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I don’t know if it’s necessary to state the obvious, but I will.

I am a part of my church not because it is around the corner from my house. Not because it is conveniently located in a state I love. Not because it is filled with perfect specimens of Christianity. Not because the leadership there always makes the right and best decisions. And not because I have found there perfect theology or perfect community.

I am covenanted to my church because it is filled with people who are desperately seeking life and godliness in the context of the Gospel.

I am committed to walking alongside them, to submitting myself to them, to seeing their lives be compelled by the Gospel, and committed to them committing the same to me. I am accountable to my leadership. I seek the counsel of godly men and women to whom the Lord has given positions of authority, knowing that their best interest is not my interest, but the Gospel.

I am safe there.
I am heard there.
I am challenged there.
I am pushed there.
I am called there.
I am loved there.

I am known there.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A few years ago when I was asking some deep and hard questions, seeking direction from podcasts and books and blogs and opinions, one of my pastors at my church in New York came and leaned against my office door and said, “Lore, I think you’re going to need to step back and just trust the Lord on this. Filling your plate up with the smorgasbord of faith isn’t going to bring a resolution to the questions you’re asking. Only the Lord can do that.”

And He did. He brought me here, to my church, with this leadership, this service.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I don’t go to Mark Driscoll’s church. I don’t have to concern myself with how he teaches the book of Esther or how Mars Hill handles church discipline or how threadbare his tshirt is.

I don’t go to Rob Bell’s former church. I don’t need to worry about how progressive the service or teaching is there or how cool his glasses are.

I don’t go to John Piper’s church. His hand motions don’t affect me and the size of his congregation doesn’t bear on me.

I don’t go to Rick Warren’s church. I’ve never read The Purpose Driven Life and the main purpose of my life is drink more coffee, so that’s good enough for me.

I go to my church. I am covenanted in there. I am knit there. I seek theology first in the Word and second from my pastors. I trust there. I am trusted there. They rightly have the most influence on me and I trust that even with all the influence I might have elsewhere, the most influence I have is there. At my church.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If the leadership at my church begins to stir up controversy with their sermons or books, or if they let a wolf run rampant among their sheep, or I feel a definite check in my spirit (and not simply the itch of serving alongside broken people in a broken world), I would consider that my business.

But as for the rest, I give it a rest. In the context of local church, it’s not my job to police the world, it’s my job to serve quietly, lead well, counsel gently, love deeply, walk humbly, do justly in the lives with whom I’m covenanted.

We are not pastored by podcasts, theologized by twitter, or found in Facebook. Our pointed fingers are unnecessary to bring about the union of all things eternal. God has this, He’s on His throne, His eyes on His children. He’s got this.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;
reprove, rebuke, and lexhort, with complete patience and teaching.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching,
but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering,
do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
II Timothy 4:2-5 ESV


  1. Yes, yes, yes! I think one of the biggest drawbacks of the internet and publishing is how we’ve let ourselves, in general, be more influenced (or riled up) by a pastor or congregation that isn’t our own. I don’t think it’s wrong to listen to podcasts and read books from celebrity pastors (it’s sad we’ve turned the pastoral role into a position of celebrity), but I wonder how much better off the church would be if we invested that time into our own local community.

    • Oh, I’m pretty sure by the model the New Testament Christians set for us, that we’d be much better off if we invested all the time we spend squabbling instead into our local church context. Pretty sure =) thanks for reading!

      • I don’t think it has to be either/or. I love the idea of digging deep in our local church context. But as someone who has publicly spoken up about spiritual abuse issues I perceive in the church, I will share my perspective. If I react to something publicly, it’s not necessarily about calling out the offending person. It’s about standing up, as a public Christian, and saying “he does not represent me.” I realize you are saying as much, too, but I choose to say it loudly and specifically. This has nothing to do with how I worship at my own church and everything to do with the non-Christians for whom I might be a lone voice of reason in a culture in which the most obnoxious Christians get the most press. I do it because I want to remind my non-Christian friends that no, we do not all believe/behave this way. When someone is publicly besmirching Christ, I feel convicted to publicly say, “yeah, NO.” Each of us have our own calling. It’s great that you feel called to pour into your local church. But for some of us, a social media platform in which we get to speak about our faith to people who are wary of Christianity feels like a calling, too.

        • Chad

          There’s a lot of feeling and perceiving going on here but not a whole lot of Scripture.

          • seriously? there is no reason to doubt that lore, kristen, or any of us hasn’t wrestled honestly with practicing a faith rooted in scripture and Jesus’ example.

          • Scripture is a poor replacement for thinking, discerning, reasoning etc..

          • It’s because the truth of Scripture doesn’t matter to her. 😉

          • aimai

            Wow. Chad’s comment is almost a perfect, tone deaf, response to Kristen’s point. I’m one of the many “outsiders” to your faith. Kristen speaks to me–she is trying to embody and speak for what she perceives as the real gifts and grace of her religion to a wider public who may not be familiar with the ugly ins and outs of theological and dogmatic fights. I can absolutely say that what she is doing is more important than what Chad is doing (whatever he thinks he’s doing). Of the two of them, if I met them in the street and we fell to discuss “what christianity is” or “who Jesus was” which do you think I’d listen to?

        • Love is Kristen.
          I am often concerned by people who go on a “holy crusade” against other Christians (or “Christians” if you prefer) to question their teaching etc. My concern is that they become a bit myopic in their walk. I believe we should be salt and light, that like Lore, I need to be first focused on my relationship with God and my church and serving/loving those around me.

          Like Kristen, I believe we also have a responsibility to stand up for truth and stand against lies and evil and abuse.

          I’m overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there about controversial pastors/churches and honestly, I simply don’t have time to figure it all out and sift the truth from opinion all the time. I feel a responsibility to vet the source and confirm the facts. Acts 17:11, I live as a Barean.

          • Kate

            Rob Bell used to be my pastor. I sat under his teaching every Sunday for ten years. As someone who had that privilege and learned much from Rob, which includes his encouraging us to go to our Bibles and study the scriptures and that any pastor who has a “don’t question me!” attitude isn’t someone to be followed.

            The way things have unfolded in regards to Rob, the Mars Hill community, and the Body saddens me greatly. Believers have a terrible disease: gossip. We may say we’re sharing prayer requests or trying to warn others against danger, but I seriously doubt that is their motive.

            Lor’s post is spot-on. It is not our place to go on the internet and write about others – that is gossip. So many Christian leaders have written things about others and I’ve wondered, “Have they called so-and-so up, invited them for coffee, had a heart to heart 1:1?” Unfortunately, they have not done that, but decided to write on their blogs. Their motives are so that people will hear them and think, “Wow, how mature in their walk and yes so incredibly witty with how they can turn a phrase! I’m going to join their group!” My opinion about these leaders is they suffer from jealousy and pride because the person they’re bashing is more popular than they. It’s junior high all over again.
            What is also sad is that there are thousands of believers who feel the need to get on the internet, find topics, and post snarky comments that belittle their brothers/sisters.

            This behavior is not the way children of God should behave.

  2. Sarah McCarten.

    Love, love, love this.

  3. Couldn’t agree more! Lately, it seems like everyone feels they have to have an opinion on everyone’s thoughts. It used to be if you didn’t like a pastor, you just didn’t go to that church. Now, everyone feels they have the right, nay duty to throw digital grenades all over the place, just to make sure everyone knows their disapproval of pastors X, Y and Z.

    • It’s the internets, Matt. The durn internets. 😉

    • For me it boils down to the same problem that has riled me ever since I was a teenager (a long time ago now). Christians are so much more prone to speak out for what they are against than what they are for.

      There’s a lot more at stake when we talk about what we love and why, than what we hate and why.

      • Brad, I so agree. I seek to be a Christian who is FOR things like loving one another, seeking truth, being a good friend (and mother), thinking, reasoning… etc.
        I believe the issue we have as humans and life is that we are too busy, too bombarded by a constant flow of information that all seems important and we want to be a part of the online ‘conversation,’ but we don’t have time or perhaps the ability to stop and think about where we stand so many of us parot the witty comment the other guy came up with.
        Politics works very much the same and this behavior is prevalent in many aspects of our lives.

  4. rachel s.

    I agree with this, to a point.I am guilty of often focusing (or being furious at ) “big name” pastors. But when a pastor who is widely read and listened to teaches abusive things that ARE influencing other believers around you, in your church and not, do we have any responsibility to point to the abuse and say “that is not okay?” I am inclined to think that we do. Even though we all go to different churches, we are ALL the body of Christ. We are all members of that body, so if someone is beating the crap out of my arm, it matters to the rest of my Body, too. Abusive teaching (not just wrong, different, liberal, conservative, etc.) has no place in any part of the body. If I see it, even if it doesn’t impact me, I can’t help but feel like I should say something.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Rachel. I confess, I hesitated a bit in posting this exactly because I have many of the same thoughts you do. I mean, I’m as protective of my own as you are. I don’t want the people I’m investing in, discipling, encouraging, to be listening to false or abusive teaching.

      However, at the end of the day, the chief of all my messages is the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ—and HE makes all things new.

      That for me is reason enough to step back, invest where I’m planted, and trust God for the harvest—whether it’s the harvest I imagined or not.

      I think it’s worth noting that *many* of the people who cry outrage at people like Driscoll or Bell or other controversal teachers are not covenanted anywhere, not being discipled or discipling, not serving, and not doing anything other than fussing around on twitter or Facebook, inciting digital riots. If someone is beating the crap out of someone else, there will be bruises evident and we get the authorities involved. If someone is getting the theological crap beat out of them, first, check the word, second, check with a multitude of counselors, third, leave the church and covenant somewhere else where your soul is cared for and you can love the Church with joy. I think there’s a place for pointing out false or abusive teaching, but I don’t think twitter or fb or ranting blogs are the places.

      Most of the inciting content making its way around the internet is not from covenanted people at Driscoll’s church, but instead, disgruntled people who have an ax to grind. I’m interested in the truth, but I’ll be honest, I’m too busy minding the truth at my own church with my own people to get much in arms about the truths at other churches.

