Mark Driscoll rolls grenade down aisle

Mark Driscoll recently addressed 600+ Christian leaders at St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral (1 September, 2008) about ‘18 obstacles to effective evangelism in Australia’. Below is a summary of the address taken from Gordon’s blog (after me cleaning up the text a little):

  1. The Bible guys are not the missional guys, which leads to proud irrelevance.

    What can happen is that we believe that if our theological systems are faithful, then we will be fruitful.

  2. Your culture struggles with a lack of entrepreneurialism.

    Two things are wrong here: one is socialism. The other is the influence of Great Britain. They are the main migrant group in Australia. They are not entrepreneurial. Aussie culture is not very entrepreneurial as a result. The concept of socialism means that we fail to prune what we should. We are sending resources to poor churches and poor pastors on the grounds of social equality. We are not sending resources to new buds.

  3. There is a lack of reward based on merit within denominations.

    You are rewarded for tenure, not fruit. There needs to be a system where a man can be demoted or even taken out of the ministry for reasons other than things to do with money or sexual impropriety. Jobs should not be guaranteed just because a person has spent four years in a college.

  4. Australian men are immature.

    Christian Australian men are immature. They have a lack of entrepreneurialism and are entrenched in systems which discourage initiative. The average Australian male lives with his mother until he’s 25, he is married at 32, and delays taking responsibility as long as possible. Denominational systems encourage this immaturity. Training begins at age 28 in our denominations. What if a young man wants to get married young, plant churches and have a family? There is no way that our denominations allow this. The longer you delay responsibility, the longer you delay manhood. It’s the indefinite Peter Pan lifestyle. That is a sin. Jesus Christ had atoned for the sins of the world by the time most pastors take up their first associate pastorship. There are churches in the US with megachurches run by men in their 30s. You don’t have them here so you fly them in to give talks.

  5. Church planting is not welcome.

    Sydney is one of the weakest cities I have visited with regard to church planting. With church planting, the skill sets needed are different, and institutions here don’t appreciate them. There are few independents because of socialism. There is not widespread opportunity for men to start new things. This leaves a terrible dilemma: work through the system, and either destroy it or blend in. Both are bad options. Driscoll has had 300 people come up to him and say they want to plant churches but they can’t.

  6. You suffer from tall poppy syndrome.

    You need to work this into your preaching and teaching so that people see that the tall poppy syndrome is a sin. Thinking that 1000 people in church is a high water mark is unhealthy. The culture generally chops down people who rise up, and the church does the same. That’s a sin. My church gives 10% to plant churches—$1.2 million this year.

  7. The preaching here lacks three things: apologetics, mission and application.

    Apologetics means anticipating and answering the objections of those who are listening. If you do this, it will encourage people to bring friends, and it will train them. Second, your preaching lacks mission. What are we here to do? Thirdly, your preaching lacks application for the church as a whole and for individuals. It is not just enough to give doctrine. Paul tells Timothy to watch life and doctrine. Application is where you connect them.

  8. Many of you are afraid of the Holy Spirit. Your Trinity is Father, Son and Holy Bible.

    Because you are too reactionary against prosperity doctrine, you have reacted badly against all things charismatic. The Holy Spirit calls people into ministry and empowers people for ministry. You don’t have to be charismatic. But you should at least be a little bit charismatic, and worship God with more than your mind. Pentecostals plant churches, care for the poor, and sing well, and they are more feverent in their service for God. What I have found is that the word ‘charismatic’ means different things in different places. Here it means ‘prosperity’—bizarreness. In London, it means you’re not liberal. Don’t get hung up on the terminology. There is a fear about the Holy Spirit; there is an uncertainty about the Holy Spirit. Do you love the Holy Spirit? Jesus says the Holy Spirit is a he, not an it. The Holy Spirit is sent to anoint the church for her ministry. Ministry is not possible without Holy Spirit. Do you love the Holy Spirit? This, in part, is leading to the lack of entrepreneurialism and innovation, because if it is not written down, it is not trusted.

  9. Many of you are Anglican.

    The parish system works for some, but not all. The parish system was built for when people lived in community. But today, less than half of the people who live in this city own their own home. So they are mobile, and network online. In addition, people have three places: the place they work in, the place they live in, and the place they play. The parish system says let’s draw boundaries and stay here. But all your people are going to move, and they all have three places. People no longer organize themselves by geography but by affinity. The concept was invented before cars. The parish system makes church planting very hard.

