Living Life Now

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mark Driscoll: The reason I'm not going to Brighton 2008 !

I'm not going to the Newfrontiers Together On A Mission conference in 2008.

Simple statement, but there is a lot behind my decision.

On his blog, Terry Virgo has announced that american preacher Mark Driscoll will be the guest speaker at the conference, because,

"...having had Rob [Rufus] with us for the last two years, now to welcome Mark Driscoll whose emphasis on the Word of God will do us enormous good."

That's all very well and good, Terry Virgo can invite whom he likes to his conference, he is after all a man which I very much respect. However, the issue of choosing Word one year over the Spirit, so as to get a good measure of both, as opposed to having the much needed mixture is not the point of my post today.

My issue is with Mark Driscoll (and fans). I have done some research on this man, and also heard a number of things about him. It would seem that Mark Driscoll whilst he is preaching, likes to make jokes about certain people in society, jokes which sadly only he and his fans find amusing. I believe he does this to appear modern and "with it" (as a 24 year old, that is a phrase I would never use, but I feel it emphasises the point here).

On the website of Mr Driscoll's home church, you can vote for which topic you would like him to preach on in January. Some of them are very sound theological discussions, some are not. One question, which until very recently sat at the number one spot, just had me astounded, especially when I read the comments left on it:

"Why do you make jokes about mormon missionaries, homosexuals, trenchcoats wearers, single men, vegans, emo kids and then expect these groups to come to know God in the same sermon?"

Now I've got no problem with people making jokes, so long as they're actually funny, but it's the manner in which one makes these jokes and who they are made about.
On the one hand, I suppose it would be fairly interesting to hear Mark Driscoll's response to this: on the other hand I feel this would enrage me even further.

Some of the examples in the question are just down right daft (trenchcoat wearers, single men, vegans and emo kids), so please go ahead and get a laugh out of what I believe is a rather young crowd at Mark Driscoll's church. However the others, which have in the past also included prostitutes and drug users, are not in slightest bit funny and have absolute minimum comedy value.

To make fun of prostitutes and drug users, who feel the only way to survive life is by selling their bodies or injecting substances into themselves; or to make fun of gay men and women who may be genuinely struggling with their sexuality because the church tells them it's wrong, just says to me that there is total ignorance going on here.

This is real life. These are peoples lives, and how dare anybody make fun of someone else for the way in which they live their lives. It does not matter whether Mark Driscoll and fans (who are just as guilty for condoning this type of "humour"), agree with the said people's lifestyles; do you think Jesus, whom we strive to be like, made fun of these people? Jesus befriended the outcasts of society, and rather than mocking them, he showed them compassion and love. That is the way to bring people to the Kingdom.

Many of the 'Pastor Mark Crowd' have left many comments defending his style of preaching, saying it to be refreshing, forth-right and un-sugarcoated. There is however a massive difference between making light and poking fun, or making a joke and making a joke at someone else's expense.
I would like to finish with a comment that a young girl left, which really saddedned me, because it makes my point exactly.

"I walked out of Mark's sermon in the middle of church because he made jokes about homosexuals. I was homeless at the time, by myself, 19, and really nervous to be at church where I didn't know anyone. The only people helping me out were my gay friends, and for Mark to stand up there and talk bad about them, it was like a slap in the face, I thought "Who the heck are you? Why on earth would I listen to you? My gay friends are showing me so much love when everyone else in the world has turned their back." I was so dissapointed. I got up and left and cried all the way walking home."


  • Interesting, I think you will miss a huge blessing by not being exposed to Mark Driscoll. Using your means of testing that has been evident in your comments, you probably won't ever be able to go to another conference as all who speak at such events are growing in various areas. The question is, will they, with humilty own the said areas of growth as God and brothers speak into their lives? Iron sharpens iron etc. Driscoll's comment on a blogg out there, "Criticism must be turned into Coaching" gives me hope, both for him and myself. Too easy to take on other peoples offenses and issues from a distance.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:01 PM  

  • Interesting ... I don't think you will miss anything by not being exposed to Mark Driscoll, in fact I think you will be much better off.

