Why Mark Driscoll's fall and Mars Hill’s breakup issues a warning for megastar pastors

(RNS) Can a megachurch survive the departure of its megastar pastor?

For Seattle's Mars Hill Church, it's an open question.

Mars Hill announced last week that it would dissolve the multisite network of 13 churches across the Northwest that took root under pastor Mark Driscoll, who stepped down in October after supporters lost confidence in a high-wattage leadership style that was criticized as bullying, hypermacho and intolerant.

Controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from his church Tuesday (Oct. 15), according to a document obtained by RNS. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church

Controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from his church Oct. 15, according to a document obtained by RNS. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

For many megachurches, a pastor can become larger than the church itself -- particularly for multisite churches where the pastor's sermon is the only thing binding disparate congregations connected by little more than a satellite feed. Before his resignation, the name “Mark Driscoll” was more widely known than “Mars Hill.” The dueling brands sometimes clashed along the way; some say Driscoll once told staff “I am the brand.”

Driscoll’s edgy personality built up a congregation of an estimated 14,000 people at 15 locations across five states. Weekly attendance is now reportedly about 7,600. In August, the church saw a budget gap of nearly $650,000 as expenses exceeded revenues.

According to Mars Hill leaders, by the start of 2015 locations within the Mars Hill network will either become independent, self-governing churches, merge with another church or disband completely.

Mars Hill’s existing church properties will either be sold or the loans on the individual properties will be assumed by the newly independent churches. Central staff in Seattle will be laid off as the formal Mars Hill organization dissolves.

Megachurches across the country have faced similar dips in attendance once their popular pastor left, a problem that can plague any church but one that can be exacerbated in a megabrand context. If the CEO of McDonald's left, for instance, the company would face fewer questions about its survival than "The Colbert Report" will when its star leaves.

“It’s not uncommon for CEOs to say the first agenda item is to talk about ‘What happens when I’m not here anymore?’” said William Vanderbloemen, co-author of the recent book “Next: Pastoral Succession That Works." "The key is to have an emergency succession plan.”

After former megachurch pastor Rob Bell’s controversial book “Love Wins” raised debates over whether hell exists, his Grand Rapids, Mich.-based church experienced a loss. Current pastor Kent Dobson said the church lost about 1,000 people during the controversy and now has about 3,000 attendees.

"Next: Pastoral Succession That Works," book cover photo courtesy of Baker Books Publishing.

"Next: Pastoral Succession That Works," book cover photo courtesy of Baker Books Publishing.

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Every megachurch pastor wrestles with challenges of brand and leadership, said Mark DeMoss, who handled some public relations for Mars Hill before Driscoll resigned.

“If the pastor is the best communicator and preacher and pastor in that local context, I think you can make a good case for that’s who ought to be up there,” he said. “The dangers are sometimes in succession.”

Not all churches with large followings experience a loss in attendance after a pastor’s departure. After Joel Osteen’s father died unexpectedly from a heart attack in 1999, his Lakewood Church in Houston surged from 5,000 to more than 50,000 today.

Attendance at Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., was about 4,000 when he died. Under his son, Jonathan Falwell, the church now boasts about 10,000 attendees.

Similarly, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., founded by the Rev. D. James Kennedy, an icon of the religious right, had an average attendance of about 1,000 (and a broadcast reach of about 3 million) when he died in 2007. After facing turmoil during the transition, under Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham's grandson who is a popular pastor in his own right, the church's membership is around 2,400.

Driscoll’s fall from grace came after a combination of growing scrutiny of church finances, plagiarism allegations concerning his books and comments he made under an online pseudonym. Much of the criticism came from bloggers and on social media from people who did not even attend the church.

(RNS2-MAY15) The Rev. Jerry Falwell addresses a 1983 prayer breakfast for Christians and Jews  in Washington.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell addresses a 1983 prayer breakfast for Christians and Jews in Washington. Religion News Service file photo

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Could Driscoll make a comeback at another church or ministry? For an evangelical movement that values forgiveness, redemption and second chances, anything is possible.

For one, Driscoll's resignation did not reach the scandalous level of Jim Bakker or Jimmy Swaggart in the 1980s. Bakker was accused of fraud related to time shares, while Swaggart was accused of adultery. Both men remain active in the ministry but aren't seen much beyond late-night cable TV.

