Thoughts on Mark Driscoll Stepping Aside as President of Acts 29

Update: Driscoll has left The Gospel Coalition, meaning he is no longer a Council Member.

Last night the guys at Phoenix Preacher posted this story about Driscoll stepping aside and Matt Chandler taking over and the HQ of Acts 29 moving to Dallas. The post was updated very soon afterward with statements from the leadership of A29 sent to pastors, who are part of the network.

I spent about 2 hours last night talking through this with about 20 guys on Twitter, Facebook, email and text. Many were optimistic about this move because of the stories which have gone public regarding Driscoll over the past few months. There are a few, hopeful this is a step in the right direction, but are cautious.
Count me among them. And the following is why:
– Though this comes in the midst of (what I would call) devastating revelations regarding the leadership of Mars Hill, I am told this has been in the works for months and is not directly related to the Petry allegations.  Which is sad because it makes people hopeful in the midst of them.
– The ground zero for what happened with the discipline case of Andrew and the firing of Petry and Meyer is Mars Hill, not Acts 29. So why an announcement regarding the leadership of Acts 29 in the midst of allegations regarding Mars Hill Church? Because the leaders of Acts 29 were part of those allegations by Petry and Acts 29 needs to do something to stop the hemorrhaging of churches from the network. I know for an absolute fact that there are churches questioning their affiliation with Acts 29. I’ve heard from them.
– If I’m wrong about the above and this was simply a coincidence. Then how can we really respect the leadership of Acts 29 even as new leadership comes in? All that has been done is rearrange the deck chairs  (Chandler and Driscoll switch places) and throw one overboard (Thomas). Are we to expect no public statement – no contrition – no refutation at all regarding what happened with Petry and Meyer? 
– I may be seen as very cynical. But I cannot imagine why that is more of a problem than not asking enough questions. If I was an Acts 29 pastor, I would still want to know more about what happened with Petry. If that just disappears in the dust of the changes…
– I like Matt Chandler. But I gotta be honest, this feels like a very similar move I was involved in, in which a pastor, accused of something, removes himself so the dust can settle and then everyone moves on as before…except the ones forced to swallow the dust. 
More details as they become available.

14 thoughts on “Thoughts on Mark Driscoll Stepping Aside as President of Acts 29

  1. Wenatchee the Hatchet March 28, 2012 / 1:53 pm

    For those of us who were around when Petry and Meyer got fired that was ground zero. Andrew's case simply demonstrated that the problems that emerged back in 2007 are still present. I totally understand how it would look like the reverse for others, though.

  2. Jim Henderson March 28, 2012 / 10:51 pm

    We organized the protest in 2006 that "coincidentally" coincided with 1. The removal of Driscoll from The Seattle Times (he was then THE voice of evangelicals in Seattle)2. His (certainly weak-political) apology over the Ted Haggards wife not putting out (why is there always a sexual reference…) We stipulated both of these actions be taken in order for the protest to be called off (which is was) but both of these were negotiated by Driscoll and his right hand man (at the time) Leif Moi in a private meeting with some spiritual leaders from the Seattle Area

  3. Jim Henderson March 28, 2012 / 10:53 pm

    PS – The Seattle Times public reason was that it was time for a change anyway and it had nothing to do with the protest (which they avidly reported)

  4. Anonymous March 29, 2012 / 12:24 am

    Matt: "There are a few, hopeful this is a step in the right direction, but are cautious. Count me among them."It all has a familiar ring to it.In 2007, Driscoll made similar statements. Consider what he said in his cover letter attached to the Ask The Elders Anything document that was published after the firing of the elders:"I needed to give up a great deal of power and trust other elders, deacons, and members to care for the church with the same passionate affection that I have for our people. To begin this process I had to go first and divest myself of a great deal of power. In the history of the church I have held the three positions of greatest authority. Legally, I was the president of Mars Hill Church the organization. Practically, I was the preaching pastor and primary voice of Mars Hill Church. Administratively, I was the president of the elder board and highest authority on the staff. "So, I resigned as the legal president, resigned as the president of the elder board, and resigned as the highest authority over the staff. I have retained the position of primary preaching pastor but have also started a preaching cadre to train many other elders in preaching so as to begin sharing that load roughly twelve times a year with other gifted men."Having shared power, I was then able to establish a new Executive Elder board to architect the future of Mars Hill. I remained one of the men on that team to help lead the church but came under Pastor Jamie Munson, the team leader. I simply did not have the giftedness or time to architect something as complex as our church, which intended to grow to multiple campuses, possibly even stretching out of state or out of country. Yet, I wanted to ensure that our church remained theologically precise and committed to not just growing but also caring for our people. So, the new Executive Elder team sought outside counsel from bigger churches that we respect. "At this time, Pastor Tim Beltz also became a valuable asset thanks to his many years of nonprofit management experience for ministries much larger and more complex than ours, along with Scott Thomas who had pastored at many other churches, and Pastor Bubba Jennings whose leadership and management gifts would allow the Ballard campus to become a center of excellence and equipping center for new campus launches."*Every one of the men who were picked to serve on the Executive Elder team after Driscoll "resigned as the legal president, resigned as president of the elder board, and resigned as the highest authority over the staff" is gone, except for one. Can you guess who that might be?

  5. Anonymous March 29, 2012 / 3:34 am

    Munson is no longer the lead pastor or an executive elder. Driscoll is the only one that never exits through the revolving door. Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas are fresh picks. Wonder how long they will last. Not long if the pattern holds. I hope they both have back-up plans.

    • Royce January 24, 2013 / 2:27 pm

      That link no longer takes you to Munson’s “with great sadness” resignation announcement. Now it just goes to a page which says “Jesus Tomb is Empty…” It looks like the Mars Hill History Scrubbing Ministry is busy at work.

  6. Wenatchee the Hatchet March 29, 2012 / 4:46 am

    Beltz was listed as a pastor at Mars Hill West Seattle on 2/27/2012 and then a week after I published the observation that James Noriega has vanished from the elder listings Mars Hill moved Beltz from West Seattle to Downtown and suspended the entire campus blog and blog archive network. So there's been two leadership shufflings a week after public documentation of leadership changes in the month of March.

  7. Wenatchee the Hatchet March 29, 2012 / 7:06 am

    Jim, have you read Joyful Exiles yet? It kinda looks like Moi was eventually all but thrown under the bus by Driscoll a year later when Driscoll and Munson were pushing for a re-org in 2007 and it was determined Moi lacked the "kingly gifts" to keep overseeing the Ballard campus. That's my impression of what Paul and Jonna Petry published earlier this month anyway.

  8. Matthew B. Redmond March 29, 2012 / 11:22 am

    Shows how much I know. But how very telling. My guess? In a few years we will hear another story or three fairly similar to the one being told by Petry.

  9. Ian March 29, 2012 / 6:58 pm

    It's worth noting that people have been raising red flags about Driscoll for years. He's an abusive leader who is now even less unaccountable than he was before. How many broken lives will it take before he's stopped?

  10. Jason April 1, 2012 / 6:36 am

    I don't know. Good question though. It's as if God is "bring what has been hidden to light" (1 Corinthian 4:5)

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