    These are the kind of men Mark Driscoll is looking for in church;

    "You get around Paul when he was a young guy or John the Baptist or Elijah. I mean these guys seemed pretty rough to me. They don't look like church boys wearing sweater vests walking around singing love songs to Jesus.

    Guys like David are well known for their ability to slaughter other men. I think these guys were dudes you know. Heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose dudes and the problem in the church today is that it's just a bunch of nice, soft, tender, womified church boys. 60% of Christians are chicks and 40% are dudes that are just chicks. It's just sad".


    Slaughter other men? Win-a-fight? Punch-you-in-the-nose? I think I will stick with singing love songs to Jesus thanks.

    By Blogger Dan Bowen, at 11:46 PM  

  • I saw this comment on the You-tube link Dan left. Strong feelings maybe but you can appreciate the sentiment;

    "I live in Seattle, I've attended his church many times, know may other people that do currently. I don't have hate and rage toward him, I think he's just full of crap. He would in turn say that he is being hated because he preaches the gospel. I would reply, "No, you're hated because you come across as an egotistical jerk." I've been a part of the church for a long time, he's not the first I've seen come out with a roar and disappear with a whimper. Time will tell".

    By Anonymous James B, at 11:49 PM  

  • "Using your means of testing that has been evident in your comments, you probably won't ever be able to go to another conference as all who speak at such events are growing in various areas".

    That's quite bizarre logic really Anonymous (are you the same angry anonymous chap who frequents Dan's blog at times??!).

    Did Scott ever say that he expected the conference speakers to be perfect? No. Does he have the right to PAY out of HIS own money to go to a conference and NOT be insulted? Yes. Challenged - most certainly. Insulted - no.

    Dr S A J B

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:23 AM  

  • Preach it Burgess boy.


    Couldn't agree more!

    By Anonymous Jasper, at 12:26 AM  

  • Isn't anyone allowed the benefit of the doubt? Couldn't we see what Pastor Mark was going to preach in the sermon series in answer to this question before crucifying him?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:34 AM  

  • Noone is crucifying anyone here Anonymous ... u really need to chill out a bit. It's great if "Pastor Mark" has meant something to you and spoken into your life, but an opinion was expressed here that not everyone agrees. Scott never said anything personal or vindictive bout Driscoll, simply he found his methods of preaching not quite his style and hence a reason for him personally not to book to go to Brighton this year.

    It always makes me wonder where there is such defensiveness. Have you got something deeper to worry about I wonder?

    By Blogger Dan Bowen, at 8:10 AM  

  • As a woman, I'm not really impressed with Mr. Driscoll. And we read one of his books, some of it o.k., some of it made me shake my head over the way he treats people in his church family, a glaring lack of love but no lack of arrogance. I'm done with treating people, no matter who they are, with anything less than the supernatural love of God. That includes all the people who get traditionally get minimized and mocked by certain macho segments of the 'church', you know, homosexuals, drunkards, women (prostitute or not), self-rightousess fools, arrogant chauvinists,oops not the last two they get book offers and pats on the back. God says he chooses the weak of the world and yet certain prominent male leaders are busy tearing the weak ones apart so they can beat their chests and look strong. I must say I can't understand it...

    By Blogger jul, at 11:00 AM  

  • By Anonymous Terry C., at 1:15 AM  

  • Thanks for that interesting link. I wouldn't say enjoyable. It broke my heart to see these members of God's church so broken hearted and so badly treated by elders - appointed shepherds meant to care for their souls.

    Did anyone see the links in one of the comments from a NEWSPAPER article? Here's a few quotes;

    "In late September or early October, Mars Hill—the hipster yet ultraconservative church—fired one pastor and put another on probation".

    "Things got even uglier in a September 30 sermon, when Driscoll—who’s been the face of the church since it was first established in 1996—stated, sternly referencing the two dissidents, that “There are a few guys right now, if I wasn’t going to end up on CNN, I would go Old Testament on ’em. There’s no, like, attorneys and blogging, just like I punched you in the mouth, now shut up. That’s clean; it’s simple.”


