Pastor Mark, just go away. I mean this with all Christian sincerity. Go away and heal. Go away and repent. Restoration has nothing to do with your ministry. It has to do with your walk. Based upon your sermon, you still have not repented of the role you played in the tragedy of Mars Hill. You know enough Scripture to know that you will answer for every sheep God gave you. Every single person in that pile of dead bodies – you will give account for. You are not the victim here. You played the role of the wolf. Maybe you did not intend to. It does not matter.
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,” declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones. – Zechariah 13: 7 (ESV)
It has been a little over six months. That’s it beloved, just six short months. After avoiding responsibility for years, Mark Driscoll returned to give a sermon after six short months in exile. His venue was the Thrive Conference, held annually at Bayside Church in California. This conference is billed as the “go-to conference for pastors and leaders.” What better speaker they imagined than the recently disgraced former pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle Washington.
Was Pastor Mark going to use this opportunity to speak to the pastors and leaders about repentance? Seemed like a perfect opportunity. Perhaps a sermon about humility and not berating those who surround you, as Driscoll is repeatedly accused of. Maybe this was an opportunity to speak to them about stewardship and the importance of not stealing the tithe monies of your congregation to become a NY Times bestseller. After all, $200,000 may not mean much to a million dollar pastor but to the poor sheep he is entrusted to shepherd, it could very well mean the difference between living and dying.
Better yet, what more of a perfect venue could there be for Mark Driscoll to apologize for referring to those he hurt in ministry as “a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus.” Preach to the pastors about caring for the whole flock, not just those who like the way you drive the bus. How about integrity? A nice sermon expounding on the lessons he learned from willfully cheating the NY Times to make his book a best seller, which profited him quite nicely.
I will be honest beloved. If he chose any of these gambits to open with, I would lean towards ministerial restoration even though the time is so ludicrously short. It would have given me hope that maybe he has learned something during these arduous six months. That maybe he is truly repentant and seeking restoration of his own walk with Christ. Oh well, we can always dream.
Because that is not what Mark Driscoll preached about during his 34 minutes behind the pulpit at the Thrive Conference. Nope. Instead, he preached on “struck shepherds.” He tried to pretend that it was a message for all of the hurt pastors in the audience but given his circumstances the selfish motives were not only evident but staggeringly odious. Especially since he spent the entire first third of the “sermon” telling everyone that he was the real victim of the Mars Hill Debacle. Before we get to the victim cards he played, it is important that people remember what remains on the ledger of Mark Driscoll. I say this because I have seen people and pastors actually defend this horrific record.
1) Mark Driscoll stole over $200,000 in tithe monies to pay a marketing firm to cheat the system and defraud his way onto the NY Times Bestseller List. This is not in question or doubt. The defense was that his compromised board allowed the expenditure. Good luck explaining that to Jesus. It is theft, pure and simple and cheating on top of it. Realize also that the gaming of this system benefits only Driscoll personally.
2) In an infamous sermon, Driscoll mockingly referred to the people he has hurt as “a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus, which by God’s grace will be a mountain by the time I am done.” He has yet to apologize for this statement and any public attempt at general apologies have always been parsed very carefully to make sure he was never to blame. That is lip service, not repentance.
3) There have been astronomical amounts of personal accounts of cult like behavior and leadership from Driscoll. It became so bad that former sheep had to band together to form online groups to fight back against the Driscoll machine. This includes former leaders, despite Driscoll making them sign agreements to not speak against Mars Hill after they leave.
There is plenty more beloved. More stories of abuse. More stories of bullying. That is not even touching on his doctrine, which was spotty at best. It was so bad that the Acts 29 Network, which Driscoll founded, threw him out. Facing mounting pressure and an imminent rebuke, Driscoll carefully resigned six months ago.