Other high-profile pastors have stepped down and attempted to come back with varied success.

After allegations of gay sex and drug use were made by a male escort, Ted Haggard stepped down from his Colorado Springs church (and as head of the National Association of Evangelicals) but has since started another church.

In 2011, Sovereign Grace Ministries founder C.J. Mahaney took a leave of absence from his church-planting network amid charges of "various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy." Mahaney was reinstated after a year, and he is now pastoring a local church in Louisville, Ky.

CJ Mahaney, founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries in a 2006 photo.

C.J. Mahaney, founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries, in a 2006 photo.

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

In 2010, John Piper took an eight-month leave from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, explaining that his soul, marriage, family and ministry pattern needed “a reality check from the Holy Spirit.” He returned for a few years before retiring.

Some evangelicals see high numbers as a measure of success for a minister -- something that could be hard for Driscoll to reproduce in a second act.

“If (Driscoll) can continue to draw people in and have a successful ministry, then his authority -- even if it has been questioned -- will still rest on what he’s producing,” said Scott Thumma, a megachurch expert at Hartford Seminary.

Some critique evangelicalism as a tradition that encourages a drive for more and more numbers, regardless of the costs. Wendy Alsup, who attended Mars Hill from 2002 to 2008, said she sees a growing movement of evangelicals asking whether bigger actually is better.

“There’s a big reaction among some to identify with something that has longevity,” Alsup said. “They’re rejecting fast growth and going back to the slow, methodical structure.”




  1. These “megastar pastors” remind me of the Scribes and Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) of Jesus’ day.

    They thought they were “hoyty toyty” or way above all the common people who lived at that time.

    Thankfully, Jesus exposed them for the hypocrites that they were (Mark 7:1-24); and the same is being done in our day.

    Those religious leaders in Jesus’ day taught “traditions” as the commandments of God and totally burdened the common people with burdensome laws that did not take into consideration the spirit of the law, or love and justice!!

    Those religious leaders were judged adversely in Jesus’ day; the same can be said for the hypocritical religious leaders of our day, and they will be judged accordingly, and not by man!

  2. Call me crazy, but I can’t see how or why the concept of “megapastors” is a viable or appropriate way to worship the man who reportedly said:

    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven…. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you…. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:1,5-6,19-21; see e.g. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A1%2C5-6%2C19-21&version=NASB)

    I dunno, maybe I’m missing it because I’m a vicious, cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen who’s somehow congenitally incapable of understanding such important, sacred matters. But it just seems the life of a “megapastor” is logically inconsistent with the teachings like the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain.

  3. I can’t watch this whole outcome without thinking that Satan is laughing while this plays out. A pastor who’s message was not wrong (even though his pride got in the way) has been called into question and all his congregation can do is kick him out and sit back while he is dragged through the mud… Sad that you claim to be Christians and even more sad that you once backed him. Look to the Bible on how you are supposed to confront a brother/sister of the faith and you will see that you are now in the wrong. Sad!

  4. Aren’t you applying a different standard for Mark?
    The qualifications for a pastor/elder are clearly defined. Was Mark not given a fair review by elders at Mars Hill? A similar fair review that Mark witheld from fellow pastors Petry and Meyer, revealing a complete disregard for the reputation and personal damage to two men who’s interest was to avoid this type of situation?
    Mark was offered a restoration plan by the elders who desired to see Mark return to pastorship. He chose instead his own path, to resign rather than humble himself and to restore and heal. Had Mark chosen the path of restoration he would ultimately educate you and others why it was important for him to be disciplined and removed from ministry. A return to the pulpit without doing so will not find favor with God.

    resign than face the charges and come to understand how he harmed these men and their families (and rep
    ent and restore those relationships).

  5. The article says, “In August, the church saw a budget gap of nearly $650,000 as expenses exceeded revenues.” Funny, that’s the same amount as Sutton Turner recommended Mark Driscoll receive in 2013 (not including a $200,000 housing allowance, because really, who can find a decent place to live for less than $16,500/month?). Sutton Turner was the man Mark Driscoll appointed after he wrested control of the church from a 24 person board and assumed all power to himself and the two others he appointed (Sutton Turner [resigned] and Dave Bruskas [current head obfuscator, I mean, “pastor”]).

