I found out about this guy a few weeks ago. Besides being charismatic his doctrine is not far off. I like how he recognizes the popular yet false view of Jesus being weak or timid. However, his style and approach is not for me. I would not attend his church.
Craig I think I am mostly with you. It isn’t really that he is saying much wrong. I have seen worse. I even somewhat like this guy. However, it is Calvinism.
The other problem is his message is limited in scope. It is targeted to one generation. You can’t really picture parents, Grand parents, and children all worshiping there. I find that somewhat problematic. The faith can’t be sustained and nurtured for the long haul there. It seems to be more a stage show than church. Nothing wrong with a stage show, but it is a stage show even with a theological message it isn’t church.
What we are witnessing in our time is the sad spectacle of Christians trying to reinvent a wheel that is already rolling.
There is a kind of adolescent character to these ‘shirt-tail’ ministries that Bror picks up on quite rightly.
I have stated previously on this blog that relevancy and popularity are not the same thing. These folks believe they are being relevant. In fact, they are not. They are chasing what is popular – allowing people who do not care about or understand the church to define the church – and in so doing are playing into the hands of the culture. If something is relevant it has the capacity to speak across time and generations. The very fact that these ad hoc forms of church are not able extend themselves into traditional congregational forms of ministry simply underscores how captive they are to popular modalities.
I agree. He is only targeting a certain crowd. I guess what I found somewhat appealing is that this type of style is usually one where they change the gospel as well. I saw a clip where he was talking about how he doesn’t like that his church has the same name as Rob Bell’s church. because Rob Bell questions core beliefs.
With that said I agree and have issues with his presentation. I was just talking to someone about how the O.T. was so specific on every detail of worship. Now nobody cares, just get a band up on stage and play stuff that people enjoy. In addition, his approach to such subjects as sex, while I think has become taboo in most churches needs to be taken a bit more seriously. Not so loosely.
I am guessing here Bror Erickson, but I think the clip where he said answering fine to the question of how are you as breaking a commandment is probably regarding lying. As in the habit most of us have of saying, “I am fine” when everything in our world is crashing in all at once.
In a sense, that is one of the things that is broken within the church. Some can’t share with each other when things are bad, so it is glossed over with “Fine.” I am not a Driscoll guy, so I don’t know for sure, but that is what I took away from that. Media shows are terrible for editing things in such a way to miss the main point.
Steve wrote, “But wouldn’t they be providing a niche ministry for many of a particular age group and social group that might otherwise not enter into any kind of a more traditional church?”
I’m not exactly sure what “niche ministry” really means but here are a few comments.
Most traditional congregations make an effort to integrate some kind of popular style into their ministry. I was a youth pastor early in my ministry and this was always a part of the package. But youth, popular-oriented ministry was always recognized for what it was…a step along the way toward a fuller and more mature engagement with faith and life. Our youth programs, at least in the Lutheran churches I was a part of, also included education ministry involving church history, historic worship, other church traditions, and so forth. Young people were encouraged to “give up childish things.”
The “shirt-tail” preachers, perhaps with good intentions, have driven a deep wedge between the historic church and these current fly-by-night churches by making an orthodoxy out of adolescent anti-establishment sentiments.
It is important to remember that since the sixties American culture has been pathologically youth-oriented. Many cultural forces (market, entertainment, etc.) have a real stake in keeping people focused on the adolescent and popular. All this catering and pandering to youth has taken it’s toll. Now, young people expect to have everything geared toward them in order to feel comfortable.
Historic worship, at least in my tradition, reflects the accumulated struggle of a centuries-long effort to preserve a worship that is counter-cultural in the best sense. So, there is a tremendous tension that arises between the popular culture and the historic worship of the church. That tension alone bears witness to the fact that what the church and world are up to regarding the reality of God are very different, even at odds. In this sense, the historic liturgies, while perhaps wildly unpopular, are exceedingly relevant.
That was exactly the clarification and explanation I was looking for with respect to this phenomenon.
That people refuse to give up “childish things” and enter into a counter-cultural church with more historical worship and a connection to the Saints who have gone before, speaks volumes of the current trends in ‘fad’ worship.
I guessed that he was making a dig at lying. I also happen to know that the ten commandments don’t address lying as such. Bearing false testimony (Perjury) it does. You can easily extend this as Luther does in the Small Catechism to gossip, and defaming your neighbor. But bringing it down to answering “I’m fine” when someone asks how are you doing is a bit too much of a stretch for many reasons.
I tend to see the “I’m fine, thank you” as nothing more than a polite response to a polite recognition of a persons existence that usually does not want to hear what a person’s heart rate is, or about the fight they had with their spouse the night before.
or you could go with the A.A. line that it means F****ing insane, neurotic and excitable. In which case it is never a lie when I use the phrase.
But in no way does it ever come close to being a violation of our laws regarding perjury, or the 8th commandment. It slanders no one.
Steve and Bror Erickson,
You are both right about the folly of opening up too much to a polite question of “how are you doing.” What I was getting at is that the editing of this clip just leaves us guessing. If he was talking about deeper relationships then the point is valid, if possibly overstated. While the 8th commandment in Exodus is directed against false testimony as you said. It is also plainly stated in Scripture that we are not to lie and not to deceive our brother. (Lev. 19:11 and Colossians 3:9)
Please understand that I am no apologist for Driscoll; I don’t even know that much about the guy and it certainly seems like a mixed bag. I just know too much about media to trust even 1/3 of what they showed in that report.
See Jeoffurry, my problem here is the absolute ignorance that people have in regard to the Ten Commandments. Lying may be a sin. It just isn’t in and of itself a breaking of one of the commandments. And in this situation it doesn’t even matter what the relationship is, nor does it really matter what the context was in which he said that.
If he wants to admonish people to be more open and honest with each other about how they are feeling, then fine. Do so. But don’t tell them they are breaking one of the Ten Commandments when they in fact are not. Call me naive, but I think there is a reason God worded the eighth commandment the way He did, and took time to write it with his very own hand. Possibly, so Corey Tenboom didn’t have to feel as guilty as she did for lying to the Nazi’s about the Jews in her house. But no, people have no scruples about teaching the law, without understanding what they say.
