“Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads. No man is wise enough, nor good enough to be trusted with unlimited power.”
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses, And all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!
As this nursery rhyme reminds us, sitting atop a high wall is extremely dangerous! In hindsight, it is ironic that Mark Driscoll was preaching through one of my favorite books of the Bible – Nehemiah – when he fired two Mars Hill elders, namely Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. It has been well-documented that Driscoll changed the MH by-laws and became virtually untouchable as the head of his empire.
Instead of getting hysterical over these unprecidented changes that have occurred in recent days, we prefer to get historical. Let's take a look at the timeline of recent events involving Mark Driscoll, the Acts 29 Network, and The Gospel Coalition.
A segment of Justin Brierley's interview with Mark Driscoll airs on Premier Christian Radio in the United Kingdom.
Mark and Grace Driscoll's sizzling book Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Marriage, and Life Together is released.
Mark Driscoll takes aim at an entire country with A Blog Post for the Brits.
The podcast of the entire Mark Driscoll Interview is aired on Premier Christian Radio.
Prophetess Dee goes on the record with her post – Mark Driscoll Should Step Down and Acts 29 Churches Should Step Away
"James MacDonald, pastor of the six-campus Harvest Bible Chapel, abruptly resigned from the Gospel Coalition on January 24 because of "methodological differences." MacDonald told Christianity Today his resignation was partly prompted by an invitation he extended to popular black preacher T. D. Jakes to appear in a debate event MacDonald sponsors."
The Elephant Room Round 2 takes place.
D.A. Carson responds to Mark Driscoll's rebute of the Brits on The Gospel Coalition website.
Bent Meyer breaks his silence on The Wartburg Watch, which we featured in a post the next day.
Chad Vegas, pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Bakersfield (NOT an SGM church), announces in a blog post that his church is withdrawing from the Acts 29 Network. Post is subsequently removed. However, several commenters confirm this stunning development. One wrote: "Thank you for having the courage to leave Acts 29. I, and many others, also appreciated your willingness to speak publicly about this. We obviously regret your having removed your original post, but you nevertheless have our prayerful support."
Dear Acts 29 Members announcement posted.
Mark and Grace Driscoll share their view on sex in marriage on The View (we weighed in) and appeared on Fox News and Piers Morgan in the days that followed.
Mark Driscoll resigns as president of the Acts 29 Network as communicated in A Note on Some Transitions.
Driscoll Steps Down from The Gospel Coalition Council.
Driscoll posts What's Next for Me – with "me" being the operative word…
Matt Chandler – Newly Appointed President of Acts 29
Matt Chandler, lead pastor for the Village Church in Texas, may be the best person to lead Acts 29 into the future, but we have expressed our concerns about him in the past. Please be sure to read Dee's post A Letter to Matt Chandler from a Narcissistic Zero. While I am hoping for the best for the Acts 29 Network, I, too, have concerns about Chandler. Here they are:
Matt Chandler will be appearing on stage with C.J. Mahaney in a less than two weeks at Together for the Gospel. Hurry and register by the deadline, which is March 31! Don't worry if you can't spot Chandler in the photo – the red sticker is covering his face…
You may recall that Mahaney stepped aside at T4G 2010 and allowed Matt Chandler take his speaking slot to address the attendees about his suffering (from cancer). Now Mahaney and Chandler can bond because of the suffering each has experienced.
Guess who will be speaking at the Very Last Next Conference (hosted by SGM) in Orlando from May 26-29, 2012… C.J. Mahaney, Matt Chandler and others. (Bye Bye Josh Harris). On the Monday evening of the conference, Mahaney and Chandler will have a "conversation between friends". Here's our prediction – C.J. "conference planner extraordinaire" Mahaney will likely work together with Chandler to plan the next big event. He may even talk Chandler into speaking at SGM's upcoming Pastors Conference. Remember, you heard it here first!
The Sojourn Network
Earlier this year there were indications that problems were afoot in Acts 29. One such sign was Chad Vegas' shocking blog post, which was promptly removed. In its place remain these words: "Where did my controversial post go? After posting on my blog, something I rarely do but hope to begin again, I was slammed with comments, calls, emails, twitter messages etc. I decided to pull the post and restart my lame blogging career with less controversial posts. So, sorry if you missed it folks."
