Monday, June 1, 2009

Half Right

One of my two suggested activities for our trip to Washington was visiting Mark Driscoll’s church. From the beginning, I’ve read his books and listed to his sermons. I even follow the guy’s blog from time to time. I’ve had a renewed interest in him ever since his “Acts 29” network of churches has become rather popular in Phoenix.

We mapquested. We came. We saw.

I had expectations, and quite honestly, it was better than I thought it would be. Once inside, I couldn’t help but chuckle at how much it looked like BlizzCon. The room was dark with blue spotlights shining along the walls. There were at least eight projection screens: six leading up to the front and two at the front. My rough guess would be that the room can hold around 3000 people, and it ended up being packed that particular Sunday morning. We went to the second service and were a bit disappointed that Mark Driscoll was traveling. One of the other pastors did preach in his place, and it is to that sermon, as well as Mark Driscoll’s usual ministry that the title is attributed.

Everyone was asked to stand as they read from the Psalter – I was pleasantly surprised at this point. We sang a song or two, both of which were excellent. A little too showy, with guitar solo’s etc, but the song content was spot on.

Then we arrived at the sermon. It was … well, even now I’m uncertain how I feel about it. It was about half right. This does also mean that he was half wrong in his methodology and in the content of what was said. Here’s another rough estimate: 7 minutes is the total time spent reading and interacting with the Scriptures, including an explanation of its historical background. What I mean by this is that for the rest of the 53 minutes (it was quite a long sermon) he spent on rabbit trails and eisegetically applying untruths to the text. He focused quite a bit of time explaining his understanding of how to balance theology and doctrine with experience. In the end, he sided with strong leanings towards emotionalism and experience – and apparently, “charismatic” is the healthy balance between crazy Pentecostals and Cessationists.

Our post-service experience involved going into the bathroom to check out the tile … remember that in Radical Reformission Driscoll talks about how even the tile in the bathroom should be culturally relevant to better reach the world. It was a pasty brown color and didn’t seem any more appealing than any other bathroom =).

Definite attempts were being made to appear “cool” to the world, and it was fascinating to see Mark Driscoll’s philosophy being played out. Emily’s conclusion served me better than all my dramatic formulations when she said, “That felt like an oversized high school youth group.” I laughed … a lot … when she said that. But you know what? She’s right. For those of us who have grown up in mega churches where the services are geared at attracting young people, we know exactly what she means.

This brings me back to the title of this entry: Half Right. The sermon especially, but the whole experience was only 50% good.

Let me ask a provocative question: if a pastor, like Mark Driscoll, delivers sermons that are only about half beneficial – with the other half giving negative effects – would you say such a man is qualified for the ministry?

Thanks for reading,

1 comment:

  1. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    2 Tim 4:3