Saturday, January 28, 2012

Leslie Keeney on Mark Driscoll's Definition of Successful Ministry

I’ve been enjoying Leslie Keeney’s posts on Joel Watts’ blog (see here), and so I was pleased to learn that she has her own blog, the ruthless monk. Leslie is a graduate student at Liberty University, where she is pursuing a Masters of Philosophical Studies.

In a recent post, Why Our Definition of “Successful Ministry” Is Problematic, Leslie takes aim at some remarks that Mark Driscoll made in an interview with Justin Brierley. Here are some excerpts from her post:

“At one point in the interview with Bierley, Driscoll berates the UK church for being cowards. As proof of this cowardice, Driscoll demands that the Brierley ‘name one, good Bible teacher that is know across Britain. You don’t have one, that is the problem.’ Then, later in the interview when Brierley revealed that his wife pastors a church, Driscoll responds by asking about the size of the church ‘You look at your results,’ he says ‘and you look at my results and look at the variable that is the most obvious.’

“Now, several bloggers that I read (and probably many more that I don’t) recognized the obvious cultural biases in these statements. To Driscoll—and thousands like him—the ‘success’ of any church or ministry is measured by the number of people saved and the number of celebrity preachers created. I would go one step further and say that not only do most U.S. churches see growth and celebrity as proof of success, but that many of these same people assume that our standard of success must, necessarily, be the measure of success used by the rest of the world. In his hubris, Driscoll reveals the American church’s self-centered belief that our model of church should be the model for the church universal…

“We can all name any number of ‘successful’ celebrity pastors who espouse bad theology. We can also all name any number of charismatic non-Christians throughout history with huge followings and evil intentions. History demonstrates over and over again that being famous and influential is not evidence that a person is speaking the truth…

“In response to the Driscoll dust-up, Andrew Jones posted a wonderful piece about the differences between American and UK churches. In addition to being a world traveler with first-person experience in a wide variety of Christian communities around the world, Andrew lived in both the US and the UK for several years. In his post ‘The English Church that went up a Mountain, but came down a Hill,’ Andrew lists several significant differences between the two countries, including a suspicion of religious celebrities. According to Andrew, the Fresh Expressions movement in the UK has established 3000 Christian communities in the last few years, they just haven’t produced a ‘big-name’ teacher. By American standards, is this a ‘successful’ ministry?”

Well said, Leslie.

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