  10. Denominations are built on a paradigm that young men don’t understand.

    Denominations are built on control. Young men operate by influence. Control systems work like this: we control your wage, we control your workplace, etc. Young men don’t understand these systems. Some young men are disrespectful and need to be rebuked. Other people are not disrespectful; they just don’t understand control, they understand influence. Influence operates up close, through teaching, rebuke, instruction and example. The old culture is of control; the newer economy is of influence. Young men will find new ways to avoid the system, working alongside it so as to be influenced by it, but not working in it so as to not be controlled by it.

  11. There is a propensity to train the called [to ministry] rather than call people to train.

    Ultimately, it is God the Holy Spirit who calls people to ministry. There should be an innate sense of desire: “If anyone desires …” (1 Tim). With Moore College, the four years of residency only works for some, not for all. Four years with insufficient practical experience leads to idealism and a tendency to criticize others who are doing something. People are writing papers to criticize those who are doing something, and this gives them the false impression that they are doing something. I planted my first church at the age of 25, and, by God’s grace, I finished my theological education last year. You learn as you do, because that is when you are most teachable.

  12. All leaders are under shepherds under Christ: prophets, priests, and kings.

    Prophets are good at vision setting, preaching and leading. Priests love people, hospital visiting, small groups, and so on. Kings love control and systems. There is a shortage in Sydney of Prophets and Kings. The system discourages Kings because it doesn’t allow people to set up their own systems and structures.

    [NB: Driscoll is using the categories ‘prophet, priest and king’ as three broad categories of leadership style exemplified by Christ, rather than in any strict theological sense. That was the vibe, anyway.]

  13. There is a lack of missiologists.

    Missiologists are people who discern what is going on in the culture, and find the idols so that the missionaries can be found and deployed. What there are plenty of are theologians. They are incredibly important. They defend truths. Missiologists put the truths into practice. Penal substitutionary atonement can get nailed down, NT Wright can get nailed up—and lots of people still don’t know Jesus.

  14. There is a proclivity to try and raise ministers before making them husbands and fathers.

    This is about the immaturity of Australian men. Many people delay marriage and children in order to go to college. But if people are shepherding their little flock of home, then you test them to see whether they can be elders of the church. So much of ministry deals with marriage, sex, gender, responsibility and children. Being a husband and a father trains you more for ministry than any college. It trains you to love, serve, evangelize, disciple, endure and organize. You should really press young men to take responsibility earlier to be good husbands and fathers. Once they have some success at that, if they do this in the wrong order, then their priorities, I fear, will be God, ministry, wife, children. But it should be God, wife, children, ministry.

  15. There is the doing of evangelism but not mission.

    But does the church see itself as the primary evangelistic tool that God has used to reach the city? It is not good enough to just go and share the faith, as important as this is; the church needs to use every means at its discretion to reach its culture. What does a faithful missionary of the gospel look like in Melbourne/Perth/Brisbane/Sydney? Start a new church from nothing. Churches need to be missional.

  16. There are a lot of Number 2 guys in Number 1 slots.

    Number 2 guys are not bad guys; they are just not good Number 1 guys. Number 1 guys are teachers, leaders, and innovators, but because of the system of tenure, Number 2 guys stay in Number 1 slots. Number 2 guys in Number 1 slots need to step back like John the Baptist with Jesus. Stepping back requires humility, a devotion to see all things—all means—for the salvation of some. When a Number 2 guy is in a Number 1 slot, a church will survive, but it will not multiply, and so there is no sense of necessity to do anything with any haste.

  17. There is not a great sense of urgency.

    You have cultural values, not biblical values.

  18. Movements have become institutions and museums.

    A movement is where God does what he always does, only more so. There’s a greater sense of urgency. Puritans. Methodists. Charismatics. Not all movements are good. Every movement has its strengths and weaknesses. Young people are the key. I’m a young guy, but here I’m an old guy. The Puritans were roundly criticized for just being children. Jonathon Edwards was 19 years old. DL Moody was 21. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was 19. Billy Graham was 19. Statistically, it takes 25 years or more to build a megachurch. If you don’t even give the leader the keys until he’s 40, he’ll run out of gas before he gets there

I’d love to hear what the other Sola Panellists think of all this, but here are my comments:

I reckon Driscoll’s diagnosis is pretty accurate. We can sit around and pick the eyes out of this analysis saying stuff like “That’s not always true” or “That’s too simplistic”, and so on, but the bottom line is that his summary is essentially correct.

