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Fort Worth’s CityView Church Leaves Acts 29

Exodus continues from church planting network

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CityView Church in Fort Worth, Texas, was planted by Matt Chandler’s The Village Church and has been a member of the Acts 29 network for nearly two decades.

As of Jan. 1, it is the latest congregation to leave the formerly growing but now increasingly troubled network, which once claimed it was ushering in “the ‘next chapter’ in the history of the church.”

“To say our church has been invested in Acts 29 would be an understatement,” wrote CityView Lead Pastor Rick White, who has held various leadership roles with the network.

“However, Acts 29 is not the same network our church joined in 2005…Acts 29 no longer deserves our continued loyalty or trust…I can no longer personally recommend the Acts 29 Network as a good stewardship of one’s time, money, and energy.”

White said he was “saddened” to leave Acts 29, writing in a public version of an earlier private letter. He said he felt obligated to release a public statement about his departure after years of publicly supporting the network.

CityView is “the longest standing member of Acts 29 in the state of Texas,” he wrote, and has hosted Acts 29 church planting conferences. But he felt no choice but to leave after network leadership failed to address his concerns. His letter cited three “of the many reasons” for CityView’s departure.

Organizational structure

“First and foremost, it is our conviction that the current Acts 29 organizational structure is flawed and susceptible to corruption and compromise,” wrote White. He cited a lack of financial transparency, concerns about board members’ independence and conflicts of interest, and employment of the president’s family members (3 of Acts 29’s 35 listed employees are Howards: Brian Howard is president, his wife Chondra is director of human resources; Ashley is an executive assistant).

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Leftward theological drift

“Acts 29’s poor decision-making and leftward, theological drift makes member churches increasingly vulnerable by association,” wrote White. He accused Acts 29 of ambiguity regarding LGBTQ issues and women preaching in churches.

Acts 29’s church multiplication model

“Acts 29’s top-heavy structure has produced diminishing returns for our church” while requiring “member churches to contribute more money, time and commitment,” White said.

He said membership was no longer helping CityView: “It is currently rare to receive referrals via our church listing on the Acts 29 website. This is a significant change and speaks to Acts 29’s fading reputation as a trusted ‘brand’ in the larger evangelical landscape.”

Shake-Ups at Acts 29 Continue

Since 2020, Ministry Watch has reported on the challenges faced by Acts 29, which was founded in 1998 by controversial pastor Mark Driscoll and his mentor David Nicholas.

Matt Chandler, the former president of Acts 29, has pastored The Village Church, a Southern Baptist congregation, since 2002. He took a leave of absence from both leadership positions in the fall of 2022 after having inappropriate social media contacts with a woman who isn’t his wife. He returned to the pulpit that December.

In 2020, CEO Steven Timmis was removed from his position after accusations of spiritual abuse.

Coram Deo Church in Bremerton, Washington, left Acts 29 in early 2023, following Garden City Church, which is located in Silicon Valley.

Main photo: Rick White preaching at CityView Church in Dec. 2023 / Video screenshot

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Steve Rabey

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.