Thursday, 06 August 2009
Pastor Mark Driscoll is the preaching pastor at Mars Hill Church in Ballard (Seattle), which I have been attending every Sunday since the middle of June. I went to a service a while back, and was captivated by Pastor Mark's ability to tell it like it is. He preaches through culture to appeal to one of the least churched cities in the country. To me, this is incredibly awesome. There needs to be someone who can reach out to people in today’s world. They lure them in with amazingly talented worship bands, and a strong indie-rock theme that emanates Seattle, and then load them up with information that isn't watered down, and tells it how it is.
Mars Hill, itself is a very huge church. Over 7,000 people attend services every Sunday, and watch either live in Ballard, or at one of many satellite campuses, located all over (Downtown Seattle, Bellevue, Olympia, Albuquerque NM, and more) which project recordings of Mark’s sermons (used to be a live satellite feed). In addition, thousands more watch the online videos and podcasts which are available at the church's website.
Today, I decided to do some research on Pastor Mark. I figured that since I am now a full time member of Mars Hill, I should get to know a little more about the man who gives the sermons.
Before I go on, let me tell you that my opinion on the guy is very high. I consider him nothing but inspirational. I travel an hour and a half by bus every Sunday just to hear him preach live, and I typically sit somewhere in the front few rows. I won't deny that quite often he can be offensive in his sermons; he doesn't water anything down. Also, like a lot of people, I was first moved by the worship bands, which are incredibly talented. No Christian rock band has ever moved me the way they have at Mars Hill. But as my focused shifted over to the words that were being said, I began to realize just how big of a deal Pastor Mark is.
But in my research today, I discovered that like anyone else who gains as much of a reputation as he has, Mark Driscoll has quite a few enemies, and has caused a few controversies. First of all, the book Blue Like Jazz labels him “Mark the cussing pastor" (Chapter 12). Many people have become uncomfortable with this; however it is very possible that this was taken a little overboard (see here). Personally, I feel that he is fairly intense in his sermons, but I would have never labeled him “the cussing pastor”.
Second, he once made a comment that got people heated up about women’s rights. The best full story I can find is here. Personally, I kind of agree with Pastor Mark to an extent. Yes, the wife should be a little more sexually available, but not in the way many people took his comment to mean (they took it as “women should be submissive to their husbands and give them sex whenever they want… blame the wife for the husband’s sin” - I disagree).
As I continued, I came across a few sites which attempted to bash and slander him, as well as ridicule Mars Hill Church. I invite you to do your own quick Wikipedia or Google searches for “Mark Driscoll” and “the cussing pastor” and see what people think of him. (I enjoy this one by the New York Times).
Basically my point here is that I hold a lot of respect for Pastor Mark. I learned about Jesus through him, and the way that Mark makes sense with everything he says inspires me to get to know Jesus more. (Sorry for the nonreligious readers who are thinking I’m some religious nut – I’m not; I became a Christian less than 6 months ago, and still hold a lot of doubts). I greatly appreciate what he is doing to reach out to the city of Seattle and the surrounding region, and this guy agrees with me. It kind of hurts, though, to read so many attacks on him. My own grandmother read about the issue with the other pastor and the wife, and said she wouldn’t have gone back to church there if he was her pastor, and that really hurt.
Should I listen to those who criticize this man who I have such great respect for? Maybe I should take heed to his faults? There are a few people who do have good points when talking against him. But it has always been my priority to do what I feel is right, and in this case, it is to heed Mark Driscoll. Maybe he has super mind control powers and I’m being brainwashed??
What do you think about Mark Driscoll and other pastors like him? Would you be turned off by their sometimes offensive sermons, or would you support them and listen to what they have to say?