Mark Driscoll looks no different than he does any other day. He's wearing the hip pastor uniformblue jeans and an untucked shirt with the top two buttons undone. Yet he speaks in a subdued tone that hints at wear and tear.
He begins his talk about lessons learned as a church planter with common-sense advice about how pastors can blow off steam. Driscoll, 36, plays T-ball with his three sons or feeds ducks with his two daughters. Hardly the stuff that provokes raging blog debates and church pickets. As Driscoll's Mars Hill Church in Seattle has grown to 6,000 members in 11 years, quiet moments like this with his family have preserved some of his sanity.
"I'm playing hurt right now," Driscoll confesses to prospective church planters at a March meeting of Acts 29, his network of 170 churches around the world. "I wore out my adrenal glands at the end of last year, just living off adrenaline too much. My sleep has been really jacked up for some months."
Those glands must have a little something left in the tank, because Driscoll warms up when he recounts the history of Mars Hill.
"My first core group was single indie and punk rockers committed to anarchy," he says. "Needless to say, they didn't naturally organize themselves or give generously. If I would have said, 'Everybody tithe,' it would have been in cigarettes."
Driscoll can't stand in front of a crowd for long without stirring things up. That's what you get from a pastor who learned how to preach by watching comedian Chris Rock. Before long, he has the audience going. "If you're going to be a fundamentalist or moralist pick things like bathing with your wife to be legalistic about," Driscoll says in his distinct, gravelly voice. "Don't pick something stupid like, ...1
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