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Ballard CampusThe news of Mark Driscoll’s resignation closes a painful chapter in the life of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. This is a time to pray for the Driscoll family, Mars Hill Church, and those who have suffered through various forms of spiritual abuse.

What can we learn from this situation? We should consider four lessons to take away, but I want to preface these remarks with two caveats.

First, this blog is not a place for gossip and personal attacks, and I will not allow the comments section to become a feast for those who are hungry to either defend or decry the Driscolls or Mars Hill. Go elsewhere if you’re looking for drama.

Secondly, the title of this post does not imply that Mars Hill Church’s ministry is over. The good news is that King Jesus loves to take seemingly hopeless situations and bring resurrection life from them. (Case in point: New Life Church where Ted Haggard was once pastor.) I use the term “postmortem” because a difficult season of Mars Hill ministry has come to an end, and in between this chapter and the next, we should examine the causes that contributed to this situation.

So, with a heavy but hopeful heart, here are four things I hope we can learn from the events at Mars Hill.

1. Leadership Matters

This situation marks the first time I recall a pastor resigning from a church for a reason other than marital infidelity or embezzlement. There were moral issues and financial impropriety involved in the Mars Hill controversy, of course, but the presenting reason for Mark’s resignation is an abusive form of leadership that revealed significant character flaws.

What we can learn: Leadership matters. Church members need to know what spiritual abuse of leadership looks like, and church leaders need to be trained well, enthusiastically supported when they walk in line with Scripture, and held accountable when they abuse their position of authority.

2. Church Polity Matters

The last Mark Driscoll talk I listened to was several years ago. In it, he mocked Congregationalists for our inefficient and ineffective structures of authority. His prescription sounded something like this: gather a group of aggressive “yes men” to run the church, implement changes, and then rubber stamp the pastor’s agenda.

I understand why Driscoll’s bravado appealed to younger pastors. But efficiency is not and never has been the point. Polity is about authority and governance, not what makes the best sense in corporate America.

Churches of all kinds often have squabbles and pastoral issues (we’re all sinners, after all). But whatever polity your church adopts, you should ensure an appropriate accountability to people within the body. No leader should be unable to be confronted. If your elders never say no, you don’t really have elders.

Please don’t misunderstand me: there were sin problems at Mars Hill, not merely structural problems. But not all structures are equal in helping churches through sin problems. Evangelicals don’t like to talk about polity because we’re so diverse on this issue, but we must not ignore the impact these questions have when a church is in crisis.

What we can learn: Polity matters. Know your church’s structure of authority well and do your best to empower godly people to lead well through times of crisis. 

3. Character Matters as Much as Doctrine

In conservative evangelical churches, we often determine “who’s in” and “who’s out” by doctrinal and theological precision and pay less attention to the fruit of the Spirit. Doctrine matters, for sure, but the Apostle Paul commanded Timothy to watch his life, too. And I worry that we are slow to see some leaders’ “life” not lining up with godly character as long as their doctrinal checklist turns out to be sound.

Conservative evangelicals are not alone in this regard. Every tribe has its blind spots. It’s human nature to assume the best of your friends and worst of your enemies. I have seen this club mentality when well-known evangelicals with good reputations and solid character are dismissed simply because their biblical exegesis differs from ours. And I think some Christian leaders were slow to see the problems with Driscoll because he ”believes the right things.”

If anything, evangelicals gifted with discernment and biblical doctrine of sin and grace should have been the first to expose these problems. I know some of this critique happened behind the scenes, inside and outside Mars Hill. But more could have been done sooner to warn and protect the flock.

Like my friend Lizette Beard says, “I don’t care who you are or how big your church or ministry is. Nobody gets a pass on the fruit of the Spirit.” Theological precision is vitally important, but never at the expense of failing to love our neighbors and never as an excuse for sin.

What we can learn: Don’t dismiss people outside your theological circles who exhibit the fruit of a vibrant walk with Christ. Also, don’t overlook or excuse character flaws from leaders inside your theological circles, as if doctrine matters more than life.

