What YOU can learn from Mark Driscoll

As many of you have heard, Mark Driscoll is stepping down from Mars Hill Church for at least the next six weeks to allow for an investigation of charges against him. Here’s the announcement:

This post is neither to blast Mark Driscoll or to defend him. I’ll let other pundits do that.

As someone who has followed this somewhat closely though, there are some things that I think ALL of us should learn from the position that Driscoll finds himself in.  Here are my thoughts:


Your ministry is no longer local.  It’s national in nature, whether you like it or not.

Sure, we’ve not heard of most of the 300,000 local church pastors in America.  But you’re one slip-up or controversy away from making national headlines.

And you can thank the internet.

Did you know that Westboro Baptist Church has less than 100 members?

Or take the example of the little church in Ohio that regularly picketed a strip club in their community.  You didn’t hear about it until the ‘artists’ from the club decided to protest this small church, topless, a few weeks ago. Then it was national news.

While most ministry stays local, there is no guarantee.  And if you’re a pastor who likes or tries to draw attention to yourself or your ministry, you most likely can do it.

Lesson: Don’t think for a minute that how you lead will always stay local.  It might not. And at the very least, you’ll get a few nasty blog posts written about you, and a nice piece in the local newspaper and on the local newscast.



I like how The Message paraphrases Luke 12:3: “You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”

Remember this: What is said in private rarely ever stays private.

What you say to others WILL be repeated.

The emails you write can be shared in a heartbeat.

Quick example: When 21 former elders and staff members made form charges against Driscoll last week, their document was leaked on the internet.  The first words of that document: “CONFIDENTIAL: We don’t intend to make this communication public, and we ask that you not make it public either.”

So much for confidentiality.

Lesson:  What you say, can and will be used against you.



When you are wrong, it’s always best to admit it early and often.

Contrite: feeling or expressing remorse or penitence; affected by guilt.

In Driscoll’s case, he’s been forced to apologize quite a few times now… and with each contrite apology, more and more people question Mark’s sincerity.

Only God and Mark Driscoll know the heart in these matters.  But that doesn’t keep people from coming to their own conclusions. (And that’s where all the internet talk and pundits thrive… they love to rip people to shreds over stuff like this).

Lesson:  When needed, apologize early and often. Be humble.



Many of the consequences Mark Driscoll is dealing with now are because, apparently, he cut off many former trusted allies.

When you have over 20 former pastors and elders that need to make written charges against you… the chances are quite good that you are at least somewhat unapproachable.

It appears bridges were burned. Often.

I see this all the time.  “If you’re not for me, then you’re against me.”

In other words… you’re off the team. It’s as if you never existed.

If you find yourself saying this about anybody in your church… be careful.

Lesson:  Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Words well said.


OBSERVATION #5: Don’t think you are invincible.

Lesson: You are not..


OBSERVATION #6: It’s not about you.


Lesson: If/when your personality gets bigger than Jesus or you begin to view yourself as the ‘brand’ of your ministry, something is askew.

Lesson: As Rick Warren puts it, “It’s not about you.”


OBSERVATION #7:  Surround yourself with competent, independent thinkers and leaders.

One of the big charges against Driscoll is that all that are left on his staff are the Mark Driscoll loyalists. This may or may not be true… but the critics will see Mark stepping aside as being no real change.

Lesson: You need to have objective people around you that can disagree and hold you accountable without fear of losing their job or position.


OBSERVATION #8: Be sure your polity works before there is a crisis.  If it doesn’t work before the crisis, it won’t work during one.

Mars Hill has been under much scrutiny for changing it’s polity a few years back.  As Driscoll pointed out yesterday, authority of Mars Hill rests not with the elders, but with an external (outside the church) Board of Accountability. Time will tell if this was a good polity move years back or not.

Lesson: Be sure your polity is a good, balanced plan that will benefit the church as a whole, while readily keeping the leaders of the church accountable.


These are just a few thoughts this morning about what we all can learn from these events.  I’d love to hear your comments.








  • Reformed Berean August 25, 2014 Reply

    Remember when you said Driscoll didnt plagiarize? Nice call. Easy to swoop in now that the tide has turned.

