Megachurch Pastors Mark Driscoll and John Lindell Clash Over Conference Entertainment 

Driscoll said conference had “spirit of Jezebel”

Christopher Mann April 16, 2024

Megachurch Pastor Mark Driscoll got booted off the stage of the Stronger Men’s Conference this past weekend after publicly criticizing the entertainment opening night.

“The Jezebel Spirit opened our event,” Driscoll said.

Mark Driscoll / video screenshot

The conference, hosted by James River Assembly of God church in Springfield, Missouri, and its pastor John Lindell, was founded to “empower men to rise up, bold and courageous, standing strong and determined to live out God’s purpose for their lives.”

This, however, is not your dad’s Promise Keeper rally. The annual gathering features plenty of biblical exhortation, but the opening night’s light-hearted entertainment has been a smorgasbord of bull riding, motocross/BMX racing, boxing, tanks crushing cars and, last Friday, a shirtless man who swallows a sword and swings on a pole.

When featured speaker Mark Driscoll took to the stage Saturday, he wasted no time speaking out against that last act. It turns out, he wasn’t alone in feeling unsettled by Alex Magala’s performance at the Great Southern Bank Arena before tens of thousands of men and their teenage sons. The crowd might have stomached the sword swallowing act, but ripping off his shirt to reveal Magala’s chiseled physique atop a low-riding pant line left many wondering what place such a display had in a Christian men’s conference.

Magala is a former male stripper and pole dancer featured on “Britain’s Got Talent” for a dangerous sword-swallowing routine.

The event went viral on social media and can only be seen on grainy amateur video, as the conference did not stream the event.

The day after this risque opening, Driscoll said he spent many late hours grieving over Magala’s performance and praying for the attendees’ mental and spiritual protection from what he called a “spirit of Jezebel” that kicked off the weekend.

“Before the Word of God was opened, there was a platform. It was a high place. On it was a pole of Asherah. The same thing that’s use in a strip club for women who have the Jezebel spirit to seduce men. In front of that was a man who ripped his shirt ff like a woman does in front of a pole in a strip club. That man then ascended. See, our God is not arrogant. He doesn’t ascent. Our God is humble. He descends. And then….”

That prompted conference host Lindell to send Driscoll packing. “Mark,” Lindell shouted from the floor, “you’re out of line! You’re done.”

Driscoll responded, “Pastor John, I’ll receive that” and exited the stage.

John Lindell / Video screenshot

Lindell walked on the platform to a mixture of shouts and boos, denouncing Driscoll for failing to notify him directly and privately of his grievance, referencing Jesus’ teaching on conflict resolution in Matthew 18.

The audience chided him, demanding he get Driscoll back at the podium where he was originally scheduled to preach.

After a 30-minute break to talk privately, the two men resumed the stage together, with Lindell affirming his affection for Driscoll and Driscoll apologizing. During that session, Lindell called Driscoll the “prophetic voice of our generation” and said that what Driscoll had done did not change that.

Driscoll told the crowd he should have talked to Lindell between sessions instead of “just verbal processing on stage.”

Days later, nobody is saying much. Driscoll and Lindell declined Newsweek’s interview queries. Driscoll tweeted a jab at a USA Today reporter’s biblical illiteracy. Lindell is reportedly too focused on preparing the Wednesday night sermon at James River Church in Missouri to take a reporter’s questions. Driscoll’s name or image are now not found found on the conference’s website.

Rob Smith was one the early leaders of Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and he has continued to be an outspoken critic of Driscoll. He said, “I largely agree with Driscoll’s position that got him ‘thrown out.’ But he is a media master, and all of us reacting and posting is exactly what he hoped for.”

Jessica Eturralde and Warren Cole Smith contributed reporting to this article.

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