Acts 29 leader Darrin Patrick fired: 'I am utterly horrified by the depths of my sin'

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
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ST. LOUIS (Christian Examiner) —Darrin Patrick, founding pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis and vice-president of Acts 29 church planting network, was fired from his church for what elders said is a number of ongoing sinful behaviors – and specifically relationships involving two women.

In a letter posted to the church's website, the elders said Patrick has exhibited "patterns" of "sins" which indicate he "has not been pursuing a personal walk with Jesus in a manner that reflects his pastoral calling and position as an elder in the church."

Included in a laundry list of complaints about Patrick who elders said fell short of adultery -- but prompted regular and intentional confrontations though the years -- are "abandonment of genuine Biblical community," "refusal of personal accountability," "lack of self-control," "manipulation and lying," domineering over those in his charge," misuse of power," and "a history of building his identity through ministry and media platforms."

"These patterns and lack of turning away from these sins reveal that Darrin has not been pursuing a personal walk with Jesus in a manner that reflects his pastoral calling and position as an elder in the church," wrote the elders in a letter laced with biblical references.

The Journey Church is a multi-site 3,000-person Southern Baptist congregation Patrick founded 14 years ago. It is affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention. In 2007 it was the focus of a report on NBC's Today show titled, "Beer and Bibles: New Churches Lure Young Members."

At the time of the report, Patrick told Baptist Press that although the church promoted a church-sponsored discussion group in a bar, beer "does not reflect the values" of his church although it broke what was then new ground in a denomination which had been staunchly seen as anti-alcohol, having passed several resolutions to that effect.

The church and Acts 29 Network had generated concerns over theological and doctrinal practices – the church primarily within the state convention because it was the recipient of a $200,000 church starting loan, according to Baptist Press.

Since that time, Patrick has been named a chaplain to the St. Louis Cardinals and has been a popular speaker at ministry conferences. He is the author of The Dude's Guide to Marriage (Nelson Publishers, 2015), The Dude's Guide to Manhood (Harper Collins, 2013) and Church Planter (Crossway, 2010).

In 2015 Patrick was a guest on Ed Stetzer's "The Exchange," with guest host Eric Geiger. In 2011, Stetzer, executive director of LIfeWay Research, tweeted over social media of Patrick: "Having lunch and talking theology with @darrinpatrick -- love how he's developed his own theology."

He was a featured speaker at Midwestern Seminary's "For the Church" conference in August 2014 and spoke about the type of man it takes to plant a church, and was until recently list as a council member on the website of The Gospel Coalition. He also recently was named to the 2016 Leadership Council of the Southern Baptist's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Patrick earned his Doctor of Ministry from Covenant Seminary, a Masters of Divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a bachelor of arts in biblical languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The elders wrote they are committed to "personal restoration" for Patrick and "devoted care for his family." He and his wife, Amie, have four children.

Patrick's image and bio have been pulled from both his church's website and from the websites of Acts 29 and the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

In a letter written to the Journey Church family, Patrick spoke of the past 15 years as one of the "greatest joys" of his life and expressed confidence that God will continue to use the church.

"I am utterly horrified by the depth of my sin and devastated by the terrible effects of it on myself, my family and so many others, including all of you," Patrick wrote. "I am so deeply and terribly sorry for the pain that my sin is causing you, as well as the broken trust that my sin has clearly produced. In short, I am a completely devastated man, utterly broken by my sin and in need of deep healing."

Saying he and his wife are committed to their marriage, Patrick asked for the prayers of the church.

"We are desperately clinging to God's promise that He loves us completely in spite of our sin, delights in us when we are at our weakest, and that He is, indeed, the restorer and healer of all," Patrick said.

Other evangelical leaders who have left their ministries include:

  • Tullian Tchividjian, who was fired from Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs, Florida in March after elders there discovered he had an affair in 2014 prior to the affair which prompted his stepping down as lead pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale in 2015.
  • Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll resigned under pressure in 2014 after he was accused of plagiarism and fostering an abusive work environment. Driscoll was also removed from leadership and membership in Acts 29, the network he founded – by an Acts 29 board on which Patrick served.
  • In 2013, C. J. Mahaney, president of Sovereign Grace Ministries, resigned after lawsuits alleged he and others were complicit in covering up sex abuse allegations in its churches.
  • John Piper, former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, and founder of Desiring God Ministries, in 2010 announced he would step down "for the sins of my own soul." He took an 8-month leave from ministry. "I see several species of pride," Piper told Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. "They may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry. Nevertheless, while I don't think they do, I grieve over them."