      God is ON HIS THRONE and he leaves the 99 to go after the one. I can trust Him.

      • Simon

        Why is it appropriate for one group to spread their message through blogs, twitter, and facebook, but not for another group to respond to that message via the same channels?

        • Marie

          I need a “like” button for this comment.

        • Cranios

          Clearly the most logical comment of the entire thread.

      • Wow. While I disagree, I think the brush you are painting about people who speak up is unfair, inaccurate, and judgmental. I see many people – good Christian peopl – who choose to engage in defending Christ’s name when it is being claimed in the name of manipulation, shame, or spiritual abuse. Implying that they are all sitting around engaging in petty internet arguments is hardly what is going on. Some of us may have different convictions in how to respond (see several comments below) but implying that it’s because we aren’t in church, or being discipled? Come on. I could just as easily say that people who are quiet are living in a Christian bubble and refusing to defend The Church at large because they aren’t as bold and spiritually mature. But that’s ridiculous, unfair, and judgmental too. All of us may choose to respond in our own way, in how we feel led. But let’s not dismiss the people who respond differently as being “less Christian” . . . which is what it seems like you are doing here.

        • Chris


          I think you make a great point! Just because someone isn’t responding/acting the way I do or would in a certain situation doesn’t mean that they are in sin (unlike me).


          I appreciated your main post. I think we should be most concentrated in what’s going on in our church, but I don’t think that doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to pay attention or comment on other things as well. As someone else already said, not an either/or thing.

        • I agree with you Kristen! I don’t know where that can come from, to believe that people who speak out against the “big name boys” are not in covenant with their local church. I am. And I still want to speak out against some of those guys. Because I know that a lot of people I care about are heavily influenced by them. (But those people who are heavily influenced? They are all in good standing with their own local church, too. Some of them actually at *ahem* Mr. Driscoll’s church…)

    • I like these thoughts, Rachel, but let me offer this.

      Driscoll is a bit of a shock jock. Everyone knows that. And true, his words can be abusive, over the top, etc… But so often, I feel like we pile on, bully him back when perhaps it be more effective to just deal with those who are hurt by the teachings on a case by case basis.

      • Yessss. Yes. Thanks Seth =) Much more succinct!

      • rachel s.

        Not sure where I said I was talking about Driscoll when I wrote my initial remarks, but ok :-) Also, abuse is abuse. Just because some people come out functioning “better” than others, or just because some people can only absorb a few “good” things doesn’t make an abusive, manipulative person any less abusive. Also, telling victims that they can just go to another church is like telling a woman to “just leave” an abusive marriage– I think we all know it is more complicated than that.

        • Amanda M.

          Rachel — Can you clarify your last sentence?

  5. This is a good challenge and reminder. For all of our activity online, we need to remember the importance of the people we are living with day to day in our physical communities. To neglect them while fighting an online battle is a real problem.

    I’m in agreement with Rachel’s comment above, as certain pastors do try to set themselves up as influencers for other churches. Having said that, the way we go about challenging them can be grace-filled and Gospel centered. I personally don’t even like to necessarily “call out” that influencer, but there can be value in engaging ideas that are out there.

    One quick example (OK, two)… when the whole Rob Bell flap happened, I felt like it was really important to write about “how” Bell teaches the Bible: more as an artist than a theologian. That’s an important distinctive to keep in mind as his book makes the rounds in our churches. By the same token, I know lots of folks who believe that God sends natural disasters to judge people. While I don’t really care about challenging John Piper personally on this, I do care what the people in my own networks think and believe about this, so I can use his statements as a launching pad for our own discussions.

    • Oh, Ed, I’m always so grateful for the word of peace you bring =) Thanks for reading!

    • “…grace-filled and Gospel centered.”

      I agree with you Ed regarding how the dialogue should happen. I wish I ran more of my own opinions through this very filter.

      Thanks, Ed. Good reminder.

    • Ed took the words right out of my mouth.

      Great call and challenge here, Lore.

    • Yes, Ed. Thank you! Always wise. Or, at least appears to be on the internets. :)

  6. Tanya Marlow

    Genius post. I REALLY like this perspective – mainly because it reminds me what church leadership is meant to be – not preaching through a megaphone at the world but ministering to the individuals in that local community. You need to know your congregation – as individuals and not just as statistics – in order to be able to preach and prophesy most insightfully. For that reason I am also not a huge fan of mega churches, though I know some can be done very well.

    Thank you! This has encouraged me to think again more positively of my husband’s ministry – small-scale, deep, not wide, in a local church community. It really is a beautiful thing.

    • Thanks Tanya =)

      In my New Testament class we’re going through Paul’s missionary journeys right now and I’m just so overwhelmed with how *attentive* he was to the issues right there as he went. He knew his people and set leaders in place who knew their people.

      I go to what some might call a mega church (9000+ attendees) and if I told you my pastor’s name, you’d recognize it. He doesn’t seek celebrity though because his main love is US, he loves US, pastors US, invests in US—and our staff is the same. We’re not perfect, not by any stretch, but I think when dialogue arises about conflict in churches (ie church discipline tactics, etc.) we have to trust that issues are being dealt with inside the church. One reason Mars Hill doesn’t respond to all the internet gossip about their tactics is because they deal with that stuff internally—as it should be dealt with.

      • Wow – I’m really impressed that your pastor of a mega church can deal so well with that stuff…

        • I am too. Honestly. We’ve got an amazing staff =)

  7. I love what Seth’s and Ed’s comments above. I, too, have a hard time not addressing abuse where I see it in the Church At Large, especially since so many people in my social media network and IRL network follow Driscoll’s teachings, or are at least aware of him.

    But as I mentioned in my comments to Alan Rudnick’s blog post about this topic, I feel like we’ve gotten to a point in social media that inflammatory crap like this happens roughly once a week. Driscoll consistently makes an inciting statement via twitter and steps back to watch everyone go up in arms over it. He never responds to criticism. He never apologizes. He never approaches a topic with any amount of humility. We should all know this by now, but it seems many of us don’t. We keep responding to his statements expecting a different outcome. It has become so predictable and ineffective that I can’t even really support the people that respond to him anymore, even if I agree with their reasoning. It has become a cycle of insanity, and we are no longer paying attention to how our own actions deter true discipling. We are too distracted by it, like you said.

    We need to get back to the work of being Living Water for the thirsty instead of stamping out his theological fires every time we turn around.

    Good post, love. I’m proud of you for speaking up, loudly and plainly.

    • This is why I’ve tried to distance myself from the “controversy du jour” this past year. I believe there’s a time and a place to speak up but I believe just as fervently it must be done with love and grace. I don’t know how often that happens anymore. Rather than getting worked up over something not likely to change, I choose not to follow certain pastors on Twitter or FB and I do my best to ignore the latest flap up. I’m struggling to consistently attend my own church (due to my own past baggage, not the church itself which is lovely and healing) and that needs to be my focus more than anything else.

      • Ha! “controversy du jour”… Good point. There will always be another.

    • I agree. So often I think we become what we hate when we get too distracted by the crazy ideas coming out of their usual channels.

      I once had a pastor I disagreed with so fervently because of the way he treated people that I started warning people to stay away from his church. I felt good about the fact that I might be keeping people from suffering the same borderline-abuse until the Spirit convicted me that true biblical love would have me confront him personally about the ways he responded to me, explain how he made me and other people feel, address how that had caused a long line of young people to leave his church, and suggest what he could do to change the course. I fought with the notion of doing that for a long time, but when I finally agreed with the prompting to do it, I felt another check in my spirit that I was not going to be doing it in the right spirit unless I *truly* believed he might listen to me and change. It’s like God asked me to have faith on his behalf before I spoke to him.

      The meeting did not go very well, but over time he saw and acknowledged to others in leadership that I am still close to that he saw what I meant. And he has begun to change his approach with people. I no longer go to the church because it would be like going back in time, but I’m confident the Lord used my anger and turned it into love which may or may not have been part of saving others from the experiences I had. I know people who go to his church now and have had vastly different experiences than what I and some of my friends had.

      All that to say, people like Driscoll, if they were confronted by people who actually had covenant with them, believed the best for them as love does, things might change. Very little change is going to happen when we become like Driscoll to change Driscoll, (or insert any preachers’ name here) through as impersonal a channel as the internet.

      This is a wonderful piece, Lore, and thank you for saying what needed to be said. The church cannot devolve into politics. We’ve got good news to be spreading.

  8. Yes! I love this. Our local churches are where we are in community, where we are taught, where we minister most to others and are ministered to by them. It’s so easy to forget that in our media-saturated, constantly online culture. Thank you for the reminder.

  9. I appreciate what you’re saying about how often we get so involved in teaching, controversies, etc in Brand Name churches and forget that our first place of involvement is to be in our local church. We also tend to compare the preaching, the music, the programs, or whatever else to big name churches, instead of digging in and being a blessing where we are.

    I like this quote from Josh Harris, when he talks about committing to your local church:
    “Going away is easy. Do you want to know what’s harder? Do you want to know what takes more courage…? Join a local church and lay down your selfish desires by considering others more important than yourself. Humble yourself and acknowledge that you need other Christians. Invite them into your life. Stop complaining about what’s wrong with the church, and become a part of a solution.”

    (Joshua Harris, Stop Dating the Church, pp. 60-61)

    Thanks for your writing, Lore.

  10. I both agree and disagree with this at the same time, if that is possible! I don’t necessarily think we need to police the “big names” and call them out on our own blogs and twitter or facebook if we don’t know them–and it may be that at some point, we do need to, depending on what it is. And I don’t–I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon of commenting on everything that comes up. However, I am aware of some of what they do and teach and I keep that in mind in case I hear people I actually know mention them who may not know much of what goes on. And there are a lot of people out there who do not attend those churches who are influenced by them–potentially even more so than by their own local church. So I think it’s got to be a nuanced thing (then again, what isn’t, right?).

