In the last sermon at Mars Hill Church–West Seattle, which has now been renamed “Trinity West Seattle” and is off to a new start, Pastor David Fairchild preached from the book of Nehemiah.
The sermon is worth listening to.
It was seven years ago that Mark Driscoll preached from the book of Nehemiah. When he began the series of sermons in 2007, the church was governed by a plurality of elders. On September 30, 2007, Driscoll preached the notorious “I break their noses” sermon, then walked off the podium and within minutes fired Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. Within a month, the remaining 22 elders gave up their fiduciary duties as overseers and voted in bylaws that neutered themselves.
It was at that time that the walls began to crumble.
The clear contrast between Fairchild’s sermon this last Sunday and Driscoll’s sermon seven years ago, was that unlike Driscoll, who presented himself as Nehemiah, Fairchild does not weave his own image into the story, except for seeking out ways that he and his fellow elders could see their own sin of complicity, and having done so, repent. He promised his members more of this. This is very encouraging.
There are parallels in the story that might be of note.
- Complicity means that it was not the exiles that brought the walls down, but the very elders themselves. As readers have noted in my writings (to some of their frustrations) I hold the elders responsible for the abusive side of Mars Hill Church more than I hold Mark Driscoll responsible. The elders willingly gave him what he wanted.
- It was the exiles that, in coming back to Jerusalem, brought hope and effective rebuilding back to Jerusalem. Could it be that there are many “Jeremiahs” that God will use to rebuild the broken church, and they have last names like Petry, Meyer, Krombein, Smidt, Kraft, or Bettger, to suggest just a few?
- The city that needed rebuilding housed a few remaining and broken Israelites. The vast majority had been scattered as a result of the exile. When God warned Israel of the coming destruction he called Nebuchadnezzar his “servant.” It was God’s plan to scatter Israel, and then rebuild Jerusalem with the hands of both exiled Jews as well as those that never left Jerusalem. What rejoicing there will be when the 11 churches that represent the broken walls of Mars Hill Church, will welcome with joyful arms those who have been shunned, and those who have been calling for the abuse – which crumbled the walls in the first place – to be addressed.
So, dear reader, pray for the rebuilding of Trinity West Seattle, and for the leaders of the other 10 churches that now exist. Pray that they call for and welcome the exiles that could help them rebuild.
So help us God.