UPDATE – Breaking News: News came Wednesday afternoon that Mark Driscoll has resigned as pastor of Mars Hill Church. http://bit.ly/1EZ6yn0.
He stands there sporting a beard, broadsword, Bible, and blood-stained camouflage from his latest kill. He sometimes looks like an Old Testament prophet, William Wallace, and Rambo all rolled into one.
He’s a manly man with a manly message against the “feminization” of the church. He is Evangelicalism’s newest brand of pastor who wants to inject the church with large doses of testosterone.
Over the past several years, the face of this subculture movement has been Mark Driscoll.
Driscoll thinks the church today has produced “a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickified church boys. . . . Sixty percent of Christians are chicks, and the forty percent that are dudes are still sort of chicks.” (Brandon O’Brien, “A Jesus for Real Men,” Christianity Today, April 18, 2008.)
Laying aside for the moment that “chicks” and “dudes” hardly seems appropriate lingo for public discourse about Christian women and men, Driscoll unfortunately didn’t stop there. He went much, much further.
The sad and heartbreaking spectacle of Driscoll’s fall cannot be attributed to one single factor. But certainly his attitude toward women, his preoccupation with sex, his attempt to put forth a macho pastor image, and his authoritarian leadership style are factors. Driscoll is currently on a leave of absence from Mars Hill Church while the elders determine the next steps the church will take.
Enter Heath Mooneyham, founding pastor of Ignite church in Joplin, Missouri. Mooneyham’s in-your-face, gun-toting, beer-drinking, rude and crude-language approach to church might be viewed as Driscoll on steroids. (Read Shane Kavanaugh’s exposé on Mooneyham and Ignite church entitled “Sex, Guns, and Jesus: Inside America’s Manliest Church,” at your own risk! http://bit.ly/1CiqRaP)
Here is Mooneyham’s description of the “guys” in his church: “We’re just a bunch of dudes with beards and beer guts and hot wives. We love our God. We love our country. We love our trucks. And we love our guns.”
Kavanaugh reported that on a Saturday night, Mooneyham’s “weekly ritual” is “taking the edge off at the Indigo Sky Casino, consisting of pounding beers with his bros in Christ and—at least tonight—hitting on waitresses.”
Apparently, Mooneyham can’t always hold his liquor. After being arrested recently for a DUI, he offered an apology on YouTube. “It’s not just this one event, though, but rather a lifestyle of rebellion and unnecessary reckless behavior that has continually put the very mission I passionately love in real jeopardy.”
He is currently still on staff at the church, but the church has a new “interim” lead pastor while Mooneyham seeks counseling.
What the church today needs in her pastors are real men, not junior high boys in men’s bodies.
Real men have integrity.
Real Men aren’t obsessed with sex.
Real Men aren’t obsessed with guns.
Real men honor their wives publicly and privately.
Real men don’t use crude and vulgar language in preaching, speech, or social media.
Real men don’t have to strut their macho image.
Real men don’t have to remind us how many Twitter followers they have.
Real men don’t have to tell us they are real men.
Real men don’t celebrate their Christian liberty by preaching about their drinking habits or what brand of beer or wine they prefer.
Real men don’t seek the limelight because they know Jesus is the light of the world.
Real men don’t support the cult of celebrity and aren’t interested in self-promotion.
Thank God the majority of pastors out there today are indeed real men. I think of Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, and immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, as a sterling example. Countless others from churches small and large could be mentioned.
Having served in the pastorate for 21 years, my hat is off to you pastors. You are on the front lines and you get shot at every day. You’re not perfect, but you are faithfully discharging your pastoral duties.
This post should not be construed as my attempt to “pile on” Driscoll, Mooneyham, and others like them. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
In some cases, I’m afraid the church is as much to blame as her wayward pastors. When the church does not hold a pastor accountable to holiness, and in a biblical fashion, she certainly shares a measure of blame for the turmoil that ensues.
Without questioning the calling of these men, their heart’s desire to reach people for Christ, or any other aspect of motive, clearly Driscoll and Mooneyham are currently disqualified from serving as a pastor of a church.
Whether they were ever qualified or whether they can be restored to their former pastorate or another role of Christian leadership is not for us to decide. Can they be restored spiritually? Absolutely. Can they be restored to ministry? We should all pray they can be.
Driscoll’s influence over young men pursuing ministry has been huge. I pray that some of those who idolized him before his fall will not be devastated by it. There is always a tendency to go to extremes: imitation or avoidance.
Neither should Driscoll or Mooneyham be demonized at this point. We should pray for truth to prevail, for spiritual restoration, and for God’s will to be done. We should never shoot our wounded, even when they were wounded by their own hand.
I was struck by an interview with Driscoll that appeared recently in the winter 2014 edition of Leadership Journal. Driscoll recounts the time he was invited to the home of Rick Warren along with a few other young church leaders. He asked “Ok. So like why am I here?”
Warren responded: “Years ago I put together a list of young up-and-coming evangelical pastors, and I prayed for them. And every time a guy disqualified himself or quits or whatever, I cross his name off the list.” Warren went on to add, “More than half the list is gone. . . .”
Let’s pray that Driscoll, Mooneyham, and the other unnamed men whose names God knows, will not be crossed off the list permanently.
And may God remind us all to make sure that our ambition and our ability does not carry us beyond where our character can sustain us. There is no substitute for holiness.
Real men act like men.
What the church needs today . . . is a few real men.
 Note the “Act Like Men Conference” is scheduled November 14-15 in Fort Worth, Texas. I suspect this will be a good conference for Christian men, including pastors, to attend. Interestingly, Driscoll was scheduled to appear at the conference, but by mid-August his name was pulled from the website’s lineup of speakers.