Darrin Patrick, 46, who founded The Journey megachurch in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2002, was fired from his position as pastor this week for what his church describes as "deep historical patterns of sin." Patrick has also resigned from his position as vice president of the Acts 29 Network, which plants churches globally.
"Grievously, we need to share with you some very troubling news. In recent weeks, substantive allegations of pastoral misconduct arose against Pastor Darrin Patrick and were eventually confirmed," began church elders in a letter shared with members of The Journey family.
"This required that the board of elders place Pastor Darrin on immediate paid leave and begin a formal process of deeper investigation. The findings of this investigation and further confession from Pastor Darrin, combined with deep historical patterns of sin, led us to the heart-breaking decision to remove Pastor Darrin from office at The Journey and require him to step down from all internal and external leadership positions," the elders continued.
While Patrick's sins did not involve adultery he "did violate the high standard for elders in marriage through inappropriate meetings, conversations, and phone calls with two women," said the elders.
"We did not arrive at this decision lightly but rather agonizingly, with deep consternation for our brother, after many hours with Darrin and his wife, Amie, praying diligently together, seeking professional counsel and outside assistance, and reflecting over a long and repeated pattern of breaking trust with other leaders," they continued.
"The board has been engaged for several years now in uncovering and confronting other deep sin patterns in Darrin that do not reflect the biblical qualifications for an elder," the elders added.
Among the other sin patterns listed by the elders are:
- Abandonment of genuine biblical community (Titus 1.8)
- Refusal of personal accountability (failure to be a fellow elder according to I Pt. 5.1)
- Lack of self-control (I Tim. 3.2)
- Manipulation and lying (Titus 1.8)
- Domineering over those in his charge (I Pt. 5.3)
- Misuse of power/authority (I Pt. 5.3)
- A history of building his identity through ministry and media platforms (necessity to be "sober-minded" in I Tim. 3.2 and avoid selfish gain in I Pt. 5.2)
In a statement included in the letter to his former congregation, Patrick said he was devastated by his sins and apologized to the church.
"I am utterly horrified by the depth of my sin and devastated by the terrible effects of it on myself, my family and so many others, including all of you. I am so deeply and terribly sorry for the pain that my sin is causing you, as well as the broken trust that my sin has clearly produced. In short, I am a completely devastated man, utterly broken by my sin and in need of deep healing," he said.
The elders said they tried repeatedly to help Patrick overcome his unbiblical lifestyle but each time he promised to do better he would eventually return to his sinful patterns.
"Each time, these confrontations have been followed by initial confession with short-term changes but quickly receded into unfulfilled promises, reversion to old patterns, and broken trust with pastors/elders. Though we all stumble in many ways, those called to teaching and preaching carry the weighty responsibility of setting an example of a Christ honoring lifestyle with the consequence of stricter judgment (James 3:1)," they said.
Despite previous failed attempts to help Patrick, the elders noted that they had committed to a long-term plan to restore him with "outside help" this time.
"We have involved Amie (Patrick's wife), his counselor, outside pastors, and we have partnered with PastorServe (an organization that specializes in assisting pastors and churches in similar situations)," said the elders.
"Though this process has been and continues to be extremely difficult and painful, we love Darrin deeply and have committed to a long-term plan of personal restoration for him and devoted care for his family. The love and discipline we are extending to Darrin during this season is the same kind of care we would want to receive personally and offer to any of you in similar circumstances. There are certainly many unknowns but we are humbly submitting to and trusting Jesus to shepherd and care for the Patrick family and The Journey as we depend upon Him every moment," they said.
And Patrick said the grace shown by the elders toward him and his family has been "nothing short of miraculous."
"The way that The Journey elders have demonstrated their desire to see me restored to Jesus, as well as their love for me, Amie and our family is nothing short of miraculous and beyond gracious. They have put together a thoroughly comprehensive restoration plan for myself and our family, and we have great hope for God's healing, restoration and reconciliation through this process," said Patrick.
"We are profoundly grateful for the elders' care in this, and are completely committed to every aspect of the plan that is in place. Journey, you are in good hands with your elders. Please know that Amie and I are completely committed to our marriage as well as the well-being of our children and family," he continued. "We earnestly desire your prayers for us in this terribly painful but hopeful season. We are desperately clinging to God's promise that He loves us completely in spite of our sin, delights in us when we are at our weakest, and that He is, indeed, the restorer and healer of all brokenness."
In a statement from Acts 29 Thursday, the organization noted that they had accepted Patrick's resignation and are praying for his restoration.
"It is with deep sadness that we have accepted the resignation of Darrin Patrick from the Board of Acts 29, and removed him as vice-president and a member. We have taken these steps to respect, honor and affirm the decision and process of the elders at The Journey," said the organization in the statement.
"Whilst grieving over Darrin, we remain committed to the entire Patrick family and the church, which remains part of our network. We will do all we are able to serve them and commit to praying for them. Please join with us in praying for Darrin, that he will know a 'godly grief that leads to salvation' for the glory of Christ," the statement ended.