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.