My Book Review: Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church

To make a long story really short, God has been tearing up my heart and soul with a jack hammer for the past 3 months. I felt He was doing some major renovations in my life that would ultimately lead to major renovations and improvements in my family, personal, and church life. As God has tore me apart, he has been very faithful to rebuild my life with care adding one piece at a time. The latest piece was the pastoring kick in the butt I needed. It came in the form of Mark Driscoll controversial book: "Confessions" which happens to be the story of the birth and growth of Seattle's innovative Mars Hill Church, one of America's toughest mission fields. It is also the story of the growth of a pastor, the mistakes he's made along the way, and God's grace and work in spite of these mistakes.

Why the Controversy? Driscoll doesn't fit in any category neatly. The story of many "successful" churches have been tidied before going to print. Not here. Driscoll says, "I have made so many mistakes as a pastor that I should be pumping gas for a living instead of preaching the gospel." He begins with "Ten Curious Questions" designed to help clarify the church's identity, gospel, mission, size, and priorities. For instance, he asks which gospel we will proclaim: "a gospel of forgiveness, fulfillment, or freedom?" "Do you have the guts to shoot your dogs?" (He advises: "Dogs are idiotic ideas, stinky styles, stupid systems, failed facilities, terrible technologies, loser leaders, and pathetic people...Be sure to make it count and shoot them only once so that they don't come back and bite you." Now you know why he's controversial.)

For the rest of the book, Driscoll tells the story of Mars Hill from its start to the present and even his hopes for the future.

A few great quotes from the book:

"Attractional churches need to transform their people from being consumers in the church to being missionaries outside of the church." (p.27)

"The more I read the Bible, the more deeply the Holy Spirit convicted me that I had grievously erred by trying to figure out how to do church successfully by reading a lot of books, visiting a lot of churches, and copying whatever was working. Instead, I needed to first wrestle with Jesus like Jacob wrestled with Jesus and then discover what Jesus' mission was for Seattle and repent of everything else..." (p.44)

Developing biblical leadership to define, direct, and defend the mission is key (p.48). This requires toughness. "Sadly, the weakest men are often drawn to ministry simply because it is an indoor job that does not require heavy lifting." (p.54)

"I had to focus all of my time and energy on growing Mars Hill as a missional church for Seattle. Therefore I had to stop doing all other ministry work that was not accomplishing this objective." (p.52)

"I decided not to back off from a long-winded, old-school Bible preacher that focused on Jesus. My people needed to hear from God's Word and not from each other in collective ignorance like some dumb chat room...There is enough power in the preaching of God's Word alone to build a church from nothing" (pp.77-78)

"My answer to everything is pretty much the same: open the Bible and preach about the person of Jesus and his mission for the church." (p.86)

"We were deciding if Mars Hill Church was to be defined by the size of its mission to reach the lost or by the number of people we could gather at one time in one room." (p.94)

In congregational ecclesiology, "The staff and the pastor are essentially seen as employees of the congregation, to be fired if they do not meet the expectations of their employer, the congregation. As I studied the Bible, I found more warrant for a church led by unicorns than by majority vote." (p.103)

** One of my personal favorites** "Over the years, I've just accepted that if I do not quickly open the back door when God is trying to run people out of our church, I am working against God by keeping sick people in my church so they can infect others. Indeed, the church is a body, and one of the most important parts is the colon. Like the human body, any church body without a colon is designed for sickness that leads to death." (p.131)

"We learned that unchurched people tend to be the most traditional when it comes to church." (p.132)

"Preaching is like driving a clutch, and the only way to figure it out is to keep grinding the gears and stalling until you figure it out." (p.133)

"Slowly, the church will begin a cycle of decline unless it intentionally reinvents itself missionally to continue to grow by taking risks in an effort to reach lost people for Jesus." (p.141)

"The goal of the management phase is not to get the church organized and under control. Rather, the management phase is needed to eliminate the inefficiencies and barriers that are keeping the church from focusing back on the creative phase and creating a whole new set of problems to manage." (p.142)

Authenticity. Brutal honesty. Inspiration. Those are the words I will use to describe this very special book. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone in the church (PASTORS!!) that is tired of sitting on your butt and ready to start serving Jesus the way we are called to do. 4 Stars

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