When a Church is Imploding...

I've generally taken the policy of not talking about other churches or other pastors in a public way. Even though there are hucksters out there, I've generally refrained from calling them by name, partially because I don't think my people need my help in spotting and ignoring them.

Mark Driscoll is a bit different. He ministers in a familiar context and sometimes he says things that sound not only orthodox, but orthodox in a new way - and thus exciting.

He's built a megachurch in a very un-churched part of Seattle and so maybe he's not so easily dismissed as the one who builds a huge church in middle America on a dubious foundation.

But, there are problems with Driscoll's ministry. For years I've cringed at his misogynistic comments, his self-congratulatory corner on the truth, his cavalier rejection and caricature of people who think differently than him.

Friends of mine who do ministry in Seattle have been receiving "refugees" for years and we've been wondering when the wheels were gonna come off this "ministry."

Well apparently they have...or they are. Recently there have been accusations of emotional abuse from former members, a lack of accountability, misappropriation of funds, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote his latest book, and completely inappropriate comments on an early 2000's web forum.

In my weakest moments I've reveled in these revelations with an "I told you so" sneer. I'm not sure who I was sneering at, but it felt so good to be right in my own mind.

I've been convicted however to attempt the opposite, to forgo my reveling in the downfall of another minister and instead pray for him.

I do think he's a bully. I do think he's hurt people. I do think he's empowered other people to see their harmful behavior as spiritually-necessary. I do think he's profaned the name of Christ.

And, I think he needs Jesus, just like I do.

This does not mean that Driscoll should not be held accountable and even made to answer to his accusers. This isn't to say that every church, because it's imperfect, is as harmful and oppressive as Mars Hill has apparently been.

But, as I say every Sunday (in some way or another) that God's grace is never outrun by our sin and even an abusive, confused, self-righteous pastor can receive grace.

And this is what I pray for him...and for me.

Here's a sermon that I think best strikes the balance between accountability and grace. Enjoy: