The controversy surrounding Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll continues, as the Acts 29 Network leadership has removed him from membership and Christian bookstore LifeWay announced it will no longer sell the his books.
On Friday, leaders from the church-planting Acts 29 Network-which Driscoll co-founded-sent the pastor and Mars Hill church a letter removing him and the church as members of the network, as well as calling on Driscoll to step down due to a pattern of complaints from Acts 29 pastors.
The Acts 29 website issued a statement later that day:
"It is with deep sorrow that the Acts 29 Network announces its decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership in the network. Mark and the Elders of Mars Hill have been informed of the decision, along with the reasons for removal. It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network. In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored."
After the news broke, all Mars Hill Church locations were removed from the Acts 29 website. The network , which was started by Driscoll in 2005 along with Ron Wheeler, includes over 500 churches.
However, Wheeler later became frustrated with Driscoll, and asked Acts 29 to discipline him due to his experience with the Mars Hill pastor. Wheeler also posted a lengthy open letter to Driscoll asking him to resign prior to the network dismissing him earlier this week.
On Friday, Mars Hill leaders rebuked Acts 29's "divisive" decision, asserting "we are making real progress in addressing the serious reconciliation and unhealthy culture issues that have been a part of Mars Hill Church for way too long," and citing "clear evidence that the attitudes and behaviors attributed to Mark in the charges are not a part and have not been a part of Mark's life for some time now."
But Acts 29 is not the only influential Christian group to pull support for Driscoll. On Saturday, LifeWay Christian Resources, which calls itself "one of the world's largest providers of Christian products and services," told Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton it would no longer sell Mark Driscoll's books, either in-store or online.
"LifeWay Stores and Lifeway.com are not selling Mark Driscoll's books while we assess the situation regarding his ministry," communications director Marty King told Throckmorton.
LifeWay reportedly carried Driscoll's "A Call To Resurgence," along with other products to which Driscoll contributed. Over the past several months, sales products associated with Driscoll have reportedly sunk.
While Driscoll has not responded to the latest controversies, Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) chairman Michael Van Skaik wrote a letter to church members urging them to support Driscoll regardless of the turmoil surrounding him.
"Be assured of this," he wrote, "the formal charges that were filed were serious, were taken seriously and were not dismissed by the board lightly. There is clear evidence that the attitudes and behaviors attributed to Mark in the charges are not a part and have not been a part of Mark's life for some time now."
"My counsel to you is not become bitter or angry. Continue to pray for all involved. Continue to love and lead the people God has brought to your churches. They need a pastor right now and God has given them you."