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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw, Funny, and real
Raw.

We clicked because I drive a 1978 Chevy truck that gets single digits to the gallon and has a bacon air freshener and no functioning speedometer and because I fashion myself as the seld-appointed leader of a heterosexual male backlash in our overly chickified city filled with guys drinking herbal teal and rocking out to Mariah Carey in their lemon yellow...
Published on May 28, 2006 by David Phillips

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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Diamonds and a Lot of Rough
This book isn't for everybody, but it is for some. It deserves a medium recommendation because despite the many places this book fails, occasionally Driscoll hits gem insights.

Focusing heavily on the good aspects first, Driscoll's structure (chapters which focus on different stages of growth: 0-45 people, 45-75, 75-150, etc.) combined with the story of...
Published on June 7, 2006 by Jeff Cook


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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw, Funny, and real, May 28, 2006
This review is from: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Paperback)
Raw.

We clicked because I drive a 1978 Chevy truck that gets single digits to the gallon and has a bacon air freshener and no functioning speedometer and because I fashion myself as the seld-appointed leader of a heterosexual male backlash in our overly chickified city filled with guys drinking herbal teal and rocking out to Mariah Carey in their lemon yellow Volkswagon Cabriolets while wearing fuchsia sweater vests that perfectly match their open-toed shoes. (p. 147)

Funny.

Scrambling for ideas, I agreed to cance a Sunday church service to let some of our long-haired public radio types take us outside to do a joint art project they had proposed....As a truck-driving jock who watches a lot of Ultimate Fighting, I can honestly say it was the gayest thing I have ever been a part of. (p. 71)

Real.

Emotionally, ministry proved to be more exhausting than I could have fathomed. Because I deeply loved my people and carried their burdens, the pains of our people's lives began to take a deep toll on me. Many nights were spent in prayer for people instead of sleeping, and even on what were supposed to be days off, my mind was consumed with the painful hardships and sinful rebellions of our people. (p. 68)

Mark Driscoll's latest book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev. Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church, is a fantastic look at life in ministry. I have a great deal of love and respect for Andy Stanley and Rick Warren, but their stories don't match my stories in ministry. Mark's story of the growth of his church is a wonderful and real look at a man on a mission, with strong theological convictions, and who loves Christ's church and the city of Seattle.

It is raw. He is blatanly honest. But if many could get away with it in ministry, we would do the same thing. He is a passionate man who doesn't have time to say things in flowery words. His story is real. It is an honest look at the hard life of ministry, and the pain and anguish we go through as ministers. And all the while, it's a picture of one sold out to Christ and his mission.

He is theologically conservative. He spends time unashamedly distancing himself from a hermeneutic that is liberal and relative. He believes the book, studies theology, and is passionate about teaching that.

Each of the chapters chronicle a period of time in the growth of Mars Hill. It is encouraging to see the struggles and the faith. It is encouraging to face many similar situations and see how others handled it.

I truly think this is a must read for all church planters and for those of us in ministry it should be highly considered. Few pastors are able to be real and transparent enough to let others see their pain and hardache and fears. Mark is a real man. And his story is compelling.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a needed second way in the Emerging chuch, October 14, 2006
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This review is from: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Paperback)
I have read a thousand or two pages of "how to do church" books. I pastor at a church of about 900, and so it's par for the course. Most of them bore me these days. This one I read in three sittings.

There will be considerable criticism of this book. Mark didn't say what he was supposed to. He is pretty clear about what he thinks of Brian McLaren, the public pope of the Emergent church; and it isn't complimentary. He recommends both pragmatic evangelicals like Hybels and Warren and yet he affirms the work of their firm critics like Mark Dever and D.A Carson's work in his footnotes (a both-and I both agree with and am impressed with). He thinks masculinity should have content beyond plumbing, and even dares to refer to Grudem and Piper's book on the subject. That alone can get you stripped and beaten in some very loving evangelical circles.

He also says church people can be immature idiots and life sucking dead weight; like the Leech's two daughters that constantly cry, "give, give!" form Proverbs 30.

I was horrified.
I completely agree.

There will no doubt be many coming up with clever little shots at Driscoll and making pithy condescending remarks about the book. Mark has really opened himself up to that. I suspect he could care less, and I really appreciated that about his style.

No doubt many will find his style arrogant. It will be decried by the equally arrogant under the pretense of humility and nuances spiritual maturity. Many will be convinced. But it should be noted that Mark claims to have been arrogant and to be arrogant. He only claims that that doesn't necessarily make him wrong about what he is saying in this book, and about that he is right. Introspective indecisive hand wringing doesn't work as a dominant disposition when you're leading a church of more than a thousand people in the kind of context he is in. I know from experience. Nor does it particularly work in life unless you are interested in simply criticizing the position of others.

In terms of content, Mark has written his own leadership manifesto about making the hard choices, knowing your mission, learning from others, daring to be serious about the Bible's content in preaching and leadership decisions, allowing for messes, and focusing on spiritual growth if you want organizational growth.