  11. I agree with the line of thought that one should be active in one’s local church and that we shouldn’t be distracted from that by “celebrity” pastors and their teaching. If fighting against people like Driscoll or Bell is distracting from ministering to the flesh-and-blood people around you, then yes, priorities need to be realigned. But I strongly disagree with what seems to be an underlying thought process in this article that local churches are separate entities that don’t have much, if anything, to do with each other: This is “my church,” that is “your church,” that is “Mark Driscoll’s church” or “John Piper’s church.” This, to me, doesn’t seem to reflect the reality that is presented to us throughout the New Testament–the reality that all Christians, everywhere, are part of one boy of Christ. I may not go to John Piper’s church, or listen to Piper’s or Driscoll’s teachings, but I have friends who do, and even those who I don’t personally know are still my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am not absolved of my responsibility to them just because I do not go to their church or listen to the same teachers they do.

    When my friend, who was raped multiple times, got pregnant, and had a miscarriage, was not believed by her local church and accused of having an abortion, and then I see a “celebrity” pastor giving teaching on abuse that only enables that church to continue its behavior, I feel compelled to speak up. I believe with every part of my being that I have a responsibility to do whatever I can to stop this. I can’t stop fighting for her, and others like her, just because she doesn’t go to my church, or because I don’t go to Piper’s/Driscoll’s/Bell’s church.

    Perhaps what I’m talking about is different than the “Twitter storms” that happen in response to Driscoll, but the line of thinking in this article still concerns me. The problem is “over there,” not in “my” church; therefore, it’s not my concern, and I need to leave this to God. That’s a line of thinking I can’t follow.

    I think there are some things that need to be seriously thought through–is it really worth it to respond to Driscoll on Twitter? If so, how?–but I worry that the line of thinking in this article seems to lead to the conclusion that “Not my church, not my concern.”

    • I don’t think Lori is trying to say, “Not my church, not my concern.” More like, “Not my church, not my responsibility.”

      We ought to be concerned about abuses within the Church, and we should be prayerful for the purity of the Church. But we also need to look at the sphere of responsibility that God has entrusted to us, and focus there.

      And as Paul says, “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth”

      • I still don’t agree with that line of logic. Under no other circumstances would we say “Not my church, not my responsibility.” If a church was in financial trouble and we knew about it, we would consider it our responsibility to help them. If they needed a place to meet we would volunteer our facilities. When they are hurting, we pray for them. There’s no reason to think that there’s a bright dividing line between each local church where the people in “my church” are my responsibility, and the people outside “my church” are not.

  12. I think there’s a difference between reacting and responding, and I know how easy it is to just react to the latest thing and to get caught up in the chaos.

    And I see your point about being known by your community. But this piece seems to devalue the very active and healthy spiritual community that exists now outside of local churches.

    I have learned and grown so much more from books, podcasts, blogs and twitter friends than I ever have in a church. Rob Bell’s church has deeply formed me and I’ve only been there twice. And it challenges me in how I see my own church and how I should be engaged in my community.

    Mark Driscoll’s church affects my church because people listen to his sermons and read his books and then bring that teaching into my church. His views of women affect me, and they affect other people even worse.

    It’s one thing to react and just say “Driscoll is an ass”. It’s another thing to respond and debate his theology and the value of his points. There is a reason people are still talking about Piper’s remarks 4 years later; why it is still an issue that he would come back to it 4 years later. Because it’s hurting people. If we are to be Jesus to people, we have to be able to respond to their hurt – whether it comes from our local church or our global one. We are all part of the same body, so when one part is being abused or silenced, then I hurt.

    “They rightly have the most influence on me and I trust that even with all the influence I might have elsewhere, the most influence I have is there. At my church.” This just isn’t true for me at all. It never has been, and I don’t think it ever will be. I view my pastors and the people at my church as friends and equals. I do not view them as having authority over me. They can challenge and influence me, and I can do the same to them. But that doesn’t mean they are my only influencers, or the most important ones.

    The world has gotten flat, and for me, that has been a vast improvement over the churches that have known me.

  13. Lore, I appreciate what you’re saying, and I would agree with you if the things that John Piper and Mark Driscoll say don’t hurt, directly or indirectly, those that receive it.

    Silence is rarely neutral, and when we are silent in the face of abuse (and there are many times the internet is used for that by the people mentioned in your post), then we’re perpetuating it. In those times, we’re acting more like Pilate than Jesus.

    Sure, calling pastors names on the internet is not conducive to anything, but there is a bright line between mudslinging and making impassioned, angry critiques at the way those in our church hurt others with their words.

  14. Lore,
    Your words here echo my own heart. I wrote a post a while back called “Mark Driscoll is my BFF,” and some people took offense, as was expected. I called into question, as has been mentioned here, the way that we choose to “rebuke” our fellow brethren.

    The collective response to Driscoll from other believers, via social media, has been filled with vitriol and condemnation–the very things he himself is often criticized for. The irony–or rather the plank in the eye–is staggering.

    May we take heed of your message here, to build and be built up, in our local churches–expressing Christ day in and day out, living a shared life, seeking the Kingdom in unity.

  15. I’m in Texas, but I have friends who follow/listen to Mark Driscoll, and I have friends who go to Acts29 churches. It is absolutely my duty to call out these things when they happen because I do not want to see my brothers & sisters affected by harmful teaching or subject to abuse in these or other churches. I never want to get into the mindset of something not being my problem just because it’s “over there.”
    One of my sisters in Christ, who happens to attend an Acts29 church & actively follows MD, was sexually, emotionally, and verbally abused in her past. I cannot, CANNOT, let her take hold of Mark’s teaching because it may push her into something she should never experience again.
    So yes, I will tweet about it, facebook about it, and talk about it, because I want people to know Jesus for who he really is, not cage-fighting Jesus or earthquake-sending, abuse-enduring-wife Jesus that MD or Piper seem to put on display.

    • KimT

      Amen my dear!

    • Brian

      So complementarianism is abuse? You just condemned large swaths of the Evangelical church that aren’t even remotely connected to Driscoll and Piper.

      • Um, what? I didn’t even talk about complimentarianism.
        But since you bring it up, abuse can come out of patriarchal relationships so much easier than egalitarian ones.

    • spane

      perhaps you don’t know how much MD speaks against abuse done to women and has developed his congregation into a people that cares for, fights for, and helps heal those women who have been abused. His church has a “program” called Redemption Groups, of which I have personal relationships with several women who have been sexual abuse victims and victims of domestic violence and found help to get out, get safe, and get support through MD’s sermons and church members. I encourage you to look into this more before labeling MD, or Piper for that matter, as pastors that preach an “abuse-enduring-wife Jesus” and not the “Jesus who really is.” You are slandering someone incorrectly.

      • I don’t think I’m “slandering someone incorrectly” at all.
        Piper specifically said women should endure abuse for a season/while for their husband’s soul’s sake.
        And when MD tells women they’re not really women because they work and the man stays at home, or when she doesn’t drive a minivan, or if she practices yoga…that is NOT healthy. That is NOT Jesus. Maybe these women are getting out of sexual/domestic abuse situations, but they may very well be walking right into spiritual abuse situations.

  16. “We are not pastored by podcasts, theologized by twitter, or found in Facebook. Our pointed fingers are unnecessary to bring about the union of all things eternal.” I love this.
    Online communities can be a place for important conversations to take place, but they are not, and shouldn’t be, the only place for those conversations to take place. Much of my time spent online would be more fittingly placed into my own church and community.

  17. Thank you for this – you put into words exactly what I was feeling. I have been very bothered by the rhetoric from BOTH sides – the unproductive banter that is just making all Christians look crazier to those on the outside. I don’t agree with Mark’s teachings, yet I see it as completely unproductive to bully him online and expect him to change. That is totally ineffective. Why not meet him in person (as Scripture says) and have an actual dialogue about these important things?


  19. Thank you for writing this! I get so frustrated with Twitter and Facebook land for throwing each of those guys (and others) under the bus and publicly demonizing their ministries. They each reach people and have done amazing things for the kingdom. Maybe they have done things you and I may not agree with, but its not my job to slam them on the internet because I don’t know them personally. I am not a member of their congregations.
    We need to support fellow ministers of the gospel and show the world a much more united front than we have been.

  20. I appreciate the heart of this, but I wonder if maybe this reflects only one aspect within the larger Church. Lore, you’re rooted to a local church, but you and I are both rooted to the same Church, so is Piper, Warren, Bell, and Driscoll. While I agree that there should be a standard of engagement—grace, discernment, conviction—I wonder if Paul’s words in Ephesians, that some were given to certain tasks in the Body is not apt here. What if those called as teachers in this age are supposed to use the same platforms that those falsely teaching use to challenge them. These pastors have set themselves up as above congregations tied to local bodies, as instructors outside the literal walls of their spaces. I don’t respond online, for instance, to a poor homily I hear at my local Episcopal church because the priest did not set herself up for that context of engagement. Driscoll has, though. He has placed himself in an online forum and engages in an online forum. Meeting his context is not unscriptural, it honours his parameters of engagement. Maybe that’s because he is also part of the same Church, as you and I are, so within those bonds, we’re able to engage accordingly. My concern is that we sometimes have a tendency to think that what we have found to be true for us—to call out or to keep silent—is the only way the Spirit works in all times and all places. What if some are called to quiet but some are called to loud? Peters and Pauls, Marys and Marthas, and everyone inbetween?

    • Dammit, Preston, get out of my head.

    • Preston,

      At what point, though, does taking the battle to the online world just embolden rash behavior and give place to otherwise dismissable comments? In other words, if deal with the hurt caused one-on-one, in communities we see, taste, touch, and feel (including the online community), if we provide save places for mercy, grace, and healing, that’s one thing. But if we feel obliged to take on any pastor by name, to respond to every inflammatory comment, might that just further enable said pastor’s antics? Can’t we just let the fruit bear out and see whether it smells rotten over time?

      There’s another line here, which I think Ed touches on above. Much of what I’ve seen from both sides in this ongoing discourse between the neo-reformed and the non-neo-reformed camps has much of the save vitriolic flavor. I often find myself asking, “where’s the mercy?”

