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Should Mark Driscoll Lead a New Church?

Religion News Service columnist Jonathan Merritt writes that pastor Mark Driscoll, formerly of Mars Hill Church, has a long list of misdeeds that would seem to disqualify him from ministry. However, Merritt notes that leaders should not be beyond redemption. He notes that he is cautiously optimistic about Driscoll’s new church, but aware that his history of bullying and mismanaging money is far from settled.

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Why this story matters for church leaders:

The Bible doesn’t specify how exactly to discipline and then restore a pastor guilty of misconduct, and that should give us pause when it comes to removing or restoring a pastor too quickly.

  • What disqualifies a leader from ministry? Pastors need to be trusted rather than feared. When a pastor bullies staff and members of the congregation, this creates a breach of trust where ministry is difficult until there is confession and restoration.
  • Restoration is the goal: The church needs all of the healthy pastors it can get, and no pastor will ever be perfect. It’s critical to talk about appropriate ways to restore pastors who make mistakes.
  • Cautious Optimism: While we hope for pastors to be restored, that doesn’t mean that churches should not be cautious about their conduct after a failure.

How will your church handle allegations of pastoral misconduct? Is there a plan for restoration?

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  • Randy April 14, 2016 Reply

    There seems to be this incredible trend moving inside the church that is mirroring the political correctness of the day! Maybe the Bible doesn’t “specify how exactly to discipline and then restore a pastor guilty of misconduct” because much of what we call “misconduct” is simply straightforwardness. Read through what Paul had to say to leaders in his day in the letters to the Corinthians. Read what he had to say about Alexander the coppersmith, of Demas, What he said to Peter in the book of Acts in front of their peers. How about we see this in the same manner that Jesus saw Nathaniel, as a man in whom there is no guile!

    We “Discipline” unrepentant people (Pastors included) we dont discipline those who simply sin! Isn’t that what Paul told Timothy. Which elders found themselves in trouble? Those who continued in sin, not simply those who committed a sin, or mistake or spoke firmly to people, maybe even with a little bit of anger!

  • Ron Arden April 15, 2016 Reply

    From painful experience I can say the church is by and large not good at forgiving and restoring repentant staff. And, as a worship/arts person, I can say that imperfect senior staff are more than willing to cast aside a fellow worker to keep their job, their reputation, and their nose clean. They preach the “philosophy” that more is expected from leaders and that they are held to a higher standard. My view of the Bible is that everyone is level at the foot of the Cross and that God’s chosen leaders were some of the biggest regular sinners ever written about. Jesus’ disciples were arrogant, bossy, frail men that didn’t really come into their ministry stride until they fully embraced the sacrifice Jesus made – after He was gone from them. If there is a church where one could be honest about their humanity, live in a restorative forgiving – gracious – atmosphere, I haven’t found it. Leaders need to be able to follow their call, be held accountable, and be known as people just as much in need of forgiveness/healing for their mistakes as any person sitting in the congregation. And their call doesn’t include perfection.

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