The church also said that church discipline is rare at Mars Hill: "Out of 5,417 members, we currently have nine church discipline cases in process, which represents 0.17% of our members." Rarer still, the church said, are leaders overstepping their authority through church discipline. "By and large," the blog post said, "the process adheres to biblical standards, is healthy and loving, and results in restoration."
It appears church discipline plays a prominent role in Acts 29 (A29) churches, even though Mars Hill claims that church discipline is rare within its ranks. Now that more and more information is leaking out about how A29 pastors behave when we believe they are being legitimately challenged, we find this quote from a year and a half ago perplexing: 'Rarer still … are leaders overstepping their authority through church discipline".
We wanted to learn more about church discipline from the Acts 29 website and came across this: Church Discipline: Biblical Responses to Various Sins & Errors (written by Mark Driscoll). The A29 post includes the following:
This document is intended to identify various kinds of sins and their appropriate responses. My hope is that this document will help us to be a discerning church that best cares for our people by obeying the counsel of Scripture. To do so we must seek God's wisdom through prayer in each situation, as James 1:5 instructs.
Just below this excerpt is a link to the complete article. Funny thing, I have tried to download it numerous times to no avail. If anyone has this important Acts 29 document, would you please let us know. We are desperately trying to understand the rules of the game in Acts 29 churches. How are A29 members supposed to know what sins call for church discipline if they can't access this important document. Here's another conundrum — the link to the audio teaching on church discipline doesn't appear to be working either. Hmmm…..
Update 12/10/13 9AM Thank you to our awesome readers who help us in our job. Here is a link that Daisy sent us from WayBack Machine (You can scrub but the internet is forever!) LINK
So what are the rules according to Acts 29 churches, and just who gets to determine them? Becky, who provided this testimony, had no idea that raising legitimate questions and concerns would result in church discipline.
As a follow-up to Becky's story, we want to share with our readers the correspondence she and her husband Brian received from the elders of Countryside Church. Do all Acts 29 churches carry out church discipline in this manner?
To: Brian and Becky ______
From: The Eldership of Countryside Church
March 16, 2011
The purpose of this letter is to formally communicate that you are no longer considered members of Countryside Church and that members of Countryside Church will be asked to remove any fellowship with you.
You have been called to repentance by the eldership and in following Christ's instructions in Matthew 18:15-20, you are now considered to be outside of our fellowship because of your refusal to repent.
We pray that God will grant you repentance. Becky, we pray that you would repent of gossip, slander, deception, lying, failing to submit to your husband and failing to submit to your church leaders. Brian we pray that you would repent of failure to submit to God's Word by failing to lead your wife by continuing to ignore her unrepentant sin in your relationship and home.
This warning and call to repentance has been discussed with you at length through the declaration of scripture and the call to obey God's Word. You have denied its power and remained in sin. It grieves us to remove you from our fellowship, but we must obey God's Word and leading.
We would take great joy in welcoming you back to Countryside Church if God should grant you repentance in these matters.
The Elders of Countryside Church
About a week later the following was sent to the Countryside Community.
To: Countryside Christian Community
From: The Eldership of Countryside Church
RE: Church discipline and warning to congregation
March 24, 2011
Dear Countryside Community,
The purpose of this letter is to formally communicate that the eldership has notified Brian and Becky ______ that they are no longer considered members of Countryside Church and that the members of Countryside Church will be asked to remove any fellowship with them.
Brian and Becky have been called to repentance by the eldership and in following Christ's instructions in Matthew 18:15-20, they are now considered to be outside of our fellowship because of their refusal to repent.
We pray that God will grant them repentance. Becky has refused to repent of gossip, slander, deception, lying, failing to submit to her husband and failing to submit to church leadership. Brian has refused to repent of failing to submit to God's Word by failing to lead his wife by continuing to ignore her unrepentant sin in their relationship, home, and in the church.
This warning and call to repentance has been discussed with Brian and Becky at length through the declaration of scripture and the call to obey God's Word. They have denied its power and remain in sin. It grieves us to remove them from our fellowship, but we must obey God's Word and leading.
We would take great joy in welcoming them back to our fellowship at Countryside Church if God should grant them repentance in these matters.
We warn you, the church, to not fellowship with, nor listen to the continued lies, gossip, and slander that come from Brian and/or Becky. This sin has harmed many souls and is contrary to the teaching of God's Word. May our refusal of fellowship honor God through obedience and may God use this obedience in granting and leading this family to repentance.
