Acts 29 CEO Removed Amid ‘Accusations of Abusive Leadership’

"Steve Timmis was acclaimed for his model of close church community. But former members claim that inside The Crowded House, he resorted to bullying and control." - CToday

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Don Johnson's picture

Matt Chandler is claiming he's shocked (my term) by recent revelations and never realized how overbearing this guy was, yet the article says:

Two former Acts 29 staff members told CT they spoke up about Timmis’s overbearing leadership five years ago, in his first year as executive director.

According to a copy of a 2015 letter sent to Acts 29 president Chandler and obtained by CT, five staff members based in the Dallas area described their new leader as “bullying,” “lacking humility,” “developing a culture of fear,” and “overly controlling beyond the bounds of Acts 29,” with examples spanning 19 pages.

During a meeting with Chandler and two board members to discuss the letter, all five were fired and asked to sign non-disclosure agreements as a condition of their severance packages. They were shocked.

“I trusted Matt to do what was right. I had full confidence that our concerns would be heard by him and that we could work towards resolution,” one of the former staff members said.

One has to wonder about Chandler's style of leadership as well. He is the only holdover from the Driscoll days, and appears to have involvement both with hiring Timmis and then pressuring these complainants into non-disclosures ... as a condition of severance! Pretty heavy handed, it seems to me.

A consistent thread with this organization?

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

I'm with Don on the likely meaning of the NDAs--that whatever is being described as "bullying" and the like is indeed significant behavior issues that ought to be proscribed--and it's worth noting that the article gives several examples of what constitutes these behaviors.  Berating someone because they made travel plans without consulting the leader, berating people because they skipped a church barbeque, pursuing mission plans outside of Acts 29, really a fair number of things that said "if it's not an opportunity in our camp, then we're going to make your life horrible when we find out."

It boils down, really, to a lot of issues with the question of motivation; we want to have close-knit churches where people will pour out their lives for one another, and how do we get there?  One "solution" is the kind of browbeating described there.  We need to find the alternative.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

pvawter's picture

And here I thought a plurality of elders was supposed to prevent this kind of domineering and abuse. 

G. N. Barkman's picture

Won't neutralize Adamic sinfulness.  No system will ever be perfect until we are with the Lord.  (And then, will there be any elders?)  Actually, several systems work pretty well whenever everyone is living a God-honoring life, and none works well in the midst of excessive carnality.  So, we do our best to implement the most Biblical system we can, according to our understanding of Scripture, and endeavor to implement it in a Christ-honoring manner, praying for God to root out pride and other manifestations of sin.

G. N. Barkman

Bert Perry's picture

Which font is sarcasm, as I've been known to use that technique?  I'd better start using it.   :^)

Seriously, to build on GN's comment, it strikes me that in any system, a few people tend to become dominant, and it takes a lot for the others to keep them in check.  In some of the most egregious cases, like that of James MacDonald, the imbalance of the presbytery was actually made official by giving the "dominant" person half the vote--making it in effect an episcopacy.  And of course, you can get that in a congregational polity church, too.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

pvawter's picture

Right, any polity can be abused. So let's just retire the silly argument that is often raised in polity discussions on SI that a plurality is superior because it protects against domineering pastors and abuse. Clearly it doesn't.

TylerR's picture


Plurality is better 'cuz ... the NT shows it happening! I say this as a friend!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

pvawter's picture

TylerR wrote:

Plurality is better 'cuz ... the NT shows it happening! I say this as a friend!

Hey, that's fine. I'm only advocating for the removal of bad arguments. I'm not making a case against plurality.