Friendly Fire*

I've begun the slow process of recovering from the Connecting Evangelism and Ministry conference held at the Anglican Cathedral here in Sydney. The stand out without a doubt was Mark Driscoll and his two lectures yesterday afternoon. When a preacher begins by saying "This will be my most controversial talk in Sydney" you know it's worth taking notes.

So here they are Driscoll's 18 thesis nailed to the metaphorical forehead of the Sydney Evangelicals.

18 obstacles to Evangelism

  1. Bible guys are not missional guys. There needs to be a more awareness of the context of ministry
  2. Aussie culture struggles with entrepreneurialism. In order for entrepreneurialism to flourish there must be prunning. (in fact Driscoll spoke a lot about prunning off older pastors).
  3. "There is a lack of merit based reward. The system rewards ministers for tenure rather than fruit".
  4. "Australian men are immature" (this was an extended point).
  5. "Church Planting isn't widespread". (Driscoll talked about this as a measure of the health of a movement).
  6. Tall Poppy Syndrome.
  7. "Your Preaching lacks; Apologetics, Aplication that is personal and missiological, Mission that explains what we are to live like and are here to do."
  8. "You have a fear and uncertainty of the Holy Spirit which then leads to a lack of entrepreneurialism. Why are so many of you afraid of being Charismatic? You can be charismatic and keep your good theology. You believe in the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Bible."
  9. "Many of you are Anglican". Here he critiqued the parish system which organises people geographically when in reality people organise themselves socially using the internet and instant forms of communication. "People are more likely to organise their lives in three network spheres; work, play and home... Your parish system makes church planting hard.
  10. "Denominations are built on control. Young men don't understand control and don't want to be controlled. Young men will align with your system but don't want to be under your control and so will work around and work out ways around it. Controlling will never work. Influence is what drives young men. Influence comes through mentoring."
  11. "You call the trainned rather then train the called... 4 years in a bible college is too much for some."
  12. "You have many 'priests' but no 'prophets' and 'kings'. The 'priests' maintain the staus quo. The 'kings' don't do ministry they go into business.
  13. "There us a lack of missiologists. Your theologians are poor missiologists. You need more missiologists that evaluate culture and be missiologically aware."
  14. "You raise ministers before before making them Husbands and fathers first. So much of ministry is about this. You learn more valuable lesson as a husband and a father than you do at any bible college. You must press men to take responsibility. The order is God, wife, children, ministry... not God, ministry, training, family. Your system encourages the former."
  15. "You 'do evangelism' rather than 'doing mission'."
  16. "There are too many number 2 guys in number 1 guy spots. As a result some of the number 2 guys who should be in the number 1 guy spot keep trying to assassinate the number 1 guy. If this mentality continues churches will survive but not multiply."
  17. "There isn't a great sense of urgency."
  18. "Movements become institutions in a flash. Institutions then become museums where people talk about when God used to work." Movements get off course when there is too much or to little focus on Doctrine... there is too much or too little doctrinal and organisational control... there is too much pride, a 'not invented here syndrome'... you have issues about honoring your founders. You must also honor your future by doing some things differently."

*Title shamelessly stolen from Mark



fional said... 9/02/2008 5:11 pm  

Wow. Hard hitting. I hope people have the humility to listen and change where they should. I hope they *value* an outsider being able to see things more clearly. I agree with much of it.

Bron said... 9/02/2008 6:10 pm  

Interesting. I'd be really interested to hear the actual talk. And to talk with friends up here. Some of it is really fair, some of it I would need to hear the talk to understand.

I've heard the snappy quip "Father, Son and Holy Bible" before... but I don't think it's helpful. It's a critique which Sydney Anglicans are used to dealing with. The short answer is "the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible".

The comment about the fear and uncertainty of the Holy Spirit is perhaps fairer and I hope more likely to be taken seriously. It certainly speaks to me!

I think there's nothing like spending a few years somewhere to learn to appreciate and critique the culture - especially if it's been a big influence on you (as Sydney has with Tassie). We've certainly found it helpful for us to examine our own culture and influences.

