The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports…
“Mark Driscoll hardly caught his breath after quitting as lead pastor at Mars Hill Church, as the Seattle-based mega church imploded in multiple scandals, before launching his own web site and once more appearing at evangelical conferences.
On Sunday, Driscoll delivered his first Seattle-area reappearance since last August at the big, box-like Gold Creek Community Church in Mill Creek. He was greeted with a standing ovation, with more than 100 people lining up to greet him after the 9 a.m. service.
Driscoll was also greeted by a dozen pickets on the street outside. “He has re-purposed his ministry without reconciling with thousands of persons who were abused,” said Van Rue, one of the protesters, who has attended both the Mars Hill and Gold Creek churches.
Inside, lead pastor Dan Kellogg brought on Driscoll with the words: “He’s in the middle of re-purposing his life.” Kellogg claimed Driscoll was “unfairly treated by former staff and the media,” and exclaimed: “He’s baptized 10,000 people who found Christ.”
“I would like to talk about Jesus instead of me: It would be much more pleasant and helpful,” Driscoll began.
In his familiar attire of blue jeans and vest, backed up by a message screen, Driscoll quickly intoned: “Faith in anyone other than Jesus Christ is faith in vain. Faith in anyone other than Jesus Christ is inviting destruction into your life and drowning in eternity.”
Driscoll built the Mars Hill Church, which he co-founded, into a mega church which eventually had 15 “campuses” in five states, and an estimated regular attendance of 13,000.
It came crashing down last year, amidst plagiarism accusations, questions about where “church planting” donations designated for Ethiopia and India were really spent, and multiple accusations of threats, intimidation and “shunning” of followers and ex-followers.
In a famous message to pastors and church planters, Driscoll declared: “I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus and by God’s grace it will be a mountain by the time we’re done. You either get on the bus or you get run over by the bus. Those are the options; but the bus ain’t gonna stop.”
The climax came with formal charges brought by 20 former pastors and elders. “We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff in a domineering manner,” Mars Hill’s Board of Overseers said in a statement on October 15, 2014. Driscoll resigned the same day.
The fallen pastor has picked himself up, with none of the mea culpas or public soul searching seen from his former top aides.
Driscoll paid a quick tribute Sunday to the “wonderful, amazing, delightful people” he worked with at Mars Hill. As for himself, said Driscoll, “I’m still in the middle of it. Lord, what do you have for me?”
Driscoll, who was paid a six-figure salary and apparently received like severance, added: “I don’t know if I’m going to pay my bills.”
The sermon’s message: Trust in the Lord is what it’s all about. “There is a judgment coming on the Earth,” Driscoll said. The path to deliverance is to “walk with God” in which case, Driscoll declared: “You can be spared from judgment.”
Driscoll is a charismatic speaker. He prayed over members of the congregation, some holding up their hands, that they will come to “walk with Jesus” and asked: “Are you praying to Jesus?” Many lined up to hug the former Mars Hill pastor.
Actually, Driscoll waited less than a week to reappear. He went briefly on stage October 20, 2014, at the Gateway Conference at a big Dallas Fort Worth-area church, which he had been scheduled to keynote. He talked of persecution and news helicopters circling overhead, and said: “I’ve cried a lot lately. It’s been a rough time on my family.”
He started marketing videos of his sermons as Mars Hill was dissolving on New Year’s Eve. (The church’s congregations were left with the choice of making it on their own, combining with another church, or formally dissolving.)
Driscoll spoke last month to a mega church-sponsored Thrive Leadership Conference in California. He crosses two oceans this summer at Hillsong Conferences in London and Sydney.
In introducing Driscoll, Kellogg voiced hope that the former Mars Hill pastor would “plant” a new church in another state.
As Driscoll was given the layout and stage instructions before preaching, one staff at Gold Creek Church asked: “Do they throw things at you?”
“Actually, it’s been a few years since that’s happened, but it’s happened,” Driscoll replied.
The demonstrators delivered a different message on leaflets entitled “Mark Driscoll –Unfit for any Pulpit” — contrition. “We believe restoration is possible and we pray regularly for Mark. Putting Mark back in the pulpit as a leader in the Church now is not biblical. It is neither loving to him or to those with whom he has not reconciled.”