(RNS) Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has written a letter to his congregation to explain recent controversies, including the marketing campaign intended to place the book, “Real Marriage,” on The New York Times best-seller list.
Driscoll has been an influential pastor within Reformed evangelical circles for several years, helping to found a church planting network called Acts 29. His own Mars Hill Church attracts some 14,000 people at 15 locations in five states each Sunday.
In recent months, however, reports have emerged that Driscoll plagiarized some of the material in his books. And earlier this month, World magazine reported that Driscoll hired a firm to buy copies of the book he penned with his wife, Grace, so that it would top the best-seller lists.
In a letter posted on Reddit on Saturday (March 15), Driscoll apologized for using the marketing strategy.
“I am sorry that I used this strategy, and will never use it again,” he wrote. “I have also asked my publisher to not use the ‘#1 New York Times bestseller’ status in future publications, and am working to remove this from past publications as well.”
The church’s spokesman, Justin Dean, confirmed that a letter from Driscoll to Mars Hill Church was posted to the church’s internal network as “a private family communication.”
“At this time we have chosen not to publicly release the letter,” Dean said, adding that the pastor was not available for interviews.
Driscoll also apologized to his church in 2007 for lacking humility.
In the new letter, Driscoll said he would quit social media for the rest of 2014 to “reset” his life. “The distractions it can cause for my family and our church family are not fruitful or helpful at this time,” he said.
Driscoll also wrote that “my angry-young-prophet days are over.”
“I understand that people who saw or experienced my sin during this season are hurt and in some cases have not yet come to a place of peace or resolution,” he wrote. “I have been burdened by this for the past year and have had private meetings one at a time to learn from, apologize to, and reconcile with people.”
He said that he will not do as many speaking engagements in the future. “I don’t see how I can be both a celebrity and a pastor, and so I am happy to give up the former so that I can focus on the latter,” he wrote.
Driscoll also apologized for how recent staff turnover has been handled.
“I am deeply grieved and even depressed by the pain we have caused,” he said. “Many have chosen to air their concerns online, and I apologize for any burden this may have brought on you, and I will do my best to clarify a few things without, I hope, being angry or defensive.”
YS/AMB END BAILEY