Thursday, August 28, 2014

Process, results, and Mark Driscoll

In my last sermon, I opened with a bit about "destination people" versus "journey people." It wasn't meant to be serious, or to provoke much serious thought. It was mostly to help people to relax and engage with the text of Exodus, which is a book about Israel's spiritual journey out of slavery and toward their destination of the Promised Land. So it was fascinating to me that after the service, as people were making their way out and greeting me (as is still tradition in our church), that a friend stopped me with a serious comment about this illustration.

He told me that journey vs. destination is another way of talking about "process orientation" vs "results orientation." Which is true. Some people don't care about how something is done, only that it is done. For others, how you get there is at least equal in importance as that you arrive. This led to a further discussion about politics and also about church ministry. My friend told me that he is usually more process than results oriented. I lean the other way.

The conversation was sharpening for me in light of recent events involving Pastor Mark Driscoll. I have read much of what Mark has written and found much of it beneficial and helpful (esp. Doctrine) and enjoyed a few of his sermons. Moreover, I respect the fact that his church, Mars Hill, has been able to effectively share the Gospel with so many people (esp. young men) in a city as aggressively secular as Seattle. I did have questions, as many did, about various comments he made or actions he took, but somehow, through a combination of my own spiritual immaturity and results orientation, I largely ignored the warning lights.

Now the warning lights have given way to smoke pouring out of the engine. I have no desire to join in what has become a generalized internet pile-on. Yet, I do think that pastors (like me!), who tend toward seeking results above all do well to pay attention to what has occurred. Too many of us were willing to ignore evidence of immature and ungodly behavior in Mark because his ministry was going so well. There really were lots of people coming to faith in Jesus. There were churches being planted. And that's what many of us pastors (again, including me!) hope will one day happen in our churches too. At our best, we want to see those things happen not out of some megalomaniac desire to build a monument to ourselves, but because we really do believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the dividing line between heaven and hell and that life is only found knowing Him. So out of love for others, we greatly desire to see as many as possible know and love and follow Jesus.

Yet it is apparently easy for that good desire to transmogrify into ugly self-exaltation. May I and my fellow pastors never be granted influence that outruns our character, nor allow ministerial results to so overrule the process of obtaining them that we discredit the Gospel message we so earnestly desire to spread.

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