April 11, 2012
Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll announced that he was stepping down from the reins of Acts 29 late last month to make room for Chandler, the lead pastor at The Village Church in Highland Village in Texas. Driscoll remains on the organization's current three-member board which also includes The Journey's (St. Louis, Mo.) lead pastor, Darrin Patrick. The group's headquarters will move from Seattle to Dallas.
Driscoll seemed to have left the door open about the possibility he would remove himself from the board if needed for the greater good of the group, he implied in his statement last month about his decision.
"I want him on the board. He's a great advantage to the men, the movement, and the network as a whole," Chandler told CP when asked about Driscoll. "I think culturally and theologically he has some spectacular gifts. Driscoll will absolutely remain on the board. He would gladly step off if he thought that was best for the network. I don't think anybody believes that's best for the network."
Who is currently listed as on the board?
Mark Driscoll, Founder & President (executive elder "prophet" at Mars Hill)
Darrin Patrick, Board Member
Matt Chandler, Board Member (they haven't changed their website to reflect Driscoll saying Chandler's president yet, have they?)
Dave Bruskas, Vice President of Acts 29 (executive elder "priest" at Mars Hill)
Sutton Turner, Secretary/Treasure of Acts 29 (executive elder "king" of Mars Hill)
Scott Thomas, Network Director (although there's an announcement that suggests this, too, needs updating).
March 28, 2012
I am thrilled that Acts 29 is moving to Dallas and will be led by my friend, Pastor Matt Chandler. I think it is good for the network that other leaders will add different perspectives, nuances, and emphases. It will only be a better network as healthy, reproducing churches will continue to plant churches for the glory of God.
I was honored to serve in Acts 29 as God allowed some amazing outcomes in spite of man’s feeble efforts. I never deserved the opportunity. I never deserved the love of so many planters. I never deserved the fruitfulness God enabled.
But I wasn’t planning to stay forever. I was anticipating a change for my ministry in the future, and the move to Dallas makes it a perfect time to allow new leadership to emerge. I am looking forward with great anticipation how God is going to shape the network and the planters to effectively pursue His mission with greater Spirit-empowerment and clearer gospel purposes.
see also here, where Phoenix Preacher quotes from Matt Chandler's letter explaining how the previous weekend (would have been weekend of March 24, 2012) Scott Thomas told him he felt released from leading Acts 29.
Scott Thomas is 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.
One of the relevant questions is how enmeshed Mars Hill is with Acts 29 as a whole.
again from the article published April 11, 2012
... Driscoll and Chandler acknowledge that Acts 29 was in need of some restructuring. The 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 had not been overhauled since its beginnings.
"A29 was feeling growing pains," Chandler said. "For well over a year we noticed at the national board level that there were some cracks in the organization. Not necessarily of people, but how we were running Acts 29 as a network. We were really running a network of 422 churches on six continents the same way when it was 80 to 100 churches on one continent.
"There were some multiple issues across the whole network that was feeling the strain of trying to run the network as though we were still 80 to 100 churches. We honestly haven't tweaked things as we've grown," he explained.
Acts 29 will not only be moving its Seattle-based headquarters to Dallas, but deciding how to continue with its connection to Mars Hill Church, also based in Seattle.
"A29 was so kind of meshed into Mars Hill that right now we are just trying to untangle where one begins and the other ends. We are gathering information right now. Our hope is that A29 is completely in Dallas by September," Chandler said.
"Acts 29 has been primarily funded by and run by Mars Hill," he noted. Chandler estimates that about 80 percent of the organization was funded by the church and it is a matter of deciding on the operational priorities moving forward, including which employee positions to keep.
"Those are some of the questions we are trying to answer even now," he said. [emphasis added]
Chandler said that his main goal is to empower the pastors and ministry leaders of the organization.