Concerning his bits about the Emerging Church, perhaps his greatest bit was in a footnote. In that note that sprawls from pg. 203-205 he overviews looking into postmodernism as an epistemology, cultural phenomenon, the fruit of modern linguistic theory and post-structuralism, etc. He talks about reading in primary and secondary sources and finally concludes he's going to go ahead and stick with most of what Jesus was saying.

If you think that's simplistic, it's likely that either you're not in the subculture, are considerably more arrogant than Mark is, haven't read the literature or you don't have ears to hear (ie. have lost the will to find a culturally potent expression of Christian orthodoxy).

I have been in many social situations with Gen-X pastors or ministry folks who spoke with such arrogance in criticism of people who "just didn't get post modernism". I was sad because many of them knew more about postmodernism than the gospel

The greatest benefit of what this book is adding to is that there are now two clearly different options for those of us looking to the emerging church conversation for new ways to do church in the increasingly post-Christian West. Those of us that do not think Brian can get us where we want to go want another option. This is a much better one.

Mark Driscoll and Dan Kimball are needed to secure that second voice. And this book was needed to give some steam to that conversation. Mark Driscoll has done the church a service.

P.S.- I have no tattoos, I do wear pants, I do not carry a handgun, I am a Christian, and I'm a pastor in a mainline denominational church that is 98 years old. I'm only 29 though.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A friendly kick in the pants, September 26, 2006
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This review is from: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Paperback)
Mark Driscoll is a pastor who finds himself at the center of controversy in Christian and non-Christian circles. His most recent book Confessions is "the story of the birth and growth of Seattle's innovative Mars Hill Church, one of America's toughest mission fields. It is also the story of the growth of a pastor, the mistakes he's made along the way, and God's grace and work in spite of these mistakes."

Why the Controversy? Driscoll doesn't fit in any category neatly. Tim Challies writes, "I am not the only one confused by Driscoll who is varyingly described as emerging, missional, Reformed, sarcastic and vulgar (all of which are true of him)." At times it looks like Driscoll goes out of his way to offend everyone. On the other hand, Driscoll is refreshingly candid and bold. I love it, but it seems to be too much for some.

The story of many "successful" churches have been tidied before going to print. Not here. Driscoll says, "I have made so many mistakes as a pastor that I should be pumping gas for a living instead of preaching the gospel." He begins with "Ten Curious Questions" designed to help clarify the church's identity, gospel, mission, size, and priorities. For instance, he asks which gospel we will proclaim: "a gospel of forgiveness, fulfillment, or freedom?" "Do you have the guts to shoot your dogs?" (He advises: "Dogs are idiotic ideas, stinky styles, stupid systems, failed facilities, terrible technologies, loser leaders, and pathetic people...Be sure to make it count and shoot them only once so that they don't come back and bite you." Now you know why he's controversial.)

For the rest of the book, Driscoll tells the story of Mars Hill from its start to the present and even his hopes for the future.

Takeaways and Memorable Quotes

"Attractional churches need to transform their people from being consumers in the church to being missionaries outside of the church." (p.27)

"The more I read the Bible, the more deeply the Holy Spirit convicted me that I had grievously erred by trying to figure out how to do church successfully by reading a lot of books, visiting a lot of churches, and copying whatever was working. Instead, I needed to first wrestle with Jesus like Jacob wrestled with Jesus and then discover what Jesus' mission was for Seattle and repent of everything else..." (p.44)

Developing biblical leadership to define, direct, and defend the mission is key (p.48). This requires toughness. "Sadly, the weakest men are often drawn to ministry simply because it is an indoor job that does not require heavy lifting." (p.54)

"I had to focus all of my time and energy on growing Mars Hill as a missional church for Seattle. Therefore I had to stop doing all other ministry work that was not accomplishing this objective." (p.52)

"I decided not to back off from a long-winded, old-school Bible preacher that focused on Jesus. My people needed to hear from God's Word and not from each other in collective ignorance like some dumb chat room...There is enough power in the preaching of God's Word alone to build a church from nothing" (pp.77-78)

"I have learned that sometimes the most important thing a leader can do is to create strategic chaos that forces people to pull together and focus on an urgent need, thereby subtly getting rid of all their other missions and complaints in a subversive way." (pp.82-83)

"My answer to everything is pretty much the same: open the Bible and preach about the person of Jesus and his mission for the church." (p.86)

"We were deciding if Mars Hill Church was to be defined by the size of its mission to reach the lost or by the number of people we could gather at one time in one room." (p.94)

In congregational ecclesiology, "The staff and the pastor are essentially seen as employees of the congregation, to be fired if they do not meet the expectations of their employer, the congregation. As I studied the Bible, I found more warrant for a church led by unicorns than by majority vote." (p.103)

