Type to search

#ChurchToo Church Featured

Driscoll-Lindell Controversy Far From Over

What started as a skirmish at the Stronger Men’s Conference has turned into a public spectacle

Avatar photo

Following a heated exchange at this year’s Stronger Men’s Conference earlier this month, controversial megachurch pastors Mark Driscoll and John Lindell appeared to reconcile.

James River Church Pastor John Lindell addressing his congregation Wed., April 17 / Video screenshot

However, as events have played out publicly in the weeks following, their disagreement now seems far from over.

The conference was sponsored by Lindell’s James River Church in Springfield, Missouri, and held at the Great Southern Bank Arena from April 11 – 13. Driscoll was slated as a featured speaker.

On opening night, two-time Guinness World Record holder Alex Magala entertained the crowd by swallowing a sword before ascending and rapidly descending a large vertical pole.

The next day, Driscoll paused his sermon to compare Magala’s performance to Old Testament pagan idol worship and likened Magala’s act to a female exotic dancer, calling it “a spirit of Jezebel.”

Lindell interrupted Driscoll, shouting at him to get off the conference stage. Lindell blasted Driscoll for not following the biblical protocol for correction laid out in Matthew 18, saying if he had a problem with the entertainment, Driscoll should have spoken to him privately. Lindell disappeared for 30 minutes, reemerging on stage alongside Driscoll where the two men appeared  to display forgiveness and solidarity.

But during an evening service at James River Church on April 17, Lindell accused Driscoll of attempting to cause division within the Lindell family. According to Lindell, Driscoll even encouraged his son to take control of the church.

“I get absolutely no joy or delight out of doing this to someone I’ve called a friend,” Lindell said during an emotional address from behind the pulpit. “Mark, if you are listening to this message, we love you and it’s with a heavy heart that we are calling you to repent.”

Mark Driscoll / Video screenshot

Lindell said that following the conference, Driscoll texted Lindell’s son, David Lindell, several times, referring to Magala as a “gay porn, stripper, Jezebel” and “completely demonic.” Lindell said he contacted Driscoll the following day to request that he discontinue his “pursuit of this situation.”

David Lindell later told his father that Driscoll told him, “There is something wrong at James River Church,” “There is something evil at work in the church,” and “There is a mixture of the sinful and the sacred.”

Access to MinistryWatch content is free.  However, we hope you will support our work with your prayers and financial gifts.  To make a donation, click here.

According to Lindell, Driscoll also told his son that he needed “to differentiate” from his father and brother to “become the leader of James River Church.” Driscoll also allegedly said that David Lindell’s brother, Brandon, who also works for the church, “is a broken man” and that “something is wrong with him.”

Lindell then urged Driscoll to publicly apologize for “refusing to stop the spread of lies regarding Alex Magala, a Christian brother,” whom he claimed had a wife and children and had become a Christian 10 years ago. Magala defended his performance, saying that the pole he climbed at Stronger Men’s Conference was not a stripper pole. “It’s a Chinese Pole,” he said to ChurchLeaders. He said he “has to wear special pants and perform his stunt shirtless in order to correctly grip the pole.”

Lindell continued to call Driscoll to repent for “sowing disunity in the body of Christ” and “covertly trying to divide brothers and making false and slanderous accusations” against Brandon Lindell.

“Mark, we’re calling you to publicly repent for trying to create division in the Lindell family all the while saying you love us,” he said. “Mark, we’re calling you to publicly repent for trying to destroy the James River Church by attacking its leadership.”

James River Church published a video recording of the statement on YouTube but switched it to private on April 24.

That following Sunday, April 21, Lindell took time during his sermon Sunday to “apologize” for inviting both Driscoll and Magala to the Stronger Men’s Conference, which took place in mid-April.

Lindell did not explain why he was apologizing for inviting Magala, whom he had reportedly defended along with his performance earlier.

Magala, meanwhile, has defended his act and addressed rumors that he used to work as a stripper. “First of all, it’s called go-go dancing,” Magala said in a video. He said he did go-go dancing when he first moved to Los Angeles to make ends meet.

Alex Magala / Video screenshot

He differentiates go-go dancing from stripping, “because what me and my team of dancers were doing—we were performing,” he said. “Guys were performing in shorts, and girls were covered.” Still, social media photos show the sensual nature of his work.

Magala also explained he was an Orthodox Christian baptized as a baby per tradition and did not have any children. But he does have a family, he said, and the rumors were affecting them.

Since the Stronger Men’s Conference, Driscoll has not directly commented on the conference or Lindell’s public call to repentance.

However, on April 14, Driscoll began posting about the Ahab and Jezebel spirit on his social media channels and in videos of his sermons and talks.

On April 15—three days following his stage boot—Driscoll rehashed advertising a book he published on the spirit of Ahab and Jezebel last July. “Going to livestream every day this week to help everyone understand The Ahab, Jezebel, and Elijah spirit. The same spirits are at work today. Get ready,” one tweet read.

TO OUR READERS: Do you have a story idea, or do you want to give us feedback about this or any other story? Please email us: [email protected]  

Avatar photo
Jessica Eturralde

Jessica Eturralde is a military wife of 18 years and mother of three who serves as a freelance writer, TV host, and filmmaker. Bylines include Yahoo, Huffington Post, OC16TV.