I am going to head the other direction on this one. I think the message behind the BIG passion that Mark Driscoll is showing seems to be very genuine and Gospel oriented. Likewise, he is not a pretender… in other words he is not trying to pretend to be something He is not. I like that part of him.
Does he go overboard! Yes. Does he show his human side from the pulpit… definitely.
He seems to be welcomed on Pipers desiring God ministry, He shows off his theological Piperness and Kellerness. I like Keller but Piper to a lesser degree myself.
Also, he is a successful ministry in a largely Christian unfriendly environment. This is in sharp contrast to my area of the country where its politically be Christian oriented.
Whats going on today is a Christian culture war. Some pastors think they need to engage the culture in a culturally relevant WAY without changing the underlying message. Right or wrong … its happening and will continue to do so.
The clip does not show the true Mark Driscoll. its highlighted to show the News flashiness of what it wants to show for dramatic affect. I recommend people dig deeper into Driscoll.
I’ve constantly wrestled with is X a true church or not. All the way from the most charismatic up to the best of the best Reformed. Basically how are we to understand not so much those that explicitly deny the Gospel (e.g. Mormon, JW, etc…) under the name in some form or another “Christian” versus those with albeit anti-gospel doctrines but do not deny the Gospel otherwise (here we have in view the sacraments for the meat of the issue). E.g. Methodist vs Baptist vs Reformed vs etc… Here we are talking about that which is named “Christian” and doesn’t deny justification by faith alone but there are some things that give major trip ups notwithstanding in carrying that out (e.g. sacraments, absolution, and so forth).
Two things helped me:
First, what helped me the MOST was this old article by Dr. Franz Pieper entitled “The Distinction Between Orthodox & Heterodox Churches. You can basically acquire the article off of the internet for free and it is a GREAT spelling out of this very question.
Second, in terms of say styles. It dawned on me that it’s not so much “we must use an organ” versus a guitar but what is behind the mindset for any in a liturgy/worship service. RC Sproul once said very very very sagaciously that ‘once the pulpit leaves it is not long before doctrine follows’. His point was not that there is something firm and absolute about a wooden pulpit, because there is not. Rather it is the mindset behind that decision. I saw this in SBism, even a very very strongly Calvinistic/reformedish SB church. The mindset is such that it becomes a “why are not we growing” or “how can we reach out better” or similar (part of LCMS seems to be going this way with Ablaze, an ex-evangelical can sniff out like a shark sniffing microns of blood those anti-christic techniques miles and days away). See right there it is: NO FAITH IN THE GOSPEL ANY LONGER BEING THE POWER. Sooo, loosing that faith we begin inventing. E.g. the pulpit goes for a plastic see through lectern and stage. “Faith” or trust is now had in this “new measure” (as Finney would say). It’s the same old tired argument whether Finney, Rome or any number of church growth concepts. It ALL boils down to a loss of faith in the pure Gospel as metered by growth in some form or another apparently not happening, then a turning away to Babylon in various forms for help (=regrowth rejuvenation). We can do this with old styles too, but that’s generally not the way of American thought today, new is better (e.g. this is why Microsoft always released later than other operating systems (OS) even though it was developed before other OSs its own MS OS. The perception is that “new” is better regardless of facts.) But do these styles or rather are they to convey the Gospel or not is the real issue. There is a reason to stick to old liturgies that DO communicate the Gospel, because that’s what they communicate. Anything used to drum up the emotions like a rock concert is or at best runs the danger of making THAT the effectual thing and power and NOT the Gospel as Paul says.
When the Gospel gets boring such that people begin to eye another thing for “power” as to religious affections or similar, THEN one is in BIG trouble and the devil has redirected the souls eyes off of Christ and Him crucified. We can NEVER preach Christ and Him crucified to much, not even to a fault in Word and Sacrament. Even if we don’t “feel” the zing, or growth dwindles or if all walk out – we dare NEVER not do that lest we loose all.
The message is always to dying men and women, now what do you have for me.
I was a professional rock musician in my youth..records, tours, movies, the works…and have continued to gig off and on over the years, including with my two sons. Collectively we make a formidable rock trio. Folks in my congregations – usually young, hip types, have pleaded with me to put together a first rate, high-energy band for worship. I have steadfastly refused. I will not succumb to the temptation to drag the culture in the front door in the name of an ecclesiastical zeitgeist that places no confidence in the Gospel and instead lusts after a misguided tryst with a false, culture-driven relevancy.
pardon my intrusion but the only time the church was ever truly counter cultural was before emperor constantine legalized it and it ascended to power.
also – im curious how a bunch of guys exchanging thoughts on a blog can decry mars hill for allowing popular modalities to infiltrate the church. the irony on that one is thick.
i dont agree with everything driscoll says or does but sound doctrine trumps petty stylistic preferences any day. this guy has reached an audience with the gospel that is completely absent from the vast majority of churches today.
Yeah, I had a Pastor with a wonderful voice in Rochester, MN that never sang in Church except once that I recalled. I think it was him trying to say I am here to lead the Church spiritually and not be the ‘thing’ on the pulpit.
Keep in mind I am a guy that does not give up my Pastoral allegiances very easily. I had a previous Pastor that came out of the closet on his issues with pornography. Even though he did not speak to me whatsoever from the pulpit I was ok with him returning. He never returned.
Now they guy in the video is my Pastor. He now resides in Minnesota.
WOW. Now THIS is a discussion. I ended up here because of a comment left by Pastor Martin on my blog (which is mostly just a silly blog with a few thought provoking things thrown in here and there). I’m VERY impressed with how some of you have different views on the Mars Hill church video and yet you express them clearly. More importantly, no one has resorted to name calling. That’s so rare on a blog where anonymity reigns. So, let me say that you’re all stupid (I’m kidding and I couldn’t resist a cheap shot–sorry).
Before I make MY comment, let me be upfront with you all. I’m not a Lutheran and I don’t even play one on TV. However, I have befriended quite a few Missouri Synod Lutheran bloggers that would stand up for my sincerity when it comes to my walk (I’m even going to meet some of them in person this weekend). I was not brought up in the church and never attended a service until I was 18. These days I go to a small non-denominational church on the west side of Indianapolis (a city called Avon). My pastor went to Dallas Theological Seminary and his theology is probably close to guys like Eugene Peterson and Chuck Swindoll. He might be a four-and-a-half pointer on the Calvinist scale. For the most part, our teaching is expository and we never try to be hip or trendy. We sing some modern day “choruses,” but also lean heavily on the hymns. Tradition is important to us when that tradition is grounded on the word of God, but we are first and foremost a Sola Scriptura church. I’ve served as the youth pastor at this church and another church before (which was similar). I’m currently a deacon. We believe in Elder rule where the deacons are servants (the biblical equivalent of “waiting tables”). As such, we are often involved in the decisions made by the elders and then fleshing them out. There.
