It’s now public news that Pastor Mark Driscoll, of the megachurch Mars Hill of Seattle, has resigned. This comes after a string of inflammatory controversies. Love keeps no record of wrongs, but Google sure does, so it doesn’t take long to find out that Driscoll was accused of:
- bullying staff members, who ended up picketing outside of his church
- using church funds to artificially purchase and inflate sales of his book
- talking about women in pejorative ways, and
- using a pseudonymous online account to post profane rants.
After a six week hiatus amidst mounting calls for his dismissal, he’s resigned.
This now awakens in me a longing to see a story of redemption written here at the end. The 43 year old church leader still has a lifetime to rewrite the narrative. I’m reminded of the story of St. Nicholas of Smyrna who, apparently, after slapping another theologian with whom he disagreed, spent the rest of his life doing penitent acts of charity which would eventually form the basis of the stories of our St. Nick. I’d like to see Driscoll’s turn into a story of resurrection. So if I had the pen of the divine narrator, this is how I would write it….
Driscoll fades from public view saying little more than that he’s taking a sabbatical with his family. They sell the million dollar house. His wife begins working as a school teacher, an irony that is not lost on Warren Throckmorton and the last couple of commentators who are following the story, given how militantly opposed Driscoll was to women providing for their families. The story goes dark for about a year.
Then a photographer catches a shot of Driscoll. It goes up in the Christian media for a day. People tweet it. He’s in San Francisco, and the picture shows him behind a counter, wearing an apron, smiling and serving a meal at a homeless provider. The picture is fuzzy and no one can get the straight story on whether or not it was him. He doesn’t show up there again. Some time passes. Again there’s a report that Driscoll is working in an AIDS clinic doing bedside visitation with the dying in San Francisco. Rumors mount. Driscoll allows one interview, just saying that he is trying to do God’s will and wants to remain private. Behind the scenes there is a circle of young adults that he’s mentoring in the inner city. They’re a private band dedicated to spiritual depth and loving the poor. Driscoll lives an alternative life of a kind of Mother Theresa in the shadows. He does not seek audiences. He contracts no speaking gigs. He doesn’t write…for a while. Then, a few years later, he releases an autobiography. It’s a confession. And it talks with psychological depth and self-awarenesses about the forces that once drove him and the forces that drive him now. He becomes a Henri Nouwenesque kind of spiritual mentor, and suddenly every large-church pastor in the world seeks Driscoll out. They want to talk about their failures and their fears, their conflicts and their depression. He receives them all warmly and never says a word to the journalists about what he’s doing.
Driscoll lives into old age a redeemed man and a true pastor. He becomes a legend that people talk about with reverence. The stories of his younger years fade and are eclipsed by the saint that he has become. Now Driscoll is what every pastor should be – a living manifestation of the Sermon on the Mount. He is someone who hides in the shadow of the cross and lives as a subplot to a story that is greater than his own.
Just saying, if I were writing a good story, this is how I would want it to go.
6 thoughts on “Dreams for Driscoll”
Thanks for this, Jim.
For any who enjoyed this, here’s some recommended reading – “The Prodigal” by Brennan Manning:
From the inspirational author of “The Ragamuffin Gospel” comes a powerful contemporary retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jack Chisholm is “the people’s pastor.” He leads a devoted and growing mega-church, has several bestselling books, and a memorable slogan, “We have got to do better.” Jack knows how to preach, and he understands how to chastise people into performing. What he doesn’t know is anything about grace. This year, when it comes time for the Christmas sermon, the congregation at Grace Cathedral will look to the pulpit, and Jack will not be there. Of course, they will have seen plenty of him already — on the news. After an evening of debauchery that leads to an affair with his beautiful assistant, Jack Chisholm finds himself deserted with chilling swiftness. The church elders remove him from his own pulpit. His publisher withholds the royalties from his books. Worst of all, his wife disappears with their eight-year-old daughter. But just as Jack is hitting bottom, hopeless and penniless, drinking his way to oblivion, who should appear but his long-estranged father, imploring his prodigal son: “Come home.” A true companion piece to “The Ragamuffin Gospel”, “The Prodigal” illustrates the power of grace through the story of a broken man who finally saw Jesus not because he preached his greatest sermon or wrote his most powerful book, but because he failed miserably. Jack Chisholm lost everything — his church, his family, his respect, and his old way of believing — but he found grace. It’s the same grace that Brennan Manning devoted his life to sharing: profound in nature and coming from a God who loves us just as we are, and not as we should be.
…oh, our changing world we live in…
Beautiful vision Jim
This would, indeed, be a wonderful life of redemption. Let’s pray that Mark’s heart is willing to have the Lord completely take him over in this way.
You are a gifted writer, Jim!