“Please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.”
Have you ever heard something like this?
Perhaps it was a situation involving a peer in ministry. Maybe you’ve had to do the hard work of sharing it with someone else. It just might be that someone has shared it with you.
How can we be become better at talking about disqualifying behavior in ministry?
Today the Acts 29 Network removed Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from its membership. According to a public statement:
“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.”
Christianity Today shared a detailed summary of what has led up to this decision.
Jonathan Merritt offered a different posture toward the whole topic.
Relevant Magazine highlighted the news, adding in the context of some of Driscoll’s old-school blogging banter.
Another blog further listed the letter that was shared with Mark:
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
Before you post a comment, can I share a perspective (and the reason I’m even adding to this conversation)?
It could be any of the following:
- As aforementioned, you or someone you care about has been on the receiving end or dispensing end of a situation like this.
- You’re not a “Marc Driscoll fan.”
- You are a “Marc Driscoll fan.”
- The idea of church action steps or administration is general is a sore subject for you.
- This smells too much like the last big thing we talked about regarding ___________ and how everyone flipped out over it.
I’ve been around the edges of this, as you probably have, too. I was once an interim pastor for a season in a church where the senior pastor was removed. There was another youth ministry role I came into right after leadership had been suddenly let go.
So… here’s what I’d really like to know from you (because I need to learn this, too).
Again, you’ll be more tempted to share your baggage than wrestle with that question. Maybe that’s okay, or maybe we can just wrestle over this question in its purity. What do you think?
And for that matter, what is disqualifying behavior in ministry?
Maybe if we handle this appropriately we can better address why nobody wants to be around Christians anymore?