Sorry to switch Driscoll books before finishing my interaction with the RADICAL reformission, but I was able to read Confessions of a Reformission Rev. on the two legs of my flight from RDU to MSP. Now having heard Mark Driscoll in person and read his two books to date, it is hard for me to see that he has enemies. I love Mark Driscoll, not as a groupie, but I have come to appreciate his genuine humility even with his many mistakes. Why? Because he is quick to admit when he is wrong. If everyone had the same attitude towards sin as he, then we would see revival in our land. Part of me believes that if we were to see another Great Awakening in America, he would have a role in it because of his love for Jesus, his influence on young people and his use of new measures in reaching this generation.
Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?
I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir.
This line from the movie Forrest Gump (movie, novel) demonstrates the disconnect the traditional church finds with emerging cultures, or visa versa. Confessions of a Reformations Rev.is the story of Mark Driscoll’s attempt at planting a church that reaches out to people with the attitude of Forrest Gump.
Driscoll structures around the 7 size barriers his church transcended through its growth: 0-45; 45-75; 75-150; 150-350; 350-1000; 1000-4000; and 4000-10,000. But he begins his book with a very postmodern chapter 0. In his introduction he poses 10 questions that each church should ask as it seeks to grow.
- Will your Rev. require reformission? Meaning, will your church be “culturally liberal yet theologically conservative” and be “absolutely driven by the gospel of grace?”
- Will your church be traditional and institutional, contemporary and evangelical, or emerging and missional?Like others speaking about missional churches, he labels the traditional church as functioning in the Christendom mode of church where it is as the center of society. Unlike the traditional church, the missional church operates from the margins. The contemporary church was able to adjust its styles for evangelizing new generations but the missional church radically reorganizes around mission for the sake of the gospel. Driscoll was more than gracious to both the older versions of church. “The point is not that one of these church forms is good and the others are bad. Rather, one is likely more effective for reaching people in your local culture than the other forms are;” cue Gump.
- Will your church be an emergent liberal church or an emerging evangelical church?If your an evangelical, Mark Driscoll is your friend, so get on board! “Our church is emerging and missional in its practice and evangelical and biblical in its theology.” Amen!
- Will you proclaim a gospel of forgiveness, fulfillment, or freedom? The gospel of forgiveness focuses on God’s wrath and appeals to a people who have a basic understanding of Christianity. He does not favor this form of the gospel because people lack a basic theological framework for this to not appear “judgmental, mean-spirited, naive, and narrowminded.” In other words, this would work only after taking the time to explain the paradigm. The gospel of fulfillment appeals to man’s desire for a feeling of self-esteem/worth. He rightly identifies this as a sinful accommodation to worldly psychology. The gospel of freedom, though, focuses on the freedom Jesus bought for us through penal, substitution so that we may live in relationship to God. Personally, the only difference I find between his categories of forgiveness and freedom is the amount of clarity and explanation the witness would provide to a lost person.
- Will your church be attractional, missional, or both? Mark Driscoll makes a unique contribution to the discussion at this point. Even other emerging/missional leaders condemn the attractional model as characteristic of the Christendom mode church, but Driscoll finds the church to be both attractional and missional. Profound both/and categorization!
- What size shoe will your church wear?This is where emerging church meets purpose driven church–another unique contribution by Driscoll. In a conversation I had after the Convergent Conference, one person asked how Driscoll differed from Rick Warren. I had thought about this before and quickly answered that they were doing the exact same thing, only for different cultures. This book confirmed by initial inclinations.
- Will your church have a mission of community or be a community of mission? “The Pentecost version of community exists for mission, not for itself.” I agree–the church is by nature missional.
- Will your leaders work from guilt or conviction?The rest of the book will relate Driscoll’s struggle to be working on his church, not working in it (or for it). In other words, leaders are to please God, not the whims of every believer.
- Do you have the guts to shoot your dogs? This means abandoning failing ministries in favor of fresh innovation.
- Can you wield a sword and a trowel? “We too must learn how to both build a missional church and defend it from Satan, demons, and evildoers.”