11 reasons why people will follow Mark Driscoll again soon

"Whack-a-Mark-Driscoll" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Whack-a-Mark-Driscoll” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Rumor has it that Mark Driscoll will be right back in ministry soon, this time in California or, if that doesn’t work out, Texas.

I’m not surprised. Actually, I wonder if he ever really left ministry. It wasn’t long after his resignation that he was right back on stage with a mic to glean sympathy from his listeners.

I’ve worked for charismatic Christian leaders before, all of whom were without any accountability whatsoever. Any so-called “accountability” they claimed they had was their friends, employees or groupies who functioned as yes-men. They could basically do what they wanted. I’ve suffered and watched others suffer at their hands. If things went too wrong they could quickly recover, even if it meant moving plus gathering and hiring new people. It’s just a blip on their screen that they interpret as a test from God or a trial of Satan or both.

The thing is, it’s a mutual agreement between these leaders and their followers. I know because I have been a follower. I got sucked into their orbits, and willingly. I know what I’m talking about, not just from the observation of others, but mostly from the observation of my own unhealthy attraction to charismatic leadership.

Here’s why I think people will follow Driscoll again soon:

  1. I was looking for a spiritual father figure.
  2. I loved the excitement around their ministries.
  3. I craved the attention they promised.
  4. I felt like my life had destiny.
  5. I interpreted their abuse as God’s discipline to improve me.
  6. I enjoyed the immediacy of their God.
  7. I believed their meaning of life was the best and only one.
  8. I misconstrued their anger as righteous.
  9. I delighted in the magical world of prophecy, healing, prayer, miracle, etc.
  10. I found their teaching mesmerizing.
  11. I discovered a family of people who were just like me in numbers 1-10.

Driscoll undoubtedly will pop up again soon. Because he can. And because he knows he will attract followers. Followers like I was for years. People like me are everywhere.

So it’s not all Driscoll’s fault. It’s not all his followers’ fault. From my own personal observations of my own life, there is a symbiotic relationship between charismatic leaders and their followers that is complex and subtle.

This is why I feel it is important to not only challenge such religious leaders like Mark Driscoll, but also to inform ourselves of the dangers involved in forming relationships with them and especially becoming dependent on them. It should be examined critically.

There are many members of The Lasting Supper who know exactly what I’m talking about. Do you? Come join us. It’ll be good for you! CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT.

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20 Responses

  1. Caryn LeMur says:

    The “symbiotic relationship”…. so very well said. I have some thoughts on those lines of reasoning:

    In my opinion, when Paul wrote to the immature believers in Corinth, he encountered many symbiotic relationships, and advocated strong structure and limits. They needed the sense of safety.

    But when Paul wrote to the mature believers in Galatia, he spoke against re-establishing the symbiotic relationship with the Law of Moses. He wrote against the us-versus-them relationships of ‘male/female (gender roles), slave/free (status, lifestyle), and Jew/Greek (birth, lifestyle, worldview)’. Then, he wrote to ensure they stayed within the simplicity of mature freedom in Christ – “Love is the fulfillment of the Law”.

    So, I agree with you David – the immature believer needs the symbiotic relationship and a us-versus-them culture. They gravitate towards rules and laws (written or unwritten).

    What will those church boards/elders do when their attendees mature and encounter the allure of a metamorphous into spiritual independence and equality? Who will stay? In this Internet age there are many that will encourage maturity, coach maturity… and though some of them will return to the church institution, they will no longer abide within the symbiotic and us-versus-them cultures.

    Don’t the boards/elders realize the younger generations see the Christian caterpillars always eating leaves until they die – and simply do not wish to be part of such a failed biology?

    Mark is an immature pastor that has not morphed into maturity. What leaves does he eat? – let’s see…he feeds off the symbiotic relationship – the attention, the worship, the admittance that ‘he is never wrong’, the spot-light of TV and books…. he establishes an us-versus-them mentality, and feeds off being the undisputed leader of ‘us’ and the hater of ‘them’. Also, he establishes strong rules and roles for men and women, then beats them verbally into submission rather than let the roles evolve.

    What will become of his next set of followers? – “The student shall become like the teacher…” someone wrote. Gosh, I think it is in the Bible.

