To some this morning, the man I write about will be unknown. Mark Driscoll, however, has done plenty of work for the Kingdom of God.
As of late, however, he has done much work for the devil, and it is that work of which we must talk this morning. Driscoll, the lead pastor for the Mars Hill churches in Seattle, has stepped down from the pulpit for at least six weeks.
He told his congregation, which numbers in the thousands, "I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help further my personal development and maturity before God and men."
He added, "Storm clouds seem to be swirling around me more than ever non recent months, and I have given much thought and sought much counsel as to why that is and what to do about it. Some have challenged various aspects of my personality and leadership style, and while some of these challenges seem unfair, I have no problem admitting I am deserving of some of these criticisms based on my own past actions that I am genuinely sorry for."
Driscoll has a temper, is prone to bouts with egotism, and he has brought thousands to a saving relationship with Christ in an area that is prone to atheism.
His work was incredible, right up to the moment he got bigger than the message, or he thought he did.
Then it came crashing down. Like so many, many before him. A someone noted, he will likely never "write another book, and if he does, far fewer will read its words. He likely will never again jet set around the country speaking to tens of thousands week after week. Ad if he returns to the pastorate -- he'll ascend the stage a shadow of his former self. The glory days of Mars Hill and its celebrity founder are irrevocably behind them both."
Many will celebrate. The Acts29 church planting network that Driscoll founded has deserted him. The list of persons reveling that the man filled with "brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships" is a long one.
But here's the deal. If we celebrate the fall of a brother, it is just a longer hill to climb for all of us who are in the planting, evangelism business. In other words, it's hard to climb over a body lying in the middle of the road. If we take pleasure in it, it's just that much harder.
I will have in all likelihood preach to even one of the crowds this man drew. I will never run a church with multiple campuses, huge upsides, incredible music and graphics and such. It is easy for me to pick on him, for all the things he did wrong. It is even easier to say to myself I would never do such and such.
But here's the point: There is someone out there right now who is disillusioned with Jesus because they got Jesus mixed up with Driscoll. We need to be praying for them, praying they remain open to the Good News, open to the love of Christ, open to the healing that comes with the Word, open to the next minister of the Gospel.
One bad apple really does spoil the whole bunch, no matter how wonderful a preacher the bad apple is. It has happened hundreds, if not thousands, of times.