Bron said... 9/02/2008 6:10 pm  

Btw, everyone's talking about Driscoll... but what did the Don say?!!

The Pook said... 9/02/2008 10:13 pm  

1. Maybe, maybe not.
2. And American culture glorifies entrepreneurialism. I don't think it's true anyway. Aussies are very entrepreneurial, just in different, less showy, ways. Jesus is the vinedresser, not the denominational powers that be. This smacks of the stupid 80s-90s business mentality that sacked all its experienced managerial staff in favour of 30 something hot shots with no people skills and a piece of paper fresh out of college. The church is always ten to twenty years behind everyone else. Besides, how silly is it to put our older pastors out to pasture when ours is a rapidly greying society?
3. "There is a lack of merit based reward. The system rewards ministers for tenure rather than fruit". Does it? How? On the other hand, the church growth material also says that the one common factor in mega churches is twenty years of stable ministry by the same person. How long are they to be allowed to stay before being demoted if numbers don't grow? And where does the Sovereignty of God figure in all this?
4. "Australian men are immature" Ooh we are not! (stamps foot). "Men are but children of a larger growth" - Gellett Burgess
5. "Church Planting isn't widespread". True.
6. Tall Poppy Syndrome - is partly balanced by idol worship of mega pastors.
7. "Your Preaching lacks..." Speak for yourself.
8. I don't understand the necessary connection between the Holy Spirit and entrepreneurialism. I agree that some Sydney Evangelicals are paranoid about charismania. I agree you can be 'charismatic' and keep your good theology. Like someone else said, the Father, Son and Holy Bible jibe is a cheap shot and unfair caricature of Sydney Anglicans.
9. The critique of the parish system versus the real world (and virtual world!) we actually live in has some merit, but we should beware of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The Medium is not the Message. McLuhan was wrong.
10. Why then does the bible instruct young men to submit to the authority of their elders rather than being more creative about it?
11. "You call the trained rather then train the called... 4 years in a bible college is too much for some." Cute line but simplistic. Depends on your theology of calling.
12. "You have many 'priests' but no 'prophets' and 'kings'. The 'priests' maintain the staus quo. The 'kings' don't do ministry they go into business." This is wrongheaded on several levels, and confuses metaphor with reality.
13. You could equally complain that many missiologists are poor theologians.
14. If anything, this has probably improved over the past 40 years. Several decades ago most candidates for ministry were aged around 22 and single. Now the average is late twenties and married. Probably some truth in the claim that there is pressure to put ministry before family. But I think most pastors realise that if their marriage fails their ministry fails too, and act accordingly.
15. I think Australian churches do both.
16. The only criteria the bible has for number one guys don't include being High I/High D type personalities. See my comments on Mikey's blog.
17. "There isn't a great sense of urgency." Too True. Of Christians everywhere, not just in Sydney.
18. All of this applies to the Church Growth Movement too.

On top of all this, as I said on Mikey's blog, although mega churches are great, they are historically rare. God has been quite content for most of history and in most places to grow His Church using micro-churches. The overwhelming majority of churches that ever existed had fewer than a hundred people in them and that hasn't stopped the Kingdom advancing.

js said... 9/03/2008 11:17 am  

who is Mark Driscoll and why should anyone care?

Mikey Lynch said... 9/04/2008 7:24 am  

JS - Mark Driscoll is someone God has used to have a profound and wonderful effect upon millions of Christians, encouraging them to love the Bible, the church and the world.

He is also someone God has used to save many, many unchurched people in a very secular city - Seattle. It is really worth caring about a dear Christian brother, a hardworking and gifted preacher and a (thanks to God) very fruitful evangelist.

Mark said... 9/04/2008 11:14 am  

FYI - Gordo has pretty much recounted the whole talk verbatim on his blog:

Laura said... 9/04/2008 11:59 am  

... but I like yours better! I kept thinking, "This is a summary?" on Gordo's. ;)

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