"Over the years, I've just accepted that if I do not quickly open the back door when God is trying to run people out of our church, I am working against God by keeping sick people in my church so they can infect others. Indeed, the church is a body, and one of the most important parts is the colon. Like the human body, any church body without a colon is designed for sickness that leads to death." (p.131)

"We learned that unchurched people tend to be the most traditional when it comes to church." (p.132)

"Preaching is like driving a clutch, and the only way to figure it out is to keep grinding the gears and stalling until you figure it out." (p.133)

"Slowly, the church will begin a cycle of decline unless it intentionally reinvents itself missionally to continue to grow by taking risks in an effort to reach lost people for Jesus." (p.141)

"The goal of the management phase is not to get the church organized and under control. Rather, the management phase is needed to eliminate the inefficiencies and barriers that are keeping the church from focusing back on the creative phase and creating a whole new set of problems to manage." (p.142)

Bottom Line - This book isn't for everyone. I enjoyed it, and saw it as a friendly and encouraging kick in the pants. If the above quotes appeal to you, then Confessions is a book that will help you in your ministry.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Diamonds and a Lot of Rough, June 7, 2006
This review is from: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Paperback)
This book isn't for everybody, but it is for some. It deserves a medium recommendation because despite the many places this book fails, occasionally Driscoll hits gem insights.

Focusing heavily on the good aspects first, Driscoll's structure (chapters which focus on different stages of growth: 0-45 people, 45-75, 75-150, etc.) combined with the story of personally wrestling with growth issues make the book enjoyable and highly readable. I finished it very quickly, and I am not a quick reader.

Structurally, the introduction stands alone proposing a series of distinctions in Christian ministry today: some of them are helpful ("Will your church be attractional, missional or both?"), some of them are a step backward (IE - "Will your church be an emergent liberal church or an emerging evangelical church?"). Driscoll is highly gifted in systematic thinking which makes his ability to draw distinctions over and again a common feature of the book. This both helps and hinders his cause. Seeing that one can be both attractional and missional is an original insight which flies in the face of much thinking in emerging circles. On the other hand, his knee-jerk tendency to over-emphasize second tier issues and throw sledgehammers at Christians who do not hold to a boldly conservative hermeneutic destroy his credibility as a first tier leader of emerging churches.

Driscoll's self-analysis is quite helpful when he deconstructs the role of a senior pastor and redefines how he sees the vocation, for example, "I have accepted that I am not much of a pastor but rather a missiologist studying the city who leads a church filled with missionaries who reach the city with pastors who care for converts" (52).

His analysis of where churches focus their energies--dreaming, managing, justifying failures, and dying--is keen stuff. Driscoll encourages church leaders to never settle in the management comfort zone, but to consistently push the bar higher. If we do not, he rightly asserts, we are inviting stagnation or death.

On the downside, Driscoll is obsessed with his sexuality (a misplaced theme through out this book). He often comes across as the fundamentalist who annoys you most on CNN or Fox News: not because he is wrong, but because he has no tact. His tendency to demean people who have beliefs or behaviors he objects to often leads to dangerous overstatements. An example from the intro was that one's belief in hell actually has salvific ramifications ("I am particularly concerned with...the questioning of a literal eternal torment in hell, which is a denial that holds up until, in an ironic bummer, you die and find yourself in hell" (22).) I assume Driscoll doesn't think believing in hell gets you into heaven, but if read "literally" his statements leaves that impression. (Who, by the way, doesn't long deeply that hell doesn't exist? It seems that one of the marks of a compassionate individual would be questioning "eternal torment" even if at the end of the day your views look more like Dante than CS Lewis.)

But the book hits its lows when Driscoll starts swinging prescriptive ethics like a club, demeaning people caught in a cycle of sin or theological confusion. He thinks his banter is humorous; it is actually base and cruel. Ironically in the last few pages he feels compelled to put forward all his own struggles asking for sympathy. It seems to be the mark of a particular sort of bad man who fragrantly insults those wrapped in moral failure, then turns and asks for pity for their own sin. I hope I miss read him on this front.

Thankfully, most of the readers of this book will be mature believers, primarily pastors who will easily slide over Driscoll's over-exaggerations, self absorption, and straight out mean-spiritedness. If you buy it, cherish the good when you find it cause there is much to be discarded.

Jeff

healingmalchus.blogspot.com
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a Good Resource, September 24, 2012
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This review is from: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Paperback)
As a young pastor I keep getting told that I need to learn from the leadership training of Mark Driscoll, who is the leader of the Acts 29 Network and pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. He is considered to be a leadership guru for young church leaders, but I believe that his methodology is dangerous.

To Driscoll's credit, he teaches a lot of good theology. Most of Driscoll's fans seem to be in the emerging church, but Driscoll himself is no fan of the emerging church. He is the first to point out the fact that they do not believe in absolute truth, and that they care more about handing out "muffins and hugs" than they do about preaching the gospel. In a day where the emerging church spends more time giving happy pep talks, Driscoll is a teacher of theology. And while I do not agree with all of his theology, I do appreciate that he is teaching it. Unfortunately, it is guys like him that say just enough good stuff to give themselves credibility.

