I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of Mark Driscoll's Confessions of a Reformission Rev., and wanted to post a book review of it here. Mark Driscoll is pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Mars Hill is a young church, and Mark was a young Christian when he founded it. Confessions is an opportunity for him to tell his church's story- how they went from a handful of people to 5,000+ weekly attendees in just eight years. The story of Mars Hill is rather encouraging to church planters like me for a few reasons.
First, Mars Hill is an urban church. All over America, our cities are being revived by a younger generation who don't feel suburbia is for them. Church planting is booming, but most pastors are heading to the 'burbs where percentages of success/survival are much greater. Driscoll has embraced the concept of urban church planting and declares the importance of having thriving churches near city centers. It's encouraging to see churches like Mars Hill transforming their cities for Christ.
Also, Mars Hill is a Bible-teaching church. Driscoll didn't talk much about his teaching style in Confessions, but his weekly messages approach an hour in length. Most people couldn't get away with this, but Mark makes it work because of his emphasis on Scripture. Their church wrestles with books of the Bible, verse by verse, in series that can last months. I would guess that it's Mark's Biblical teaching that drives the church. At Echo, we've adopted a similar teaching style, not afraid of "being too deep." The future of the thriving American church is those who teach Scripture unashamedly.
And it should be noted the Driscoll advocates a conservative theological interpretation of Scripture. The trend of many emerging churches is to become more liberal, blurring the meaning of long-held theological doctrines such as the trinity, hell, and the atonement. Driscoll's church shows that you can have a conservative, Biblical theology, not be a cult, and still win people to Christ.
And, finally, Mars Hill is a reproducing church. Driscoll understands that one megachurch isn't going to get the job done; replication is the key. Mars Hill founded the Acts 29 church planting network which helps aspiring planters to start new communities throughout the country [Michael Foster is actually part of this network]. Mark understands the more churches, the better, and we should seriously adopt plans to plant more communities throughout American urban areas.
Even though Mark is more blunt and dogmatic than I am, he's a fresh breath in evangelical Christianity. It's tough for the old guard to dismiss him because of his constant use of Scripture and well-balanced theology. I'd recommend getting a copy of this book. Though I didn't find it as informative as Mark's first book, Radical Reformission, it's still a great read.
And it's especially time that we Cincinnatians get familiar with this way of doing ministry; it's what will be needed here in the next ten years.