A leader we should not follow

A review by Pastor Tommy Mann (Student Pastor) of Philippi Baptist Church:



Pastor Tommy Mann

As a young pastor I keep getting told that I need to learn from the leadership training of Mark Driscoll, who is the leader of theActs 29 Network, and pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle,Washington. He is considered to be a leadership guru for young church leaders, but I believe that his methodology is dangerous.

To Driscoll’s credit, he teaches a lot of good theology. Most of Driscoll’s fans seem to be in the emerging church,but Driscoll himself is no fan of the emerging church. He is the first to point out the fact that they do not believe in absolute truth, and that they care more about handing out ‘muffins and hugs’ than they do about preaching the gospel. In a day where the emerging church spends more time giving happy pep talks, Driscoll is a teacher of theology. And while I do not agree with all of his theology, I do appreciate that he is teaching it. Unfortunately, it is guys like him that say just enough good stuff to give themselves credibility.

 Committing theft

First of all, he admits to and even brags about committing theft in his book Confessions of a Radical Rev (2006). He boasts that he never had to pay for electricity in one of his first buildings, because ‘the building was illegally hooked up to the power grid and all our power was stolen’.[1]  And in case you think that is no big deal and I am just being picky, consider that he stole something tangible as well. ‘I stole an unused sound console from my old church, along with a projector screen, which were sins Jesus thankfully died to forgive.’[2]

Talk about making a mockery out of grace! He is bragging about being a thief, and making a joke about the blood of Jesus! It would be a different story if he premised these accounts by saying he regrets what he did or he has repented, but it is this type irreverence that makes him too immature to be considered a good leader.

Pastor Mark Driscoll

 Driscoll and alcohol

I also disagree with him on the issue of drinking alcohol. I am not going to use this blog to make the case for abstinence from alcohol, but I certainly believe in it. Driscoll feels differently, making comments that ‘God has come to earth and kicks things off as a bartender.’[3] He makes comments about drinking beer frequently in his books and sermons, but the thing that gets me is that he requires the people he trains to brew their own beer at home. He has a chapter titled ‘The Sin of Light Beer’ in The Radical Reformission where he makes the case that light beer came about to please feminists, and that good Christians should oppose feminism by drinking ‘good beer’.

With that knowledge of good beer versus sinful beer, Driscoll says in Confessions of a Radical Rev that he holds boot camps to teach guys how to ‘brew decent beer’.[4] He also says that he became convicted of his ‘sin of abstinence from alcohol. So in repentance, I drank a hard cider over lunch with our worship pastor’.[5]

 Driscoll and the secular

I also have a problem with the way that he uses the secular to make his points.

I know that Jesus and Paul made illustrations of things like fishing, running, and farming, but those things are not sinful. In Driscoll’s book Radical Reformission he includes examples of radicals on mission with him. Among them are David Bruce from Hollywood Jesus, who calls himself a missionary because he takes clips from movies and uses them to make comparisons to Christianity (I have been a long time critic of using movies that are full of curse words, sexual content, and God’s name in vain as ‘witnessing material’). He also features Icabod Caine, a country music DJ in Seattle, who said we are ‘basically clueless’ as to the difference between the secular and sacred, and yet he views himself as a missionary, even though he daily plays music that is filled with drunkenness, divorce, and profanity.

Another example of Driscoll using the secular in place of Scripture comes from his owning and operating of The Paradox, which was a venue that was designed to host concerts. Driscoll said he rarely used the venue to host Christian bands because his goal was to get unsaved people into the building. But the problem is that the gospel was never presented to these unsaved kids; they would basically pay secular bands to come perform (thus supporting what they stand for), then let the crowd leave unchanged. Instead of being a pastor, this makes Driscoll nothing more than a concert promoter. In his own words, Driscoll never ‘preach[ed] at the kids’ or did ‘goofy things like handing out tracts’.[6]

The basement of the building, he says, was a place where local junkies would do black tar heroine, and the back is where junkies would ‘shoot up drugs and poop on the ground’[7], and he laughs about the Japanese punk band that randomly stripped naked during the show. Don’t worry though, because during these concerts Driscoll saw ‘many kids come to faith through relationships’.[8] This might sound elementary, but relationships don’t save people, faith in Jesus and repentance does.

