Image credit: Churchleaders.com
Mark Driscoll has relaunched his former website pastormark.tv as markdriscoll.org. You might think he was changing the name because he is no longer a pastor. If you do, you’re wrong. Apparently, Mark Driscoll is still promoting the idea of people referring and addressing him as “Pastor Mark.” In a post dated 12/20/14, the web page says,
This website was built in response to requests from people wanting access to Pastor Mark Driscoll’s past and future Bible teaching. This is the only official resource from Pastor Mark Driscoll, and will soon be the exclusive home for content from Pastor Mark and his family.
Mark Driscoll is not a pastor. He is not recognized by any biblical church as one of their pastors and therefore biblically, he is not at this time a pastor. I’m not in this post arguing whether or not he is biblically qualified to be a pastor. Whatever one thinks about that, the point is that no local gospel-preaching church recognizes him as such and so he shouldn’t promote that title. I hope he reconsiders this as he learns whatever our Lord Jesus is hopefully teaching him in this season of his life.
To be a pastor is to be one recognized by a local church as having pastoral responsibilities to the local church, responsibilities defined in the New Testament. This is where evangelicalism as a movement is inadequate. At it’s best it’s a movement of those who are united by their belief in the gospel and in the final authority of the Scriptures. It isn’t meant to take the place of the local church of a denomination of churches. I praise God for evangelical unity and its blessings. But when one has a weak or poorly thought out ecclesiology, they do things like recognize others as pastors or call themselves pastors when they are not.
if the above analysis is correct, then to rightfully be a “pastor” (or deacon) is to be “ordained” in the sense of being publicly installed into that office. The idea of separating the title from the public act of commissioning is not found in the Bible. Elders are not appointed to an office after they become elders. But by becoming elders, they are appointed to office.
In a recent “Ask Pastor John” podcast episode at Desiring God, John commented on the fact that the church’s official recognition of his title “Pastor Emeritus” legitimizes his continuing to be addressed as “Pastor John” (go to 8:28-8:38). The implication is that if a church does not recognize a man as one of their pastors then the individual shouldn’t assume the title of pastor.
Why take the time to write about this? Am I mad at Driscoll? No. I love the brother and thank God for the grace I received through Mark. Do I have opinions on his qualifications and all the hoopla surrounding his resignation? Who doesn’t? The point I wanted to make here is that we need to be more thoughtful about churchmanship in Evangelicalism. It’s important to be a member of a church. And it’s important for men who call themselves “pastor” to actually be pastoring a church. Even then we shouldn’t rush to a title (cf. Matt 23:8). Pastoring is a weighty responsibility (Hebrews 13:17) and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Neither should assuming the title.