First of all, he admits to and even brags about committing theft in his book Confessions of a Radical Rev. He boasts that he never had to pay for electricity in one of his first buildings because "the building was illegally hooked up to the power grid and all our power was stolen (p.125)." And in case you think that is no big deal and I am just being picky, consider that he stole something tangible as well. "I stole an unused sound console from my old church, along with a projector screen, which were sins Jesus thankfully died to forgive (p.62)."

Talk about making a mockery out of grace! He is bragging about being a thief and making a joke about the blood of Jesus! It would be a different story if he premised these accounts by saying he regrets what he did or he has repented, but it is this type irreverence that makes him too immature to be considered a good leader.

I also disagree with him on the issue of drinking alcohol. I am not going to use this blog to make the case for abstinence from alcohol, but I certainly believe in it. Driscoll feels differently, making comments that "God has come to earth and kicks things off as a bartender (The Radical Reformission, p.30)" He makes comments about drinking beer frequently in his books and sermons, but the thing that gets me is that he requires the people he trains to brew their own beer at home. He has a chapter titled The Sin of Light Beer in The Radical Reformission where he makes the case that light beer came about to please feminists, and that good Christians should oppose feminism by drinking "good beer."

With that knowledge of good beer versus sinful beer, Driscoll says in Confessions of a Radical Rev. that he holds boot camps to teach guys how to "brew decent beer (p.131)." He also says that he became convicted of his "sin of abstinence from alcohol. So in repentance, I drank a hard cider over lunch with our worship pastor (The Radical Reformission p.146)."

I also have a problem with the way that he uses the secular to make his points. I know that Jesus and Paul made illustrations of things like fishing, running, and farming, but those things are not sinful. In Driscoll's book The Radical Reformission he includes examples of radicals on mission with him. Among them are David Bruce from Hollywood Jesus, who calls himself a missionary because he takes clips from movies and uses them to make comparisons to Christianity (I have been a long time critic of using movies that are full of curse words, sexual content, and God's name in vain as "witnessing material"). He also features Icabod Caine, a country music DJ in Seattle, who said we are "basically clueless" as to the difference between the secular and sacred, and yet he views himself as a missionary even though he daily plays music that is filled with drunkenness, divorce, and profanity.

Another example of Driscoll using the secular in place of Scripture comes from his owning and operating of The Paradox, which was a venue that was designed to host concerts. Driscoll said he rarely used the venue to host Christian bands because his goal was to get unsaved people into the building. But the problem is that the gospel was never presented to these unsaved kids; they would basically pay secular bands to come perform (thus supporting what they stand for), then let the crowd leave unchanged. Instead of being a pastor, this makes Driscoll nothing more than a concert promoter. In his own words, Driscoll never "preach[ed] at the kids" or did "goofy things like handing out tracts (Confessions of a Radical Rev. p.127)."

The basement of the building, he says, was a place where local junkies would do black tar heroine, and the back is where junkies would "shoot up drugs and poop on the ground (p.125)," and he laughs about the Japanese punk band that randomly stripped naked during the show. Don't worry though, because during these concerts Driscoll saw "many kids come to faith through relationships (p.127)." This might sound elementary, but relationships don't save people, faith in Jesus and repentance does.

He also has one of his church leaders routinely lead discussions on movies they watch, including "unedited R-rated" movies, to teach people to think critically (Confessions, p.157). Humans are totally depraved; why do we need to look at sin in order to critique it?

But what drives me crazy about Driscoll is his crudeness. I will break down this final point into three areas: his general crudeness, his obsession with crude sexuality, and his crudeness when referring to my Lord.

His language is foul, crude, and offensive. I can't even do justice to how crude he is because I refuse to write most of the words he uses. He makes no apology for the time he "cussed out the poor guy" who came to him for counseling when he was having a bad day (Confessions of a Radical Rev. p.128), or for the fact that he "cussed a lot" when he was frustrated (p.129), including cussing at the bare offering plate (p.47). On page 133 he uses a crude word for prostitute and a crude word for an illegitimate child.

In The Radical Reformission he uses yet another crude term to refer to a loose woman (different from the one mentioned above) on page 29. In Vintage Jesus he quotes Brad Pitt from the movie Fight Club, where he uses the longer form of being P.O.'ed (p.201).

His crudeness is also sexual. In Confessions he refers to intercourse as "banging (p.128)." On the same page he admits to being burned out in the ministry due to "an unspectacular sex life," and he makes a reference to a woman being "hot like hell." On page 96, when admitting that he isn't like most pastors, jokes about using words in sermons like a term to refer to the male reproductive organ, as well as having "an aluminum pole in the bedroom." Some of those "sermons on sex were R-rated (p.134)."

One of those R-rated sermons was when he gave all the guys two stones to symbolize what they needed in order to be real men (p.129). His lingo was cruder.

