When Pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from his position at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the church had 5 locations and over 15000 in attendance… EVERY Sunday!
Pastor Mark was the one who founded the church and grew it to where it was. After he resigned, attendance dropped and eventually Mars Hill closed it’s doors.
The original Mars Hill location and all of the other locations now operate as churches under another denomination.
Pastor Mark has since started a new church in Phoenix called the Trinity Church and again, attendance is growing.
So, why did he resign from a church that was growing, which was the church he started? People were giving their lives to Jesus! The children’s ministry was incredibly successful! People were hearing and responding to the gospel, something they may not have done if it weren’t for Mark.
This church saw success in a city that Mark called “the least churched city in America” so why did he just up and leave?
The answer to that question is far more complicated than anyone outside of Marks inner circle can fathom. Accusations came out about how Mark treated his staff and what he did with church funds. Again I don’t think anyone that wasn’t involved knows the true answers but that was what ended his ministry at Mars Hill.
I don’t know Mark personally, but when I listen to his sermons on the way to work I feel like I do. He has a heart for unchurched people like I’ve never seen (except for Jesus of course), he loves teaching from the Bible, he preaches from a father’s perspective and I can relate to that.
Having said that I have heard in his sermons at times where he can come off as my pastor put it, abrasive. That abrasiveness could very likely have reared it’s head behind the scenes as well and that’s what could have put people off.
Anyway the reason I bring up Mark Driscoll is because during the sermon in church yesterday my pastor brought up his book “Real Marriage”, a book that I love and I feel every married Christian couple should read.
Then the juices of blogging creativity started to flow and I thought about how Christians treat each other, especially when they find themselves in disagreement with each other.
If it wasn’t apparent already, I like Pastor Mark, I learned a lot from him and his book, but obviously there were some hurt feelings between Mark and some of the others who worked at, and attended Mars Hill.
Had they been able to work out those issues in a biblical way then perhaps they would not have needed to close the church. On the other hand Mark has opened a new church and maybe that was God’s plan all along, I’m not sure.
So, how should one Christian treat another when they find that they have a disagreement? The easy answer is with love, but that’s not nearly as easy as I make it sound. Things are said and feelings are hurt and many times when Christians disagree both sides feel like whatever the disagreement is about is no minor thing.
As always we should look at what scripture says when it comes to disputes among Christians and how to handle them… biblically.
Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.
Acts of the Apostles 15:2 NLT
The argument was about whether or not new believers should be circumcised, Paul and Barnabas said absolutely not, yet others argued that they should. With neither side backing down believing that they were right and the other wrong, the church decided it would be better to take the dispute to the elders, which they then did.
There is a valuable teaching there, when you disagree and cannot find a way to reconcile we should take it to someone in the church to help us out, someone who can shine the light of Scripture onto the subject and someone who can remain impartial.
Remembering of course what Jesus said about loving one another….
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:34-35 NLT
Talking to His disciples about how they should treat each other. This love that they show to each other will prove to non-believers that they are followers of Jesus. That love should be so obvious and so clear that even when a non-believer walks by and sees them, there should be no doubt in his mind that these people are Christians.
In every disagreement someone is wrong and someone is right. In the case of Paul’s disgreement with the church in Antioch they eventually figured it out, but were they wrong to argue about it so vehemently in the first place, and did they argue in such a way that they couldn’t look each other in the eye afterwards? Or was this argument done in a way that it wasn’t personal and the one in the wrong could admit it?
Paul’s example show us that we can be really passionate about something we believe but when someone else comes along that doesn’t see it the same way we need not fight, we ask for wisdom from someone outside the situation.
It also shows us that Paul is human and his vehement arguing was probably not the best way to handle it, bringing the differences to the elders of the church is.
Pastor Mark and his accusers disagreed on a lot, that’s why he moved away and that’s why the church closed. Like I said, I don’t know exactly what happened, what I do know is that each and every single one of us need the grace offered us by God and Mark is no different.
My message today is this, fellow Christian if you find yourself in disagreement with a brother or a sister in Christ, it is okay. It becomes not okay when that disagreement turns into something hurtful and divisive.
Christians can believe different things, what matters is how we handle it. What matters is that we all believe in God the Father, Christ the Son, and The Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus died on a cross paying for the sins of the world, once and for all. Salvation comes only through Jesus, and God’s grace is sufficient for us.
I pray that the people at Mars Hill made peace with Mark, or that Mark made peace with them. Either way I pray that they all continue to spread the gospel even in spite of whatever happened.
My prayer is also for you, my dear reader. When, not if but when you find yourself disagreeing with a fellow Christian that you handle it in a way that makes people say “they must be Jesus followers, look how lovingly they handle disagreement.”