Mark Driscoll is Not My Pastor, but I Have One
(and other uncool things to say online)

I’m a church girl, capital C and lowercase c, cosmic Church and local church. I love the Church and I love my church. This is why I’ve stayed silent on most controversies within the church and Church. More of us need to really read I Corinthians 13 when Paul said Love doesn’t delight in wrongdoing, and fewer of us need to skim over the cliche oft cross-stitched words.

The other night my weary and hardworking pastor sat down with me at church. After talking about what God is doing in Europe through the church planting network he leads, we chatted for a few minutes about the work still ahead. There are so many who need to hear (and see) Christ. Nothing excites me more than endeavoring toward that. I’m a Church girl.

And then I asked him: Matt, talk to me for a few minutes about the most recent Driscoll dust up; as my pastor, I want to take your lead on this, happy and joyfully, knowing you take pastoring us seriously.

Nearly the first words out of his mouth were scripture:

I Corinthians 4:3-5
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This past weekend Driscoll issued an apology to those who call him pastor, friend, and family. It was not an “open letter” as many are asserting that it is. It was family business, not public business. But sure enough, I scrolled through twitter this morning and the finger-pointing had already begun. People are out for blood and nothing Driscoll does or says at this point will be enough. Follow every possible route this could go, and someone, somewhere, will still be out for blood.

I did not read his apology, because he does not owe me one, nor will I comment on it. First, because I trust Driscoll has elders around him who will stand before the Lord for their actions; second, because Driscoll himself will stand before the Lord for his actions.

What I will comment on is the lack of ecclesiological understanding within the Church today—which is ironic if you give it a few minutes of thought.

Everyone wants to BE the church and not GO to church these days. Everyone wants to LEAVE the church that doesn’t make them FEEL like they’re the church. Everyone wants to SAMPLE the church in various ways and means and SHRUG OFF the church when it presses in too uncomfortably. And everyone wants theorize and strategize and commentate on the Church and no one wants to sit and understand some pretty rudimentary things about the Church.

Namely that there are three things more of us should understand and practice:

Understanding and practicing biblical eldership.

Understanding and practicing biblical discipline within the local church.

Understanding and practicing the One Anothers of the New Testament.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Less and less am I interested in what self-proclaimed journalists, bloggers, social media experts, and “church survivors” are saying about the Church because I don’t see them actually practicing church.

I am not saying they’re not. What I’m saying is I don’t see them practicing it. They might be practicing it, but I can’t see it with my own two eyes.

Beneath the layers of apologies and acts of repentance, beneath the acts of submission to authority or acts of subordination, beneath the unjust actions and the loving ones—there are real people living real lives in front of real people who see them with their own two eyes. As it was designed to be.

If you do not have a biblical understanding and practice of the three things I mentioned above, you absolutely do not have any authority to speak on things in other churches.

And if you do have an understanding and practice of them: trust God is on His throne, building His Kingdom, and the gates of hell won’t prevail against it. He has won this and there are far better, greater, and more worthwhile things for your energy and biblical understanding of ecclesiology to be spent on. Namely, teaching those who don’t know—which are many and gaining in number.

Go and be the church if you will. Be it to your neighbors and friends and pastors and the people you sit beside week after week after week. Do it well, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, not as unto the twittersphere or blogosphere or whatever platform you have toppling beneath you.

Moth and rust destroy those things, and if you think they won’t you are more a fool than you realize. Step down before you’re standing in front of millions and it topples in front of them all.

topples

I anticipate plenty of pushback on this namely in these areas:

1. My use of the word biblical, which many progressives seem to think is manipulative and heavy-handed, and which, to me, simply means: the Bible says it and if we’re children of God, we ought to abide by it.

2. A perceived victim-shaming for all those who’ve experience pain related to the church. I hope you’ll understand if I’m saying anything here, I’m saying your greatest place of healing could come within good, healthy, biblical church order as God designed it.

3. An accusation that I’m protecting my pastor, leaders, church network, etc. To which I say, first, they don’t need my protection. I am a lowly blogger. Moth and rust will destroy my words, and sooner rather than later. And second, to me covenant means mutual trust. I am in covenant with my church which means I trust them and they trust me. If you expect me to break that trust, then you do not understand two things: covenant and being in covenant in a place you trust. Call it protection or naivety if you wish. They will stand accountable for my soul someday and I don’t envy that place at all.

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10 responses to Mark Driscoll is Not My Pastor, but I Have One
(and other uncool things to say online)

  1. Matthew Brogli March 17, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I’ve followed the controversy and the cannibalization of church leaders for years from the sidelines. I’ve been the victim and the one to throw the stones. Thank you for this post. I don’t know Driscoll’s heart or intention behind his apology and it’s not for me to know. I’m thankful that as a pastor, I’m not in the limelight getting picked apart the way Driscoll, Chandler, Rick Warren, and others are. I pray for these men and others often, because I know Satan seeks to destroy those doing the work of the kingdom of God and I have been profoundly encouraged and blessed by these flawed men’s ministries. Thank you again for your wise encouragement here.