In Radical he says that Adam and Eve were "horny (p.28--on that page he also uses a crude term for a prostitute)" and he makes a joke about a gay orgy on page 33. He makes wisecracks about people using Viagra on pages 75 and 165. There is also a joke about a vasectomy on page 76.

Driscoll talks frankly about a threesome on page 92, and about girls' tight pants making their backsides look big on page 95, about a girl having "junk in her trunk" on page 119. On page 187 he references a man's genitals, and on 185 he brags about teaching on subjects like the different ways that a woman can climax.

In Vintage Jesus he refers to intercourse as "knocking boots (p.11) and "shagging (p.41)." While attending a Monday Night Football game, he writes that "half-naked young women provide eye candy (p.164)."

On page 169 he says that our culture worships "good old-fashioned naked crazy-making" and he makes yet another reference to eating Viagra on page 183.

He also makes references to graphic sexual practices that take place, both as couples and alone, dozens of times. Not only does he talk about these topics that shouldn't be mentioned, he does it in such a crass way. These references do not include his forthcoming book which will deal with these topics and much more ([...]).

But the worst of all of his crude comments comes in a conversation he felt the need to include in Confessions when a member of his church called him during the night crying, and told him that he had just watched a dirty movie. Driscoll asked him, "Was it a good porno?" When the young man asked for prayer, this is the prayer that Driscoll records: "Jesus, thank you for not killing him for being a pervert. Amen." Driscoll then told the man not to call him at night when he is sleeping, and said he didn't have time to be his accountability partner.

But it gets worse. When the man asked for advice, here is Drsicoll's reply: "You need to stop watching porno and crying like a baby afterwards...a naked lady is good to look at, so get a job, get a wife, ask her to get naked, and look at her instead (p.60)."

Not exactly a good leadership technique.

Mark Driscoll is also crude when speaking of Jesus. In Vintage Jesus he has a four-word sentence: "Jesus was a dude (p.31)." This dude "did things that normal people do, like farting, going to the bathroom, and blowing boogers from his nose (p.32)."

On page 43 he says that Jesus acted as if He needed Paxil, that He was cruel for calling the Pharisees hypocrites, that He needed sensitivity training, and that He commissioned His disciples to "take a donkey without asking like some kleptomaniac donkeylifter."

On page 44 he says that Jesus yelled at his disciples for sleeping "as an obvious workaholic who needed to start drinking decaf and listening to taped sounds of running water while doing aromatherapy so he could learn to relax."

I don't care who this offends: I'm not taking leadership advice from a "pastor" that calls my Lord a pill-popping, cruel, insensitive, workaholic kleptomaniac dude who farts and blows boogers out of His nose. And neither should you.

I know Driscoll defends himself by saying that humor is his thing, but there is nothing funny about belittling the King of the universe. Jesus is not a dude or my homeboy, He is my precious Lord and Savior. I would not let anyone talk about my wife that way, so why would I let him talk that way about the one who has saved me?

But that is just one book. In Radical he refers to "the God-Man" going "through puberty" and speculates that He had to have received at least one wedgie (p.29).

I have called Mark Driscoll a pervert from the pulpit, and will do nothing less here. If you are a pastor or leader who looks up to this man, or if you are a believer who reads or listens to him, please consider who he really is. I know the hip thing in churches is to be edgy and be the opposite of your grandparents preacher who wore a suit, parted his hair on the left, and used the KJV exclusively. And that is fine. But if you are looking for a good preacher, look for one who loves and respects the Lord and His Word, and do not turn your ears to these shock and awe men who are ear pleasing.

Consider Paul, who was a godly man that the young pastor Timothy looked up to. Paul warned Timothy to preach the Word because the day would come when people would recruit teachers to say what makes them feel good, and Driscoll is one of those men.

Finally, consider these paradoxical excerpts from Vintage Jesus. On page 159 he explains that lordship means that "Jesus has authority over the... shows we watch." Then on 160 he says that we are to "say no to ungodliness in all its forms." And on page 167 he uses the TV show South Park as an illustration, even referring to it as "hilarious." If you know anything about that show you know it has the worst language on TV; South Park was actually the first show to ever use the "S" word on TV, and after weeks of advertising that they were going to do it, they kept a counter on the screen that kept track of each time the word was used, totaling 162 times on a half hour show.

Real hilarious, Mark.

And if Jesus has authority over the shows you watch, and you say no to ungodliness in all its forms, then how does South Park fit into that equation?

I wonder if Driscoll ever preaches from Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth."

Pastors, if you want real leadership I have a suggestion. "Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Humbling, Helpful, Honest and sometimes Painful, June 21, 2007
This review is from: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Paperback)
This book had the interesting effect of making me laugh, wince, and take notes, sometimes all on the same page! At the end of the day, I could not put the book down. I was captivated by a transparent pastor's heart who struggled day after day to put Jesus before his city in effort to see many converted.

