Acts 29 Network cofounder Pastor Mark Driscoll has stepped down from the reins of the successful global church planting organization to make room for Pastor Matt Chandler as president, it was announced Wednesday.
Later in the day, in another major move by Driscoll, the Gospel Coalition announced that they had received a letter of his resignation as a council member. A change in priorities was the reason given by Driscoll who plans to devote more time to his growing church.
Acts 29 is a network of church planters that "emerged from a small band of brothers" to more than 400 churches in the United States and networks of churches in multiple countries.
Driscoll, who is the lead pastor of Seattle-based Mars Hill Church, issued a statement through Acts 29, which gave a brief history of the group and how the decision was made.
"Recently, I sensed that not all was well in Acts 29. As my concerns grew, I recently resumed the presidency of Acts 29 to work directly with our network captains, most influential pastors, and staff," Driscoll stated. "It seemed to me that some of our relationships, board size and structure, communication, systems, and such were not as effective as we needed, which is to be expected to some degree in a large, complex, fast-growing entrepreneurial network such as ours."
After meeting for a full day with pastors Chandler and Darrin Patrick, along with the executive elders of Mars Hill, he stated that a decision was made on how to restructure Acts 29.
"Together, we decided, in light of all the complexity we're facing, that the best thing for Acts 29 going forward would be for Matt Chandler to assume the presidency, move the network offices to Dallas, and select his Acts 29 staff," Driscoll said.
The Seattle pastor said he will remain on the Acts 29 board of directors and support his friend, Chandler. All of the network of Mars Hill local churches will continue to be a part of Acts 29 as well, he said.
"I want to thank the people of Mars Hill for pouring millions of dollars into Acts 29 over the years," Driscoll added.
"As for myself, I want to humbly serve Jesus and his men in Acts 29 by doing whatever is best for them. Going forward, I will gladly remain on the Acts 29 Board supporting Matt, along with Darrin and whomever else Matt believes best fits the Board."
Chandler, who is the lead pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas, also wrote a letter about the group's transition posted on various websites.
"I am greatly humbled by the opportunity to serve our great God and King, as well as our movement, in the capacity of president of Acts 29," Chandler stated. "Our meeting in Seattle couldn't have been more Spirit-empowered and unifying than it was, and I flew home excited and invigorated by the opportunities that are before us.
"There are few things that excite me like planting churches and seeing people come to know, love, and mature in Christ. So, this task allows me to serve in an area of my passion," he said. "We are in the process of transitioning Acts 29 from Seattle to Dallas. At present that involves gathering all of the information we can on Acts 29 's budget, processes, setting up Acts 29 legally in Texas, etc."
Pastor Scott Thomas, who was a board member and director of the group at one time, was not mentioned in Driscoll's letter, but Chandler wrote that Thomas was "taking this transition as a chance to pursue other opportunities he has before him and will not be making the move to Dallas."
"Scott and I are on very good terms and had dinner just this past weekend, where he informed me of his deep love for you and the network but felt like God has released him from leading Acts 29. He is excited about what God has next for him," Chandler wrote.
In a development that followed later on Wednesday after the announcement about the reorganization at Acts 29, The Gospel Coalition announced that they received a letter from Driscoll that stated he was stepping down from the Council of The Gospel Coalition.
The coalition is "a fellowship of evangelical churches deeply committed to renewing [their] faith in the gospel of Christ and ... reforming ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures."
"Mark let us know in advance of his intentions, part of a major reorganization of his priorities and a changing of the guard in Acts 29. We are saddened by his departure but understand that all busy people must establish priorities," officials from the group posted Wednesday afternoon.
"The Council is grateful to Mark for his contributions to TGC during the past decade. In the months and years ahead, we will certainly be praying for him, his family, and the ministries he influences," the Gospel Coalition wrote.
In Driscoll's letter posted on the group's site he clarified that he was not asked to stepped down.
"I was a founding member of The Gospel Coalition and to this day enjoy deep friendships and theological unity with the men. But I'm no longer going to be a Council member, as I seek to focus my energies on a handful of things. If I'm honest, with the continued growth of all the ministries in which I'm involved, it's not sustainable for me to keep up with all of them. So, this is a season of pruning for me.
"For the record, no one has asked me to leave the Council, and I have no relational conflict with anyone and no disagreement theologically. The men remain friends who are welcome to speak into my life, and I'm transitioning for no other reason than I find myself at the end of my tether with time and energy."
Driscoll outlined most of what transpired in the last several days in a blog post on his PastorMark.tv website published Wednesday and headlined, "What's Next for Me."