The big challenge now is to do something about it. Despite the accuracy of the diagnosis—despite the difficulty of facing up to our evangelical foibles—I want us all to remember one thing: (actually, blokes under 40, I want us to remember one thing!) Driscoll’s diagnosis may be accurate and his critiques timely and poignant, but we must remember one thing! And that is to honour our elders as per 1 Timothy 5:1. It’s a lot easier being a Christian now than it was in the 60’s and 70’s. They fought some very tough battles. Our challenge is to kick forward from here on in, making the most of the ground our elders won.

35 thoughts on “Mark Driscoll rolls grenade down aisle

  1. Thanks for the summary Ben (and Gordo). It is useful to have it on-line.
    My feeling was that most of what we heard last week was what Phillip Jensen has been trying to work at for the last 35 years.

    On the lack of church planting… It is important to remember that the structures are already in place to do the sort of church planting that Mark is talking about. The ‘Recognised Churches Ordinance’ (2000) allows for plants to be recognised as parishes if they are financially viable. In the process of passing this legislation the Parish boundary system was effectively abolished.

    The thing preventing church planting is not ‘the Diocese’, but rather young men who sit around talking about planting, but say they can’t do it because no one is going to give them 30 people, $100,000 and a building. After carefully assessing such people for suitability, Mark would say to them… “Just go and plant a church”. As it grows, one option in our context is to become a ‘Recognised Church’ within the Sydney Diocese.

  2. Benny, I’m still processing what I heard (I have now posted a great quote from Mark on propitiation here, along with another post, Two Good Things about Driscoll).

    I have a few questions about what he said but my overwhelming sense is that he is on our team, and that we should thank God for his ability to preach the forgiveness of sins through Jesus, and pray for him and his church that he will continue to stand as God’s faithful servant.

  3. Thanks for the post Benny and *Amen* to your call to respect our elders.

    Yesterday at church we were discussing the gloating of the nations over Jerusalem’s fall in Ezekiel 25-32 and one of our women said afterwards that she had to repent of gloating over Driscoll’s tough words.

    Gav – thanks for bringing honour to Phillip and pointing out the similarities. Driscoll’s address seems very similar to the ‘Theological Necessity of Pragmatism’ and ‘Why Bishops are Deacons’ addresses that Phillip gave at the EMA in London in 1988.

  4. Two things I’d like to say:

    – I am in hearty agreement about the relative strengths / weaknesses of American (Driscoll, Piper, Mahaney) vs. Australian reformed evangelical preaching. I think men here often handle the text better. They know how to read the Bible Christologically, and read verses in context. American preachers I have listened to (and there’s many I haven’t heard) will sometimes proof-text out of context. But they excel at applying the Bible to life, and are not scared to tackle issues as difficult as depression head-on in their preaching. In this, they are shaped wonderfully by the Puritans. We could learn a lot from counsellors, thinkers and preachers like Ed Welch, David Powlison, John Piper, and no doubt Driscoll, in this area.

    – I am a bit confused about the “reformed charismatic” category – I gather it means a view of prophecy in line with Wayne Grudem?? (could someone clear this up?) But if what Driscoll means by “a bit charismatic” is allowing ourselves to get emotional about our great God, who sent his only Son to die for us, then bring it on! There’s a wonderful analysis of evangelicalism along these lines in Mike Raiter’s “Stirrings of the Spirit”.

  5. Hi Jean,
    after listening to a bunch of his talks, MD is pretty clear that by charismatic he means miraculous gifts (such as tongues, healing, prophecy etc); not just hand-raising and clapping.

  6. Thanks Ben
    a helpful reminder that we are to honour our elders upon whose shoulders we often stand.

    Gav, in many regards Phillip has been preaching a similar message for years and in a sense has now fought his way to the centre of organisation with it.
    If this has been his message, it begs the question – why does Driscoll sound like such a revelation? Has nobody been listening?
    Time will tell whether Phillip was is effective on the edges or at the middle. My take is that he may be a better radical on the fringe than a centrist.

