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Issue 22: Don’t Let The Driscoll Podcast Deter You From Leading

Feeding & Leading the Sheep

I’m sure I have your attention with the title.

The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast was all the rage a few years ago. Everyone stood by to get their fix of juicy gossip about the downfall of a once prominent church and its outspoken pastor.

There were many good lessons the podcast brought out. But one of the negative side effects was it made pastors afraid to lead, lest they be accused of being power-hungry abusers.

That’s the subject of today’s newsletter.

The Fallout

Everyone loved listening to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. It gained significant attention, not just in the church world, but in secular culture too. One of the negatives about the podcast was that it used many people who are not friendly to conservative theology as the experts on the problems with Mars Hill and Driscoll.

The result was that everything was framed through the lenses of spiritual abuse. Driscoll was portrayed as an egomaniac whose leadership abused and ran over people.

Some of that may be true. But there were examples given and testimonies shared in the podcast that sounded more like disgruntled employees complaining because they didn’t get their way. Not every example of domineering leadership actually fits the bill.

But the weekly messages started to influence many pastors and congregants listening. Everything started to sound like abuse. Any strong leadership immediately came under scrutiny as spiritual abuse.

I started hearing from pastors who were scared to lead. Some were even getting chatter from staff and/or congregants about their leadership. Now anyone who was conservative in their theology and complementarian in their view of the role of men and women in ministry were Driscoll incarnate.

I just had this conversation on a recent coaching call with a pastor. He is a gentle man. He loves his church and fellow elders. But he is afraid to lead or assert himself because he’s so gun-shy of not being like Driscoll.

1 Actionable Tip

Don’t let a podcast about a lightning rod pastor bring you to a conclusion that leadership is abusive or prideful.

Leadership is biblical. Being domineering is sinful. Pride is sinful. Being harsh is sinful. But leading is not.

If you are a pastor, then you have a responsibility to lead. Making decisions, solving problems, determining vision, and keeping the right people on the team, and getting the wrong people off the team is part of the gig.

Lead with humility, love, and conviction. Have people around you who can call you out on sin and pride. But don’t be a passive individual who fears leading. If you do, your church will suffer just as much as if you were abusive.

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Keep Developing As A Leader

1. 1-on-1 Pastor Mentoring. For those who want to get a more tailored coaching experience, this option helps you grow in church leadership skills and solving your church-specific challenges. Sign-up soon, limited spots.

2. Church Consulting. If your church needs revitalization and desires assistance in developing a vision and strategy for going forward, this option can be great for you. We not only help diagnosis issues but work with you to create a plan and coach you on execution.

3. Student Ministry Leader Lab. Join us in Nashville August 3-4th for coaching and practical help for leading an effective student ministry. Register here.