Mark Driscoll is a failure. At least that what’s he wants us to see in his book ‘Confessions of a Reformission Rev’, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading recently. But as we know, God uses failures to build His church.
Confessions is the story of how Mars Hill church (http://www.marshillchurch.org/) in Seattle, home of grunge, coffee and Frasier grew from a small meeting in the upstairs room of an existing local church to a group of over 4,000, which is still growing.
But if you’re thinking that confessions is just another church growth book, than you’d be wrong. ‘Confessions’ does contain some great tips about planting and growing a church from scratch in a particular social setting. Driscoll’s advice to pastors in his coaching corner sessions about knowing their congregation e.g. ‘shooting their dogs’ and know what type of animals are in their congregation are really great. These are complimented by some more less ‘faunae based’ engaging and well thought through discussions of ecclesiology and leadership and the solutions that Mars Hill came up with. You might not agree with Him, but it’s certainly provides food for thought, and give reasons for why Mars Hill is run the way it is.
For all it’s usefulness in church growth though, ‘Confessions’ is more than a how to manual; it’s also a story - a story of both the growth of a church, and the growth of a man. You can’t read this book and not see that Driscoll loves Jesus, and want other people in to love Him too. That’s why He started Mars Hill, that’s why He’s committed to the bible, and that’s why he works hard at being a Pastor, a husband and a father.
Driscoll though is also very open and honest that he does this work as a sinner, and he’s open and honest about the joys and the sorrows. He tells us about how good it was when things were going well and the church continued to grow and how they solved the logistic problems brought about by a growing church; how he had to protected his church from false teachers; how He’s grown in his ability to preach, how the church had grown, and how finance has been provided for things to happen.
But Driscoll doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t paint the picture that his church is a success because he’s a great pastor. He tells us about the way He’s been tempted; the times He’s had to make difficult decisions that he knew might upset people; the times He’s got it wrong, messed up and hurt; the people he’s had to work hard to love and the times he hasn’t; the difficulty of balancing being a father, husband and pastor, and the times he failed; and I found it both refreshing and compelling.
I think the reason for that is that though I know that is what being a Christian is really like, I often think that we’re alone in our struggles. But ‘Confessions’ shows me I’m not alone. And that’s very refreshing, because often we think that if we admit that we’re finding that ministry hard work, that we actually explained that passage wrong, or said an unkind word to that person that we’re useless. But in Driscoll, we see a man who has messed up but when he has in the light of God’s grace hasn’t given up.
‘Confessions’ also reminds me that I need to be realistic in my estimation of those who minister to me. And that’s a great thing to see, because I need to be reminded that church leaders are not infallible, but sinful human beings like me whom God has given a particular job to do. So I shouldn’t put people (who I usually don’t know) on pedestals of perfection, and neither should I be surprised when people who minister to me sin. Rather, I’m prompted to remember God’s grace to both them and to me in the death of His son, and just how glorious He is that He uses failures like Mark Driscoll, failures like you and failures like me.
Read this book. It’s very good.