New Church for Mark Driscoll

News of Mark Driscoll’s reemergence in ministry from Ministry Briefing this week:

The most significant point in Mark Driscoll’s bio at his new church plant in Phoenix, AZ is missing: his role as pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Driscoll also included two former pastors from Mars Hill who have also scrubbed their bios of any mention of their previous positions at Mars Hill. The church, which is called Trinity Church, is backed by a board full of powerful megachurch pastors located in Texas and California.

Source: The Seattle Times

Why does this matter for church leaders?

Mark Driscoll is a polarizing figure, known for his direct, pulls-no-punches approach to Bible teaching from the Reformed tradition, but he routinely attracted attention because of allegations of bullying by fellow leaders and members of his congregation. His new church plant’s website makes no mention of his history, and shares few details. Setting aside the controversy that seems to follow Mark Driscoll, I think this story presents several good questions for church leaders to be asking:

  • Can This Church Plant Work? While there are few details about Driscoll’s church (no start date or location), church plants are often noted as the most effective way to reach people with the Gospel. Driscoll has shared his enthusiasm to begin teaching the Bible again. Will he find a willing audience, or will the demise of Mars Hill be a roadblock to this effort?
  • What does repentance look like for high profile leaders? Did Driscoll’s stepping down amount to sufficient repentance? Mars Hill was described as having “the most toxic culture” one consultant had ever seen, and several evangelical voices question whether he has been through enough of a restoration process. To what degree should we expect Driscoll to reconcile with the former elders and pastors who claim he bullied and threatened them? Every time a high-profile church leader falls from grace, these questions resurface (see Ted Haggard et.al.). While we’d like to say that there is no difference between the repentance process of high profile leaders and less recognizable leaders, is that truly how it works?
  • How do church leaders start over again? Did Driscoll take enough time off since his previous church position? Should he mention his previous church in his bio? While some people are predisposed to like him and some to hate him, Driscoll’s story challenges us to think about the restoration process for pastors, especially those in the public eye. The bottom line is how do church leaders start over a fall from grace… or should they?

What can the church learn from this situation?

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About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

  • MKulnir

    “What does repentance look like for high profile leaders?”

    The same as it looks for “low profile leaders.”
    God is not a respecter of persons.