      Not that I’m the most merciful, mind you. I’m an offender here, too. I’m just working toward not being…

      • I get that. Perhaps a distinction worth drawing, and what I’m not always so good at, is between being a jerk and being harmful theologically. For instance, when it’s really bad Christology that a lot of people just accept without considering the consequence, maybe that’s worth raising a flag and saying, “No, Scripture and the tradition says this and we need some caution here.” But when it’s something just pithy, like the comment about the President, it’s not worth a mention. I tend to only be pissed, frankly, when it’s a theological contention that misrepresents God. And yes, for me that means a lot of neo-Calvinist claims that I find foreign to Scripture and to an understanding of Second Temple Judaism, history, and interpretive intent. But then again, that’s what I study, and why I study it is rooted in the conviction that we have some people who are able to speak a little too loudly when all they have are largely opinions on Scripture and a fistful of Greek and Hebrew. It’s the disregard for education, thoughtfulness, and conviction rooted in the Spirit’s guiding through being informed of context and interpretive focus that troubles me most.

        • I like the distinction, and when you choose to respond, I like this tone. This seems to be where the mercy comes in. I suppose there’s a difference between raising the flag and raising the sword.

          Good words, Preston.

          • “difference between raising the flag and raising the sword.” Seth – this is the distinction I have been wrestling with all day. Both you and Preston have articulated this issue so well for me. Thank you.

          • I love this distinction, too! Thank you. The challenge for me is when people start accusing me of raising a sword, when I am raising a flag. I listen to the Holy Spirit and my intuition and my counselor to help me determine what’s helpful for me. I know the difference between swords and flags. I’ve sometimes raised one instead of the other, but *I* recognized that difference on my own. I need others to trust that I know the difference and they have my blessing to unfollow or step away if they don’t like my flag. I know that I have the same responsibility to set up a boundary for myself if reading a certain critique isn’t helpful for me.

            I also have to trust that others are on different tracks and timelines than me. If it’s not helpful for you to speak up or you don’t feel passionate about the harm still happening in “local churches” all around the world or you feel a call to a specific action like Lore so beautifully describes here, then please don’t engage! I want to give all the freedom to listen and respond well. We don’t have the energy to do all the things all the times in all the cases.

            But I’m so glad that other people weren’t “over it” and done speaking up before I found my way out. These voices, this calling out, this sword waving AND flag waving were and still are vital to my health and growth.

            I’m still speaking up because A. I feel a call to do this in the ways I do. and B. I know there are people who are just beginning to realize that spiritual abuse exists and that it’s not okay.

            Step away from prophets. But trust them to determine what is a flag and what is a sword, and if you disagree, then step yourself back instead of trying to silence them. Others don’t have that understanding and trust yet. If you’re okay, then you step back.

            Make way for new people to see the flags.

          • Oo – I also like this raising flag versus sword – v helpful

        • This is such a helpful distinction for me, Preston. Thank you for putting my jumbled thoughts into words.

        • My thoughts exactly. Perhaps this post so resonated with me because I read it through the lens of Driscoll’s inauguration comment & assumed (for better or worse) Lore was writing out of this distinction.

          Either way, you are a brave one, Lore. Thank you for your words.

        • While I like the jerk vs theologically harmful distinction in theory, in practical terms that line is really blurry. If someone says that a self-professing Christian is not a Christian because that person doesn’t measure up to certain subjective standards (and defining those isn’t even possible in 140 characters!), it is both a jerk move, and at least a potential misrepresentation of God.

          I think we’re in agreement with this: it comes down to trusting the Spirit. When are we compelled to speak from genuine spiritual discontent, and when is it from aggrieved human nature? It requires consecrated discernment. And then, can we not at all trust that some of that discernment is happening in a church of thousands? (Is this lack of trust not behind at least some of the hostility fired Driscoll’s way, especially by those who call Mars Hill a cult?)

          My final thought on this is that if Mark Driscoll is not responding, can this really be called ‘engaging’ him? If this is not engaging him, but instead merely a bunch of Christians who just got trolled by him (again!), then I think we all start to look pretty silly.

        • I tend to only be pissed, frankly, when it’s a theological contention that misrepresents God. And yes, for me that means a lot of neo-Calvinist claims that I find foreign to Scripture

          But do you not see that the Calvinist might also say that your view is foreign to scripture and misrepresents God? Are we all to get angry every time someone else writes about a theological position that we don’t agree with (and frankly, we Christians have been disagreeing with for centuries!) This is why the old adage of – unity in essentials, freedom in non-essentials and in everything, charity – is a helpful paradigm. Most of the controversies of late seem to me to be non-essentials.
          Ironically, I only ever seem to read of Pastor X’s latest transgressive comment from those who appear to have set themselves up in opposition to the Reformed camp. As another commenter has noted, there are a heck of a lot of self-righteous eye-planks around the internet at the moment. This is why I find this post so very helpful, and would add that alongside this idea is that Pastors need to remember that the internet is not their congregation. Adding to public discourse is one thing, but I think the internet and social media can easily blur this important distinction.

          • “Adding to public discourse is one thing, but I think the internet and social media can easily blur this important distinction.”

            I pray about this blurry line a great deal. Thanks for sharing here, Andrew.

      • But it’s not just about picking apart every little thing these pastors say. Because if that were it, I would agree that it’s a waste of time and just fuels their arrogance and behavior. And it’s not just about whether I personally agree with the theology. If it were, then that would be a time for intelligent conversation. But some of these men are actually abusing church members. We need to ask ourselves why there is an entire web site devoted to people speaking out against the abuse they have suffered at Mars Hill. Naming the abuse, and the perpetrators, is necessary in order to keep it from continuing. As fellow Christians, we absolutely have a responsibility to make sure that the people getting our priority are the ones who have been hurt, not the abusers. Too often I see “But we need to have GRACE for the abusers, too!” thrown around as though talking about our suffering at their hands is tactless and ungodly. Grace for the abusers isn’t allowing them to get away with it without consequence, and it isn’t about keeping it quiet so they don’t feel public embarrassment.

      • Seth wrote: ‘Can’t we just let the fruit bear out and see whether it smells rotten over time?’

        Here’s the thing: I think the fruit HAS been born and ripened. It’s VERY clear what kind of gig Mark Driscoll runs. Speaking out about it is necessary.

        • KatR

          Unfortunately, as long as an abusive pastor can plant churches, there will be Christians who don’t care about the collateral damage.

        • Kent

          Obviously it’s not very clear what kind of “gig Mark Driscoll runs”. There seems to be quite a few people who Jesus has saved and redeemed and many whom he happened to do that to through Driscoll’s ministry. There also seems to be quite a few people who are irked or abused by him. How do you reconcile that. It seems to me, correct me if I’m wrong, that you and many others are wrongfully slandering him based on limited information. Think if I were to say “well Elizabeth Esther is SOOO judgmental because she wrote a mean comment on a blog”. Well that doesnt make much since maybe all your other comments are super sweet. I’m guessing, again correct me if I’m wrong, but you probably get most of your info on Driscoll from blogs and hearsay and out of context excerpts from his speaking and books. Those that worship him and think he has no flaws and his authority is equal with the bible are in just as much wrong. To end my soapbox comment hear ill say this: Mark Driscoll is a sinner who God uses all the time (and more than most) to get people the message of the gospel. Sometimes his teachings are misrepresented to hurt people and sometimes he may just flat out teach something false. either way, lets calm down on the whole “the fruit has been ripened” bit if you havnt looked at all the fruit.

  21. lore, i think i hear where you’re coming from. it can certainly be wise to stay out of the fray, to love quietly where we are. absolutely.

    but this post reads like a judgment against speaking out against abusive leadership and abusive theology. that concerns me.

    not every is called to make a noise, and we certainly don’t all do it without sin. i want to raise the discourse, too, i really do.

    but my sisters are hurting. my brothers are hurting. an acquaintance on facebook reached out to me just this week with a story of unfathomable spiritual abuse that she suffered in an acts 29 church. she was so burned by the people of God who were silent–or complicit–that she cannot even call herself a christian anymore.

    thank God that you have a safe church. not everyone does–and not everyone can just leave if their household and community are completely enmeshed in that kind of controlling space–especially women who may be told to submit, forgive, show grace, and not rock the boat.

    i don’t want to police the world, either. i also desire to serve quietly, lead well, counsel gently, love deeply, walk humbly, and do justice.

    and i will speak out against abuses committed by the powerful in God’s name.

  22. This post absolutely broke my heart. I’m actually in tears. Because THIS exact reasoning is what kept people silent while *I* was being abused. “Oh, well,” they said, “that’s not happening in OUR church. That’s just happening in Fullerton.” MLK Jr. once said that injustice ANYWHERE is a threat to justice EVERYWHERE. Please understand that by cocooning yourself in your safe, gentle little environment where YOU are fed and by refusing to acknowledge the REAL abuses that are being done right next to you—you ARE complicit. Silence is complicit. I can’t tell you how TERRIBLY heartbreaking it is to see Christians all safe and cuddle up and happy in their safe little environments and say: “ah, well, at least that kind of thing doesn’t happen HERE in MY church, thank you Jesus!!”

    Yes! God is in control but WE are His hands and feet and voices in this world!

    Please reconsider your position on this. It directly contributes to spiritual abuse.

    • Sarah

      I agree with this. You can’t distance yourself from something by saying it happens there, not here, and therefore it doesn’t matter. Scripture is pretty clear that what affects one member of the body affects us all. If people have been hurt as the result of Driscoll or whoever – and they HAVE – we are all, however indirectly, hurt.

      Also, I wouldn’t be so quick to discount the impact of blogs, podcasts, websites, etc. the Internet is very real, fil of real people behind real keyboards with real hurt. Driscoll hasn’t directly hurt me but other [mega]churches have. It bothers me that he continues to hurt others because I know how it feels, in some small way. As a Christian, it IS my problem – even if he’s not my pastor, even if I don’t see it in “real life.”

