Preaching Idol: How not to fill the vacancy on your mega church preaching roster…

Curiouser, and curiouser. Things are going further down the rabbit hole at Mars Hill. Mark Driscoll is having a holiday, and to figure out who will preach when he’s not, Mars Hill is holding “Q” School. Because it would be horrible to have each campus have a different preacher… you know… somebody there in the flesh.


Via Mars Hill’s Flickr

“Tuesday, November 15th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., we’ll be hosting our first ever Preaching Qualifying School (Q School) at Mars Hill Ballard. This event will be a pressure-cooker preaching competition a la American Idol between 3 Mars Hill elders with the prize of being part of our preaching rotation to fill the pulpit on weeks Pastor Mark is out of the pulpit. “

Via the Facebook Event Page

It might be a joke, but if it’s a joke, it’s bad. It’s like the Pressy Church’s trials for license, but put on show, for everybody to watch, and it’s a meritocracy. They’re judging preachers by who the “best” is, and 1 Corinthians 1 says no.

10I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephasa”; still another, “I follow Christ.”… 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

It seems to me that filling that sort of gap in the preaching schedule should be done behind closed doors, and shouldn’t be done by pitting brothers in Christ against one another, whatever the “spirit” of the event is… turning it into some bad rip off of a reality TV show cheapens the pulpit, and cheapens the ministry of the losers.

Here’s some more on the day, from Driscoll’s blog… which contains some gems on preaching, and highlights just how bizarre Driscoll’s ministry is becoming – in many ways he’s a great model for how to engage with culture and point people to Jesus. But…

“Only three men will preach this round, but there will be other rounds forthcoming. This round’s contestants will be Pastor Thomas Hurst of Mars Hill Bellevue, Pastor Scott Mitchell of Mars Hill Everett, and Pastor AJ Hamilton of Mars Hill Albuquerque. They will have 30 minutes each with a shot clock and buzzer. They can bring only a Bible with them on stage.

This will be fun…for some of us. For our Mars Hill version of American Idol for preachers, I’ll play the part of Simon Cowell, minus the deep v-neck and British accent. Joining me on the judging panel will be Dr. Justin Holcomb who runs Resurgence, Pastor Scott Thomas who runs Acts 29, and Pastor Dave Bruskas, the executive elder who oversees all our churches. “

So you can only preach from a Bible? That’s guaranteed to produce some pretty tightly thought out oratory.

Some of Driscoll imposing himself on the process (the other 14 tips are pretty good), these ones are mostly good…

“Look like someone who has it together from clothes to haircut to overall presentation. You don’t need to be a model, but you should look presentable. If you have bed-head, your fly open, keep losing your place in your notes, your shoe is untied, your mic battery dies, and you say, “Um,” a lot because you’re unprepared, I may feel sorry for you but I’m not following you because you don’t seem to have a clue where you are going.”

I understand where he’s going with that one – our presentation shouldn’t be a stumbling block… but untied shoes? Seriously?

And of course, Driscoll’s Discern-o-meter will be the difference between a pass and a fail… he’s looking for preachers who have the X Factor. Who have “it”…

“It” is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in you and through you. I’m looking to see if you have it. I can’t explain it, but I know it when I see it.”

How about “it” just be what was “it” for Paul…

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength…

1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.a 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power5so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

8 thoughts on “Preaching Idol: How not to fill the vacancy on your mega church preaching roster…”

      1. My Tweet:

        “@PastorMark @MarsHill, guys, from an outsider’s perspective the “Q School” American Idol joke looks a bit dumb, and a bit anti 1 Cor 1-2″

  1. Although I usually don’t share to the same extent the majority of criticisms lobbied against Driscoll, I must say, I’m with you on this one Nath. It seems too flashy even to me who wears multiple accessories a day. (Although I still like his discern-o-meter and looking for the ‘it’.)

    1. I just think the Bible tells you what “it” is when it comes to “Spirit filled” preaching – and it’s preaching Christ crucified. I don’t think it has to be with some sort of X-Factor. I think preaching that is convicting is probably a result of the Spirit (ala Matt 10:19-20)…

  2. You should totally email him, and all of them really. How bizarre!!! I would definitely not want to be part of that church. Such a turn-off and a distraction to the gospel!

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