  6. My heart breakes for mark Driscoll and his beautiful family, I’m praying for them,I don’t really know alot about the situation its hard to know what to believe, what is the real truth? God knows their hearts I’ve really learnt al…ot since listening to marks teachings I will really miss his teachings and hearing about his beautiful family.may God get the glory in this situation and not the devil,I will keep upholding the driscolls and mars hill in prayer

  7. Kelly, it is good to pray and have compassion for Mark. It is important to also be discerning with the evidence. Remember, times of trial are difficult, God’s plan is good and to restore Mark. Not just to restore but do a powerful work in him. Can you imagine the testimony he would have to make his repentence and restoration an open example for all of us who struggle with pride?

  8. I don’t think anyone ever referred to Reverand Graham has a megapastor (I’ve heard he limited his salary to $80k) but there are few contemporaries who could match his impact. Now in the twilight of his life, I’m sure many crowns await him.

  9. Dale, I couldn’t agree more. There is much of Mark’s story that is yet to be written. We should be praying for that restoration and repentance.

  10. The issues of forgiveness and restoration come into play as do the necessity of consequences before a watching world. There was abuse and justice demands Driscoll be held accountable – that is Biblical. There should also be work towards forgiveness and restoration – also Biblical. These two are not mutually exclusive, even though working them out can be difficult. It is all too easy to judge when the pendulum swings one way or the other.

    However, I do believe that the day is coming for the mega church to see a shrinking. It is too personality driven, entertainment based, can be very impersonal, wrongly focused on buildings and attendance numbers – all the things Jesus opposed.

  11. I am not one to normally comment on threads like this, but I felt like something needed to be said.

    I feel like the real problems to our modern day churches have been completely missed in this article. The issue isn’t whether or not there’s a successor in line, but rather what the Lord’s desire is for how the church is to operate in order to follow Him the way a church is called to.

    The most immediate problems I see in most (not all) western evangelical churches is commercialism, celebrity worship, a lack of biblical understanding on how a church is really supposed to operate (like the article stated it’s not a one-man-band), division (denominations are a man-made invention), lack of love, lack of truth, a lack of understanding of the Father’s heart, and an inability to listen to the Holy Spirit.

    Time and time again I see churches begin to thrive as a passion for Jesus and His love grow in the flock, only for the Spirit to be quenched by the westernization of the church. We have become more and more impressed by man’s ability to build and commercialize their own brand rather than allow the Holy Spirit to lead Christ’s bride the way He intended.

    I see ads in modern evangelical magazines that promote books and programs on “how to help your church grow”. It’s frightening to me that these common practices to commercialize the church are widely accepted in the western church at large today.

    Churches are more concerned about worldly appearances, rapid growth, influence, and affluence rather than the health and well-being of their own flock, which is exactly why Jesus turned over the tables in the the temple nearly 2,000 years ago.

    Unfortunately, many of our western churches are completely blind to this problem. They don’t see how the world and all it’s devices has creeped in to our pews and pulpits. And it’s not just the “elders” faults, either. By giving all authority to man rather than God, the church members themselves have literally enabled the system to keep running in a perpetual cycle of self destruct. Worse, the western church doesn’t understand that the way she operates is not healthy or biblical.

    The apostle Paul lays out clear guidelines for how a church is supposed to run and operate – stating that whoever has a word, a prophesy, a song, and interpretation should be allowed take turns and share. He lists the different offices in the church, and emphasizes their importance. Furthermore, Paul mentions the different gifts of the Spirit with the intention to emphasize that all members of a church have a purpose and are called to participate. And above all, he tells us to love one another, because without love we are nothing. Sadly, I do not know of a single church in the western world that is following the guidelines Jesus gave us thousands of years ago.

    In addition to clear instruction on how churches are function, the apostle John gives us warnings in Revelation on how churches are NOT to operate. From falling away from their first love (Jesus), to accepting the spirit of Jezabel in their midst, John calls the seven churches to repent of their sin so that they might avoid the closing of their doors. Today, there are many many churches both large and small (size has NOTHING to do with what makes a strong church. Both large and small churches have their issues), that are sitting on the precipice of destruction.

    Churches today are not equipping their people to do the work of Christ the way we were intended to. Instead of teaching people for the sake of creating leaders, we are crippling saints to be dependent on leaders, never empowering them to follow Jesus for themselves. Co-dependency on specific pastors leads to worship of a person or a movement rather than a personal and intimate relationship with Christ Jesus himself.