The book chronicles the life of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington where Mark Driscoll has been the Senior Pastor since its inception. Driscoll takes readers through the various stages of growth from a small broken down Bible study with "Indie Rockers" and "artsy" folks to a thriving megachurch of over 4,000 impacting one of the most unchurched regions in the US.

In his narrative Driscoll explains, from first hand experience, some of the gestational development of the now prominent Emergent Church. Driscoll himself was involved, and in fact a leader in, a movement in the mid-90's to mobilize missionaries to their culture, impacting them with the gospel of Christ. As this movement expanded and gained traction Driscoll had to separate himself from it:

"I had to distance myself, however, from one of the many streams in the emerging church because of the theological differences. Since the late 1990's this stream has become known as Emergent. The Emergent Church is part of the Emerging Church Movement but does not embrace the dominant ideology of the movement. Rather the emergent church is the latest version of liberalism. The only difference is that the old liberalism accommodated modernity and the new liberalism accommodates postmodernity." (p. 21)

So here Driscoll is distinquishing between Emerging and Emergent...himself clinging to the prevailing positives of the Emerging movement (missional, theological, active) while distancing himself from the atheolgoical wing of the movement (Emergent).

In many ways this book appears to be a living apologetic of the Emerging movement while distinguishing Driscoll as one of its most outspoken and able leaders. Perhaps this is why we see Driscoll speaking at a conference along with Brian McLaren, the outspoken leader of the Emergent wing.

In fact Driscoll references McLaren in Confessions:

"Although I sincerely love Brian and appreciate the kindness he has shown me, I generally disagree with many of his theological conclusions. Because he comes from a pacifistic Brethren background, such things as power and violence greatly trouble him. His pacifism seems to underlie many of our theological disagreements since he has a hard time accepting such things as the violence of penal substitutionary atonement, parts of the Old Testament where God killed people, and the concept of conscious eternal torment in hell. Curiously, it is also Brian's pacifism that makes him such a warmly engaging person who is able to speak and write about theologically controversial issues while being gracious. Ironically, my love for and disagreement with Brian are both borne out of his pacifism. But I find it curious that, from my perspective, he is using his power as a writer and speaker to do violence to Scripture in the name of pacifism." (p.99)

His point here about pacifism and violence to God's word is worth the price of the book. That is the type of silent violence that characterizes the neo-liberalism named Emergent.

I love the resolve of Driscoll throughout the book. There were resistance and trials at every bend and still God graciously moved the church and its leadership through each. In fact, Driscoll regularly attaches the growth to the respective trials. On one occasion Mars Hill tried to do concerts and preaching outside by the river and were mooned and flashed by boaters going by. This, according to Driscoll, increased interest in the community and ultimately attendance.

There are so many pages that are outright hilarious. The following is a quote concerning a worship pastor:

"I really liked Tim because he is one of the few manly men whom I have ever seen leading worship. I am not supposed to say this, but most of the worship dudes I have heard are not very dudely. They seem to be very in touch with their feelings and exceedingly chickified from playing too much acoustic guitar and singing prom songs to Jesus while channeling Michael Bolton and flipping their hair. Tim was a guy who brewed his own beer, smoked a pipe, rock climbed, mountain biked, river rafted, carried a knife in his belt, and talked about what he thought more than what he felt.

We clicked because I drive a 1978 Chevy truck that gets single digits to the gallon and has a bacon air freshener and no functioning speedometer and because I fashion myself as the self-appointed leader of a heterosexual male backlash in our overly chickified city filled with guys drinking herbal tea and rocking out to Mariah Carey in their lemon yellow Volkswagen Cabriolets while wearing fuchsia sweater vests that perfectly match their open-toed shoes." (pp. 146-7)

Mark Driscoll is definitely a guy that I would want to have at a barbecue but may be reluctant to have speak at my church...but ironically both for the same reasons.

Overall I really enjoyed the book. From a pastor's perspective it was awesome; refreshing and encouraging. The positives for this book are found in Driscoll's willingness to share the ecclesiastical lab that he has worked in for the last 15 years. Driscoll understands church, leadership and has a passion to reach and change culture for the glory of Christ.

At the same time I am reluctant to openly recommend it. Driscoll does use crass language throughout the book (which is alarming and curious in light of 1 Tim. 4.12 & Eph. 4.29), and so therefore I am not comfortable putting it on a top 10 list. At the same time, from what I have read in the blogosphere and its relative outrage of Driscoll's language, I think they have, in large part, overreacted and missed the many of the great points and lessons of the book.

Driscoll also sympathizes with Rick Warren, even crediting him with significant pastorly influence on him. This is not surprising considering Driscoll's continued affiliation with Robert Schuller and company at the Crystal Cathedral. This is curios and I do not understand why he is holding hands with these guys who are not straightforward about the truth of the gospel (Warren) and who deny the truth of the gospel (Schuller).

Driscoll also makes it clear that he is charismatic, even asserting regularly that he receives additional revelation from God, prays and speaks against demons (however, Driscoll does say that he does not speak in tongues).

