I was raised a Roman Catholic. I … God saved me when I was in college at the age of 19; I was reading Augustine and the Bible. Um, felt called back to Seattle, which is where I had grown up. Moved back here, uh, got married at 21, graduated from college at 22, moved back to Seattle at 22 with my wife, worked in a church for a coupla years – more volunteer than intern basis in the college ministry, uh, had a heart for the city of Seattle.You want to know what I think? Stay tuned.
It’s one of the least “churched” cities in America, 7.8% evangelical. There’s more dogs than evangelicals in Seattle. There’s not one Christian bookstore in the city of Seattle. It’s the 15th largest market in the country: there’s not enough Christians to keep one bookstore open.
I’m one of the few heterosexual male pastors, uh, we’ve now got the biggest church in the state. I mean, it is not Christian at all. Um, it’s very gay, very liberal, very universalistic. A lot of the pastors in the city are gay, I mean it is just … even the two Baptist churches that I know of in this city have gay pastors. So you’re looking at a thoroughly unchurched area that’s not post-christian: it’s still pre-christian. The seminaries never got here, the Bible colleges didn’t get here, the denominations didn’t set up shop here, we’re kinda in the middle of nowhere.
And so my thought was: what would it look like to plant a church in this city knowing that we can’t just set up shop and bring in all the “Christians” ‘cause there aren’t many, if any. The question is, how do we set up a church that effectively uses the, uh, the culture of Seattle to communicate the truth of the Gospel.
So, naturally, this is a very educated town. Uh, It’s one of the most literate cities – if not the most literate city -- in America. So it’s got to be teaching-heavy, which is a biblical principle. Um, So those are corollary.
Ah, another one is it’s a very arty, creative, music-based town – huge club scene. So, we have lots of musicians, lots of concerts, we write a lot of songs, we have our own style … the bible says to, you know, to sing songs to the Lord, it doesn’t say … what instrumentation or which style, there’s a lot of freedom, so that’s something that we do as well, lots of concerts, lots of music, lot o’ worship (clears throat) stuff goin’ on.
Uh, it’s a big city on the arts, so creativity, architecture, gallery showings, all of those kinda things … I think there is plenty of room in Scripture for creativity, beauty, uh God is create-tor, made us to be create-tive. So at those points, even the using of technology, pod-casts, vod-casts, great sound system, web site, all that kind of stuff … we see those as translatable values. There’s other things that are not translatable.
The city is pro-gay: we’re not. The city doesn’t believe in the exclusivity of Christ as necessary for salvation: we do. The city doesn’t hold to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture: we do. So there are points that we’re culturally contextualized, there area points that we’re counter-cultural and we just don’t agree. Um, But what we want people to know is that if they reject our church, they should do so because they reject the truth claims of the Gospel, not because our “style” is ineffective at welcoming them and practicing hospitality.
And so for me, it’s a hospitality issue. Our building is black on the outside. There’s no natural light. The ceilings are black. There’s half a million dollars of sound gear … I mean, we started as a Bible study with 10 people in my living room, I’ve seen this thing grow to almost 5,000 in 9 years and plant, in our network now, a hundred churches. So, I mean, God has certainly blessed it in every way, but, um, as far as our style goes? It’s real Seattle vibe. Seattlites walk right in, feels like home. It’s high-tech, it’s industrial, it’s urban, it’s arty, it’s highly educated, it’s literate, it’s sarcastic. All o’that works, but at its core it’s reformed classic Protestant theology just presented in a way that non-Christian arty tech single, sexually-active universalistic non-christian would actually feel welcomed into the church style-wise, and then hear the truth of the Gospel.
They tend to have varying reactions. I mean, I have security on the front of the stage ‘cause I have people come up on the stage try to fight me, or picketers, protesters, I mean … the responses are severe. But the responses are not to the style, they are to the content of the Gospel: that we are sinners, and that (clears throat) God demands from us repentance of sin, and faith in Jesus. And anything beyond that is eternal damnation. (4:48)
Uh, we’re, I would say we’re theologically very conservative, and culturally pretty liberal. Um, Politically, is another matter, but theologically conservative and culturally liberal.
Um, You’ll see kids with Mohawks and piercings an tattoos playing in punk bands and drivin’ up on scooters and smokin’ cigarettes and carryin’ an ESV translation of the Bible arguin’ about propitiation. That’s Seattle.
That’s Seattle. But we don’t want those kids to all convert to Christian culture once they meet Jesus. We want them to stay in their tribe and be missionaries to their tribe. In same way, if I went to Africa, converted a 20-year-old kid, the last thing I’d do is dress him up in a suit and tell him to learn proper English. I’d make him remain African culturally and bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ as far into African culture as he could.
When this happens overseas, we say they’re a good missionary. right? When, um, when Hudson Taylor shows up in China and dresses in Chinese dress and learns Chinese language and eats Chinese food and gets a Chinese haircut, everybody says, “there’s a good Christian”. When we do that in punk rock culture, people think it’s capitulation. I think there’s hypocrisy there. That’s why we’re not reaching Americans. We have a double standard, and we get stuck on style and forget the substance of the Gospel.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Here's the 'script of the Driscoll video I linked to for those of you who are broadband-impaired. The time stamps are at what I guestimate are the paragraph breaks, in case you want to scroll through and hear him say these things for himself:
Labels: Mark Driscoll fan club