The board of the church planting group Acts 29 has voted to remove CEO Steve Timmis from the global church planting network after investigating accusations about his "abusive leadership" style.
"The Board of Acts 29 was made aware of some accusations of abusive leadership against our CEO Steve Timmis," read a statement to Baptist Press. "The Board launched an investigation of these claims and found evidence that he should be transitioned out of the CEO role immediately."
In an email sent to pastors, the board announced a “new season of leadership,” adding, “Acts 29 would like to thank Steve for his years of service and leadership, and the legacy of faithfulness he is leaving behind. We want to honor Steve by sending him on a 4-month sabbatical leave and paying him through the end of 2020,” according to a screenshot of the letter posted on Twitter by author and investigative journalist Julie Roys.
The Acts 29 board said it has asked Brian Howard to lead as executive director “for the next few months while a final decision is made regarding the long term leadership of Acts 29.”
A Christianity Today article detailed multiple accounts from former church members, elders and friends of the pastor describing “a pattern of spiritual abuse through bullying and intimidation, overbearing demands in the name of mission and discipline, rejection of critical feedback, and an expectation of unconditional loyalty.”
On Sunday, the U.K.-based church which Timmis founded, The Crowded House, also confirmed online his resignation as a church elder.
“We write with a concern for the reputation of Christ and a desire to care for his people,” the church said in a statement. “On Friday 7th February Steve Timmis resigned as an elder of The Crowded House. We have valued his ministry among us and his role in founding the church. Many of us owe him a personal debt.
“We also feel the weight of the stories told in the article. It is therefore our intention to ask someone from outside our network to explore what has happened and make recommendations. It will be for that person to shape the process, but we want to listen to all concerned with humility. We are willing to hear where we may have failed people. We recognize the need to open ourselves up to external and impartial scrutiny."
Additionally, Inter-Varsity Press UK announced it will no longer sell Timmis’ titles, saying “that the style of close church community advocated in these books lacked sufficient safeguards against abusive control” and apologizing for them possibly contributing to “unhealthy and even abusive church cultures."
Led by president Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, Acts 29 describes itself as a “diverse, global family of church-planting churches characterized by theological clarity, cultural engagement, and missional innovation.”
According to the 2019 Annual Report, Acts 29 has grown from just a few church plants in the early 2000s into a global family of nearly 800 churches worshiping in more than 30 languages in more than 50 nations.
This is not the first time an Acts 29 leader was forced to step down. In August 2014, Acts 29 co-founder and pastor Mark Driscoll was also removed after allegations of "ungodly and disqualifying behavior."