Mark Driscoll: I Made The Mistake Of Trying To Be Under the Authority Of My Elders

30 Sep

Mark Driscoll recently stepped down for a short term leave of absence from his mega church.  Driscoll is often credited for creating a more “man friendly” church.  He co-founded the Acts 29 network for church planters, but that organization has since separated themselves from him.

Warren Throckmorton is a psychology professor who has been writing and following the story.  The title of this article comes from his most recent post concerning the situation.  The post includes a video of the Driscolls sharing about the struggles that they faced during their years of ministry.  The article does not state when this video was taken, and I wish that I knew.  Some of the statements are shocking in my opinion.

Mark Driscol and Wife

Mark’s statement that surprised me the most was…

“…but I knew as a big personality and pretty intense so I wanted to be under authority, but I made a mistake of, how do I say this carefully; trying to be under the authority of my elders, but the truth is all my elders were new and young and green, and they would want to help, but they really didn’t know what they were talking about. And so what I should’ve had was a team of pastors outside of the church who were older and more seasoned who could, you know, help Grace and I put life together and also give me counsel on how to work on the church with the elders I had early on. They could work in the church but they couldn’t work on the church.”

A couple of notes:

1.  Reconciliation is hard work.  

Mark said that he shouldn’t have elders because the problems were on the elder board, and that would be too hard.  It would apparently be too awkward for him to bring up the troubles that they were facing within the leadership team.  Reconciliation takes both parties who are willing to come to the table with humility – something which seems to be lacking among many church leadership teams.

Have we as Christians lost the beauty of reconciliation?  Do we even know what it means?  In today’s world of church-hopping, it is often just easier to start over.

2.  Are mega churches even churches?

Many mega churches are not about the local people, but about the personalities that run them.  When the center of the church is the stage, and what goes each week during that one hour, there is no need for an elder board who are connected to the actual community.  If a church could be uprooted and moved to any other geographical location at any time, then it isn’t really a church.

I believe that what Mark Driscoll wants to be is the “OPRAH” of the evangelical world.  He can have a weekly show where he shows his intelligence, discernment, and gives advice for his listeners.   It would be a show disconnected from a physical location and community.  It would be a show where he can be the producer, speaker, and all-powerful potentate.

What makes your church connected to your actual community?  Is your church rooted and grounded in your physical location?

3.  Churches are ideal places for abusive leadership.  

Churches are easy places for individuals to gain power, and build kingdoms.  One reason is that we as humans are frail, and fragile, and we long for something that is bigger and stronger than we are.  However, that desire in our lives should be filled by God, and by God alone.  I don’t think that there is anything more dangerous than a type A personality, backed by the “power of God.”

Another reason that churches (especially big ones) are notorious for not dealing with problems is because many Christians have unhealthy views of church unity and leadership.  Many people feel as if something is wrong, but respond by saying, “Well, it wouldn’t be right (or godly) for me to question.”

I personally pray that the leadership (that is left) at Mars Hill will find the strength to do the right thing.

I pray that the people who are hurt will find healing.

I pray for those pastors who gave, and found themselves burned.

I pray that Mark and his family (who are very real) will do what they need to do to become healthy.

I look forward to seeing how God’s Kingdom will press on in the midst of human chaos.

What are your thoughts as you read and watch what is happening at Mars Hill?  What can we learn from this situation?  What do you think that mega church culture is doing to the Western Church?

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.

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