If I Were Mark Driscoll

Mark DriscollObviously, I’m not Mark Driscoll. I couldn’t be, even if I tried. The man is an amazing communicator, a fearless preacher of the scriptures. Through his sermons, interviews, debates, and seminars, Pastor Mark makes the Truth understandable, accessible, and applicable for thousands of people on a regular basis.

Beyond the teachings of Mark Driscoll is the persona of Mark Driscoll. The dynamic pastor of Seattle-based Mars Hill Church doesn’t just set an example for young pastors across the country, he’s a role model. The regular-guy with working-class roots who’s cool but tries not to try too hard. He’s into music and art, pop culture, theology, and sports. In my interactions with pastors and church planters everywhere, I’ve met several who are Mark Driscoll fanboys, choker necklaces and all.

While I could never build and maintain a megachurch like Mark has, I’d love to step into his role for just a day. For one day, instead of Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill (and the hundreds of churches it influences) would get me- a burnt-out former church planting missionary to Western Europe. For that one day, here’s what I’d do:

I’d start the morning with a staff meeting. I have no idea what sort of leadership team Mars Hill has, but I’d call in all the elders and pastors to tell them the big news: Mars Hill is selling their building(s). The goal would be to sell or give away all of their properties by the end of the day. Why? Because Mars Hill has a vision of growing their church to 50,000 disciples by the year 2019, and getting rid of the walls and grounds that tie them down would really pave the way for that to happen. Buildings only create bottlenecks in the expansion of the kingdom. If they publicized the sell off/giveaway, they’d give instant credibility to their claim that the Church is the people, not the building.  Giving some of the locations away to local nonprofits and needy people would be another opportunity to put into action what they already believe about grace, compassion, and social justice.

Next, I’d resign as pastor of Mars Hill Church. Not that Driscoll isn’t a good pastor or great communicator- he is. But that’s precisely why he should resign. For nearly ten years now, Driscoll has served an apostolic role in evangelical circles; writing, teaching, leading, and casting vision. He spends hours per week in study and sermon preparation, and it shows. If you  haven’t seen Mark field questions on the fly via SMS, you really need to. His wit, and wisdom, fueled by his knowledge of scripture (and what seems to be an inability to filter his thoughts before voicing them) are really nothing short of divine gifting.

Which is why he should resign. Mark isn’t the pastor of Mars Hill Church. He’s a spiritual entrepreneur and visionary. He’s not a people person. I’ve never met him personally, but I suspect that Driscoll doesn’t care about your sick aunt or your new job. He’s probably not going to sit for hours by your side as you work through your marriage. No, Mark Driscoll needs to quit calling himself a “pastor” and reframe his role for what he is- an apostolic leader for the Church. Look at his aggressive expansion of Mars Hill through the opening of new campuses and video venues. Pastor Mark is a de facto elder of the Church at the city/region/nation-wide affinity/demographic level. He’s not trying to build an empire, he’s trying to be apostolic within the confines of his role as pastor.

Mark could still draw a paycheck from Mars Hill, and I would hope the he would continue to teach and answer questions. So much of his identity is wrapped up in his being considered a pastor, letting go is control would be an extremely difficult thing to do. But his resignation would take loads of pressure off of young leaders across the country who struggle to fill the role of Pastor as Driscoll has practiced it. Conferences? The Acts 29 Network? Resurgence? Debates on ABC? Those aren’t pastoral things, they’re apostolic things.

After resigning, I guess I’d go to lunch. But not without holding a press conference. On my way to Chili’s (or wherever Mark likes to eat), I’d meet with reporters, bloggers, protesters, and followers to ask for help. If the church suddenly doesn’t have the central location(s) in which to meet, they’re going to need somewhere else to go. As Mark Driscoll, I’d use my sizable influence to ask for hundreds (thousands) of places to meet in the Seattle are. Bars, theaters, coffee shops, living rooms, bowling alleys, high school gyms, Lion’s Club halls. These smaller meetings would spread Mars Hill church out into the community, rubbing Salt into Seattle’s mundane spaces and forcing parents and leaders to take spiritual responsibility for the few they meet with. To be pastors. Those are the people who I’d want to read my blog and listen to my podcast. As an apostle, my goal would be not to pastor the thousands of people who participate in Mars Hill, but to mentor and coach the pastors of small Mars Hill gatherings wherever they meet.

As I wrote, I’m no Mark Driscoll. I’m just a hack missiologist. But I’ve been to America’s future in Western Europe, and I want the Church here to be prepared for it. I believe that Mark Driscoll is one of many leaders God can use to get us there, if only we can free them from the modern pragmatism that keeps them from being truly missional.

About E. Goodman

Ernest Goodman is a missiologist, writer, teacher, and communications strategist.