Friday, September 26, 2008

On Driscoll's 18 Points.

I thought it was passé to comment on Driscoll's visit to Sydney. But then Nicole wrote something, and so did Craig. And I said that I would say something. So here are four reflections.

Let me first say this (and I really can't believe that I have to say this), but by making these four comments, I am not trying to protect the 'status quo'. I am not rejecting his whole 'overall challenge'. I'm not the Blogerati. And I'm not pouring water on the parade. I don't know what it is about Mark (but this does worry me), but when someone blogs something contrary to Mark, then there are some who go ballistic. I'm not sure why.

Four random thoughts:

1. The first thing to do with the 18 points (after deciding which are accurate and which are not) is to separate out the ways I can personally change (e.g. #1,7,15,17) from the things that I can't change (#2,3,18 etc). That is, I can't change Moore College or its structures, but I can change my own actions and my own heart. There is, of course, a case for godly agitation. But not without first examining our own lives. This guards against frustration or anger against potentially easy targets.

2. On Australian guys being immature. This may be true, or it may not be true. Of course, it is better to assume that is is true so that we can examine how to become more mature.

That said, his reasoning was that most guys move out of home when they are 25.

But he may simply not get Australian culture. In America, 18 year olds almost always move away to College. In Australia, there aren't enough cities to actually do this. So you stay in Sydney, right? And the pressure to move out of home is less acute. So the stats on how old a person moves out will obviously be skewed higher.

Mark may get this. But one thing is obvious to my American wife and to me (having both lived in both countries): People moving out of home here in the States has not produced more mature men. Have you heard about Road Trip? Or Spring Break? The stats on US men moving out of home will show a lower age. But this has no bearing on maturity. If you are immature at home, you are immature out of home. If you are mature at home, you are mature out of home. Change may bring some crossover, but - and here is the key - it could go either way.

I am a fan of moving out young, for the record. I did. But not as a guide to the levels of maturity. All the people on Friends, Seinfeld, and Sex in the City had moved out of home and there was no maturing in those homes. Hooley Dooley.

3. On the old guy/young guy thing: Mark said that he was considered 'old' in Seattle. But in Sydney, he was meeting 'young energetic pastors' -- and they were in their 40s and 50s! Here is a speculation: I've heard Mark talk about other churches in Seattle, and other pastors. He doesn't have a lot of good to say about them. And maybe he is justified (I don't know Seattle). But maybe he just hasn't met the kind of extraordinary, godly, passionate leadership that keeps going into their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Maybe its simply new for him to be in a city where the men in their 60s are just as passionate as the so called 'young guys'.

4. On being afraid of the Holy Spirit? Mark said:
Many of you are afraid of the Holy Spirit.
You betcha, Mark. Aren't you? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I fear the Lord's Spirit like I fear the strength of a storm. May it always be so.



SamR said...

Some good thoughts. Thanks Justin.

CraigS said...

Some responses -

1. Good point. However, it is possible to change things like Moore College and Anglican structures, it just takes much longer. So people might set themselves short term and long term goals with regards to this.

Also, I have no doubt that those in power are influenced by the mood of the laity, especially when the laity are now so vocal online. Agitating for change is certainly worthwhile.

2. I suspect that moving out from Mum & Dads is a necessary but not sufficient cause of maturity. I've read that 1 in 4 single oz men in their 30s still live at home. Not good, to my mind.

3. I'm sure there are lots of godly older guys with lots to contribute. I don't think Driscoll denied that - he was asking where are the young guys? Are they being disempowered in some way? We need to be harnessing their energy. As someone approaching middle-age, I strongly affirm this point.

4. We need to ensure we have a full, robust, practical doctrine of the spirit.

onlinesoph said...

good thoughts. Though I reckon when Mark said sydney is afraid of the Holy Spirit, he was talking more that they are reluctant to acknowledge its ongoing presence - more towards quenching the spirit's flame rather than actually fearing it.

Nikki said...

hello J!
we might add, since when was "entrepreneurialism" a theological category?
(And, btw cute dress for the little lady!!)
Mike and Nikki Thompo

Pete said...

Thanks Justin for your thoughts.

I don't think there really is a young person problem in Sydney, and I'm a young guy! There are plenty of stories which can be shared about young guys getting in and doing things.

Maybe the guys I know are so busy doing their ministry things that they are happy to keep their head down doing ministry.

It isn't as if RICE, and a whole heap of other ministries aren't being done by people in their 20's.

Justin said...

Thompo- how great to have you read and comment.