So, as far as Driscoll goes…YES, this is the church. It may not be your cup of tea and that’s ok, but it IS the church. Let me attempt (humbly) to deal with some of the comments and criticisms I saw above.
“I thought I would not live to see the day.”
Every generation has thought that about the generation or generations that follow them.
“However, his style and approach is not for me. I would not attend his church.”
I think that’s valid. It may be for you and it may not. I think that his doctrine is pretty solid and even downright traditional. Certainly there are things you can agree to disagree about within it.
“But what about the larger question of where this is all headed? Is the culture defing what ‘church’ should be? Or ought the church define what church ought be?”
That’s a good question. I think that the Bible defines what the church ought to be. There’s a lot that we do in our congregations that is not spoken of specifically in scripture. That doesn’t make it wrong as long as it’s consistent with the truth. (And I understand that we probably have different views about the role of tradition in the church.)
Certainly Jesus went to where the people were in his day and so did His followers. He went to where the lost people were (which was technically everyone, but I think you know what I’m getting at) and spoke to them. In a way, that’s what Driscoll is doing. I like the fact that he seems to be doing it with truth as his foundation rather than the way Rob Bell and the “emerging” crowd goes about doing it.
“There was a time when church was counter-culture. Now for many of these places the church doesn’t skip a beat from the everyday experience that one can see on t.v., in the workplace, at the movies.”
I don’t think that counter-culture has so much to do with the way you dress, the things you say, the setting, etc. The church is (or should be) counter cultural in it’s message. Driscoll’s message is still very counter-cultural. Is he going out of his way to appeal to some of these people? I’m not sure we know the answer to that question. We could probably make an assumption–but that’s all it is.
“The other problem is his message is limited in scope. It is targeted to one generation. You can’t really picture parents, Grand parents, and children all worshiping there. I find that somewhat problematic.”
While the TV segment certainly focused on the younger, rougher crowd going to this church, I’d recommend that you watch the video again. I saw some older people there as well. There was some diversity.
“If something is relevant it has the capacity to speak across time and generations.”
Amen. But even our churches have done things to appeal to the culture. The early churches met in houses. They had no sound systems or fancy organs. Obviously, Luther was looked at as a trouble-maker. Imagine, someone who wanted to make it possible for people to read the bible on their own just because people knew how to read. That’s crazy.
“It is important to remember that since the sixties American culture has been pathologically youth-oriented. Many cultural forces (market, entertainment, etc.) have a real stake in keeping people focused on the adolescent and popular. All this catering and pandering to youth has taken it’s toll. Now, young people expect to have everything geared toward them in order to feel comfortable.”
Well said. THAT is the issue that we face today and it probably explains why Driscoll feels pressure to reach the unreachable. Whose fault is it that we focus so much on youth today? Whose fault is it that we have a generation that looks at “truth” in a completely different way?
The answer is that it doesn’t matter. We’ve inherited many problems. Everyone needs to be reached to hear the good news of the gospel. As long as it’s not watered down, I’m ok with it. I was once lost, too. It’s not in our power to change a single soul. It is all in the hands of the Almighty (which is good, because I would screw it up). But we are to be used to share the gospel. How will we respond?
Thanks for letting me ramble on so much. I really enjoy this and I’ve made a lot of online friends in the Lutheran community. I consider you to be brothers and sisters in Christ.
Keep in mind that I dont change pastoral allegiances very easily. My previous pastor came out of the closet on his addiction to pornography and I was ‘ok’ with him returning even though he really did not speak to me from the pulpit. He now leads a ministry for people with addictions instead.
Now, get out of here you crazy knucklehead!! (Just kidding- my turn!)
You have made some good points, I don’t know what they are…but I’m sure they were good (gotcha again!)
Unfotunately I’m off to visit my sister in the hospital, nothing serious I hope, I just got the call from my Mom that my sister is having some terrible reactions to some medications she is taking.
Anyway, I don’t have the time to go over what you’ve written, but I’ll be back later tonight with my red pen and give you your score.
Until then, some of the Lutheran, (and many non-Lutheran as well) bulldogs here, will attempt to tear you to pieces. No, they are all good folks. Bulldogs for Christ ,yes… but if they tear you apart it will be in a nice way.
If you’ve got a thick skin, you can have a lot of fun here, and discuss issues of ultimate importance.
By the way, I’m not a pastor, just a run of the mill schlub.
Paul went to Mars Hill and made his pitch. For the most part, the Athenian intelligentsia were unimpressed. A few converts heard the Gospel and followed. What is instructive in this story is that Paul did NOT adopt the techniques so cherished by post-modern apologists. He confronted heathenism, gave a clear, simple declaration of the Gospel and let the chips fall. By the standards of the currently – in – vogue -hyper-Christianity, he was a failure.
“If something is relevant it has the capacity to speak across time and generations.”
Amen. But even our churches have done things to appeal to the culture. The early churches met in houses. They had no sound systems or fancy organs. Obviously, Luther was looked at as a trouble-maker. Imagine, someone who wanted to make it possible for people to read the bible on their own just because people knew how to read. That’s crazy.”
now what exactly were the early church, and Luther doing to appeal to culture? Meeting in houses? That was of necessity more than anything and had nothing to do with trying to appeal to a culture that liked the prostitutes at the local and lavish temple down the street. Translating the Bible? No that wasn’t trying to appeal to the culture. That was doing what a Christian man with the abilities of Luther does. Now “Table Talk” that might have been an appeal to the culture.
As far as my comments go. I said targeted. were there a few people over the age of 35 in Driscoll’s church. Sure. But why. For the record I kind of like the guy. I’m just pointing at a weakness. The worship style is targeted at one generation. And it is difficult seeing this service as inviting families to worship together across generations, and helping them ALL to grow in the faith where they are. which is actually the beauty of the liturgy, it offers limitless opportunity for growth across generations. It also makes an appeal to no one. It doesn’t target anyone age group or culture. People think it is German or something, like it appeals to a midwestern culture. It doesn’t! If it was a German thing I would expect it to have a polka band.