    • I concur, Elizabeth. We should speak up when we see abuses, not stay silent.

    • plus, are we not all the Church? we are each others’ keepers.

      people dismiss westboro baptist as a fringe hate group but people still hang onto driscoll’s every word. speaking out matters when people are being hurt.

      love to you, EE. xo

      • yes, as long as his books are number 1 NY Times best-sellers, I will be speaking out about him.

        • Do what you gotta do, Sarah, but recognise that controversy is a key factor in book sales.

    • Thank you for speaking up, Elizabeth. This is my biggest, biggest concern with this piece.

      There are reasons to stay away from “internet squabbles.” But “not my church” is not one of them.

    • Thank you, EE. I had the same exact thoughts. Thank you for that MLK Jr. quote. I can’t even go to church anymore hardly (though I do have a happy place in Ohio that I can go to once and a while) because individualistic attitudes like this run so deep in churches. It’s not even just “It doesn’t happen HERE,” but goes further to “Well it’s not MY relationship.” “Those aren’t MY kids.” We ignore abuse because it’s not directly happening to us. How is that Christ-like? How is that anything like the early church where Paul went around calling out all the shit happening everywhere? It sounds more like American individualism to me, and I don’t want it.

    • Not to mention the fact that some of what these public figures say is translated into what smaller, local, unaffiliated churches do. I can vouch for having seen firsthand what happens when the abusive practices of a well-known church are carried over into the methods of local congregations. People are hurt and abused, and it’s excused because the leaders were just following the advice given by the people they consider to be authorities. Pastors like Mark Driscoll are, intentionally or not, giving permission to pastors of smaller churches to do the same things.

    • I get where you’re coming from, Elizabeth. But here’s the problem: this tweet isn’t directly abusive, at least not in the way that you are describing. Obama is more powerful than Driscoll, so there isn’t an irresponsible power differential at work here — oppressing the “little ones”.

      Abuse is defined by the victim. While I don’t deny that there are victims of that church — likely more than just the few who have gone public — if the majority of a megachurch’s members do not regard themselves as being abused, but as being under the care of a pastor who submits to the authority of scripture (as countless do), it is the height of arrogance to make accusations from outside on their behalf.

      We should all be aware of abuse, and be prepared to take an active role where we feel directed. But that doesn’t require us to all turn into full-time cause-mongers. Protesting abuse can quickly become abusive (witness Twitter this week), and then good work slips into just another brand of human-nature-driven hypocrisy.

      Why does he provoke so much shock and outrage? Mark Driscoll has has tweeted some pretty rash, irresponsible stuff. He’s going to keep doing it. That’s his schtick.

      And so when yet another Driscoll-induced controversy breaks, I just roll my eyes.

      He’s not my pastor.

      • Brad: I’m not sure you get where I’m coming from at all because my comment had nothing to do with Driscoll’s tweet regarding President Obama.

        As far as being “full-time cause-mongers,” well, I guess God calls each of us in different ways. Maybe full-time cause-mongering ain’t your gig and that’s fine. :) But just because it isn’t YOUR particular calling doesn’t mean it’s not mine.

        Frankly, I didn’t ask God to call me to speak out against abuses in the church but I suffered much spiritual abuse and now, I speak about it. Yes, sometimes I make mistakes. Sure, sometimes my “good work slips into another brand of human-nature hypocrisy.” But I’ve finally come to realize that sometimes I speak imperfectly but it’s better than saying nothing.

        There is truth in what many of us wounded survivors have to share. You can roll your eyes and say it’s not your problem, not your pastor, not a big deal. But we will keep speaking.

        We are not going away.

        • Okay, but you’re commenting on a post that is written specifically about these pastors’ public personae, and not one that addresses abuse specifically. So in the comment section, you are introducing your own agenda, and critiquing the writer for not meeting that.

          As well, you’re making an assumption about my reaction to your pain. I am not rolling my eyes at you. I’m not at all trying to invalidate your pain, or indeed you as a person. Speak! Blog! Tweet! Share your story with the world. Your story could be highly instrumental in helping others to see their pain that they may not even recognise they’re carrying, and provide them with a path of healing. Amazing! AMAZING!

          But recognise that it is *your* story.

          We all see the world through our own eyes. Richard Rohr has said that if our pain is not transformed, it is transmitted.

          Finally, if you legitimately believe your calling is cause-mongering, I urge you to consider the places in the Bible where Jesus talks about an easy yoke and a light burden, and the invitation for the heavy-laden to come to him for rest. It was never put on our shoulders to fix all the problems of the world. And while you may not agree with me, it is something that I thank God for.

    • Royce

      None of us are free if one of us is chained.

  23. i’m honored to know you Lore. how crucial you were in the hand of God, leading me also to a church not so conveniently located around the corner.

  24. Lore, according to your website, you go to an Acts 29 church. If what Mark Driscoll is doing is not a problem (for you, apparently) now, when does it become one?

    • (Didn’t mean for that to sound sarcastic or mean-spirited at all. Genuinely curious.)
      Mark may not be your pastor, but he is the co-founder, on the board of directors, and is the former president of Acts 29.

  25. Hey, I love this post, but wouldn’t you say that in a sense it is a bit paradoxically offered? You are denying the need for what you find outside of the local church, but here you are, offering something outside of the local church… Seriously, this is great stuff – but without some kind of bridge between your premise and what this actually is, it could be seen as a bit on the duplicitous side – something seems to be missing… peace.

    • I agree with you =) I know that doesn’t help, not at this point, but I do agree with you.

  26. Amen. Give it a rest. Thank you.

  27. I don’t believe it is fair to say that if injustice and abuse isn’t happening in your church community then it doesn’t concern you. Abuse, no matter what it is dressed in(spiritual, sexual, emotional etc.) is wrong ALL of the time, and it isn’t helpful to stay silent about it.

    We, as the body of Christ, must concern ourselves with injustice and abuse, wherever it is occurring. If we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear, we propagate the abuse.

  28. Jake Trimble

    and yet, it’s the Socia Media Big Time Church Book Making Wrestler named pastor in the title that probably has brought more readership to this extremely well stated piece than the quality of the writing and the well-made point.

  29. John Lussier

    I appreciate this post as a call away from the constant finger pointing many of us have given into with our acceptance of social media. We unquestionably give in to the thought that people need to hear what we have to say about everything.

    I appreciate this post for its emphasis on the local church. The covenant community in a local context is THE hope of a world that is made up of individuals facing technological powers like consumerism, statism, etc.

    That said, I can’t help but think of church history. Times when people in the name of Christ did horrible things. When people did things they thought was right, but were actually incredibly hurtful, in the name of Jesus. What I can’t help but think that if we don’t police our own, if we don’t honestly discuss things that are in are purview, we’re harming ourselves and one another. The body of Christ is not a local church, isolated to itself, never calling other bodies to a cause or correction. Church history, including Scripture, is full of times when people needed to be called out for things. If we cannot honestly discuss things, in a civil manner, full of truth and grace, we’re not acting as the Church.

    Yes, social media and other technology has made this discussion wider and more open for all to comment on, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. When a pastor speaks publically, when he gives a sermon, or Tweets, or what have you, he is responsible for his own words and at the same time the Word, including the rest of the body of Christ. These things must be dealt with locally of course, but when an entire body sits in silence others have to speak out. If we refuse that responsibility, we give into the inevitable individualism of our day and age. The Body is connected.

  30. I would like to add one thing. Lore, you quoted this Scripture: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort….” If we are called not only to preach the word but also to reprove, rebuke and exhort–then doesn’t it follow that if we see and hear error we ought to speak up about it?

  31. While I understand your frustration with the sometimes endless vitriol poured out via the internet, Lore, I fear you are tossing the baby out with the bathwater. Others have listed vitally important reasons for us to rethink what you’ve said here and how you’ve said it. One thing this crazy cyberworld has shown us is that we ARE connected across all kinds of visible and invisible lines. And what affects one part of the body, affects us all. So when men with the stature and celebrity of Driscoll and Piper choose to pour their message out via these internets, why shouldn’t there be a response in the same medium? Now the tenor and tone of that response needs to be measured and thoughtful (although I don’t think either of these men is particularly either of those things, especially Driscoll – I think he is deliberately inflammatory). And surely grace needs to lead the way. But ignoring abusive behavior and language is pretty darn close to accepting it, in my book. So I am puzzled by the underlying assumptions in your post today. This one I totally agree with : God is on the throne. BUT – it is so clear from scripture that WE are to be the hands and feet and mouth and heart of God here on planet earth. That’s the design. That’s part of our purpose. So. . . because God is on the throne, and because we are called to represent him here, therefore. . . THEREFORE. . . we are also called to call out injustice when we see it, hear it, read it. I don’t think we are called to form a holy huddle and pat ourselves on the back if things are going well in our community and totally ignore harm being done down the road – or across the country. I guess I move in a different direction from the basic premise we both agree on. Somehow, I think we can both trust the sovereign care of God AND actively intercede on behalf of others.

  32. My understanding of the Gospels is that Jesus constantly challenged the religious leaders of his time who were abusing their powers to exploit others around him. Flipping the tables over in the temple, challenging hypocrisy — while drawing in the dirt, riding a donkey into Jerusalem – the center of the Western religious world, as an act of condemnation on the leaders who had failed the people, are all examples (and there are many many more) of Jesus refusing to keep silent about the abuses of religious folks.

    As a Quaker, my tradition cut its teeth on following Jesus’ example in this regard. Calling out the hypocrisy, the inauthenticity, and the “opportunism” of the Christians in seventeenth century England set the example for certain prophet communities refusing to remain silent.

    As a preacher, so long as there is a Church, and there are abuses, misinterpretations, and oppression underwritten by the theology of these gatherings, I will refuse to remain silent. I will use whatever tools I have at my disposal, whether it is a whip like Jesus, a leather hat like George Fox, or a twitter account. God calls us to side with those who are oppressed and be in solidarity with them.

