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Don’t Take Pot-Shots at Worship Leaders, er, I Mean, ANYONE

Mark Driscoll posted the following question on his Facebook Wall yesterday:

Screen-capture taken 7/8/11 at 1:40pm EDT

In case you can’t read that, it says, “So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?

I’m appalled. And disgusted.

If you aren’t familiar with him, Mark is the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, an extremely large church with thousands of members and multiple campuses. Mark reaches tens of thousands more via his podcasts, books, and appearances at conferences. He’s like a radio shock-jock – his schtick is to slap people upside the head with his words. He advocates a rough-and-tumble style of manhood, and as you can presume from the above question, is one who believes God hates homosexuality.

I am not writing about homosexuality or manliness today.

I’m writing about gossip and backstabbing and causing people to sin.

Naqsh-e Rostam IVphoto © 2009 dynamosquito | more info (via: Wylio)

Mark Driscoll had no business asking people to share stories about effeminate male worship leaders. This question would be absolutely inappropriate in a private conversation, let alone on a public Facebook wall. In doing so, he encouraged people to publicly malign, back-stab and cut down their own brothers in Christ. He asked people to engage in gossip about men who have put themselves out front, shared their musical talents, and given time and effort into church ministry.

This is sin.

…It is a clear violation of the Ten Commandments. “No lies about your neighbor.” (Deuteronomy 5:20)

…It breaks the instruction given in Ephesians 4:29-32 to only use words that build each other up and give grace to those who hear, to put away slander and malice, and to be kind to one another.

…It caused over 600 people to comment, potentially sinning with their words. (I read some of the comments, and many were full of hatred, spite, and meanness.) Matthew 18:7 says,“Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”

Whether or not you believe that men should dress and act a certain way, you cannot dispute the clear commands to Christians to speak kind grace-filled words. We are to use our words to build up, not tear down. Romans 1:29 and 2 Corinthians 12:20 and 1 Timothy  5:13 all state that gossip is a sin, included in lists alongside envy, murder, deceit, jealousy, and anger.

Mark Driscoll should be ashamed of himself. He must not only remove this evil question from his Facebook wall, but he should confess it as sin and ask his page “likers” to forgive him for putting it out there and leaving it there as things got ugly.

It’s one thing to take a stand for or against something, it’s quite another to encourage others to tear a person down because they disagree with you.

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Note: A commenter noted that the post was removed. I confirmed this on Sunday evening, July 10, 2011.

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  1. Amen.

  2. How does this facebook post even begin to show love for our fellow believers? Jesus confronted people about their sin, but always in love. it’s the same passive-aggressive behavior that other Christian men exhibit when tweeting, posting about women dressed too provocatively. Really sickens me.

  3. Oh UGH. I really do my best not to pay attention to him. That one really takes the cake. Never mind that he is taking his potshots at people who are already under scrutiny for their public ministry and who already experience discrimination and ridicule in society at large. Is he really considered a Christian spokesperson?

  4. I couldn’t agree more! Well said.

  5. Melissa says:

    I didn’t know about this until now….yuck! I agree, he needs to admit this was a HUGE mistake and remove it from his wall!

  6. Couldn’t agree more. I like about 90% of what Mark has to say. This falls clearly into that 10%. What a shame. How would you like to be a worship pastor serving under his leadership now?

  7. Oooh. Joy. I really like it when you get angry.

  8. Thank you, Joy, for calling this out. I.am.stunned. NO ONE should feel this is an okay thing to put out in any public forum. And a pastor? Wow. This is more than shake-em-up, rough-around-the-edges. This is mean, plain and simple – and a kind of mean that solicits meanness in return. So, so sorry to read this, but grateful for your righteous indignation here. Sheesh.

  9. Stephanie Miller says:

    Wow! Can’t believe he posted that on FB let alone thought it. I agree wholeheartedly with you.

  10. Totally agree, and for writing a post while you’re angry I thought you were very well-balanced.

    We go to an SBC/Acts 29 church and it can be a great network to support church planters, but it’s crazy how closely people will emulate him! I mean, I’ve liked a thing he’s said now and then…and he’s a sinner just like me.

    But we’ll see people dressing like he does & all about his every book and it’s like watching teenage boys following Mr. Popular who doesn’t even care. Sometimes in church one of our pastors will drop his name, because, you know…they’re friends. But not really…they’ve met once or twice and he helps train other Acts 29 pastors. Sometimes we just roll our eyes.

