General Ministry
Tony Myles

Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, conference speaker, author, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio... and he really likes smoothies.

“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?

PM_FB_400x400Today the Acts 29 Network removed Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from its membership. According to a public statement:

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“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

Matt Chandler
Darrin Patrick
Steve Timmis
Eric Mason
John Bryson
Bruce Wesley
Leonce Crump

Before you post a comment, can I share a perspective (and the reason I’m even adding to this conversation)?

excess-baggage-300x1801We all have baggage with our thoughts on this.

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).

talkHow do we talk about this together?

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?



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  • Greg says:

    This is great conversation (if we completely avoid chasing rabbits about Driscoll). We touched on this at a recent Family Ministry Conversation I attended. It came to life for me shortly after that when a couple volunteering in my ministry told me their marriage was in trouble. I had to decide 1. Disqualify them from serving or 2. Allow them to continue to operate in their gifts. Ministry was one of the positives aspects of their marriage. It was a tougher decision than I thought to ask them to step down. The restoration process has been a journey as well after a divorce. Many people have been alienated through situations like that, even when it has been largely out of their control; at least for one of the parties involved.

    • Tony Myles Tony Myles says:

      Really appreciate this example, Greg… it bears in mind that there are times when something like a person’s marriage must be put as a higher priority than their ministry profession/activity. We could make the argument that personal character is as important and should be handled as such.

  • Jarrod says:

    How do we talk about this together? Without focusing on the person(s) being asked to step down. As Greg said, it can be so hard to ask someone to step down. Especially someone who is gifted in that particular ministry and when that ministry seems to be bearing so much fruit. Do you let them keep going and try to work things out on the side? Or do you draw the line, pull them now and help get the heart right with God before they get back with ministry?

    I think 1Tim3 is a good place to start for leaders when it comes to disqualifying behavior…and Mat.18 in dealing with them. All in all we need to remember the goal is reconciliation. Maybe personal (marriage or a sin against another), but especially with God. (James 5:19-20; Mat.18:15; Gal.6:1).

    • Tony Myles Tony Myles says:

      You have raised an interesting question through the backdoor, Jarrod – are we more quick to pull incompetent people of flawed character out of ministry faster than competent people of flawed character? That in itself could be it’s own discussion. I do appreciate your heart for 1 Timothy 3, though – there should be some biblical precedent to implement a standard that we hold high, but not without grace to grow into it.

  • Becky Lang says:

    In so many ministry situations whether inside or outside the church, leaders and volunteers are left to “fake it until they make it” or as Tony Myles cites above take over in the interim, learning as we go. All the college in the world doesn’t train people to know what character is or to have it, modeling and correction help along the way though might. Mentors take an early retirement from church life, yes often ran off by negative “relevant” comments but staying in the fray for the sake of the Gospel and the new leaders we see so much futrure in would serve the church and kindgom of God well. Yes Baby Boomers I’m talking to US!

    The thing Jerimiah had to get used to though was his job was to deliver the message not be responsible for the outcome. Many mentors, boards, accountability partners, advisors and so on give up because it’s hard. Or they don’t want to take the shots anymore, okay you don’t have to do business with that person or group. But was the church meant ever to be a business?

    Every believer is responsible to explain the hope in themselves (1Peter 3:13-16) and if it doesn’t wash by their behavior then there is a biblical model that seems to have been followed in talking about some of the problems. Then at some point though people on the local level perhaps should find a new church or group to serve with rather than fighting via social media over the existing one. Family break-up of any kind is never pleasant but even the church in Acts was scattered for what seemed no good purpose: but God! He will and does open new doors, there are tons of people waiting for you to tell them about the hope you carry in you!

    Just kill the bird and it’s friends.

    If God continues to use the person/s and groups be careful what you say. Remember God used Balaam’s ass to get his attention. (Oh did my inner Jr. Higher just say something?)

  • Shane says:

    The issue isn’t gifting. The issue is character. People aren’t normally asked to step down (from pretty much anything) because they are just not gifted enough. In my experience, people are normally asked to step down because of some form of flaw in their character. So the question for me is: Why isn’t character development a bigger focus? Maybe because developing skills / talents / gifts are easier and take a lot less time, and have more immediate rewards. Just a thought…
    Character must be more important than gifting. Especially for the person in a ministry position – paid or volunteer. The book of James is clear about that. So is Galatians (5:22-23). There is no law against good character.

  • Rich Ellis says:

    I love Mark Driscoll as a teacher, and I love many of the other evangelical popes. I know that I lean on them too much and elevate them too much. I am sad for Acts 29, for Mars Hill and for Jesus Christ being mis seen in the way Christians act. I am also encouraged that I don’t have to be famous or amazing. I want to be content being faithful with stepping where Jesus leads me and dealing carefully with any glory that gets aimed at me.

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