Creativity is Cool, but So is Maturity

By now you’ve read some of the dust-up online about two prominent pastors and their presentations of intimacy and marriage. Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace have written what seems to be a very raw, personal book, Real Marriage. Ed Young, Jr is launching a new preaching series/book/media blitz in which he and his wife are broadcasting live from their bed for 24 hrs on their church roof (Yes, you read that right).

I have not read Driscoll’s book and don’t intend too, though I highly respect Mark’s ministry and feel that he has been a terrific leader in advancing the gospel through church planting and leadership development. I don’t know Ed Young Jr nor have I read his latest book. He is a gifted preacher who seems to be leading many to faith in Christ.

I have read some terrific commentary on both issues. I’ve also read some snarky, arrogant triumphalist commentary and some downright unfair commentary. In my view, the two best pieces on both issues were written by Mathew Lee Andersen and Ed Stetzer.

However, a critical point I think has been missing in the discussion of evangelicals and sex and marriage is the issue of maturity. Pastors serve a vital role in their churches and communities. Besides being the person tasked with clearly teaching and preaching the Word of God, pastors are also spiritual leaders. Fairly or unfairly we are held up as examples of propriety, maturity, and grace.

I don’t know Ed Young, Jr personally nor do I know Mark Driscoll. They have ministries that far dwarf mine and likely have forgotten more about ministry and the Bible than I know. But I wonder if their actions reflect a church culture that seems to reward creativity without limits. A church culture that eschews maturity.

Maturity thinks things over and says, “I wonder if this is a good idea to put a bed on top of a roof?” or “I wonder if this is a good idea to do a provocative sex series that will intentionally offend some?” or “Is this the best idea?”

The pastor should be the adult in the room, not the juvenile. That doesn’t mean we have to go back to liesure suits and legalism. That doesn’t mean pastors have to be boring, dour, sad people (though some see this as their mission, another post for another time). But it also means there has to be lines we won’t cross with our creativity.  Call me a square or a prude, but I’m pretty sure broadcasting from a bed on a roof crosses that.

I’m in favor of church change, innovation, and contextualization. But at my funeral and on my tombstone I’d like it to be said simply, “He preached the Word of God”, not “He did crazy stunts that brought attention to his church.”

Daniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He previously served five years as Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church. He is a contributor to Leadership Journal, Homelife,, Stand Firm,” and a variety of other evangelical publications. He has written several books, including his latest, Activist Faith.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

One thought on “Creativity is Cool, but So is Maturity

  1. I appreciate your post and ultimate the the point that Maturity takes thought. So I have thought a moment before posting this :) Do you really think the comparison is fair between Young and Driscoll? I agree the roof top bed thing is too far. However I have not seen Driscoll do anything in the promotion of his book that is at all distasteful. In fact Driscoll has announced that he has taken his church audience into consideration and will be teaching the Real Marriage series scaled down from the graphic portions of the book. I would say that shows quite a bit of maturity by the standard you have proposed.
    I am not trying to be argumentative I just see a false dichotomy here saying that both men are equally using stunts to bring attention.
    In fact I see a stark contrast Ed Young Jr. is known for stunts as he presents topical messages, Driscoll by contrast preaches hour long expository messages mostly through entire books of the bible.
    Again I think we are comparing apples to oranges!

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