    But anyway.

  11. I wondered what was going on when I saw a tweet from MPT at “Jesus Needs New PR” that said he’d like to leave Driscoll a comment, but doesn’t want to have to “Like” his FB page. Now, I know…..

    That is incredible – thanks for calling this guy out on this. I’m a worship leader and I take incredible offense to that, even though I don’t consider myself “effeminate”. (I’m too fat, dumb and lazy to be effeminate anyway…. definitely a guy!)

    Honestly, I’m dumbfounded. There’s no reason to make a comment like that, ever. Worship leaders aren’t football coaches and shouldn’t be graded on how “manly” they are….

    If a pastor at our church said something like that, they’d either be out on their ear or apologizing. And our church has a pastoral staff that includes a former NFL lineman, and a number of guys that played college and/or pro ball in baseball/basketball. In fact, if Driscoll said something like that at our church, the Men’s Pastor (the lineman) would probably be the one that would throw him out on his ear.

  12. Great post, Joy. Amen.

  13. Actually, I’m much more offended by the fact that you seem to think that effeminate males = homosexual males. That’s stereotyping in its purest form. I won’t apologize for Driscoll, nor do I think he’d want me to. God Himself has tons of effeminate qualities.

    Genesis 1:27 says- “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” It would seem to me that before there were genders, there was God and God encompasses ALL of the good and holy qualities of His Creation and more. God is a warrior, protector, provider, He is courageous and just and right. God is also loving, tender, gentle, pure, He is forgiving and patient and kind.

    So God’s effeminate and masculine. Is God a sinner? Is God really either male or female the way that we define genders? There is nothing wrong with being an effeminate man, and I doubt Driscoll would say that there is either.

    If you were to write a post about every group of people that Driscoll made fun of, you’re more than welcome to… you’ll have a very very full blog with new material every week. But you can do it without making false parallels and implying something more offensive than the original statement made.

    • Adam, you make a very good point. I didn’t write clearly enough. I completely agree with you that God has feminine and masculine traits and, being a grammar-lover, sorely hate that English has no gender-neutral personal pronoun to use for God (instead of He).

      I shouldn’t have mentioned homosexuality at all, but I did because some of Mark’s most offensive comments (to me) are on homosexuality, and they are linked to his comments about manhood and womanhood and marriage and sex. And all of that is wrapped up in this Facebook post.

      So you’re right — it’s a false parallel. Effeminate does not equal homosexual.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Thank you for your reply. I know Driscoll is polarizing, and I know that offends many. That’s perfectly ok. He has a really good sermon on humor which explains why he makes fun of people and how he uses that as a device for bringing people to Jesus.

        It’s located here: http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/religionsaves/humor

        Certainly worth a listen, though don’t worry if you still don’t agree with him after it’s over… it’s still controversial, but I think it might help shed light on his mindset at least.

        I am a grammar lover too, and a lover of Jesus. Any way that His name is glorified is great, and I’m happy that we were able to have this discussion very civilly! Thank you.

        • May I say here that THIS is how believers handle conflict. Face to face, calmly and with respect. Well done to both of you.

      • Effeminate is not the same as feminine. God may have feminine qualities, but “effeminate” is a derogatory term used specifically to describe men who have too much femininity in their personality. For what it’s worth.

        • Please don’t take this as me trying to be snarky, but…


          (of a man or boy) having traits, tastes, habits, etc., traditionally considered feminine, as softness or delicacy.
          characterized by excessive softness, delicacy, self-indulgence, etc.: effeminate luxury.

          I don’t see anything derogatory there. Effeminate is no more derogatory in my book than “tomboy.”

    • You make valid points about not equating effeminacy with homosexuality, and about the male- and female-associated attributes of God. And I think you’re right that we ought to be very careful about the assumptions and judgments we make.

      But do you really think that when Driscoll posted this he was looking for stories about “anatomically male” worship leaders who best display the “effeminate” attributes of God? Or even that he was using “effeminate” in any but a pejorative sense? That seems like a big leap–particularly considering that the nature of many of the comments goes far further toward affirming Joy’s interpretation of Driscoll’s position on the relationship between effeminacy and homosexuality (clearly a popular cultural interpretation, no matter how unjustifiable it may be).