4. The Celebrity Culture Hinders Our Witness

Some have pointed out the dangers of celebrity-ism in Christian circles, to the point the critics of celebrity have become quasi-celebrities themselves. Fame is not inherently bad, and a pastor or leader who is appreciated and respected for faithful service is worthy of commendation.

But let’s not ignore the kind of celebrity culture we live in, where we are apt to jump on the bandwagon and praise someone simply because everyone else is, regardless of credibility or ministry qualification. This YouTube prank in New York City of a man pretending to be a celebrity for a few moments is illustrative of the kind of world we live in. The crowd wants to be in tune with the latest trend and fashion and therefore makes up reasons to gawk at the celebrity.

In our celebrity-driven world, we are more apt to promote and praise people simply for attracting attention than for demonstrating faithful service and ministry experience over many years. The social media world adds another layer of complexity, as people who burst onto the scene with a strong social presence and later torn apart limb from limb on the same social media channels. We prop people up and then watch them fall.

What we can learn: Look for wisdom and maturity more than glitz and glamor. Be willing to ask tough questions of the popular leader no one wants to challenge.

Conclusion

Tim Keller describes a “gospel-based ministry” not merely in terms of doctrinal correctness but as being “marked by loving honesty, not spin, image, and flattery.”

Likewise, John Stott writes: The Christian minister should be preoccupied with the people’s spiritual progress and care nothing for his own prestige.

The temptations to make your ministry all about yourself are ever-present. Take heed, lest you fall. For, in Stott’s words, “Only when pastor and people keep their eyes on Christ will their mutual relations keep healthy, profitable, and pleasing to God.”

See also:

Eric Geiger – “A Tale of Two Mars Hills”

Ed Stetzer - “Unhealthy Christian Organizations”


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Comments:


49 thoughts on “The Mars Hill Postmortem”

  1. I really like your analysis, Trevin. My biggest concern is that the victims of spiritual abuse still get their chance to heal. Let it be off-camera, so to say, just so long as it takes place. My fear is there might be an assumption that Driscoll’s departure means that the need for healing and reconciliation has ended.

  2. Curt Day says:

    I would hope that we would treat the tragic time at Mars Hill Church the way my one boss and I treated students whom I caught cheating. Neither of us were eager to punish, but both of us enthusiastic in using the incident to educate the student caught. So my one boss and I worked well together, filling in what the other neglected to say, and establishing consequences that emphasized education first. I hope that we would look for what we could learn and pray that the people at Mars Hill could discover what they should learn.

    Also, we should note that what we think of others reveals how we view our relationship with God. Nothing illustrates this more than the parable of the 2 men praying. The person who was opportunistic to judge the other and elevate himself, besides being condemned by God, showed that he thought he merited God’s blessing. The other person who could only see his sin was probably surprised by God’s mercy because he knew he was unworthy.

  3. Robby says:

    Thanks, Trevin. Helpful thoughts, full of wisdom and insight for a young pastor who wants to be in ministry for the long haul.

  4. a. says:

    how we ought rejoice together in the Lord -for Pastor Driscoll and for all who have hearts to be fully instructed by this – for the Lord ‘s great love in teaching, transforming, bringing wholeness to His children!

    Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5

  5. Don Noble says:

    Despite our best efforts… No matter how hard we try… We cannot be perfect outside of the blood of Christ. We were born into sin, and must take up our cross daily. Scripture, continual prayer and repentance are what keeps our lives in perspective to the work that was done on the cross.

    “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

  6. Cain Matheson says:

    First, this blog is not a place for gossip and personal attacks, and I will not allow the comments section to become a feast for those who are hungry to either defend or decry the Driscolls or Mars Hill. Go elsewhere if you’re looking for drama.

    Ironic that you’ve chosen this post to once again pile onto Mark…

    …the presenting reason for Mark’s resignation is an abusive form of leadership that revealed significant character flaws.
    and
    His prescription sounded something like this…
    and
    … we are slow to see some leaders’ “life” not lining up with godly character as long as their doctrinal checklist turns out to be sound.