    There is a huge lack of maturity in the western church at large today. We have handed over power to men rather than God, and in turn a celebrity atmosphere is created in the church as a whole. I see more and more division because people chose to follow such-and-such a pastor, an in the process diminish other pastors/leaders or whatever in the process. Paul rebuked the church for their division. He clearly stated it wasn’t a Paul vs. Apollos church, but a Jesus church. Paul and Apollos had specific roles, one planted and the other watered, but only God caused the growing. Our churches today need to heed these words. As Paul clearly pointed out, division was a sign of a lack of maturity, while unity and love is proof of a mature church.

    In the midst of all the chaos of the western church, love for Jesus and others has been lost. Most churches are focused on the influence of their programs, the flashiness of their media and unfortunately worship, the rapidness of their growth, the influence of their leaders, the current trend or “up to date teaching”, (in charismatic circles) the “deeper things” and signs and wonders (which are good things, VERY good and necessary things, and I want all of us to walk in them as Christ did. However if miracles become more important than Jesus, the gospel, and love it can be a major problem), as well as pet theologies and traditions. Instead our focus should be on Jesus, His love, and our love for others, but the distractions and temptations of this world and of the enemy have slowly wrapped their tentacles around the western church itself, which is one major reason why we are witnessing the downfall of so many churches today.

    I could go on and on with the problems that exist in the western church, and We all could speculate as to why this or that happened. Truthfully, there are probably numerous reasons why things happen, and we may never know the causes and effects, or the whys and why-nots.

    The point is really, I believe that Jesus is calling His Church back to himself in a way that has been needed for a very long time. We are called to worship in Spirit and Truth, and Jesus is arousing His worshippers to wake up to His voice once again.

    This isn’t just a Mars Hill thing (which BTW – despite all the pain and issues leaders and members have inflicted, I still love MH, Pastor Mark, and the Pastors and members who were hurt and mistreated by the church. Even though MHC technically no longer exists as an organized collective, the people who attended the church still do. I greatly desire healing and reconciliation to happen for everyone who were a part of MHC despite it’s closing, and I believe that if this happens, it could be a great testimony to the power of Christ’s blood, His forgiveness, and His grace) but instead a western church problem at large.

    I care for the church very much. I see many of the same issues that the western church struggles with in me as well, so trust me when I say that I am not shifting the blame, but rather voicing concern over what I currently see in the western church.

    I want Jesus, love, unity, truth, and the Kingdom to prevail in all our lives. I want a deep passion and commitment for the gospel to overwhelm His bride today. I want to see a church filled and shining with the Holy Spirit in the way she has never shined before. I want to see and be a bold and fearless church who seeks the face of her Savior no matter the cost. I want to see the children of God deeply rooted in the love of the Father. This is what we were called to, and I believe that Jesus desires the same.

    Blessings and love in Christ Jesus <3

  12. This article really misses the point. What it important is that churches of all sizes take seriously the biblical qualification for elder found in 1 Timothy 2, Titus 1 and 1 Peter 5 (which I think is a too often overlooked passage re eldership). less that 1/2 of churches of any size survive the moral failure (and this was moral failure, limiting moral failure to adultery belies a too low view of the holiness fo God) of the planting Sr. Pastor. Until the Church takes seriously what God has said qualifies a man to lead His church this will happen again and again.

  13. PsiCop,
    Your quote via Bible Gate Way does go a long way when looking a the mega church pastor, especially: “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Oh, the temptation of popularity and power.
    As an agnostic you are in the good company of people like Neil Degrasse Tyson (His own words verify he is an agnostic). Keep looking at scriptures on Bible Gate Way, they have some good stuff there.

  14. That’s it, blame the Jews. Calvinism is so far removed from Judaism theologically and culturally that to even suggest it is mind-boggling, but whatevs. Btw, the “Pharisees” weren’t the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’s day, they were the progenitors of modern rabbinic Judaism as it is practiced in our own day. When you rail against “the Pharisees,” you’re railing against Judaism.

  15. Fran Jesus has a huge following during his time on earth. He preached to thousands of people at a time. Just because someone is a mega pastor does not mean he is not godly… smh

  16. It’s not just the money megapastors earn which appears, to me, to go beyond what Jesus seems to have wished his followers to do. It’s the vast amount of sheer attention they cultivate. Megapastors certainly work very hard to “practice their righteousness before men to be noticed by them.”