      Whatever Driscoll’s intent was, the bottom line is that we’re responsible for the consequences and results of our actions, even if they’re far different from what we wanted. The result of Driscoll’s action was that it stirred up a lot of gossip and gave people a place, or actually encouraged them, to express their hatred and bile toward both effeminate and homosexual men–which is something that ought to grieve all of us. That’s the point here.

      • *big leap is what that should say. 🙂

      • Yes, I believe it was intended to “pick on” qualities that deviate from the norm. If you’d like to call it pejorative, that’s fine, because it probably is. However, I make fun of my friend for not being able to follow directions. There’s nothing she can do to change the fact that she’s just terrible with directions, and it’s just an ongoing joke about it.

        The question I have is, knowing Driscoll’s stance on homosexuality, do you really think that he would worship with an unrepentant sinner leading worship? It’s one thing to eat with sinners, and it’s another to have a sinner lead in the church.

        Taking that into consideration, I really think that Driscoll was just “picking on” effemininity (apparently I just coined that word) to be humorous (as illustrated in the sermon that I posted above). He probably has a friend who is an upstanding Christian and just picks on him. What you find to be offensive, he probably views as funny. That’s the difference I think. But no, I don’t think he was equating it to homosexuality.

        As for his choice to post it on facebook… that was probably unwise, but facebook is facebook and those kinds of comments can spring up from anything.

        • I should say that I don’t necessarily agree with what Driscoll said… I wouldn’t have said it myself. I’m just trying to elucidate what he may have meant.

  14. Amen and very well said! I really appreciate that you called him out without being snarky or mean about it. I think this is something that is often missing from these sorts of issues. This post proves there’s no wiggle room for this kind of thing (whether from a famous pastor or anyone else). It’s just wrong.

  15. Very, very well put. Truly.

  16. How is what Driscoll said that much different than the bashing of conservatives I see liberal Christians doing all the time? I think MPT is a great guy but he posts stuff akin to what Driscoll said. I think the outrage here overall might be more about Driscoll being conservative than just the post itself.

    • What bothered me was that Mark solicited others to contribute. He didn’t just say, “hey, have you ever noticed that most worship leaders are effeminate?” {{{ just an example of something he might say!!!! }}} He asked other people to share their own stories and engage in the gossip and slander and tearing down. And over 600 did.

      He has over 100,000 followers on Facebook. People imitate him and follow his lead. this was a VERY POOR LEAD.

    • Well, outrage about him being a misogynist, anyway. Implying that effeminate is bad is saying that being a woman is not as good as being a man. That’s not conservative bias – that’s anti-woman bias. Which is pretty much how Driscoll rolls.

  17. Although there are certain things I enjoy Pastor Mark Driscoll’s direct speech on, this is not one of them. You are very right…it is unkind and inappropriate. It also causes people to look at a certain group of people and ask whether or not they “measure up”. Never a God idea…

  18. Sounds like this person, Mark, is doing a lot of judging… not a good thing. That should be left up to God 🙂

  19. Todd Erickson says:

    Driscoll’s persona (no idea how lifelike it is) is built around hyper masculinity and public rebuke. You don’t listen to Driscoll for reason, but because you like his brand of hyperbole. Sort of like Glen Beck or John Stewart.

  20. Sharman says:

    Unbelievable! A Christian SHOCK JOCK? I’m glad I didn’t find him!! I’m quite sure I would not have used kind words to him!! What a shame he is in the position where he can influence anyone! Well, vengence is mine, says the Lord — I’ll just let Him handle it!

  21. I could not agree more….so well said.

    Sara Sophia

  22. Thanks for bringing our attention to the important issue–the sin–rather than simply to his infuriating views on gender. It is easy for me to get so distracted by his assumptions that I forget to step back and say, “Wait, even if he was right about gender, this is not Christian-worthy behavior.”


  23. Regardless what he meant when he said effeminate, I don’t understand what he hoped to accomplish with his question! His intentions seem to be to “tear down” instead of “build up”. It’s a shameful attempt to draw attention to himself.

    Great post. I always enjoy reading what you write.

  24. That is just sad. We should be just building each other up, not tearing each other down. The attention for church and worship should not be on ourselves or the pastor or the song director ~ it should be on Christ.

