The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports…
“Mark Driscoll has resurfaced less than a week after resigning as senior pastor at Mars Hill Church, getting a star’s welcome at a major evangelical conference in Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday and saying he wants to “sing, to pray, to learn, to grow, to repent.”
Driscoll had been removed earlier this year as keynote speaker at the annual Gateway Leadership & Worship Conference, a big stop on the evangelical circuit. But the controversy-shrouded mega-church founder was welcomed to the stage by Gateway Church founder-pastor Robert Morris with allusions to Jesus.
“He did make some mistakes,” said Morris. ”Uh, here’s what I figure. We’ve got two choices. One is we could crucify him. But since someone’s already been crucified (hollering) for him, (applause), the other choice is we could restore him with a spirit of gentleness considering ourselves, lest we are also tempted.”
Driscoll responded with a homily of self-pity, persecution and limited repentance. He talked of repeated physical threats to his person and family.
“Yah, for me I’m in a season of just, uh, healin’ up, praying,” he began. “Uh, asking the Lord Jesus through wise counsel to show me any blind spots where I can grow.”
He morphed into a discussion of family, and of himself.
“I think there’s a lot I could say that would make me feel better,” said Driscoll. “I don’t know that it would make me look better, but I don’t think it would make Jesus look better, so I won’t say anything other than, uh, just pray for my family. We’ve had a very trying season and, uh, just trying to figure out how to be a good pastor to my family first.”
“I’ve cried a lot lately (and) it’s been a rough season for the family,” Driscoll added. After telling the audience to take a seat, he opined: “I would say don’t overlook your family as first ministry.”
Driscoll, who has traveled with a bodyguard, detailed attacks that have come his way.
“We’ve got five kids, three boys, two girls, ages 8 to 17 and, uh, we’ve moved three times now for safety issues. People arrested at our home, death threats, uh, address posted on line, all kinds of things and, uh, more recently it’s gotten very severe.
“We came home from break. There was rusty nails all over the driveway. We, uh, we had a night where the kids wanted to sleep out in the tent and, uh, I got a call that, um, my address was posted on-line by the media and so, we, we, went out of town for a few days . . .”
When the family returned, the family tried camping out, “woke up in the morning about 6:30 or so and huge rocks about the size of baseballs come flying at my kids, uh, 8, 10, 12 years of age. Call the police. Flee into the house for their safety.”
A few days later, he charged, “the media flies overhead with a helicopter and is trying to flush us out for a story.” That night, Driscoll claimed, his 8-year-old son asked, “Well, it’s bad guys in the helicopter coming to shoot the family, right.”
Of course, the most telling damage to Driscoll has been self-inflicted. Twenty-one former Mars Hill elders charged him with threats, intimidation and bullying. Acts29, a global “church planting” network, expelled Driscoll and Mars Hill, with its directors urging Driscoll to leave the ministry and seek help. A similar call came from nine pastors at Mars Hill.
Driscoll has had to explain remarks, such as a posting under pseudonym in which he referred to America as a “Pussified Nation.” He had to answer charges of plagiarism. He had to apologize for hiring a consulting firm with Mars Hill money, and using church dollars to artificially puff sales of his book “Real Marriage” to put it on The New York Times bestseller list.,
Driscoll was not about to go to confession before the Gateway Conference.
“I just want to come here to, uh, sing, to pray, to learn, to grow, uh, to repent, to heal anduh, God is surrounding me with some great pastors and friends, and if I could just say anything, it’s ‘every pastor needs a pastor,’” he said.
The non-mea culpa was greeted with sustained applause and not a few whoops.
Morris stepped in to play the role of confessor and a form of absolution.
“Debbie and I have been able to spend some time with Mark and Grace and talking with them and, uh, we were talking the night before he resigned and talking about that and talking through the situation and you know he, uh, resigned the church he founded and pastored for 18 years.”
After drawing his breath, Morris drew lessons.
“He preached 10 to 12 years, 50 weeks a year, sometimes six services a weekend,” said Morris. “And, uh, it’s just not healthy and so I’m glad that, uh, he’s saying, ‘Help me. Help me to do it differently and do it better.’
“And so I love him very very much and, um, I’m glad that he’s here. Uh, you’re going to be blessed.” Earlier, Morris said of Driscoll, “We’re speaking into his life and he is listening.”
He made a final reference to Driscoll receiving “bad media” and went on to introduce the last speaker.
Driscoll will have a cushion with which to pray, learn, grow and minister to his family. He is reportedly receiving a year’s severance. The senior pastor’s salary has never been disclosed. One memo from (since resigned) deputy Sutton Turner recommended that Driscoll receive a $650,000 salary for 2013.
We have not heard the last from Mark Driscoll.”