Mark Driscoll

This is the hardest thing for him to talk about since much of it is intuitive. You have to know and love Jesus. To do this, you need to spend time in the text. It will impact your life and, subsequently, your marriage.

Six questions he asks himself when he is studying:

  1. What does the Bible say? Prov 35:6. The Bible is verbal plenary inspiration. The Bible is the primary means by which God uses to speak to us. He encourages us to fast a few days a month in order to simply read the Bible – fasting from internet, cell phones, e-mail, meetings, etc. Jesus often drew away from busy-ness
  2. What does it mean? Letting Scripture interpret Scripture. Use commentaries, other people, resources that will help you get in the life of the original hearers.
  3. What is the take away point? Perhaps it is a word, an image, a doctrine (i.e. providence, atonement), an emotion (Naomi changed her name to Mara), or a life study of a person (i.e. Nehemiah).
  4. Why/how is there resistance to what is true? We have a proclivity to suppress the truth. We need to be honest in our own lives (as we prepare) as to whether we have applied this text to our lives. “Before we can live a life, lead a family, lead a church, we have to acknowledge some of our own resistance.” How do we respond to those who will defend themselves. The Puritans would assume a resistance in their hearers, this is why they spent a considerable time preaching (not because they were merely verbose).
  5. Why does this matter? As my witness, my fathering, my husbanding, my pastoring. There are several layers to everything we learn and apply. Our life will affect our families, churches, and culture. The Gospel will be magnified and spread by our faithful application of this text. “The Bible is not just true, it is helpful.” It’s not like the phonebook that is true, but it helps people live better lives. It’s true that it leads to eternal life, but it is also the way to a better life here on earth. One of the worst reductionisms in our Bible reading is that it is just for me. We need to evaluate our lives one these several levels so that we can make an impact on our culture and spread the fame of Jesus.
  6. How is Jesus the hero? When you talk about Jesus, the Holy Spirit likes to show up to do a work on your hearers’ ears. We cannot merely use the Jesus exemplar so that we tell people to live like Jesus. He is the hero and Savior of men, not merely a model on how to be a better businessman or even pastor (though this is an aspect of Christ’s life).
    1. 25% of the OT is prophetic, which are tied to Jesus’ fulfillment
    2. Christophanies

                     i. “the angel of the Lord”

Types

 i.     Figures and institutions (Adam, priest, prophet, king, sacrificial system)

    Events

       i.     The Exodus, Passover, Day of Atonement

    Titles

       i.     Suffering Servant, First and the Last, Shepherd

     

    What is sad about so many in the ministry is that so many pastors use the Bible for other means other than for knowing Jesus. They go to the Bible for approval, self-exaltation, material gain, puffing up with knowledge, for comfort for our spouse. If you do not go to the Scriptures for Jesus, he will oppose everything you do. He will not be content with being a means to an end.

    Bottom Line:

    The Bible’s true, it’s about Jesus. 

    Table Talk

    Church planting is what happens when a man gets excited about Jesus and tells others about Him. What are ways we can get excited and stay excited about Him?

    Are you a closet light beer drinker? No. I am not a hypocrite.

    Why have you changed from being angry to being heart-broken over those who teach false doctrine? What I perceived to be false teaching knew what they were doing. Now I realize that there is demonic deception so that these people do not know they are teaching false doctrine (who believe they are teaching rightly). Also, I think I have become a pastor (as opposed to merely a prophet) to help people think through issues.

    How can a preacher get better at answering objections in a sermon? Preach more than one sermon (get feedback in between services). Ask for feedback among your elders. Bounce ideas off them. Have an on-line discussion board so you can see questions people have. For those who are getting ready to plant a church, it would be wise to plan your first year of sermons in ministry.

    How do we talk about Jesus being helpful without falling into pragmatism? We need to be afraid of compromise not pragmatism. We want to use our doctrine because it works. We do not want to denigrate our doctrine so that something works. He draws a metaphor of prophet, priests, and kings for our present-day context. Prophets want to have doctrinal solidarity. The priests want to minister to the needs of the people. Kings organize well. We need to learn from each of these offices. Finding out what works best is not a sin but compromise is.

    How do you structure your study time? Office at the church and a study at home. (1) saves on commute time. (2) I can study whenever I want. (3) My wife and kids have access to our libraries. (4) Your family see us studying the Bible. You’re integrating your study into your life. You need to set aside a few days a month to get away and spend time alone with God.

    What is the most-effective way a wife can encourage her church planting husband? [Gracie, Mark’s wife responds] That is husband-specific. I erred in trying to answer that question before I asked him; ask it often since the seasons change, Lots of encouragement even though you think he doesn’t need any help, advice, or encouragement. Even correction is encouragement. Keeping your husband a priority. [Mark resumes] A missional thought pattern should also be utilized when we minister to our spouse.

    Apart from the Bible, what are your top three resources? Biographies are huge. You don’t really know if he knows what he is talking about until he is dead and the full effects can be seen after their dead.

    From your own disciplines, how have you used them to meet with Jesus? I am a constant reader.

