By now you will probably be aware that Hillsong misled everyone about Mark Driscoll contributing to their conference, after they played a pre-recorded interview with Mark and Grace Driscoll at their Australia conference. In response to this, I am organising a protest at their Europe conference taking place at the O2 next week.
I’ve had a few lovely emails from people sharing their appreciation for the protest and petition that I started a few months ago, including from people directly impacted by Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll’s damaging leadership. I’ve also had a couple of emails challenging me for protesting against a fellow Christian. A while ago Premier asked me to write why I thought creating a petition was a Christian thing to do, with Carl Beech offering an opposing view. You can read it HERE.
I thought it might be helpful to post anonymised versions of the email conversations. Hopefully then if I get any other emails, I can just direct them here, and also to offer my perspective on why protesting Mark Driscoll’s continued platform opportunities is so important.
I am not a Fan of Mark. I also do not understand the Petition you are signing. Pray for the guys involved, love mercy and do justice. Christians are seen as people who are always against something and always fighting. This petition serves to enforce that perception. You really disagree with what Mark and the Hillsong guys, I get that, but petition is more a political response, I think it does more damage then help. My humble option I guess. I don’t know you so would not want to judge your motives. I am just sad that this is another example of Christians who are against something, this time its other Christians.
I pray that the ultimate result for all this is Love.
Thanks for your email. I totally hear what you’re saying.
I am for a lot of things. I am for Jesus’ love, justice and mercy. I am for the many, many people Mark Driscoll has hurt. I am for women’s equality and gender justice.
The petition resulted in Mark Driscoll not attending either Hillsong conference. It enabled the people he has hurt to know that thousands stand with them in their pain.
We live in a digital age and therefore some of the solutions and tools we will use to bring about change are going to be social media and online petitions. I know lots of amazing women (and men) who will never consider Jesus because their experience of Christians and the Church has been sexism, collusion with abuse or actual abuse. For them, the petition and other methods to challenge power abuse and woman hating is a witness to a God of love and justice. It is a witness to a Jesus who said “if a brother or sister sins, go to them. If they don’t listen, take others. If they still don’t listen, treat them as a pagan.”
Mark Driscoll’s teaching and actions do not exclude him from God’s love and the forgiveness found in Jesus, but they do exclude him from leadership. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people whose lives have been damaged and even destroyed by Mark Driscoll.
We are called to stand with the last, the least and the lost. They are the ones Jesus will ask us if we have cared for when we reach eternity.
I desperately hope for a unity in the Body. For people of one mind in Christ, but Jesus’ teaching and life shows me something radically different to that which Mark Driscoll has brought. And I seek unity with Jesus and Jesus’ teaching above and beyond anything else.
The world doesn’t need a facade of unity from the church. In many of Paul’s letters (which were essentially what we would now term “open letters”) he challenged those who were not in line with the Gospel. He even encouraged some to be expelled from the church. Paul did not collude with sin, neither did Jesus. As Christians we are called to a higher place and that is what I want to witness to the world. Not collusion with powerful leaders.
I hope that helps make sense of my actions. I appreciate you taking the time to contact me. Many blessings to you,
Thank you Natalie for your very good response. I too will stand with you for those hurt. Thanks for being pro-active and putting your prayers into actions.
When few leaders have too much power it often ends with real damage and hurt. May God bring His healing, His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Blessing to you.
I pray that God will show you to forgive people. Everyone makes mistakes and deserves a change to explain and be heard. It’s not your place to judge. Christ died for our sins, look at your own sin in your life before pointing fingers. That sin is what Christ died for. please don’t leave anger build up inside or something you will never become completely happy inside.
Thanks for your email. I appreciate your prayers, but perhaps you could have asked me about my views on forgiveness rather than assuming that I am not a forgiving person or that I have anger building up inside me. I do not.
I am not in a position to forgive or not forgive Mark Driscoll, he has not done anything personally to me. He has hurt hundreds if not thousands of fellow sisters and brothers of Christ. What he has done is not a mistake. Over a period of years Mark Driscoll has misused church funds, unfairly sacked employees, behaved in spiritually abusive ways to many and preached messages which denigrate women. He has used power in a way that has hurt many.
I am not advocating for anyone to not forgive Mark Driscoll. Forgiveness is not the same as being given access to one of the biggest platforms in Western Christianity. Forgiveness does not mean nullifying the consequences of someone’s actions. The Bible is clear about what Christian leadership should look like, even according to Mark Driscoll’s own teaching on leadership, he has behaved in ways that prevent him leading.
He hasn’t even been away from the platform for a year and already he is re-entering that arena. His victims are irreparably damaged. There are many who have walked away from the church because of how badly he hurt them. The apostle Paul makes clear that as Christians we are Jesus’ representatives, that leaders especially should be above reproach, that we should behave in ways which are in line with Jesus’ teaching.
I have walked many paths of forgiveness. I was abused and raped for four years. I do not hold anger towards the man who did that to me. I have forgiven him. I hope he changes his behaviour and no longer hurts people. I hope to see him in heaven. I am not someone who is struggling with unforgiveness. I struggle with injustice. I struggle with Christians wounding other Christians and then being welcomed onto the world stage with applause and celebration. I struggle with a church that defiles the name of Jesus with abuse of power and collusion with abusers.
I am so grateful for Jesus, for all He has brought to my life. I have been utterly redeemed and transformed because of Him. That transformation, and the power of the Holy Spirit is what drives me to stand against abuse, both within and without the church. I will weep with those who weep. I am not driven by anger or unforgiveness, but by love for God and my neighbours, the ones Mark Driscoll has hurt. I am driven by the desire to see the Bride of Christ, pure and white, not defiled by power abuse and collusion with abuse.
Thank you for taking the time to read my response. We may not agree. But that is okay. Jesus died for both of us and Jesus loves us both, and perhaps if we don’t agree on this side of eternity, we will be able to discuss it on the other side.
Many blessings to you,
Thank you for your reply. Thanks you for your openness in Christ, there is true healing. Forgiveness is a hard thing to overcome I find it hard to do. When Peter denied Jesus three times, it was a big thing to do. Jesus forgave and used him after to do amazing things in his life. I do not know all the story only a few things, I’m just an onlooker, to see Christians disagreeing and putting things on the net about their brothers and sisters that would turn away loads of people from their beliefs also, I think the devil is standing back having a good laugh at the situation. I am truly sorry if I offended you. I did not mean to do that in any way.
I wasn’t offended at all, and really welcome the opportunity to openly discuss differences. I agree that it is hard when Christians are not united.
I think the devil enjoys seeing Christians misuse and abuse power. The devil watches powerful (usually) men destroying the lives of their congregations and rubs his hands gleefully as those same men are welcomed with open arms and standing ovations onto new platforms. We are called to “weep with those who weep” in the body of Christ, and it seems many more are interested in protecting and supporting those in power, than weeping with those who have been hurt by the powerful.
I know many who can’t even consider the church because of the ways they see power being misused. Those who have been subjected to abuse by their husbands are expected to forgive and continue to suffer. People’s lives can be ruined by charismatic leaders who have little integrity. Churches that preach no sex before marriage while condoning rape within marriage. If the Gospel is not good news to those who are suffering abuse, it isn’t really good news at all.
I hope and pray that by protesting, it will provide an alternative narrative about Mark Driscoll and those who are colluding with him.
Thanks for being so willing to listen to my perspective, may you have a blessed day!
If you would like to join me in protesting, here is the information: