The Excommunication of a Mega-Church Pastor
Mark Driscoll is in trouble. Regardless of what you think of him, (I had my issues with his theologically conservative/ culturally liberal views), this is a man that was used by God to bring many, many many souls into contact with gospel…and he is in trouble. I don’t mean that his celebrity is fading, or that he is having legal battles…this man is in real spiritual trouble!
When I read the letter from Acts29 Network board,(below), it had an eery feeling like that of hearing an announcement of an elder being deposed from office off the pulpit on a Sunday morning. When a group of faithful Christian Pastors prayerfully asked Mark Driscoll to “step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help,” we are left with a feeling that he is in real spiritual danger. This is not just a request to take a break, or a sabbatical and recharge, this is far more serious, this is essentially an excommunication.
Many faithful pastors, both famous and less so, (such as John MacArthur & Wes Bredenhof ), all with a high view of Scripture, have warned us of Mark Driscoll in the blogosphere and on social media. In hindsight we would do well to listen when such men speak critically of a teacher’s teachings… But it also needs to be said that this is not a time for “I told you so’s,” and “I knew it’s” from his critics. It should not surprise anyone that a sinful man has sinned, and it should also come as even less of a surprise that a man of his celebrity stature, who had virtually no accountability, succumbed to the lure of sinful desires.
We should be grateful to the board of Acts29, pastor Matt Chandler and the rest, that they acted boldly and scripturally in their decision. We should also be wary. Please avoid the holier-than-thou attitudes and the accusations of stupidity on his part, for none of us is above sin. Most of us just have more privacy when we sin.
The sweet and beautiful thing about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that while we were dead in our sins, Jesus died for us. That includes Mark Driscoll. Yes there are consequences for sin, and he needs to step down from office, but there is still forgiveness in the blood. We would do well to remember that as we stop supporting him in his ministry.
Here is the letter from the board:
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