Mark Driscoll removed from the Acts 29 church planting network he helped found

Mark Driscoll
Mark Driscoll

Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church via Wikimedia

Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has been removed from a church planting network of more than 500 churches he helped found and lead called Acts 29.

(RNS) Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has been removed from a church-planting network of more than 500 churches he helped found after a pattern of “ungodly and disqualifying behavior.”

Driscoll, co-founder of the Acts 29 Network, has been an influential but edgy pastor within conservative evangelical circles for several years. His own Mars Hill Church attracts some 14,000 people at 15 locations across five states each Sunday.

At the same time, however, Driscoll has been controversial in evangelical circles for years. The New York Times Magazine called him “one of the most admired — and reviled — figures among evangelicals nationwide.” He has been provocative, occasionally profane and has faced allegations of plagiarism and inflating his book sales.

After Acts 29 board action, all of Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church locations have been removed from the website of the network.

“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,” the Act 29 board wrote in a letter. “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.”

In a longer letter obtained by blogger Warren Throckmorton, the Acts 29 board asked Driscoll to “step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.”

“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 board wrote. “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.”

Driscoll, who’s been facing the same heavy criticism in recent years that he was known for dishing out to others, recently admitted to and apologized for comments he made under the pseudonym “William Wallace II” where he posted statements critical of feminism, homosexuality and “sensitive emasculated” men.

The Acts 29 board’s letter suggested that it could not lean on Mars Hill’s own board for discipline.

“In response, we leaned on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability to take the lead in dealing with this matter,” the letter states. “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.”

As Throckmorton has reported on his blog, the Acts 29 action comes after evangelical leaders Paul Tripp and James MacDonald resigned as members of the church governing board, and ex-members staged a recent protest at the church.

The Acts 29 Network is a network of churches attempting to be “gospel-centered” and “missional.” Its mission is to plant new churches with an emphasis on holiness, humility, diversity and evangelism.

Driscoll stepped down as president of Acts 29 in March 2012, appointing Matt Chandler as his successor and moving the headquarters to Dallas, where Chandler is a pastor.

Driscoll’s spokesperson did not return requests for comment.

Earlier this year, Driscoll apologized for missteps in publishing and quit social media for the rest of 2014.


About the author

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for RNS, covering how faith intersects with politics, culture and other news. She previously served as online editor for Christianity Today where she remains an editor-at-large.


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  • All things like this are so extremely sad. That is because the behavior of these so-called Christian people is so absolutely contrary to the goodness presumed of religion, the honesty and goodness proclaimed by Jesus in all the the stories included in the gospels about him. Such behavior also contradicts the many stories about Jesus that were not accepted into that canon. Why are evangelicals so nasty? Despite all the ugliness in the history of religion, that evangelical ugliness is hypocritical, not true religion.

  • People today seem to forget Jesus said many will say to Me Lord,Lord
    and not enter heaven! Bible says Repent or perish yet that never gets
    preached anymore and that’s why so many “Christians” act the way
    they do. They’re not really Christians! Grace allows us all to Repent
    and turn from our sin but people today think that Grace allows them to
    sin. Big difference! We must Repent! Far too many “preachers” today
    are more worried about tryin to sell their book instead of just preaching.
    Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk and 1 Corinthians 6:10 says that
    all drunkards go to hell but most people never hear that cause people
    today only want to talk about abortion and/or gay marriage so they don’t
    have to face their own sin. Gossips,all drunkards,mean people,coveters,
    greedy/jealous/haters and sexually immoral/fornicaters in any form go to hell.
    Bible says that people who practice these sins will not inherit the kingdom
    of heaven…Period! That’s why the Bible says that we all must Repent!
    Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross and only one guy went to
    heaven! Why? Only one of the guys Repented. Bible says we must Repent!
    It doesn’t matter how spiritual people are if they aren’t Biblical they are
    still lost and headed for hell. If you say you love Jesus and then don’t
    follow the Bible/religion no Truth is in you! Not enough to just believe in
    Jesus. Bible says we all must Repent and then follow Him/the Bible/Jesus!
    The wine that Jesus made was from the fruit of the vine/new wine and
    diluted plus the Bible says don’t get drunk on strong wine so people
    who get drunk with wine are also wrong/go to hell. We all must Repent!