"I think there are a lot of guys in the network that are extremely gifted that have never really been asked to do much in the network. I'd like to ask some of those guys to really step up and take some serious ownership of the network," he said. "In regards to just the immediate future, that's my hope is to really empower very gifted, very godly Jesus loving guys to really play an important role in the shaping of A29 culture and ultimately the care of our pastors and the churches we want to plant."
80 percent of organization being funded by Mars Hill is not a small ratio, is it?
Driscoll has mentioned plans to create a Mars Hill Network inside the Acts 29 network. If Acts 29 wants to distance itself from Mars Hill and the reality that it is, in essence, an extension of Mars Hill leadership that will be a long, long journey and if all the executive elders who run Mars Hill are still on the board then, ultimately, any distancing between Acts 29 and Mars Hill will look purely pro forma.
As the cofounder of Acts 29, I’m honored to work with great men, amazed at what God is doing, and excited for what remains. But, after examining what is best for the men in our network in the next season, the board and I have, without reservation, decided to appoint Pastor Matt Chandler as our president and allow him to oversee the daily operation of Acts 29.
... Every man who has ever served on the A29 board is a blessing. We have experienced uncommon unity and collaboration. But, going forward, we need multiple smaller boards. In the present state, the board has been too big to meet but once a year. We need real accountability, real brotherhood, and the ability to move faster.
The following are three changes that will take place on the A29 board.
1. The Board of Acts 29 will be myself, Pastor Matt Chandler, Pastor Darrin Patrick, and Pastor Dave Bruskas. Each man has been able to hand off their network to full-time staff, thereby freeing them up to go to the next level of leadership and help me work across all of Acts 29 and serve all of the networks that comprise the A29. Each man also has a church staff that is large enough with sufficient funding to do more than one network and help invest in others. Furthermore, Pastors Darrin and Matt can help me be in community with wise counsel from A29 and navigate the ever-increasing complicated waters of the broader church and culture, and represent us in the media and at events, as well as through preaching and publishing. Pastor Dave runs the entire ministry side of Mars Hill and can assist me with the details of running Acts 29 centrally
How big was this board that was too big to meet but once a year? Seen the board now? It's basically half Mars Hill executive elders and half whomever else got asked to join. If the kit and kaboodle is moving to Dallas then how does having all the Mars Hill executive elders make it easier to have a full board meeting more than once a year unless the Mars Hill executive elders (all three of them) jetset between Seattle and Dallas Fort Worth however many times the board is supposed to meet?
It might seem as though in the wake of Andrew's story of church discipline going public and Petry going on record in early 2012 that the only way to divest Acts 29 of a Mars Hill influence would be if the executive elders didn't seem to be half the board. And another puzzle is that when MH PR indicated that staff were let go months prior to the Andrew situation (like around September 2011?) they may not have realized that some people were actually paying attention to the elder shuffle and noticed Noriega disappeared from the elder listings around the time the MH discipline clarification notice said some staff were let go for displaying a pattern of overstepping spiritual authority. The trouble, though, is that without an actual definition of what overstepping spiritual authority means nobody knows. The passages cited about elder discipline mention
1 Timothy 5:19-21
Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
Rhetorical questions, did this happen? Was an elder who displayed a pattern of overstepping spiritual authority assessed as being guilty of this by reliable and certain testimony? Was this elder who sinned among Mars Hill reproved before everyone so that the local church could take warning? Is it sure those things were done without partiality and that nothing was done out of favoritism?
Meanwhile, there might be enough boards proliferating in a future Acts 29 to build a treehouse but if the core board consists of the executive elders of Mars Hill and they are the ones who agree with Driscoll to appoint Matt Chandler as the president of Acts 29 then Mars Hill will retain a massive amount of power to guide and influence Acts 29 everything. Chandler has expressed that there's no reason Driscoll shouldn't still be on the board and that nobody wants him gone.
Well, if the foundational plank is a board that has all the executive elders of Mars Hill on it then any formal distancing or geographic distancing between Mars Hill and Acts 29 will be pro forma. All the boards in the treehouse will not change that.