposite. It is not sad news that Mark Driscoll has resigned. It is good news, and I’ll tell you why, but first I’ll just give my personal background because so many people have asked.
I attended Mars Hill for 10 years, beginning in 2002, when it was a single location. It is the only church where I have ever been a Christian. I have been a worship leader, deacon, redemption group leader, small group host and leader, have done Biblical counseling, and even been a volunteer sound guy. I learned almost EVERYTHING I know about Jesus, God, and the Bible there, mostly from Mark Driscoll himself. He is the single biggest human influence on my spiritual life. I have spent some time around him personally, including standing back stage shooting the shit right before he was going on to preach.
I think he is great. Plain and simple, he is awesome. I love his style and his methods. I liked hearing him cuss. I like when he is tough, strong, and even mean. I laugh when I hear stories of some of the stuff he has done. I just think it’s badass. I can’t help it. I have followed, supported, and encouraged him. What he did was working, it was awesome, and I was part of it.
Then it got weird. About a year ago it started to feel funny to my wife and me. We felt like everything had become about Mark and about his name and reputation, and the proprietary ownership and growth of Mars Hill Church. We became unsettled and that feeling increased over time. Eventually, we felt that Mark was behaving in a way that seemed to contradict what he himself had taught us that a pastor should. At some point, we knew it was unhealthy, and I couldn’t be onstage leading people and be authentic in doing so based on the trajectory and some of the things that were going on, so we had to leave. In retrospect, I know that we stayed too long.
I’ll not go into my opinion or document all the things he did wrong, except to say that Mark blew it. It really frustrated me that he messed up what we had going because it was awesome. He made the classic mistakes associated with power, pride, and personal aspirations, and a lot of people and the church were directly hurt as a result. But I can hardly blame him. I’d have done the same or worse in his shoes. All I can say is, except for all the really bad stuff he did wrong, I think he did everything right.
Since we left, it has been VERY painful because so much of our lives were connected to the church. There are so many people that we know and love that have stayed at the church, and it has been really painful for them too. I have not been hopeful at all over the last few months. Like a slow motion car wreck in which I could clearly see the impending carnage and knew I would be hit by some of the broken glass, I have viewed from a very close distance what has been happening over the past several months. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to reconcile how much I like, or even owe Mark with how disappointed I feel with what has become.
I did NOT expect Mark to resign at all. I was shocked. I thought, based on my experience and assumptions that he would never relent; that he would be too stubborn and the church would permanently suffer. So upon seeing that he resigned, I was glad because I am certain it will be best for the church itself. This may be the first sign of real repentance for Mark; putting others ahead of himself. But then again it may be very strategic positioning- some of the assertions and self covering language in his resignation letter point that way.
But if real repentance has already come, or ever comes, even if it is forced, I accept it can. I think that is a great thing about Christianity and Biblical accountability. It can eventually, no matter how brutal, produce genuine repentance. I believe in redemption stories. For instance, I am a big supporter of Michael Vick. I don’t respect the thinking of people who forever want to hold someone else down because of their mistakes or sins, no matter how grievous. That’s not the Gospel. That’s not how Jesus treats us. So if Mark Driscoll has to be smashed to bits in order to see Jesus clearly, then I call that progress. That is what we believe, right? That Jesus is the one who pays for our sins, not us? That people are flawed and fail, and Jesus and the Church succeed anyway, and to even greater glory? Hasn’t this happened throughout all of history?
I am not worried about God.
I am not worried about Jesus or the supremacy and success of the Gospel.
I am not worried about the Church.
I am not even worried about Mars Hill. They can move forward now.
I am worried for some individuals at Mars Hill that have been hurt throughout this time.
I am worried about Mark and his spiritual well-being.
So, praise God. Good, this is good. Mark Driscoll resigning is good news. In fact, it’s part of THE Good News.
Follow my logic…
The Bible is good news, right? Remember in the Old Testament, when the Israelites asked for a king and God told them no, they didn’t need one, He was their King? But the Israelites insisted. They were stiff necked and determined to have a human king. So they got what they asked for. Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles document at great length how poorly this went. The kings were horrible. Since we believe that the entire Bible is about Jesus, we believe that the redemptive story of God includes human failures that point in the direction of Jesus’ bringing redemption, healing, and perfection. The story of Israel and their kings is part of the Gospel, the good news. Admittedly it is the ugly part, but it is part.
Since those days, Jesus has come and initiated His kingdom; however, human hearts and sinful men are just the same as they always were. We too still desire an earthly king; translate (mega-leader, hero, magically gifted pastor, role model). Also, men still desire to be exactly that. We will always fail. I am guilty of insisting on an earthly king, and Mark Driscoll is guilty of insisting on being an earthly king. And so, to paraphrase, a famous and wise king who himself was pretty f-ed up “…ain’t nothin’ new under the sun.”
Thank you Jesus for illuminating this, forgiving us, and correcting us!