    Nice. Can you imagine going to Mark Driscoll and confessing you are gay? Or worse transgender? Or anything else that fell into the Levitical code!? He would probably light a fire and burn you at the stake. Or stone you with stones .... "Old Testament style".

    By Anonymous Barry, at 12:48 PM  

  • Here's an extract from such a sad letter of two members feeling they must remove themselves from Driscoll's church;

    "Your attitude is not gentle – when I sought your advice in getting help for another members marriage, pointing out the problems they were having with Lief, your response was “I am so mad that I would blow you out of the water.”

    You are quarrelsome - pick a blog entry or many of your sermons

    You are not self-controlled – you admit in your sermons that you frequently cannot control what comes out of your mouth.

    Most abhorrent, you are an arrogant and prideful man. In your sermon on humility a few weeks back, you confessed you are unable to change this. “It is who I am”, I believe you said.

    You are a bully. You intimidate and threaten in your sermons, and in personal correspondence".

    There's so much more under the surface isn't there, than just the "jokes". I always wondered what the real C J Mahaney was like under the laughter and the "tears".

    By Anonymous james b, at 12:59 PM  

  • Sorry Scott, me again. I just found this interesting statement;

    "The elders are blind to their decisions. It is as simple as that. They're borderline obsessed with the numerical growth of the church. Do they care about the church? Yes, but the balance has shifted clearly where they mostly care about the number projections they've placed as their goal - 10,000 people and then 20,000".

    And isn't that just the problem!? The NUMBERS game. The fact that Mark Driscoll has built such a large numerically propserous (?sp) has given him an international platform ... hence Brighton. I wonder if he would be invited if he was pastoring a small church of 70?

    Isn't there such a huge difference between this and Rob Rufus sharing what God told him;

    "If you will fill buildings with My glory then I will fill buildings with people".

    If we leave it to God to bring the numbers in response to the glory of God then surely such numbers will be of depth, hungering for the Presence of God. Rather than bottoms filling pews.

    By Anonymous james b, at 1:03 PM  

  • Well well well...when I posted this blog, I had no idea it would get so many comments, thankfully most of them agreeing with me.
    Thanks a lot everyone, it was especially good to see a female comment (thanks Jul.

    However I just have become increasingly saddened as I've read more comments, especially about the way people in Mars Hill Church are being treated.

    It all just makes me even more glad that I'm not going to Brighton...there are however a lot of impressionable young men at Brighton that will be affected by Driscoll's vile attitude.
    Very sad !

    By Blogger Scott Stringer, at 1:23 PM  

  • Well I am glad that you posted this Scott, you could have ranted and raved and come across as arrogantly proud - but I like your disagreements where you express them. You make it clear they are your opinions and simply what you think! And I think it's clear from the comments that you have at least made people think. And that can never be a bad thing.

    I would agree with you, these comments have made me re-listen with new ears to Mark driscoll and I don't like what I hear really. The question must be asked - why are we paying (if we are) to go to Brighton to hear him?

    By Anonymous James B, at 4:21 PM  

  • Thanks for your comment james b, very encouraging.

    Funny you mention about paying to go to Brighton...I was chatting to Dan today, and although Mark Driscoll is the main reason I'm not going to Brighton, we were remembering some things from the 2007 conference that really concerned me.
    For instance, there was a family arguing over seats which they had saved with their bibles, they had to sit in the 3rd row rather than the front. They then proceeded to ruin worship for everyone around them, including myself...and I thought that I'm paying to be here.
    Previous posts will show some concerns I had over the conference also.
    I think for 2008, the appearance of Mark Driscoll just confirms that it might be quite good to have a year off from Brighton !

    By Blogger Scott Stringer, at 7:32 PM  

  • I attend Mark Driscoll's church in Seattle. He certainly has his faults, but I think I see a change. Repentant gays are now warmly welcomed into the church and offered help. I have not heard any more anti-gay jokes since he publicly apologized for his arrogance.

    By Anonymous MR, at 7:33 AM  

  • That's good to hear Mr ... and great to hear from someone who actually goes to his church! I guess one of the deceiving things about conferences is that you are not hearing the speaker in their true home setting. So your opinion means a lot.

