Despite Continued Cult-like Activity, Mark Driscoll Continues to Headline Conferences

By Julie Roys
Slated for this February, XO Marriage Conference at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas has invited Mark Driscoll to speak alongside several speakers affiliated with the Association of Related Churches. (Screengrab via website)

Despite a viral podcast documenting his disqualifying behavior, scores of testimonies from his victims, and articles and podcasts at The Roys Report showing his continued cult-like activity, Mark Driscoll remains on the evangelical conference circuit.

Next month, Driscoll is headlining a marriage conference with Jimmy Evans’ XO Marriage at Fellowship Church—Ed Young’s megachurch in Grapevine, Texas. Fellowship is one of the 10 largest churches in America.

Jimmy Evans is a longtime supporter of Driscoll and one of only three directors named on the articles of incorporation for Driscoll’s church in Arizona, The Trinity Church.

Other speakers at the marriage conference include pastors of several churches aligned with the Association of Related Churches or ARC. ARC is known for restoring pastors who have left ministry due to sexual immorality or other sin.

ARC pastors speaking at the conference with Driscoll include American Gospel singer CeCe Winans and her husband, Alvin Love, pastors of Nashville Life Church, an ARC church in Tennessee; Earl and Oneka McClellan, pastors of Shoreline City Church, an ARC church in Texas; Tim and Jen Timberlake, pastors of Celebration Church, an ARC church in South Florida; Dan Lian, teaching pastor at Newspring Church, an ARC church in South Carolina; Jon Chasteen, pastor of Victory Church, an ARC church in Oklahoma.

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Driscoll conference
Slated for this February, XO Marriage Conference at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas has invited Mark Driscoll to speak alongside several speakers affiliated with the Association of Related Churches. (Screengrab via website)

As published at The Roys Report, ARC has been named in two lawsuits alleging the organization covered up sexual abuse and/or harassment by ARC pastors. Several ARC pastors also have resigned or taken sabbaticals recently due to sexual scandals.

Though ARC doesn’t have any formal relationship with Driscoll, Gateway Church—the largest ARC church in the United States—and its Pastor Robert Morris were the first to platform Driscoll after Driscoll abruptly resigned from Mars Hill Church in 2014.

At the 2014 Gateway conference, Morris introduced Driscoll and told attendees that while Driscoll had made some mistakes, “most of what you read is not true.”

Morris added, “We have two choices. One is we could crucify him. But since someone has already been crucified for him (applause) the other choice is we could restore him with a spirit of gentleness considering ourselves lest we are also tempted. (applause) And it’s very sad that in the church, we’re the only army that shoots our wounded and I want you to stop it.”

Mark Driscoll at Gateway Conference in 2014

Morris also served as an overseer for The Trinity Church with Jimmy Evans and Randal Taylor, a longtime vice president with Dunham and Company, a leading Christian marketing firm. (Taylor is no longer listed on Dunham’s website but calls to Dunham seeking clarification about Taylor’s employment were not returned.)

Driscoll Morris Taylor Evans
In a January 28, 2020 Facebook post, Mark Driscoll (center) and his wife, Grace, pose alongside (L-R) Randal Taylor, Jimmy Evans, and Robert Morris. (Screengrab)

A spokesman for Robert Morris told The Roys Report last year that Morris no longer serves as an overseer at Driscoll’s church “but is available if counsel is sought by the church leaders.”

This past August, Morris and Gateway hosted a preaching conference in conjunction with ARC, which featured Driscoll as a speaker.

Driscoll conference
In August 2021, Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas invited Mark Driscoll to speak at their Preaching Conference co-sponsored by the Association of Related Churches. (Screengrab from website)

Another ARC church—Echo Church in San Jose, California—sponsored a leadership conference last May featuring Driscoll as a main speaker. Also speaking at the conference were several popular Christian authors like Bianca Olthoff and Nona Jones. The conference also featured Echo Pastors Andy and Stacie Wood and Chad Veach of Zoe Church, and ARC church in Los Angeles, California.

Driscoll conference Echo
In May 2021, Mark Driscoll spoke at a leadership conference hosted by Echo Church in San Jose, California which is affiliated with the Association of Related Churches. (Screengrab via website)

Driscoll is not currently listed as a speaker for the Echo Leadership Conference in 2022, but the website states “additional speakers to be announced.”

North Coast Church, a multi-site ARC megachurch in Southern California, used to regularly invite Driscoll to speak at its annual Sticky Teams Leadership Conferences, led by North Coast Teaching Pastor Larry Osborne.

Osborne served on the board of accountability for Mars Hill Church when Driscoll was investigated by the church and found guilty of a pattern of bullying and arrogance. Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill rather than submit to a restoration plan proposed by Mars Hill elders. Even so, Osborne remained a supporter of Driscoll’s, endorsing his books and inviting Driscoll to conferences.

After The Roys Report published that Driscoll was speaking at the Sticky Teams West Conference in 2020, several sponsors of the conference dropped their support. In 2021, Driscoll did not speak at the North Coast Leadership Conference.

