Catalyst 2011 Mark Driscoll
God meets our fears with a gospel invitation: Fear not for I am with you.

Now I know why people enjoy listening to Mark Driscoll. He's engaging, funny, provocative, pastoral, and so darn interesting. Here are a few of his best one-liners:

•"Some people deal with fear by reading books on the rapture and continually asking, ‘Are we freakin' done yet?' No, we're going to be here for a while, so put a cup on, kid."

•"The New York Yankees lost last night [in a playoff game against the Detroit Tigers] which proves two things: God is sovereign and he loves us."

•"You don't have to fear death because when we die we're going to be with Jesus. So is death really that bad? It's not like we'll die and go to Detroit." After a smattering of boos, Driscoll said, "Hey, I don't write the mail; I just deliver it. There's a reason why we're not having this conference in Detroit."

You can either love or hate the guy, but he'll never bore you.

As a preacher, Driscoll is simple, clear, and utterly gospel-centered. He started with a human problem: we're afraid. Then he relentlessly exposed the idolatry underneath our fear. The real question for leaders to ask is not "What are you afraid of?" but "Who are you afraid of?" Then he offered the following diagnostic questions for every leader:

1. Whose opinion matters way too much to you?

2. Is my appetite for praise unhealthy?

3. Am I overly devastated by criticism?

Whenever we lead with fear we allow other people to become our functional god. We live under their sovereign rule. We are holding that person in awe, and by fearing them we cannot love them. When we live with fear we have vision without hope. We see the future, but God isn't in it.

But here's what I loved about Driscoll's message: he didn't just preach Law—as in, just stop being afraid. Instead, he preached the gospel.

The good news isn't just a law or good advice; it's Jesus. All throughout the Bible, God says, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you." It's not about facing our fear; it's about being with the God who keeps saying, "I am with you." And he keeps saying it to us because he's gracious and we keep forgetting.

Don't you love that about God? He ruthlessly exposes our fears so he can offer us true healing.

Displaying 1–8 of 8 comments

Mark E.

October 11, 2011  11:25pm

Bill, I get what you are saying, but have to say I don't think that this applies with Driscoll. All the tough guy mumbo-jumbo is certainly appealing to a certain audience, but simply appealing to them is not the goal. It seems like a twisting of Paul's being all things to all people idea. They will not know we are Christians by our slang, or our fashion, or our pop culture references, etc.,but rather by our love and our speaking the truth to them. And as I said before, it is sad but OK if it is the truth (spoken in love) that drives someone away, but not when it is our failings. I am not meaning to sound judgmental about Driscoll, I mean this for all of us Christians in general. Too often, Driscoll's one liners come off much more as a venting of his spleen and his pet peeves than attempts at humor or connection. I could be wrong and will certainly keep an open mind about it though.

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Bill Williams

October 11, 2011  4:30pm

Mark E. I agree that the gospel has enough offense without us having to add our own to it. Keep in mind, however, that Mr. Driscoll's style of communication, which may seem misguided and offensive to you, may actually be reaching certain kinds of people that you or I may never be able to reach. Not that I'm condoning it, mind you, but simply to suggest that these kinds of issues often are based more on differences of personality, temperament, etc., instead of actual theological differences.

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Mark E.

October 11, 2011  8:32am

I get both sides here a little bit, but I lean a little more toward the side of being exasperated with the schtick of Driscoll. I definitely don't mind humor and even good-natured ribbing in my sermons, but there is a fine line to walk to keep that humor on the laughing with each other side and not the laughing AT someone else side. It is fine to be offensive in our preaching if what is offensive is the actual gospel message. It is not OK if the offense comes through things we say or imply about others. As far as the whole "put a cup on" tough guy bit, that is where Driscoll seems the most misguided in my opinion.

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October 08, 2011  10:53am

Alright Bill, you got me there. My grandfather was a magical man to me. Even though everyone else in the family would ignore him, I would hang on his every word. In my view, he lived three mens lives...truck driver, steam train operator/coal shoveler, and finally, just grandpa...but every time he went out in the was an adventure! And the story's he told me...they were exciting...which kind of explains why I'm kind of the same way, now. So alright, not all things adults talk about are boring to kids...but when my grandmother talked about the bible with her bible study...yeah, I now wished I had paid attention...there were pearls there...and I only remember one of them clearly, "loving someone always has a price, and the question we must ask ourselves is are we willing to pay that price?" Anyway, I've forgotten what I wanted to say originally in conjunction with this admission....I'm sure it will come to me on my run.

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Bill Williams

October 07, 2011  6:05pm

sheerahkahn, I do get your point, which is actually quite good. True, children do generally find adults and adult conversations boring. But that's not true of all children. And not all adults are boring to children–in fact, there were some adults that I found quite fascinating as a child. These were generally the ones whom I could tell took me seriously, even though I was a child; listened to what I had to say; and used that wonderful language that we all know as kids but seem to loose as we grow up–the language of imagination. It's been my experience that those who have the ability to engage well with children generally don't have problems engaging with adults as well. So, boring is not necessarily a mark of maturity. Sometimes, it's simply a mark of being...well...boring. And it works the other way around, too. If you've ever listened to pre-teens talking about Justin Bieber, you'll know that sometimes adults also find children's discussions boring!

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Bill Williams

October 07, 2011  5:52pm

I'm not Reformed, so there are a lot of things about which I disagree with Mr. Driscoll. But I think it would be unwise–if not just plain lazy–simply to dismiss everything he says just because of some disagreements. Keep in mind that even a broken clock is right twice a day! Mr. Driscoll's sermon, as reported by Mr. Woodley, seems to have some good things to meditate on. And by the way, I will truly believe that God is sovereign and that he loves us if the Rangers beat Cliff Lee and the Phillies in the World Series! ;)

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October 07, 2011  3:49pm

"As a preacher, Driscoll is simple, clear, and utterly gospel-centered." A common remark I hear about Driscoll in response to criticisms against him is "But he's just all about the gospel." We must ask what is his understanding of the gospel. What does it include? What does it exclude? What are the consequences of the gospel he preaches?

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October 07, 2011  10:47am

"You can either love or hate the guy, but he'll never bore you.""...he'll never bore you?" Seriously? How bout, "I'm not 'in love' with him, and I certainly don't hate him, andboringboringwould be a welcome reprieve from his, biblically speaking, exasperating childishness." In fact, now that I think about it...boring could be a sign of him growing up...because children always find adults and adult discussions , and what most people of similar thinking to his would find boring would be, for me, interesting. However, admittedly, this is my biased opinion for which I accept the marginalization that comes with it.

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