  25. Anastasia says:

    Excellent blog post!

    Driscoll lives to incite, and I personally think he gets off on it. It’s like a power rush. I feel bad for him b/c God WILL call him out on it…and God, also, in His infinite mercy, will forgive him assuming he seeks it.

    I am disgusted with this guy. He’s right up there w/ the Westboro Baptist crazies. I think he is a coward and far from the manly-man persona act he tries to put on. A real man, a true leader, and a Spirit-filled man of God simply does not do this. Clearly Ephesians 4:29-32 means nothing to him. It’s disheartening the number of followers he has.

    Brennan Manning was right when he said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. THAT is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

  26. Joy,

    Apart from the equation between homosexuality and effiminacy (which you addressed in the comments above well and i don’t plan to take you to task further), you say what needed to be said in response and you said it well. I really hope we see a public reflection on this from Mr. Driscoll.

    Thanks for your well-written peace.

  27. So glad you were led to call him out on this, Joy. You touched on a deeper issue of the church – that has nothing to do with neither male nor female, straight nor gay, worship leader or Sunday school teacher. It’s about the way we treat each other, hold each other up, and celebrate the best in each other. You’ve sparked a good conversation here – thanks for sharing, as always!

  28. Kind of hoping that his facebook account was hacked and that he didn’t really post this.

  29. Excellent post!! I cannot understand why the christian right has idealized and idolized a stereotype of maleness, as if there is only one true way to be truly male. What is wrong with effeminate guys? If that is who they authentically are then no one should have anything to say about it. And thanks for the clarification about effemininity not being the same as gay, there are all kinds of very masculine gays, and without this kind of prejudice there would be a lot more effeminite heterosexual men freed up to be who they are.

  30. Excellent post, I think you said exactly what needed to be said.

    You know, perhaps he was trying to make a joke…but when you are that big of a Christian leader with a large FB following you REALLY need to weigh very carefully what you say before you post it. (Well, actually all of us would do well to follow that rule whether posting on FB, blogs or message boards.) I know my pastor has posted some things in the heat of the moment and then realized as comments get heated that it just wasn’t appropriate and he’s taken the post down. I wish Driscoll had the cajones to say ‘Wow, that didn’t come out the way I intended it at all, my apologies to any worship leaders I may have hurt’. And then remove the post.

  31. Well said. Certainly not the kind of FB post that is “helpful for building up those who hear.” And you’re right…encouraging others to tear down is what is so distressing about it.

  32. Todd Erickson says:

    I would disagree with the person who says “we should only build up other Christians”. Certainly, there is a thought here that somebody who is in accountable relationship with Driscoll should be rebuking him in love for publicly tearing down others, that he might be brought into line with Christ.

    Of course, since Driscoll has also advocated mocking other denominations and religious groups in the past, among other things, I rather suspect that there is nobody in his life to do this.

    But certainly, we all need other Christians in our lives who are not just going to build us up, but are also going to challenge us and provide elements which will deflate the pride in our lives.

  33. I so agree with you. I recently wrote a Bible Study on Unity within the body of Christ, and stuff like this does NOT promote unity. 🙁

  34. Frivolous says:

    Christianity: An atoll of stupidity in a sea of insanity.

  35. AndrewFinden says:

    This is really well said.

  36. Jon Watson says:

    Since most of your commentators seem to agree with you, I thought I’d provide the alternate position.

    What, I believe, Mark is speaking out against, is the sensational, “close your eyes and feel close to Jesus” style of worship leading that has become prevalent in the church. We’re losing the men, who as you say, adhere to a “a rough-and-tumble style of manhood.”

    Do I agree with you that his methods were off? Yes. Do I believe he has accurately identified a problem? Yes.

    Now, let’s go a step beyond criticizing his criticism, and work on a solution for the problem.

    • I love hearing alternate positions — thanks for stopping by.

      I’ve written a number of posts about worship, because I too have a lot of concerns about the way we do this part of our church services today. I’ve never connected it to a person’s personality, however. Maybe that’s part of it, but I personally believe it rises out of shallow theology and lack of life experience.

