This morning as I continued praying for Mark Driscoll and his family I thought back to an interview I watched a few years ago. I encourage you to watch the 15 minute video interview here. Mark joins with another mega-church pastor named Josh Harris to interview Francis Chan. The context is quite interesting. Francis Chan had just stepped down as the Lead Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley SoCal, a church he had planted and shepherded into great success and recognition. However, Francis and his wife had concluded God had called them to step down, take a break, prayerfully seek the Lord and pursue a new – and perhaps not as spectacular – adventure. At the time of the interview Chan thought God was leading him to plant a church in inner city L. A. At this present moment Chan’s new adventure is a church planting network in the city of San Francisco. Driscoll and Harris held this interview with Chan to see what was really going on. They wanted to know, Was this real or was this a stunt?
What’s interesting to me as I look back at this dated interview, knowing what we all now know about the things going on in Mark Driscoll’s life & ministry, this interview is quite revealing. In my opinion, this interview reveals the things we’re wrongly clinging to in the American church as Pastor Driscoll bluntly challenges Pastor Chan.
Driscoll “Some people think your Coo Coo for CoCoa puffs. What are you doing?”
Chan “I’ve always thought this is how I ought to live – complete surrender of everything – and yet I haven’t had the boldness to follow . . . This is what I see in Scripture of how we’re supposed to live . . . Now I think I’m living in congruence with the whole of the New Testament. I just feel at peace.”
I do not personally know Francis Chan to really know if what he’s saying is truly reflected in his life. This isn’t my first rodeo, so I know it’s possible to be an admired pastoral figure like Francis Chan and hypocritically say things you have no intention of applying to your own life. I know it’s possible that Pastor Chan could actually be a hypocritical jerk. But what he describes does sound a lot like the things God’s word encourages in disciples of Christ: “complete surrender,” “boldness to follow,” “living in congruence with the whole of the New Testament,” and “peace.” At the 8 minute 35 second mark Pastor Driscoll challenges all of it.
Driscoll – “If your theology is based on sanctification through simplicity, poverty and suffering could it not be that as the church gets bigger and more complicated . . . As you become more successful and there’s more money and real estate and more book sales it becomes harder? . . . It seems to me if the primary means of sanctification is simplicity, suffering and poverty – if you don’t get those things – it’s almost like when God blesses it’s hard to be sanctified because you don’t know what to do with them, and so you almost have to get rid of that which is complicated, and make life hurt a little more . . . or adopt poverty and give it all away because you’re only allowing God to sanctify you in these preconceived ways. What if God wants to sanctify you through – not poverty, but generosity, not suffering but blessing, and what if it’s not through simplicity but complexity and that’s part of the sanctifying process?”
As I watch the rest of the interview/veiled-scolding I really don’t see the revelation of a very bad, opinionated pastor. I see in Mark the incarnated revelation of the conflict between our Americanized-conumer-based view of life & ministry, and a view that’s attempting (not perfectly, but at least attempting) to pursue discipleship as it’s clearly described in the New Testament. The American church tends to seek one kind of blessing from God – the kind that brings us money “for generosity” rather than poverty, blessing (translated as greater ease) rather than suffering, and complexity (translated as bigger, bigger, and bigger) rather than simplicity. Can you hear God’s Spirit whispering to the church in our confusion? “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent.” Rev. 3: 1-3