A Long Letter from Pastor Mark to Mars Hill Church


October 3, 2011

 

This October Mars Hill Church turns fifteen years old. I had fifteen thoughts—in no particular order—that came to mind.

 

  1. Jesus is alive. The Bible is true! Sin has been forgiven, death has been conquered, and Satan has been defeated by the risen Jesus Christ. Jesus is not a dead good man, but a living God. We are not giving good advice about what people can do to make themselves better, but rather good news about what the risen Jesus has done to make us new!


  2. I like Jesus more than ever. Since the Holy Spirit made me a Christian at the age of nineteen, I have believed in Jesus. Yet Jesus is not a concept but rather a Person. In more recent years, I have come to increasingly like Jesus as well. I enjoy Jesus. I continually learn more about Jesus through the Scriptures and life in the Spirit with Jesus and his people. My silence and solitude days alone with Jesus are very real, always transforming, and amazing. I want everyone at Mars Hill Church to not only believe in Jesus but really like Jesus and increasingly enjoy him as the perfect Friend who happens to be Creator of all things and Sovereign Lord of the universe, which is a real bonus to have on the resume of your best friend.

     

  3. Grace is the best church member we’ve ever had. Before we planted the church, Grace and I both spent a lot of time in prayer alone and together. We both felt equally called to plant the church. Grace and I both worked jobs to get the church started, and when she became pregnant with our first child, Ashley, she stopped working. In the first perhaps three years or so of the church I was not paid by the church. Things were very difficult financially. Grace never complained, and put in more hours to hospitality, mom’s group, meals for new moms and sick people, counseling, and the like than she frankly should have. But, she loves Mars Hill. Unlike me, she has never complained about the church, even in the most trying and frustrating seasons. She is very glad to serve in any way, and though she shies away from the spotlight, when I’ve asked her to on various occasions, she’s spoken—humbly and with a bit of trepidation—more publicly on issues related to women in an effort to serve them. Though Grace loves me, she does not worship me. She is, in a loving and kind way, a truth-teller. For example, not long ago a pastor started making the news for teaching false doctrine; she said something to the effect that she would nicely confront me if I ever taught anything like that and if I did not repent she would notify our elders and support their discipline of me. It made her even more lovely in my eyes and makes her even more valuable to the gospel, our church, and me.

     

  4. The next-best church members are the Driscoll kids. They share their mom’s heart for the church. They are always asking about what is going on at Mars Hill. They love visiting the various Mars Hill churches to see what God is doing. They have a genuine heart for the church and care deeply for it. As parents, we’ve not forced church on our kids, but they have simply learned to love what we love and love what Jesus loves. My kids even give generously and without any reservation to the church out of their chore money. Even Gideon, age five, is on pace to give about $50 this year, which puts him ahead of a lot of adults.

     

  5. Thank you. I love you. Mars Hill Church is the only church I have ever been a member or a pastor of. Thank you for listening to my sermons during the early years, which were so bad we don’t put them on the Internet. For those who think the sermons are still bad, imagine how bad the bad ones must have been. Thank you for enduring all the chaos and transition that happens when a church experiences so much of God’s grace that things are always changing. Thank you for being a church that likes to hear the Bible taught about Jesus and sits through more long sermons than any other church I know of. Thank you for honoring your elders and respecting leadership. And, I love you. I don’t think I’ve said that enough and am convicted to say it much more. As the father of my kids, I tell them I love them individually and collectively multiple times every day because it’s true. As a bit of a father in the church, my heart is the same for you and I need to simply say it more. I’ve gotten some curious looks saying it to the tattooed guys on staff who go to the gym a lot, but I think they are warming up to hearing “I love you” from someone other than their wife. I really do love you like a father with the Father’s love.

     

  6. Grace and I are good friends. In working on the Real Marriage book, due out on January 3, our friendship was greatly deepened. We are deeply happy, connected, and unified lovers, worshipers, and buddies. We recently celebrated our nineteenth wedding anniversary and as of March 12 will celebrate twenty-four years since our first date in high school. I have more close godly and wise friends in and out of Mars Hill than ever before, and my nearest and dearest friend on the earth is Grace. I am unsure why, but for some reason I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to just tell you that as a praise to God and, I hope, a comfort to you. With all that is happening I know the tendency can be for a couple to drift into parallel lives, but for us exactly the opposite has happened in recent years.