    By that reasoning, Billy Graham certainly has gone beyond the pale … without regard to how large or small his salary may be.

  17. I must remind everyone here that Jesus was not clear
    about anything.

    “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)


    Megapastors are blameless – Whatever the MegaPastors do, it is sanctioned by Jesus.

    Atheist Max
    I don’t know if god exists – so I am Agnostic
    I don’t Believe God exists – so I am Atheist
    A claim made without an reasonable argument must be dismissed.

  18. No, it’s railing against one specific tradition in the second temple period. One that gave birth to both Christianity and Rabbinical Judaism. The apostles and Jesus himself came from Pharisaical tradition and their arguments with other Pharisees are seen to indicate inclusion, rather than fundamental conflict, to most scholars today.
    Furthermore, comparing what he said to antisemitism is mendacious and hyperbolic.

  19. In time, I for one would LOVE to read/hear about Mark’s repentance and God’s continued work in him. Mark was one of the first to teach me (frankly, without the bells and whistles) how and why I could rejoice through storms. To see your teacher be the student, applying the same wisdom he taught you, well, that’s just powerfully and beautifully poetic.

  20. Years ago, as a young man, I worked on a home that a local mega preacher, Lester Sumrall, lived in. This house was the epitome of extravagance, in both shear size, and of course opulence. One of his followers overheard one of my co-workers and me having a conversation about it and interjected that this house did not “belong” to Sumrall, it belonged to the church. He explained that Sumrall had taken a vow of poverty and literately drew no salary. The jet at the local airport, the Mercedes, Rolls Royce, BMW, and Cadillac Limousine were all owned by the church.

    god is not just good, he’s damn good.;-)

    By the way, when he died, his son took over; just by happenstance, he had also been called by god to be a pastor.

    Imagine that.

  21. Here is the real truth.

    Jesus said something about it being easier for a camel to go through they eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingsdom of heaven.

    jesus said, “give away all that you have and follow me.” Driscoll said, “give me a good deal of what you have and follow Jesus.”

  22. Thanks for showing how readily the BIble can be cherry-picked so as to say whatever one wishes it to say. I can say any kind of public piety is un-Christian, and cite verses that show this to be so; but you can say it’s not, and cite verses to support that (in this case from within the same book and even the same passage within it, i.e. the Sermon on the Mount).

    All the more reason why Shakespeare could quip, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” (Antonio, The Merchant of Venice, I.3). Christians love leaning on their Bibles and whipping out quotations of it, but when you think about it, it’s kind of a dangerous business … because they can end up supporting almost any contention that way.

  23. It is one thing to practice righteousness with intention to be noticed, it is another to practice righteousness without intention to be noticed. It is altogether a different issue to not practice righteousness at all.

    If nobody is being a shining example, who are we to follow? If the intention to look individuals who are upright individuals in society, and automatically assume that they’re doing so out of selfish ambition, that’s the matter of the heart of the one judging another with preconceived notions, aka prejudice, not a judgment of one’s character, but a gratification of one’s own bias.

    What I do know, is that true character speaks for itself, in sight and out of sight, in front of people and behind people, in the presence of others and in the absence of others. You will know them by their fruits, and that truth is all that is needed, including yours and mine.

  24. @Psi cop,

    Very true.

    The term, “Good Christian” is absolutely meaningless.

    Behaving in a “Christian way” is meaningless.
    Believing the “Christian message” is meaningless.

    A person might as well say,
    “I’m a good blibbity blop and I really believe in blippity blop”

  25. @Andrew Lee,

    “It is one thing to practice righteousness with intention to be noticed, it is another to practice righteousness without intention to be noticed.”

    We kid ourselves if we think this “is instructive”.

    The moral choices we make, the decisions about how far to go in either direction are entirely up to the individual – not the teachings in the book.
    And if you are going to use your own intuition anyway, you don’t need the instruction!

    “Be shy”
    “Be bold”

    Christianity, like astrology and tarot cars, is just a parlor trick.

