An Open Letter to Mark Driscoll

Dear Pastor Driscoll,

I’m sorry.

I don’t know what’s going on in your church or home, let alone your head right now. I don’t know the pain that you’re experiencing or all the details of the path that brought us to this point. I don’t even know what all the “scandal” talk is all about.

To me, that doesn’t matter.

Not because it’s not important or impactful to you, your family, and your church. But rather because it’s between you and the relevant parties. And I’m not one of them.

No, I’m sorry that there are so many believers who seem intent on eating you alive.

I think some of us think our intentions are good. Maybe they are. I’ve read several articles and posts about how people are concerned for you, your family, and your ministry. Maybe some of them even satisfied the Biblical requirement of having come to you first in private and then with one or two brothers.

Sadly, I fear there are also some whose intentions are anything but. Rather than offer you grace, we’ve offered analysis on how and why things went so wrong. Rather than supporting you and your family, we’ve offered sneering I told you so’s. Rather than bring you the healing balm of Gilead, we’ve gloated that finally, you’ve had your fall.

We’ve traded grace and compassion for jealousy and arrogance, and for that, I’m sorry.

Pastor Driscoll, I don’t know what the future holds for you, your family, or your church. But what I do know is that we all need the regular encouragement and accountability that comes through vibrant relationships . And sometimes, as pastors and leaders, it’s easy to become isolated so that we don’t receive either or both of these critical things.

If you find yourself in that sort of a situation, I would humbly offer myself as a friend. Email me. Call me. Stop in and chat with me. Here is my contact info.

The same goes for anyone else who finds themselves in your situation.

In His service,



4 Responses to “An Open Letter to Mark Driscoll”

  1. 1 Spaceman Spiff September 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I know it’s fun to join the party and make comments especially if you don’t know what it’s about, so I’ll give you a small hint and it should Crystal Kleer.

    1 Timothy
    3 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

    Hope this helps you understand. It’s not about tearing anyone down as much as it is adhering to what the One True God has said. I know in these times the majority of “christians” are theistic, moral, relativists, rather than true believers. I’m not saying you are, but that is where much of the confusion is coming from and then the general non-believers who want to tear down the church at all costs.

    • 2 jgeerdes September 2, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      You’re right, Spaceman. I don’t know what’s going on. And what concerns me is that the vast majority of people who are writing don’t know, either. One particular blogger who has posted numerous times about Pastor Driscoll, even including portions of correspondence from within the Mars Hill community, has been quick to condemn Driscoll but never explicitly explained what he’s condemning Driscoll for. Which leads me to think he doesn’t really know; he’s just eager to see Mark Driscoll fall.

      Like you, I love Scripture. I use 1 Timothy at least once per year to teach our church leadership team about our responsibilities as leaders in the church. And I know that Paul called in 1 Timothy 5, “Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid.” And I am certain that those who are tearing Driscoll apart right now feel that they are doing so in line with this mandate. But one verse earlier, in 1 Timothy 5:19, that same Paul wrote that, before you publicly rebuke someone, “Don’t accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses.”

      Now, I may be stretching a bit, but I don’t think it’s out of line to say that the accusation Paul was looking for has to be more than a general, “He did something wrong!” Further, I would note that, once an accusation has been leveled by two or three witnesses, Paul also said, “Publicly rebuke those who sin,” which seems to imply (at least to me) that the accusations should be duly investigated. And it seems to me that most of what people are kicking around about Driscoll right now amounts to ambiguities based on hearsay at best. And that’s not to mention the headlines which almost exclusively indicate that Driscoll has stepped down from the pastorate when, in fact, that’s not true: he’s stepped back for six weeks so that the church can investigate.

      I don’t know about you, but I am very wary of justifying untruths!

      Further, I don’t think Paul was telling Timothy, who was at the time leading the church at Ephesus, to go after leaders in the church at Philippi or anywhere else. Rather, he was telling the pastor at Ephesus to deal like this with the leaders at Ephesus. Why? Because he had a relationship with them. Remember, the entire book of 1 Timothy is written in the context of Paul’s relationship as mentor, friend, and co-worker with Timothy. And our authority to instruct, correct, and rebuke others – even leaders – hinges on us having a relationship with them, too. That relationship may be professional: I would expect the denominational authorities over me or my pastor colleagues around me to rebuke me if I went out of line. Or it may be personal: I would hope my wife or friends would call me out on something I was doing wrong that they saw.

      But I don’t have either of these sorts of relationships with Driscoll.

      And as far as adhering to what the One True God has said, has it ever occurred to you that the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, was actually the last of the armor of God Paul called the Ephesians to put on? He called for them to don the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation, all before they pulled out the Word of God. And in fact, is this not how Jesus operated, too? Matthew was a tax collector, known for his moral corruption and greed. Jesus didn’t approach him wielding chapter and verse; He said, “Follow me.” He didn’t smack Zacchaeus, another tax collector with a similar reputation, with a scroll. When all twelve of the disciples abandoned Him at Gethsemane, when Peter denied Him explicitly in the palace courts, and when Thomas refused to believe until he could see and feel for himself, did Jesus pull out “what the One True God said”? Not so much.

      I guess I wonder if the non-believers watching wouldn’t be more impressed if, instead of being quick to pull our sword to euthanize the fallen, we surrounded them with our shields of faith and allowed the Healer to minister to them.