As an aside, I look forward to the upcoming Desiring God Conference where Driscoll will be on the panel with conservatives such as John Piper, DA Carson & David Wells. I would love to be a fly on the wall when DA Carson and him chat about life and ministry and Driscoll mixes in a reference to Jesus as a dude....oh the diversity of the body... "Christ is all and in all" (Col. 3.11).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Real World!, May 25, 2006
This review is from: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Paperback)
Reading most narrative resources on church planting is very much like trying to leave reality and live in a dream world. The inspiring but atypical stories found in books by Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley have the capacity to make a church planter dream big, but they can also lead him to fall hard! Yet Mark Driscoll's latest work introduces aspiring apostolic leaders to the hard realities of church planting, as well as the glorious finish line that can await all faithful servants of Jesus.

In 2001 when my family and I began planting a church, I read all the resources that were at the time considered "required reading." I still remember reading about the Real Estate broker who found Rick Warren a rent-free home for a month and simultaneously joined his church. I remember rejoicing as I read about the rapid growth of Willow Creek, and dreaming big while reading Stanley's success story known as Northpointe Church. Six months later, with no building, no money, and struggling to gather a core group, I felt very much like the special needs student who had accidentally signed up for the AP calculus course. I honestly wondered what I was doing wrong, not thinking about the possibility that Rick, Andy and Bill might be telling stories of extraordinary moves of God . . . .the exception rather than the rule.

Five years later, that church which began as a vision from God came togetherwith an older, established congregation, and by His grace continues to worship on Parkins Mill Road in Greenville South Carolina. It has helped to birth two other congregations in the Greenville area as well, but not without almost killing me first! My experiences there taught me that while it is OK to dream big, reading stories about airplanes full of people coming to Jesus can sometimes produce unrealistic expectations.

Now I have the privilege of overseeing the work of church planting in one of the most affluent areas in the country, and God is allowing me to share my limited experience with the guys who are now doing the work. While I want them to dream big, and expect God to do big things, I don't want them to think that growth comes without blood, sweat, tears, demonic oppression, temptation, fatigue, and a host of other impediments. Now that Driscoll's book Confessions is finally in print, I have a resource that will help them see this.

In the book, Mark Driscoll chronicles the birth and growth of Seattle's Mars Hill Church. Each of the seven chapters details a segment of growth within the church, which began in Driscoll's living room in 1996 with 12 people, and has since blossomed into a congregation of over 4,000. Throughout the book, there is a healthy balance of inspirational accounts of conversion and discipleship with brutal honesty concerning the sacrifice neccesary to bring about such spiritual development. Not content to allow you to see only the present worship center after a Sunday morning, Driscoll takes you into his living room where 12 people gathered initially, into the upstairs youth room of a fundamentalist church with 70s shag carpet where the church met for a period of time, into his bedroom at 3 AM for a rather blunt and personal "counseling" phone call with a porn-addict, and even into his own mind as he recounts his personal experiences with sexual temptation, spiritual warfare, sleeplessness, marital discord, frustration, anger and fatigue.

The stories come to life in a way only Driscoll can communicate, and each of his personal experiences leaves the reader with valuable lessons that will prove useful during the church planting experience. As I was reading, I found myself consistently asking "where was this book five years ago?" After reading this work, I have come to the conclusion that either Mark and I are both insane, and the only two people who have experienced such things, or his experiences represent the "norm" of church planting with much more accuracy. While I admit that my sanity is a point of debate among some friends of mine, I will opt for the second possibility.

There are a number of reasons this book should be on every church planter's shelf. First of all, there is a very helpful introduction in which Driscoll asks ten very probing questions that will help pastors and church planters alike shape the vision of their church in a way that will glorify God. Affectionately entitled "Chapter Zero," this section deals with the balance between "Gospel," "Culture," and "Church," and seeks to pull the reader from thinking of church planting solely in terms of "attraction," to thinking missionally so that their church will permeate its community with Gospel presence.

Second, Driscoll is an unabashed theological conservative, and helps today's church planters not lose sight of the fact that our programming, strategies, theological understanding, and ecclesiological foundations must be taken solely from the text of Scripture. Driscoll also takes the opportunity at one point in the book to distance himself from much of the aberrant theology coming out of Emergent.

Third, as I mentioned before, Driscoll's story is a "real world" story, that will likely be much more reflective of the average church planter's experiences. Angry core group members walking out, theological heresy causing the resignation of staff, and immature Christians seeking to lead before they are ready are but a few of the experiences Driscoll shares that I suspect will cause almost everyone who has planted a church to say "I remember that!"

Fourth, interspersed between these brutally true experiences are stories of grace. Driscoll is careful to note that even in the middle of the toughest times, God was working to save people at Mars Hill, and the stories are moving to say the least. Each chapter is prefaced with a one-sentence testimony that reminds the reader of the work of God, even in the midst of apparent chaos. These testimonies reveal such things as:

-God saved me while I was living with my lesbian mom and my dad was in prison for murder. I am a founding pastor.

