Driscoll on Preaching

Interesting “Reflections on Preaching” from Mark Driscoll (See here, and scroll through the pages at the bottom).


17 responses to this post.

  1. I was suprised that he had as many good thoughts as he did. My understanding is that Driscoll is on the conservative spectrum of the Emerging Church movement. I know John Piper thinks highly of him.

    I wonder where he learned the concept of “junk your notes and go with the Ghost”? Perhaps one of his heroes Charles Spurgeon?

    Have any of spent any time listening to his sermons? What do you think?

  2. Posted by Caleb on August 17, 2006 at 11:44 pm

    Driscoll is known as the cussing pastor. I guess that is why he values learning from crude comedians like Chris Rock.

    In a recent John Piper sermon, Piper said something like this reality should “scare the hell out of you….”

    Was this appropriate? Is cussing ever ok?

  3. Caleb, you’re asking such a question will likely cause the guys at the Pig’s Noggin to spew their brew so let’s stay away from such speculation. When in doubt, do like Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, etc. and don’t curse in your sermons. It was William F. Buckley who once quipped that individuals who resort to profanity laced speeches lack the ability to communicate concrete concepts and should sit out until they gain said ability…for what it’s worth.

  4. Posted by Caleb on August 18, 2006 at 4:18 pm


    I was hoping that our conservative readers would interact more with these thoughts/questions…. I understand that even popular radio preachers like John Piper, Begg, MacArthur, etc. can error. I know John Piper does not typically use the type of language Driscoll uses but that he does sometimes shock people with some of his statements (that appear to me and others to be crude). Because John Piper is well respected i was wondering what people thought?

  5. Posted by CK on August 18, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    One of the (many) things that bothered me about Driscoll’s statements was his diss on not following the model of “radio preachers.” His argumentation was that men like Swindoll and MacArthur preach for the tape and not for their congregation. I have never asked Pastor Swindoll or Pastor MacArthur if this is true but i would guess that it is not. I think it is a motive judgment which in my mind is dangerous.

    How can John MacArthur’s sermons be so relevant and powerful to people around the United States (let alone the world)? I think Jerry Wragg’s recent post on application sort of explains this matter.

    Also Pastors of mega-churches (churches w/over 2000 people) have an even greater challange. When i attended Grace Community Church in CA Pastor MacArthur had to preach to people of many different backgrounds: rich, poor, & middle class; Many different ethnic backgrounds (Thai, Hispanic, Korean, Japanese, etc); Many different social backgrounds (doctors, teachers, janitors, lawyers, etc); mMany different ages (children, teens, adults, and seniors); Many different physical condictions (healthy, sick, deaf, handicapped, etc). The list could go on and on.

    When the Word is faithful exposited the truth penetrates the heart. John Calvin probably had no idea how popular his sermons (now his commentaries) would be hundreds of years down the road. What makes these sermons timeless? I believe it is the in-depth, profound, clear, and accurate preaching of Spirit-led preachers.

    I do not know if Driscoll understands this concept or not? I for one have not chosen to invest any time in his books or sermons.

  6. Caleb,

    I think there is always a danger in saying something in such a way that it is merely for shock value. Jesus certainly said things that caused a few hearts to skip a beat but the focus was on truth and His person/work not a calloused use of the language. I can’t speak as to why these men would articulate truth with gutter language but as for me I want the truth of God ringing in my congregations ears after I deliver a sermon. If I were to tell an audience that the only way I can communicate with them is to use unwholesome speech then I think I need to find another vocation. That’s my two cents. Again, I’m sure the Pig’s Head Bar maids would disagree but they don’t have the responsibility to stand before my people and proclaim God’s Word…I do.

  7. Posted by Caleb on August 19, 2006 at 2:19 pm


    I’m with you brother.


  8. Posted by Andy on August 21, 2006 at 2:27 pm


    I guess I would differ with you a bit here. Driscoll’s words mimic many of the things that I heard and were taught in seminary. He seems to be very strongly communicating that you must know the text. He is exegetical. A view of notes and outlines vary widely even among good “conservative” preachers. He is not saying just let the spirit guide. He seems to be saying know the text so well you don’t need notes.

    As for his view of “radio” preachers. He says in his last line that we should honor and learn from them but not parrot them. He is trying to get people to know their people and preach to them.

    As for his cussing. In his books he has lamented the fact that he has this label. I don’t think his goal is shock value but trying to truthfully communicate the text. The NT text is full of colorful and distateful pictures (Dogs returning to vomit, scubalon, etc.) and sacrasm (Paul’s dealing with “Super-apostles”). I am not saying let’s get up and let off a bunch of cussing because its shocking but let’s also not santize the text.

    As for listening to comedians. I remember vividly a teaching saying that one of the best oral communicators was Vince Sculy because you may not be at a game but you get a mental picture. There is value in learn a skill of communication.

    I guess I am just saying let’s not condemn a guy or give “at-a-boys” especially when its confessed that you haven’t read his books or listen to sermons. I don’t mean this to be diatribe or a defend driscoll at all cost but I feel like we are quick to play whack-a-pastor when they are willing to stick their head up.

  9. Andy,

    I’ll let you guys sort-out all the other stuff but on the issue of Driscoll’s cussing I agree with Driscoll himself that it is a shame that he has become known as the cussing pastor. I think a wise use of words from the pulpit (and in life) can prevent this. However, I think two issues are being confused here. You said, “The NT text is full of colorful and distateful pictures (Dogs returning to vomit, scubalon, etc.) and sacrasm (Paul’s dealing with “Super-apostles”). I am not saying let’s get up and let off a bunch of cussing because its shocking but let’s also not santize the text.”

