Mark Driscoll Impacts the Non-Mars Hill People, Too.

Wednesday, news broke of Mark Driscoll’s resignation from the Mars Hill enterprise he created. I’ve hesitated writing about Driscoll out of respect for my many friends who attend his church. Now, he’s stepped down. I know my friends are hurting and for their pain, I am sorry. But for the many he’s hurt over the years, I hope some form of healing can begin.
When our family first learned we’d be moving to Seattle in Spring of 2008, I knew I could cross one task off of my list – church hunting. 
We had just left our beloved “mega” in California where we learned a ton, grew spiritually, and served in ways we’ve never helped before. I’d heard of Mars Hill in Seattle. I didn’t know a ton about it, but everyone (in church news) who was anyone (in church news) in the Pacific Northwest talked about the place. With so many Christians and new-believers attending, surely we’d fit right in. I’d been a church girl all of my life, but Edd was still fairly new to the faith. I assumed we’d both find a way to be part of the community.
We attended worship at Mars Hill one Sunday just before Easter. After checking the girls in with children’s ministry, Edd and I sat among others our age – some younger, some older, but most everyone looked like us. After singing familiar praise songs, the worship band parted and Mark Driscoll appeared on the gigantic white screen at the head of the space. Being one of the satellite locations, the sermon was brought to us via the wonders of media. 
Driscoll started with the familiar story of Jesus’ torturous hanging on the cross. 
His description turned gruesome. That’s okay. I grew up in the church. I’m used to this for illustration and emotion.
His description turned gory. That’s okay. I saw Passion of the Christ. I get the horror of what was done to our Lord and Savior.
His description turned genital. That’s…wait. Huh? Why was he talking about Jesus’ penis while nailed to a cross? What Scripture verse is this? How did I miss this in the past? 
Edd and I just turned and looked at each other – not sure we could believe the message we were listening to. When the service was over and kids were collected, we slammed the car doors and beat it out of there. 
What. Was. That?
At first, I thought I was the one in the wrong. After all, this Driscoll guy knows a lot more than me, right? Sure, my former career was in ministry, but this guy took a group of 20 and turned it into a group of thousands. The masses followed him! Surely, I was being a prude.
Edd’s first words to me after we drove off the property, Never again.
Okay then. My experience with Mars Hill could be chalked up to 2 hours of lifetime experience.
Nature of a Servant Portland
Only I forgot to anticipate the shear number of Mars Hill members who would be surrounding me in the Seattle-Metro local, members who would become my friends. Moving to Portland three years later didn’t solve the problem. Mars Hill opened a campus nearby within months of our relocation. But it wasn’t just my immediate neighbors around which I minded my tongue; Driscoll started Mars Hill plants all around the country. More and more people in my life were now listening to him preach.
I love my friends. I respect my friends and know they love Jesus with their whole hearts. I kept my mouth shut. (I know. Shocking.) 
Then I had some friends leave Mars Hill, and word of spiritual abuse spread. I listened to Driscoll’s podcasts. I watched his sermons on YouTube. Anger grew in the pit of my soul. 
I read accounts of what was happening on the inside. Why did he claim to represent Jesus’ love when his words sounded like hate and self-serving crap?
I have a huge inner struggle with those in ministry blatantly serving their own egos. We all mess up. None of us are perfect. All of us are self-serving way more than we should be. But I do hold Christian leaders to a higher standard. They have chosen this profession and their actions speak louder than most. 
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly
James 3:1 
I’d love to believe Driscoll began his ministry without spiritual abuse, money schemes, lack of respect for women or gay-bashing on his agenda. But I’ve seen first hand what happens when pastors take power and turn it to themselves rather than to where the glory really belongs. This behavior doesn’t give any Christian anywhere a good reputation in front of our non-Christian friends.

I will say this: Mark Driscoll, this week you’ve encouraged me. I need to step up my game if I am going to live the Christian life I believe I need to live. I want to be the better person. I need to remember others are watching me and my actions, even when I’m in a bad space. The whole reason for this blog is so I’ll learn the nature of a servant. Thanks for forcing me to remember what is really important.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:25-28

I pray everyone who calls himself/herself a Christian will learn from all happening within this congregation right now. We are called to be humble, which can be difficult for a person in a public position – like a pastor, or a blogger for that matter. Something good can come from all of this, but it’s up to us to make that good happen.

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