Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill, Church Discipline, and Wait. Grace is Missing.
Admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot about Mark Driscoll. I’m a little familiar with Mars Hill church. I know people that I’ve met face-to-face who have attended Mars Hill and confirm that there is, indeed, reason to heed the warnings in the stories of people who have been scorned by this church.
The issue at hand is the disciplinary contract handed down for a church member to sign. A man who sinned (and which one of us hasn’t?) and who repented. But in this church culture pastored and led by Driscoll, the man was issued a contract and when he prayed and thought it over and decided it might not be a good thing to sign, the church furthered their “discipline” by posting a letter instructing other members to stay far, far away from this man.
I was once a woman under “church discipline” and it’s hard for me, at this point, to say I’ve fully recovered. Enough time has went by, I’ve analyzed it ad nauseam, I’ve gleaned lessons, and moved forward. Or so I thought.
Until I read something like this and all the pain bubbles back up.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not sitting here in a ball rocking back and forth and drooling. It’s just that when I hear about things like this I hurt for the other soul that is being split apart over this ridiculous behavior being touted as “Biblical.”
Yes, I understand that sin has to be addressed, I understand that fully. Who, though, is addressing Mark Driscoll’s sin? How about the sin of his leaders?
And did they not read the passages that came before their outline for Biblical discipline?
Where is the grace? The forgiveness?
I’ve been in the place of this man, though I felt a little more like Job. I hadn’t sinned and ashes and coals were being heaped on my head. Maybe I felt more like Joseph, accused of wrongdoing and imprisoned and forgotten. What I know is the Senior Pastor of the church I called home set out to take me down in a very witch-hunt-like way. The meetings. Oh the meetings. Everyone got to speak and throw accusations and look down upon me and judge me. I was an unbiblical wife. I was a heretic. I needed to keep my mouth shut and learn in silence. I should quit writing because God doesn’t call women to write. And two notebook pages full of garbage like this. They told me I couldn’t serve in their church any longer in any capacity. They banged their hands on tables and shouted when my husband told them we weren’t going to respond to their accusations, that we were going to go home and filter everything through the Word of God and through prayer and we’d respond at a later date, after much prayer.
And I knew we didn’t belong there. In my heart, in my spirit, I knew these people were wrong. My husband knew, too. We left. They called us back to schedule more meetings, we declined. They told us we had to respond to their accusations and called almost weekly. And the emails. And more phone calls. And Lord only knows what was said through the gossip train known as the prayer chain.
Months went by and calls were still coming in. Would we come in front of the congregation to tell them how the pastor had lied? (no. I don’t want any part of taking a pastor down. He’s your pastor, you deal with him. He, along with you, are why we left.)
Then a few months later another call. Would I come back to teach the leadership team how to lead.
Really. This happened.
I learned big time lessons from what I had to endure.
Repeatedly, I heard from my (former) pastor that Satan’s plot in the conflict was confusion. He said it was ironic that just about the time God was going to do an “explosive work” at that church, conflict occurs. He said the devil wanted to make a turn in the road. The (former) pastor told me all about Satan and what Satan wanted and how Satan worked. I never once heard from him about how God was working. I find that disturbing and sad.
He also said, “This [situation,] given proper patience, prayer, and submission, will become a blemish in history not a turn in the road the devil wants to make it.”
Satan deserves no glory. There is One and only One who deserves recognition. The Lord my God.
I trusted someone else’s direction for my life (the pastor’s) instead of trusting Christ. God was trying to show me that I didn’t belong in the position the pastor appointed me. I thought Satan was trying to discourage me from being involved in women’s ministry at that church because Satan doesn’t like ministry. Sounds logical enough. It did at the time, anyway. I’ve learned that God was trying to get my attention by not furthering the ministry. I couldn’t hear Him, though, because I was too busy focusing on what the pastor was saying and by giving Satan glory.
I allowed myself to be deceived into believing that people who go to church know what God wants. I thought God must want me in women’s ministry if His shepherd put me there. This one hurts the most. I blame no one except for myself. The pastor appointed me Director of Women’s Ministry and I grabbed the job and ran with all my might. That is not what God had for me. And instead of asking Him, I just assumed that His shepherd knew what He was doing. Oh how foolish of me!!
I thought that God’s people should approve of God’s call on my life. Now this was just stupid of me to believe. I look back and think that if I’d only have paid attention to (for example) the story of Moses, I’d see that God’s people don’t always know or approve of what God wants.
I thought others should understand what God was asking of me and I thought it was my job to make them understand. Again, stupid. See Moses again.
I’m still learning from this conflict. I questioned God when it first started, but now I’m finding joy in the trial. I’d rather focus on the fact that God is testing my faith to discover what is in my heart and to increase the measure of faith He gave me, to give me endurance so that His work might be complete in me.
I pray that anyone and everyone who has been hurt by a pastor or a church will take the focus off the people and put it all on God. He will redeem you.