Brian Houston Says Hillsong Church Will Review Decision to Host Former Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll at 2015 Conference

Pastor Mark Driscoll preaches at Mars Hill Church, Feb. 2, 2014.
Pastor Mark Driscoll preaches at Mars Hill Church, Feb. 2, 2014. | (Photo: Mars Hill screengrab)

As an online petition against Mark Driscoll, who resigned last October as the lead pastor of a Seattle-based megachurch due to controversies surrounding his leadership style, gained more than 3,000 signatures, Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston said he will review the decision to host him at this year's conference.

Houston told Australia's Channel Seven's "Sunrise" show on Sunday he will speak with Driscoll to "work out where to go from here," according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

More than 3,000 people have signed an online petition arguing that Hillsong is "both endorsing and legitimizing" Driscoll's views about women by hosting him.

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It mentions Driscoll's alleged communications from 2000 written under a pseudonym, saying we are living in a "pussified nation" with "men being raised by bitter penis envying burned feministed single mothers."

Houston called Driscoll's statement "disgraceful and degrading" that "couldn't be further from where we stand."

"I need to hear from him directly about some of these things" and then "we'll talk about the different possibilities," Houston said Sunday.

Driscoll was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Australia-based megachurch's Europe conference scheduled for July 22-24.

Driscoll had been invited as one of the speakers at the Hillsong annual conferences in Sydney, Australia, and London, England, prior to his resignation in October 2014, Houston earlier said in a statement.

Driscoll resigned due to his admitted "divisive" leadership style. Members of the Acts 29 church planting network, which Driscoll helped found, had advised that he take time off to get help, and rescinded Driscoll and all Mars Hill Church campuses' membership from the network.

"Rather than having Mark preach or teach, I am excited about interviewing Mark and his wife, Grace from our main platform during our Hillsong Conference 2015," said the Hillsong Church senior pastor in his earlier statement. "I am looking forward to having this opportunity to speak openly with the Driscolls about life and ministry, as well as recent events and lessons they've learned through personal and ministry trials during the past year."

Houston said Sunday, "It's a small part of the conference, but that's why I think it is of interest to people to find out exactly what is true, what's not true and of course, hopefully, to learn from it… Because for a pastor to make some of those claims, even though he's using the Bible to try and substantiate those claims, I just think it doesn't help the cause of the church at all."

In his resignation letter, Driscoll admitted that "aspects of my personality and leadership style, had proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context" and that he was resigning because he did not want "to be the source of anything that might detract from our church's mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ."

The Mars Hill Board of Overseers' statement on his resignation affirmed that although "Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner," they did not find cause for him "to be disqualified from pastoral ministry."

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