  2. I agree that the local church is the place for handling local disputes. However, the missing element here is the “Christian” media machine. This specific pastor–and many, many others–have set themselves up as teachers of the Universal Church at large, with their books, their public speaking, their seminars, & so forth. Their ideas are absorbed and put into place by other “local churches” around the globe. They took that responsibility on themselves–no one forced them into international recognition & ministry. In this case, he must reconcile w/ anyone he has harmed, and that includes people outside of his local congregation. Thanks for all you do, Lore. <3

  3. You always make me think, Lore.

  4. I really appreciate this post Lore…

    I’ll admit that I have followed this whole thing…in part because I have family that has been and is tied to Mars Hill. And because the discussion circles around their church/pastor, I want to understand the leadership they are under.

    I also have been processing-praying-through all this because to some extent when someone or a ministry has been so, so public…I really do think there is also a bit of public accountability needed. I write this thinking about the many times I have recommended Mark’s books or resources from Mars Hill…and I just want to be open to discernment and wisdom when it comes to what I pass along to others.

    I don’t have any interest in trying to figure out in what’s going on in some other random church, but when it’s one that from a distance we’ve been encouraged by and that has been so public and visible…I don’t want to have a “circle the wagons” mentality.

    On the flip side…God has used all this and a few other reality checks in the past couple of years to teach me a few things and to especially grow my thankfulness for our own local church family.

    I’ve been at the same church for almost 17 years…my marriage has grown up in this church. I’ve given birth to 3 and adopted 2 in this church family. They walked with us through the death of our daughter. They know my struggles and joys and heartaches and shortcomings and if I pull back, they come looking for me. If I grow, they cheer. If I need correction, they love me enough to speak in to my life.

    God has used “your pastor’s” teaching in my life as well…and there was a time when I so enjoyed podcasts of him and a few others, that it made me long for elsewhere…God can use those ministries and men, but those at-a-distance opportunities can also be dangerous…because they aren’t real relationships…they aren’t lives intertwined, where accountability is real (on all sides).

    I do think there’s a place for being aware of what is going on in the widespread “church” (little c) world…because silence actually speaks volumes. But I have to check myself sometimes…as to whether or not I really trust and believe God sees all…and is capable of bringing to light what needs to be made clear.

    But on the whole, I think what you wrote here needs to be our perspective and focus. I want to grow in my thankfulness for the faithful men and women who come along side my husband and me and our children. Who truly are our family. I love what you wrote here…and also one that Jared Wilson wrote a while back about how as a pastor he always wants to stay connected and life-meshed with the people in his congregation.

    I really appreciate this one…

  5. I totally understand what you are saying. Those of us closest to it here agree with many of these principles. The foundational issue was that when Mark had a Biblical authority structure of elders confront him, he fired them and then rewrote the by-laws so that he would never again have the accountability that the NT outlines in a plurality of elders. When you can fire the elders holding you accountable when they confront you, well, that pretty effectively removes any benefit of their mutual authority.

  6. You lost me at “I trust Driscoll has elders around him…..” because he doesn’t. He is the final say in his church and that’s what makes this so sad. He is the one who lacks:

    Understanding and practicing biblical eldership.

    Understanding and practicing biblical discipline within the local church.

  7. I have been following your blog now for a few months and am so thankful for your refreshing perspective in the “Christian blogosphere”. It seems many people have a hard time separating the materials and resources they may use from a pastor not their own and that pastor or church itself. I do not check the background or level of accountability of every author/pastor who I may read or listen to podcasts from. If the word preached or words written are Biblically sound and written or spoken in a way that is challenging/encouraging to me I use it as a tool. I don’t need to know the lives behind any elder/pastor/leader except the ones that I am putting myself under in my own place of worship.

  8. Nice job excluding the opinion of everyone who doesn’t think exactly like you do. Because of course “everyone” else is doing church wrong.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Friday Fuel: Dealing with Enemies, Death, and the Circle of Life | The Church of No People - March 21, 2014

    […] The other biggest story of the week was Mark Driscoll’s public apology, listing a litany of past wrongs.  It wasn’t an open letter, which means he wasn’t apologizing to you and me or people who just don’t like him, but people he has personally wronged.  On the one side, I don’t quite get the breathless enthusiasm so many people showed (except that they were probably already Driscoll fans), but I also don’t buy this idea that he owes all of us something.  People on the other side of the fence will never be satisfied.  Lore Ferguson had the best analysis of the ongoing Driscoll saga: Mark Driscoll is Not My Pastor, But I Have One (And Other Uncool Things to Say Online. […]

  2. Mark Driscoll: Now just another fundie, but it still hurts | the long way home | Prodigal Paul - March 21, 2014

    […] Driscoll and the glee they seem to feel in each new thing we all find out. Lore Ferguson has the best and most beautiful articulation I’ve read of the unhelpful ways people levy these criticism his way. Personally, my problem […]

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