** ADVANCE FOR FEB. 17-18 WEEKEND EDITIONS ** Mars Hill Church Lead Pastor Mark Driscoll, 36, preaches during an evening service on Sunday Feb. 11, 2007 at the church's flagship black warehouse in Seattle's trendy Ballard neighborhood, and the services are also live on the Internet.  In a liberal city notorious for being "unchurched," Mars Hill has grown to about 6,000 people in just over a decade. (AP Photo/Scott Cohen)

Mark Driscoll Launches New Church in Phoenix

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The most significant point in Mark Driscoll’s bio at his new church plant in Phoenix, AZ is missing: his role as pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Driscoll also included two former pastors from Mars Hill who have also scrubbed their bios of any mention of their previous positions at Mars Hill. The church, which is called Trinity Church, is backed by a board full of powerful megachurch pastors located in Texas and California.

Why this story matters for church leaders:

Mark Driscoll is known for his direct, pulls-no-punches approach to Bible teaching from the Reformed tradition, but he routinely attracted attention because of his bullying of fellow leaders and members of his congregation. His new church plants’ website makes no mention of his history.

  • Will This Church Plant Work? While there are few details about Driscoll’s church that does not yet have a start time or location, church plants are often noted as the most effective way to reach people with the Gospel. Driscoll has shared his enthusiasm to begin teaching the Bible again. Will he find a willing audience?
  • What does repentance look like for high profile leaders? Did Driscoll’s stepping down amount to sufficient repentance for his church that was referred to as “the most toxic culture” one consultant had ever seen? To what degree should we expect Driscoll to reconcile with the former elders and pastors who claim he bullied and threatened them?
  • How do church leaders start over again? Did Driscoll take enough time off since his previous church position? Should he mention his previous church in his bio? While some people are predisposed to like him and some to hate him, Driscoll’s story challenges us to think about the restoration process for pastors, especially those in the public eye.

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