  2. Ouch! This is way too close to the reality of my own experience for comfort. Thank you for speaking the truth.

  3. Pat Pope says:

    12. I believe he/they preached the truth.

  4. thanks for being honest. i think a lot of us are there.

  5. Bill Kinnon says:

    David,
    As you well know, you’re playing a song I know far too well – to my eternal embarrassment.

    Great post.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Your list is great summary of the dynamics of the follower. I’d love to see it side-by-side with the dynamics of the charismatic leader.The potential for self-deception — regarding personal motivations for those in ministry — is unreal. I agree that there is a symbotic relationship; however, I am not ready to use that to downplay the abuse of power, particularly when it manifests as spiritual abuse. Recovering from spiritual abuse is very difficult as the abuse itself is so insiduous.

    The assigning of “fault” is not an easy task. What is Driscoll’s intent? How wounded are his followers prior to following him? Just who gets preyed upon? This argument that Driscoll is not the only one contributing to the problem — I believe is important; however, you could use it to say that those who join cults are at fault along with the cult leaders who manipulate and control them into joining. Just because there is a need in many within our culture to belong and be part of something greater than themselves does not mean Driscoll is any less responsible for his behavior.

  7. LT says:

    I don’t think that’s what TNP was saying. I think he was just explaining why Driscoll will have a ready audience waiting for him wherever the whack-a-mark pops up next. That’s important to explain because people who’ve never been swept up in a cult of personality will not understand why anyone would ever follow that man after all the horrible things he has said and done. The answer is given quite succinctly in those 11 bullet points. It’s pretty indicting stuff as I saw myself in this post regarding wanting the “immediacy of their god”, the magic of everything being supernatural and having that built in “family” of like minded followers. The problem is who are you really following and what spirit is really driving them?

  8. If he comes to Texas, I’m getting the word out about his “penis homes” commentary. I’m pretty sure even the anti-feminist female parishioners wouldn’t want to do with this guy.

  9. Rachel says:

    I’ve been following the Mars Hill saga very closely, because our church had a very similar drama a year ago. The only difference is our church was too small for anyone to care. I’ve seen a lot of people on comment forums concerning Mark Driscoll wondering when he will apologize for his wrongdoings. One common thread behind these types of leaders is their amazing ability to see themselves as the victim of the situation. I remember waiting and waiting for an apology from a pastor in a situation similar to this. It never came. I was mind boggled as to how this man could not see his own role in the systemic problems at our church. And while the rest of us picked up the broken pieces of his ministry, he was off and rehired somewhere else in a few months. The road will be difficult for those left at Mars Hill (or whatever it will be called). My guess is it will take months for the new people in charge to truly uncover the depths of the dysfunction in that organization. It will be a long, mundane, and not very exciting healing process. It’s during this process that those people who are drawn to charismatic leaders will go somewhere else, because healing done right just isn’t that exciting.

  10. You’re right Rachel. That’s been my observation too. In fact, THEY are waiting for an apology.

  11. kris799 says:

    I have learned the hard way that unhealthy relationships are a two way street. I certainly do not think the abused should be blamed, but initially people are so enthralled with a leader that they gloss over things that make them go “hmm” or even major red flags. They don’t want to rock the boat or think they are the only one who sees something wrong with the situation. They are often questioned about their concerns if they are bold enough to raise them. So they continue the relationship and often get sucked in and have a hard time getting out. And standing up for yourself and putting the “Unity of the Church” at risk often becomes a huge mountain to climb over.

  12. Dave says:

    I think the phenomenon has a name: “pastor worship.” People have convinced themselves that the pastor is the way that they connect to God. And not any pastor, *this* pastor. It is sad to see, but very real. Likewise, it is sad to see a pastor falling into this trap, denying much of what s/he presumably learned in pastor school.

  13. C.N. Sensse says:

    A few years ago, when I was doing research for “Get the Hell Out of the Church,” I wanted to see what the scriptures said about spiritual authority. Here is what I found.

    Hebrews 13:17 Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you], for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account [of their trust]. [Do your part to] let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you [either].