    You got it right when you said We [TGC? others?] prop people up and then watch them fall. But you omitted the closing phrase “and then we pile on”.

    Peace to you brother~

  7. todd says:

    Where does those quotes from Stott come from?

    1. Trevin Wax says:

      His Galatians commentary.

  8. Wesley says:

    Appreciate this post Trev. I was cringing at what I might see across the blogosphere in the coming days as Mark is a man – for all his flaws – whose ministry was instrumental in calling me to closer to Christ and deeper in my love or Him, and thus I still have love and respect for the man and hate to see him drug through the mud.
    I knew, however, that you would handle this with respect and humility and that is just what you’ve done. I do pray for Mark and his family as well as those who have been hurt by him. I see this present, hurtful stage as a deep pruning of a man and a ministry that deeply loves Jesus, however imperfectly at times ala. John 15:2. As another commenter said, I do also grow myself from this as a younger pastor in seeing the value of accountability and humility in leadership for my own present and future ministry.
    God’s peace –
    W.

  9. Serious question:

    You said, “But more could have been done sooner to warn and protect the flock.”

    Will you elaborate on that?

    From the perspective I had – much was done to warn and protect. The flock wanted the shepherd they got, it seemed.
    I guess I see it as akin to saying not enough has been done to warn Joel Osteen’s flock of his errors – otherwise he wound’t still be in business.

    Just wondering what you think should have and could have been done differently. Your post is too general, IMO.

    Thanks!

  10. Men like John MacArthur had been sounding the bell for a decade, but were ignored and/or mocked by the enablers of Rev. Driscoll’s boorish behavior.

    1. Wayne Wilson says:

      Sadly, this is quite true.

    2. PJ Tibayan says:

      That’s true. I agree MacArthur was right on Driscoll long before others were.

    3. Jsoc says:

      I wouldn’t put much value on MacArthur’s. His constant hateful attack on almost everyone disqualifies him. Your article said it would not tolerate support or attacks on driscoll and yet you have clear bias that does result in a condemnation of driscoll. You take much too personal sensitivity because you are a Congregationalist. I thought the article was poorly done.

      1. GjT says:

        Have you consider that MacArthur’s attacks aren’t hateful and are actually very loving? After all, where would this be had people actually listened to him? And since he was so right on this, perhaps you should consider that he might be right on some others.

        Lastly, why do you make a hateful attack against MacArthur? Why not simply acknowledge that he was correct, as were many others. Is that too much to ask? You want everyone to ignore Driscoll now and let him off teh hook, but you want to go after MacArthur? I find that a bit inconsistent. I wonder how you justify that?

  11. John W says:

    “This situation marks the first time I recall a pastor resigning from a church for a reason other than marital infidelity or embezzlement.”

    With those words I think you have exposed something that is seriously wrong within modern evangelicalism. If it wasn’t about money or sex then a pastor is usually not required to resign. But money and sex do not exhaust the possibilities for moral failure in the life of a church leader.

    The statement from Mars Hill was very telling in that it listed the pastor’s failings (though actually not all of them) but then asserted that there had been “no immorality.” Really?

    Until we start to see that the term “immorality” encompasses matters far beyond sex then we will see no change

  12. Good words.

    The simple and short lesson is: if we want to do His work, we must do it His way.

    Which accounts for the detailed instructions He gives us.

  13. Jay says:

    1. Leadership Matters

    This situation marks the first time I recall a pastor resigning from a church for a reason other than marital infidelity or embezzlement. There were moral issues and financial impropriety involved in the Mars Hill controversy, of course, but the presenting reason for Mark’s resignation is an abusive form of leadership that revealed significant character flaws.

    I get your point, Trevin, but the real issue was Driscoll’s character, not his leadership. If Driscoll had met the qualifications for I Tim. 3 from the get go – instead of magnifying himself and his brand as a brusque, pugnatious, “cussing pastor”, then 99.9% of these issues would have either never happened or would have be dealt with properly. If Driscoll had owned the issues raised in the Janet Mefferd interview from the beginning by saying he would look into it, none of this – the followup by her or the damning reporting by Warren Throckmorton – would have ever occurred.