It doesn’t target anyone generation, culture, or group. What it does is foster a Christian Culture.
I dont think Christians engaging culture is not quite as bad as what I see hidden inside the Church. There seems to be a cultural Christian elitism within some segments of Christianity…. or at least being observed by some element of every congregation.
This is why keeping the Cross central is so important to how we think. It forces the tide of our own pride to be kept in check.
One of the pastors primary jobs is to present the Gospel in a way that it becomes well observed thread throughout the congregation. To preach in a way that the Gospel message becomes a common conscioussness of the Church and congregation.
If you dont have that you dont have good preaching IMO as a common schlub.
Bror, you asked, “now what exactly were the early church, and Luther doing to appeal to culture?”
The early church met in homes. That was part of the culture. I’m dealing with whipper-snappers today (and I’m only 39) who think that churches should meet in homes because the early church did. Just because the early church met in homes doesn’t mean that it must do so today. At some point, churches started meeting in buildings and then it became the norm (i.e. culture) to meet in buildings. It also became normal to have an organ, or a piano, etc.
Luther, in all his sincerity, was a product of his generation. He and others wanted to read and understand the world around them instead of having it forced down their throat. Yes, there was MUCH MORE to it than that. I know. I know. But it was part of the culture and it produced some great things.
“I’m dealing with whipper-snappers today (and I’m only 39) who think that churches should meet in homes because the early church did.”
The temptation to repristinate the early church is perennial – and to some degree sectarian. As if by adopting the perceived forms of the New Testament churches – their were more than one – deeper clarity and validation will result. Luther was no sectarian and he saw through the temptations to repristinate the early church as being, well, impossible.
You might also remind the home-church folks that the earliest Christians met in the synagogues. After that was no longer tenable they met separately but retained, in large measure, the synagogue form of worship. This was also true among the gentile Christians.
I know brother Martin. I can attest that he is one of the finest schlubs I know. He takes his ‘schlubbery’ with great seriousness.
As I watched the video clip.. I was wincing…my shoulders relaxed every time I heard Jesus mentioned.
What is at play in this video clip is ‘things below and things above” as Pastor Anderson has alluded to…
I would agree with his comments of reinventing a rolling wheel….. and hope that the Holy Spirit will
work salvation in the hearts of people attending this type of service in the preaching of the Gospel.
It might not be the burning flame of the light of Christ that we would wish or could be..(we CAN critique that of course!) Things below….
We also hope that even a flickering wick might be used by Christ to bring people to Himself.
Things above us…
Thanks be to God that the Lutheran confessions provide guidance to our pastors.”Nevertheless, that herein all frivolity and offense should be avoided, and special care should be taken to exercise forbearance towards the weak in faith.” 1 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 14:13.
This is not what I see in the video.
See Jeoffurry, my problem here is the absolute ignorance that people have in regard to the Ten Commandments. Lying may be a sin. It just isn’t in and of itself a breaking of one of the commandments. And in this situation it doesn’t even matter what the relationship is, nor does it really matter what the context was in which he said that.
My apologies, I didn’t catch that he said it was a breaking of one of the Ten Commandments when I watched it the first time. On that front you are absolutely right. There are more commandments in the OT than just the ten however, which is what I cited in my previous post. I think Christians overall do a poor job of recognizing the broader view of God’s instructions in the OT (the Jews recognized over 600 commandments or instructions) and I was trying to catch that. You are correct about Driscoll’s statement being out of step with the spirit of the 10 commandments. In fact, as you pointed out, fine is so generic today that it could indeed mean “F****ing insane, neurotic and excitable.” In which case(to borrow your phrasing again) it is never a lie when anyone uses the phrase.
Did you miss the rest of my post. the early Christian met in homes out of necessity, not to be culturally relevant. It wasn’t even a cultural thing for religious meetings to happen in homes. Romans and Greeks had these brothels they called Temples. Jews had synagogues. Christians built churches as soon as it was possible for them to do so, so the public would know where to go to hear the word of God.
luther was a man of his times. that doesn’t mean he translated the Bible to be culturally relevant. it means he liked to go to the pub and drink beer.
you are correct that there is more to God’s law then a strict reading of the Ten Commandments, and that other laws are given through out the Old Testament. But watch it. Jesus did not commend the Pharisees for their 600 laws. Man is not free to make up laws and burden other souls with them. It’s funny but being to strict with God’s law is as much a sin, as being too loose with it. I rather like going with loose though if i’m going to choose a way to stumble…
I read your entire post and I know what you’re saying. Unfortunately, I’m not doing a good job of communicating my point. Sorry.
I have an issue when the church intentionally seeks to be culturally relevant. Once the church does this, it loses site of the real point. However, it’s common for a church to function in a way that is consistent with their culture. It just happens without thinking about it.
For instance, I don’t usually show up to services wearing lederhosen because it’s not normal in my community. But if our church’s leadership encouraged us all to go out and get tattoos so we could appeal to the community, that would be wrong…and icky.
Believe me, I am heading more in that direction myself. I think you misunderstand my purpose. Just a couple of weeks ago I preached Romans 13 and I gave the congregation some food for thought with regard to the OT laws or commands. I told them that if a command is upheld by loving God or by loving our neighbor, we should certainly seek to keep it. If it doesn’t do either, we should chuck it as far away as God already has. I am not trying to advocate law-keeping. Been there, done that and kept the t-shirt so I won’t forget it.
P.S. I am pretty sure the Pharisees had a lot more than 600 laws. There are 613 commands in the OT and the Pharisees added fences(read extra laws) in an effort to keep those from being broken. It is very analogous to those from my Baptist background who take the command to not be drunk and “enhance” it with the command to not drink at all. I don’t subscribe to that either.
Of course, I believe, as a schlub, that one of the factors that drives people to other Churches is fundamentalism, pharisiism, and legalism,… basically doing everything except focussing on the Cross.
Sometimes the Church is its own worst enemy. So this begs the question… are the problems I stated above just as responsible for creating “popular” Churches and “emergent” churches?
