Pastor Dude's Mega-Church Draws Crowds
With sermons about sex, evangelical pastor at mega-church draws huge crowds.
SEATTLE, Jan. 23, 2008— -- At first glance, Mark Driscoll seems like a typical Seattle, Wash., "hipster" dad, from the biker boots to the shades to his calling his 3-year-old "dude."
But nothing about Mark Driscoll is typical -- and neither is the church he presides over.
Driscoll, 38, is the pastor and figurehead of Seattle's Mars Hill Church. The church, founded by Driscoll in 1996, is now nearly 8,000 strong and among the fastest-growing in America.
Most of his parishioners call him "Pastor Mark" but, Driscoll said, "You can call me Pastor Dude if you want."
Whatever you call him, Driscoll is the "indy rock star" of the evangelicals. His flock is a colorful bunch in their Sunday best: torn jeans, tattoos and 20-something avant-garde fashion statements. They're not just there for the dress code; they come to hear sermons with an edge.
"You're being saved, you're being born again," Driscoll shouted in one sermon. "Like a mother in the travails of childbirth. It hurts, you're screaming, you're bleeding, you're weeping, you're crying, it feels like you can't go on."
And Driscoll takes on topics that would make the Pope blush.
"On the subject of masturbation, I will say this," he preached. "The Bible doesn't say anything. I had one guy quote Ecclesiastes 9:10: whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."
Driscoll admits his preaching can sometimes be summed up with two words: sex and Jesus.
"I like both ... for the record," he said. "Sex with my wife. And I dig Jesus. Absolutely."
Driscoll's blog posts on the church Web site include a variety of often graphic topics but he doesn't think there's too much sex in the Mars Hill Church and is adamant that premarital sex is a sin.
"I think that married people should have free and frequent sex," he said. "That's what I think. And we encourage our people to get married and enjoy one another."