    I made a similar point in my comment #6. However, no one is calling for a sanitized version of the text. What I think is lost in the whole “language” debate is the clarity of the Word on this issue. The admonition of Eph. 4:29 is a command not a suggestion so it is the responsibility of preachers to measure their words and speak words that heal, comfort and confront yet without resorting to the lowest examples of human vocabulary. (on a side note the word “scubalon” as used in Phil. 3:8 is not a Greek cuss word as has been argued in some places in the blogosphere).

    Thanks for the input.

  10. Posted by Andy on August 23, 2006 at 1:09 am


    I don’t think we are saying different things. I would agree that the text is clear on use of language. There is no place for someone, a pastor or not, using “unwholesome” words. The bigger question is what constitutes and how you judge what is “unwholesome”.

    Language does change over time and in different places. So what was appropriate at one time or place my not be at another.

    For example on Sunday I could say y’all here in AL but if I did that in CA everyone would be highly offended. Sorry I couldn’t resist. :>}

  11. Andy,

    I have read Driscoll’s blog (obv. this whole post is about Driscoll’s article) but have not invested time in his books/sermons. I have read Brian McClaren and my Sr. Pastor has read a number of Emergent books (including Drisco) in an attempt to offer a fair critique (see http://www.fbccarmel.com).

    I agree that a pastor needs to know his sheep the best he can. A pastor should preach his sermon for the edification of the body (first and foremost his own local church). Driscoll did imply Swindoll and MacArthur DO NOT do this. You may agree with Driscoll opinion (frankly i don’t).

    I see no problem with Driscoll not taking notes in the pulpit (after he has spent countless hours studying and meditating on the Text). If he can preach from memory and meditation more power to him.

    I am not convinced about Driscoll’s use of potty mouth humor/language in the pulpit. Chris Rock (though perhaps funny) is crude, a sexist, and a racist. That is not the type of speaker i want my young pastors listening to. (I don’t think you can say the same thing about Vince Scully’s play by play announcing).

    So that is my two cents worth…If you disagree that’s ok. I appreciate your thoughts as you helped me rethink my words and convictions.


  12. Posted by Andy on August 24, 2006 at 3:17 pm


    Thanks for the thoughts.

    Like I said in my post to Paul. I don’t think we are that far apart. I just wanted to raise a couple friendly points of thought or counter point.


  13. Interesting thread. I would encourage you to listen to Mark preach and not just read his words about preaching. It is rare today to find a young preacher with this passion for the Scripture AND his flock. It is possibly even more rare to find someone in this “purpose driven” world who will risk preaching the Word for over an hour – bluntly, boldly, and without apology for the hard parts.

    Speaking of apology. I rarely hear any of the “big names” admit a mistake. Driscoll’s public statement on the same blog (search for “apology”)is encouraging – and might give another view of this man’s heart.

    No, I’m not a member of Mars Hill Church, but I am on staff of a local church in the area and have deep roots with John MacArthur and the ministry at Grace Community Church.

  14. Tim,

    Thanks for the comments. Some of us have not only read Driscoll but have listened to many of his sermons. However, let’s be careful not to repeat the fallacy that one must have listened to him to discern his writings. If it’s in print it’s fair game (and that’s true for this blog as well).

    While I think I see where you’re coming from I’m not so sure about your main statements. Maybe I have an over-positive outlook but I don’t agree with your concern that “It is rare today to find a young preacher with this passion for the Scripture AND his flock. It is possibly even more rare to find someone in this “purpose driven” world who will risk preaching the Word for over an hour – bluntly, boldly, and without apology for the hard parts.”

    Is this really true? I don’t find such men rare at all. They are all over this land and around the world. I know many men who do all these things faithfully (I hope I’m among them). The difference between them (us?) and Driscoll is that most of the world will never know their name. What is rare for Driscoll is that he has come into the spotlight in a part of the country that is not known for it’s public evangelical leaders.

    I do appreciate his boldness and his growing theological refinement which I hope will influence those young men who have not learned to spit out the bones when chewing on “missional-emerging-postmodern-generous orthodoxy”. However, I have read (and heard) some statements that were called “bold” but on second thought they weren’t bold at all they were just careless and caviler. I hope Driscoll fans will learn the difference.

  15. Posted by Caleb on August 25, 2006 at 1:43 pm


    What wonderful “conversation” we’re having here. :) Seriously though, i appreciate all the comments that have been made thus far. Even when friends disagree, if it’s done in the right context with the right attitude this can be very profitable. I am excited to listen to Driscoll’s sermon when he preaches at Piper’s conference.
    For those of you who listen to Driscoll on a regular basis i’d be interested to hear if you thought he changed for this particular conference or if he was true to his Mars Hill style….

    BTW Tim, are you part of Copper Hill church in the SCV?

  16. Paul,
    I appreciate your thoughts. I rarely comment anywhere, but found this thread refreshing in many ways. I may have overstated the case about young preachers, but from my context in the Pacific NW far too many churches are moving away from sound exposition for either seeker sermons, “generous-orthodxy”, or pomo meanderings. In that context Mark stands out. Much like John MacArthur in the early 70’s, he is preaching with authority and people are coming to repentance.

    Thanks for the reminder that there are lots of smaller church pastors that labor faithfully who receive little recognition.

    Caleb: I’m the Executive Pastor at Crossroads Bible Church in Bellevue, Washington. I was youth pastor(among other things) at Grace Community Church (with John MacArthur) before that.

    Thanks for letting me crash your party.

  17. Thanks Tim,

    Good stuff, I hope you keep coming back here. We need your perspective and your wisdom. Thanks again.


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