I was thinking of Tim Kellers words as I think this:
“Some will say, “Phariseeism and moralism are not our culture’s big problems right now. Our problems are license and antinomianism. There is no need to talk about grace all the time to postmodern people.” But postmodern people have been rejecting Christianity for years, thinking that it was indistinguishable from moralism. Only if you show them there’s a difference—that what they rejected wasn’t real Christianity—will they even begin to listen again.”
He’s an amazing counterbalance to “Emergent” people like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, etc. because he values Scripture – truly – and controversial, counter-cultural things like the Cross and why we need it, preaching, truth, doctrine, and the idea that God doesn’t need us but rather that we need God.
He’s a gospel guy with a capital G.
Is his church a church?
It has a pastor and deacons
It performs the ordinances (you guys would call them Sacraments)
It preaches the gospel and sound doctrine
It teaches the Bible without apologies
It evangelizes and makes disciples
It is reaching people for Jesus where few have ventured
So people sip lattes and wear hip clothes in service. I don’t want to get too hung up on methodology.
I would argue that Driscoll is very countercultural in his message, and is simply removing unnecessary barriers (perceived in many cases I’m sure) to the Gospel.
Would I do everything the way he does it? No – and that’s why I’m at Armitage Baptist in Chicago and not Mars Hill in Seattle.
Is he even close to perfect? By no means! (To steal a phrase from Paul)
Would I disagree with him on things? Certainly – but no major doctrinal issues. He’s a straight shooter.
Is he in danger of going too far and pandering to the culture? I would say probably so – but at the moment I do not think he’s guilty of that. He is contextualizing – communicating the true gospel in a way his audience can understand it – and I think that is important.
So I’m definitely in his corner. I’m glad he’s out there.
One of the things I love to do when travelling or on occasion when I am not travelling is to watch and observe other Churches. To try to understand what collective conscioussness …. or maybe odor…. that each Church gives off.
I have seen white collar, blue collar, legalistic, Calvinistic, Arminiam, and Lutheran Churches.
I have found Gospel oriented Churches few and far between but they are there in all segments and styles.
One of the reason whey the culture story does not ring in my ear is that here in the twin cities I see what people lable as acceptable Christian culture and what people label as unacceptable Christian culture.
At Leith Andersons Church in the cities they have at one of the services a symphony orchestra. Why is this more acceptable to Christians than contemporary? I have never understood this…. inquiring minds want to know?
Driscoll and those like him do the Church no good service by adopting this dismissive posture toward the historic churches. He appears to me to be just one more self-assured sectarian who couples disdain for the historic church with a penchant for post-modernism. I trust God will make something out of what he is doing. But then again, He can make the stones shout His praises if need be.
I think you asked a good question that needs clarity and will help us unconfuse things:
“also – im curious how a bunch of guys exchanging thoughts on a blog can decry mars hill for allowing popular modalities to infiltrate the church. The irony on that one is thick.”
Perhaps unknowingly you are getting at the issue somewhat.
The answer is because no blog, internet medium or otherwise is the church. Word and sacraments are not administered here let alone rightly. However, they are nice teaching tools and discussion forums, basically a high tech party line (dating myself as to the older telephones).
It’s not really about style so much as the Gospel actually being communicated. It’s really about giving the life saving word and not about style per se. It’s about giving the pure Gospel per the opinion of the Gospel and not per the opinion of the Law. What I mean there is it’s not about “my style (law) is better than your style (law)”, but does it really in fact deliver and defend the Gospel. E.g. 1 we don’t change the elements of the Lord’s Supper because Jesus pointed to certain elements and said THIS IS…my blood. If you change the elements you introduce doubt. God directs us to specifics not per the opinion of the law, ‘do this or else’, but so that we will know where the food and feast truly are and faith is had. To state it plainly: staying ‘on top of the Gospel’ where it was given and how it is given is not a Law we do or else, but because there is absolutely NO LIFE had elsewhere. Does that make some sense?
Now to a simple example of the Mars Hill stuff, and I’m very sympathetic to Mr. Driscoll myself, not so much as to how worship is conducted in his gatherings but his wrestling and growing in the truth of the Gospel – I know how that goes as a layman myself. The picture here posted is a great example of the problem, and I realize men like Mr. Driscoll don’t mean to do this but it’s the reality and facts of the situation. Steve posted a good screen shot that is helpful. Out comes Mr. Driscoll in tattered jeans and a shirt. Is that a problem? Yes. Why? Again, not due to an opinion of the Law, “Don’t dress like a slob or else”. But unto the Gospel. I truly hope to show you this because its helpful, if I fail then I apologize in advance. He comes out and there is no authority in his office due to no uniform, so everything he speaks up to and including the Gospel to a degree will be lacking. Earthly example: It’s night on a lonely stretch of road and a police car flashes its lights at you and indicates you need to pull over. Do you. OR a shady looking van with a man in it does the same thing. Do you. I hope not in the later, but yes in the former. That would be normal. Why? The former indicates an authorized office and thus truth, the later may or may not be some altruistic citizen but there’s no office with it. So, wisdom in our day and age says move on and keep moving on to a well lit highly populated area.
My point here is not to connect the motivation of Mr. Driscoll with that of a shady character – I think Mr. Driscoll is growing truly in the faith – but the issue of office. How does this affect his preaching? Without an authorized office and the garment or badge of that office it looses some “punch” if you will. And that “punch” is crucial. E.g. in Lutheran churches (and some Reformed/PCA) they give a CRUCIAL absolution at within the service. After corporate confession of sin the pastor in office in the dress of that office (like a doctors suite or fireman’s suite) gives the absolution something like, “As an ordained minister and servant of Jesus Christ so authorized by Jesus Christ to forgive you, your sins are forgiven” (best my memory can recall). We’ve lost that crucial “For YOU” of the Gospel in the sacraments and confession/absolution. Suffering Christians desperately NEED to hear the “for you” of the Gospel, in fact that is the crucial element of the Gospel…FOR YOU. Without it it falls short. It IS (not AS IF) hearing the sweet words of Jesus Himself say, “Graceshaker (don’t know your name, my apologies) I forgive you of all your sins”. Jesus saying it, not somebody else and not me/you attempting to make ourselves hear it. It’s the Word coming to you, the Gospel. THAT TREMENDOUS GOOD NEWS causes such TREMENDOUS release and affection and faith and hope. If you see that then modality in order to trump up the emotions truly looks like dung as Paul would say. But that doesn’t come from a questionable office or something that doesn’t look like an office at all and just simply looks like ‘joe blow’ telling me this.
