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on February 19, 2012
Humor and conviction slam together in this book. And that's exactly why I love it so much.

I have never seen so much raw authenticity and bluntness woven with practical helpfulness in a book before, but Mark Driscoll has accomplished it well. Confessions is all about how Mars Hill Church (Driscoll's church) came to be. Absolutely rife with hard lessons learned by Mr. Driscoll as the title suggests, I have never read a book like this before. It is simply hilarious and all the while encouraging for those wanting to pursue pastoral ministry (or those who are currently doing so).

Even the layout of the book is unique. Each chapter is organized by how many people were in attendance, and each chapter has a "Coaching Corner," a small box where Mark organizes a chunk of the chapter's most important information in a practical, easy-to-remember way. Gleaning insight comes naturally from this book, and reading some of Mark's situations and stories, like an aggressive phone call or a strange interaction with a homeless person, will undoubtedly come with laughter.

Some people have become offended at Mark's bluntness and sarcastic humor in the book before, but I would challenge any of those offended to say that Mark's center in the book was not Jesus. Concerns aside, this book was a joy to read. I read it in four sittings, and none of those didn't have smiles or appreciation for the valuable resources filled in the pages here. If you plan on going into pastoral ministry, you need to read this book. If you're not, reading this story will encourage you and help you see God's power in one man's life and the huge church on mission for Jesus.

This one's an all-time favorite in my book.
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on September 15, 2008
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book, and I honestly didn't expect that much from it. I was pleasantly surprised by the book--not because my expectations were so low, but because it really is a helpful and useful book for a pastor trying to wrestle with the deepening and broadening of the church. The sarcasm was an unexpected treat. I am sarcastic a little too often, and it was fun reading his take on the world. As with all hard humor, though, it was great when I agreed with it, and it was frustrating when I didn't.

But humor aside, Driscoll has a handful of extremely important things to tell pastors (and church leadership in general). To being with, church is about Jesus. We can put on dazzling shows, mimic models working half-way around the States, or disband the whole thing in favor of house churches, but every adaptation needs to be about Jesus. Pastors and churches grow in the right ways when we preach Christ and him crucified every week no matter the topic or text. A church without carefully defined and followed theology is like a grocery store that only sells Hostess cupcakes. People will get a sugar high coming, but the crash is not far away and they certainly won't grow.

In addition, churches need to define or discover why they exist and move in that direction. As so many church leadership books tell us, that sometimes requires hard decisions. But as Driscoll reminds us, churches are guarded by shepherds that are supposed to tend for and protect the flock.

He also raises an issue I have discovered in my own journey as a pastor. It sounds simple on paper, and if you haven't struggled with this temptation you may not guess how powerful it is. Pastors and leaders need to be who Jesus called them to be and do the things Jesus called them to do. We make huge mistakes fitting into someone else's mold or trying to act and preach like the popular guy down the street. Churches sometimes put pressures on pastors to be and do certain things that will end up sapping them of vitality and ruin the church. Sometimes it is a cult of personality or a denomination, but the problem is the same - pastors give into other peoples' expectations at their own peril. We all know pastors and leaders end up with things in their portfolios they are not great at or need to learn to love, but, as a matter of priority and gifting, be who God called you to be.

I am not a huge fan of books on church leadership technique. That is probably why I liked this book. Instead of a heck of a lot of tips and tricks (there are a fair amount of details, pie charts and schematics), it is mostly about a set of lessons learned trying to do what God called a pastor to do.
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on January 17, 2009
This was an excellent, enjoyable read. Mark Driscoll is a pretty controversial figure, although it seems to be mostly because of his past mistakes and utter abandon to Scripture (even when others may disagree). This is sort of a Mars Hill autobiography, and is full of interesting and useful insights and wisdom.

More than anyone trying to (foolishly) copy the decisions made by Mark and Mars Hill, this book has a ton of useful principles for dealing with and interacting in growing churches, especially growing-to-be-really-large churches. Mark constantly reinforces his commitment to missiology and his core mission; it's a useful lesson.

Mark also writes with candor, which is welcome in any book on ecclesiology or missiology (even an informal one like this). I found myself making a ton of mental notes, as the leader of a new Sunday School class. What cost are you willing to pay to stay on task? What commitment will you expect and cultivate, and insist upon, from your members? Good stuff!
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on April 12, 2007
I agree that there should be three kinds of people in a church: page 112 says "I wanted a church filled with missionaries, Christians who were learning how to become missionaries, and lost people. I would not accept a church filled with Christians who did not give, serve, or reach lost people."

I agree that church leaders should be giving and serving: page 113 says "one of the most vocal and visible people in the church (who was making a few hundred thousand dollars a year) had given only a few hundred dollars the previous year. Conversely, a high school girl who worked part time at an ice cream shop had given more money that this person who wanted to be a leader over her."

I agree that churches should not be asking for money because the Christians in the church should be the ones supporting it: page 181 says "we clearly state from the pulpit each week that if someone is a non-Christian or a visitor, we do not want them to give."

Readers will not agree with everything but all of it is thought provoking.
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on May 18, 2007
This is the second book I've read by Pastor Mark Driscoll. I listen to his podcasts as well.