    I think the biggest thing we can learn is not to listen to you as you follow the almighty dollar.

    Driscoll should have resigned MANY years ago as he was never biblically qualified in the first place. people you dont like, you know like Johnny Mac called this YEARS ago and he was proven to be right. But still you defended driscoll in hopes some scraps would fall from his table to the floor to you.

    • Funny that you hide behind a pseudonym in order to attack someone on line… for someone you seem to believe is “biblically unqualified” you are doing a good job of following in his footsteps.

      • Reformed Berean August 26, 2014 Reply

        Funny you would make an ad hominem attack on me rather than address the issue.

        • Todd Rhoades August 26, 2014 Reply

          Nice try, Reformed Berean (if that is your real name). How about you identify yourself, then we can have a real discussion. Until then, my advice… don’t respond.

  • Todd Rhoades August 25, 2014 Reply

    Thanks, Reformed Berean. Interesting that you tell people not to listen to me, yet you posted your comment to the many readers of this blog within ten minutes of it’s posting.



  • Linda Stanley August 25, 2014 Reply

    Dear Reformed Berean,
    Please see my Facebook post from yesterday. I wrote it with you in mind.

    Signing my real name,
    Linda Stanley

    • Reformed Berean August 26, 2014 Reply

      I see you work for the Leadership Network as well. An organization that leeches off the Church and the tithes of it’s members. Read how Jesus drove the money changers from the temple. I have you and your organization in mind when I read that passage.

      Didnt Leadership network promote McLaren & Driscoll from the start?

      • Todd Rhoades August 26, 2014 Reply

        Nice try, Reformed Berean (if that is your real name). How about you identify yourself, then we can have a real discussion. Until then, my advice… don’t respond.

  • Charley Blom August 25, 2014 Reply

    Todd, thanks for the great blog, your points are well taken and important. another one that you didn’t mention is the habit today to make pastors into Celebrities and see Pastors who are blessed to see their small churches grow to mega churches. as important pastors to listen to and be guided by.
    there are many ‘unknown’ pastors who have better character and leadership skills but aren’t visible to the wider church society.
    it is a loss to see what is happening to Mark, but i also believe that the larger church and himself have conspired together to bring us to this point.
    one last comment on polity, i believe strongly that when we move away from local leadership,. i.e. elders from the church providing leadership we have walked into a mine field.
    God provides qualified leadership in local bodies whether big or small.
    pastor charley blom
    Genesee Home

  • Alberto Medrano August 26, 2014 Reply

    I agree. And this is for all of us, especially that Reformed Guy:

    “When A Pastor Falls from Grace – http://wp.me/p4SYKL-1i

  • Scott Luck August 26, 2014 Reply

    Todd…great post and spot on!

  • John Adams August 26, 2014 Reply

    It is always easier to condemn or defend than it is to reflect on the state of one’s own heart and ministry. Thank you Todd for the wise words of encouragement.

    I’m privileged to know some of those faithful pastors who labor in relative obscurity. If every pastor were just like those who make headlines the Church of Jesus would be in worse trouble than it is.

    May we be quick to pray, quick to evaluate our own hearts and slow to condemn others based on what we think we know.

Leave a Reply

45 Total Shares
Current Events Humor Leadership Staffing
Is New York City Trending Toward a Revival?

The Barna Group believes that according to surveys conducted in the...

Declining and Growing Churches Differ in Theology

A study of growing conservative churches and declining mainline churches found...

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11:  A homeless man rests in a pew at a Times Square church where some area homeless take refuge from the cold on December 11, 2013 in New York City. New York and much of New England has been experiencing freezing temperatures with snow expected this weekend. According to a recent study by the by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, New York City's homeless population increased by 13 percent at the beginning of this year. Despite an improving local economy, as of last January an estimated 64,060 homeless people were in shelters and on the street in New York. Only Los Angeles had a larger percentage increase than New York for large cities.  (Phot
Churches Open Their Doors to the Homeless in the Winter

There are over 550,000 homeless throughout America, and churches throughout cities...