Another way to look at it and this just happened in a family member of mine: You’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer and no more than a couple of months to live. You’ve been told it has permeated your pancreas and there’s nothing that can be done. Your buddy at the coffee shop says, “you don’t have cancer”. Do you rejoice? However, when you go back in a deeper exploratory surgery is going to be performed in hopes of adding a month onto your life. During this they find definitively that it was not pancreatic cancer. You wake up and standing before you is your doctor in his dress and office and he says, “You don’t have cancer.” IMAGINE the release that good news causes and from whom it comes that gives its authority. Keep in mind authority does not mean primarily “power” but “permission”. That’s HUGE to keep in mind when we speak of a Lutheran pastor giving absolution as opposed to Rome’s “priests”. Jesus has explicitly PERMITTED them (authority) based upon the “keys” to have this office for the SAKE of the faith and hope of the sheep to hear their Master’s voice. In short Jesus HIMSELF forgives us through the pastor’s mouth. The church in and of herself does not have a “power” to do this (Rome who abuses this and does not use Gospel anyway to do so).
Another example: Your dad means something to you authoritatively that no one else does due to his office.
Another example: Why do some Lutheran pastors wear, I wish more did this, the white robe opaque robe over the black under garment? It’s not just a matter of style or pomp and stance. To communicate the Gospel, the pure blood of Christ (the white) covering the sin (the black) of the pastor. There’s a visual reason for it, everything as to liturgy should SCREAM Christ and Him crucified to us for us. One is not going to get that out of a tee shirt and blue jeans.
I don’t even know all the elements in Lutheran worship yet but it’s like learning a rich treasure every time afresh, FRESH Gospel that lifts the faith and heart. Coming in new it’s like unwrapping one Christmas present after another. Why do you do this? . If you as modal neutral folks why they do X, Y or Z it is NEVER that answer. None of it is thought out or cohesive unto the Gospel, none of it delivers the Gospel. It’s usually “popular” choice or vote. That doesn’t give faith nor communicate Christ and Him crucified. That won’t survive the terrors of death when one lay dying finally on their death bed weak and wracked with disease or cancer and the devil is attacking you for all your life’s sin as it is too late to work now.
So it’s not about “my preference over yours” or “my law is better than your law” or vice versa, but about communicating the Gospel. And here’s where I’d defend Mr. Driscoll, I can’t read his mind but I believe he is genuine; IF he began to see this, I FIRMLY believe he would himself change. I say the same about many Baptist who don’t see baptism as God’s gift and work: IF they could have their eyes opened and see the Gospel IN baptism, they’d FLEE from believers baptism. Often times it’s not about a person meaning to deny the Gospel but our clumsiness in not seeing how we are doing just that. I think and believe Mr. Driscoll is all about the Gospel, I’ve heard him speak some to this degree, and I do mean a 200 proof Gospel not this (other) “gospel” everyone thinks they affirm as the true Gospel. If he began to see this and open up to this (e.g. like Lutheran absolution, the true body and blood of Christ in the LS, baptism actually giving eternal life, etc…) and SEE the 200 proof Gospel in them, I have no doubts he’d begin doing them.
“Some of us here believe this new, so-called relevant worship style is on the wrong path. But what can we do to stem the tide of this phenonmenon?”
Pray, teach, explain, and learn ourselves so we can, oh and not tinker with them themselves! E.g. Lutherans should learn their liturgies so they can explain the Gospel in them so that the others hear of them and long for them and come to them. We should explain these things, especially the sacraments, not in the way of the Law (ours is legally correct, or “I’m right and you are wrong”. Opinions of the law), but in the way of the Gospel (HERE is the wine and milk, come eat, feast for free, with no money buy it all. Hungry, thirsty? See this lavish feast on this table! Here is Christ FOR YOU).
Hmmmm… I have to wonder about certain aspects of this mission.
What grabbed me was the way Craig made reference to Spurgeon being the minister of the first “mega-church”. If he’s talking about defining Western church groupings by numbers, then what about John Wesley? He certainly, to use his own phrase, ‘organized to beat the devil’ on a national level, with hundreds of Methodist ‘classes’ (cell groups) – something akin to the Puritan study groups.
That lead me to another matter – the relationship between evangelists like Wesley and Whitfield, Spurgeon and Moody – they all felt ‘called’ to share the message and build around that work, but I have to wonder just how married some of this actually was to the Gospel and the ministry around this, which, as Pastor Mark so aptly noted is contrary to popular cultural norms.
The break, from what I can understand,really began with Zwingli, introducing what can only be deemed a dualistic approach to spirituality, which has stained Christian ministry and practice in most ‘mainstream’ churches ever since (interesting when we recognize, as Alister McGrath does in his work, ‘Reformation Thought’, that the work of Reform in Geneva was inherently humanistic in nature and philosophy as opposed to doctrinal, as it was in Wittenburg).
The contemporary church (from the 1700′s) has been shot through with all manner of groupings, movements and other programs, and I can only say, from my personal experience of most of these, there are usually problems!
It reminds me of something very wise once said by Larry Norman in an interview…
“Mr Norman, I understand that the phenomenon known as the Jesus movement is rumored to have started in your home”.
“I’ve heard that said. I must have been out at the time”.
Fascinating discussion, and it has spurred me to re-visit Dr Rod Rosenbladt’s lectures on Sin, Grace & Holiness (Luther vs Wesley), where he looks at some of the key truths behind such issues.
Steve, JC, Roger, Graceshaker, Jon, Jeff, Craig, others(sorry about that),
You guys and gals made some excellent observations with respect to Mark Driscoll’s ministry and others in that vein.
No doubt there are people coming to the Lord there. No doubt the gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed there. No doubt that the Lord will do there, what He will do. (that point was made by several of you)
But other points made here have merit as well and ought be seriously taken with respect to the life of the Church and the long term viability of churches such as Mars Hill.
Does this message reach across all generations spanning the ages with the timeless Word of God’s law and His gospel? Or is it particular to a certain group in a certain time?
We have differing opinions here, and that is ok.
