The latest episode from Christianity Today’s podcast, “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill,” has drawn attention to a video of a conversation between pastors Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, and Mark Dever about the benefits and disadvantages of pursuing a multisite model of church growth. The most striking aspect of the discussion, which took place in 2010, is arguably the condescending and aggressive attitudes Driscoll and MacDonald display toward Dever.
“Watched that old video with Mark Dever and Mark Driscoll,” said Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, Research Professor of English and Christianity and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. “The craziest part to me is when Dever casually mentions what ‘ecclesia’ means in Greek, and Driscoll says, ‘According to who?’”
Watched that old video with Mark Dever and Mark Driscoll.
The craziest part to me is when Dever casually mentions what “ecclesia” means in Greek, and Driscoll says, “According to who?”
— Karen Swallow Prior (Notorious KSP) (@KSPrior) October 10, 2021
Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald Vs. Mark Dever
The video, which was produced by The Gospel Coalition (TGC), is no longer on TGC’s site, but a user has posted it to Vimeo. It is titled “Multiple Sites: Yea or Nay? Dever, Driscoll, and MacDonald Vote, and in it, Mark Driscoll and James McDonald seek to persuade Mark Dever that he ought to pursue a multisite model of church growth.
When the video was filmed, MacDonald was still the pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) in Chicago and Driscoll was the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Both men have since left those churches amid controversy that includes accusations of abuse of leadership. For further information, see below:
Former Mars Hill Elders Plead For Mark Driscoll to Resign Immediately
New Church, Similar Stories: Is Mark Driscoll an Abusive Leader?
Elders Fire James MacDonald, Believe He Is ‘Harmful’ to the Church
The Harvest and James MacDonald Controversy Explained
Mark Dever was and still is pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.
Apart from the combative posture Driscoll and MacDonald take toward Dever, something else that stands out is their emphasis on numbers as a measure of church’s success. There is some confusion throughout the discussion as to exactly what a multisite model looks like and how it differs from church planting. Dever’s main concern seems to be with churches that simply broadcast a video of a senior pastor from another location Instead of having their own pastor and elders.