For the few of you who don’t know the Driscoll story, where have you been? He has been variously accused of abusing staff, plagiarism, lying, wasting church money, being mouthy and vulgar and who knows what else. Apparently staff is defecting and thousands are abandoning ship, taking their dollars with them. Life for the Driscoll family has to be sideways. The truth is being sorted out and who knows where or how it ends.
Michael Gungor, along with his wife Lisa, is an extraordinary (IMO) artist, musician, pastor from the Denver area, who made the “huge mistake” of stating some opinions about science, Jesus etc that run contrary to how a vocal wing of Christendom views them, and he paid a huge media price for his views. Some suggested, that God has a not so nice place reserved for Michael, because of his opinions. Concerts have been cancelled and life has been seriously disrupted for a young family.
Though the issues around these men’s lives are not the same, they are representative of some pretty crazy times in the “Christian” world.
What the h, e, double hockey sticks, is going on (I’m kind of afraid to write out the word)? As usual I have some thoughts:
1. First and obviously, we live in a media saturated culture where anybody and everybody’s opinion can be shared wantonly and inconsequently with anyone who shares a friend or follow status with the sharer. Bloggers like me can get more hits if we tag our stuff with high profile names and stories. Want to increase your readership? Use the word sex or Driscoll in the title and you are assured of a good day in the blogosphere. It’s the way it is. No one is accountable to anyone for what they write or say. Me included. So we rip it up and rip each other up.
2. Passing judgement is a christian sport. For some sick reason we love to kick people when they are down or say something we think is heresy. Yes, we are called to judge things, as to their value for our life and if they are of Jesus. I judge for me, you judge for you. We may or may not come down on the same side, but that is just fine because judging for another is not our responsibility.
On the other hand, passing judgement is just plain wrong and it is not the same thing as judging for yourself about rightness or wrongness. Passing judgement is deciding that another person is a reprobate for what they do, believe, think or don’t and determining their value as a person and Christian based on what we think we know about them.
Michael Gungor gets to believe and say whatever he wants to. We get to judge if we want to buy his albums, go to his concerts, read his blog or whatever. Our choice. But I don’t think we get to rip him to shreds and condemn him to hell because we don’t agree.
If I were a member of Mars Hill Church (where Mark Driscoll is a pastor) then I could judge for me and my family whether we were going to keep attending or not, based on our personal understanding and convictions related to what is going on. But, if we are going to call ourselves Christians, then we do not pass judgement on him, the leadership, or the situation, we get out or butt out and let them sort it out.
3. Generally today’s church is about market-share and not advancing the Kingdom. Churches do not grow (gain market-share) apart from a leader who gets his/her name out there in the same way any business does. It is how it’s done.
But it works like this, too. As long as that pastor is growing his market share and filling the seats and offering buckets, most things are overlooked, but better keep the metrics upward or one’s flaws or failures will be put out there for all to read and see.
As soon as an artist starts to get seen or heard it’s open season. That’s how the culture works. Think Miley or Justin. But Christians are counter-culture and unless we do it differently we are irrelevant.
4. Christians do not believe or agree on most things. The church has always been that way, it’s why there are so many churches. We part or join company with people all the time based on agreement. But why do we have to be so mean about it? If you think Mark is a bad bag of wind, don’t go to church there. If you think Michael should be stoned for believing in an old earth, ignore him or pray that he gets his crap together, but leave them alone. It is okay to be different, I think God planned it that way.
5. When did it stop being about restoration, if it ever was? Is the Gospel anything if it is not a story of restoration? The Creator is restoring all things to Himself and the Gospel is about how that plays out in the human race.
I do not think we can call ourselves followers of Jesus if we are not unrelenting and utterly intentional about restoring people who fail, fall, forget, flip out or find themselves far away. I don’t know first hand what Mark has done but I hope whoever is in charge will stick to their guns, work the plan and restore the guy to his leadership. Anything less, if he is willing and submissive, is not the Gospel.
Is there a sin from which we cannot be restored? Confession, repentance, and submission put us back into relationship with Father God, so why doesn’t it put us back into relationship with His family? We have all kinds of reasons why we don’t do the Gospel. Too many people have been hurt, it was a really bad sin, he/she was a pain in the ass, he/she didn’t talk to me, listen to me, do what I said… Sometimes our failure and our position makes restoration harder, but so what, it’s what we do and I don’t think the culture is going to pay any attention to us until we start doing the hard stuff.
Grace without restoration isn’t grace.
6. We all have stuff we wouldn’t want flashed on the screen at church, but we escape the microscope because no one knows us. How would you feel if your closet of actions, words or thoughts got opened up for all to see, tweet, post or blog or pass judgement on? Seriously, how would you feel?
That’s how the Driscolls and Gungors feel.