  • Evangelicals are not ugly. People are ugly, horrible, sinful and selfish. None of us are perfect like Jesus, no one. That is why He lived the perfect life, had perfect love and gave the perfect sacrifice so that we could be saved. We grow in Christ. Some of us get to do it quietly with only our family and friends seeing our screw ups and only God seeing our horrible thoughts. It doesn’t excuse him or anyone else but shows how much we need Jesus to be our atonement.

  • t.- The Bible says we are known by our fruit and if the tree does not
    bear good fruit it is no good! Jesus said you are one of Mine only if
    you continue in My teachings/follow Me so if people don’t make a change
    they are not saved…Period! It’s what the Bible says so if you have a
    problem with what the Bible says/you don’t want to Repent/follow the
    Bible/Jesus/Word you are not a Christian…Period! In the beginning
    was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God
    then the Word became flesh and dwealt among us! Jesus is the Word
    and the Word is Jesus. They are one in the same so if you don’t follow
    the Word/Jesus you are not saved/going to heaven! Bible says Repent
    and believe the Gospel. The church has forgotten that! We must Repent!

  • If only sanctification were that easy. As even Paul said, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate”.

    Also, I’m sure you are familiar with Matthew 11:19, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”

  • I think he’ a fantastic pastor and hate to see this happening to him. He doesn’t fit in with the socially conservative leaders and that’s why he’s gotten into trouble. This is the pastor of the people who have dreadlocks, tattoos, who live in a city where you’re looked down on if you have a child, (but not a dog) or if your Christian, etc etc.He fits well for the huge niche of people that NEVER would consider Christianity if there wasn’t someone like him to preach to them.

  • Before we blast him, let’s understand that we could all have fallen into this sin. We are all sinners and all deserve hell. We all desperately need forgiveness and in Christ, all of my, yours and Pastor Mark’s sins are covered by the blood of Christ. David was a man after God’s own heart and he fell into grievous sin, how much more could we too fall into devastating sins? Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

  • That’s not why he was removed or why people are asking him to resign. Research the last two year about the controversy that surrounds him and the open letters written to him from former Mars Hill leaders.

    Its not because people are uncomfortable with his “edgy” preaching but because he is a bad representation of the heart, character, and wisdom of Christ.

  • Very true! There is forgiveness and restoration and love if there is true repentance, which I dont believe Mark is far from. But this issue goes beyond Mark because he is a pastor under the True Pastor. This is about how Christ is represented; Titus gives us qualification for church leaders for a reason. People want him removed from ministry because they dont want to see Christ continually dishonored, not because they have a grudge against him

  • “Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

    I’m sure his ministry has reached people whom would have never be reached.
    I also wonder how many people have taken on the abusive theology and have been wounded by it? I include misguided clergy in this group as well.

    It doesn’t mean that his ego hasn’t ruled his ministry. He could be doing some right things for some wrong reasons.

    He does possess gifts and God has used those gifts. Mark, like all of us, may benefit from some deep, inner-reflection and healing. Perhaps these turn of events will force Mark to go much deeper into his soul, shame, and pain, a place he would never go without having the covers yanked off his persona.

    Good can come out of this, in time, and if Mark will do the deep, real, authentic, and honest work on his soul.

  • “[T]he behavior of these so-called Christian people is so absolutely contrary to the goodness presumed of religion…”

    Maybe your presumptions could use some adjustments?

  • @Karla,

    “The Bible says we are known by our fruit”

    Paul Newman founded “Newman’s Own”
    and raised $370 Million for sick children.

    Paul Newman was ATHEIST.
    We should all be so good as this ATHEIST
    to leave such goodness as a legacy.

    Jesus is divisive nonsense.
    Jesus is much more likely to bring out the worst in people, not the best.

  • @Jeff,

    The Bible is incoherent.

    “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Matthew 11:19)

    “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

    You can’t win.
    No matter how hard you try.

    “Cigarettes are bad for you” – JESUS
    “Cigarettes are good for you” – JESUS

    Religion is a parlor trick
    Flip a coin and you win every time.

    Want a straight answer? With god nothing is possible.

  • This is why every Pastor ultimately fails.
    They cannot abide by the laws of Jesus – nobody can:

    “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:9-11)


    “I have come to bring fire…What constraint I am under!
    I am impatient to bring..not peace..but DIVISION.” – JESUS (Luke 12:49-51)

    People, please.
    This stuff is self refuting.

    The reason Christians – and especially these Pastors – cannot follow Jesus is because the philosophy is incoherent.
    It doesn’t work!

