Tag Archives: Mark Driscoll

Book Review – Church Planter by Darrin Patrick

church-planterAs I’ve said previously, I’m in the beginning stages of planting a church in Nashville Tennessee.  That being the case, I’ve been reading everything about the subject that I can get my hands on as I prayerfully formulate the vision for the church.  Deep Church by Jim Belcher was helpful.  Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll is a wonderful book.  Francis Chan’s Forgotten God provided a needed reminder that I must (and frankly long to) operate out the of the power that only the Holy Spirit provides.  And my latest read, Church Planter by Darrin Patrick, has been a much needed encouragement and reminder about what it is I’m supposed to be doing.

Patrick lays out the book in three sections:  The Man, The Message, and The Mission.  I immediately connected with the first section.  Personally speaking, I needed to be reminded and encouraged about my call to ministry and my call to church planting.  Patrick helped me to do this.  Section two of the book, the Message, was a good reminder of what the gospel is and how it needs to be preached.  I was less moved by this section of the book, but simply because most of its content is material that I’ve been swimming in for quite some time.  Section three was my second favorite part of the book (after section one).  I grew up hearing only a 50% gospel message.  I mean, I grew up hearing how Jesus died and rose again and how that should transform me morally, but I heard very little about how that message is supposed to send us on mission into our cities and communities.  The mission I mainly heard was, “tell people how to get saved.”  But the culture-transforming, missional-lifestyle aspects of the gospel were rarely touched upon.  And yet the Bible calls it the “gospel of the kingdom.”  It’s a message about how to be saved yes, but the saved are sent on mission to not only preach salvation but transform cultures and communities and families.  I don’t want to say that I never heard anything of this sort growing up, but it definitely wasn’t a key feature of the Christianity that I was accustomed to.  Men like Driscoll and Keller and Patrick continue to add clarity to my thinking in this area.

This is a great book, and honestly it’s usefulness goes way beyond church planting. If church members read this book and embraced its words, Godly pastors would rejoice at the wave of momentum that would occur.

Book Review: Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

vintage-church

Slowly

Our church staff has been slowing, and I mean slowly, working its way through Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. Time elapsed so far is probably nearing a year. Initially we were reading at a reasonable pace, but then everything got busier in “the ol’ church world” as they say, and we’ve all but postponed finishing the book for the time being. But, we will finish. In the mean time, and since I was nearly finished with the book anyway, I thought I’d read the last few chapters.

It’s good. I mean really good. It’s been good all the way through, but it got really good at the end. Driscoll and Breshears start out simple, and move to more complex subject matter. Perhaps complex is actually a bad way to say it, let’s say they move on to more timely subject matter towards the end of the book. All of it’s good reading though. Even the opening chapters, the ones I’ve now labeled as “simple,” are relevant and essential reading. One of the most under-taught areas of theology is probably ecclesiology (i.e. the theology of the church). And because church should not just be this service that we attend in a building once a week, we need to understand what a church is, and why it does the things it does, and even if it should be doing them at all. Vintage Church forces readers to interact with these questions.

My favorite chapters are definitely the last several. They include chapters such as:

Chapter 9) What is a missional church?
Chapter 10) What is a multi-campus church?
Chapter 11) How can a church utilize technology?
Chapter 12) How could the church help transform the world?

The chapters on preaching (chapter 4) and church discipline (chapter 7) also stand out in my mind as highly helpful and extremely insightful.

#12

The most important chapter may be chapter twelve, which as stated above, deals with the question, “How could the church help transform the world?” In this chapter Driscoll and Breshears interact with the collision of church and culture. How should the church influence, transform, and help create and cultivate the larger culture that is around it?  I’ve heard Driscoll teach about this subject matter before, but I feel the treatment in Vintage Jesus is the most fully-orbed that I’ve heard so far. So, I want to touch on this specific subject matter for the rest of this review.

Driscoll starts out by defining four commonly held visions for how to transform culture, and then decries each of them as short sided. These visions are:

1) The Evangelistic Vision – if everyone gets saved, the world will change
2) The Political Vision – if we elect the right leaders, the world will change
3) The Fundamentalist Vision – we should flee the sinful, secular culture, which will be destroyed by God soon anyway
4) The Liberal Vision – if we just love people, even if we don’t share the gospel, everything will be ok

Driscoll then proposes a new, 5th vision for how to transform culture, one that has been largely developed by James Davison Hunter, a Christian and professor of sociology at the university of Virginia. Hunter concludes that Christians must abandon the short-sidedness of the previous visions for how to transform culture. They are all based on the false premises that culture will change because of great ideas, or a great man, or the purity of the hearts of individuals. Conversely, Hunter asserts that culture changes because of connectedness to a powerful network of cultural shaping individuals and institutions. He offers the following five ideas:

1) Culture is a resource and, as such, a form of power.
2) Culture is produced.
3) Culture production is stratified (i.e. arranged and sent out) from center to periphery.
4) Culture changes from the top down and rarely from the bottom up.
5) The impetus, energy, and direction for changing the world are most intense where cultural, economic, and even political resources overlap.

