Like many people involved in the church I have found myself watching the happenings over at Mars Hill Church the same way I slow down and gawk at a car accident, not because I really want to, and not because I think I will learn about how to drive better, but because I cannot help myself.
I know many people disparage the work of Mark Driscoll and other mega-church pastors. I know some of that comes from jealousy and some of it comes from a love of God and a sense that we have the “right” message, we alone hold the truth, our interpretation is better than the vanilla dished out at the mega-churches. I know some people argue that we too could be just as big as them if we were willing to make the same sorts of compromises and sacrifices. I know, I know, but I have never been in a mega-church and I haven’t bothered reading many of the best selling books that come out of them. It goes without saying I haven’t attended any meetings where the decisions are made in such a place.
Here’s what I do know. I know that no matter how hard I try it is unlikely that my little church will grow into thousands of people, my little staff, reliant upon an army of volunteers, will grow into dozens, or that the number of baptism we perform annually will ever hit 3 digits, let alone the 4 digit number Mars Hill declares.
I know that while many are looking on trying to learn what they can from the events over there to do so would be hubris on my part. Hubris for two reasons, firstly, it suggests I think I could lead this church along that path, as though whatever can be learned from the wreckage is super important to me and my church during our meteoric climb (this simply isn’t true). Secondly, it is hubris because most of what I would pull out are truths I already think I hold, that a church is about vitality rather than quantity, that a church is about relationships between God and his people and amongst the people themselves. I would learn that focusing on numbers is a dangerous game, with many hidden perils, and that a church centered on anyone or anything other than Christ is doomed. But I don’t need to evaluate Mars Hill to know that.
Jesus told us to go out and make disciples of all the earth, and Mark Driscoll did his best to accomplish that. I sincerely wish I could bring as many people to faith as he has, I sincerely wish my church performed so many baptism we started to do them in the river to save on our water bill.
So instead of shaking my head at the hubris of Driscoll and those very talented people with hearts for the Gospel, and rather than bowing my head and trying to dissect and learn from all that has gone right and all that has gone wrong at Mars Hill, I bow my head in prayer. Prayer for those leaders and their families who I am certain are crushed by what has been going on over there, prayer for those newer Christians that don’t know what they think or where they stand anymore, prayer for the broken relationships and the churches that now have to discern their way forward into a murky future. Mostly I bow my head that God’s will be done, that he use this situation as he uses all situations, for the betterment and the furthering of his kingdom.