     

  7. The Driscoll home is a great place to be. I get a lot done by grace. I do get a lot of time with my family. I work from home a lot. I am home nearly every night for dinner. I pick the kids up from school at least once a week and we go out to a bakery to chat, play games, and hang out. I am around for family movie night nearly every week. I watch most baseball games and track meets. I read the Bible with the younger kids almost every night. I ask the kids constantly and individually if they are getting enough of my attention and if there is any way I can be a better dad. Thanks to all who pray for the Fab Five as those prayers are being answered. The kids love Jesus and their parents, and they are a lot of fun to hang out with. Our home is filled with life, love, and laughter. Also, getting to take the family with me on some trips to see the world is a complete blast and has been a highlight for us all. My life is mainly just work and family but I am absolutely content and happy.

     

  8. Knowing God as Father changes everything. The more I get to know God as a Father, the more I see Mars Hill as a big, extended, crazy, graced family with more spiritual adoptions coming as the Father brings more of his kids into our church home. I know a lot of folks at Mars Hill did not have a good father. But if God is your Father, you do. I do believe as we each grow in our understanding of God as perfect Father we will also grow into the fullness of what it means to be the family of God as the church.

     

  9. The Holy Spirit is a real Helper. I love, enjoy, and depend upon the Holy Spirit. He gives me insight to lead, conviction to repent, gifts to serve, salvation to enjoy, a Bible to read, elders with whom to serve, power to persevere, and joy to laugh. He is present in a way that is hard to explain but easy to experience. I long for everyone at Mars Hill, including myself, to be increasingly filled with and led by the Holy Spirit, just like Jesus was while on the earth.

     

  10. We are supported but not worshiped. With the growth of Mars Hill to now be one of the largest and fasting-growing churches in the US, along with the four hundred Acts 29 church plants in the US plus thirteen other nations, writing a dozen books and contributing to a handful of others, preaching around the world, media, The Resurgence now being the most-trafficked Christian leadership site on the web and one of the most trafficked of all Christian sites, along with the launch of Pastormark.tv, the impression can be given that I have no time for my family. People ask all the time if I am getting enough time with my family. I am. I have an amazing personal staff team led by Nathan Burke, who is amazingly helpful and effective. I have a big capacity and am constantly reinventing myself as I learn from other Christian leaders with bigger responsibilities in ministry and/or business who are kind enough to help me learn and grow. The quality of leaders keeps rising. More than ever, the senior leadership at Mars Hill understands the opportunity God has set before us and is wisely seeking to do our best to reach as many as we can for as long as we can by God’s grace. Wise outside counsel has also been invaluable to us as we need to be humble and teachable if we want to be fruitful. I have great support that includes people in and out of the church who tell me no. With changes we are making, my role will be clearer and simpler going forward.

     

  11. God’s grace is on Mars Hill Church and not any one of us, including me. Mars Hill is blessed. We can never take this for granted. We must pursue humility. We must steward our opportunity well by each giving our portion and doing our part. After visiting Mars Hill, one well-known pastor pulled me aside and told me with great enthusiasm, “At Mars Hill you see more evidences of God’s grace in a day than most churches see in a lifetime. Be thankful!” To cultivate thankfulness, let’s strive to pray better than we plan, beginning in our Community Groups, which are the heart of our church. As you gather together each week, please take some time to thank God for the evidences of God’s grace that you see around you, including in our church.

     

  12. My vision is bigger than ever. I’ve got a big vision sermon series coming up from Thanksgiving until the beginning of the “Real Marriage” campaign in January titled “God’s Work. Our Witness.” I see clearly the opportunity God has set before us and want to share that with you. I do not, by God’s grace, feel in over my head or lacking vision and clarity. To be honest, there are numerous areas in which I/we need to grow, mature, and improve. If by God’s grace we avail ourselves—individually and corporately—of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we have to ride the wave of grace God has sent us, we could be on this ride for decades to come.

     

  13. Our best days are ahead. Just stick around and you’ll see it for yourself. In January alone we hope to plant three Mars Hill churches in three states (Washington, Oregon, California) on one day, Lord willing. We will also start the “Real Marriage” campaign based on the book, complete with resources to serve other churches and a comprehensive small group curriculum. We like to do hard things because we have a big God.

     

  14. I love what I do.

     

  15. Pencil me in for at least a few more decades. I do a lot of things, but the one thing I love the most after being a Christian, husband, and father is being a pastor at Mars Hill. I hope to get around a lot more in the coming years to preach at our various churches, encourage our leaders, preach the gospel for the salvation of the lost, and see what God is doing to love and serve all of Mars Hill. But I have no plans or desires to go anywhere other than Mars Hill or do anything else but be a pastor. By God’s grace, I will serve you as well as I can for as long as I am able and helpful. My prayer has always been to die as a very old man who worshiped one God, was faithful to one woman, and pastored at one church and that, gladly, is my only plan.