There has already been a lot of ink spilled out over the last few days regarding your visit to the Strange Fire Conference. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the Blogosphere has had more people weigh in on what they believe happened than is necessary (The best I’ve read is this one).There’s been so much speculation, accusation and presumption that it’s hard to know what the truth is anymore. So why in the world would I be adding myself into the mixture? Let’s just say, you’ve given me a platform that I never wanted, a unique, first hand perspective. You see those two guys you’re talking to? The one on the left side there, wearing the striped shirt? The ridiculously handsome one? Yeah, that’s me. (And just for clarity, I do not represent Grace Community Church or The Master’s Seminary, or am deceived enough to think I’m ridiculously handsome).
I’ve always been aware that you are an incredibly influential leader within the Christian community. Your books make bestsellers lists and your conferences are sellouts. I guess I’ve never realized how much of an impact you had until Friday morning, when we met. In under a minute from the time you posted this:
— Mark Driscoll (@PastorMark) October 18, 2013
My phone received texts and alerted me to facebook notices and twitter mentions from Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, California, Canada and Seattle. All within the first minute! Some of those people I haven’t heard from in over 10 years. For the next two hours, my phone remained plugged into a charger because the battery couldn’t handle the amount of activity your one picture exposed it to. Three days later, phone calls and notifications continue to pour in, literally from all over the world. We truly live in a technologically-connected age. But with great power, comes great responsibility.
Mr. Driscoll, I’m not here to sling mud. That’s just not me, and honestly, I know you’ll probably never see this letter. But as one who is himself preparing for ministry and the pastorate, the example that you have displayed to me and others in your brief time at the Strange Fire Conference, and also in the days following, has not been the gracious, loving example that I believe should characterize a man of God. I feel like I need you need to stand up and act like a man.
Just to briefly recap, I could hardly believe it when I saw you announced via twitter:
The first thing that came to my mind when I read this was… PR stunt. I don’t know, and I’m not about to assume I know what you were thinking, but the time you sent that was brilliant. 9:01 AM – the opening morning session with Conrad Mbewe was just starting. He was beginning a brilliant message and your arrival on campus would be just as the session let out. Not a lot of time for people to prepare. What better way to shock the attendees and staff by being there right when they were not expecting you. If you didn’t think it would be a shock and create a scene, than I’m giving you much more credit than you deserve.
Instead, by your own admission, you were met graciously by the Grace Community Church staff and security. You told the Christian Post that you thought it was “Gracious that they let me on campus at all.” Adding that, “they don’t owe me anything and I didn’t go through an official process. I wasn’t planning on it. I just happened to be in town.” Pastor Mark, this statement tells me two things:
- You were looking to pick a fight. By your own words you claim that you did not expect to have a good meeting when you arrived on campus. You came to cause a scene and maybe gain some status as a martyr in the promotion of your upcoming book, in which you ironically call for unity within the church and a ceasefire on what you’ve labeled as “tribalism.” Honestly, if your arrival had gone according to how you envisioned and anticipated, it would have been a perfect illustration. I have to wonder though, were you were seeking to start a civil war for promotional reasons?
- You schemed. Be honest Pastor Mark, you did not happen to be in town. You were in Long Beach… A trip of over 40 miles on one of America’s most congested freeways. You did not just happen to be in the neighborhood with a reporter and photographer. The only time I see scheming in the scriptures, it does not have positive connotations. Those that are associated with scheming are not ones with which we want to be aligning ourselves. But again, this is my interpretation of what was going on. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe you always have a reporter and photographer with you.
So many people have asked me about the few minutes that we talked. I tell them about how nice you were…very cordial and gracious. It was a pleasant exchange about church planting, ministry and the last time you were in my homeland of Canada. While you were here, it was rather nice. There’s plenty that we do not agree upon, but that does not mean we have to throw away civility. When it was time for you to leave, I watched some of the staff of Grace Community Church walk back with you to your car, even offering to carry the box of books you brought. The box of books you returned to them, insisting they were a gift. And I heard friendly conversation and even joking banter between you and the head of security.
Honestly, I and many others were impressed by how well you conducted yourself on campus, even though it seemed like you were pulling a Kanye West inspired move. That is why I was so shocked, when you drove off campus and immediately sent out this tweet:
— Mark Driscoll (@PastorMark) October 18, 2013
All of us who were present were rather horrified at the blatant lie you sent to your 428,247 twitter followers, 39,556 Instagram and 218,335 Facebook friends.
King David messed up. 2 Samuel 11 details his great sin with Bathsheba. For a year, David lets the adultery and murder and lies fester in his heart and sear his conscience. He knows he’s guilty, yet he ignores his fault and hides it. Pastor Mark, don’t be guilty of hiding your sin and ignoring it. This past Sunday I saw a little girl take some rocks from a plant bed even after her mother told her to put them back. But instead, she put them in the seat of her stroller and then used a blanket to cover the rocks up, hoping no one would see them. I noticed that immediately when you were called out and confronted, you became very active on your social media sites, in turn, burying what you had said far below the news feeds. You have yet to come clean.
I still am shocked at seeing my picture float around Facebook and the various Christian news outlets. I never realized my 15 minutes of fame would come with so much baggage attached. In all honesty, I walk away unscathed. I just have to put up with getting teased by friends and family over the fact that they’re seeing me everywhere online. However, I was not the brunt of a lie and I do hurt for my dear friend who you falsely accused in a public arena and presented in a way that is far from accurate. I cannot understand how you feel justified in presenting someone who was gracious to you, someone who offered to help you carry things, someone who treated you like a gentleman…as a villain. You threw this man under a bus as he was carrying your things.
Thankfully, his upright character is so well-known to those at Grace Community Church that most people were surprised to see him portrayed as such. This is a real man, one who acts like a man. He’s strong, noble and does his job as head of security with excellence. I have also watched him on numerous occasions, share the gospel passionately with those he is having to contain and discipline. I’ve seen him pleading with those he is working with, inviting them to come to church with him. More concerned for their souls, than for the harm they may inflict on the campus. Please, you have an opportunity to clear his name.
Pastor Mark, you are a man who claims to speak as a man of God, and as a pastor-in-training, I look for examples to follow. When a leader behaves like a child and buries his sin, the example that you set is far from what I see as godly and certainly not one that I want to emulate. Many have already alluded to the irony of the conference you were speaking being called “Act Like Men,” and questioned the authority you have to speak on such a subject, when you remind us of a boy in High School pulling a prank with little discretion and grave consequences
I wish I could come up with a great illustration, like Nathan did for David (2 Samuel 12:1-15), but I can’t. But I do call you to make things right. I call you to examine the motivation for your actions and also apologize to those you need to apologize to. David’s response in Psalm 51 is a true call to repentance. You’ve not only sinned against man, but you’ve sinned against a Holy God. You are a man with lots of influence and you have a tremendous opportunity right now Pastor Mark, to confess that you were wrong. That you made a mistake and to ask for forgiveness. I can assure you, forgiveness can and will be granted.