The Context

I was poking around the web and came across the videos for a conference called Advance09.  Mark Driscoll was a featured speaker at the conference along with other pastors who have super large congregations.  He was there with Rick Warren (25,000 members + 200,000 pastors trained in the PDL) and Jonathan Falwell (20,000 + members plus “millions” through their TV ministy).  These men are considered hugely innovative and successful pastors because they have built really big congregations.

Just a minute into the first video from Mark Driscoll I heard the following…

Driscoll (8,000 attending + plans to have 100 worldwide campuses and 50,000 people) turns to this group of men who are the spiritual guides to hundreds of thousands of people and asks,

“what is the church?”

All of these successful pastors look at one another with confused looks and say,

“I don’t know!  What is the church?”

According to Driscoll, not a single pastor in the group had a clear ‘functional’ and ‘biblical’ definition of church!

How Would You Answer These Questions?

Mark Driscoll says we are living in an age when “Ecclesology is being redefined” by technology and redefined by the innovative ideas of this group of pastors (online church, video-venues, etc…).

  1. Is Driscoll suggesting that the Ecclesioology as defined in the New Testament is insufficient for today’s high octane mega-church leadership?
  2. Is God’s revealed Ecclesiology no longer viable for the next generation? Is that really what Driscoll is saying?  Is he right?
  3. Should Ecclesiology be redefined for each unique method of doing church (video campus, online campus, etc…)?
  4. Are these mega-church leaders the men God has appointed to lead us into the redefinition of church? And if not, then who?

I realize that since 2009, Driscoll has written books that he believes answers these questions.  He also published his “8 Marks of the ‘True’ Church.”  But… maybe it is time more believers engaged in a serious discussion about what, and who, the Church really is!

What do you say? Do we need a new definition of Church?

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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