Reviewing Mark Driscoll’s “Confessions of a Reformission Rev”

“If anyone buys my book, maybe some young punk will talk trash about me in a few years, and then I’ll know I’ve done something important enough to be criticized too.” ~ Mark Driscoll

Recently, I decided I would review Mark Driscoll’s book Confessions of a Reformission Rev. It is Driscoll’s second book, published by Zondervan press in 2006. As many of you know, Driscoll is the primary founder of the now-defunct Mars Hill megachurch in Seattle, WA–a church that fell to several scandals and allegations of spiritual abuse due to Driscoll’s actions.

Some may wonder why I would choose to review a book that is 10 years old and authored by a fallen pastor. There are a few reasons:

– A Seattle news outlet reported in December that Driscoll is starting a new church called The Trinity Church in Phoenix, Arizona–less than one year after the closure of Mars Hill.

– Despite the implosion of Driscoll’s church in Seattle, many people are still buying his books and listening to his sermon podcasts.

– Driscoll’s Confessions was written as a manual for other pastors and church planters. It tells how he planted Mars Hill and grew it to 14,000 members. It gives vital insights into his methods, qualifications, and vision for ministry.

Driscoll planted Mars Hill in 1996, so Confessions is his look back at his efforts and missteps over 10 years of ministry. While Driscoll briefly summarizes his particular theology (i.e., conservative, Calvinistic, Reformed, and Complementarian), it is not a theology book. Hence, I won’t be tackling those particular subjects…this time.

But what it does provide for review is far more interesting. It is, in brief, the story of how a charismatic young man who met virtually none of the biblical qualifications for pastoral ministry planted a multi-facility church in one of the nation’s most liberal cities and became an evangelical guru on church planting. It is the story of a man so obsessed with his “mission” that he was willing to sacrifice his family, health, friends, supporters, and integrity to make it a reality.

It is the story of the Evangelical Industrial Complex at work.

Instead of doing a chapter-by-chapter review, I’m going to approach this review thematically. Each post will cover a different aspect: Driscoll’s qualifications, theory of ministry, attitude, methods, view of women and masculinity, and so on.

The book has led me on a series of shocking rabbit trails that have had me digging deeper into the story. So on occasion, I will be pulling in some additional research I’ve been doing in the background.

What I appreciate about this book is that it allows one to evaluate Driscoll by what he says about himself. There are some who might be critical of this review, who might accuse me of slander or attempting to portray Driscoll in a certain way. But Driscoll has portrayed himself in a certain way, in this book and elsewhere, and that is what is being evaluated.

Stay tuned.

11 responses to “Reviewing Mark Driscoll’s “Confessions of a Reformission Rev”

  1. April, I really look forward to this. Too bad Driscoll hasn’t taken more time to simply be with Lord before once again jumping into church planting. One year isn’t very long to be introspective with the Lord, and if in that year he’s also build another church, he’s obviously been doing rather than being. Sad, really.

  2. Ugh.

    haha. what an undertaking.

    “It tells how he planted Mars Hill and grew it to 14,000 members. It gives vital insights into his methods, qualifications, and vision for ministry”.

    Some thoughts…

    “I will build MY church” – Jesus!

    “I will send full time salaried “servants” to build THEIR churches” – Jesus?

  3. Pingback: Driscoll’s “Confessions”: How to Grow a Church | Revolutionary Faith

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  5. I read this book many years ago…personally I think Pastor Mark Driscoll is\was a breath of fresh air for sound biblical doctrine. In my personal experiences I have seen everything from the charismatic crazies to the holy spirit humdrums living in a church basement and waiting to die because God just doesn’t move like he once did in the Bible.
    A big movement of Emergent Churches were going on at this time whom Rob Bell was part of and whom I believe has now fallen of the sound doctrine horse.
    What I love about Driscoll’s book is that I was straight up challenged to live what I believe and go do something in Jesus name because I follow him.
    By the way you said that Driscoll is a fallen pastor…if people were gathering because Driscoll is a cool guy I don’t think things would have grown like it did. The Lord causes growth. Let’s face it, Driscoll talked about some seriously taboo things in most Churches today. Topics such as sex, women in leadership, I do not know that anyone will ever know what honestly happened to Mars Hill, all we can do is look at the fruit of Driscoll’s life.

    • Would that fruit include misappropriation of tithes and offering given to his church for missions? Because he’s facing a racketeering lawsuit at the moment.

      • I didn’t know that. Here’s what I do know. In the Bible God spoke through a donkey. He worked through imperfect humans to spread the good news of salvation. Matthew was a tax collector a traitor to the Jews Peter was a coward until filled with the Holy Spirit and restored by Jesus. That is the beauty of the Gospel.

        • Those restored by Jesus first repented. The donkey didn’t stand in a pulpit and claim to shepherd people’s souls.

          Yes, Jesus can use imperfect people to further the gospel. That’s different from giving them a ministry.

          Driscoll’s current “restoration” is self-engineered. He has not reconciled with the people he hurt and alienated, and he fled church discipline at Mars Hill.

        • I didn’t know all that. I was only pointing out that God can work through anything. A donkey, a stick, even me. Our whole lives should be a ministry. Not just Sunday mornings.