Dear Mars Hill Church… Concerns About Pastor Mark Driscoll

Dear Mars Hill Church… Concerns About Pastor Mark Driscoll July 11, 2011

Many of us have been frustrated with some of the statements Mark Driscoll has been making lately.  One person who was bold enough to stand up, was my blogger friend: Rachel Held Evans.  Prompted by her post “Mark Driscoll is a Bully” and encouragement to email the church directly with our concerns about Pastor Mark’s poor use of social media, I sent the following email to the church.  You can do so as well (if you plan to write in love and not bitterness, by emailing: ).


Dear Mars Hill Church,

I’ve attended your Ballard campus and was impressed in many ways.  Although I consider myself an Anabaptist Evangelical and not a Reformer, my impression of your ministry was mostly positive.  You folks care about the Bible, Jesus, and human transformation.  You have dynamic ministries caring for the “least of these” in the city and world.  And although I may have some theological “distinctives” (open-handed issues) that differ [which admittedly have some ramifications for ministry and mission], I can see that your church is making a positive impact in many lives.  Many folks have found Jesus Christ through your church and that is something to rejoice about.

However, to my dismay… Pastor Mark continues to create division.  Dividing Christians over issues of gender, personality type, and open-handed issues (to use Pastor Mark’s language).  Not only so, but his actions lead to his followers on the web taking a more dogmatic approach than, if you sat down with Pastor Mark, he would probably embody in his own life practices.  Nevertheless, the rhetoric of arrogance displayed in many of his recent statements on the web is cause for alarm for the larger evangelical community.

One of the biggest issues that I have with what he’s communicated is his approach to manhood.  Yes, men NEED to step up to the plate and be EXCELLENT fathers and models to society about what a man of character ought to look like.  But, just because a guy enjoys the arts more than MMA or football doesn’t make him less of a man or disciple of Christ.  Pastor Mark’s over applied distortion of Wild at Heart is alienating men and causing more harm than good.  I can say this with some authority I suppose, as I was captain of the football team in High School and the only art I’ve got is writing.  In some ways, I make the manhood check list (in many ways, I don’t).

All this is to say that Pastor Mark is inconstant with conservative exegesis having gone well beyond the text on how he communicates manhood.  Alienating statements like this: “So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?”  Is this not judgement?  Is this not perpetuating gossip about a fellow believer?  With over 600 comments, we can be sure that much judgmentalism and many un-Christ-like words were instigated by this one-liner on Facebook.  And, unfortunately… the list goes on.  How can this activity be considered “Christian” in any way?  Show me where Jesus engages in this sort of mockery and perhaps he may have a case.  But no such text exists in Jesus or Paul or anywhere else in the New Testament.

Finally, I want to say that Pastor Mark’s influence is a gift.  My concern is that it is being stewarded poorly and doing great harm to the Christian witness in the world and to the inner-culture of evangelicalism.  May we, “If possible, so far as it depends on [us], live peaceably with all” (Rom 12.18) and may we seek “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6.10).  Many of us worry that Pastor Mark is not using his large platform to embody these two basic Christian teachings.

Grace and Peace,

Kurt Willems

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