While it is not known what Rev. Driscoll will do, his entourage has been taking calls from pulpits around the world, fielding offers and crunching numbers. While many pastors have reupped with their home teams, others have chased the money and potential from church plants and established pulpits in other cities.
Speculation has reached a fever pitch in this summer of the free agent preachers. Already this week, Rick Warren has re-signed with Saddleback for the maximum contract, as have Andy Stanley and Bill Hybels with their churches. Ed Young, Jr. has announced he will be leaving Fellowship of Grapevine for the sun and fun of South Beach. A spokesman for Young stated that "we should not be surprised. The lifestyle of Miami is more conducive to Pastor Young's ministry gifts."
In fact, earlier today, Rob Bell announced via twitter that he would be leaving Grand Rapids, Michigan, a truly dreadful place, for the challenges of San Diego, California. Said Bell, in 140 characters or less, "yo peeps, Love G Rap but 2 cold, the Bell needs sunshine and a congregants w/ cash money. Trading specs for sunglasses."
With the other top free agent's announcements, the pressure is mounting for Driscoll, whose options are endless and ego demands a larger stage than twitter or a blog. Says a spokesman, "Mark has chosen to announce his intentions via television. He feels that the excitement surrounding his free agency is something that must be used for the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the biggest stage available. Sadly, no one on CNN, ESPN or Bravo took our calls. This is all we could get."
While potential followers and fans in New York, Minneapolis, Las Vegas and London are teeming with excitement, the congregants of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the church he began in 1996, are nervously awaiting the announcement, speaking out on fan forums and throwing rallies, like the one in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood which drew tens of people last month.
Says longtime parishioner, Mike Stewart, "now I don't want to get in trouble with the elders for speaking out, but Mark is Seattle and Seattle is Mark. We built each other and to think he might throw away his loyalty to us, which is tattooed on his back, is sickening. To think of him leaving us for a city like New York saddens his fans. If he leaves, I am throwing away my autographed copy of his book Reformissionary!"
Another church member, speaking on condition of anonymity since she is female, said this, "we are all witnesses to his rise and we better not be witnesses to his departure. If he leaves us via television, it will be like a knife in the back and he will be booed when he comes back."
While some are speaking out, others are praying for Driscoll's love of Seattle coffee and its homegrown beers to draw him home.
Cities vying for Mark Driscoll and odds:
Seattle (45% chance)- his hometown, Driscoll loves the city, built the church from scratch into a megamachine. However, the winters are dreary and he realizes it is not a world class city. The gloomy rock scene has seen its better days and jobs are leaving town. It is not as hip as it was in the 90s.
New York City (25%)- The potential of preaching alongside Tim Keller at Redeemer and having access to the greatest city in the world, along with its denizens must be alluring. One church with 2 mega-preaching stars would crush the competition. Plus, Keller is turning 60 and has indicated he is interested in retiring in the near future, leaving the pulpit to Driscoll alone. However, the cost of living is high. It is far from friends and family and the coffee sucks.
Minneapolis (15%)- With his mentor John Piper on a long sabbatical, the elders of Bethlehem Baptist Church are pining for a suitable replacement. Besides his mouth, Driscoll fits the bill. With his fierce intellect, reformed credentials and powerful preaching, the potential for growth is huge. However, many members of the church do not like funny preachers, as evidenced by John Piper sermons. Also, Driscoll does not like extreme winters where there is no water. He does like the challenge of going face-to-face with Emerging Church leaders in the city.
London (10%)- The chance to be in one of the biggest cities in the world, full of Muslims to convert or piss off, is alluring. Also, the beer choice is extraordinary, even if the coffee and food choices are mildly outputting. Most interesting to Driscoll is the chance to follow in the footsteps of his favorite all time preacher, Spurgeon. However, the extreme openness to all opinions would make Driscoll's message less offensive and interesting to Londoners and his form of humor does not always translate to British sensibilities. Also, the British men tend to be effeminate (and he hates soccer).
Las Vegas (5%)- An early front-runner, Driscoll is not as interested in starting a new church. However, he realizes in Vegas he can say anything he wants and it will be acceptable. Plus, there is so much sin for him to go after. In fact, he can preach a full year just on the evils of gambling and strippers. However, he understands that "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" and Driscoll is not interesting in his message staying anywhere.