Pastor Mark Driscoll, who along with his Mars Hill Church was recently removed from the membership of the church planting Acts 29 Network due to complaints over his "divisive" behavior, said Sunday he will take a break for at least six weeks as the lead pastor even as accusations against him are examined.
"I have requested a break for processing, healing, and growth for a minimum of six weeks while the leadership assigned by our bylaws conduct a thorough examination of accusations against me," the Seattle, Washington-based pastor told the congregation Sunday.
"I believe their review can best be performed without me being in the pulpit or the office, and they have agreed to this arrangement," he added, reading from a written statement.
The Acts 29 network, which Driscoll founded more than a decade ago, announced Aug. 8 that it has dismissed the pastor and his church from membership, citing complaints from other network pastors concerning his "divisive" behavior. The pastor was also asked to remove himself from ministry.
Leaders of Acts 29 Network said they were convinced that the nature of the accusations against Pastor Driscoll, "most of which have been confirmed by him," make it "untenable and unhelpful" to keep him and his church in the network.
Driscoll has been embroiled in controversy for months, facing charges of plagiarism, ungodly leadership, and using church funds to promote his book.
On Sunday he told the Mars Hill congregation, "I invite this process, rather than debating accusations and issues in social media or the court of public opinion. A report on this process will be presented when it has been completed."
The pastor said he will use this time to continue "to seek the Lord about His plans for me and for this and the next season of life for Mars Hill … I will not be doing any outside speaking for the foreseeable future."
He also said he is postponing the publication of his next book.
"I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help further my personal development and maturity before God and men," the pastor added. "I have never taken an extended focused break like this in my 18 years as your pastor, and it is not a vacation but rather a time to focus on deep work in my soul in the areas of processing, healing, and growing."
He once again apologized to his church. "I'm very sorry. I'm 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."
"While I'm still young, I suspect when I'm old I'll be known for many things—some good, and some not so good. But I hope that the longer God leaves me on this earth, the more I'll be known for one thing—that I loved Jesus and His Church, the Church He promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against."
Driscoll's statement to the church was posted on YouTube.