In late October 2014, just after Mark Driscoll resigned at Mars Hill Church, he showed up at Robert Morris’ Gateway Church pastors conference. He was originally scheduled to speak at the conference but stepped away from the program as the troubles at Mars Hill became more difficult.
In one of the sessions, conference speaker (and apparent co-director of the new The Trinity Church in Phoenix) Jimmy Evans gave a prophecy about Driscoll. According a witness who wrote down the prophecy on an Instagram account, Evans told Driscoll:
You led a great movement as a brother, you will lead a greater one as a father, your later years will surpass your younger.
In a September 3 Q & A session at the Living Springs Grace Association conference in Phoenix, Driscoll provided more detail about the “word from the Lord.” Listen to Driscoll’s description in the first two minutes of this segment of the Q&A (Listen to the entire sermon by going to this amazing website).
Transcript of the first 1:35:
I was trying to make sense of everything that was going on and what I was to learn from it and I was sitting in a pastors conference with a bunch of charismatics and pentecostals because they tend to be the most encouraging and loving I’ve found. And so they invited me just to come and observe and learn and not teach but just to learn and so I was there at this large pastors conference and I’m sitting, you know, near the front row, and I’m just kinda on the verge of losing it all the time, emotional still, and this pastor gets up and says, well before I speak, I have a word for Mark Driscoll, and I was like, aw man, I do not want a word. I just want to sit here and be anonymous and not get the prophetic word. And so, he got up and gave a word that was a word from the Lord and it just cut me to the heart. And what he, the basic gist of what he said was, you left ministry as an angry older brother and you’ll return as a loving father.
And then he pulled me aside afterword in his Ford truck cause that’s where the Shekinah Glory dwells and the good stuff goes down. So we sat in his truck and he said, you started off as a guy who was angry with some bitterness and you attracted a lot of angry bitter young men with father wounds and they picked up on your tone of anger and bitterness.
The prophecy is different in this telling, no doubt influenced by the conversation with Evans in the Ford truck. If this is indeed the Gateway conference word from God, then Evans is helping to bring about his prophecy by partnering with Driscoll with this new venture in Phoenix.
The word of prophecy last October is important now that Driscoll has incorporated a new church apparently with the author of the prophecy. The tone and character of this church will probably be more charismatic and apostolic than Mars Hill. The fulfilling of this “prophetic word” appears to be on the horizon with Driscoll set to return as a spiritual father figure.
In fact, the narrative Driscoll has cultivated is that God has spoken specially to him to get him to this place. Just over a year ago, he was prepared to enter into his elders’ plan for restoration but left that behind because he said God spoke to him and released him from Mars Hill. Now, he returns to ministry as the fulfillment of additional revelation given to Jimmy Evans.
The rest of this audio provides some eyebrow raising commentary by Driscoll on what he perceives to be a massive father wound among young men in America. Driscoll refers to himself as a spiritual father and his wife Grace as a spiritual mother. At 45, he seems to view himself as old.
At 6:21, Driscoll said that he believes
…part of the gifting of apostolic ministry is spiritual parenting. It’s younger leaders looking up and saying that’s like a mom and a dad that I look to and learn from, and I find health and comfort and love under their leadership and in this family of people and churches we look to them in a parental way.
He added that such language can sound cultic if imposed on people. However, because of what he believes is a “massive father wound” in the culture, people learn to look to the pastor and his wife and as parental figures. The rest of his speech dwells on why young men follow “dead guys” like Wesley and Spurgeon. They want distant father figures who do not hold them accountable.
I think some Mars Hill elders might wonder if Driscoll is preaching to himself in the remaining minutes of that speech.
My reaction is that reparenting one’s congregation seems like a prescription for disaster. We have just about put behind us the notion that counselors should reparent clients, I don’t think such a stance should be encouraged among ministers.
In any case, this appeal in September to how he sees his return to ministry might give some clues about the tone and ministry of The Trinity Church. Perhaps, it should have been called My Father’s House or something like that.