“This church had a man crisis…probably”

I recently received an email from the president of our denomination association (www.agcofcanada.com), encouraging us to watch a short video advert for a new book by Darrin Patrick (Mars Hill Church–Driscoll edition).  The email was sent as a kind of “watch and be inspired” email that you get forwarded to you when a friend sees something and then says, “I’ve got to tell others about this!”

Now, I want to be up front and admit that I’m not a fan of the philosophy of ministry that seems to undergird Driscoll’s church, so my expectations were immediately…tempered…to say the least.

I’ll post the video first, then offer some reflections afterwards.

After repeated viewings, the message is of the video is clear: The health and effectiveness of the local church is causally connected to the “manliness” of the men within it.

Really? O_o

Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised by this assertion. Mars Hill Church (Driscoll edition) has carved out a niche of sorts hammering on and on about the necessity of a “godly” patriarchy (a view which I firmly disagree with). What surprised me, however, were the assumptions piled on top of one another.

“It was men that made this church come alive, and it was probably men who caused this church to die.” Probably? You don’t know? (I’m assuming not, because he reiterates that this is “probably” what happened at this church again at the 1:06 mark). Just my two cents, but you might want to do your homework and try to understand the actual reasons why this particular church died, before you launch into a solution.

I’m also saddened by a number of assumptions Patrick makes through the video:

1. Women are (apparently) a non-factor as it relates to the effectiveness and health of the local church.

2. Church dysfunction could be stopped if men in the church started “manning up” (i.e., move out of the house, get a union job, stop playing video games and stop masturbating).

3. Pastors are the actual root of the problem, because men take their identity cues from the pastors within their churches. So pastors, moreso than “regular joe’s,” need to man up (x2!).

All three of these assumptions are the classic “shame game” that evangelical churches are famous for. They sound “strong and bold,” but they are actually cowardly and weak. Transformation within churches will not happen through the words, “Shame on you!”

Is there a crisis of masculinity within the church? Undoubtedly! But Mars Hill Church (Driscoll edition) doesn’t offer a vision that comes close to a solution. At best (and I’m being very lenient here) it only offers a warrior archetype for masculine spirituality, which can be genuinely helpful for some men (especially adolescent males), but the warrior archetype is limited in its ability to propel men into deeper levels of genuine spiritual transformation, especially into the 40’s and beyond. I fear that all that’s being offered here is a Christianized version of “command and control” spirituality which Richard Rohr (a true master in the realm of masculine spirituality) actually believes to be the root of the masculinity crisis within churches. Ironically, Rohr believes an overemphasis on a “man up” theology will actually stunt the spiritual development of males, because the problem isn’t simply one of motivation.

Oh, and by the way–what does any of this have to do with church planting? Isn’t that what Patrick’s book is about? All I can say is I hope his book is going offer a lot more than a “wake up call” to men/pastors to plant churches on the foundation of “real men,” because I can think of a better Foundation for a church than that.


2 thoughts on ““This church had a man crisis…probably””

  1. Mark Driscoll …. that guy is just a serious tool


    I hope he won’t mind that if he comes to Toronto, I’m going to punch him in the face and then tell him that it’s just me being “manly” and that Jesus would approve.

    And that stupid video would have had a little big more credibility if it wasn’t just one big ad for his book.

    “My name is Darrin Patrick and I’m a hipster cool guy pastor. Look at my Uber trendy eye glass frames and how I’m so focused Jesus and Love (TM) and not outward appearances that I can have a beard and make such a bold statement”.

    I’m sorry, but that whole “culture” is just soooooooooo spent.

  2. well, I don’t know this guy nor anything about the “Mars Hill” thing so maybe I’m not qualified to comment — not to mention that, ahem, I’m not a man — but I think you yourself are making assumptions about what he is saying here — perhaps based on your own knowledge of who he is and the bias that presents. While he does encourage male beings to “grow up” and move out of the house, get jobs (I don’t recall anything about them being “union” jobs, btw) etc (and I don’t think there are too many people who would disagree with the wisdom of that vein of thought), you are drawing some pretty broad conclusions to stretch his message to include the notions that (a) women are a non-factor and (b) pastors are to blame. To be perfectly honest, Jeff, this blog piece makes you sound a tad defensive, not that I am suggesting you have anything to be defensive about — just saying.

    Just watching the video for what it is with no prior knowledge of this guy or his church (or whatever Mars Hill is) I don’t think anyone else would jump to the same conclusions you are, that’s all. He states that churches are closing because “the story and the glory of the church become bigger than the story and the glory of God”, and that most CHRISTIANS (nb: no sex specified) feel no obligation to share their faith (60% according to some study he quotes). He charges pastors to be “on mission” and to set an example for Christians — and for reasons you can choose to debate or not in some other blog posting most pastors in evangelical Christian churches just so happen to be men; don’t take it so personally.

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