Not to worry… you can read much of what Chad wrote on another blog – Elephant Room 2 claims first Acts 29 casualty
Chad Vegas, pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Bakersfield (not an SGM church!), was understandably upset that Mark Driscoll did not denounce Modalism and Prosperity Teaching in the Elephant Room 2. Apparently, Chad decided that evening that it was time to leave Acts 29. Perhaps he misunderstood Driscoll's words and actions at that event and was compelled to take down his post; however, the fact still remains that his church is now a proud member of The Sojourn Network, which was established just last year. Under "About Us", you will find the following information:
"Founded in 2011 by Daniel Montgomery and Brian Howard in partnership with eleven churches, Sojourn Network exists to multiply churches in North America and beyond in order to advance the gospel. The vision of Sojourn Network is to be a network of churches with a shared DNA surrounding common commitments and identities who are passionate about planting more churches."
Here is a brief explanation why Sojourn Network left A29.
"In recent years, Sojourn’s vision for church planting has begun to crystalize around a particular set of philosophical values and practices. We want to multiply a particular kind of DNA and plant churches that are carriers of that theological and philosophical vision. This is not to presume that our particular “recipe” is more pure or better than anyone else’s. Rather, it’s born out of the realization that with our particular leadership skills, our particular vision, and the resources before us, we are most likely to succeed when we invest our resources towards this vision.
Because of this narrowing of our focus, we believed that the best course for us moving forward was to be sent out of the Acts 29 Network in order to launch a new, autonomous church planting network focused on this vision – Sojourn Network. Just as a church planter is sent from a body of believers to plant a new church, we asked (and received) the blessing of Acts 29 to be sent as a new network. We stepped out of Acts 29, both as an affinity network and as members.
After countless hours of prayerful deliberation, we believed that this decision was the best thing for both us and Acts 29. We remain deeply indebted to our Acts 29 friends, and our desire is not to sever those relationships, but to pioneer a new alliance as we grow the Sojourn Network. Our hope, and our firm conviction, is that the fruit of this will be more unity, more strength, and more churches planting churches."
In less than a year's time, 14 churches have joined the Sojourn Network, which is based in Louisville, Kentucky. Hmmm… All indications are that the Mahaneys are moving to Kentucky – most likely the Louisville area. It will be interesting to see whether the church that C.J. is supposedly planting will belong to the Sojourn Network and whether the churches that remain in Sovereign Grace Ministries will merge with this group. As Mahaney is so fond of saying — "Constant change is here to stay." Only time will tell…
Finally, if you're planning to attend the upcoming T4G conference, you may be interested to know that the Sojourn Network is having a special dinner for those who are interested in finding out about this church planting organization. Apparently, A29 president Matt Chandler will have some friendly competition at T$G (oops T4G) this year.
I want to thank Justin Dean, Community Relations Director at Mars Hill Church, for contacting me via e-mail earlier today. He read yesterday's post and immediately checked into the problem with Kaelee's reconciliation request form. Here is his complete response:
I noticed on your post yesterday about Acts29 (http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/03/28/acts-29-driscoll-steps-down-chandler-named-primo-planter/) that you mentioned there were reconciliation forms that have gone unanswered. I immediately checked into this, as we only received a handful of legit requests through that form and have followed up on each one.
I wanted to follow up with you to inform you that I did find Kaelee's form and for whatever reason it was stuck in our spam filter, so it did not get answered. We are truly sorry for this, have already reached out to Kaelee to apologize and have a pastor from the Ballard church who is ready to speak with her on her terms if she is still willing to meet. We are delighted that she has chosen to reach out to us for reconciliation and we pray that the process goes well. There are several others who also reached out to us via the form who we are currently walking through reconciliation with.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything.
Community Relations Director
It will be interesting to follow the developments with Mars Hill Church, the Acts 29 Network, the Sojourn Network, and other church planting groups that may be springing up. There's nothing like a little friendly competition to keep you on your toes…
In closing, it was almost three years ago that I shared my lament as a mom about Mark Driscoll. Of course, TWW was only a month old then, so not many were reading. We have continued to focus on Driscoll's antics, and he has only himself to blame for the situation in which he now finds himself.
We leave you with what could be interpreted as the Driscoll version of Humpty Dumpty. Will he recover from his fall off the A29 wall? Just remember, C.J. Mahaney stepped down as president of SGM not long ago, and guess what… He's B-A-A-A-C-K!!!
Lydia's Corner: Jeremiah 49:23-50:46 Titus 1:1-16 Psalm 97:1-98:9 Proverbs 26:13-16