    Therefore, I hear what you are saying about being a part of your church. But it is not only okay, it is part of what it means to follow Jesus, to speak out when things don’t look right. That is how “God got this.”

  33. Hi all,

    Thanks so much for your comments on this today. I’m blessed by all the thought-filled questions and observations on this post and wish I had time to email each of you individually to respond. I might still do that because I think this is important enough to the healthy of the Church, but no promises, sorry!

    I do want to specifically say thank you to Preston. Preston, your thoughts are always clear and gentle and I am very appreciative of the distinctions you draw. And I agree with you! I absolutely agree with you. Where I might draw a clearer line, though, is to say that we don’t fight fire with fire. So yes, absolutely, there are some called to point to heresy and the like, and there are some called to go about lives quietly, I think both are called to gentleness. And just because one doesn’t act with gentleness, doesn’t give the other parties leave to act with vitriol.

    I also wanted to answer Kristin’s question about my church and Acts 29. Well, I want to answer it by giving a sort of non-answer. Kristin, if you read my personal blog today I talk about how if my local church and its leaders begin to go the way of danger, I will see it as my business to get involved. But getting involved doesn’t mean addressing things on social media repeatedly until I get someone’s attention. We’ve got great avenues for dealing with out-of-line teaching, poor leadership, etc. at my church and because I’m grafted in there, I find those avenues safe and good places for me to go about things. That’s not a cop-out. That’s the truth. I’m not blind to issues on the small or large scale, but I’m grateful I get to see those issues through on the local church level.

    To all the rest, thanks for reading. I ache deeply for the stories we each have and the wounds we carry around. Those are very real things and I never mean in any way to discount them. But I also don’t mean to keep my hand over mine for the rest of time (oh, yes, I have my very own, very real, very painful story with patriarchy, church discipline, and poor leadership all a part of it =)).

    • I want to say that I appreciate that you’re so willing to listen to what’s been said. If only everyone were so open!

      I did want to add, though, that I think you’re lucky if your church would be open to listening if they were straying toward dangerous practices and that being grafted in would give you the ability to be heard. Sadly, that is not the case in many churches that have latched onto the kinds of teaching found in Mark Driscoll’s books. My family saw it happen–as soon as they began buying his books, the leadership began to grow more and more abusive toward church members. There was no listening or talking about it; what they said went, and that included dealing with members in harsh and hurtful ways. We finally chose to leave before we ended up at the mercy of these men. When we left, we chose not to disclose the reasons because we thought we were likely in a minority. I also chose to “soften” my explanation when I wrote about our journey out on my blog. Since then, I have come to question the wisdom in this. When terrible things happen, they shouldn’t be hidden in the darkness of secrecy and shame. One of the reasons for naming the abuse is so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

    • Lore, thanks for replying.

      Sorry, I wasn’t implying that you should use social media to get anyone’s attention.
      Since you are part of the Acts 29 network of churches, I was wondering if you’ve ever brought up the harmful teachings of Mark to your leaders and ask how it might affect them and the/your church.

      But, I guess from your reply, it has to trickle down to *your* church (aka *you* have to experience it) before you feel it’s a problem? And actually, what if there are problems in another branch of your specific church (there are 3, yes)? Would you mention it then? How close does it have to get before it has your attention?

      I just don’t understand the line you draw, I guess.

    • Lore: Thanks for your response, here. Since you attend an Acts 29 church, I’m curious about why you didn’t mention that Mark Driscoll co-founded the Acts 29 Network in 1998. To me, at least, that seems like a very salient point.

      I realize Driscoll is no longer a part of the network but he was instrumental in its inception and, as such, definitely played a role in how these churches are planted and operated.

      Lastly, saying you never meant to discount the real wounds we carry while simultaneously suggesting we should stop blogging about these wounds is, well, discounting them.

      • KatR

        Mark Driscoll is still a part of the Acts 29 Network, according to their website. He is not the president, but he is part of the leadership team.

        • Yes, Driscoll is still very connected to A29. He is on the board of directors. It was a PR move – after all of the craziness happened around people being shunned by Mars Hill – to replace him with “nicer guy” Matt Chandler. I used to work for an Acts 29 church, and I don’t really understand how someone can try to disconnect that network from Driscoll. The history behind it is very important, and the basic sensibilities will never change. His influence is clear in everything.

          From my perspective, simply being involved in an Acts 29 church is – to some extent – an endorsement of who Mark is and what he does. Just like you can’t completely disconnect Luther from Lutherans, or Catholics from the long history of what has happened through the Catholic Church. Or, the fact that the Southern Baptist Convention BEGAN because they wanted to keep slaves. These things are historically important.

          Yes, people can make efforts to change things, but denying the history or trying to pretend that one of the network’s churches have nothing to do with Driscoll makes absolutely no sense. Acts 29 pastors and worship leaders all exist in a tiny world together where they pastor each other, and their stepford wives teach each other, and their “worship pastors” learn from each other. Trying to deny that link is to dissociate from the network. If you think this isn’t the case, ASK YOUR PASTOR what HE (notice the word he) thinks about Driscoll. If he says anything disparaging, eventually he will be removed from the network.

          I know what it’s like to be “stuck” in the position of trying to make things better and holding onto friendships and everything else while knowing, deep down, that you can’t keep supporting it. When I have the chance, I try to encourage people to dig deeper, and I promise they won’t like what they see. Eventually, they’ll leave.

          Yes, there are a lot of great people attending Acts 29 churches. But, from my perspective, it’s just not worth the damage that is being done by these churches to keep committing your time, your family, your money, etc.

          Acts 29 fits the (secular) description of a cult, plain and simple.

          • Rob,

            I appreciate your comments here, and yes, as Christians, we need to hearken back to our historical roots and see what we can learn. As a fella who has history in both the SBC and the Catholic church, I hope that I look back and see the shortcomings of both, and perhaps see how the history has affected my understanding of Christ. I know good people in both denominations (waiving at Elizabeth Esther right now), who struggle with the theology, attempt to change things, and otherwise live an authentic practice of faith that is tender and real. All that to say, I don’t think we can stamp the historical slave trade or the crusades on a modern believers of any ilk and generalize that they somehow perpetuated the crimes against humanity or that they should divorce their local bodies of believers.

            I think this would probably be true of Acts 29 churches, also. I’m sure there are some (maybe some in these comments) who attend these churches, live authentic Christian lives, and vehemently disagree with Driscoll on a host of issues. Plain and simply calling something a cult is dismissive and closes dialogue. I think it’s an over-generalization to apply that moniker to all churches in that network.

            And for the record, I do not attend an Acts 29 church.

          • Seth, I know my comments probably came off harsh. I wasn’t meaning to imply the kinds of things that you picked up on.

            As far as being a cult, I’ve studied this a lot and I’m sure if any expert really looked into it – so many “journalists” today won’t, and prefer to write fluff – they would agree. I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic or dismissive. I genuinely believe this to be the case. Why? Read all the stories that are floating around all over the internet, not just mine.

            If more people were aware of how the network actually functions, they would be more hesitant to dissociate any of the churches from the big dogs.

          • Rob,

            I think I understand what you’re saying. It’s just that our culture has found these sort of easy monikers (“cult” isn’t the only one; “Christian” may be an even bigger one?) that stall conversation. I’d love to have this discussion in more depth offline, because I want to understand the evidence. Would love it if you’d shoot me an email. (Will email you momentarily.)

            Again, thanks for dropping in here and I hope you’ll keep commenting. I just know how the original comment may be taken, even if that was not the intent.

            Peace, and email coming your way shortly.

          • When I first started learning about how A29 works, it basically came down to three things: 1. Reformed theology 2. male pastors and 3. relationships within the network. You simply can’t be part of the network if you aren’t agreeing to and shaping your church around those things. Something less than Reformed theology? Out! Women elders/pastors? Out! And, if you’re not participating in the network events and key relationships, then you simply have no reason to be part of the network.

  34. Brilliant post!! So well put.

  35. KatR

    First of all, thanks to those who have spoken out unequivocally on behalf of the spiritually abused.

    Lore, as Kristin mentioned above, according to your website, you attend an Acts 29 church. That’s a bit of info that should have made it into this piece. Mark Driscoll may not be your individual pastor, but he is certainly more your pastor than Warren or Bell, and neither one of those men have been accused of spiritual abuse on the scale that Driscoll has.

    What if you DID decide to concern yourself with the abuses at Mars Hill? What if you used your website to speak out about them? How would that go down at your church?

  36. Mikayla

    This post tugs on so many heart strings for so many reasons.
    I totally agree with you, Lore, that we have a huge responsibility to love those around us. That is the main point of your words here and I can see that and appreciate that SO MUCH. We are not doing a very good job of responding to one another and these reminders serve us all well.

    I also agree with EE and her point about silence.
    If we are his hands and feet, we simply can’t sit down and love those in our car while ignoring those suffering in a burning car down the road. The fire isn’t our fault, but the people inside are still our brothers and sisters. Likewise, I can’t ignore the call of the Church as a whole to love one another in favor of sticking to our own local bodies. I’m terrible at analogies-sorry.
    My point is, Mark Driscoll isn’t my pastor. But his church is my Church. That will always be most important tome,

  37. Josh

    This is brilliant, Lore. So well said.

  38. Kim

    Thank you Lore for this post! And, good news… Driscoll and Piper were both very instrumental in my salvation, so the Lord is using them for good! The Lord used their podcasts to open my eyes to His truth. Before He saved me, I hated church and hated most well known pastors. And then, He saved me. Unfortunately, Satan uses our differences (within the Church) to take our eyes of the cross. Let’s all focus on the cross and the Lord will take care of the rest. Besides we should be grateful our pastors aren’t perfect, otherwise, they wouldn’t need Jesus.

  39. Lore, I’m not sure how to best respond to your post here. I think Preston, Elizabeth, and Diana bring up some very good points. I guess I’ll make 2 points.