I think it’s important to hear the pros and cons and weigh them with the overall picture of the Church in mind. What is the Church, where is it going and what will happen when it goes there?
Is the Church entering a new age where the comfort level of the person in the pew is so important that the death that God’s law should bring, is fought tooth and nail so that the old Adam/Eve are left fully intact, even encouraged by their acts of “obedience”? Spurred on to greater holiness by dangling biblical principles in front of them?
This is what I see happening in these ministries where the person in the pew is valued to the point of overshadowing the eternal truths of God’s Word and His sacraments.
Having your cake and being able to eat it, too.
We don’t want to die. We want to hang on with all we’ve got and much of the church is saying ‘don’t worry we will save you’…instead of taking out that two edged blade of God’s law and His gospel and running it right through their hearts.
“Gee, that sounds a little harsh…don’t you think?”
“He comes out and there is no authority in his office due to no uniform, so everything he speaks up to and including the Gospel to a degree will be lacking.”
But he does speak from a stage where a person of authority speaks. He’s very clearly identified as the pastor. Plus, when you watch the interview, I think he indicates that he prefers being called “Pastor Mark.”…I just checked their website, he’s very clearly identified as “Pastor Mark” there as well. Since a pastor’s uniform is not clearly spelled out in scripture, I’m not so sure that torn blue jeans is a disqualification.
We have a Pastor that leads worship and dresses in Jeans and a T-shirt. he may not shout when preaching like MD but he does wear his emotions on his shirt sleeve when preaching.
I have been humbled, after being on the Pastoral Search committee, when during a question and answer period when an 80 year old lady stood up and said “i hope people look past the look of you when they vote…. because you have something important to say”.
When it comes to cultural and relevancy people see what they want to see. Some see past it and some dont.
The best words came from Mark on the discussion of pride while doing these kinds of ministries because the people that run these kinds of ministries are probably high “D” in their DISC profiles. Does that make what they say less important than other peoples ministries .. no, of course not.
First, search for the article by Pieper I mentioned above a bit. Just read it and chew on it. That will help more than I can ever hope to.
It’s not a matter of linking it to blue jeans versus a suit. That misses the entire point. I apologize if I was not very clear. The reason I would not put me or my family under the authority now of Mr. Driscoll has nothing personal to do with it, nor that I’m a stiff guy. In life I’m very casual. But that his authority only lay in a heterodox church that I can not attend without danger to the soul. It’s the duty of the Christian to seek out orthodoxy, AGAIN, not for the Law but for the Gospel in Word and sacrament. That ultimately is his real disqualification as authority just as much as is the Pope’s. As Pieper points out God does not authorize heterodoxy, he merely permits and tolerates it for the sake of the believers stuck in it – but desires and requires that believers leave it and seek orthodoxy. Again, for the sake of the Gospel. I’m going to beat that last drum to death in order to
vigorously get us out of this “law opinion” mindset.
“Since a pastor’s uniform is not clearly spelled out in scripture, I’m not so sure that torn blue jeans is a disqualification”
That’s looking at it exactly how one should NOT look at it. It’s reducing it to “my law is better than your law”. Per the opinion of the law and not the Gospel. “you search the scriptures and think that by them you have life, but it are these that bear continual witness of Me.” Same thing. It’s not about does or does not the Scriptures dictate “this dress code” or “this liturgy”. It is WHAT ARE SUCH DOING TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL. We too easily forget that the early church didn’t have 10 dozen English translations of the fully authorized cannon to pull from and developed liturgies to teach, preach and communicate and retain the Gospel for that generation and the next. Thus and again, his blue jeans are not the disqualifier but rather the symptom or effect of the real disqualifier, his heterodoxy.
It really reveals itself when one SHOULD and has the duty as a Christian to ask the question, “Why do you wear/do X”. If there’s no Gospel answer, then its really as worthless as it admits itself. Ask a Lutheran pastor what his dress is and it is all unto the church and the Gospel. The wear vestments to cover the individuality of the man, not express it (which is the height of human arrogance and fallen pride), and this is done to emphasize the sacred duties of the office he has been given to carry out. The same cannot be said of blue jeans or a suite.
A stage is not a place of authority, comedians speak from stages and they have no authority, singers sing from stages and so forth. It’s entertainment driven.
Lutheran worship is the centrality of the Cross, the Gospel, the theology of Cross. What’s behind Rome is her own self appointed authority but no doctrine, no Cross centrality.
Again, you have the cause and effect confused. It’s the core doctrine that drives the dress and the liturgy and not vice versa and not “its just indifference”. One can look at it with suites as well, not just blue jeans. It’s no mistake that Baptist churches now days only have suite wearing pastors (well not all but it use to be). It is connected ultimately with their doctrine on the sacraments that is law driven and not Gospel driven and slowly creeping away. There’s no gift in the sacraments (baptism is based on faith and Christ’s body and blood are not in the bread and “grape juice”) they are “just” symbols so its no small leap to make lesser things like liturgy and dress choice matters. It’s a slow slide from that which is saving to us and speaks that to us of the sacred to just mundane things. So over time the slide in the Baptist church has been from that to the later and it is hinged to the view of the sacraments which is ULTIMATELY hinged to the view of the Word.
“He’s very clearly identified as the pastor. Plus, when you watch the interview, I think he indicates that he prefers being called “Pastor Mark.”” –End Quote
You are actually making the argument FOR right dress and liturgy and don’t even recognize it. You just have to step out a bit and look. Why is the term “pastor” communicate authority at all. You see you are getting there just not all the way. Using your own logic arguing against dress and such we might just as well say, “So and so is very clearly identified as the chief. Plus, when you watch the interview, I think he indicates that he prefers being called “Chief Mark”. “Chief” is an authority term, or why not Policeman Mark or El Capitan Mark? Why not Senator Mark, Congressman Mark, or CEO Mark. Why not Boss Mark or Don Mark? Would you like Senator X or Chief X or Boss X or CEO X at your dying bedside? Why go to a building called a church with a man in a pulpit called a pastor? Why not go to a Mosque or smoke tent with a man smoking a peace pipe called a shaman? Why not instead of Bread and Wine as the body and blood of Christ, rather, go and receive some peyote from a shaman in his tent next Sunday? Why not instead of receiving the REAL body and blood of Christ don’t we go and receive a cracker and grape juice to which the doctrine says, “This is NOT the body and blood of Christ.” Would you receive a sacrament in which the pastor says as he holds up a cracker and grape juice, “This IS NOT the body and blood of Christ…take and eat.” Would you eat of it, if so why? That’s what many churches doctrines EXPLICITLY teach and thus give.