    “Love thy neighbor as thyself” – Jesus (Mark 12:31)
    “Execute them in front of me” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    ‘Nobody should stone the adulteress’ – Jesus (paraphrasing John 8:7) *
    ‘I came to validate ALL stoning laws’ – Jesus (paraphrasing Matthew 5:18) ***


    * “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – JESUS (John 8:7)


    *** “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” – JESUS (Matthew 5:18)
    This stuff cannot be followed.

  • @ – AM. At work again as a mechanic – void of the Spirit, one drop of ink colors your whole ocean. You are only a few degrees from truth. I do admire your tenacity! To each his own.

  • @AM – At least we both get an A+ for tenacity. I value humanity and it’s perceptions IE the supernatural. Zeus, Pele, Superman, faith outside of one’s self.
    Maybe believing in nothing is comforting – been there done that – either way you are still valued by someone.

  • Ya’ll just keep on fighting. Why is it that many groups ostensibly trying to do good wind up in group therapy? It’s the same with animal rights groups. Everybody knows the right way to do things instead of working together and reaching compromises and being open about what they are doing.
    But let’s say this for the guy–he didn’t rape any kids, did he? He didn’t hit the sack with Jessica Hahn or cruise the hookers in Metairie, LA. (Swags). The more science catches up with religion, the more conflicts and in-fighting will go on in groups like this because they are losing their evangelical toe-hold.

    “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.” ISAIAH 13:11

  • KARLA,


  • JESUS IS LORD-Thank you as well. It’s truly shocking how many false
    things are being taught right now in the church. Many people today still
    don’t want to Repent and think they can just say/do whatever and go to
    heaven. Some people are teaching there is no hell and many today
    forget in 2 Thessalonians it says God will send a powerful delusion to
    those who not only denied the Truth but delighted in their sin/wickedness
    so peole who claim to be Christian and still don’t Repent will be deceived
    by the Antichrist and the false prophet when they come and then set up a
    false goverment/religion before the real Jesus Christ comes to fool/deceive
    people so that’s why we need to know the Bible/the real Jesus. The Bible
    is clear that hell is real and there is judgment to come so people who don’t Repent go to hell. People today seem to forget Jesus said you are one of
    Mine only if you follow Me and also many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not
    enter heaven! Bible says Repent or perish! We must Repent! God bless.

  • I like that, “following Calvin, not Jesus.”

    There’s a great deal of that happening in the church.

  • To the point. Mark Driscoll should be dismissed from his church and given an opportunity to receive treatment for his psycho/social problems. Of course that’s my opinion base on the things he has said and wrote publicly. He will most likely not be dismissed because there is, one, probably nothing in the constitution or charter of the church which will provide for such. Two, he has built his pastorate around him as a personality cult. Many of his members probably have little church experience, thus in Driscoll’s case they have no standard of pastrolal conduct to draw from. They have already bought the lie, that of sinning so that “Grace may more abound.”

    What is so sad is Mark doesn’t get the help he needs and the church goes with an abuse of grace and faith. Forgiveness is good, but so is being responsible for ones actions.

  • Bro Max
    Dang brother, I’m going to have to get you a Bible without so many missing pages.

  • Atheist Max, for a guy who hates Christianity you seem to be spending a lot of time blogging on Christian sites. You even quote verses often.
    Searching for something?

  • If we believe in Jesus, that means we will do what the Word says. Otherwise our belief is not in Jesus. Our belief is in ourselves and we put Jesus name on it. Do we really know what the Bible says? We need to read it to know. Too many rely on others to interpret for us without doing our own study. Preachers words need to be filtered, not by what we think, but by what the Word says. If a preacher speaks the truth, no matter how difficult, we should listen. If it’s controversial, look it up and see if it’s Biblical. Homosexuality is not Biblical and is condemned in several passages. How come when somebody speaks this truth they are condemned as haters? I believe the same thing about any sex outside of a heterosexual monogamist marriage. I don’t hate any of the people who practice it, I just think it’s wrong. Jesus says to love and not hate, but He also said “Go and sin no more”. Do we trust God enough to do what He says?

  • Hi Karla, good stuff, in Australia it is really bad, many churches are actually preaching against repentance and holiness. Bill Johnson of Bethel church in California I think has been making big headway in this teaching.

    Pentecostals have accepted this teaching, evangelicals like Baptists and even traditionalise like Anglicans ( I think you call them Episcopaliens or something like that)

    Repent, repent repent and be saved and go to heaven, because the only other option is hell and there is no end to either, so repent.

    blessings from Australia

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