    First, all of the controversy that Driscoll stirs up is totally and completely on him. He tweets outrageous to garner attention. He knows what he is doing. We should not admonish hurt responders with things like it’s not our business and give it a rest. Driscoll’s tweet was an attack on not only the president’s faith but all who share a faith similar to his. It might even be taken as offensive to anyone of the 53% who voted for him. Not allowing a pained response (that admittedly will often look like anger) is not how we should respond to this type of controversy.

    By way of exaggerated example, the protestors who were getting driven back by a fire hose in Alabama in the 1960s shouted many “bad” things at those who claimed to be doing their job. No doubt some of the protestors wanted to do serious bodily harm to those wielding the hose. But no matter their response, they are the victims. The problem that needs to be addressed is not silencing the hurt voices. We need to hold the one who started this deluge responsible.

    My second point is social media is extremely powerful. Driscoll knows this all too well. It is the modern media of choice for today’s tele-evagelist. Maybe we should call them i-vangelists? In this case the i prefix can take on the poetic double meaning.

    We are absolutely pastored by podcasts, theologized by twitter, and found in Facebook. Just as reading books or listening to tapes and CDs and watching DVDs and telecasts. All of this impacts our world view and our theology. And Driscoll, like many others, is counting on this. My grandmother’s theology was remarkably similar to Billy Graham’s, although she never went to his church and never met him IRL.

    By way of a practical example, this blog post attempts to forward a theology of a local church involvement. A possible side effect of your post may be to influence readers to focus on their local churches and not jump into controversial forays on the internets. However, for your blog to have this type of impact, your words shared here in social media must power. And social media must matter. Greatly. In fact, over 300 facebook likes have occurred on this post and around 100 tweets. Which is how I discovered your blog. Very powerful.

  40. You’re right that in-person community is much (MUCH) more important than anything that happens online.

    And while all believers need to be engaged in a local gathering of believers, there’s nothing mandatory about participation in any online interactions at all. And a lot of times, it’s better not to.

    But if we’ve chosen to participate in the online gathering, as all of us here obviously have, then we’re obligated to take a stand against those who promote evil in Jesus’ name.

    Besides, if it’s appropriate to call out grace-less responses to celebrity pastors (and I think it is!) then surely it’s also appropriate to (graciously) call out the pastors themselves. =)

    Especially since even though Mark Driscoll may not be your pastor, he really is pastor to a lot of people’s pastors.

  41. Tracy Forde

    Lo….I love you. I am blessed to be in covenant with you. So thankful that you live what you write. I love your heart. I get this post. In an age of disconect I am learning that I have to fight for local connection and serving. There are those to my left and right that I am not reaching out to but I have found time to hit send or tweet those I may not meet this side of heaven. Thank you for the challenge. It’s definitely messy to let yourself really connect with what is in front of you…next door to you…around the corner from you…but it is the most beautiful messy. The sad thing about living mostly in the social media world is that I would never experience the face to face, eye to eye, tear filled process of extending and giving grace.. that I have only found in grace filled covenant community with those who are near me. I have to remember that God is ultimately the defender of His name and He is more concerned about His glory than I am, because I know my motives are tainted…no matter how I wish this was not true. Thank you for your transparency. Thank you for loving me deeply. Thank you for this post.

    • Tracy Forde

      I meant to say….the process of extending and receiving grace. The full extent of that process happens in real life…with those who are near.

  42. Sandgroper

    If you haven’t read “Purpose Driven Life” who haven’t missed much, let me assure you. Unfortunately, when you attend a church where the teaching is weak & directionless, you end up starving spiritually. So you gravitate to where some good spiritual food can be found. However if the teaching is of similar nature to Driscoll or John Piper, even if it is regurgitated, you will grow where you are. I would add one name/ministry to your list to check out. Craig Hill, of Family Foundations. An amazing ministry I only wish I came across him 20 years ago. Life changing.

  43. amylynn hunt

    I don’t know who Mark Driscoll is, but my church is in another state because I have had a rotten illness that has kept me in bed for 20 years and one month. So i’m SO grateful that many churches are available on the internet. If my “When i was well” church were on-line, that wouild be what i’d do. But for now, i’m so grateful for The Gathering in Nashville!

    Just another perspective. :)

  44. This is a great reminder. (I think AL Mohler said a similar thing ‘YouTube is a terrible pastor’) when asked about people listening to Driscoll. It’s so easy to get sucked into the individualistic & consumerist nature of online pastors. A good reminder that God calls us to commit and submit to local expressions, for our good, and the good of those around us.
    I would also say that the other side is that Pastors need to remember that the internet is not their congregation either. I think that many of the issues people bring up about ‘rebuking’ would be minimised if public discourse was just that, discourse, and not coming from a position of pastoral care, as it can easily do. I think there’s an important disctinction there. In fact, the nature of some of the blogs who seem to regular oppose certain pastors and theologies, is that they can and in cases have become quasi-pastors themselves, but without any of the oversight or accountability (and indeed, this is why the ‘rebuke’ can easily turn into judgemental self-righteousness).
    One thing that is important to remember is that context will determine the nature of pastoral care; e.g. a pastor probably isn’t going to approach a member in palliative care the same way they might approach a bunch of teenagers or middle-aged lawyers. Driscoll’s approach might be appropriate for certain groups who respond to, and need a hard approach, but clearly it’s an affront to others, which is why using it as a generic broadcast approach is really unwise (and uncalled for). It is like a pastor entering the palliative care ward like it was the rough and tumble of a young guy’s camp or something.

    I don’t really buy the defence that shouting down people like Driscoll is about looking out for friends. I’m sure I’m not the only one who ever reads or hears about the latest gaffe through their opposition (despite theoretically being in the same camp!) but I think that your point comes back here, in that if we really are connected and *covenanted* to our local expressions of the church, then that’s how we care for our friends, not via public shaming.
    I’m also going to step out with something perhaps controversial and say that this is kind of an American phenomenom.. all the ‘love to hate’ figures we’re talking about are American, aren’t they? (I’m not btw) So I wonder if there’s something cultural at play as well? *ducks*

  45. I hear you, Lore. And I get the heart of your post. I agree with the call you make for us to remember our “small” and spend our energies nurturing our individual church communities.

    My gentle addition to the conversation would go something like this: To me, it’s not about abstaining from or joining in a certain kind of conversation for or against this pastor or that pastor. I am an advocate for knowing WHO you are and WHAT your contribution is within the body of Christ. There are those of us who carry the grace to stand between the abused and the abuser, navigating and mediating their individual stories with wisdom, love and yes, sometimes fierceness too. (But, never hate.) Then there are those of us who need to stay quiet because our gifts lean in another direction entirely, eh? Etc. Etc. Etc. :)

    Love you,

    • Good comment, E-$. Good, indeed.

      And somehow, I wish there were time or space for Lore to share her contributions to the local church. And you to share yours. And the many others in this thread. I think we’d find (gently, as you say), that we’re much closer akin to each other than this thread might indicate.

    • Thanks Erika. This is great and I receive it gladly! love you too =)

  46. I am grateful for those who have written about abuse of spiritual authority and skewing of doctrine. I credit them with preserving what shreds of sanity I had left. :-) This is now a major theme of one of my blogs – to speak from my experience and research to spare others the pain. There is certainly a place for that in the global forum of ideas.

  47. I loved this. I go to a church with a hodgepodge of people, from all sorts of different traditions. It’s messy and we disagree on a million and one things, but we have unity in Christ. We submit to each other. Learn from each other. Sharpen each other. I’m not hearing nearly enough about the really great local churches out there that are learning and loving and discovering the Gospel together. Thanks for adding your voice!

  48. Brian

    The ultimate dissolution of the church and perhaps Protestantism’s lasting legacy; I don’t care what those people over there think as long as it’s not here. Wrapping a broken church in pious language doesn’t change the reality – we are not one and, IMHO, the Spirit grieves.

  49. Well said! Sometimes I feel sorry for pastors who have congregants whose “real” pastor is some celebrity pastor. And I feel sorry for congregants whose “real” pastors are men they don’t know and never will.

  50. So much of the wisdom in Ecclesiastes 3 can be applied to this… there is a time for every matter under heaven. We all belong to the greater body of Christ and His plan for establishing the Church was to bring the wisdom of God to a broken world, to bring healing and set captives free – not bind them back up or further. With that… there is a time to speak up — when those who have been appointed as shepherds are not feeding the sheep, not strengthening the weak, not healing the sick, not binding up the injured, being forceful, harsh and basically unloving. Scripture tells us specifically that God gets really pissed off when shepherds do this to HIS sheep. That being said, because the Church is the thing Jesus wants to use to bring Love and Peace to the world, those of us who love Him ought to contend for her. We do need to plant ourselves deeply as you have done Lore and love, serve, give, trust, and place ourselves among the community of believers who will love us, trust us and walk with us. Because the Church was given as a gift to believers, so it could be a gift to the world. Blessed to be a blessing which I think was the original plan. I love this post and I love the Church and pastors who abuse the people who have been entrusted to them will get theirs. I’ll stop now.

  51. patricia

    It is sad that in neither this post nor in the comments, does anyone mention the corrosive effect pastors like Mark Driscoll have on those outside the church–those who look on and think, “So that’s what God’s all about? No thanks.”

    • I am a member of a Unitarian Universalist church in Seattle. I’d describe myself on the Christian side of that faith. My church has many atheists in it. Did I mention that we are in Seattle, where Mars Hill got its start?

      Dare I say that Mark Driscoll’s marketing is so effective, that for some who never grew up with a faith, when someone says “Christian” that he is what they think of? It’s true. Not First United Methodist, not Plymouth Congregational, not any of the other large, Christian churches were perhaps more mainline ideas. Mars Hill. As a result, lots of people are turned off because they think Christian must equal judgey and harsh – which are the ways Driscoll comes off. He shuts a door, because he doesn’t remind people of Jesus.

      The loudness matters because it is what those who are not Christian here most clearly, if one is interesting in spreading the Good Word, they need to understand what it sounds like.

