In contrast to his precipitous fall from grace in October 2014, Pastor Mark Driscoll's Feb. 1 Twitter announcement that he is planting a new congregation, The Trinity Church, in Phoenix, Arizona, has received some positive responses.
On the same day of Driscoll's announcement, Paul Kidd, pastor of North Carolina-based Thrive Church, took to Twitter to express his support for Driscoll: "@PastorMark We support you and the church. As a ministry kid and now Pastor, I have seen all sides ... you have our prayers!"
Support for Driscoll's new venture extends to the Mountain West where the pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Brady Boyd, celebrated the news in a brief tweet: "@PastorMark congratulations!!"
Pastor Joe Pena of Relentless Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, also expressed excitement for Driscoll's return. "@PastorMark met you at the Let's Talk Church event in PHX. Excited for you guys!"
One of Driscoll's most prominent and outspoken supporters, Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church in South Carolina, recently slammed Driscoll's critics in a Facebook video, as previously reported by The Christian Post.
In that video: "How I Personally Feel About Mark Driscoll Starting a New Church," which garnered nearly 120,000 views and was shared more than 500 times (as of the publication of this article), Noble stands by his fellow clergyman.
"I'm going to choose to believe in Pastor Mark and Grace [Driscoll's wife] as they set out on this endeavor to plant a church. And I just want to say that I support him 100 percent."
Yet despite growing support for Driscoll, the pastor is not without a considerable number of dissenters regarding his return. Former Mars Hill deacon Brian Jacobsen is one of them. Jacobsen doesn't understand the groundswell of support for the pastor, according to The Seattle Times.
Along the same lines, former Mars Hill elder Dave Craft respectfully challenged Perry Noble's recent defense of Driscoll via Facebook, writing on Noble's Facebook page that the NewSpring Church pastor didn't know the whole story.
"Perry, I appreciate your heart in all of this, but do wish you had done your homework and exercised due diligence by finding out what really happened at MHC [Mars Hill Church]!" wrote Craft. "I'm afraid you are in the dark about the truth of what transpired and why The Acts 29 network, Paul Tripp and 30 former elders believe that Mark Driscoll disqualified himself and needs to make some things right before stepping back into pastoral ministry! I appreciate your ministry, read your books and value your leadership wisdom."
As early as just days after the former Mars Hill pastor stepped down from his post, Driscoll had the public support of Pastor Robert Morris of Texas-based Gateway Church — the fourth largest church in the U.S. in 2015 according to Outreach magazine — who gave Driscoll a warm welcome in 2014 at a Gateway Church conference, and told attendees not to believe everything they read about him on the internet.
"I want to introduce you to a friend, a good friend of mine," Morris began. " ... He's going through a difficulty that most of you have probably read about ... First of all I want you to know that everything you read on the internet is not true ... There are some pastors, myself included, and some others that you would know, that were speaking into his life — and he's listening."
Morris encouraged participants to " ... restore him [Driscoll] with a spirit of gentleness, considering ourselves, lest we are also tempted." He went on to say, " ... It's very sad that in the church, we're the only army that shoots at our wounded, and I want you to stop it ... "
According to an early February report by The Seattle Times, Morris is on the governing board of Driscoll's new church.