      You might be interested in those posts — the first one is here: http://joyinthisjourney.com/2011/05/lying-in-church/

      I also really struggle with the “just feel close to Jesus” approach to faith, because it never works for me. Faith is a huge struggle and does not come easily for me. I wrote about that too, here: http://joyinthisjourney.com/2011/02/i-want-in/

    • Hi Jon,

      I agree with you to a certain extent, in that worship that’s just designed to stimulate the emotions is not a correct way to worship. However, that has nothing to do with gender; to be honest, I’ve seen that attitude more from men (including the stereotypical “extremely male men”). The problem is not due to gender or gender stereotypes; it’s due to the overemphasis on emotion and underemphasis on the Gospel.

      Speaking for myself, I say the solution should be to return to the more liturgical, traditional forms of worship (this is my Lutheran bias, to be clear). Yeah, I know it’s not a form that appeals to everyone, but it is one that avoids this problem of insulting people via gender stereotypes.

  37. wow. I genuinely expected the post to have been taken down when I went to flip through the comments and it is still there.

  38. Excellent post Joy, and I love the way you always handle yourself with such grace.

  39. you put this perfectly. Thank you for sharing. It’s sad that pastors often mock the people that they are supposed to watch over and care for.

  40. Good word!

  41. I don’t see the post on Driscoll’s wall (any more). Are you sure he posted it? Maybe his account was hacked…

    • Mark Driscoll commented under this specific post. Certainly that could have been an admin and not Mark himself, but if they commented on it instead of merely removing it when it appeared, that validates the post as real. Someone captured one of these here: http://www.jesusneedsnewpr.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Mark2.jpg

      I am glad that the post was finally removed, but it took them far too long. The last time I looked, it had nearly 700 comments.

  42. Hi Joy,
    My first time here and I felt compelled to comment. I don’t know who Mark Driscoll here, so I’m coming from just based soley on his facebook update and the comments here.

    I get wanting to be funny, I really do. And he wasn’t pointing out one particular person. But asking for stories from his tribe causes them to think of a particular person. It causes his readers to put someone into a category and then share with other people. I think we are better than that as Christ followers. Now, with that said…

    What do we do now? We can say how messed up his comment is, or we can choose to show him love. Maybe he regrets what he wrote, who knows? Maybe the spirit of what he was trying to say didn’t come across because it is difficult to convey humor when writing online. All I know is God loves Mark, God loves all of us. It doesn’t matter what a man or woman looks like who leads worship. We don’t have to agree with each other, yet we are called to love. Are we going to keep putting this guy on blast, or do the hard thing and love him anyways?

    We can love Mark, but we might not like him right now. I like the graciousness of how you addressed commenters. All I know is, I’ve said some stuff I wished I hadn’t, and needed a little love, grace and forgiveness.

    And like the hokey pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

  43. Joy – please remind me how this post is not guilty of the very thing you are condemning Driscoll for –

    “It’s one thing to take a stand for or against something, it’s quite another to encourage others to tear a person down because they disagree with you.”

    Do you feel like you are taking a stand without encouraging others to tear Driscoll down because you disagree with him? I think this is hypocrisy – maybe you should turn off your comments so you dont continue to stir up and violate Ephesians 4:29-32.

  44. Hi,

    This may already have been said, I don’t know, I did not read through all comments.

    Pastor Mark actually had a point. Unfortunately the point got lost in the hundreds of replies that were posted in a matter of a few hours. I followed this post, because I saw much judgment from people, even though this post was a question, not a statement.

    Here’s the point:
    -It’s probably not a surprise when someone observes that many churches have more women than men, in varying degrees of leadership, serving, praying, etc. Nothing wrong here yet.
    -Due to cultural change in the last century men have often been emasculated. The stereotype ‘real man’ may or may not have been right, but as part of the emasculation all men, Christian as well, were affected.
    -There’s a tendency for this to be displayed on the stage in worship leaders.
    -His comment had to do with the fact that he brought in someone as a guest, a man, who had certain believes about being a ‘real man’. When the person saw the worship leader he left because he was appalled by the dress code, the way the worship leader handled itself, or whatever it may have been. This man left the church because of an effeminate person on the stage.

    I’ll say this, that we are held accountable to people in the world for a variety of reasons, some good, some bad, and we don’t know what someone sees or hears when we display ourselves. However if we are to reach the lost we should be sensitive to some degree, so in that light I don’t feel the question he posed, not statement, is a bad one. It’s still just a question… And for the record, he commented once or twice somewhere in that thread, and that’s where I got my info from.




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