He also has one of his church leaders routinely lead discussions on movies they watch, including ‘unedited R-rated’ movies, to teach people to think critically.[9] Humans are totally depraved; why do we need to look at sin in order to critique it?

 Driscoll’s crudeness

But what drives me crazy about Driscoll is his crudeness. I will break down this final point into three areas: his general crudeness, his obsession with crude sexuality, and his crudeness when referring to my Lord.

His language is foul, crude, and offensive. I can’t even do justice to how crude he is because I refuse to write most of the words he uses. He makes no apology for the time he ‘cussed out the poor guy’ who came to him for counseling when he was having a bad day,[10] or for the fact that he ‘cussed a lot’ when he was frustrated[11] including cussing at the bare offering plate.[12] On page 133 he uses a crude word for prostitute and a crude word for an illegitimate child.

In Radical Reformission he uses yet another crude term to refer to a loose woman (different from the one mentioned above) on page 29. In Vintage Jesus (2008) he quotes Brad Pitt from the movie Fight Club, where he uses the longer form of being P.O.’ed.[13]

 Sexual crudeness

His crudeness is also sexual. In Confessions he refers to intercourse as ‘banging’.[14]  On the same page he admits to being burned out in the ministry due to ‘an unspectacular sex life’, and he makes a reference to a woman being ‘hot like hell’. On page 96, when admitting that he isn’t like most pastors, jokes about using words in sermons like a term to refer to the male reproductive organ, as well as having ‘an aluminum pole in the bedroom’. Some of those ‘sermons on sex were R-rated’.[15]

One of those R-rated sermons was when he gave all the guys two stones to symbolize what they needed in order to be real men (p129). His lingo was cruder.

In Radical he says that Adam and Eve were ‘horny’, he also uses a crude term for a prostitute[16], and he makes a joke about a gay orgy on page 33. He makes wisecracks about people using Viagra.[17] There is also a joke about a vasectomy.[18]

Driscoll talks frankly about a threesome,[19] and about girls’ tight pants making their backsides look big,[20] and about a girl having ‘junk in her trunk’.[21]  He references a man’s genitals,[22] and he brags about teaching on subjects like the different ways that a woman can climax.[23]

In Vintage Jesus he refers to intercourse as ‘knocking boots’[24]  and ‘shagging’.[25] While attending a Monday Night Football game, he writes that ‘half-naked young women provide eye candy’.[26] He says that our culture worships ‘good old-fashioned naked crazy-making’[27], and he makes yet another reference to eating Viagra.[28]

He also makes references to graphic sexual practices that take place, both as couples and alone, dozens of times. Not only does he talk about these topics that shouldn’t be mentioned, he does it in such a crass way. These references do not include his forthcoming book, Real Marriage, which will deal with these topics and much more.

But the worst of all of his crude comments comes in a conversation he felt the need to include in Confessions when a member of his church called him during the night crying, and told him that he had just watched a dirty movie. Driscoll asked him, ‘Was it a good porno?’ When the young man asked for prayer, this is the prayer that Driscoll records: ‘Jesus, thank you for not killing him for being a pervert. Amen.’ Driscoll then told the man not to call him at night when he is sleeping, and said he didn’t have time to be his accountability partner.

But it gets worse. When the man asked for advice, here is Drsicoll’s reply: ‘You need to stop watching porno and crying like a baby afterwards… a naked lady is good to look at, so get a job, get a wife, ask her to get naked, and look at her instead.’[29]

Not exactly a good leadership technique.

