UPDATE: Pastor Mark Driscoll's website was temporarily offline on Monday, December 29. It appeared to be working again Monday evening.
Pastor Mark Driscoll may be aiming for comeback.
The disgraced evangelical preacher, who recently resigned from the Seattle megachurch network he spent 18 years building, has reportedly launched a website filled with sermons and other free resources.
News about the website emerged just days before Mars Hill Church formally dissolves on Dec. 31, Seattle PI reports.
Along with offering sermons and free ebooks, the website also asks for donations. It claims the funds will be sent to “Learning For Living,” an “application-pending registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.”
Mark DeMoss, a friend who serves as Driscoll's pro bono spokesperson, told HuffPost that the pastor recently set up Learning For Living to manage his Bible teaching content, since he can't provide content through Mars Hill anymore.
It is a low-key operation with no paid staff. He simply wanted a way to make sermon and written content available, much of it for free, some of it for a contribution, and is doing so now at markdriscoll.org. Learning for Living is the non-profit organization name through which people can contribute and/or order materials. He just got it up and running in recent days.
The Huffington Post used the IRS’ “Exempt Organizations Select Check” to search for an organization in Washington state named “Learning for Living” that is currently eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. The search yielded no results on Tuesday.
Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton noted that that Driscoll’s website was registered to the Mars Hill Fellowship. In fact, Driscoll's design closely resembles the church’s current site. However, Mars Hill’s current Communications & Editorial Manager Justin Dean told The Huffington Post that the similarities end there:
That domain is one that Mars Hill has had registered for quite some time but we never used. It has now been transferred to Mark Driscoll, and the domain registration to Mars Hill Fellowship is outdated (I believe it is now updated). The site is in no way affiliated with Mars Hill Church or Mars Hill Fellowship.
Driscoll has largely stayed under the radar since his resignation in October. He did, however, preach briefly at the Gateway Church Conference in Dallas-Ft. Worth. He told the crowd that his family was receiving death threats, and asked for prayers.
“I’ve cried a lot lately,” he said. “It’s been a rough season for the family.”
The pastor’s fall from grace can be traced back to a number of factors -- including allegations of plagiarism, crude comments he made online under a pseudonym, and questions about church finances. He was removed from the church planting group Acts29 last August, according to Seattle PI.
However, the bio on his website omits that stain on Driscoll's reputation. It simply notes that Driscoll is the organization’s co-founder, while listing other redeeming qualities.
Pastor Mark Driscoll is a Jesus-following, mission-leading, church-serving, people-loving, Bible-preaching pastor. . . With a skillful mix of bold presentation, accessible teaching, and unrelenting compassion for those who are hurting the most—particularly women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse and assault—Pastor Mark has taken biblical Christianity into cultural corners rarely explored by evangelicals.
But can Driscoll's reputation survive the fall? According to megachurch expert Scott Thumma, it depends on how many people he can draw back into his fold.
“If (Driscoll) can continue to draw people in and have a successful ministry, then his authority — even if it has been questioned — will still rest on what he’s producing,” Thumma told RNS.