    2 Peter 2
    But also [in those days] there arose false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among yourselves, who will subtly and stealthily introduce heretical doctrines (destructive heresies), even denying and disowning the Master Who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their immoral ways and lascivious doings; because of them the true Way will be maligned and defamed. And in their covetousness (lust, greed) they will exploit you with false (cunning) arguments. From of old the sentence [of condemnation] for them has not been idle; their destruction (eternal misery) has not been asleep. …

    Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you dressed as sheep, but inside they are devouring wolves.

    Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error.

    Matthew 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will show great signs and wonders so as to deceive and lead astray, if possible, even the elect (God’s chosen ones).

    Mark 13:22 False Christs (Messiahs) and false prophets will arise and show signs and [work] miracles to deceive and lead astray, if possible, even the elect (those God has chosen out for Himself).

    Luke 6:26 Woe to (alas for) you when everyone speaks fairly and handsomely of you and praises you, for even so their forefathers did to the false prophets.

    Acts 13:6 When they had passed through the entire island of Cyprus as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain Jewish wizard or sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus.

    1 Corinthians 12:10 To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues.

    2 Peter 2:1 But also [in those days] there arose false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among yourselves, who will subtly and stealthily introduce heretical doctrines (destructive heresies), even denying and disowning the Master Who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

    1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not put faith in every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.

    There is one scripture that says to obey our spiritual leaders-provided they have our best interest at heart. There are ten, however that warn us to watch out for leaders that are not what they claim to be.

    I don’t know Mr. Driscoll so I can’t say whether he is a leader that should be followed or not. However I worked for a lot of entertainers when I was in my twenties. And I can’t think of one who wasn’t addicted to the spotlight. I do know that much of the church in America is in the”entertainment business,” much more than the “love,” business. The reason for that is real simple. Ever since Constantine the Great nationalized Christianity in 313 AD, making it the official religion of the Roman Empire, the church has been under the control of men, rather than the Holy Spirit. And that’s just not how God designed it..

  14. tru says:

    Please o please let it be Texas. We already have enough religious assholes in Southern California.

  15. Skylflyer says:

    Mark Driscoll is the result of what happens when a man has an incessant need to talk, has charisma and people who crave for something new or different. Satan also knows the truth, but it is always about Satan. It’s nothing new. It is the same theme of cults and evil governments. I assure you that within 5 years, Driscoll will have another large church of head nodders filling his pews, providing for his wealth and that he will have turned his flaws (sins?) into indictments against the wounded. People who in the end excel at living for their own self-interests always follow the same patterns. Nothing is new under the sun.

  16. Mei Lani says:

    Yeah, I think all the harsh comments are just too much. He realised he had sinned and he apologised. For me the important thing is, I believe all his teachings were true and no manipulation at all. He always points to Jesus and that what makes me love his sermons cause it ALWAYS leads to Jesus and it is about JESUS, unlike any other pastors who whould brag about themselves. That’s what all that matters to me. As for the mistakes he made, well it happened so what else could he do about it. Even he could mourn and grieve over it for days and show how miserable he feels but what’s the point? I mean, at the end of the day he should just apologised and repent. I am deeply saddened by the news because I know Ps Mark can be a lil bit harsh which I see it as radical and dominant but He does it for the sake of godly leadership and the church. I am so blessed by all his sermons and I am thankful that I found him on the internet-I’m from Indonesia btw. I really hope, that he would not stop and start his ministry again and continue serving God and people very soon.

  17. Skyflyer says:

    It’s called humility. It ALL starts with a humble spirit. When you go preaching and living large like you’re a rock star, you will fall and your fall will be certain. I know that before all, God wants me to be humble, then He can teach me what He wants me to preach. When I am full of myself, I get in the way. There are a growing number of “super star” pastors, but where are the meek and the humble ones? The numbers of pew warmers has nothing to do with the number of true believers. This generation seeks entertainment in church and charismatic pastors. Most would probably dry up in their faith, if the simple truth was spoken in love from a humble preacher. They’d just leave. Today they need their ears “tickled” as the Bible refers to, or rather to be intrigued or have a “mission” or standout and be entertained or they’re not interested. We all have a mission: to lead others to Christ and to make disciples.