Rumors are flying around the blogosphere at the moment regarding what happened at the 2007 National New Church Conference and not all of them are true. Here is the skinny.
RUMOR 1: Mark Driscoll and Paris Hilton were seen together.
TRUE: Mark Driscoll and Paris Hilton were seen together on Technorati's top search list. Mark Driscoll at an IMPRESSIVE number 7 upstaging Paris Hilton at number 8.
FALSE: Paris Hilton was NOT turned away from a leadership position in Acts 29 church planters network because she was a woman. In fact, Paris has not even heard of Acts 29.
RUMOR 2: Bill Hybels chastised and rebuked Mark Driscoll for his view of women in church leadership.
TRUE: At the NNCC, Bill Hybels said a sentence or two following Mark's video about women having gifts and also being useful in the church.
FALSE: It was not considered a rebuke and it did not cause a big stink at the NNCC.
This image found on Steve McCoy's blog
Actually, I was there at the conference, sitting in the sanctuary and liveblogging the experience, and it really wasnt a big deal. It certainly was not a theological dispute. Bill felt something needed to be said for the sake of the female members of the audience and when he said it, there was applause. Having said it, he launched into his message.
Was the video "well received" as suggested on Mark's blog? Well, we can only guess. Everyone was silent except for Bill Hybels who responded. My best guess is that MOST were uncomfortable with it, as expressed by the applause and yelling in response to Bill Hybel's introductory words. And there were probably many of the Acts 29 guys and others who were quite happy with it but did not get to express it.
"I was there...I didn't think Hybels "ripped" into the video. He made one simple comment about women being important to church planting..that was pretty much it.
I really don't understand the controversy over the whole thing. The video is just classic Driscoll. Hybels' statements were just classic Hybels. Both are totally different...and needed in the Kingdom of God.
I think I'm most amazed because it was the final main session of the NNCC and the least attended. There didn't seem to be much buzz about the video or Bill's statements after the session...most folks just wanted to hit Disney World, lunch or the hotel pool. :-)"
Chris says this on his blog:
"Mark Driscoll and Bill Hybels are both men of God that have followed their calling and have reached a BUNCH of people for Christ. In my book...they have BOTH earned the right to say whatever they want to say. I was just thrilled to hear them both speak at a really good conference. Move on..."
RUMOR 3: 1800 copies of this video were banned from the conference
TRUE: Participants of NNCC conference never got a copy of the video.
FALSE: Acts 29 volunteers were not forbidden to hand them out.
I didn't even realize there were videos until i left the conference and read about it on the web. Henry Judy, one of the key people behind the bloggers roundtable at NNCC and a volunteer coordinator, has the skinny in this comment on the blog of Leadership Network's Todd Rhoades (one of the organizers):
"Let me set the record straight about this once and for all. I was a volunteer at the conference and worked with Scott from Acts 29 all week on the logistics of handling the video out. We also had 1800 Acts 29 brochures that did not arrive in time to be put in the bags at the beginning of the conference. As the conference was winding down we made a decision to hand the videos and brochures out via tables and volunteers at the 3 main doors and not each door to the sanctuary. We just did not have the people to do this nor was it feasible due to exit strategy. In no way, and I know first hand as I was in on the conversation, was their EVER any discussion by anyone associated with the conference that I know of NOT to hand out the video due to Bill Hybels remarks. What was quoted above IS THE QUOTE he said. You will be able to see for yourself when the main session videos are available on the conference website."
These rumors about the video being pulled from being given out are just NOT true. I know first hand what happened and now the record should be straight."
As for other rumors, I can tell you that Mark did not cleverly disguise anything but clearly set forth what he believes. Yes, he is called the "cussing pastor" but in fact, many offensive to my mother are are not offensive to his audience in Seattle, and vice versa - i will post on the issue of cussing soon to help clear this up.
Regarding Acts 29, I really dont think it is a woman hating church planters movement. I was present at the first (maybe two) meetings held in Florida in the late 90's when David Nicolas and Mark Driscoll were starting the network off. The leading speaker for the conference was my friend Sally Morgenthaler. I dont know whether Acts 29 has shifted in their policy on women teaching or leading men or not but it is known to be a network committed to a "complementarian" view. ACTS 29 is not one of the movements supported by the Boaz Project but it is an honorable network and is helping to start new churches. If your theology squares with that, and a 5 point Calvinism, then Acts 29 might work for you. If not, find a network that honors what you believe the Scriptures teach on this issue. And lets all move ahead together, cutting each other some slack and not trying to proselytize on secondary matters.
Here is Mark Driscoll's video. Its called "A Good Soldier"
And here is a video doing the rounds on blogs in response to Mark's video. [edit: It was made a while ago.] its called "Women in Christianity" and it was made by Jen at My True Self. HT: Laura at Sanctus