Mark Driscoll Kicks His Own Ass07/01/2008
By Jesse Benjamin
Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, took a dramatic stand against girly men at a Pastor’s Conference in Houston last week.
The conference, called “re:tool and re:load,” previously billed as “jesus 2.0,” featured speakers from around the country with the stated focus of “Making the Gospel and Missiology Relevant to Post Modern Culture.” Speaking at the last session of the conference, Driscoll focused his three-and-a-half-hour talk on the need for pastors to be more alpha.
“The problem with our churches today is that the lead pastor is some sissy boy who wears cardigan sweaters, has The Carpenters dialed in on his iPod, gets his hair cut at a salon instead of a barber shop, hasn’t been to an Ultimate Fighting match, works out on an elliptical machine instead of going to isolated regions of Russia like in Rocky IV in order to harvest lumber with his teeth, and generally swishes around like Jack from Three’s Company whenever Mr. Roper was around.”
Pacing the stage in a vaguely threatening manner, Driscoll focused on Biblical examples. “Jesus and Paul were serious dudes. They had teeth missing. Jesus was a carpenter, Paul was in prison. These guys didn’t eat tofu dogs and bean sprouts. They didn’t play tennis. If there were trucks back in their times, they would have been doing driveway lube jobs on a Saturday afternoon. Same thing with King David. Yeah, he might have played a lyre, but he slaughtered thousands of guys.”
The 300 pastors from around the country roared with approval, even though many of them had heard the same labored formulations at previous conferences called “reGeneration” and “resurge and reform.”
“At the Re:Ignite conference he talked about how Jesus and Peter didn’t wear matching sweatshirts that said ‘Best Buds’,” said John Kinston, a conference attendee who was live-blogging the event.
Kinston is emblematic of the many young pastors who support Driscoll. He planted Kiona Community Church three years ago in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. He attends 37 Mark Driscoll conferences each year, because he said he needs the support of fellow church planters and the inspiration of steroidal statistics.
“Numbers aren’t important, but we’ve grown 81.7% a year since our launch date and I still can’t get the guys to step up and be warriors," said Kinston. "We want to love our city and we can’t do that with a bunch of pansies who would rather play video games than go to a monster truck rally or tattoo their faces like Mike Tyson.
“At last year’s Converging Conference, Driscoll talked about standing up when you piss and I got really excited. We started a men’s-only Bible Accountability Group. It was a combination of scripture study and Muy Thai Stick Fighting. It was great for a few weeks, until my worship pastor lost an eye. I had to make a tough call then and there: no more Muy Thai Stick Fighting at Kiona Community without protective face gear. I still think it might have been a spiritual compromise.”
In Houston, Driscoll was intent on making absolutely clear that he is in favor of masculinity. At the 2 hour, 15 minute mark, he invited five pastors from the audience to take the stage, put his hands behind his back, stuck out his chin, and said, “Hit me with your best shot. Go on. I won’t hit you back. I want to show everyone what this is all about.” When none of the five took a swing, Driscoll had them escorted from the building and proceeded to hit himself five times.
“This is what being a pastor is about, guys. If you can’t handle it, go back to teaching yoga or playing My Little Pony with the other girls.”
The rest of the session followed the same general tone, with Driscoll ridiculing insulated coffee cups, haiku and dental floss as feminine while extolling athletic cups, tobacco spit and broken load-bearing bones as being “essential for a pastor.”
The blogosphere heated up quickly in the wake of Driscoll’s talk. At Jesuswasaman.blogspot.com, one post read, “This is the only thing that will turn back the tide of the Church’s decline in America. Until more guys step up and start punching themselves in the face, people will continue to leave the Church.”
Driscoll’s detractors had their say as well. At thereisaplacefordriscollinhellbesidehitler.wordpress.com, Angel23 said, “It doesn’t matter that Driscoll’s church has 6,000 people coming to worship God, if he continues to use words like sissy he will be smited.”
Driscoll turned down our request for an interview, saying, “Interviews are for wimpy guys who wear Sans-a-Belt slacks and chew sugar-free gum.”