Really big churches and the “celebrity pastors” who run them often leave me with a sick feeling in my stomach. There are a lot of good things going on at those churches (hence why they’ve grown so much), but as the number of ministries increases the possibility for problems to arise also increases exponentially. It’s all the people. Ministry would be so clean without the people. 😛
So often things go bonkers and big organizations have to keep rolling, but I am really impressed when something goes wrong and a church pauses long enough to admit their wrongdoing and openly repent.
I’ve gotten on Mark Driscoll‘s case a couple of times (never on the internet, no I would never do that!) and his church is very influential in the Seattle (and now expanding to California) area. A church of that size has plenty of opportunities to put their feet in their collective mouths and Mark has been known to do that a couple of times.
The thing that impresses me most is that while I may not agree with every perspective and method that the church uses in their ministry is that they are a correctable church. Once before, Pastor Mark made a comment on Facebook about effeminate worship leaders that got him in some trouble and his staff of elders came up behind him and rebuked him in regards to the forum he made his comment from. He publicly apologized for the way that he acted. That takes guts.
Recently this was brought to my attention by Wes Woodell, a former classmate of mine, who tweeted out about a conflict going on over the Mars Hill logo and name. There is an opening blog post (complaining/illuminating the problem) and Mars Hill’s blog wrote a post in response.
Essentially, Mars Hill Seattle (Driscoll’s church) sent out a cease and desist letter to the Mars Hill churches in Sacramento asking them to stop using their logo and name. They pursued legal action (based on previous legitimate legal infractions against their content and imagery) and asked the church to shut down what they were doing and they recognize that the way they pursued it was very business like. In their response they talked about how the church needs to set a higher standard and that they were now in dialogue with the church in Sacramento on a pastoral team to pastoral team basis. They openly and publicly repented of their wrongdoing and turned to relationship with their siblings in Christ in a way that is really cool.
This is a beautiful thing to me. All the drama and garbage that can come from an enormous church (face it, it’s just the reality of a lot of people) offer the opportunity for grace and humility to break in and demonstrate the truth of the gospel to those looking in. The church on earth is not a perfect entity and it is wonderful when a church can set the example for what it looks like to admit wrongdoing and openly seek reconciliation and obedience to the way that God set for us to live.
So bravo Mars Hill for being an example of what it looks like to be honest and humble in obedience. I literally got shaken up over this and I long to live a life in this example.