    We are though dealing with an institution that – if not theologically -culturally, historically and ecclesiologically is massively at variance with Mars Hill.

    Frankly, one ordinance will not effect the kind of sweeping culture shifts that Driscoll (and Jensen) have been flagging. It is naive to think otherwise.

    you are right though. Church planting is costly and needs men who won;t be spoon fed. We need less talk, less bitching and moaning, more proactive entrepreneuarial Kingdom minded men who will have a tilt.

    And when they do, I take it we will need structures that support and encourage these ventures, not frustrate and hinder.

  7. Hey Jean, see my earlier post – with people’s kind replies – on Driscoll’s words of knowledge, and wait for my post on point number 8. I guess the Solapanel administrator will post it in a day or two.

  8. the tec term is he is a calvinistic continuationalist as oppossed to cessationist.

    wayne grudem would be his guy re prophecy, words of knowledge, tongues etc.

    for what its worth, most Sydney guys seem to be theologically continuationist yet functionally cessationist. I may be wrong but that would be an excellent topic for the panelistassi to tackle.

  9. Thanks, Ian.

    Just one more comment: what do others think of the idea that men should plant churches while they’re young and inexperienced because Jesus saved the world by then? (An interesting application of WWJD, if ever I’ve heard one!) What about Moses, and I’m sure there’s many other Bible examples, whose ministry clearly started late in life? I’ve heard lots of people argue from the second that we need good life preparation for ministry.

    But I do agree with Driscoll that the best training for ministry is combining on-the-ground ministry with theological learning at the same time, or at least having good experience in on-the-ground ministry before theology college. This might have big implications for how theology colleges structure their courses! e.g. part time v. full time.

    And marriage and kids while you’re young: excellent point.

  10. I have been thinking about the question Jean asked too. 

    I would think that the weight of biblical teaching is actually against it.  The word for elder (leaders in the church) even has the meaning of an aged man.  1 Timonthy 5:22 says do not be hasty in the laying of hands (my NIV study bible equates this to the ordination of an elder – until the candidate has had time to prove himself.)

    I read that MD had said that they will make mistakes, but they will get all of their mistakes out of the way early.  In ministry this will very likely result in people being hurt I think.

    I see much wisdom in the placing of younger men under more experienced men in parishes.  Of course you don’t want to stop the drive to plant churches, and perhaps established ministers of the church need to be encouraged to look at this as something some could pursue.

    And God can raise up younger men of course – but I think it would be the exeption rather than the rule.

  11. I couldn’t get to hear Driscoll since other responsibilities called so these comments come from reading the summaries and not hearing the tone, emphasis or balance of his talk.

    I agree with his comments about needing mission not just evangelism and needing good engaged apologetics. There is heaps here we can learn from him.

    I’m not quite sure what to make of his stuff about young men – old men. I think there is a trend to think people should wait their turn – though that isn’t what always happens. I’ve also seen a few young guys fly high and crash – with bad results for more than them. I wonder if he really knows enough about our scene and Australian culture to make the call. I think we need to support and encourage young guys and let them have a go.

    There are some other themes that I am ambivalent about – I want us to engage culture better and contextualise: but I find myself torn between that need and the danger of contextualisation becoming a sell-out. That is an ambivalence I’ve struggled with for at least a decade, so not a criticism of Driscoll.

    There are some things that I think are cultural. While the US tradition of independency has given Driscoll and his mates great freedom, it has also spawned the enormous shallowness of US evangelicalism (which I assume he’d admit) and the more radical end of emergent/emerging church (which he has distanced himself from) so I find it hard to be convinced that it is such a better system that it should be embraced whole-heartedly. I’m not saying that denominations are perfect (far from it) – but I don’t think they are our big problem. Similarly the entrepreneur as the picture of the pastor is very American as is the big church “we should be more than 1000 ” theme. On that stuff I think we should listen to him, but not feel that we have to copy him.

