The Acts 29 Church Planting Network has removed controversial megapastor Mark Driscoll and his Seattle church, Mars Hill, from its ranks, according to a statement released on the group's website Friday.
The decision was made with "deep sorrow," the statement reads, and cited "the nature of the accusations against [Driscoll]" that have made it "untenable and unhelpful to keep [Driscoll] and Mars Hill in our network." It continued with even stronger language, saying the move was made in part "so that the name of the Christ will not continue to be dishonored."
It was signed by the organization's board, which is headed by Dallas pastor Matt Chandler, lead pastor at The Village Church.
The full statement is below:
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.
Besides the statement released on the Acts 29 website, frequent Driscoll critic Prof. Warren Throckmorton says he obtained a letter sent from the organization's board of directors to Driscoll that goes into more detail about why the decision was made.
"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," the letter reads. "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."
It continues, saying that "ample time" has been given for "repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming." It implores the pastor to "please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help":
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.
Driscoll co-founded the Acts 29 group and was its former leader before turning it over to Chandler in 2012, who then moved the headquarters from Seattle to Dallas.
As TheBlaze has reported, Driscoll has been mired in controversy. Most recently he apologized again for posting vulgar messages on his own church's message board. There have also been accusations that six controversial minutes of a recent sermon were deleted from the online video and transcript, as well as plagiarism charges. Additionally, he's faced backlash for the church spending what was reported to be upwards of $200,000 on a book-buying scheme meant to send it to the top of the best-seller list.
A group of 75 members and ex-members of Driscoll's church have been clamoring for his dismissal from Mars Hill. They had planned to file "53 new charges against the pastor and his Executive Elders." Those plans were delayed in light of today's announcement, according to a statement obtained by Throckmorton.
"It is with a mix of sadness and relief to see that Acts 29 has taken these actions," the group's spokesman, Rob Smith, said in the statement. "We hope and pray that the call for Mark Driscoll to step down from ministry is heeded."
Driscoll has not responded, however he recently reacted to some of the controversy by pledging to quit social media to "reset my life."
Full disclosure: The author attends The Village Church, which is headed by current Acts 29 leader Matt Chandler.
(H/T: Christianity Today)