      • patricia

        Yes, and there is Pat Robertson, and there is a long list of Evangelical leaders for the last 2.5 decades who, by their money-hunger and desire for gaining and maintaining power, have smeared the name of Christ so badly that people turn away in disgust.

        I once heard a sermon that drew a line between “not taking God’s name in vain” and not cheapening the image of God through the we present ourselves to the world.

        My best to you over there in Seattle!

  52. Lore:

    Great post. The local church can only thrive when we get involved, dig deep and invest in our church body and others in the community.

    I’m just very disappointed to see the outright hate being thrown against Mark Driscoll and John Piper in this thread from people who from their own statements are more interested in emotion than the Bible. They scream about abuse, they scream about hurting people, they scream about how evil and mean some pastors are for quoting the Bible and actually saying Christians should obey the Bible.

    I’ve read the blogs of some of the commenters and it’s clear to me they’re offended because the Bible doesn’t line up with the humanistic/socialistic “Christianity” they want to build where they can pick and choose the Scriptures so the world will think they’re great Christians. (You can see this in people who continually comment about having to tell non-Christians someone’s not like them. They seek the approval of the world and not Christ.)

    Some bloggers make a cottage industry by throwing hate toward Driscoll, Piper and others while claiming they’re somehow more Christian and enlightened than anyone who might *GASP* might agree with them on matters of theology.

    Does abuse happen in the church? Sure. And when it happens, it should be called out in a manner consistent with Biblical principles. When true abuse in the church is covered up, Christ is not honored. The church has a bad track record of wanting to cover up actual abuse to keep things “in house” when in reality the person needs to be brought out and exposed like the man who had his sister’s wife that Paul excommunicated from the church!

    And I’ve seen that abuse first hand. I’ve had pastors multiple times use their authority for their own personal gain or wield their power to manipulate and destroy. I’ve seen pastors that cover up a deacon’s addiction to pornography or adultery because they want to “keep the peace” in the church. I’ve been asked to leave a church because I stood beside the family of a man convicted of child abuse when the FAMILY was asked to leave the church as sinners because they didn’t publicly renounce their husband/father. Abuse happens. What I described about that family is abuse.

    But not every pastor who may hold to the Biblical truth of Scripture is abusive. Not every pastor who says that gay marriage is against the Scriptures is abusive. Not every pastor who believes in the roles of men and women being different is being abusive. Some people like to wave a big brush around that pastors who are preaching something that isn’t liberal-leaning, world-pleasing and devoid of calls to repentance to sin is somehow being abusive.

    I’m sure many of the people I just mentioned will now go ballistic because someone stood up to their bullying. However, it’s just time for the critics to realize they don’t get carte-blanche to claim abuse any time someone doesn’t line up with them and that despite their hate for Driscoll or Piper or Chandler or A29 or any of the others in their target group, there is a solid Biblical basis for a lot of the things they’ve said. (They’ve been wrong a few times, too…but nowhere nearly as much as those driven by hate to go after Driscoll.)

    And before you say you’re doing it for Jesus, go back and read your posts in this thread. There’s very little Jesus. There’s a whole lot of hate. Maybe…and I’m saying MAYBE here…some of your hate is driven by things within you that haven’t healed or you haven’t given them fully to God. Perhaps less time attacking Driscoll or someone on the internet and more time seeking counseling, prayer, reflection, etc. would be a better benefit to you.

    • patricia

      Dear heart, you do not understand several aspects here:

      1. There is the body life and there is the witness. Because the Christian community doesn’t make it a practice to check it’s leaders, witness suffers badly. That is because those leaders who tend to be loudest and most aggressive are the ones that are heard across the nation, and those types of personalities are the ones most inclined to power-hunger. Therefore. that is what people on the outside see as Christ. Who would be attracted to that? No one, because it is wrong. This is simple and inevitable as 1 + 1=2, and it’s the responsibility of broad Christian leadership to stop it when it happens. Unpleasant, of course, but so it goes.

      2. It would be helpful to learn the difference between criticism and hate, as well as between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. The woman who runs this site has a lovely generous heart and commenters have written in the same spirit. I read no hate or bullying–only anger. But anger is God-given, right? There is righteous anger, for eg. Even God gets angry. We shouldn’t “let the sun set” on anger, that’s all. Anger can co-exist with love–in fact, the healthiest anger always emerges from love.

      3. You make it clear that you believe Driscoll is much more correct than incorrect and that he is essentially doing fine, given general human weakness. Ok, but that is the debate. Other people disagree. It might be useful to take the issues one by one and tell why you think he’s not doing them wrong. That is the way to be respectful and loving to others, rather than judgmental and rude.

      For eg, it is plainly unhelpful to write that the critics paint with a ridiculously broad brush, then breathlessly follow it by saying they think “pastors who are preaching something that isn’t liberal-leaning, world-pleasing and devoid of calls to repentance to sin is somehow being abusive.”

      4. I go on the premise that all Christians are “doing it for Jesus”: Mark Driscoll, the commenters here including you, the broader Christian body and it’s leadership. That premise allows us to always take the generous position. Naturally it doesn’t allow us to shmooze everything over but it gives us the spirit and context from which to move.

      5. Of course many pastors are humble, loving, clear-sighted people! They know they are the servants of the rest of us because that is what leadership is. Laying down one’s life for the group. Not grabbing money and power and whipping people with harsh doctrine and discipline.

      6. There is the issue of being generous to the pastor and there is also the issue of being generous to those who have been hurt by him. There have been more than just a few stories about Driscoll’s leadership, and they are filled with pain. It would make sense for us to be most interested, for the sake of the body, to tend that pain. After all, when you break your leg, you don’t ignore it.

      7. So, do you think I have gone “ballistic”, Jason? 😉

      I apologize for the length.

  53. Butch

    As a pastor I am very concerned about how people perceive what we taech and preach.However in reading many of these posts I see way too much faith put in your pastors.I constantly remind the people of the churches I pastor that I am human and therefore I am not perfect.Do not put your faith in me but in Jesus our Lord.He was and is the only perfect one. There were, in Pauls day, and always will be false prophets .While Paul said to test them ,He also said even if their motives were wrong at least they preached the Gospel,the good news that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners and I am one of those.Gifts of the spirit and being used by God is not relegated to only those who are followers of Christ.God does many things which are hard to understand and He alone chooses whom He will use and for what.Is it not enough to say here am I God use me in any way you choose or do not use me at all.I do not have to understand I just have to faithfully trust that God has a reason for all that He does or even allows.Having said that I saw many good comments here but I caution each of you to earnestly pray and seek God’s will for you.I find enough work to do in my own life.God started His church and it is after all His church not mine ,not yours the question is are you His and if you are ask and He will guide your actions.Anything else at all is yours and therefore it is sin pure and simple.

  54. Royce

    It is great being an Ostrich, isn’t it?

  55. Jessica.

    “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;
    reprove, rebuke, and lexhort, with complete patience and teaching.
    For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching,
    but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
    and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
    As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering,
    do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
    II Timothy 4:2-5 ESV”

    Is what I really got out of this blog post. I have itching ears unfortunately, so in this, I’m not perfect. However, it is very interesting to hear your point of view Lore.

    I did have to google dictionary ‘lexhort’.

  56. Great reminder. The gospel echoes this call.

  57. I MOSTLY agree with you here, but I would also say that if it weren’t for publishing, we would have very much lost out on the gospel, and thanking God for breathing scriptures–into a published format–is part of worship. Thanks be to God for his grace imparted through Paul writing to early churches, many of whom would not want to listen to a guy in prison who is so far distant…

  58. Thank you!

  59. Curtis Sheidler


    You write, “I don’t have to concern myself with how he teaches the book of Esther or how Mars Hill handles church discipline or how threadbare his tshirt is.”

    This, I think, is the nucleus with what I disagree with in your piece, so I’ll use this statement as sort of a guardrail for interacting with you on this.

    1. “I don’t have to concern myself with how he teaches the book of Esther…”

    Suppose (God forbid) a woman you know from church comes to you in tears, distraught because her husband, having listened to Driscoll’s sermons on the Song of Solomon, has become convinced “from the Bible” that his wife’s duty is to gratify his sexual desires in ways she’s not comfortable doing. Being a woman who dearly loves her Savior and who dearly wants to be all that the Scriptures call her to be, she asks you, “Does the Bible really teach this?”

    Is it still true that the way Driscoll teaches Song of Solomon doesn’t concern you or your local church?

    2. “I don’t have to concern myself with how…Mars Hill handles church discipline…”

    Suppose (God forbid) that your church finds itself in the position of actually having to engage in a church discipline process. Further, suppose (God forbid) that the elders who are deciding how to proceed on this issue have heard some of the horror stories emanating out of Mars Hill and decide on those grounds not to pursue church discipline at all, not wanting to be perceived as being tyrants or abusers themselves.

    Is it still true that what’s come out about the disciplinary proceedings at Mars Hill has no bearing on you or your local church?

    3. “I don’t have to concern myself with how…threadbare Mark Driscoll’s tee-shirts are.”

    Wait–your church isn’t on the official Mars Hill Fashion Advisory Board? Oh, okay, then I totally agree on that score.

    Joking aside, though, I think my chief argument about your piece is that while I think you’re right–indeed, GLORIOUSLY right!–to remind people that the local church is the covenant body that ought to receive their best effort and their chiefest concerns, nonetheless I think you end up being pretty myopic on how the present situation matters to each of us.

    See, Driscoll and Mars Hill aren’t the tiny church on the opposite corner of town, where the goings-on and the teaching there would only be available to snooping noses and prying eyes. They’re quite literally a global phenomenon exerting some pretty far-reaching influence, and for that reason I really think that the best way to serve your local church in this context is to observe what’s going on, evaluate it according to Scripture, and prayerfully consider how you can help your own local church not fall prey to the kind of disaster currently besetting Mars Hill.

  60. Braden Glett

    “I don’t have to concern myself with how he teaches the book of Esther or how Mars Hill handles church discipline…”

    I don’t need to be concerned about that person peeing into the pool, because I’m in the other end of the pool.


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