    My deepest concerns with his views – and these are (I hope) constructive concerns not writing him off – are two theological themes. One is the relatively low emphasis he puts on relationships and fellowship. The reason I belong to a denomination is because I think churches and leaders need accountability and support and should share resources. I guess he’d have mechanisms for that but the rhetoric sounds like it is a very low priority.  The other is whether he tends to a theology of glory. He says “It’s not enough to just be the faithful, you must be the fruitful.”  I wonder. I grew up in a church that exalted in its culturally isolated faithfulness and lack of fruitfulness and I don’t want to go there. But it is very easy to be seduced by fruitfulness into a pragmatism which does not honour God and his ways and his word. Israel, incarnation, the cross and the church is not the most strategic looking plan – but that is what God does and while we want to be effective we’ve got to be careful to not try to outhink him!

  12. Ben
    I appreciated the challenge to be a husband and father first, and a pastor and planter second.
    I also appreicate the reminder that I need to think and live like a cross cultural missionary if I am to be effective here in south Newtown.
    third, I have thought that i am going to give it a strong go as a number 1 guy for the next 10 years, and when I am forty five (Lord willing) , see if there is a younger guy who I could be a good number 2 for.
    I really like the idea of the younger fired up and entrepreneurial elder being steadied and supported by an elder elder.

  13. Shane
    Just to clarify… I wasn’t suggesting that one ordinance creates a church planting culture. My point was simply that the structures of the Diocese allow for church planting. Actually encouraging it to happen is a different thing.

    Also, on Phillip’s wider influence (or perhaps lack thereof)… I recall someone once said something about a prophet in his home town!

  14. Hi Sandy

    Yes, your post is up first thing tomorrow (Tuesday)!

    I’ve also been putting some thoughts together, which I’ll post soon.


  15. I appreciate John McClean’s question about how well MD understands Aussie culture. I think his overall message is excellent. But I am not sure how helpful his criticisms of our culture are.

    You really need to live for some time in a place to get a deep insight into a culture and how that society works. Maybe some of his analysis of Aussie culture is accurate, but I think we need to be careful at taking his criticism at face value. I would be very sad (and maybe disastrous) to see people try to develop Mars Hill clones in Sydney, because Sydney is not Seattle.

    It is up to Australian Christians to work through how his legitimate critiques of our churches should be addressed in ways that are both biblical and applicable to our lifestyle and culture. We need to hear the criticisms of outsiders. But I think that in the end, we have the best idea of how the gospel should be applied in our own society.

    I would have been interested to hear from him what Australian churches are doing right or even what he himself learned from Australian Christians. Did anyone ask him this while he was there?

  16. Another thought…

    Why does it need to be young guys who do the church planting? MD started young and works with younger guys so this is the model he is used to. But why shouldn’t it also be older guys? It is tough work to minister “up” to those older than you. If we want to reach more than the under-30s then it would be better to have some more mature people in there too.

    In fact, why not send them out together – one young and one more experienced? I think this would greatly reduce the “failure” rate. Most cross-cultural missions avoid sending out just one guy/couple into a church planting situation as it is such hard work. Maybe even some of the better resourced churches could follow the example of Antioch and send out some of their pastoral staff to plant a church in a needy area along with one or two gungho young guys.

    I think one of the biggest obstacles is that we are willing to give money to people who minister among us, we will give to missionaries overseas, but we don’t have the concept of supporting local missionaries in the next suburb or town. Wouldn’t it be great to see local missionaries – sent out and supported by our churches – church planting in suburbs and towns in Australia where there is no gospel witness.

  17. I spent four years at Moore and now I’m preparing to plant a church with Acts 29 (Driscoll’s church planting network) in the States, so reading this has involved a strange sensation for me of two separate worlds colliding. Personally, I found it was a lot easier to critique the church in Sydney after 3 months than it was after 3 years.  The more time I was there the more time I came to appreciate some of the advantages of what at first appeared to me to be inefficiencies within the church culture.  While it might be less likely to produce a Mark Driscoll, it’s also not as prone to seeing a Joel Osteen.

    This is not to say that I think Driscoll (whom I deeply respect) is all wrong in these critiques—far from it.  But I merely want to echo other comments in saying that I suspect that some of what is valued here (strong independence, entrepreneurial emphasis in ministry, pay according to merit, and youth over age) is at least as much a product of Mark’s (and my own) American ethos as it is biblical reflection.