  14. Matt Privett says:

    Trevin, you said: “What we can learn: Look for wisdom and maturity more than glitz and glamor. Be willing to ask tough questions of the popular leader no one wants to challenge.”

    Isn’t this exactly what many not part of The Gospel Coalition did for years while Driscoll was a member of The Gospel Coalition and these problems went ignored. I’m not looking for drama, either, but just a little bit of honesty and accountability. Christ is worthy of such.

    1. Trevin Wax says:

      Yes, and that’s the point of #3 for the ‘gospel-centered’ crowd as well. Many who publicly supported Driscoll only quietly withdrew their support once he left TGC and all the problems came to the surface. The tendency is to be slow to see issues when they involve friends who agree theologically, and I think we can and should do better than that. Critics pointed out that gospel-centered folks were quick to judge doctrinal aberrancy manifested in people outside the tribe (think, Rob Bell) and too slow to judge character and leadership flaws manifested in people inside the tribe (Driscoll). I think the critics are right on this being a double standard, and we should take that lesson to heart.

      1. Trevin,
        With much respect, it’s still not clear who the “we” is, in either this comment, or this piece. Obviously, there are many lessons on many levels for the broader Reformed community, for those in individual church ministry, for seminaries, etc. to glean from this. But given that this piece is being published under the banner of an organization from which Mark benefitted in terms of “brotherly cover/benefit of the doubt/association” for some time (and then brotherly silence for some time after that), if one of those categories is not “parachurch ministries like TGC” then I’m afraid the potential risk of repeat incidences like this, and the requisite damage to those ministries, will continue.

        It’s interesting that you quote John Stott on Galatians, as one of the themes in that book is the lengths to which one apostle would go to protect the wider church when another apostle was in serious error and dragging down others with him. Paul’s rebuke was specific, it was personal, and it was public, to the point of being documented and referred to for the benefit of the larger Galatian church (and us). It seems that whatever polity structure a church or parachurch organization employs, considering this when anticipating the inevitable encroachment of error in any way, would be another lesson to not just consider, but apply.

  15. Steve says:

    It seems like it’s the same thing we’ve all seen at our local churches when we get involved with ministry. The leaders are just as prone to denial as the rest of us when it comes to their own spiritual growth issues. The default state of the human heart… How it trips us up. Good post and solutions offered.

  16. Box Elder says:

    The marginalization of elderly elders by the modern American Evangelical Church and the unwillingness of elderly elders to be in positions of authority within Churches are at the root. Driscoll commented on this himself a few weeks ago, I think.

    For all the pretty comments, at the end of the day, I see/hear a lot of young men, with little self control commenting what they know little of. To be young is to (usually) court folly. As Mark stares at 50, I have more hope for him than most. If he will humble himself and surround himself with older, wiser men, if they are even willing.

    Mark may be of use to the furtherance of the gospel. But he is not necessary. I have hope for, young man. (Mark.) But you will have to be comfortable with being unnecessary before I would even begin to consider you for an eldership.

  17. Chuck says:

    Where is the first Stott quote from? “The Christian minister should be preoccupied with the people’s spiritual progress and care nothing for his own prestige.”

  18. Nancy Le says:

    This is a very valuable statement: “No leader should be unable to be confronted. If your elders never say no, you don’t really have elders.” Likewise this one: “‘Nobody gets a pass on the fruit of the Spirit.:”‘

  19. Paula says:

    1 Tim. 5:20 states that if an elder is guilty of sinning, that elder is to be made a public example as a warning to others, and this must be done without favoritism. Too often we forget to hold leaders to a higher standard, not a lower one. We make excuses, we show compassion to those who showed none, we turn only one spiritual gift into a title and and office… and then we wonder why there are problems with corruption or abuse.

