Pastor Mark Driscoll, who resigned from Mars Hill church last October amid controversy regarding his leadership style, received a standing ovation from the congregation of Gold Creek Community Church in Mill Creek after he delivered a poignant sermon about trusting in the Lord.
The Seattle PI reports that on Sunday, Driscoll was introduced to the Gold Creek congregation by Pastor Dan Kellog, who explained that the the former Mars Hill leader is in the midst of "re-purposing" his life. "[Driscoll was] unfairly treated by former staff and the media," Kellog said, "He's baptized 10,000 people who found Christ."
Driscoll then began his message by saying, "I would like to talk about Jesus instead of me: It would be much more pleasant and helpful."
After acknowledging the "wonderful, amazing, delightful people" he worked with at Mars Hill, Driscoll noted that he is still attempting to recover from the events of the past year, including his dismissal from the Acts 29 church-planting network, which he co-founded, and the removal of his books from LifeWay's 180 Christian bookstores across the states.
"I'm still in the middle of it. Lord, what do you have for me?" he said.
But despite the controversies swirling around him, Driscoll emphasized the importance of trusting in the Lord. "There is a judgment coming on the Earth," Driscoll said. The path to deliverance is to "walk with God," which will in turn "spare" one from "judgment."
The pastor then invited congregants to "walk with Jesus" and asked: "Are you praying to Jesus?" The Seattle PI notes that over 100 people lined up to hug Driscoll following his sermon and thanked him for his "powerful" message.
Sunday's appearance marked the first time Driscoll has preached in the Seattle area since his resignation and the subsequent implosion of Mars Hill church. In April, he made a brief 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."
In his resignation letter penned last October, Driscoll also admitted that "aspects of my personality and leadership style, had proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context" and that he was resigning because he did not want "to be the source of anything that might detract from our church's mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ."
Meanwhile, Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton has revealed that Driscoll may be returning to the ministry, this time in Phoenix, Arizona. 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.
However, in a recent blog post, Pastor James Miller urged Christians to extend forgiveness to the pastor as a reflection of the grace continually offered by Christ despite his past mistakes.
"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."