    By Anonymous james b, at 6:54 AM  

  • Mr. said: "I attend Mark Driscoll's church in Seattle. He certainly has his faults, but I think I see a change."

    You have got to be kidding! Check this out:

    What planet are you living on, Mr.?
    As the saying goes, If you're not OUTRAGED, you're not paying attention!

    By Anonymous Ron S., at 4:35 AM  

  • I just happened to come across your blog and was saddened to read your comments about the Conference. To not come to Brighton 2008 on the basis of Mark being there shows an immaturity and lack of humility and I think you will miss out.

    The whole point about choosing word over spirit? We're all ministers of the spirit, not just Rob Rufus. He's an amazing guy but to think no Rob=no holy spirit is misguided.

    We as christians will always be different and gifted in different ways (God's grace) and it's good to sharpen one another.

    Mark, as controversial as he is, has built a very large church. I come from a large Newfrontiers church and can see the value in hearing someone who has built something bigger than our church.

    Mark has displayed a very humble attitude in saying in Joel Virgo's recent interview that he's looking forward to coming amongst us and learning from us as a movement. He certianly doesn't think he's got everything nailed down and I think that's an admirable attitude and one we should all have.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:11 PM  

  • Matthew 7 - Judging Others

    1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:52 PM  

  • you guys have far too much time on your hands! Bloggers are complete idiots. They need to spend more time looking for jobs so that they can move out of their mums house and stop wearing star wars pyjamas. Timewasters!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:15 PM  

  • Mark Driscoll was amazing at Newfrontiers, and was so honest, down to earth, and full of love. Terry Virgo recieved a standing ovation and we heard some amazing things and were inspired. You just sat on your bum on this computer judging a man who has seen many come to Christ and criticising the decision of Terry Virgo, a great man of God, for bringing Mark to the conference. The week was amazing, and you missed out!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:05 PM  

  • Missed out? I've listened to all the sessions, and my gut reaction wasn't "I wish I'd been there". Interesting? To be sure. Informative? Certainly. Motivating? Maybe. But I don't think we missed anything by hearing him in the flesh that we can't get from hearing him on CD.

    There's a whole heap of "Anonymous" comments here. When will you people realise that your opinions and what weight they carry are virtually nothing when you hide behind the safety of anonymity.

    By Blogger Dan Bowen, at 5:42 PM  

  • WOW you all need to grow to b***. I agree it is an opinion, but slanted by only stating facts to show Mark in the light you want to show him. Why not show Mark in a fair and balanced way, but then again, what good would that do, to give people an honest opinion.

    Yes I am a fan of Mark, do I like what he has to say, no, I can't contiune to live the life I want to by liking his message, which is why I know he speaks truth to me.

    No one I know likes what Mark has to say, but we all agree he tells us with Love that we are living a sinful life. Yeah you gave his combacks and he is right. You need to realize Mark is standing out because he is the only one I have seen out there on a national scale that is speaking truth. If he was so wrong and so bad, why have the big Pastors out there called him out? Why would someone like Rick Warren who majority of people love, actually invite Mark to meet with Mark if he was so bad.

    Yes you are entitled to your opinion, but at least be honest about your opinion especially as a Man of God be honest!! and admit you slanted it to only show what you wanted people to take from it.

    "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" - Christ

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:31 PM  

  • OK, people have seriously mis-read what I was talking about in this blog.
    I did not go to Brighton because I did not want to listen to Mark Driscoll, and being the main speaker he would have played a huge part in the week's proceedings.
    As for the anonymous person (one of too many) who said I should grow some balls about my opinions: I think it's pretty obvious what I think about Mark Driscoll. I don't want to listen to someone who has been rude and made fun at other people's expense; people who are already out-casts in society - the prostitutes, the drug abusers, the gay community. The very people the church SHOULD be reaching out to...but sadly isn't !
    I'm all for being challenged in my Christian life, but I have made my own concious decision that it's not going to be coming from this man.

    By Blogger Scott Stringer, at 11:50 PM  

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