    The problem of abuse is systemic, regardless of the particular model of hierarchy. Authority cannot be abused if it doesn’t exist. The Holy Spirit is quite capable of guiding people, if we get out of the way and stop trying to play the part ourselves. Leadership among followers of Jesus is to be by example, not decree. Some people have good character, others know the scriptures, but Christian leaders must excel at both… BEFORE they are considered leaders.

    The NT does not present anyone but God and the scriptures as authorities, and history should have taught us by now that institutions do little to protect correct theology, and often do much more harm than would have happened without them. “Let my people go” away from institutions and human hierarchies, and see what the Spirit will accomplish.

  20. Ken says:

    You say, “This situation marks the first time I recall a pastor resigning from a church for a reason other than marital infidelity or embezzlement.” No disrespect intended, but you must not be a Southern Baptist! I’m at least a fourth-generation Southern Baptist, and I’ve been a Southern Baptist pastor for 19 years, and I’ve seen pastors resign or be dismissed for the most trivial reasons you can imagine.

    That being said, it does appear there were legitimate grievances regarding Mark Driscoll. Leadership style does matter, and pride can kill any pastor’s ministry. I hope everyone takes note of the fact that Driscoll was not fired or asked to leave. He resigned by his own free will. The reasons for his resignation are explained on the Mars Hill website, and the leaders acknowledge that not all of the accusations made against him were true. They also stated that, though his ministry at Mars Hill was damaged, they did not believe he was disqualified from future ministry. I hope all of us will remember to pray for him. He’s young, and I’ve seen men bounce back from much worse, so we don’t need to think God is finished with him.

  21. Jared says:

    “This situation marks the first time I recall a pastor resigning from a church for a reason other than marital infidelity or embezzlement.”

    Trevin, I’d like to add a comment here (not to criticize, merely to inform), that evangelical pastors sometimes do resign for reasons other than martial infidelity, embezzlement, or character flaws. When I was a kid my dad resigned from an EFCA church in my hometown that was, frankly, a very unhealthy congregation. It was a fairly young church, and most of the founders were still around, and doing everything they could at every step to undermine my dad, both in his administration and in his teaching. For example, they also opposed admitting new members into the church because it would water down their voting bloc (!!). It had become a really nasty situation. After six long years things came to a breaking point and my dad resigned from the church to essentially wash his hands of them (the district subsequently appointed him as an interim pastor at another nearby EFCA church). There was no moral or character failing of any sort by my dad. This was a small church in a small town quite a few years ago, so of course it didn’t get any media attention, but these sort of situations do happen, where pastors resign not because of their own failings, but because the majority of the congregation is unwilling to submit to any sort of Biblical authority.

  22. EMSoliDeoGloria says:

    Having been through a painful split in my church family, the wisdom in this writing resonates. We should all join in prayer for the Driscoll family and the entire Mars Hill church community during this extremely difficult time.
    If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. – 2 Cor 12:26

  23. Rich H says:

    Well written and very sensitive to all involved. You Conclusion section is somewhat troubling however. There is no indication that Driscoll was ever not concerned about the spiritual growth of his people. If anything, that was his primary concern. It’s hard to see that the temptation of celebrity is what caused the problems for Driscoll. He was brash and aggressive in his leadership style – yes. Perhaps not willing to listen to counsel (I do not think the “William Wallace” comments play any role in this) He should have treated everyone in his leadership in a more gentile way, especially those who do not take to that kind of leadership. But the quotes that you end with, while true and excellent, do not describe Mark Driscoll’s issues. Whether anyone like it or not, the absence of Mark Driscoll has left a void for many in the broader evangelical community.

    1. Charlie says:

      I’m not concerned about the void in the evangelical community as much as I am about Seattle.

  24. Mike says:

    While I trust Jesus will be glorified through this, it does break my heart that thousands are subjected to this same form of abuse and no one is held accountable because their church is not in the spotlight like a Mars Hill. I was a victim of abuse two years ago with many false accusations made and years of friendships destroyed. I never thought I would dread going to church, praying or reading my Bible but all those things became reality. I was much like Jonah waiting on the hillside for God to destroy them because they didn’t deserve His Grace. I’m still bitter at times and because the elders did not address the congregation after I left and admit their wrongdoing everyone that remained assumed the accusations were accurate so more friendships were lost. I might add that I had planted the church nine years prior to this. God continues to work in my life and I thank him for remaining faithful during my unfaithfulness. My prayer for the people of Mars Hill and other believers subjected to an elder rule form of church polity, Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and remember this all temporary.