  26. C.J. (your statements) “Sadly, I do not know of a single church in the western world that is following the guidelines Jesus gave us thousands of years ago.”
    “Churches today are not equipping their people to do the work of Christ the way we were intended to.”
    I can only say after searching throughout the years in many denominations of Christendom that I have found such an organization. The world “hates” them but that’s just more “proof”… They are called Jehovah’s Witnesses…. see for yourself… (jw.org)
    As for megachurches and Mark Driscoll, the scriptural principles to follow are: (Matthew 23:10)  Neither be called leaders, for your Leader is one, the Christ.
    (Proverbs 27:23) You should know well the appearance of your flock. Take good care of your sheep…

  27. @Yup- Jesus had thousands listening to his sermons but he had no “megachurch”… No opulent housing or expensive mode of transportation. He was not a “bully” nor abrasive but he did “tell it like it is” and he was hated by the religious leaders because he exposed their hypocracy. They were getting rich off the poor and common people and they weren’t caring for the needs of their flocks. Jesus warned us that not all who call themselves followers of his are really doing righteousness.
    (Matthew 7:15-23) 15 “Be on the watch for the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. 16 By their fruits you will recognize them. Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? 17 Likewise, every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. 19 Every tree not producing fine fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.
    21 “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. 22 Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’

  28. Garson,

    I just named their religious leaders, not the common people of Israel who were burdened by the traditions which the religious leaders commanded them to obey.

    I do not belong to the Calvinist group but I do worship Yahweh or Jehovah as the only true God and try to to be a follower of his son, Yeshua or Jesus, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  29. Yup,

    Yes, they included the common people of his day, many of whom he cured of sickness, disease, demon possession and even death.

    In addition. Jesus provided them with refreshing spiritual truths, which the religious leaders did not do.

    The religious leaders of our day, even though they may be “mega pastors,” should follow the example of Jesus as well, and not water down truths or go against God’s laws, commandments and principles.

  30. I’ve been saved for 25 years, read and studied and memorized Bible verses, attended 3-4 services a week, prayed, walked with Jesus, sought His will for my life and for my family’s lives, listened to thousands of hours of sermons (live and online and on cd), been to many conferences, participated loyally in many sunday school classes and Bible studies,…..ect. I am wondering if there is such thing as redemption in the church? Really, are they allowed to be people too? what about their children and their wives? are they included in who we care about, love, serve, ??? and if pastors are really just humans also allowed to participate in sanctification and allowed to be ministered to (or do they only get to do the ministering to?). I have been loyal and dedicated to the local church presented in Scripture for 25 years, but sadly, my experience has been that pastors and their family are not part of the body that needs to be cared about and cared for. May God have mercy and purify His church. Pastor Mark, many people have been ministered to through your preaching, please know that we care about you and are praying for you.

  31. I never accused Fran of saying something anti-Semitic. I merely am pointing out that Christianity’s 2,000-year-old use of “The Pharisees” as a convenient foil continues, completely divorced from the reality that those individuals were the progenitors of modern Judaism. Yes, Jesus is recorded often as agreeing with the Pharisees or engaging in rabbinic disputation with them. He’s also recorded as calling them, “You are of your father, the devil!” Whether Jesus was merely disputing with the rabbis as a fellow Jew — the first Reform Jew, you might say — might be true. But that doesn’t change the fact that the later, Gospel caricatures of the Pharisees contributed to Christianity’s view of Judaism through the centuries.

  32. American “Christianity” in this century simply reflects the current spiritual state of the people in the pews. It’s not Mark Driscoll’s fault that the church is what it is today. It’s the people who create these mega churches. They exalt the men, the men don’t exalt themselves.

  33. Would love to hear the details about when and where you heard Driscoll say, “give me a good deal of what you have and follow Jesus.”

  34. Please narrow your disqualification of Driscoll to a subset of the verses you cite. I would appreciate some specificity regarding what exactly disqualifies him and evidence used to come to this disqualification.

    I have seen no preponderance of evidence proving disqualification on any of the cited reference points. Someone help me with this, please.

    If no real proof is offered and only hurt feelings are cited as cause for his dismissal, then it appears to me that some people do not agree with David, who would not touch God’s anointed.

  35. Not only was his message not wrong, it was Biblically correct, to the point, and very practical. I can only stand and shake my head in disgust at Chandler et al. But Chandler doesn’t have to answer to me, neither do the MHC elders. They have to answer to God and bear the responsibility for this tragic end of Mars Hill Church.