 Crude when speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ

Mark Driscoll is also crude when speaking of Jesus. In Vintage Jesus he has a four-word sentence: ‘Jesus was a dude.’[30]  This dude ‘did things that normal people do, like farting, going to the bathroom, and blowing boogers from his nose’.[31]

He says that Jesus acted as if He needed Paxil, that He was cruel for calling the Pharisees hypocrites, that He needed sensitivity training, and that He commissioned His disciples to ‘take a donkey without asking like some kleptomaniac donkey-lifter’.[32] He says that Jesus yelled at his disciples for sleeping ‘as an obvious workaholic who needed to start drinking decaf and listening to taped sounds of running water while doing aromatherapy so he could learn to relax’.[33]

I don’t care who this offends: I’m not taking leadership advice from a “pastor” that calls my Lord a pill-popping, cruel, insensitive, workaholic kleptomaniac dude who farts and blows boogers out of His nose. And neither should you. I know Driscoll defends himself by saying that humor is his thing, but there is nothing funny about belittling the King of the universe. Jesus is not a dude or my homeboy, He is my precious Lord and Savior. I would not let anyone talk about my wife that way, so why would I let him talk that way about the one who has saved me?

But that is just one book. In Radical he refers to ‘the God-Man’ going ‘through puberty’ and speculates that He had to have received at least one wedgie.[34]

I have called Mark Driscoll a pervert from the pulpit, and will do nothing less here. If you are a pastor or leader who looks up to this man, or if you are a believer who reads or listens to him, please consider who he really is. I know the hip thing in churches is to be edgy and be the opposite of your grandparents preacher who wore a suit, parted his hair on the left, and used the KJV exclusively. And that is fine. But if you are looking for a good preacher, look for one who loves and respects the Lord and His Word, and do not turn your ears to these shock and awe men who are ear pleasing.

Consider Paul, who was a godly man that the young pastor Timothy looked up to. Paul warned Timothy to preach the Word because the day would come when people would recruit teachers to say what makes them feel good, and Driscoll is one of those men.

South Park

Vintage Jesus

Finally, consider these paradoxical excerpts from Vintage Jesus. He explains that lordship means that ‘Jesus has authority over the… shows we watch.’[35] Then he says that we are to ‘say no to ungodliness in all its forms’.[36]  And he uses the TV show South Park as an illustration, even referring to it as ‘hilarious’.[37] If you know anything about that show you know it has the worst language on TV; South Park was actually the first show to ever use the ‘S’ word on TV, and after weeks of advertising that they were going to do it, they kept a counter on the screen that kept track of each time the word was used, totalling 162 times on a half hour show. Real hilarious, Mark.

And if Jesus has authority over the shows you watch, and you say no to ungodliness in all its forms, then how does South Park fit into that equation? I wonder if Driscoll ever preaches from Ephesians 4:29: ‘Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.’

Pastors, if you want real leadership I have a suggestion. ‘Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2).

Pastor Tommy Mann’s newest book is Asleep in Heaven’s Nursery (2011) see website http://www.tommymannministries.com

You can learn more about Mark Driscoll’s ministry in the book, The New Calvinists (2014), published by The Wakeman Trust and Belmont House Publishing. The book is available from belmonthousebooks.com/


[1] Mark Driscoll, Confessions of a Radical Rev, Zondervan, 2006, p125

[2] Ibid. p62)

[3] Mark Driscoll, The Radical Reformission, Zondervan, 2004, p30

[4] Ibid. Confessions, p131

[5] Ibid. Radical Reformission, p146

[6] Ibid. Confessions, p127

[7] Ibid. p125

[8] Ibid. p127

[9] Ibid. p157

[10] Ibid. p128

[11] Ibid. p129

[12] Ibid. p47

[13] Mark Driscoll, Vintage Jesus, Crossway, 2008, p201

[14] Ibid. Confessions, p128

[15] Ibid. p134

[16] Ibid. Radical, p28

[17] Ibid. p75 and p165

[18] Ibid. p76

[19] Ibid. p92

[20] Ibid. p95

[21] Ibid. p119

[22] Ibid. p187

[23] Ibid. p185

[24] Ibid. Vintage Jesus, p11

[25] Ibid. p41

[26] Ibid. p164

[27] Ibid. p169

[28] Ibid. p183.

[29] Ibid. Confessions, p60 xx

[30] Ibid. Vintage, p31

[31] Ibid. p32

[32] Ibid. p43

[33] Ibid. p44

[34] Ibid. Radical, p29

[35] Ibid. Vintage, p159

[36] Ibid. p160

[37] Ibid. p167

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