Pastor Mark Driscoll may soon return to the ministry in Phoenix, Arizona, for the first time since announcing his resignation from Mars Hill Church in October, Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton has revealed.
Last week, Throckmorton, who has closely followed Driscoll over the past several years, announced the pastor's next move:
"In recent weeks, several individuals have contacted me with tips that Driscoll is preparing to plant a church in Phoenix, AZ. In recent days, the buzz has intensified from several independent sources which leads me to believe the information is credible.The moves appear to be at the exploratory stage at this point which means that a plant may not materialize."
Throckmorton notes that from his observation, the reaction has been mixed, with some expressing anger over a possible church plant and others welcoming Driscoll's return to active ministry.
Last summer, Driscoll, who was accused of plagiarism, bullying, and an unhealthy ego during his time at Mars Hill, apologized for mishandling the dismissal of several of the church's formal staff.
Shortly thereafter, he was dismissed from church-planting Acts 29 Network, which he co-founded, and his books pulled from LifeWay's 180 Christian bookstores across the states.
Later in 2014, he confessed and repented specifically to "past pride, anger and a domineering spirit" and requested to take a minimum of six week leave of absence from the pulpit. Just a few weeks later, Driscoll announced his resignation. The subsequent fallout from the implosion of hisleadership and ministry at Mars Hall eventually led to the church's closure, with its satellite campuses closing, merging with other churches or becoming stand-alone congregations.
Earlier this month, Driscoll made a rare public appearance at the Thrive Conference at Bayside Church in California where he opened up about the toll taken on his family over the past several months and how he is relying on the Holy Spirit to help him forgive those who have wronged him.
"I don't want to take this opportunity to talk about me--I want spend this time to serve you," he told attendees, emphasizing that he wanted to speak specifically to "struck shepherds."
"When sin happens, someone has to pay. Forgiveness is where the offended pays," he said. "As shepherds, we can sometimes preach a message of forgiveness without practicing it."
However, he clarified that he was not claiming to be "entirely a victim," for "sometimes when the shepherd is struck it's because they've punched themselves in the head." The pastor then prayed that God would "send the Holy Spirit to help us forgive those who have struck us and struck our families".
Pastor James Miller, who also attended the Thrive Conference, noted in response to Driscoll's message that that the pastor's "read on forgiveness may have to more thoroughly include himself among the guilty if he wants to regain any kind of credibility."
"There are still many people who have been reportedly hurt, bullied, and fired from their jobs by Driscoll," he explained.
However, Miller emphasized that Driscoll is a "brilliant orator" and "in the right place, with humility and supervision" could once again carry out an "effective ministry" for the Gospel of Christ. He also encouraged Christians to extend forgiveness to the pastor as a reflection of the grace continually offered by Christ.
"Those Christians who still want to disagree might want to think about who the Apostle Paul really was. And honestly, we might want to think about whether or not we really do believe in forgiveness," Pastor Miller writes. "Because no one is beyond it's reach, and Jesus did give us a heads up that we will be judged in the same way we judge. To hate Driscoll is to reject grace."