Though agreeing with him in all points might get me kicked out of my denomiation, I find that many things about what he says need to be said.

I'm in a denominational church that looks to the past and seeks to engage the culture thru means of the social gospel. That's then. We live in the now.

Pastor Mark talks about engaging the current culture, and his stories about how Mars Hill grew demonstrate what can happen when one gets serious about engaging the culture and contextualizing the gospel, and being unambigously clear about what is believed.

I found it a such a humorous and raw read that perhaps i was waking the neighbors laughing so hard.
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on January 18, 2018
Crazy life stories and experiences! Must read for those in ministry or not!
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on January 10, 2014
Overall an excellent book on church leadership. I have learned a lot about Mars Hills ministry style and philosophy. Chapter zero is hard work but after that the book is personal and easy to work through. I found Marks honesty about his challenges and mistakes thoroughly refreshing. At times I was irritated by what seemed to be an over use of metaphor but really Driscoll's writing is colorful and engaging. I have come away with a lot of respect for both him and his ministry.
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on January 30, 2011
Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons From an Emerging Missional Church is Mark Driscoll's second book, and the account of the founding and growth of Mars Hill Church.

Driscoll is humorous and centers his founding, growth, and governing of his church in Jesus first, and then in love for neighbor and community. Although his church is "nondenominational," as he describes his theology and government, he is functionally a Reformed Baptist and a non-cessationist (though eh does not require tongue-speaking as some non-cessationists do).

I have not heard him preach as yet, but I very much want to and plan to, having read this and his previous book. Although I don't agree with all of his theology, I think he is likely a very engaging preacher.

Driscoll has an interesting argument against Sunday School classes (159): Driscoll states that they don't have Sunday School classes because if one brings a non-Christian to Sunday School, the non-Christian will likely not want to stay for worship as well, and worship takes primacy. Second, Driscoll argues that teaching opportunities are best in small groups in homes of parishioners, not in the church building..

I see two advantages of his thinking: one, there is the potential for "deeper" discussion, rather than frequent return to the basics. (Not that they are unimportant!) Two, it allows people to get to know each other better through the comfort and intimacy of the home.

However, I did have some problems with his book:

Driscoll writes, "The church exists to welcome and convert lost people" (109). I think what he means is that the Church exists to reach out first, not to care for Christians first. Whatever he means, I believe he is wrong. The Church exists first to Glorify God, second to equip the saints, and third as a witness to unbelievers.

Driscoll writes that a "deacon...grow[s] up to be an elder" (146). Although this is a popular notion, it is not biblical. The elder and the deacon are two different offices, but equal. They are not junior and senior offices. One may be an elder, then a deacon, or a deacon, then an elder, or just and elder, or just a deacon. One is not a higher position than the other.

And then there is a general impression I get: Although Driscoll says that any size church is just fine, it seems as he goes through his history and, especially, as he describes the distinctives of a large church, Driscoll really believes that larger churches are better, more faithful, and more spiritual. He has no justification for this.

Driscoll's book is interesting, and it gave me food for thought, but I cannot recommend it without serious caveats.
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on May 7, 2007
Reading Mark Driscoll leaves you with the strong impression that he is not holding anything back. He tells it like it is and often leaves you wondering "did he really just write that?" This was a good book filled with very funny anecdotes and some very practical principles to help build a church in today's world. This book shows that there are few things in ministry and leadership that can substite for great courage, prayer, perseverance, and vision. I really enjoyed Mark's writing style. His depth of realness will definitly rattle a few religious cages, but in a very good way, in my opinion.
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on April 25, 2006
I should begin with a brief disclaimer here. I am one of the pastors of one the churches in the Acts 29 Network which is a church planting network based out of Mark's church in Seattle (mars hill). I have personally benefited from Mars Hill's commitment to church planting. Additionally, a couple of years back I helped plan and run an Acts 29 bootcamp in our city with Mark as the key speaker. At the end of that conference, we were all hanging out having dinner and Mark channeled what sounded like the voice of Donald Duck in an effort to entertain my then 1 year old daughter. It worked. Anyone who makes my kids laugh without ulterior motives is instantly on my "good guy" list. So . . . I came to this book expecting good things. Mark delivered. The book is witty and cutting in a "breath of fresh air" kind of way. I'm an admitted mars hill groupie watching from the east coast, so it was cool to see the behind the scenes kind of stuff from a pastoral perspective. If you listen to the podcasts on a regular basis, much of this book will feel like the clip show from your favorite TV program, but that's actually a good thing in this case because you get to see it all in chronological order. The best thing about this book is its honesty and truthfulness. Mark shares plenty of mistakes he made, which should be encouraging to church planters in a sick and twisted kind of way. The big lesson I take from this book is simple . . . stay on mission regardless of what people try to pull you into, and stay focused on Jesus. Mark is a Jesus nut and that's a big complement! Pastors. . . read this book and reevaluate your church. Church members . . . read this book, then give it to your pastor and tell him that when he's done you'll take him out for an expensive dinner to discuss its contents.
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