To the Glory of God,
The Elders of Countryside Church
To the glory of God??? Can you believe this WARNING from the church elders:
We warn you, the church, to not fellowship with, nor listen to the continued lies, gossip, and slander that come from Brian and/or Becky.
Furthermore, can you imagine that elders in Acts 29 churches have this kind of control over parishioners? How frightening! What's worse, this is a divide and conquer strategy. If the elders can prevent those attending the church from having contact with those who have left, they can keep those who remain in the dark and under the pastors' authoritah (link).
I have spoken with Becky on several occasions and have found her to be articulate, sincere, and deeply concerned about what is going on in the Acts 29 Network. After reading the above correspondence from the Countryside elders, I am equally concerned. As she shared in her testimony, Pastor Kevin Galloway never once met with her to listen to her concerns.
Over two and a half years have passed since Becky and her family were excommunicated from Countryside Christian Church. It was a community of believers she loved, and she continues to grieve over what happened. Here are Becky's thoughts:
As I sit here this evening reflecting back on my experiences in the Acts 29 network I cannot believe how far I have come. God's grace is amazing. I came to my now church home beaten, defeated, by the personal attacks orchestrated to either force me to conform or shut up. I was broken. My husband felt torn down and beaten up for not meeting Mark Driscoll's ungodly standards of male leadership in our home, and my oldest daughter just said to heck with this and walked away from God and out of the church. She has not been back since!
We could not know when that Police Officer escorted us out of our church home it would turn out that morning was the worst and the best thing that ever happened to us, God brought us out of Egypt kicking and screaming with tears on our faces. We so could not see the big picture or how he planted us in our new church that very same day. Nor could we conceive of the healing that would happen in our new church
My experience is not new, it is happening even now around the country in well established churches that make the mistake of involving themselves in the network. They don't realize what they have invited in. In no short time their well established patterns of worship will be disrupted to make them seem cooler or more relevant (OH HOW I HATE THAT WORD), deacons will leave and be replaced by less mature younger men that worship at the altar of self-importance Mark has built for them. Men who will not question for they themselves have become indoctrinated. The old way of doing things will be looked at with disdain and those wonderful saints of God that we owe so much to will be diminished. They, you see are Not relevant. Before you know it the pastor will be hawking Mark's latest plagiarized book from the pulpit, and the only thing you will study in your small groups is the pastor's sermon from last week! Your learning materials will come from Acts 29 ONLY. Everything you do at church becomes part of a large model designed to assimilate established churches.
Your church is being forced to mold itself into Mars Hill's image and you better get on board or you know, there is the door. Women almost always see a sudden shift in their status; we go from having roles in the church and maybe even positions to being told our only role of importance or relevance is in our homes and how well we obey our husbands. Notice not a lot of mention about husbands obeying God. And as you began to lose those precious saints whose tithing keeps everything in motion, you stop supporting your missionaries because you cannot afford them after many years of being faithful. You look around bewildered because so many of the families you know and love are just gone. Sundays become scary, and you must watch what you say and who you talk to.
All the while this is happening those in church leadership bury their heads in the sand, refusing to see the writing on the wall, hell bent on following the mission. It doesn't matter to them if they lose the building; they will just try and sell it so they can take the money and run to the next building. And when that plan tanks, they — the pastors, deacons and men in charge — will rob the church building, plundering anything of value to take with them. It does not matter that they did NOT pay for any of it and that it all belongs to a soon to be foreclosed on property. Nope, they steal again from the sheep, devouring what they can find all the while talking about their new church and Acts 29. With nothing left but the spoils of war they move on, leaving a once thriving thirty year old church and building in their wake.
My message to everyone is this: This happened to Countryside Christian Church in Michigan City. We lost it all because one man's words were more important than scripture. Our food pantry closed, Celebrate Recovery closed, and we deserted our missionaries because our leaders would rather we pay their $400.00/month cell phone bill than honor our commitments. The church credit card is used for personal purchases and when that is discovered by a few then they are shown the door. All the while Satan is laughing at us all. Wake up church…we need to repent from the gospel of relevance and all the self-importance that it breeds. The world needs us to be salt and light, it needs a standard to attain!!!! Wake up you sleepers!!!
To end this somber post on a more cheerful note, we leave you with this humorous clip. We earnestly pray that congregants in Acts 29 affiliated churches will be discerning if and when they are asked to shun certain individuals in the future.
Lydia's Corner: Isaiah 15:1-18:7 Galatians 1:1-24 Psalm 58:1-11 Proverbs 23:12