Pastor Mark Driscoll has previously asserted that it’s time for Christianity to “man-up” and drop the image of Jesus as a long-haired man in a dress “drinking decaf and in touch with his feelings”.
The Mars Hill pastor continues on a similar theme in an interview with the latest edition of Christianity Magazine in which he suggests that preachers need to become more like drill sergeants if they are to attract young men to church.
In excerpts released ahead of the magazine's publication on Sunday, he claims that young men will not go to church so long as there are “guys in dresses preaching to grandmas”.
While many Christians take issue with Driscoll’s manner and ideas, others are wondering if they are behind the phenomenal growth of his Seattle-based church from a handful of believers meeting in his living room 16 years ago to a multi-site church based at 14 locations across four states.
Image is a problem Driscoll sees across the US, but when it comes to Britain there is an additional issue for which he has some harsh words.
“Let’s just say this: right now, name for me the one young, good Bible teacher that is known across Great Britain. You don’t have one – that’s the problem. There are a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth.”
For Driscoll, the solution lies in cutting through the “cultural noise” and making Jesus “interesting” again.
“I think the problem in the church is there has been a one-size-fits-all approach. We speak to nice, godly, growing women in the same way we talk to immature, rebellious, date-raping men.”
Driscoll has taken to his blog to defend his comments and claim that the excerpts released to press were taken "completely out of context".
Writing about his dissatisfaction with the way comments he made have been released out of context, he blogged: "As is often the case, to stoke the fires of controversy, thereby increasing readership, which generates advertising revenue, a few quotes of mine have been taken completely out of context and sent into the Twittersphere."
He does go on to blog his beliefs that Britain is more "non-Christian, and even anti-Christian" than even the most liberal cities in the United States, saying: "You are in a cultural context that is more non-Christian, and even anti-Christian, than even the most liberal cities in the United States. I’ve taught across Scotland, Ireland, and England. Each one is more difficult to reach than my hometown of Seattle, which is one of the historically least-churched and most secular-minded cities in America."
"I’ve said for years that Britain and Canada are more secular and difficult than the United States. So, for those pastors (especially church planters) working in some tough soil, thank you!" he adds.
Driscoll and his wife Grace recently released their book, Real Marriage, and have been giving numerous interviews for its promotion. However, he said, "The interview in question had nearly nothing to do with the book or its subject matter, which in my understanding was supposed to be the point of the interview.
"My wife, Grace, was almost entirely ignored in the interview, and I felt she was overall treated disrespectfully. The only questions asked were about any controversial thing I’ve ever said in the past 15 years with a host of questions that were adversarial and antagonistic."
He concluded his blog by qualifying his comments about "cowardice" saying: "Subsequently, I am not surprised that after a very long interview, which took the better part of an hour, that I may be selectively edited and presented in a way that is not entirely accurate. In particular, the quote about cowardice may not fit all British men, but for men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda, it seems applicable."
The interview will appear in full in the Jan. 15 edition of Christianity magazine.