Do you think that 'risk' is a theological category?

Justin said...

Soph- thanks for commenting. While I don't know any Syd Ang clergy or workers who quench the Spirit, I do think that we need to tell of His life giving works. We need to see his hand in all that is of Jesus. We need to pray for our hearts to be quickened in the grace of Jesus. And I think we need to have a greater fear of Him than even the charasmatics! :)

Justin said...

Craig- as always thoughtful.

1.Yes- that is my point about godly agitation. But only after serious work is done on self.

2. of course re 40s. But to think that. 20-somethings moving out=maturity is silly. Have you ever been a part of what they commonly call 'Boys House'!? For the record, the Little Man will be out the door early.

3. My point is the most probably, in Seattle, he is the oldest Reformed dude he knows. Just not true in Syd. But yes to young guys doing something.

4. Yes. Although I think we may have this. But we need to vocalize what the Spirit is doing amoungst us more.

Justin said...

Pete - good thoughts.

onlinesoph said...

I agree! (re. the spirit).

Nikki said...


Lovely to be chatting!

I don't think "risk" is a theological category either. It relies upon a dialectic of success/failure:
which is not theological. I think "witness" is a strongly theological category, "vulnerability" perhaps, "martyrdom" definitely, and "faithfulness" double definitely! Risk may be required in the sense that the early church prayed for boldness or confidence in Acts 4 (which was a prayer for the strengthening power of the Spirit...)

The problem with "entrepreneurialism" as a category is that, as Driscoll himself gives away, it is an artifact of an individualistic Christian culture which has made normative the mentality of both the free market and democratic government--both of which are measured by numbers. In comparing this outlook to our pitiable heritage of English Socialism, he shows just how embedded in his own American culture he is, which of course, isn't wrong in itself, but demands we examine how right it is.

To me it all sounds a bit like "pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" small-government talk applied to missiology. (the gendered edge to all this would be another topic...)

But the real problem with valorizing individual "enterprise" is that it overestimates the individual's capacity for wisdom and virtue--in life and in doctrine. If Mark could only look into his country's history and see the god-awful mess that Christian entrepreneurialism has done (and is doing) in the name of successful ministry. Moreover, we need to look at the social and political fruits--love and justice--of individual enterprise as a national cultural norm, and ask how much better it is than English Christian socialism (much older, and not to be confused with Marxist socialism). We are talking here about one of the most profound legacies of Western Christianity---think 40 hour weeks!

Forgive me, I'm ramblin again..
God bless, J.

Justin said...

Thompo - you can ramble here anytime!

I'm smiling just reading your comment!

By risk, I was simply meaning 'they gave up their homes, mothers, brothers, property, even their lives' on faith that they would receive hundred times as many. It's a risk, right? But the Bible would call it faith.

But I wholehardedly agree with your assesment.

Nikki said...

Yeah, you're right on risk--sorry, I mistook your meaning as 'entrepreneurial' risk.
I'm always smiling reading you too.

Jim said...

I can assure you the 3 years I was out of home before I got married, living in a 'boys house' were 3 of my most 'immature' years.

I don't know if Driscoll makes the 'Jesus had already completed his ministry at age 35' statement tongue in cheek or not, I kinda hope so. Otherwise he might be encouraging all our teenage girls to get pregnant as well.


Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin said...

Jim -- I don't want to make a comment about whether your 3 years where the most immature -- I obviously don't know.

But you are agreeing with my point that moving out of home could go either way...

Jim said...

Yes. Surley, in and of itself moving out of home means nothing.

Yes, Christian men need to be more mature.

Yes, a *possible* way to get to get this happening is to move out of home.

But it is certainly not a rule.

I wonder, how many people have 'fallen away' after moving out of a Christian home, and started to live life for themselves...?

Anonymous said...

Justin, thanks for your wisdom. I agree completely about what you say about maturity or immaturity being somewhat irrelevant to where you live. The clear advantage for me of moving out of a 'christian' (note the small c) home and into share homes as immature as some of them were is that I moved in with Christians, got to know Jesus and grew massively in maturity, although some previous flat mates may dispute this.

One of the things that i find disappointing with Mark's comments is that he assumes that if you are not leading a parish you are not doing great ministry. There are many older senior ministers around Sydney who are employing younger ministers wisely and seeing amazing ministry happen. God can use the young and the old the naturally number ones and naturally number twos, to grow his Kingdom, and will continue to do so.
HOpe all's well with you and the fam.
Simon Elliott.