To emphasize his point (and promote his new book) that the Church is essentially dying, or at least on the cusp of doing so, Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll arrived to a Sunday evening worship service at Mars Hill Church U-District in a black hearse and suited in formal funeral attire.
Driscoll's book A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future? is planned for release on Nov. 5 and focuses on the need for Christians to be aware of changing times and the importance of sharing the Gospel despite a corrupting culture. Resurgence 2013, a leadership conference, is scheduled to begin on the same date.
"The hearse symbolizes death," communications director Justin Dean told The Christian Post in regards to Driscoll's unique arrival to church and the promotional videotaping done for the book using the vehicle as a prop earlier in the day. "And in the book, Pastor Mark shares that 'the death of Christendom means life just got a lot more difficult for anyone who really wants to be a Christian and follow Jesus.'
"This is particularly important for young people to realize and I believe Pastor Mark is passionate about sharing this message with college students because they are the generation that will be leading the resurgence for years to come."
Mars Hill U-District is one of several offshoots of the Seattle-based Mars Hill Church, and is located in the heart of the University District just outside the University of Washington. The vast majority of those who attend at that location are college students or college age. The church hears the same message as do the other congregations each week from Pastor Mark at all of the church's video locations. Each Mars Hill church has a lead pastor who shepherds the local mission for that area.
The Sunday evening service at Mars Hill U-District was a special service with an exclusive message from Pastor Mark to college students, said Dean.
"In a world where the predominant culture is pluralism or one-ism, as Pastor Mark shares in his book, (basically anything goes and everything is good) it's even more important to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and raise up a generation of new young leaders who believe in God's true Word," Dean said.
Dean believes the book is one of the most important books of this generation. "We are entering into an era where truly following Jesus and living out our convictions means we are going to face increasingly difficult situations and persecution," he said. "Our only hope for humanity is the the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I'm praying that the Holy Spirit works through Pastor Mark and this book to start a massive resurgence in Christians, because we need it."
In a promotional piece announcing the leadership conference, Driscoll stated that: "Christians are being ostracized, gay marriage is being legalized, the bandwagon has stopped carrying us and has started running over us. The church is dying and no one is noticing because we're wasting time criticizing rather than evangelizing.
"The days are darker, which means our resolve must be stronger and our convictions clearer. This is not the hour to trade in work boots for flip-flops," Driscoll adds. "You didn't think you were here to kill time listening to Christian music until Jesus returned, did you?"
This year's Resurgence conference will focus on young leaders, Driscoll previously stated in an email to CP.
Multiethnic church expert Mark DeYmaz recently wrote an op-ed for The Christian Post in which he disagrees with Driscoll on his premise, saying that: "In fact, it's not resurgence the church needs today but reformation."
"To be clear, I do not believe the church is dying," DeYmaz writes. "However, I have no doubt that the local church and its message of God's love for all people has been severely weakened by more than 40 years of misunderstanding and misapplication of what is known as the Homogeneous Unit Principle (HUP)."
DeYmaz describes HUP in its original form as a principle that suggests that it's easier for people to become Christians when they do not have to cross barriers of race, class or language. "Yet in 1972, it was co-opted by church leaders in America and ever since promoted as the modus operandi for those who would plant or grow a 'successful' church; i.e., as a strategy for church growth," he writes.