    How do you intentionally develop your staff? Set up a culture where we really trust the Bible and love Jesus. So much of what becomes the culture of the church is modeled by the pastor.

    We take responsibility even when you don’t feel like it’s your fault. This is seen in the life of Jesus who took our sin upon himself even when it was not his fault to own. Driscoll would discourage building ministries that will allow them to abdicate their duties to their families and the church. Possibly bring all the families together on Wednesday nights, teach them, and equip them to teach their families.

    Your goal should be to see all your men become elders. You want them to be at that level of elder in their doctrine and life. They all won’t get to there, but that is what you aim for.

         Best advice he has received as a church planter:

    “Be a sanctified version of yourself” (John Piper) – advice given to Driscoll he considers the best advice he has received as a church planter.

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    What Is Sunday Worship?

    I’m gonna keep this simple, but hopefully not simplistic. As you consider your corporate gathering of believers (typically on the first day of the week), there are three ways to think about it. You can think of it as an event, a participation, or a transformation.

    The Event Model can take on two modes: emotionally-driven or cognitively-driven. The emotionally-driven mindset, of course, could baldly mean that you show up to hear some great music and hear a message. You go to watch and experience something. The cognitively-driven mindset could mean that you highlight the sermon so much that it becomes the point of your showing up. You hear this a lot in evangelical churches that the sermon is the most important aspect of the worship experience. The problem with such thinking, though, betrays an onlooker mentality. That is, I go to church to observe and consider and think and have my thinking changed.

    In this model, there is an I-Thou expectation of the worship service. I go to that. I consider that. I am separate from and participate in that. In other words, this kind of approach to the corporate gathering is apart from who I am. I go to there. I leave from there. Sure, we talk about taking the message home with us…but come on! You and I both know we forget what was said within 10 minutes of leaving the building. When we are confronted with traffic on the way to the buffet. And then, we get bored. Bored with our lives. Bored with our faith. We find greater joy in our team winning the game than in our eternal salvation won at the cost of the Son of God.

    The Participation Model is a little bit better than the event model. This puts the onus on the believer to come to the service seeking to be engaged in other people at church. For all the talk about this being a need in churches, and people nodding their heads in agreement…this does not happen in reality. People cognitively ascend to this truth, but they don’t fully grasp this truth.

    If they do grasp a hold of this participation model, it often devolves into judgmentalism (others aren’t as serious about their faith as you are) or complacency (I asked someone how their walk with God is going and they gave me the cold shoulder). So what’s the problem with this model? Write simply it remains in the realm of I-Thou. That is, I bring something to you. I come to serve you. I am apart from and wholly different from you. At its root, it is simply another (albeit more spiritual rendition) of the event model. 

    The third, and I believe more biblical model (of course!), is the Tranformational Model. This way of approaching the Sunday morning gathering sheds itself of the event. It doesn’t come in judgment of the service–I didn’t like that song. I liked the sermon. I really engaged with God this morning. Wow, what a wonderful time. Instead, it views Sunday morning as another step in my being conformed into the image of Jesus. It does see it as an event you come to. It is something we participate in. But preeminently it embraces the fact that over time we are being changed by the service itself. 

    What does this look like? Well, it understands that every time we attend an event or participate in a service, we are slowly changing. You are much more different from the fifth football game you attended, than the first. You understand the language, the traditions, the cheers. 

    So it is with a church service…and this is where it gets a bit thorny. With the typical evangelical liturgy (and it is a liturgy) of two fast songs, two slow songs, a sermon, and dismissal, we are slowly becoming consumers. Or better put, our already-ingrained consumer mentality is reinforced as we observe (and maybe participate). We watch the stage. We critique the songs–or what the song leader was wearing. We sit down and hear someone wax eloquently–or not. 

    I fear that much of the problems we see in modern evangelicalism stem from us offering goods and services to people and not inviting them into be transformed. This fact is betrayed in much of the assumptions underlying decisions made on how the liturgy ought to roll. For example, since we need to be engaging and winsome in our communication of the Gospel, we need to play this popular radio song and do a Jesus juke to talk about how real love is only found in Jesus. Of course I’m not saying messages and songs ought to be fuddy-duddy and boring! Stop putting baby in the corner. 

    What I am saying is that churches ought to be very clear in what they are shaping their people into becoming. We ought to understand that we are in the business of transformation–from one degree of glory to another. Not filling seats. Not being entertaining and relevant at the cost of depth. 

    This is why at Christ the Redeemer, we have been intentional in our liturgy. We believe that the primary purpose of the Sunday morning gathering is the transformation of people. We have an explicit order to our service that follows the biblical storyline of Creation>Fall>Redemption>Consummation. Over time, people’s being is changed. It unwittingly becomes easier to say “I’m sorry, please forgive me” because you are trained to confess your sin every week. You more readily accept forgiveness because you are trained to hear God’s Word of Forgiveness to you after confessing. You more readily come to fellowship with God in spite of and because of your sin because you are trained that at the Lord’s Table you find satisfaction and rest for your souls.