Driscoll seems to agree with these ideas and offers the following plan. Churches should be planted primarily in urban areas where they can interact with the culture-makers and become the culture-makers in society. In these large urban areas, the church should exist as a city within a city. It should demonstrate how life should be lived within its own small city (the church), and send its people out to interact with larger city where it is planted. The people of the church are transformed and trained to interact with the culture at large in loving and truth-filled ways. This God-centered culture will then flow downstream to smaller cities and more rural areas and effect them as well. This is a strategic method to reach the largest amount of people and effect the largest swath of culture.

I think the most eye-opening part of this chapter for me was that “the evangelistic vision,” and the “city within a city vision,” are not the same vision. Personally, I had been propagating both and assuming they were the same. But they are not. As Christians we must preach the gospel, and people must be saved. But, we also must create and effect the cultural systems at large by constantly interacting with the culture-shapers in our city. It’s not enough to simply teach our people to witness, they must witness yes, but they must also create and effect the culture in every area of their lives. This is being true to the entire message of the gospel, which is more than “pray this prayer and ask Jesus into your heart, and then be moral.”

This Keeps Making More and More Sense

I still have a lot to learn about what all this entails, and the following synopsis is incomplete, but I think I agree. Personally, I have no intentions of diminishing the priority of evangelism. But I think evangelism is just part of the solution, and actually becomes a more effective tool in the hands of a Christian who is constantly cultivating the culture around him as he shares the good news.

Book Review: Religion Saves + Nine Other Misconceptions by Mark Driscoll

religion-saves

The Book

My beautiful wife gave me this book for Christmas, and ever since I’ve been slowly picking my way through it’s pages.  It’s that type of book.  You can read a chapter one night, put the book down, pick it up again a month later, and read another chapter.  The chapters stand on their own.

Religion Saves was a sermon series at Mars Hill Church before it became a book.  Driscoll gave his church members (and really anyone who visited the church website) the chance to vote on his sermon topics.  The nine most popular questions, as determined by the online voting, were developed into the Religion Saves sermon series.  The book came about after the fact.

The questions preached / written upon were:

9. Birth Control:  There’s no doubt the Bible says children are a blessing, but the Bible doesn’t seem to address the specific topic of birth control.  Is this a black-and-white topic, or does if all under liberties?

8. Humor:  Why do you make jokes in sermons about Mormon missionaries, homosexuals, trench coat wearers, single men, vegans, and emo kids, and then expect these groups to come to know God through those sermons?

7. Predestination:  Why does an all-loving, all-knowing, and all-sovereign God will into creation people he foreknows will suffer eternal condemnation – and the Romans 9:20 answer seems like a cop-out!

6. Grace:  Of all the things you teach, what parts of Christianity do you still wrestle with?  What’s hardest for you to believe?

5. Sexual Sin:  How should Christian men and women go about breaking free form the bondage of sexual sin?

4. Faith and Works:  If salvation is by faith alone, then why are so many verses that say or imply the opposite – that salvation is by works?

3. Dating:  How does a Christian date righteously, and what are the physical, emotional, and mentally connecting boundaries a Christian must set while developing an intimate relationship prior to marriage?

2. The Emerging Church:  What can traditional or established churches learn from “emerging” churches?

1. The Regulative Principle:  Do you believe that the Scripture not only regulates our theology but also our methodology?  In other words, do you believe in the regulative principle?  If so, to what degree?  If not, why not?

My Opinion

As you can see, some of this is pretty heady and some of it is pretty practical, but most all of it is interesting.  One of my favorite things about Driscoll’s writing style is how well-stated and organized his books are.  He manages again and again to state an unbelievable amount of information in a concise, understandable, well-organized, digestable-for-nearly-anyone format.  Even if you are a pastor, and think you already know your answer / opinion on all of these questions, this is a useful resource.  Because let’s face it, unless you’re D.A. Carson or John Piper, Driscoll probably answers these questions better than you would.

My favorite chapters are:  Birth Control, Predestination, Sexual Sin, Dating, and The Emerging Church.  I would argue that each of these chapters warrant the purchase of the book alone.

Really good read!

p.s. – you can watch all the sermons online rather than read here:
http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/religionsaves?direction=asc&order_by=date

Have you read 9mark’s review of the Nooma Video Series?

NOOMA

http://www.9marks.org/books/scoopa-nooma-part-1

Here’s an excerpt:

“The gospel as Bell communicates it in NOOMA runs something like this: All of us are broken, sinful, selfish, and prideful people. We carry around the baggage of our hurts, our resentments, and our jealousies. As a result we are just a shell of the kind of people God intends us to be. But our God is a loving God who accepts us and loves us just as we are. He can comfort us, heal us, and make us whole, real, authentic, living, laughing people. Not only that, but Jesus came to show us how to live revolutionary lives of love, compassion, and acceptance. By learning from his teachings and following him, we can live the full and complete lives that God intended.

And that’s about it. That’s not just the introduction that leads to an explanation of the cross, atonement, the resurrection and salvation, either. So far, at least, that’s what NOOMA holds out as “The Gospel.” Full stop”

My Opinion

I admire Bell’s creativity , his desire to help people, and his desire to point them towards God, it just doesn’t seem like he’s pointing people towards the God of the Bible.

