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Mark Driscoll: A Book You Will Actually Read On Church Leadership


Mark Driscoll, A Book You Will Actually Read On Church Leadership (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 96 pages, ISBN 9781433501371

Christians and even churches seem to find traditional NT leadership issues a bit boring, if not irrelevant, to modern church culture. An ever increasing trend in developing leadership teams is to adapt a more corporate style of government and move away from traditional modes for elders and deacons focusing more on the essence of leadership than structure. On Church Leadership presents a conservative, traditional viewpoint with a contemporary paradigm that weaves in a value of leadership involving more than qualifications and organizational charts. And it’s short, just 76 pages between the intro and the ample appendix. No fluff here.

Knowing a bit about author Mark Driscoll, pastor of the large and growing Mars Hill Church in Seattle, will enhance appreciation for his point of view. Driscoll is on the leading edge of being Reformed and relevant, a hip version of Spurgeon ala Urban Outfitters with a matching church culture. What you will see through the pages, beginning with Jesus, is a description of elders as spiritual leadership, deacons as assistants who oversee material and practical affairs and clearly defined membership requirements.The chapter on leadership teams lays out the dynamics of prophet, priest and king mixed in with “air war” and “ground war” paradigms. Other offerings include a question and answer section and a sample of the Mars Hill membership covenant.

Driscoll challenges leaders to maintain a conservative biblical basis and a culturally relevant mindset.

Several portions of the book stood out to me. The first was an emphasis on the lead pastor as a “first among equals” elder. In establishing hierarchy among elders Driscoll likely sees these distinctions as vital for casting and carrying out vision, operating entrepreneurially and underscoring that even leaders have a leader. One could conclude then that while elders operate in plurality and unity they clearly are not running over the pastor. This it would seem lends biblical support to the pastor as CEO concept without sidestepping limits and accountability.

Another item, surely to raise more than eyebrows, is Driscoll’s extensive chapter (more than a fourth of the book) on the role of women in leadership. He does not see the Bible supporting any role for women as pulpit teachers or in the ranks of elder and at the same time does see women filling the deacon role. That chapter alone is worthy of a substantial review and I suggest you read it for yourself.

Notably absent from the material is discussion on roles of five fold ministry gifts (Eph 4) particularly as they relate to leadership functions and structure. While there are several paragraphs in the question and answer section that marginally address his view of an apostle, more inclusive commentary and clarity would be helpful. According to his website at, Driscoll does believe in the charismatic gifts but it’s clear he wouldn’t identify with some segments of the contemporary charismatic church.

From the recent plant to the well established church and to those struggling with church leadership issues, this book is worth a look. Contemporary methodology from the pulpit to the pew can produce strong numbers but weak churches. Driscoll challenges leaders to maintain a conservative biblical basis and a culturally relevant mindset. You may not find consensus with everything presented but there is a wealth of resources for practical insight and implementation to aid leaders in developing or restructuring a solid framework for effective ministry.

Reviewed by Ron Messelink

Publisher’s page:

As of May 31, 2014, the full digital version of A Book You Will Actually Read On Church Leadership is available at:


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Category: Ministry, Winter 2009

About the Author: Ron Messelink left the business world in 1992 to pursue a call to ministry. A graduate of Grace School of Ministry, he founded Grace Life Church where he ministered for 17 years. Ron's passion is for people to know and experience the reality for Christ in you, the hope of glory. Ron currently teaches believers and churches through Ron Messelink Ministries. He is working on several books and developing a discipleship tool to help people connect and grow in the gospel of grace. Ron and his wife Joy make their home in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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