  36. When I turned on my Mars Hill app a couple of weeks ago and didn’t see the sermon series of the Mars Hill church, I didn’t think much about it, but just merely questioned why the sermons were no longer online. I went to try again this morning and this time decided to go online and search for Mark Driskoll to see what happened – only to find that he has resigned and that Mars Hill church is in utter chaos.

    This is such a sad situation for this church. Unlike most of those who attend the church, I didn’t know Pastor Mark personally, but I did like his preaching because the message he was bringing to the people was Jesus – and that’s what I wanted to hear – JESUS; so I continued to listen to all of his series – every last one of them and sometimes listened to them twice. There were times I could hear an arrogance, but mostly what I heard was an urgency to get the message out about Jesus to those who needed Him.

    I may not know or understand a lot about the problems that have taken place at Mars Hill or with Pastor Mark, but I do know that this church is under a major attack and in an spiritual battle. The church leaders and perhaps Driskoll himself, allowed Satan to come in and disrupt the church and it’s message.
    I will keep the church, it’s leaders and it’s members lifted up in prayer. One thing is certain – The church belongs to Jesus Christ and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. (Matt 16:18)

  37. Sorry to burst your bubble, but Jesus did not preach sermons. In his approximately 2 year ministry, he gave about 15 or so discourses. (they probably lasted at most 10 minutes) They were not sermons, and he never told people they were going to hell, or that God hates you, or any thing like Driscoll loved to spout under the banner of Calvinism.
    Mars Hill did more to tarnish the Christian religion than it ever did to help.

  38. Really? A huge following? Where do you get your disinformation? From Mars Hill?
    Jesus had at best 50-100 “followers”. The total adherents to his teachings, not Christianity because that did not start until centuries later, were likely a few hundred or so. That would include all the churches Paul shepherded.

  39. Basically agree with what you are saying.
    However there is a recent exception, the Red Letter Christians.
    A group that dares to ask the question, “what if Jesus really meant what he said?”

  40. Growth is non negotiable. However the western model of centralized church is negotiable. The early church grew, a lot, but it did so in a decentralized way. Perhaps the mega church of the future will merely be 10,000 affiliated home bible studies. I don’t know, but it seems that this rock star pastor thing aint working. Nor should it.

  41. This is by far the best treatise on the church today I have heard!! I might staunchly generalizing here, but don’t really care about that. It is postitively awesome…Good word man!!

  42. Adam, Have you read Acts? There are documented people, numbering in the thousands, becoming indwelt with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues to top it off! Not really sure where you get the idea that there were only a few hundred for the first couple of centuries.

  43. It is very easy for any fallen Human being to follow a path of sin by taking their own counsel and not listening to the leading of the Holy spirit. That being said – I have a feeling that these pastors who have been gifted with the ability to speak well and gather large followings want to see as many people come to Christ as possible and are trying to fulfill the great commission. Sometimes they fall into sin just like any of us can. Perhaps a small measure of Grace would be in order Brothers and Sisters, since that is exactly what our Lord gives us in abundance.

  44. The megachurches seem to me to be ripe for misuse. They often don’t have reliable checks and balances; whether it is financial, or some sort of theological or doctrinal oversight. Too often they are based around the charismatism of the founder; it is sold under her “brand”. One of the benefits of the more recognized “denominations” is the process of discipline and oversight. In Lutheran, Episcopal, etc. churches, seminarians, who have 3 years of theology after a college degree, must be approved by the faculty as a candidate for ordination, as well as graduation; if a minister goes beyond his or her proper authorities, there are people at the higher level who can intercede.

    I’ve seen too many megachurches where something happens to/with the name brand minister. He/she leaves and the people are left in the lurch, sometimes with millions of dollars in debt. People need to be careful about the community they are joining. Be aware, protect yourselves.

    Pr Chris

  45. I don’t think that the church is designed to be a mega church. Yes, we are called to make disciples (Matt 28:19) but not to keep them in (Matt 5:14-16). We can see in the early church that they grew in numbers… but the apostles (e.g., Peter and Paul) never assumed the role of a mega-church pastor. And we also see that as the church grew, persecution followed, which forced the Christians to spread the Gospel to the rest of the known-world as they flee…
    The things that is happening in the churches around us should be an eye opener for all of us to remain true to the calling of Christ for His church.

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