Discernment would be really underemployed at NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., if it had chosen to work there.
In evangelical-speak, “discernment” is like well-worn knowledge with the spin of spiritual insight, like smarts with divine english of the billiards sort.
And common sense is only that human, worldly, fallible type of knowledge, a lowly type of discernment, if discernment at all. Common sense is mere chump change for the churchy crowd. At least it’s supposed to be.
The senior pastor at NewSpring, Perry Noble, should have enough common sense to know that Mark Driscoll destroyed lives, churches, and ministries not so long ago, in a place not so far away.
But the pastor demonstrated neither discernment nor common sense when he scheduled Driscoll to speak at a conference on — wait for it — leadership!
(“How did I know Trump would win South Carolina? Well, there was this little-noticed news item back in November 2015….”)
Driscoll’s website says, “This event is uniquely designed for leaders who want their teams and their organizations to succeed beyond their expectations.”
Driscoll’s churches fell apart after (very reasonable and accurate) plagiarism allegations led to additional allegations of misbehavior and cruelty.
One can only hope Driscoll’s conference topic is “What Not To Do Unless You’re a Shark Using Jesus For Fame And Profit.” Oh now I’ve given him a reason to cry a little at this conference — people are just so mean on blogs, nearly as mean as a former Seattle senior pastor who repeatedly degraded his own staff. And who would that former senior pastor be?
But since he left Mars Hill Church, Driscoll has been acting as if nothing happened.
You have got to question the judgment of anyone who invites Driscoll to make balloon animals at a birthday party, never mind to instruct any fellow human on leadership.
Warren Throckmorton gives the details on Driscoll’s speaking gig:
You can’t make this stuff up.
Next year Mark Driscoll will speak at a one day you-can’t-live-without-it leadership conference for Perry Noble. Check out the conference description.
And it’s only $79. What an affordable way to support the ministers who know how to get people to support ministers.
Throckmorton also links to blogger Wenatchee The Hatchet, who has the context:
The ministries Driscoll founded or co-founded at this point either don’t really exist in any functional sense as ministries that interact with the public or exist but have either no use for Driscoll himself or have publicly distanced themselves from any connection to him.
It might be a little too soon to feature Driscoll, even in 2016, as someone who can speak at a conference that has the goal of helping leaders who want their teams and their organizations to succeed beyond their expectations. By his own account he’s the unemployed guy this year.
“It might be a little too soon,” indeed.
But NewSpring Church and its senior pastor, Perry Noble, have enough influence to overcome such basic human concerns as decency, trustworthiness, and so on.
NewSpring Church claims it “averages more than 30,000 people during weekend services at multiple campuses across the state.” Local campuses take “teaching via … video live-stream” from the Anderson, S.C., service. But the leadership conference will be held in Anderson, and apparently will not be broadcasted.
With influence like that, who needs truth or accuracy?
Leadership Success For All The Wrong Reasons
The truth is, Mark Driscoll is the ideal person to teach leadership, just for all the wrong reasons.
Seriously, I’m a little jealous of Driscoll.
He pioneered infotainment for the evangelicals and made money doing it. I want to make money. I’m a former journalist turned university lecturer with a wife and three daughters, so I’m always broke.
Driscoll also led the way with hip marketing for The Gospel Coalition’s ideology. He screamed about morality, claimed he was all about Jesus, and rose to heights of income, influence, and power nearly unprecedented for a humble minister of the Word.
By the way, there’s a U2 song about our mega-pastor, mega-church moment:
Jesus never let me down
You know Jesus used to show me the score.
Then they put Jesus in show business
Now it’s hard to get in the door.
“They put Jesus in show business.” Nailed it. They just dragged Jesus into their dog-and-pony show, then passed the offering plate.
It’s all about Jesus, Driscoll would say publicly, while behind closed doors, he was all about the Mars Hill Church brand. The brand, ladies and germs.
He also paid a firm to boost his book onto the New York Times Bestseller List.
Driscoll reeks of the info-entrepreneur in the Internet age. He is now an online-only minister. Who needs a church to be successful? Who wants all those overhead expenses? And all those annoying staffers?
All ya gotta do is write punchy copy, post it, offer some freebies, and hook ’em into the next conference or book purchase.
You can do all of that successfully — without even being a decent human being.
This Is What Has Become of Discernment
When Driscoll spoke at the Gateway Conference last year, soon after his departure from Mars Hill Church, I thought it was surely an aberration, just an oversight, and I explained why I thought the preacher who invited Driscoll, Robert Morris, was not thinking straight.
But it turns out Morris wasn’t going to be the last to hope Driscoll’s name would brighten up the conference marquee.
Do people have enough common sense to see the problems with having Driscoll at a conference while smoke is still rising from the remains of his previous ministry?
I hope so, because evangelical leaders seem to have more marketing strategy than discernment.
Or even common sense.
You should be able to tell the difference between wanting to punish someone and wanting to protect people from a man who has proven to be an untrustworthy bully.
You should know why, as a matter of principle, people who commit crimes have to wait a while before society fully trusts them again. You should understand the analogy here.
And you should be able to tell when your senior pastor has no common sense.
Is “forgiveness” an excuse for unleashing a wolf among the sheep?