Mark Driscoll, pastor of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, will relinquish leadership of the megachurch for at least six weeks while elders investigate charges against him. He announced that decision yesterday in a prepared statement he read before his congregation (see video clip below).
“As I look forward to the future—and I do look forward to it—I believe the Lord has shown me I am to do two things with the rest of my life: love my family, and teach the Bible,” Driscoll said. “I deeply love my family and our church family and am seeking the Lord for how to have a godly and loving future that is not just sustainable but fruitful.”
He concluded by apologizing to the congregation, saying he was “sorry for the times I have been angry, short, or insensitive. I’m sorry for anything I’ve done to distract from our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention.”
Driscoll became a national figure when he helped found the Acts 29 Network, a church planting organization that has started more than 500 churches since 1998. He also wrote best-sellers, but that achievement became questionable when WORLD last fall reported his use of nearly $250,000 in Mars Hill funds to put his book Real Marriage on the New York Times best-seller list.
WORLD also obtained a copy of a non-compete agreement Mars Hill required pastors to sign that prevented them from planting new churches in the Seattle area—despite Mars Hill’s claim of supporting church planting. In March the church announced it would destroy all emails more than three months old as part of a new “document retention policy.” The church rescinded implementation after 16 former church members sent a letter to the church in protest.
Recently, Lifeway, the retail arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, announced it was pulling Driscoll’s books from its 180-plus retail stores and website, the Acts 29 Network issued a statement saying Driscoll should step down for an extended period of time and “seek help,” author Paul Tripp and megachurch pastor James MacDonald resigned from Mars Hill Church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability, and Mars Hill Church canceled its flagship Resurgence Conference. Last week 21 former Mars Hill pastors filed charges against Driscoll, saying—among other things—that Driscoll had engaged in a pattern of abusive and intimidating behavior.