According to reports, Mark Driscoll has started a new church in Phoenix after resigning his job as head pastor of Mars Hill church almost a year ago. Driscoll resigned for several reasons including allegations of plagiarism, alleged bullying of staff and was often criticized for his aggressive pastoring style.
Well, he’s back. So why does Mark Driscoll get a second chance?
To be fair, he didn’t commit adultery. That’s the sin that is highlighted most on this blog. I do help pastors from all backgrounds with different types of sin, but when pastors fall, it’s most often because of sexual sin.
There is plenty of reaction already to Driscoll’s new church and his return to the pastorate. It’s pretty easy to find. It’s right there with web sites dedicated to the problems he had before.
I’m not Mark Driscoll fan. I don’t have Driscoll fan flags attached to my car or a Mark Driscoll Study Bible. I don’t even have a blanket statement for you regarding his return. I do want to address the question – “Why does Mark Driscoll get a second chance?”
I know a lot of fallen pastors who have gone through a restorative process who are humble men who are looking for a second chance who probably deserve one, but won’t get one. And I know men who fell due to serious sin and went right back to preaching in two weeks. The church at large hasn’t done a very good job at addressing the basic issues and that’s why we find ourselves asking questions like this over and over again.
I’m not the arbiter of second chances. I don’t know a person who claims that right.
So, is it ok to say, like we do with television shows we don’t like, “if you don’t like it, don’t watch“? Or is the return of a sinner to the pulpit something Christianity must address?
I think we need to talk about it. There needs to be a grand dialogue that finishes with a plan in place. And I’m not talking about just blogging about it. It’s not just talk that is filled with disgust that a sinner is allowed back in the pulpit. We have to talk about grace – the kind of grace that lets the sinner that smells like pigs run back into his father’s arms and attend the banquet in his honor.
We have to talk about Jesus’ restoration of Peter. We have to address Galatians 6:1 and how it relates to this. We have to talk about who can be restored and how we’re going to do it.
It’s going to be messy and we aren’t all going to agree. But we have to start somewhere.
This isn’t something we can just throw blog posts at. We need to have plans in place. Denominations, leads and structures need to be ready to handle these things. Pastors who have fallen need to be ready with humility. They need to be surrounded with a safety net of accountability and support. The churches they return to need to be ready with love and grace and trained.
Stories like this are full of hope, but can also be full of terror for people who have been through the rough part of a pastor’s fall.
Why did Mark Driscoll get a second chance? Because someone gave it to him. The same people who gave him that chance need to stand firm and gird him with prayer, daily support and accountability.
Let us all work toward some sort of model of reconciliation, restoration and grace for all Christians who sin. Because the world is watching how we treat fellow Christians who fall from grace. May we love them as Christ did.
Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.
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