Controversial Seattle megachurch founder Mark Driscoll will step down for at least six weeks while church leaders review formal charges lodged by a group of pastors that he abused his power.
The 43-year-old pastor has been under fire in recent months for plagiarism, inappropriate use of church funds and improper behavior toward subordinates.
Returning from vacation Sunday (Aug. 24), Driscoll addressed Mars Hill worship services through a pre-recorded message
“I want to say to my Mars Hill family, past and present, I’m very sorry. I genuinely mean it,” Driscoll said in his address. “I’m very sorry for the times I’ve been angry, short or insensitive. I’m very sorry for anything I’ve done to distract from our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention.”
Driscoll said he will not do any outside speaking for the foreseeable future and postpone the publication of his next book.
“I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help further my personal development and maturity before God and men,” Driscoll told the congregation.
Mark DeMoss, an Atlanta public relations consultant and former adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has been brought in to work with the congregation.
DeMoss, who represented the late Jerry Falwell Sr. and now Franklin Graham, said he attended the services in Seattle today on his own expense as Driscoll’s friend.
“I think he’s a gifted, biblical communicator who has done effective church work in an unchurched part of the country,” DeMoss said. “I like him, I believe in him, and if I only worked with ministry leaders who were faultless, I would be out of business tonight.”
, a Grove City College psychology professor who has been blogging details of the events surrounding the church’s turmoil, first posted an audio clip of Driscoll’s 13-minute message. Throckmorton said he is aware of other elders planning to resign or considering it.
“Storm clouds seem to be swirling around me more than ever in recent month, and I have given much thought and sought much counsel as to why that is and what to do about it,” Driscoll said. “Some have challenged various aspects of my personality and leadership style, and while some of these challenges seem unfair, I have no problem admitting I am deserving of some of these criticisms based my own past actions that I am genuinely sorry for.”
Respected preacher and author John Piper, who received some backlash for inviting Driscoll to his 2006 Desiring God conference, tweeted his reaction to this news.
Though he has long been controversial but popular for his unapologetic chauvinism, Driscoll faced increasing turmoil this past year within evangelical circles. A front-page story in The New York Times Saturday (Aug. 23), suggested that Driscoll’s empire was “imploding.”
“He was really important — in the Internet age, Mark Driscoll definitely built up the evangelical movement enormously,” Timothy Keller, the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, told the Times. “But the brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships &mda