  25. Dan says:

    Although you said this is no place for personal attacks, #2 sounds like you took it awfully personally.

  26. JFo says:

    Productive and useful analysis of a bad and sad situation. Always good to view circumstances through the lens of scripture and time-tested thinkers on scripture. Thanks for giving me a better way to look at this.

  27. Paul says:

    This has been a hard thing for me to watch personally. When Driscoll really came to prominence I was an undergraduate Christian Studies major. His explanation and teaching on the Gospel were really fresh and encouraging. For me, it’s difficult to consider Driscoll as anything but a pastor with a blunt personality. Perhaps, I had put him on a pedestal in my own life. I love the quote,” The good news is that King Jesus loves to take seemingly hopeless situations and bring resurrection life from them.” That is my prayer for both Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill.

  28. Tim says:

    Pastor = Elder = Overseer. I appreciate your perspective and the point you make well-measured. However, I can’t be as optimistic for Mars Hill as you seem to be. It’s very telling, and unfortunate, that the board there doesn’t see anything disqualifying in Mark Driscoll’s conduct. How do they define “above reproach”, “not quarrelsome”, or “self-controlled”? As a church, we don’t need advisors. We need elders.

  29. Susan Goff says:

    Seriously? Spiritual abuse and hurt? Get real. Some people got their little feelings hurt. Move on. If you don’t like the church, then leave. It is still a free country.

  30. Gabriel says:

    If anything, evangelicals gifted with discernment and biblical doctrine of sin and grace should have been the first to expose these problems. I know some of this critique happened behind the scenes, inside and outside Mars Hill. But more could have been done sooner to warn and protect the flock.

    Trevin, I appreciate what you’ve written in this post, but I can’t help but think that you’re missing the elephant in the room with that statement. Some notable, experienced, and wise “evangelicals gifted with discernment and biblical doctrine of sin and grace” did as much as they possibly could to warn the flock and were repeatedly ignored, mocked, ridiculed, and despised for what they said. Benjamin Glaser (above) mentioned the most notable one. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be found there you should write about?

  31. Mike says:

    “The last Mark Driscoll talk I listened to was several years ago.” So why are you saying anything at all about Mark Driscoll? Have you talked to him at all, in regards to what you say? And if it’s lessons to be learned, why are you using his name? It’ seems like everyone I listen to on this, is a glory hunter at the expense of him. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to all these mega church Pastors. They’re all human saved by Grace, used by God despite their flaws… working with sheep. Who doesn’t go crazy after awhile.

  32. Sean Sankey says:

    Trevin, come on now… Titling this post as a post mortem on Mars Hill is pretty disrespectful to the church members still there faithfully trying to look to The Lord and work out what’s next. Choosing words that literally declare death over them is unhelpful and panders to one of the points you’re trying to make about the churches ministry not being all about it’s leader. By saying what post mortem “does not imply” is disingenuous because it points to the fact that you know pretty well what it implies and are trying to tenuously reshape the meaning to justify a sensationalist blog headline. Am a huge supporter of TGC and your own work, yet I think you’ve overreached here.

  33. Chyna Doll says:

    Really greatful for this piece, this is probably the most kind piece written about MH. I am currently a member and have read just about everything out about this. So I really appreciate what you write here.

  34. sam says:

    I guess that since you haven’t heard one of mark driscolls sermons in a while you haven’t realized that a lot of this analysis is simply untrue. His board of accountability even said that through their searching they had found nothing that disqualifies him from ministry. He wasn’t asked to resign and most of the charges brought up were considered unfair towards pastor mark. He’s got some character flaws to work on and some leadership things to work out but all in all this should’ve never happened. Most of the pastors who were bringing up charges against him refused to meet with the board to be interviewed. I don’t think there is much to learn from this situation right now while there is such little information about what really is going on.

