'Taxing year' for John Piper's church after string of resignations amid bullying claims

Pastor John Piper was succeeded by Jason Meyer, who has now resigned.(Facebook/John Piper)

The church of John Piper has been left reeling after the resignation of several members of the leadership team, including most recently the famed pastor's successor, Jason Meyer. 

He is the latest to step down from his pastor role at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, following allegations of abusive leadership.

The others are former care and counselling pastor Bryan Pickering; youth and family discipleship director Richie Stark; and Ming-Jinn Tong, who oversaw neighbourhood outreach.

Pickering made claims of bullying in a statement read by elders to the congregation earlier this month. 

"I have seen several congregants (current and former), elders (current and former), and a former administrative assistant profoundly mistreated by elders in various ways," he said according to the Roys Report.

"I have also seen leadership act in ways I would describe as domineering. I have also seen patterns of deception among our elders that are deeply concerning.

"I have tried on several occasions since early 2020 to speak up to others about these patterns of behavior. Increasingly in 2021, especially and intensely since March, I, too, have experienced what I would call bullying behavior. It is now clear to me that it is best for everyone for me to resign." 

Jason Meyer succeeded John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church but has now resigned.

Commenting on the situation, the church's pastor for preaching and vision, Dave Zuleger, said in a blog that it has been a "taxing year for ministry" at Bethlehem Baptist.

"This is another painful and confusing moment for us. It's confusing and painful corporately because Jason took the mantle from Pastor John Piper and helped lead us to this point of campus-specific preaching. It feels jarring," he said.

"It's been more painful to me personally than corporately. Jason has been a dear friend and mentor since we met in his tiny closet of an office during my first year of seminary back in 2010. No one has influenced how I love my wife or my family more than him.

"No one has leaned in to care for my soul more than him. We talked weekly on the phone when I was called to my first pastoral role after seminary, he came and visited me and took me to lunch when times were hard in that pastoral post, and now I've had the privilege of serving alongside him these past three years.

"Our friendship is not up for grabs even a little, yet I'm personally heartbroken. I say all of that to let you know that it's okay to feel sad and confused."