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.
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.