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Mark Driscoll - New Tales of Abuse, Unbiblical Authority and No Accountability

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This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you-- if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. - Titus 1:5-9 (ESV)

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God gives us detailed instructions for church operation and governance for a reason. Left to our own devices man sins, period. Unfortunately, one of the many distortions of God's plan resulting from the purposed driven church teachings is the creation of autocratic churches where the pastor, not Christ, is the de facto boss over their fiefdom. The CEO pastoral model is indeed heretical as it places the responsibility of God to grow the church upon the narrow shoulders of men who cannot possibly measure up to the task without severely compromising the Gospel. Today's Christendom is littered with the "church hurt" most of which have sworn off organized church and those who simply cannot find one that is truly biblical. The problem however is not the church - it is that the church is apostate. One of the main reasons for this falling away is an unbiblical view of leadership. The church belongs to Jesus Christ. Pastors are called by God to lead His sheep. The bible says they are not to lord over them. They have a Lord already. My old pastor was never perfect because no man is, but he always pointed me to Jesus and not himself. When we do not follow what God has already outlined, we set ourselves up for failure and the sheep to be scattered or slaughtered.

Perhaps one of the poster children for unbiblical pastoral leadership is Mark Driscoll. Once Mark was the darling of the evangelical world. Young, brash, and often shameless about his preaching style and substance people ignored early warning signs to the point that by the time he was out of control he was in complete control over his kingdom. Years of abusive behavior that Driscoll often bragged about piled up at Mars Hill Church, which saw as high as 15,000 weekly attendees. A staunch Rick Warren acolyte, Driscoll once famously mocked those that dared to disagree with him as being a "pile of dead bodies under the Mars Hill Bus." Because he was all about "blessed subtraction." The notion of blessed subtraction comes directly from Warren's purpose driven church and gives pastors the excuse to simply get rid of people who have the temerity to disagree with your leadership or "vision." When the elders started to complain about his behavior Driscoll got rid of them and replaced them with more favorable elders. This is not a practice belonging only to Driscoll as I have personally witnessed the same even in local churches. Eldership becomes a popularity contest and ultimately, a rubber stamp. By the time Driscoll officially fell from grace he was so far gone, even his own elders had no choice but to "discipline" him. Except Mark packed up his family and ran away from that discipline before they could officially announce it. Driscoll blasphemously declared God told him the elders were "planting a trap for him" and he needed to leave. Right Mark, sure. Besides the tales of decades long abuse of congregants, Driscoll also famously stole $250,000 in tithes to pay a PR firm to gerrymander the NY Times bestseller list so his new book could fraudulently become a top ten. A decision Mark defends to this day by declaring his elders approved the theft. After Driscoll slinked away in the night, he hunkered down for a few months before Brian Houston, Joel Osteen and Robert Morris facilitated his reentry into the Purpose Driven Industrial Complex. Soon Mark Driscoll would again open a church, this time in Arizona, called the Trinity Church.

If you thought Driscoll would repent and learn you overlook that he is essentially still a fugitive from church discipline. He blames all of his problems on others and paints himself as the victim of the collapse of Mars Hill Church, which has left thousands of people lost and spiritually bloodied. Things have been relatively quiet for a couple of years with just a Charisma News article here or there from Mark. Recently however the other shoe seems to have dropped. The first link above is a personal story about a family that went to Trinity Church only to abused and driven out after their 15-year-old son shared a kiss with Driscoll's 17-year-old daughter. The second link is to Warren Throckmorton, who has stayed on top of the Driscoll saga and has four entries about the new Driscoll story, including leaked organization charts that indicate he has solved the problems he had in the past regarding elders.

He simply got rid of them.

I encourage you to read through these sources for the finer details. Read about and see the actual organizational chart that Throckmorton acquired. On it you will see that there are no pesky elders this time for Mark to worry about. You can also see the organizational document that contains such theological nuggets as:

"Lightbulb - Pastoral but Lighthouse - Apostolic"

"Those who take up an offense for another are acting in a factious way."

"Accountability does not eliminate personal privacy."

"We are governed throne down, not pew up."

"Our church is a family business."

"You can get fired - 1) Performance 2) Heresy 3) Immorality 4) Factious behavior

The focus on the apostolic is a common buzzword within Charismaniacal circles. It is the same foundation upon which Driscoll built his multi-site Mars Hill empire. You can see it in his mock org chart that there are "Preaching Pastors" and "Campus Pastors." Instead of planting churches and raising up leaders, Driscoll retains all centralized power. This is not "kingdom" centered as much as it is "Driscoll centered." He remains the primary beneficiary. Then we see the built-in protections for Driscoll. Taking up offense for another is now deemed as "factious behavior", which is now grounds for losing your job at Trinity Church. Being governed throne down sounds pious but what it essentially does is warn any ordinary congregant from getting too uppity about the way this church is being managed. Kingdom down implies Jesus is first but since He will likely not be attending your business meetings, the second in command would be the pastor, Mark Driscoll. While he wants to pretend there is accountability, he does so by emphasizing that he will determine what is and what is not needed to be known. This may rub some pastors the wrong way but you give up a great deal of your privacy when you take the role of shepherding God's sheep. How you live your life is relevant. So overall, Trinity Church is not supposed to be any business, let alone a family business, which is a term usually reserved for the Mafia. Yet that is probably closer to what Driscoll has once again set up, this time in Arizona. He is the boss and no one can question the boss. If they do, they are deemed factious and we all know what the boss does to factious people. Just ask Fredo.

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