Acts 29 church planting network terminates membership of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill

Photo: Ben VanHouten

Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill have had their membership terminated in a church planting network he co-founded.

Driscoll has had a difficult year following accusations of a culture of bullying and intimidation at the leadership level of Mars Hill.

A Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) is supposed to be overseeing a process of reconciliation and the implementation of changes to the way Mars Hill is governed.

The reconciliation process was initiated after a group of former elders, notably Dave Kraft, raised concerns with the leadership of Mars Hill church about "many long-standing hurts and offenses".  

Kraft was positive about the reconciliation process, writing in a post to his blog on June 8 this year: "Personally, I am encouraged and, to use a military expression, I am cautiously optimistic.

"It's way too early in the process to know how it will play out, how interested parties can be involved and what the longer-term results will be.

"I want to strongly encourage all of you reading this to be much in prayer, as much is at stake." 

But the initiation of the reconciliation process did not put an end to the challenges facing Mars Hill.  Pastor and author Paul Tripp resigned from the BOAA in June only to be followed a few weeks later by Harvest Bible Fellowship's James McDonald in July.  

While both said their resignations were for reasons other than the accusations facing Driscoll and Mars Hill, the timing hit a nerve with Mars Hills' critics.

Acts 29's decision will be a further blow to Mars Hill as they seek to restore credibility.  The network said in a statement that it was "with deep sorrow" they were terminating the membership of Driscoll and Mars Hill. 

"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," it read.

"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." 

Mars Hill was critical of Acts 29's decision.  SeattlePi reports that BOAA chairman Michael Van Skaik issued a letter to church members on Friday in which he insisted "real progress" was being made to address the "unhealthy culture issues that have been part of Mars Hill for way too long". 

Van Skaik claimed that the board members had not contacted him or Driscoll prior to serving the notice that they were being removed from the network. 

"Our board's decision is final regarding these charges, although will no doubt continue to be played out in the courts of public opinion," said Van Skaik.

"Again, I am deeply saddened that the A29 board would make such a decisive and divisive conclusion without speaking directly to the board or Mark prior to their public announcement."