  18. I love the tone of the positive and negative comments here, it seems that we are really wanting to hear Driscoll out.

    What did he learn from Oz? – I haven’t heard him speak about us, but I have heard him speak openly about desiring to learn from other movements in his address to church planters in the UK, so it’s on his mind and heart… you could say, given our ‘proclivity’ to intellectual accuracy that all he did was learn wink

    Thanks for your cautions John McC – We’ve been in a pretty free situation here in Tas (I helped lead a church plant at 22 yo and took a lead pastor role at 23 yo). We have definitely encountered great problems as a result. Syd Angs have helped us with their maturity and organisation.

  19. I’ve had a bit of a look at the Recognised Churches Ordinance (ammended in 2004), and it seems to me that it was more aimed at recognising existing para-church organisations – UniChurch being the obvious example.

    Does anyone know how many churches have actually been recognised under the legislation? I know that between 2000 and 2004, it was only UniChurch and Cherrybrook, but I don’t know what has happened since then?

  20. Ben, thanks for your comments cautioning that in wanting to unleash the young men for energetic gospel activity, we should not forget to respect our elders who’ve gone and fought before.

    As someone who’s offered a few criticisms of Driscoll, I have also noticed that he often speaks very positively of learning from elder evangelical statesmen, for example from John Piper and Jim Packer. So that’s really good.

    By the way, I urge everyone to read Carl Trueman’s fantastic comments on the dangers of Christian celebrity cult that can build up around a great preacher or theologian here.

    Here is a snippet of what Trueman said in explaining why as a new professor at Westminster he refused an opportunity to hold court regularly with an informal group of students…

    That is how partisan thinking is born.  That is how theological groupies emerge.  That is how cults of personality are brought into being.  I knew exactly where it would lead: I would try to impress students with my intellectual swagger; they would try to mimic me; and round and round it would go, to the point where other professors, students, groups etc would be routinely dismissed, lampooned, and denigrated in a manner that made us feel good about ourselves and Team Trueman would come to consider itself the best thing since sliced bread.  I would give them a tidbit of theological gossip, make them feel they had the inside scoop on something or someone; they would reciprocate with suitable acts of obeisance and worship; and so on and on the merry dance would go.  Well, so sorry, but I was not going to go there.  I’d rather be at home with my wife and kids or out on my bike or off for a run, all of which would remind me of mortality and my more than obvious limitations; and which would ultimately be far better for my soul.

    The cult of professor worship is perhaps the most dangerous and reprehensible cult in the theological world.  It is no respecter of theological position, afflicting the left just as much as the right.  It is no respecter of intellectual ability, as the psychology of leader-follower is predicated more on personality and relational qualities than brainpower.  And it is no respecter of souls: nothing so destroys a Christian leader, or his followers, than the mutual flattery involved in the uncritical adulation of a fan-base for a professorial rock star (and I use that term advisedly).  Hence, while every instinct in me told me that the offer was a great opportunity to start up Team Trueman on campus, I chose to go against my fallen desires and immediately declined the offer.

    They are words I reckon we need right now. I know the temptation for my own proud heart to build a profile for myself, to be somebody making a splash, to be seen as a success in ministry. It is so indidious.

  21. I am sure Mark Driscoll is personally very gracious but I can’t help visualising Chef Ramsay doing “Parish Nightmares” on a TV near you. 
    “This place is a disgrace!” 
    “You’re going to kill somone if you continue to serve that!” 
    “The problem around here is you!”

    At one level I would love to have somone I could trust do that for me.  On the other, I still have trouble taking processes from the commercial world to inform our thinking in the FAMILY of God. 

    Did I detect some echos of Paul Borden in some of the points?  Or is it just that they come from the same North American situation?

    I still wonder whether Mark has failed to recognise the deeper differences between us and the land of the free.  We ARE less entrepreneurial.  We are not told from the cradle “You can do it!”

    I don’t know if that is such a bad thing.  You can see the alternative on Australian Idol. 
    “What would the judges know?” 
    “This is my dream.  You can’t deprive me of it.  I have self belief, what more do I need?”

    Perhaps someone could do a show on Christian TV (an oxymoron I know) called “Heavens Kitchen” where people compete to serve the finest “milk of the word” and “meat in due season”. 

