The Church That Hired a Former Male Stripper to Perform at a Men’s Conference

By Michael Brown Published on April 16, 2024

I arrived at my radio studio Monday to learn that social media sites were blowing up over Pastor Mark Driscoll publicly calling out the organizers of a church men’s conference for bringing in a sword-swallowing acrobat who used to be a male stripper to do an acrobatic performance, saying it was demonic.

The pastor of that church stopped Driscoll while he was still speaking, saying he was scripturally “out of order” for not going to him in private to air his concerns before sharing them from the stage, citing Matthew 18.

Did Driscoll do the right thing? And why was this acrobat performing at a church conference in the first place?

Good Church, Bad Decision?

The plot thickened when I received a phone call from one of my ministry school grads, now a trusted colleague. “Dr. Brown,” he said, “I go to this church. I know this pastor. He’s a fine man and he preaches holiness and purity. I’m perturbed.”

My colleague also told me that particular pastor, John Lindell of James River Church in Missouri, was involved in restoring Driscoll to ministry after a previous ministerial failure. After booting Driscoll from the stage, Lindell personally took to the stage and told the crowd they had talked for 30 minutes before Driscoll got up to speak — yet not a word was said about the performance in question.

Why didn’t Driscoll broach the subject then?

I don’t know the answer to that particular question, but I do have some thoughts on this event.

The Heart of the Matter

1) Even if the church had no idea the performer had been a male stripper, there is no possible justification for his pole-dancing, shirtless performance at a men’s conference. None! This is completely outrageous, and the only proper response from John Lindell should be a deep apology and a complete repudiation of what happened. This is madness.

2) You can have some fun as men gathering together — like playing sports — but you’re ultimately there to meet with God and be changed by the Word and the Spirit, not to see some carnal performance like this (let alone by a male stripper!).

3) The proper protocol would have been for Driscoll to speak to the pastor privately, urging him to immediately correct the situation with repentance and an apology. If Lindell refused, then the right thing would have been for Driscoll to tell him he could not participate in the conference and then issue a public statement as to why.

So, technically, Driscoll did not follow proper order — but no one really has a right to complain about this in light of the greater offense that had taken place, namely, the carnal performance.

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4) Matthew 18 has nothing to do with this at all. Neither Lindell (nor the performer) sinned against Driscoll personally; the sin was against God and those attending the conference. Matthew 18 applies to matters of personal offense and sin.

That being said, again, the proper order would have been to speak to the pastor first — but I’m personally glad that Driscoll said something even if he didn’t follow perfect order. Our entire focus should be on why on earth this acrobat was invited to perform at the conference (may he really come to know the Lord!) and why the pastor allowed it — not on the protocol of Driscoll’s actions.

More Context

After midnight, I received a text from another pastor who had been at the event, telling me that the performance in question was part of the pre-service entertainment for the men, which had already featured a monster truck demonstration. (Yes, this was quite the men’s conference!) The pastor explained that there were three acrobatic performances taking place simultaneously, and that virtually none of the attendees saw the sword swallower’s pole performance as sexual until Driscoll made his “inflammatory” comments about it.

He acknowledged that the church leaders who invited the sword swallower “were not familiar with this dude’s past prior to inviting him, which obviously was an oversight” but that he was now a born-again Christian attending a church in Los Angeles.

But the question remains: If you used to be a male stripper and Jesus changed your life, why are you stripping off your shirt at a Christian men’s conference, not to mention using what looks like a stripper pole for your performance? It appears that this young man could use some solid discipleship from some godly spiritual fathers.

That being said, did Driscoll go too far in his comments, before being shut down by the pastor?

Holiness Is Serious Business

The pastor with whom I was texting specifically objected to Driscoll describing the stripper pole as an “Asherah pole that invited the Jezebel spirit into the conference,” decrying that statement as using “the most inflammatory terms” and in the process doing “a disservice to the actual facts of the event.”

I do not know Mark Driscoll personally and cannot comment on his relationship with God, but perhaps what he said was true and that this performance was much more demonic than my friend realized.

This is the kind of junk that the fire of God will soon burn up. Enough already with this nonsense!

Having walked and ministered with men like Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson, having seen the fire of God’s holiness touch hundreds of thousands of people during the Brownsville Revival and knowing that our God is a consuming fire, I can say this with certainty: When God comes in power, carnal stuff like this will turn to soot.

May the Lord restore holy reverence to His Church. Listening to this seven-minute excerpt from Wilkerson’s “Call to Anguish” will help start that process afresh.


Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He is the author of more than 40 books, including Can You be Gay and Christian?; Our Hands Are Stained With Blood; and Seize the Moment: How to Fuel the Fires of Revival. You can connect with him on Facebook, X, or YouTube.

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