Hopefully that example of above that is both a bit hyperbolic and also not hyperbolic in places helps.
Can someone please tell me when, in the whole history of Christianity, worship was conducted with cultural “relevance” in mind? The question is of course rhetorical and the answer is “never.” Well, at least “never” for the first 1600-1700 years of worship. The popular rebuttal that pipe organs and pews are innovations overlooks the fact that the basic structure of the liturgies (east and west) were followed everywhere and by all Christians at all times prior to the radical reformation. Even then most Christians maintained traditional liturgy. Support for the idea that you could scrap the Gloria Patri for a half hour a praise and worship jam session and still call it “Christian” exists nowhere apart from the vanity of the contemporary Protestant’s mind. Contemporary worship is an innovation that shares no connection with the Church’s worship.
No doubt Mark Driscoll has a decent grasp of the Bible and the Christian faith. (the reason I put ‘decent’ is because of his Calvinism) And that he is a good preacher and teacher.
I think the focus for this post is the syle of church. The lack of a counter-cultural church experience is quite evident. They look exactly like the culture. Rock band, stage complete with special effect lighting, no altar, no vestments, nothing that would tie their church to those who have gone before.
I understand that “traditional church” is boring to most of those folks. But then it just begs the question, ‘why are we going to church to begin with? For entertainment? To belong with others who are cool?
I guess I feel that way because I’ve always been a rebel and didn’t go with the ‘flow’.
Driscoll’s church is right in step with the culture all the way.
Thanks be to God that he preaches the gospel of the forgiveness of sins for Jesus’ sake. God can and will work with that in whatever situation it finds Itself.
I hear ya. And that’s a valid point… if God cares about the outer vestments of our culture.
My feeling on that is that because God transcends culture, he’s not particularly bothered by it. I don’t think God really cares whether some members of his body look like the current culture or not, provided that we are all moving towards him and towards one another, empowered by Christ in us.
Love God… love your neighbour… and that sums it up right?
So we have a culture of plasma TVs and bluejeans, and we have a culture of killing unborn children. I’m sure God cares about the unborn children, but I’m not sure that he cares about the bluejeans or the TVs.
Alright I have not taken the time to read on the comments posted here, but I have a significant issue with the definition that many of you use for cross cultural.
Cross cultural should not be used in the context of defending how we do and have always done things. It is bigger than the music we use or the clothing we wear. Music (as an example) is a symbol of our culture not the culture itself.
I think of the culture today and I think greed (of our time and money). If we are to be cross cultural that is what we should be fighting.
Back to the music/culture part. Cross cultural is usually used as an arguement to keep our hymns and our organs (I’m not bashing the organ. I love old stuff more than new stuff). But did you know that centuries ago the organ was the primary instrument in pubs and such. The tunes used for many hymns were actually drinking songs.
The Christian community took what the world was using and made it for God. Remember Jesus is going to redeem all things. Everything can be for him.
On the subject of Mars Hill. You may not like Pastor Mark’s delivery and style but he is preaching repentance from sin and turning to Jesus. He has not watered down the gospel at all. (He went on national tv and stated people will go to hell, not many people now a days are that bold) If many people who have issue with him stopped to understand what his theology was they would realize he’s not very different than many of you.
So he presents it differently. Big deal. Actually it is a big deal because many people who want nothing to do with Christianity are listening because of the way he presents it. They are hearing the gospel preached!
Rather than complaining about his style maybe more of us should be finding ways to reach the lost like Pastor mark has done.
Charlie, thanks for stopping by ‘the old Adam’ and letting us know your thoughts on this subject.
You have made some very good points.
He (Driscoll) is reaching out to a group of people that might not normally have the chance,(or take the chance) to enter a traditional church. I’ll give you that.
I’m sure that his theology is fairly sound (for a Calvinist) and that people are hearing the Word. True enough.
I’m just wondering at what point he and others in his church are willing to die? At what point would they be willing to jettison the world and the comfort it brings (if only for a couple of hours on Sunday morning…or whenever)?
I know that Luther used a bar tune for one of his hymns and never did it again. He realized that people were not (if even subconciously) drawn to the words but were being captured by the beat and the melody.
He knew that this was dangerous as the words can be overwhelmed by those things.
The points made here by some about his church not being able to reach across all age groups is pertinent as well. I believe a church should be able to nurture the very young and bring them through their life until they are very old. The influence of the young by the old is something lost in these dtyle of churches. It’s all ‘hipness’ and ‘coolness’. Not good, in my opinion. It shows a desire to hang onto the self.
Can God do a good work in his church? Absolutely He can! I’m sure He is.
But, if you scan some of the comments (above) you’ll see that isn’t the issue that some of us have.
I agree with your comment about needing to reach across all generations and that is something that hippy style churches don’t always do effectively.
However, many older style churches are not effectively reaching the younger generation. Attendance by young people is traditionally lower in “traditional” churches and the ones that quite often are there usually aren’t very engaged in what is taking place.
I’m speaking from my experience as ministry staff in a traditional style church, very few people under 40 were engaged in what was taking place even if they were in the doors. And that engagement goes much beyond musical and cultural styles. It includes application of scripture in peoples lives, priorities of the church and more.
The traditional church not meeting young people where they are at is as big of a problem as hippy churches without an older generation.
There are definitely problems in our churches as far as relating to different age groups.
But I’m left to wonder if going a bit too far afield to cater to the comfort zone of a particular group is worth it in the end. (maybe it is)
I sometimes think that God will somehow pull those that He wants back into the Chruch, maybe at a later time.
If someone starts to go a church that is hip and then grows out of it…where are they to go then. By thta time they have convinced themselves, often with the help of the hip chuches that traditional churches are no good, too religious, old fashioned, etc.
I might be wrong. But there was a time when traditional churches reached across all age groupls with no problem…when the hip churches were not around.
I would encourage everyone to read Driscoll’s new book, Death by Love. He centers the 12 chapters (all letters to people struggling with life to some degree or another) around the Cross and Jesus’ work there. Incredible book!