  35. Sharon Owen says:

    This makes me sad…..my youngest son, Dr. Josh Owen was a deacon (for a short while, He relocated, Job wise back to Kentucky) at the Mars Hill down town, I visited there with him on two occasions while visiting my son. I loved the services at Mrs Hill Downtown and Pastor Mark’s teaching! He is awesome and human as well, I truly wish him and his family God’s very best as well as Mar’s Hill Church! I’m reminded of Jesus saying when the leaders wanted to stone a young woman to death (I know Not the same issue Here….) but Jesus knelt down and drew something in the sand and HE Spoke, “Those of You without sin, cast the first stone” and they ALL walked away……

  36. Dan Riddle says:

    It is ridiculous that you judge his doctrine having last heard him speak “several years ago”, have you met him? Does your life line up with your doctrine or are you human aswell? Or do you water it down so much that you feel ok about not shaping up? All sin is equal, you are not encouraged to leave for yours, he should not be encouraged to leave for his just because his is public.

  37. Janet says:

    I love TGC and have learned much from reading articles here. But I must admit, as a member of Mars Hill Church, it makes me sad to have my church boiled down to a 4-point case study. None of this has been simple for any of us. Nothing will be simple going forward. Though I agree with many of the points made here, and I do want the Church (capital C) to learn from what has happened, I can’t help but hope that my brothers and sisters in Christ would remember that we are a real church with real people who love Jesus. Many of us have been loved well by our church leadership, and, in turn have led and loved others well. Right now we are grieving the loss of our pastor, who many of us cared about very much, and we are dealing with the uncertainty of Mars Hill’s future. For those of us hanging in there and loving our church through this crisis, I would have loved to see encouragement before critique.

    1. Trevin Wax says:

      That’s a good reminder for us and the wider Church to be praying for your congregation and what life God will bring out of this tumultuous time. Thank you for sharing your heart. Grief is appropriate, and I am praying God’s comfort is shown to you in these days.

  38. Jeremiah says:

    The comments make me weep. Have mercy on us, O God. “We will be known by our love for each other”…? Forgive me.

  39. DN says:

    I think its too early for analysis. A church has lost her pastor who (rightly or wrongly) was beloved by many. It is time to weep with those who weep and to pray for those who are hurting. The time for analysis and drawing lessons will come later.

  40. NJohn says:

    As a Director of a Christian organisation in the UK I look upon some of these ‘super churches’ globally with a tinge of fear for those in leadership and members alike – boy are they in the spotlight! Trevin’s comments are very accurate from my perspective. We need to be very careful that we do not get carried along on a wave of so called blessing, believing that everything we do is exactly how God wants it to be. After all we are all human and are all battling against our old nature which wants fed form all sides of the sinful spectrum. We are Christ’s ambassadors here on planet earth – are we living as Christ wants us or are we living for greatness and praise? Do we desire to be part of the ‘big thing’ and as Trevin rightly says looking to the celebrity culture for our ‘spiritual’ fix. John the Baptist said that he had to decrease in order for Christ to increase but this is lost so much within modern church society. Ask yourself why you are attracted to the big names, the latest ‘in’ christian book more than being attracted to Christ fully and delving further into the scriptures that really does bring life and freedom. Christ tells us that when the Son sets you free you will truly be free – free to be wholly His, filled with His Spirit and a light in the darkness of this world. Pray for Driscoll and for those who need to forgive then seek that spirit of forgiveness. but do we delight in saying ‘I told you so?’ We should be saying, ‘there but for the grace of God go I !’ Let’s keep asking ourselves – what would Jesus do? Let us as God’s church be unified and not shoot each other down – God’s blessing is poured out when His people dwell in unity. Today may God’s blessing pour out upon you all and keep seeking Him who is the author and perfecter of our faith.

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, husband to Corina, father to Timothy, Julia, and David. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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