    Yes, Sunday morning is an event. But not merely so. It is something we participate in. But not merely so. It is preeminently another step in our being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. The primary goal of Sunday morning is our transformation through intentional liturgies.

    Brief Thoughts on Church Membership (altogether incomplete)

    I have been reflecting on the subject of church membership for the last few weeks. This stems from planting a church and having folks join who are members of existing churches. This also stems from folks who joined our church plant and have moved their membership–both issues had to do with distance to our new location and a desire to be involved in a more specific way to those who attend another church for purposes of ministry (both great reasons!).

    My thoughts haven’t just been a result of circumstances. Rather, they come from a desire to think theologically about this issue.

    First, I want to make clear that membership in a local church is the primary means of discipleship in the Christian journey. We make commitments to others to love and serve and be loved and be served by others. It is a beautiful and necessary commitment that we take way too lightly.

    BUT too often pastors and church leaders speak about church membership in very unhelpful terms. We speak about it being like a marriage. It most certainly is not. It is not a covenant either. Scripture speaks about our membership in the Body of Christ. The local congregation is a physical manifestation of that reality. Everything we do is in the context of local–geographically and temporally. My fear is that church bodies can begin to assume that members of a local congregation cannot leave. Much like the Hotel California, people are often guilted in staying. People are made to think they are being less committed to the mission of the Church (yes, that’s a large C, signifying the Church Universal).

    We have a membership class coming up for Redeemer in a few weeks. I take great pains to help people see that our congregation is one among many faithful churches in time and space. We do not have a corner on the market of faithfulness. We are one very small player on the great stage of history. The more we recite this truth, the more humble and grateful we will become. Every time we say this, we are reminded that God’s purposes are much larger than us. We are reminded that we have certain proclivities and characteristics that may set us apart by way of trends and passions. We are reminded that there are many other brothers and sisters seeking to do the same thing as us–take up our crosses daily and follow Jesus (individually and corporately).

    One of the things I make sure to tell people is that if they want to make a commitment to be a member of Redeemer, it ought to be based on it mission and vision. We try to keep it very simple, as you’ll see from our website. How we go about accomplishing these things are called our Core Values. That’s how we seek to accomplish the vision right now in 2018.

    But the Church is an organization, but it is also a living organism. As with all organisms, change is inevitable. Indeed, it is desired. As human beings we necessarily grow and change if we are alive. It is inherent to the very definition of life. Change is beautiful. Inevitably, our church will grow as people are added to our congregation. This is beautiful because it enables and empowers people to contribute their gifts and passions to the whole, and for the whole to shape the particular person.

    Over time, there may be people who have changes of convictions for how “to do” church. That is, they may disagree with our emphasis on church planting, mission, and mercy. They may disagree with our commitment to simplicity. At the end of the day, as a pastor I want people to be freed to serve and be served by others. If they are staying at Redeemer just because they made a commitment in 2018, that is not healthy. Rather, my desire is that they be involved. Intimately involved in the growth and development of our church. If they cannot do so, it is healthier that they find a congregation where they can faithfully live out their convictions.

    This doesn’t have to be an ugly thing. Rather, it can be a very beautiful thing where we are again reminded and remind each other that we do no have a corner on the market of biblical fidelity. Jesus promised to build his Church. I get to be a small observer in that construction project–stone upon stone.

    We want people to be a part of Redeemer who believe in the vision and mission and who want to play an integral part in seeing that vision become a reality in our small corner of the universe. So when folks leave, we don’t need to guilt them. Sure, we will miss folks as they leave, but may we depart to meet again.

    Less Hype. More Humility.

    Please. Embedded in our consumeristic culture, there is the assumption that newer is better than older–though I prefer aged beef and cheddar to new. There is the assumption that grand and renovated and powerful is preferable to meek and lowly and weak.

    The church often adopts this form of communicating in an effort to gather people into its doors. “God is doing awesome things here at Church _______.” The fact is that God is doing awesome things everyday and everywhere. He’s sustained your life. He’s given you sight and hearing and legs. And if you have none or only one of these, he’s still given you life and a mind to engage the world around you. Truly miraculous. What is more, is God not also doing something in the old, decrepit church that meets faithfully every Sunday? Is God not at work in the mundane? Is the changing of laundry and washing of dishes and working through an argument devoid of God’s presence?

    I see so many churches trying to drum up excitement about the latest outreach or project, when what our culture needs is the staying power and sobriety of faithfulness in the ho-hum drudgery of going to a job you hate or a marriage that is contentious. What we need is not more hype, but more humility. More service and less heavy-handedness. We need more gentleness and less power grabs.

    If we don’t, what then becomes of the senior citizen who is tired? What becomes of the baby who is sleeping? What becomes of the unemployed and outcast and burdened? They are forgotten. They are seen as less valuable because they aren’t producing the kind of energy requisite for assumed faithfulness to the disciples’ call.

    In reality, we need less loud voices and red faces and sweaty brows and more silence and calmness and a deep well of contentment.