Driscoll on Effective Ministry: Food for Thought

A buddy of mine passed on a link to what looks like a fascinating talk by pastor Mark Driscoll of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church.  Given to some 600 Anglicans (!) in Sydney last week, the talk represents Driscoll’s view of the challenges for effective ministry in Australia.  I don’t have audio for it, but I can link to a summary of Driscoll’s remarks published on a blog.

Here’s an excerpt from the talk on the state of Australian manhood:

“Christian Australian men are immature. They have a lack of entrepreneurialism and are entrenched in systems which discourage initiative. The average Australian male lives with his mother until he’s 25, he is married at 32, and delays taking responsibility as long as possible. Denominational systems encourage this immaturity. Training begins at age 28 in our denominations. What if a young man wants to get married young, plant churches and have a family? There is no way that our denominations allow this. The longer you delay responsibility, the longer you delay manhood. It’s the indefinite Peter Pan lifestyle. That is a sin. Jesus Christ had atoned for the sins of the world by the time most pastors take up their first associate pastorship. There are churches in the US with megachurches run by men in their 30s. You don’t have them here so you fly them in to give talks.”

Here’s another provocative bit on denominations:

“Denominations are built on control. Young men operate by influence. Control systems work like this: we control your wage, we control your workplace, etc. Young men don’t understand these systems. Some young men are disrespectful and need to be rebuked. Other people are not disrespectful; they just don’t understand control, they understand influence. Influence operates up close, through teaching, rebuke, instruction and example. The old culture is of control; the newer economy is of influence. Young men will find new ways to avoid the system, working alongside it so as to be influenced by it, but not working in it so as to not be controlled by it.”

This is firewater for sure.  I don’t necessarily agree with everything Driscoll says either in these excerpts or in his address more broadly, but I do think that he is a critical thinker who possesses a ton of energy and a good deal of vision.  The things the Lord has done through his ministry in Seattle are nothing short of remarkable; in one of the world’s most unChristianized cities, Driscoll has seen hundreds, perhaps thousands of people come to Christ and embrace Christlike servanthood and full-throated theology.

The second quotation does, for better or worse, make one wonder about the future of denominations.  Driscoll has a rather negative take on them.  Of course, until someone shows me a model that can pump out pastors and missionaries at the same rate as the Southern Baptists, I’ll remain convinced that denominations can accomplish gospel work on a great scale.

The first quotation shows how Driscoll innovatively ties the way one lives to the way one ministers.  He seems to lead the pack in making this connection.  Some people seem to conceive of ministry as almost outside of the way one leads one’s life; one can minister in a vacuum, so to speak.  Driscoll rightly points out that the way a man embraces the challenges of family relates directly to the way he will embrace the challenges of ministry.

Mark Driscoll is a fascinating man, a controversial pastor, and a welcome provocateur.  Read the whole piece and be challenged.

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