      All that said, I come back to what I said in the post. I don’t know what’s going on. I have deliberately avoided reading some things, and I have been careful to not draw any conclusions about what Driscoll may have done or not done based on what I have read. Now, that’s not to say I agree with him. Indeed, there are many areas in which I disagree passionately. But that’s not particularly relevant to this discussion. He claims to be a brother, and for what it’s worth, I think he’s sincere in that. So I will treat him like a brother and offer a helping hand rather.

  2. 3 Spaceman Spiff September 3, 2014 at 4:38 am

    I’m not going to go into great detail into my personal experiences with Mark, but I will say that he was a great encouragement and developer of my faith when I was a new Christian and I am appreciative of what he did for me as my pastor.

    With that being said, I don’t bear the scars many of my friends do, who were his sheep that sat in the chairs or were employed at MH. The allegations being brought before Mark are nothing new, they were being brought forth as early as 2005 in public by elder respected statesmen of the faith, but many including myself gave Mark a pass as being young and “growing”. For me the more I listened to these elder statesmen, grew in my faith and understanding of the word and spent time around Mark I grew increasingly weary of always having to make excuses and defend my pastor for those issues lined out in 1 Tim. This would never be happening if other elder statesmen of the faith hadn’t been giving Mark a pass for the last six years at least. Mark is 43yo now and close to 20 years in ministry and these issues that have been brought about in the past shouldn’t be lingering. Even those who gave him a pass are now seeing how big the problem has become. One has stated, “This is without a doubt, the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with”. I do not wish to name names, but if you do your own research you will see that this is not a witch hunt, but rather an issue where Mark and many of the elders of MH have failed to heed the counsel and warning from some very wise and faithful men of the faith.

    You stated and I agree, “Indeed, there are many areas in which I disagree passionately. But that’s not particularly relevant to this discussion. He claims to be a brother, and for what it’s worth, I think he’s sincere in that. So I will treat him like a brother and offer a helping hand rather.” The issue is not whether we judge him as a believer, but we judge him according to God’s word as to whether he is a qualified Shepherd to lead the Sheep. Christ as the Shepherd never metaphorically “beat” his Sheep. I saw the fear in the other elders eyes. My wish is for Mark to repent, but he refuses to do so. Mark is very adept at semantics. He says he never uses the pulpit to make public statements, but he does repeatedly. If you do your homework, you will see that he does the exact opposite of what he says within minutes within several of his sermons.

    We are all called to be preachers and many do so on a daily basis either through our words or deeds we are preaching to, ministering to and bearing witness to those around us. Mark is great at preaching, even if I don’t agree with all of his hermeneutics, and can continue to do so in any capacity, in any vocation, but not all of us are called to be Shepherds and while Mark likes to think of himself as a Shepherd, when you enter and leave the stage from the back and avoid interacting with your flock as became the case and you crush the hearts and egos of the men you hand selected as elders only to destroy them and crucify them from the pulpit, you’re not qualified. There are people here in Seattle that, I don’t even know how to explain it and I know it sounds ridiculous, but almost show symptoms of PTSD. People deep visceral and adverse reactions to certain language used in the churches they seek out in hopes of healing. For example if a term or idea was used at MH and their new church has something similar there is a very strong negative reaction. Those of us that left and found other Acts 29 churches or never even went to MH, but are involved in an Acts 29 church are finding it difficult as we attempt to help these people heal. We’re attempting to figure out how we differentiate ourselves from MH as an A29 church without alienating those who were never affected, yet attempting to meet the needs of those who were.

    I could go into greater detail, but it is such a long story that should have been addressed long ago, but those in the circles I run in saw a rising star and an opportunity for “our” camp to get more of the spotlight. I wish Mark the best, but I’m tired of seeing him hurt people. The only reason it looks so bad is because the church’s laundry is being paraded around by the pagans. Had the church kept it’s house in order in the first place this never would have developed. The church will heal as it always does from each of these scandals, from Swaggart and Haggard, Osteen and Dollar, to Long, Bentley and Driscoll. Some are charlatans others just lost their way, only God knows their heart, but Christ’s church will not fall and this to shall pass.

    I see you’re a man of the cloth and I pray that you will reflect on what has transpired a will continue to until this issue is resolved and keep your heart in check. The pulpit can be intoxicating at times and lead good men to revel in their self, rather than Christ. Mark’s issues come from a place of narcissism and others in my circle fed that. Pride is the root of every sin there is and if pride in oneself is that special sin you can’t let go of, your humbling will be done by others sadly. Take care and feed the Sheep, even if they often times act like goats.

  3. 4 jgeerdes September 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    First, let me acknowledge the hurt you’ve clearly experienced at the hands of Mark Driscoll. And allow me also to applaud your resolve to help others who have experienced similar pain.

    My intent is not to excuse Driscoll’s behavior. Indeed, if any of the accusations which you and others have made are true – I am not in a position to say whether they are or not – then he needs to repent.

    Rather, my intent is to apologize for the brutality with which many in the church have gone after him. Some of the viciousness seems to be inspired by genuine hurt. Some of it seems to be driven by jealousness. Either way, I fear that the collective reaction is not in line with the spirit with which Paul exhorted Timothy to publicly rebuke or the Corinthians to remove from fellowship, the spirit with which James called believers to correct a wayward brother, or the spirit with which Jesus urged us to approach someone who needs correction. Even when someone is in the wrong and in need of repentance, are we not called to extend grace and compassion?

    Thanks for your comments. I am praying for you, those who, like you, were hurt, and Mark Driscoll. May the Lord bring healing and peace to everyone. Blessings, brother.

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