This is the biggest official consequence to come to Mark Driscoll for his years of ministry abuse.
Acts 29, the international church planting network that Driscoll co-founded and of which he and Mars Hill were a part up until the present moment, has indicated in a letter to Driscoll that they are officially removing Mark and Mars Hill from the network. The statement cites disqualifying sins and no evidence of repentance as the reason. It also asks Mark to step down from ministry. Here is the letter, released on Warren Throckmorton’s blog:
As the Board of Acts 29, we are grateful to God for the leadership, courage, and generosity of both you and Mars Hill in not only founding the network but also sustaining it through the transition to this board three years ago. The very act of giving away your authority over the network was one of humility and grace, and for that we are grateful.
Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior. We have both publicly and internally tried to support and give you the benefit of the doubt, even when multiple pastors in our network confirmed this behavior.
In response, we leaned on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability to take the lead in dealing with this matter. But we no longer believe the BoAA is able to execute the plan of reconciliation originally laid out. Ample time has been given for repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming. We now have to take another course of action.
Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help. Consequently, we also feel that we have no alternative but to remove you and Mars Hill from membership in Acts 29. Because you are the founder of Acts 29 and a member, we are naturally associated with you and feel that this association discredits the network and is a major distraction.
We tell you this out of love for you, Mars Hill, Acts 29, and most significantly, the cause of Christ, and we would be irresponsible and deeply unloving not to do so in a clear and unequivocal manner. Again, we want you to know that we are eternally thankful for what you as a man and Mars Hill as a church have meant to our network. However, that cannot dissuade us from action. Instead, it gives added significance and importance to our decision. We hope and pray that you see this decision as the action of men who love you deeply and want you to walk in the light—for your good, the good of your family, and the honor of your Savior.
Shortly after sending this, we will be informing the members of Acts 29, your Board of Advisors and Accountability, and your elders, as well as putting out a public statement on the Acts 29 website. It brings us no joy to move forward in this direction, and we trust that the Lord will be at work in all of this.
In sorrow and with hope,
The Board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network
As I’ve previously noted, my goal here is not to pry into this process, although I must say that this is precisely the process that needs to take place – local, relational, personal accountability for the real, on the ground abuses. The community of leaders surrounding Driscoll and Mars Hill are doing their job, in faithfulness to Jesus and to Scripture.
One strong reaction I’ve had today upon hearing this is sadness. About 8 years ago I became a fan of Mark Driscoll. As I transitioned out of hyper-conservative, hyper-reformed Christianity, Driscoll was a breath of fresh air. His straight talk on sin helped me to acknowledge some of my own. His energy for church planting and mission inspired my own. I’ve progressed a lot since then, but his ministry had a positive impact on me at a crucial point in my journey.
This is nothing less than the end of an era.
Let’s all pray for those close to this situation, for continued grace, discernment, and healing.
It is with deep sorrow that the Acts 29 Network announces its decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership in the network. Mark and the Elders of Mars Hill have been informed of the decision, along with the reasons for removal. It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network. In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored.
The Board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network
Earlier today our board chairman, as well as many of our other pastors, received a letter from Matt Chandler, the president of Acts 29. The letter notified us that the board of Acts 29 has removed Pastor Mark and Mars Hill from membership in the Acts 29 church planting network. Our board responded to the letter with the following update to our elders, and we wanted to share it with you as well. “Men, I told the lead pastors at the recent annual retreat that we are making real progress in addressing the serious reconciliation and unhealthy culture issues that have been a part of Mars Hill Church for way too long. And we are. I also told them that more opposition would undoubtedly be coming, and it has. Friendly fire always hurts the most. I have never in my life spoken with Matt Chandler or any of the A29 board members for that matter (except Darrin Patrick, once about 4 years ago as part of Pastor Mark’s employment review process which he used to be a part of). In addition, no one from Acts 29 contacted Larry Osborne of our board prior to this decision. And perhaps most significantly, Pastor Mark was not personally contacted by the A29 board prior to receiving this announcement. So I am not quite sure what Matt means by “leaning on the board to take the lead in dealing with this matter.” Be assured of this, the formal charges that were filed were serious, were taken seriously and were not dismissed by the board lightly. There is clear evidence that the attitudes and behaviors attributed to Mark in the charges are not a part and have not been a part of Mark¹s life for some time now. Our board’s decision is final regarding these charges, although will no doubt continue to be played out in the courts of public opinion. Again, I am deeply saddened that the A29 board would make such a decisive and divisive conclusion without speaking directly to the board or Mark prior to their public announcement. My counsel to you is to not become bitter or angry. Continue to pray for all involved. Continue to love and lead the people God has brought to your churches. They need a pastor right now and God has given them you! Michael Van Skaik Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability Larry Osborne Board Member”