-I was a pothead until I got saved and now I am the president of the chamber of commerce and the executive pastor.

-I was not a Christian when I came to the church. Today, I am a pastor.

Finally, Driscoll is abundantly clear throughout that the success of Mars Hill is owed to God alone. While no one who has planted a church would deny such a statement, many books on the subject seem to leave the reader with the impression that "our church grew because we . . . .[fill in the blank]." To be sure, Driscoll relates the lessons he has learned the hard way in the hopes that others will choose a less rocky path. But in the end, Mars Hill is shown to be totally the work of God.

Two cautions are in order. First, his comparisons of congregational ecclesiology with Senior Pastor and Elder ecclesiology is an exercise in oversimplification, and assumes these leadership models to be mutually exclusive. His rationale against "majority vote" decision-making in the church is worthy of a strong hearing, but in the end, he throws the baby out with the bathwater by seeing "congregationalism" as synonymous with "democracy." I agree with Driscoll that the latter has been syncretized into the local church in America, but the former has Biblical merit, and should be given more careful consideration.

Another caution is that some will find the way Driscoll sometimes expresses himself to be offensive. Many reviews have already been written that chide Driscoll heavily for what is perceived to be "coarse and offensive" language that occassionally appears in the book. But in the end, I would encourage the reader to resist straining at this gnat so that you can be blessed by hearing the heart of this pastor-missionary.

Mark Driscoll is a God-send to the emerging church. His newest book is Biblically sound, brutally honest, and cross-centered. This will be required reading for any of our new church planters. I am confident that the book will encourage them to equip themselves for the task ahead.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rocket fuel for the soul, May 12, 2006
This review is from: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Paperback)
Over here in the UK the emergent church is beginning to rear its head, so it is a great relief to read the story of someone in the US who got out of emergent, embraced solid truth but built a church that is culturally radical. Reformed theology and Holy Spirit annointing - what an awesome combination! This book is also amazing because the story it tells has happened in such a short time frame. If you need some rocket fuel for your soul, read "Confessions".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking.., March 25, 2007
By 
This review is from: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Paperback)
This book was one that I was pretty excited to read. Not because of me wanting to be emerging or anything of the sort, but I just wanted to know more of the man who has been instrumental in turning many young people to Christ up here in the Seattle area. Although, I used to go to his church for a little while back in the early 2000's I still knew very little of Mark Driscoll or the history of Mars Hill.

Much has been written about him, mostly against him in conservative circles for his association with the emergent movement. I will tell you that this book does clear up anybody's thinking that he is still involved with the emergent movement, for he is far from that movement and mindset, which I was surprised of. The reason I say this is that he calls out Brian McClaren, and those in his circle, with their wrong views of Scripture

This book is the story of not just Driscoll, actually very little about the man Driscoll and more about the church Mars Hill, from beginning, up to the time of the book (2006) and even included some things they were hoping to implement. I actually came to this book very skeptical of his tactics and not knowing at all his "goals" in ministry. What I came out believing about Driscoll is a high respect for his love of the lost. This is evident: Mark Driscoll loves the Lord Jesus Christ with all his heart, soul and mind, and truly loves his neighbor as himself. I would hope no one would deny this.

As far as his "tactics" or "strategies" in place, I find them a bit edgy, and I think Driscoll would take that as a compliment. Driscoll talks much of having a certain number of attendees as his goal and he seek(ed)(s) how the best way to achieve these numbers are possible. He admits in the book that he spoke to many people on this subject, from pastors like Rick Warrren to people who study secular organizations. This part of the book is what discouraged me in that the numbers were so very important to him. What did not discourage me is that his goal was not to have "fluffy" Christians, but truly Christ following, missionary minded Christians. Which again makes me separate him from the seeker movement and people like Finney, from the Second Great Awakening.

Although I disagree with his thoughts on how to reach the lost, and even calls my method of handing out tracts "silly," I will say that I respect him that he truly wants to see true repentance from the lost city around him.

If you pick up this book you will be challenged to love the lost around you, but what I fear is the method that is taking place at Mars Hill. Some of his theology I have a hard time with (prophetic dreams) and also his courseness, not only in his jokes but also his speaking to those that he serves with and is called to shepherd.

If you are truly interested in understanding Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll, this is a must read that will allow you to understand him from his mouth not others. But, that does not mean that I agree with his implement strategies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on mission, June 5, 2006
This review is from: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Paperback)
This is really a tremendous little book - challenging and thought-provoking. You may not agree with everything in here, but one thing is certain: it will remind you that the church is to be missional, and it will inspire you to think creatively about mission.

Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is its solid alignment with traditional Christian theology, even as a book about an "emerging" church. This will cause those who have broadbrushed the entire emerging movement as liberal to think again. Driscoll solidly separates himself from emergent folks who are talking and writing as though postmodernism is what Jesus meant all along.

I highly recommend it.
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