Last year, dozens of former Mars Hill Church elders published a letter, calling for Driscoll to resign from ministry because of “a pattern of sinful actions” making him “presently unfit for serving the church.”

The Roys Report has reached out to Driscoll numerous times for comment, but he has not responded.

*Correction: The original article reported that Fellowship Church is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. Though multiple outlets state that Fellowship is a member of the SBC, it is not listed as an SBC church at the SBC’s website.

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11 thoughts on “Despite Continued Cult-like Activity, Mark Driscoll Continues to Headline Conferences”

  1. David L. Stafford

    Just want to say that I love the Roys Report but not because it’s so easy to read between the lines. I know the web designer would like to fill out the page but I think it’s harder to read with that much leading. Old typesetter talkin’

  2. Why does a marriage conference speakers list consist of pastors who happen to be married instead of licensed therapists or Christian psychologists who understand the dynamics of marriage?

    Second, this statement of gaslighting angers me:

    Morris added, “We have two choices. One is we could crucify him. But since someone has already been crucified for him (applause) the other choice is we could restore him with a spirit of gentleness considering ourselves lest we are also tempted. (applause) And it’s very sad that in the church, we’re the only army that shoots our wounded and I want you to stop it.”

    I feel like anytime a person in leadership says “you have two choices…” you really only have the choice to agree with them.

    1. Mr. Morris’s statement is revolting. He is saying that any response to Mark Driscoll other than “restore him with a spirit of gentleness” – which seems to mean taking the position that Driscoll never did anything wrong or even suboptimal – is “crucifying him.” Utter irredeemable nonsense. Nobody should attend a church led by anyone who thinks like this.

  3. Cody B Laumeister

    WARNING: Contains sexual references

    I wonder if Driscoll will be leading a session at the marriage conference on How To Sodomize Your Wife, as recommended in his Real Marriage book.

    Honestly, I’ve read reviews of the book by The Gospel Coalition and other Christian groups, and now this tacit endorsement by Jimmy Evans and Robert Morris, and all these conservative Godly folk seem to think this is just fine. Meanwhile they go on and on about how homosexuality is unnatural because it doesn’t produce offspring.

    If Evangelicals were just hypocrites, I could accept that as a human failing. But I truly believe some of their moral ideas are wrong and incoherent.

  4. Exactly how long does repentance take?
    How long should he be punished?
    What was the “cult-like behavior?”

    Reporting the truth. Restoring the church. That’s the tagline. I’ve never been to your site before, and ai have no affiliation or particular affinity for Driscoll.

    I could be wrong, but there seems to be some opinion & interpretation thrown in, here. The Word of God is Truth, not our opinions or perspectives.
    And I wonder what restoration looks like, in the context of this article.

    1. Here’s what restoration looks like: submitting to church discipline, repenting, and stepping away from the pulpit, at least for a season. You might start with the podcast series, The rise and fall of Mars Hill church.” Much of the content is in Mark Driscoll’s own words.

      1. He has a bus on the church property as a mere “prop”! He’s snarkily signalling his defiant un-repentance! If he cared, the blood of run-over bodies tends to cry out to God from the ground, as Abel’s did.

        I don’t believe that anyone like that even believes in Jesus at all. He’s ruthless, and jockeying for power in the “Noble Lie”, “people controlling” business. And like most of those, he just makes up his self-styled, controlling “lie” as he goes. He just shows his wicked hand a little more than most, all in the interest of attracting that macho-hungry demographic.

  5. Unpopular opinion here… some of what Driscoll has been hammered for amounts to “hurting feelings”. I’m not going to say he’s gone about things the right way–but there’s a difference between being a rapist like Zacharias, a cult patriarch like MacArthur, or an unrepentant adulterer like Tavner Smith and someone like Mark Driscoll who is merely brash and abrasive (and happens to be right of center).

    I’m not any for these high-dollar conferences hawked by Big Evangelicalism–I find them a massive waste of money and life, but hey–it’s a free market.

    1. Hmmm… I think it’s been fairly thoroughly documented that Mark’s problems were more serious than this, “who is merely brash and abrasive (and happens to be right of center).” Everything I’ve read/studied about him over the years (before the recent podcast) adds up to him being Biblically unqualified for pastoral leadership of any kind, anywhere, unless he publicly shows real repentance and change of behavior. You express well one of the reason’s the church in america is so corrupted and impotent… too many of us have a low standard that allows the poor leadership to continue…

  6. The bus planted on the property, which is acknowledged by the church to be just a “prop”, is a statement by Driscoll, of just how repentant he really is. So why do you “restore” someone, not just to active fellowship, what that verse is talking about, but to one of these powerful, so-called “ministry” positions, who is not at all repentant?
    The same way that Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner “restored” Todd Bentley. Fellow scoundrels “restore” the reputations of scoundrel wolves. Jesus has nothing to do with it.

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Give a gift of $25 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Ecclesiastes and the Search for Meaning in an Upside-Down World” by Russell L. Meek.