Yesterday afternoon the internet lit up with breaking news that Seattle based mega-church pastor, Mark Driscoll, was stepping down. Unfortunately, if you read further, those headlines weren’t completely accurate. In a statement given to the members of Mars Hill, Driscoll acknowledged the accusations against him and said that he would be stepping down for a tentative period of six weeks while the leadership of Mars Hill investigates the accusations. You can see his statement in full, here:
Certainly this wasn’t the announcement I had hoped for– my position has been and remains that Driscoll is not fit for leadership in this current season, and that the path to healing for the “pile of bodies behind the Mars Hill bus” (his phrase), includes him being removed from leadership at Mars Hill.
Unfortunately, my instinct is to believe the chatter regarding Driscoll’s downfall is presently exaggerated; I do not believe this is close to over, but I hope I am very wrong about that. When Mark was recently removed from the Acts 29 network, the response of Mars Hill leadership was quite defiant– this response does not give me hope in how they will handle this present investigation. I think it is entirely plausible that six or eight weeks could come and go with Mark quietly returning to business as usual.
However, what really struck me yesterday was all of the real lives involved in this mess– lives that often unintentionally get a back seat when situations like this play out in the media. There are a lot of people whose lives have been impacted because of this, and the shalom of many lives continues to hang in the balance.
In the public arena, it’s all too easy to lose sight of our individual and collective roles in situations like this. Those of us who have accepted the call to follow Jesus are all part of one body, and this is something happening to our body. As such, it’s not enough to sit back and string words together for public commentary. It’s not enough to shake our heads at the headlines, or to keep up the public pressure for Mark to resign. This is a scenario effecting many parts of our body and so, we must pray for our body.
And so, I hope you’ll join me in a prayer for the real lives of the Driscoll saga:
To the God who invites us to love our neighbors and pray blessings for our enemies, we pray:
We pray for the entire situation surrounding Mars Hill, that whatever the outcome, your will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We pray God, that your hand would be upon the lives impacted, both the seen and unseen.
We ask God, that your ears would be attuned to the cries of countless victims of abuse. As when Abel’s blood cried out to you from the ground, we ask that you would hear their cries for deliverance and justice– and that you would act.
We pray for the pastors who were bullied and terminated and ask that you would not quench in them the thirst for serving your people.
We pray for the women who have been silenced, abused, and marginalized; we ask for healing and a renewed voice in their lives as they rediscover your divine image inside of them.
We pray for the many people wrongly shunned by the Mars Hill community and ask that you would grant them peace, healing, and restoration to a safe community of believers.
We pray for the many young men who have loyally patterned their ministry after Mark Driscoll, and that you would bring people into their lives who would lead them to change– so that future victims would be spared from this cycle.
We ask God, that you would protect those who are still members of the Mars Hill community and that your hand of protection would be upon them during this season, and forever.
We pray for the leadership of Mars Hill. We ask God that you would give them supernatural wisdom to see the truth, and the courage to not ignore the voices of injustice, as they make decisions for their local body.
We pray God for the local pastors and churches who surround Mars Hill. We ask that you would equip them with grace and abounding love as they care for former, and soon-to-be former members, of Mars Hill.
We pray for those filled with hurt, anger, bitterness, and resentment. We ask that you would grant them relief from any emotion that is potentially self-destructive.
We pray God for those of us who comment in the public sphere, and ask that you would guide us to choose our words with precision and love during this time. We ask God, that you would enable us to be voices for goodness and justice while holding in tandem the knowledge that we too, are the worst of sinners.
We pray for the family of Mark Driscoll- his wife Grace, and his children. We ask for protection and healing in their own lives and relationships as they travel a road they did not ask for.
Finally, Father, we pray for Mark Driscoll. We ask that you would reveal to his heart the way his sin has damaged many, and that you would bring him– not to hopeless despair– but genuine repentance. We ask for Mark the same future that we pray for ourselves: that your story for his life will somehow be redeemed from brokenness and restored to wholeness.
To all, we pray peace.
We pray these things humbly, in the name of Jesus– the lover of his enemies,