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Seattle mega-church pastor caught in continuous cycle of poor decisions
In recent years, the name Mark Driscoll has become synonymous with controversy. Rising to distinction for his ability to tread the line between being enlightening and abrasive, Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, is no stranger to bad press.
Whether the allegations are of plagiarism, questionable use of church funds, accusations against his character or claims of offensive comments made from the pulpit of his church — or under a pseudonym — time and again, Driscoll has admitted and apologized. As a result, the church has repeatedly accepted these apologies and allowed him to be once again embraced by the Christian community.
Matthew Paul Turner, an author, blogger and religious commentator, broke the news of Driscoll’s offensive, anonymous comments posted to a church forum by his “William Wallace II” persona in 2000. Even though the comments were dated, a pattern seems to be forming for the Seattle pastor. Driscoll has now been removed from the Acts 29 Network, a church-planting network he helped found.
After the announcement was made, Driscoll turned heads again by originally deciding to remain in his position as head pastor of his church. He has found himself as a talking point of anger, criticism and accusation in many major Christian circles.
I understand why people are so shaken up about this. In fact, I was frustrated as well. After all, Driscoll has abused his position of authority and leadership in the church. However, I also realized how much Christians get caught up in analyzing and critiquing every poor decision and negative choice of our leaders and peers, regardless of whether or not those actions and choices were intentional.
Why do we get so caught up in whether Driscoll should be removed from his position or apologize for what he said or did? Why do we not spend our time, instead, reflecting on our own flaws and fixing them first? Better yet, why do we not spend more of our time doing what Jesus asked of us — loving our neighbor as ourselves?
Yes, Driscoll’s actions were wrong, and he should be held accountable for them. However, it is his church family and the elders who hold him accountable and who are responsible for Driscoll’s discipline.
For every notorious and brash Driscoll out there, there is at least one pastor working as hard as he can to help grow and minister to the people in his church. Why do we not work hard at endorsing, supporting and encouraging these men instead of gossiping about, judging and accusing someone like Driscoll?
I think if the rest of the outside world saw us encouraging, supporting and learning from someone working hard to further the kingdom of God, they might be more inclined to hear what we have to say.
Remember Jesus’ words in John 13. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Driscoll announced he would take a six-week hiatus Sunday, Aug. 24.