This weekend, I read Confessions of a Reformission Rev. by Mark Driscoll. When our little church plant group was in the planning stages, I had applied to the Acts 29 Network, a ministry of Mars Hill Bible Church, where Driscoll is pastor, but I knew little about him other than that Don Miller called him “the cussing pastor.”
The more I read about Driscoll’s ministry and heard testimonies about what he was doing, the more I wanted to get to know this guy. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. After all, wasn’t Mars Hill just another Emerging congregation that had gotten really big really fast?
The book was beyond good. It is humorous, poignant and most importantly, totally about humility before God. Driscoll confessed many of his failures as a pastor, his stumbling before his congregation. It was honest, strong and simply amazing. It blew me away. By far, it is the best book I have read this year. And if you view my books page, you’ll see that I’ve read some great books this year.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Jesus Was a Man
Turns out that Driscoll is the Emerging movement’s anti-pastor. He is everything his contemporaries are not. He is absolutely obsessed with being biblical, and by that he means true to the literal interpretation of Scripture. He does not dabble in comparative religion or play semantic games. He is full-speed, full-blown, full-on in his commitment to find and to teach the truth of God’s word.
Because of his commitment to Scripture, Driscoll does things differently from 99% of pastors in America. He confronts sin, challenges sinners to become Jesus followers, does not shy away from the hard areas of theology, and is a humbly powerful speaker and leader.
He is a bit abrupt at times. In an interview about masculinity, Driscoll said this: “60% of Christians are chicks; and the other 40% that are dudes are sorta chicks.” In another profoundly moment, he noted a deeply theological statement: “Jesus was a dude.”
Driscoll does not hesitate to tell you what he thinks but he tries to make his thinking conform to Jesus’ mind rather than some earthly standard. As a result, his biting sarcasm is couched in Scriptural truth and Biblical love. He does not intend to insult you, but if you are relying on earthly standard, you will be insulted.
Church is about truth, not about Stuff
His church is an extreme expression of the work of the Spirit. Lauren Sadler put it this way: “To say that Mars Hill is just a church is to say that Woodstock was just a concert.” (Salon, Sept 13, 2006) The church is enormous – numbering over 5,000 attendees on an average Sunday – but Driscoll is never content. When the church crossed the 1,000 barrier, he basically re-launched the church as a new plant, challenging every attendee to view their ministry as sink or swim.
Mark and a couple other believers started Mars Hill in 1996. He had been a Christian for only six years, knew next to nothing about theology or preaching, and admits that the first year or so was a total catastrophe. But he knew that church in the Pacific Northwest had to be something radical because the culture was so unusual.
The more I read the Bible, the more deeply the Holy Spirit convicted me that I had grievously erred by trying to figure out how to do church successfully by reading a lot of books, visiting a lot of churches and copying whatever was working. Instead, I need to first wrestle with Jesus like Jacob wrestled with Jesus and then discover what Jesus’ mission was for Seattle and repent of everything I thought and did that was not congruent with his mission for our city. Only then could I faithfully lead our church to follow our Senior Pastor, Jesus, on his mission in our culture, with the humility of his incarnation and the strength of his exaltation.
And So, Erik Has a New Inspiration
His book was just what I needed at the stage of ministry we are at. Instead of being about statistics or relevance or commercialism, Driscoll is about the Bible and Jesus, without compromise or apology. God led me to buy this book at just the right time, and that is pretty cool.
So, if you’re looking for a book worth reading, check it out.