    Of course it wouldn’t rate.  Too much humility, and gentleness and patience and thankfulness and poverty of spirit and ……

  22. our culture *is* different to US culture, and yet sometimes I have heard this used as an excuse for crumminess on our part.

    I think that in general we as aussie evangelical church leaders *are* sloppy and inefficient and disorganised in our ministry structure and planning. Whatever the cultural difference, we evangelicals generally suck at it and have a whole heap to learn from others before we are in danger of overemphasising it, I reckon.

  23. As a single guy, I am getting more and more annoyed with Driscoll’s points concerning single men. I find them inaccurate, more than a little insulting, and unscriptural. I think that his understanding of the situation facing the Corinthian Christians is wrong, which means that his belief that 1 Corinthians 7’s teaching on singleness being situation (persecuted church only) specific is dodgy.

    Through my church and through Moore I’ve got to know many godly, mature single men of various ages. All of them have used their singleness not to avoid responsibility, but to take it up, becoming some of the most faithful & devoted servants of God’s people. To hear the line that you’re not fit to enter ministry until you’ve got a wife & kids is insulting to these men and their various ministries.

    As for the line in point 14: “Many men delay marriage and children so they can enter college and ministry.” I’d have to say that it’s simply wrong. Of the 70 men in my year at Moore (2004-2007), only 11 were single when they started. 4 of these are now married, and another’s getting hitched next month. In my conversations with the other 10, the idea that they’d delayed marriage to enter college never came up. We simply hadn’t met the right person at that stage.

  24. Hi there Sandy,

    Just a question of clarification – by putting up that quote, are you endorsing the view that it might be quite dangerous for recognised speakers to hold court with informal groups of students/young men and women at things like lunch times and dinners and suppers at conferences, lest they attract a large amount of influence to themself, and make it seem as though they have the ‘inside track’ on what is going on?

  25. Driscoll says socialism like it’s a bad thing wink  I’m just looking at the merit pay concept.  If we truly believe that God gives the increase, then we can’t really pay a minister on the basis of church growth, can we?  Secondly, what does “pruning” a struggling church actually mean?  Closing it?

  26. Great to read through these comments…

    Shane R… You asked if Phillip Jensen has been saying these things for so long, why has Driscoll seemed like such a great revelation. Maybe partly the prophet at home thing. Maybe also Driscoll is such a compelling communicator. And maybe when we stop to think about it, it’s not all such a great revelation.

    As well as Phillip Jensen’s often great stuff, I reckon I have also heard Andrew Heard and Rod Irvine say many such helpful things that are challenging the status quo, encouraging a go-for-it attitude, and giving excellent pragmatic help in the area of leadership skills, and enterpreneurial thinking. Andrew has also said and done some good stuff about church planting.

  27. Shane R and Geoff Z, I reckon you are right in your observations that Sydney Anglicanism is a whole lot bigger and has a whole lot more inertia and hence resistance or at least slowness to change. (Both good and bad things about that.)

    Mikey L, I reckon you are right too, that often Aussie evangelical church leaders are sloppy, inefficient and disorganised. I could do better in this area.

    The other thing I think about fruitfulness (humanly speaking, since God gives the growth) is that apart from faithfulness to God’s Word, fruitfulness does often seem to be somewhat connected to giftedness, and it’s especially connected to lots of very, very hard (as well as smart) work.

  28. Michael K, you are right that there is an irony that could be perceived in Carl Trueman speaking about his decision to try to avoid the guru sydnrome for himself. Fair enough.

    Being charitable, I do not think he was speaking about his own <i>humilty</i> although I guess you read it that way. I read it as speaking about how deeply his sinful heart was tempted by such things (as well as by how damaging the guru syndrome can be when it happens). At least that’s what resonated with me. In my mixed motives, I struggle with pride and the desire to be seen as ‘someone’.

    Given that the bit of Trueman I have read seems to show him as an independent thinker on the conservative side of things, as well as in favour of the liberty of the gospel, I hunch that he is probably not going to condemn automatically every professor who meets regularly with students.

    And so Keith B, to clarify as you requested, neither do I think that strong and gifted Christian leaders should never spend regular or extended time with lest they develop too much influence.

    I certainly think such arrangements “might be dangerous”, but not that they are automatically dangerous.

