confessions of a reformission rev

August 14, 2006 | 12 Comments

I have a bit of a unique relationship with Mark Driscoll.

On the one hand, whenever I dialogue with him, I come away really respecting and appreciating him. I admire his passion to keep Mars Hill Church focused on mission, the way he values study of both theology and culture and how to intersect them, and his overall insight and ingenuity.

On the other hand, there is much where I don’t agree with him. Just to name a few — he is much more of a literalist than I when approaching the Scriptures, I don’t hold to the reformed theology he espouses and am not as conservative overall, and I often think he comes across too sure of himself and his views.

Most unique about our relationship is that he doesn’t know anything about our conversations. They’ve all taken place in my noggin as I’ve wrestled through his ideas in books or talks he’s given.

Regardless of what you think of him, I find great value in his ideas. His confidence in his views at least pushes me to clarify my own. When I react to something he says, whether positively or negatively, it causes me to ask what brings about that reaction, and define my own response to it.

Whether or note you agree with his theology or ecclesiology, I think Confessions of a Reformission Rev is a must read for anyone who wants to start or lead within a church community. He openly shares his own experience, both the good and the bad, in the birth of Mars Hill with humility and confidence. Better yet, he describes his ecclesiology as he goes, pushing the reader toward clarity on their own.

There’s much to chew on, but here’s two thoughts I find especially valuable:

  • “Over the years, I have accepted that I’m really not much of a pastor but rather am a missiologist studying the city who leads a church filled with missionaries who reach the city and with pastors who care for the converts.” (pg 51) He is defining his role as a pastor, but this is worthwhile for anyone in that role to chew on. Is this what the role of lead pastor should look like for anyone, or is it a matter of style that best suits him?
  • “I decided to never view our church as a church but rather always to view it like a church planter with a core group launching out to reach the city. Now we simply had a core of one thousand instead of the original twelve that began in the living room of my home.” (pg 147) YES! Even in the short ten months of Pathways, I can see how easy it is to start thinking that we’re going to make it and be a real and established church. What a dangerous way to think because it so distracts from the mission.
  • Confessions was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read. It was honest and unvarnished. Coming from a pastor of a “megachurch” or from a pastor of any sized church, I think that’s totally refreshing.

    I tend to be appreciative of Mark’s finalized faith statements. Like you said, it is challenging to me to work through and define my own perspectives better.

    I really enjoyed his offensive comments. He seems like a dude that is really comfortable with himself. He challenged me as a pastor, a husband, and a Chris follower. Great book.

  • Funny, I just picked up the same book last night. For the first time, I think I understand how many folks read B. Mclaren and they say they want to throw is books against the wall because some of the stuff that he says-or does not say 🙂

    I either loves what Driscoll says or I hate it. Quick example, his take on John 6:37, (Page 27) I just totally disagree with his “elect” understanding of this passage.

    That being said, I really respect what he is doing, he challenges me to love culture, the church and my city. I learn so much from him. I think he gives me hope that the church can still function with power and authority.

  • Thanks for your review. I agree with Travis that it is appealing pairing to see such genuineness in a pastor of such a big organization.

    In your experience, what are the characteristics of a church with a less-established, church-planting mentality?

  • Sarah,

    Thanks for the comment. I recently read a review of your book on Conrad Gempf’s blog, and it interests me. I’ll likely try to pick up a copy to read sometime soon.

    I’m not sure I fully understand your question and the relationship between less-established and church-planting mentality. Can you clarify that?


  • if this book contains “finalized faith statements” and “offensive comments” then I might be passing on this one. I actually prefer reading Brian Mclaren because he doesn’t hold your hand and tell you how you should think. He’s also not condesending and arrogant which are traits I generally prefer from an author.

  • Zach…so many opinions about a book you haven’t read…

  • John, i’m intrigued if nothing else. I might be game for this book as I’ve found that some of the people that I disagree with the most help me to process through my own beliefs the best. And you kind of sound like a schiczo 😉 (i’m not really sure how you are supposed to spell that)

  • i offered no opinions of the book, just of Driscoll. 🙂

  • Sherie

    John, we just need to change your opinion of what it means to “make it and be a real and established church.” Some of us already feel Pathways is very real, and might disagree with you about what “making it” means.

    Jeremy, you are pretty insightful about John, but we love his teaching and his heart.

  • John, i saw one of my profs reading this today. I asked him what he thought. He said it made him laugh out loud… just thought i would let you know.

    This will b e on my up and coming list for sure.

  • Confessions and The Radical Reformission are two of my favorite books. Driscoll tries to be a real Christ-follower by accepting what Christ accepted and rejecting what Christ rejected. I think Jesus would be ostracized or kicked out of many churches because of his radical love and acceptance for everyone, along with his unwillingness to play religious games. I also appreciated Mark’s openness about the struggles he faced in growing the church.

  • Tim

    Driscoll’s book was one of the best I read in 2006. Too many uptight people dislike Driscoll for his honesty and forthrightness. Unfortunately, he says what many of us wish we could say. Brutally honest is what the book is and he should be commended for it.

    Another book that should bookend this one is “Confessions of a Pastor” by Criag Groeschel. (OK, another ‘Confessions’ book–but this is unrelated and has a different tone and approach). Driscoll and Groeschel are two of the most influential men in the church today–their voices should be heard. Groeschel also chronicles his struggles and frustrations in his church plant. He also is refreshingly honest in his many shortcomings and struggles with sin, arrogance and pride. Great to hear two men so forthright about the areas where they fall short.