Also helpful on this topic is Mark Driscoll’s chapter on the Emerging Church in his book Religion Saves (Religion Saves is also a sermon series by Driscoll that mirrors the book, see the link to the video below).

http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/religionsaves/emerging-church

Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe & TGC Reviews

doctrine

Hey everyone, I’m here at the Together For the Gospel Conference in Louisville, KY – and typing on a Dell, ugh Windows – but anyway, I ran across something I wanted to share.  I was already aware of Mark Driscoll’s and Gerry Breshears new book, Doctrine:  What Christians Should Believe, and I plan on reading it soon.  However, I ran across an audio interview of Mark Driscoll talking about the book.  I think the interview is interesting, so I’m posting a link here.  http://tgcreviews.com/interviews/doctrine-what-christians-should-believe/ Also, the interview is listed on The Gospel Coalition’s new Book Review Site http://tgcreviews.com, which seems like a great tool to discover good books.

Check out these links.  Hope you enjoy!

Book Review: On Church Leadership by Mark Driscoll

on-church-leadership

At 24church we’re in the midst of restructuring things just a bit.  We’ve been focusing on membership and deacons especially.  Our current membership covenant is pretty low on expectations and accountability.  This was not our original intent, but in an attempt to be grace-filled, I think we failed to hold our people to the high standards of Jesus.  Similarly, we have not implemented deacons in the past because we hated the stigma that the word “deacon” holds in many circles.  Now, all that is in the midst of changing.

As we’ve continued to grow in numbers, we’re realizing that failure to equip enough leaders has prevented us from properly stabilizing and preparing for continued growth.  The biblical systems to help us equip leaders are membership and deaconship.  So we’re reevaluating our current structure.  We want to be biblical, and prepared for all that God would do through us.

On this note, I want to recommend On Church Leadership by Mark Driscoll.  On Church Leadership is one of four books in a series named “A Book You’ll Actually Read On.”  The series is designed to provide fully-orbed answers to complicated topics in a form that can be read in about an hour.  The other books in the series include:  On the New Testament, On the Old Testament, and On Who is God?.  I haven’t read them yet, but I assume they’ve got to be pretty good.  On Church Leadership is excellent for it size.  It’s extremely concise and filled to the brim with relevant content.  There is absolutely no fluff in this book.  If you’re wondering about biblical church leadership, this is an excellent starting point.

In case your interested, the chapter titles include:

1. Pastor Jesus
2. Elders
3. Women in Ministry
4. Deacons
5. Members
6. Leadership Teams

If you’re planning on planting a church, or if your church is in the midst of restructuring, then be sure to check out this valuable resource.

p.s. – I found Driscoll’s comments about leadership teams to be especially practical.  His thoughts in this area are helping me to reevaluate my current approach to building and implementing leaders.

Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

vintage-jesusI’m honestly not even sure how to review this book. How do you a review a book this great? I have no complaints or disagreements; I have only praise. This is an amazingly good book. It’s entertaining to read because Driscoll is adept at mixing pop culture references throughout the text so that the words come alive with relevance. It’s deep because the theology presented in the book is thoroughly Biblical, beyond surface-level, and presented in a lively, understandable manner. And…the book will strengthen your faith and conviction in Jesus and His glorious salvation. Even elderly saints will benefit from the depth of solid theology that this book offers. This is one of the most encouraging and inspiring books I’ve read in a while. Everyone should read it.

Does Satan Exist? Debate Recap

does satan existHere’s the link to the video of the debate:

Click here.

Here are two of my thoughts in no particular order:

1. Bishop Pearson’s current belief that “there is no devil” is not that surprising.  Pearson’s background, by his own admission, is one of focusing heavily on the devil, seeing the devil in everything, and essentially making light of the devil (by using exorcisms as a super-common, chaotic, weekly event).  When certain denominations / groups do this sort of thing, they are essentially treating the devil like a corny, movie villian, rather than a real, dangerous adversary.  Pearson essentially saw through his own nonsense, but then ended up more confused.  Rather than making sure that he was interpreting the Bible correctly (which would have fixed his problem), he has begun looking for bits of belief from everything (and all his bits contradict each other).

2. Deepak Chopra was called on the carpet by the audience member who asked if he believed his own statements.  Chopra said, “faith exists only because of insecurities.”  If that’s true, then Chopra must be insecure!  All belief systems / world views are based on faith of some sort.  Evolution and the big bang theory (Chopra’s beliefs) cannot be demonstrated, they’re accepted at least in part on faith.  Chopra made repeated faith statements the entire night (belief in God – as another audience member pointed out), and yet called other faith statements “primitive.”  Driscoll was correct to call him pretentious.

The New Calvinism

ineocalvinism_0323Time magazine has proclaimed the “new Calvinism,” as preached by people like Mark Dricoll, John Piper, and Al Mohler, #3 on a list of “10 Things Changing the World Right Now.”  If you’re like me, and asking “What is new Calvinism?”  Apparently it’s old Calvinism with a slightly different application as it applies to culture and the church at large.