The last couple days have been pretty big ones as far as news about transitions is concerned. Jason Meyer was named as John Piper’s successor at Bethlehem Baptist Church (pending congregational approval), Mark Driscoll stepped down from the TGC Council and Matt Chandler has been installed as the President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network. The news broke the night before last but remained unconfirmed until Wednesday, March 28. At the same time Sojourn announced that they’re leaving Acts 29 to start their own church planting network.
When I first read the news, honestly, I was very excited (and it’s not because I have a major beef with Driscoll). I’ve met a few guys who are part of A29 and I’ve been impressed by their passion for Jesus and seeing people grow as disciples. This is a really good thing that we all need more of, whatever network, denomination or other affiliation we’re a part of. And as I’ve reflected on the change with A29 throughout the afternoon, I’m hopeful that this could be a really, really good thing for the network. Here’s why:
1. Matt Chandler seems to bring a different kind of mindset to the table. Every time I’ve heard Chandler speak on topics like church growth, building campaigns or any of that stuff, you get the sense that it makes him a bit uncomfortable. He seems to be a guy who is much more concerned with growing people deep than just gathering a large crowd. This could be a very good thing as it could see the network become increasingly more concerned with the depth of the people and leaving the breadth to God. (Note, I know “seems” is a bit weasel-y, but my personal interactions with Chandler don’t qualify me to say much definitively about his character.)
2. The change in focus could be very healthy for Mark Driscoll. Over the last while, many of us have no doubt seen numerous blog posts, tweets and such about renewed concerns over Driscoll’s character and fitness for his position. While I don’t want to come across as though I agree with those allegations, when I see someone running full tilt like Driscoll has been over the last few months, I do get concerned, particularly as someone who has hit the wall in the past. Cutting back, chilling out a bit and focusing on doing a few things really well is likely to be very healthy for Driscoll and (as it does for all of us) give more room for reflection and growth in maturity.
3. This could be the start of something bigger and better for A29. Perhaps this should be point 1b, but here we are. From what I can see, people seem to find Chandler much less polarizing than Driscoll. It’s not because he’s not afraid to say very hard things, but he doesn’t come with the same baggage that Driscoll does. If they do a really good job with the transition, there’s a good chance that there could be new opportunities to further glorify Jesus and be welcomed within groups that may have been leery in the past.
Looking forward to seeing how things develop over the coming weeks and praying that there will be much good fruit in the end.