    Yet that’s not to say we should never do dangerous things either, just that there’s room for great care.

    Overall, I do echo the Corinthian warning about following personalities (like Cephas or Apollos or Paul) before Christ. I am sure none of those men tried to develop a following, but apparently it was possible that keeness on such great ones could subtly displace Christ.

    Perhaps it’s the followers who need to be warned even more than the strong leaders?

    I guess I was citing the Trueman article for me as a leader insofar as I might ever have influence on others – I need to beware of my own pride – and for others who might be tempted to end up with a great leader as their pin-up boy.

    But I can see how it came across like I was saying Mark Driscoll was doing what Carl Trueman would not and so must be proud or whatever. Whatever hesitations about particular things he’s said, I absolutely do not believe that. From all I’ve seen and heard, I am impressed with Driscoll’s attitude in this regard.

  29. Whilst I have had the opportunity to listen to a number of talks by Mark, once in person but predominantly electronically, my only understanding of his theses is the summary above, so bear with me if I misunderstand some of a) his points or b) discussions thereof.

    I noticed a common criticism of his comments has been that Sydney is no Seattle, and cultural differences make many of his observations too general to apply so simply to us.

    I wonder how much of this is that Sydney culture is vastly different to American, and how much is that Sydney Anglican culture is so different. This lies well with his comment, humbly accepted above by Sandy and equally convicting of all of us, that we struggle to associate with or even fully understand our own culture. I wonder whether it is as different to American culture as we assume.

    I confess in part this comes from a recent struggle I have had regarding relations between myself as a youth leader and youth leaders from more Charismatic churches following in the footsteps of Hillsong and the like. I think the success of HillSong as a mega church is somewhat of a testament to the potential of our Sydney culture to allow for churches similar to Mars Hill, in terms of growth, numbers, technological interaction etc. Obviously I am not in any way condoning a step towards the pragmatism of Hillsong and away from our diligent theology, simply suggesting that perhaps our social landscape does lend itself to some similar methods (tactics) that Driscol has seen and used so effectively.

    One of the points of Connect09 is to Expect; to remember that God is on our side and wants people to come to him, and sends our his spirit to prepare peoples hearts for his Gospel- I wonder whether this is the perfect time for such a shake up (or reminder of what we have heard for so long without being kicked wholeheartedly into action) and whether our expecting, and our trust in God’s providence, the work of the Holy Spirit and God’s sovereignty make it an ideal time for putting ourselves out there, planting churches, and leaving the worrying about success/failure to God, as it is in his hands and his alone.

    Obviously we must be careful, prayerful and diligent stewards of His word, but if in his providence God raises up young men with the humility to seek guidance and meditate constantly on the word of God, and the gifts and zeal which God can use to win many to Christ, then we need to find ways to get these men into our ripe harvest field, being supported and edified by our blessedly mature, wise and strong diocese and founded in Christ, without first expecting 8 years of continual study (undergrad then Moore).
    I know it is a hard balance to find, and i don’t pretend to know how to do it. Perhaps, as was suggested above, more flexible study options which allow for ministry and study together? Perhaps the coupling of senior ministers with younger counterparts as a team to plant together. I don’t know, but I pray that as a diocese we can develop a framework (or even lack thereof) which will allow it.

  30. Just a slightly off topic response to Craig’s comment earlier. Unichurch was in fact never a para-church organisation. It was, from its inception until being recognised, a part of St Matthias Centennial Park. It has always been Anglican theologically and organisationally as far as I can tell!

  31. It saddens me that we hear Mark’s comments and say, well, that’s what Jensen’s being saying for the last 33 years.

    Well, if he has been saying it for so long, why is it that we are so slow to reacted?

    My brothers and sisters in the persecuted church don’t pray to be released from jail, but for more time to speak the gospel to see more come to Christ.

    Let’s take this message outside the church walls and let the world see the life saving message of our might Father.

  32. The thing that stands out to me here is the calling of Australia “socialist” by Driscoll. This must come as a shock to Rupert Murdoch and the Queen alike.

    What he seems to be grasping at is that Australian churches aren’t meritocracies. But then you can have meritocracy or a lack thereof in any socio-economic system.

    Driscoll should (re)take Poli Sci 101.

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