Apologetics, Inc.

Another Chance for the Lord to Sanctify His Church Through Driscoll

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Driscoll is in the news again, and the situation is ridiculous. It seems evident to me that this spirit of Jezebel nonsense was a stunt to sell his book. Maybe I’m wrong about this. But this recent controversy regarding Mark reminded me of his scandal in 2014 and an important lesson for us to learn.  

Nine years ago, I wrote an article titled “Driscoll and Acts 29: A Flashlight For Your Own Soul.”  It was in response to Acts 29 removing Driscoll from the church planting network he helped establish following allegations of inappropriate and disqualifying conduct. Additionally, there were accusations that he misused over $200,000 of church funds to secure a place for his book on the NY Times best-seller list. It was an absurd situation. Though the circumstances are not identical, I think the lessons we could have learned from his debacle nearly a decade ago are just as relevant now.  

From the article: 

Before I say more, I must say this. I have no idea what truly has happened here. I do not know the depths of sin and mistakes that took place. I am not the judge. I only know two things: The whole thing reeks, and it should cause us all to examine our own lives. 

The church is quick to lift up a man and follow him. And this, perhaps more than anything else, grieves me. It makes me sick to see a movement ride the coattails of a powerful speaker only to toss him aside when his public presence is not furthering their agenda. The public nature of this is hideous. It is as bad as any sex scandal within the church. And it should cause us all to consider the ramifications of Christian stardom. When so many hitch their wagon to one powerful horse, many will suffer when that steed breaks a leg. And as it is now, there are many stranded as the wounded Driscoll has been laid to rest by Acts 29. 

I do think, though, that this debacle can be used by the Lord for our good. If we use this situation as a flashlight to expose what is in our heart and ministry practices, health will come to the church. We cannot let this become mere water-cooler gossip that makes us feel better about ourselves. I see too much joy in so-called Christians over this scandal. Do not revel in the misfortune of another for any reason. Whether Driscoll was a sage or a swindler in your eyes, mourn and reflect and allow God to sanctify you and your ministry. Borrow the pain of another and learn without having to endure the trial yourself. 

The Lord has used this to remind me of something important. Many spend most of their efforts building their platform, their ministry. Tireless hours and planning go into building and growing networks and strengthening relationships. And this should be done. However, it is futile if something else is not built—our character. As Bobby Conway, author of The Fifth Gospel, puts it, “Our character must be greater than our platform.” 

Ministry must rest upon something solid. Foundations are not glamorous, though. Nobody ever sees them until the building comes crumbling down. It is much easier to put emphasis on “big” things, the things seen that draw praise: writing books, speaking at conferences, creating networks, and establishing multi-sites. But it is the small things that matter most. What is hidden from the world is what secures our fruitfulness and causes our Master to praise our faithfulness (Matt 25:21). 

This day I would ask for you to seek righteousness more than a growing ministry. Be more concerned about speaking truthfully than speaking at a conference. Ask God to create in you a pure heart, not prestige. And seek to serve more than you desire to lead. 

Those of us in positions of power must make decisions to limit our power. With power comes entitlement. This must be fought by the servant of Christ. The more privileges are offered, the more one must serve. Deny yourself the offerings of men and so teach them to serve Christ and not you. This is safe for the bride of Christ. It helps the church to focus her allegiance to where it belongs. It strengthens the bond of all believers. When our eyes are fixed firmly on our true Leader, it creates unity. But when they are not, division and other rotten things overtake us. 

The fallout between Driscoll and Acts 29 will be cause for celebration for the proud but sanctification for the humble. It is very easy to criticize another. It is much harder to acknowledge your own faults. But it is better to examine your own heart before it is exposed to the world. Reading the allegations of Driscoll’s accusers is an opportunity for us all. It has caused me to question what is in my life that Satan would love to make a spectacle of if I were to have a platform as large as Mark’s. Am I developing practices that cause others to look to me rather than God? What practice or sin exists in my life that would do harm to the church if I were famous? Many of us should be grateful that we are not famous. For many of us, our lives would do much more harm than Mark’s. 

Be wise, and do not waste Driscoll’s pain and this ugly breakup. Let it be a flashlight for your own heart.

Picture of Michael C. Sherrard

Michael C. Sherrard

Michael C. Sherrard is the president of Apologetics, Inc., the author of Why You Matter and Relational Apologetics, and faculty at Summit Ministries.

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