Month: October 2013

Grieved To See (part 2)

Because i wrote about the Strange Fire, John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll incident, I felt it was fair to follow-up with a public letter Mark Driscoll released this morning.

I almost called this post “Grieved To See (once again)”. Almost, but I didn’t. I didn’t because

(1) It feels condescending. Pastoral ministry is difficult. Pastoral ministry over thousands is difficult times ten. Pastoral ministry over thousands in the public eye is near impossible. Grace should be held onto even as we evaluate the public fruit of what a man does.

(2) I’m called to pastor and teach, not pontificate opinions. This does not mean I don’t weigh in thoughts on public matters. Examine fruit Jesus said. That clearly is weighing in. What this does mean though is that the thoughts I share should be rooted in scripture, expounded to understand more of scripture or how to apply scripture so that my words would help any see more of Jesus and be more like Jesus.

That said, here’s my attempt at learning from Pastor Mark’s letter:

1) WE NEED A NEW METHOD – Most understand that in order to bring correction or confrontation, it’s good to affirm a person first. But because most understand this principle, most can smell it the moment it starts. Somehow we need to learn how to affirm a person without it feeling like “let me set you up in order to chop you down.” Perhaps affirmation is best saved for the end of the confrontation and not the beginning.

2) WHEN YOU APOLOGIZE, JUST OWN IT – Hemming and hawing about the details of what led you to do what you did never invokes strong emotions of forgiveness. In every conflict, it’s pretty safe to say that everyone has some fault they made. If you apologize, zone in on your own mistakes and own it like a kid over his Halloween bag.

3) DON’T HUMBLEBRAG IN INTERACTIONS OF RECONCILIATION – In fact, don’t humbebrag (ever) but especially in times of reconciliaton (I confess it’s hard to avoid. ref: The Art of Humblebrag). Nothing taints your expression of reconciliation like promoting self. Constantly talking about people taking pictures with you, “my book”, signings of “my book”. Painting imagery of how people wanted to hang out with you and illusions of how you ministered to people in the conflict doesn’t strengthen your case of love and care for the person. Btw, dropping the name of the son of the person you may have offended probably feels more like deflection than anything.

4) THINK TWICE ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO HUMBLEBRAG ABOUT – Related to #3 above, humblebragging about how you ministered in a place you aren’t welcomed to minister in is not something to be proud of.  Praying over a people, at a place that is not your own, to a people that is not entrusted to you, in an environment you are not welcomed at is a point of apology, not of honor. Saying “I intentionally came during a break so as not to interrupt the sessons” is silly at best. No matter how the moon crashes into the earth, it will be an interruption. When you pastor a church of 40,000 (or something like that) and are consistently in the top 5 of most downloaded pastors, anywhere you go and anything you do at anytime is an interruption, for good or for bad.

5) WE LIVE IN A CULTURE OF PUBLIC LIFE, BUT PUBLIC IS NOT ALWAYS BEST – Some reconciliations should be lived out in private. Some words and letters should be short and to the point and vague in details, but clear in remorse.

6) PINNING SOMEONE TO A CORNER TO FORCE THEIR HAND IS NOT CHARITABLE – No matter what John MacArthur does, it will seem like he is in the wrong. While he may be in the wrong, just realize, when you trap an animal in the corner, rarely do they react well. Rarely will you win a brother or sister. Lead them in a way that shows you care about them, even when they are wrong.

7) CLICHES AREN’T ALWAYS HELPFUL – I’m not sure cliches are ever helpful, but to end a letter that will feel like an affront or at least will be received with some hesitancy, a sincere word to end might be better than a quotable quip. “I apologize for any wrong I may have done, In Christ”, “Hoping and praying for unity”, “I consider you my dear brother” are some that come to mind. “A nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody” doesn’t seem to quite fit the moment.

Some thoughts early in the morning. No coffee yet so there’s no guarantee of any cohesiveness.

Grieved To See

This post is about the grieving I feel by the hypocrisy I’ve seen in the last three days among the Christian community, specifically among pastors. As I write this, I’ll say upfront – include me in that bunch. This not about them, but about the very subtle reality that it’s easier to preach than to live. So big caveat to my statements below: I am among those who often fail to live up to the principals I expound.

Praise God for the gospel that forgives and that calls us to repentance, and forgives while we stumble through repentance!

Grief #1 – Strange Fire

This week John MacArthur, whom I respect beyond measure, is hosting a conference called Strange Fire. It’s streamed live on the internet and I’ve followed it with interest. I don’t take the stand of the cessionist, but I find it good to hear and learn from all perspectives. However, what has grieved my heart has been to hear the broadstroking, stereotyping, and downright bullying and name calling from the pulpit at this conference, and that specifically done by John MacArthur. So many things I can say about this, but the one thing that stands out to me is this: John MacArthur stands for the exposition of the word, not the exposition of opinion. It seems to me then that the force by which he presents his condemnation should be matched by the force of his exegesis of the word. Of all people, this should be true of John MacArthur. But that has not been my observation from a good chunk of this conference. Sad and grieved to see this. Why preach for decades on the need for careful exegesis of the word and then in 3 days, without presenting deep evidence from the word, blast the ministry of 500 million Christians as valueless and devilish?

Grief #2 – Childish Tactics

I’ve been slow to open the door of being influenced by the ministry of Mark Driscoll. While there are many things he does amazingly well, there are things he does that I just downright disagree with. The last year or so however, one of the primary things that has encouraged me has been his effort to cross what what he calls “tribal lines”. I appreciate this, I love this, I am encouraged by this. In fact, today, our men are headed to a cross tribal conference called Act Like Men that Mark Driscoll is at the spearhead of. All this to say, I had great hope, for myself, that his ministry may have an impact on my life. A las, I’m grieved to see his childish tactics today. In response to the Strange Fire Conference of MacArthur, Mark Driscoll, who was named in the conference for his “charismatic” stand, decided to specifically go to the Strange Fire and pass copies of his new book. Last I saw on facebook, security was getting involved. My thought: Why? Why be so hypocritical? To preach and push for unity across tribal lines on one hand and then to do something like this that heightens division in the body of Christ is sad. Imagine the headlines as the world looks in on this scene. Why not followup with a conference that promotes your own beliefs, or why not promote a public discussion, or even a Christian debate. By why this ridiculously childish reaction that reminds me of those that stand at the Harvest Crusade with their signs. Grieved to see this and so utterly disappointed.

POST SCRIPT – Remember my caveat above.
POST SCRIPT 2 – Putting saving faith in men is idolatry. Having heroes in the faith is needful. Imitating men who imitate Christ is commanded.