Mark Driscoll: Good for Christians bad for Churches?

29 01 2009

picture-1Let me say from the outset this is not an attack piece on Mark Driscoll.  I like Mark and I’m very glad he is on our team (believes in the authority of the Bible, loves Jesus etc.).  But it is important  for us who study church practices to admit and grapple with the fact that Driscoll presents a way of doing church that is unrealistic, impractical and extra-biblical.

Mark has hit upon a church growth strategy that is a grand slam for attracting young men both Christian and non-Christian – two parts sex one part rebel Jesus (see latest news piece on Mars Hill).  Mark is going from being the Rush Limbaugh of Indy Christianity to being the Howard Stern of Indy Christianity.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being either but let me ask this, if Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern were to become Christians today and church planters tomorrow what would their churches look like?  After 10 years I have no doubt both men would have mega-churches with satellite campuses and an explosive podcast subscription rate.

But let me take a step back and ask should these men plant local churches?  Should these men become stay-at-home pastors?  Should their talk show host personality become the center of a one massive church?  Let’s take this to its logical conclusion.

I’m more of strategist than a pastor so if I wanted to plant a church in Cincinnati and I felt Driscoll’s model was effective and biblical I would start a satellite congregation of Mars Hill here.  Why not?  I’ll never be a Christian shock jock with my personality and its already proven to work in seven satellite congregations around Seattle.  If he’s the best Indy Christian preacher why try to compete?

Ugh…but do you see and can you feel what “the church” is turning into?  This is NOT Mark Driscoll’s fault at all but is the inevitable result of a modern Christianity being celebrity obsessed and entirely without a biblical ecclesiology (understanding of church).

The church needs to be rescued.  Today it exists as a formless and void container ready to be filled with any strong personality wanting to shape it in his image.  But the Bible does define for us what the church is and that it exists in three forms – body (a house-sized group the lives life together), city (a disciple-making movement that worships as one) and universal (the bride of Christ on his mission to make disciples of all nations).

I continually return to these three church identities because embracing these biblical concepts will both rescue the church from being anything and everything anyone wants to make it into and it will release the Mark Driscolls of the Christian world from being pastors to being teachers and communicators with world-wide ministries.

The church (universal) needs Mark Driscoll but churches (body and city) must not form themselves around the gifting of any single person.  A massive restructuring is needed and Paul’s strategy still remains untried and ignored by modern Western Christians.

Quick, Cheap grabs at Life

20 01 2009

thimble3Human being are terribly thirsty creatures.  And not just physically thirsty but also spiritually thirsty.  We thirst for life, and we leak the life we find.  Life drains out of us and we need to be filled back up.  So how can we satiate ourselves?  How can we stop ourselves from the desperation that results from hitting empty?

We discover thimbles of water.  We live a thimble life.  We are like a man in the desert running through the relentless dry and blazing heat finding these thimbles of water.  Just enough water to wet the surface of our mouth but not nearly enough to quench our thirst.  So we keep running.  We keep reaching out for life in places that cannot satisfy.

What are your thimbles of life?  Can you name them?  Will you name them?  I have many, even hundreds and I work to discover more.  It would appear at times that my life’s goal is line up so many thimbles that maybe, someday, I’ll stop experiencing thirst all together.

And I hear the words of the prophet – “Be appalled at this, O heavens”

I’ve offended the Lord.

“shudder with great horror”water

He looks at my life in disbelief.

“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water”

I’m lining up these thimbles in plain site of a living spring

“and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water”

Why would we do such a thing?  Why wouldn’t we go first and only to the living spring?

We live in a thimble culture, where the quick, cheap grab at life is natural and native to us all.  It will take a 180 degree change (repentence) and a process of retraining (discipleship) to learn a new way of life.