An Open Letter to Ryan Kwon (Acts 29 Pastor at Resonate Regarding Comments Made in a Gospel Coalition Article)

This is an open letter to Acts 29 pastor Ryan Kwon. This is a response to what Ryan says in an article in The Gospel Coalition about the demise of Mars Hill and Acts 29 eventually thriving. Why does Ryan and Acts 29 at the time give the benefit of the doubt to Mark Driscoll when many people under him had that denied? Ryan also had a flawed view of Acts 29 being healthy. And Ryan seems to believe that an organization growing is a sign of God blessing it. I wonder if he thinks the same thing of Mormonism, Scientology or Islam? 

 

“Fools may have the greatest repository of knowledge but will never attain wisdom.”

Caleb Rickets 

“Honestly, this is a new Acts 29 in a lot of ways,” Kwon said. “It’s a story worth knowing. Because it’s not Acts 29’s story; it’s God’s story.”

Ryan Kwon in Sarah Zystra’s article about Acts 29

then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

Acts 4:10 NIV 

 

Acts 29’s Ryan Kwon 

Philippians 4:13 in the ESV (Eagle Standard Version) means I can do all things through Kool Aid. 

Ryan Kwon is an Acts 29 pastor at Resonate in Fremont, California which is in the Bay Area. I wrote about Ryan the other day in, “The EFCA and Acts 29, Looking at Ryan Kwon of Resonate Church in Fremont, California; Plus the Issues with James Walden’s Riverside Community Church.” Today’s post is an open letter to Ryan based off his comments in an article that I read at The Gospel Coalition. You can read that article in, “How Acts 29 Survived—and Thrived—After the Collapse of Mars Hill.


Ryan-

I decided to do an open letter to you after thinking about what you said in Sarah Zystra’s disturbing article at The Gospel Coalition. I wrote an analysis of that article which you can read in, “Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra’s Horrific Article at The Gospel Coalition About How Acts 29 Thrived After Mars Hill Ignores Many of the Issues in the Troubled Network.” There are a number of things that you said in that article that deeply troubled me. You have a pollyanna view of Acts 29. I do not. You should know Ryan that this entire blog project was born out of a former Sovereign Grace, now current Acts 29 church called Redeemer Arlington as led by Eric Simmons. It is based in the Washington, D.C. area. I endured a false accusation and learned why rape and sexual assault is a problem in the US military. Its about abuse of power of which I suffered. So if you have issues with this blog approach Redeemer Arlington and take up your concerns with them. 

In Sarah’s article you had a very warped view of Acts 29. Ryan you are a testament of what is possible with Kool Aid! When I read your comments in Sarah’s article I couldn’t believe what you said. You correctly stated the problems with Mark Driscoll and the cult of personality. And yet you seem to think that when Mark Driscoll left Acts 29 that the organization just prospered and bloomed. Your assessment fails to consider the culture that Mark Driscoll gave birth to and which perpetuates. You can get rid of Mark but the problems still remain. Why? Because of how Mark Driscoll erected and influenced the culture in the Acts 29 network. Culture goes much deeper that all people wearing plaid and acting like they are from Seattle. Culture can go much deeper that that. Your comments show me that you are quite ignorant when it comes to culture. 

In Sarah’s article you are quoted as saying the following about Acts 29 under Matt Chandler’s leadership. “Honestly, this is a new Acts 29 in a lot of ways,” Kwon said. “It’s a story worth knowing. Because it’s not Acts 29’s story; it’s God’s story.” Ryan forgive me for saying this, but you are very naive. Naive to think that this is God’s work. Naive to think that Acts 29 is robust and healthy. You ignore all the scandals, spiritual abuse and more which if anything is a testimony of the DNA of Mark Driscoll remaining in the organization. I am not going to link all the articles in here, I did so in my response to Sarah Zylestra’s article But you fail to mention Matt Chandler’s church trying to practice church discipline on a woman who annulled her marriage to a child pornography addict.   Nor did you mention John Bryson’s Fellowship Memphis which had the worship pastor allegedly recording women in the church restroom. This by the way was covered up. Its my belief that “Gospel Centered” child pornography was allegedly manufactured at Fellowship Memphis because two of the women were recorded under the age of 18. Then there is Matt Boedy’s story at Act 29 Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina. In Matt’s story the church violated ethics policies and procedures with a counselor. Then there is my mess and how I learned why rape and sexual assault is a problem in the military. I could go on after all I keep writing about some of these stories. 

Later on in Sarah’s article you mention that Acts 29 tried to give Mark Driscoll the benefit of the doubt. I find that troubling and ask why? How many people were denied the benefit of the doubt by Mars Hill or Acts 29? Why would you give Mark Driscoll so many chances and then deny those chances to the rank and file? Is this just another example of tribalism at play and you and others making Mark Driscoll an idol? I hope one day I can sit across from you and get an answer to that question Ryan. Then later on in the article you said the following. Everyone asked really honest questions, and what was more important, they heard really honest answers,” Kwon said, “answers of brokenness, of grief. Answers that were really saturated in grace and longing for our brother Mark. He was not our enemy; he was a fallen brother.” No Ryan Mark was not a fallen brother he was an abuser. Mark Driscoll was a sick bastard. He was someone who never should have been in ministry to begin with. Its really that simple. The fact that you can’t let Mark Driscoll go, means that people like you today can’t have an honest assessment of his problems and issues. I also have to call bullshit on your claim that people got honest answers and more in Acts 29. There are people from Mars Hill that still are waiting for answers and they will never get it. You also state in that article that the survival of Acts 29 is a miracle. And that its growth was of God. Really?!? Everything that grows is of God just because it adds numbers? So if the Church of Scientology grows is that God blessing it?  Does this apply to Islam? What about the Mormon faith? That is growing fast in South America and Latin America. Is God blessing the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints? Your system for measuring God at work Ryan is all backwards. Now for a business such as a bank, automobile dealership, retail establishment or more it would be all about numbers. And that would make sense, but to measure Acts 29 in the same way especially amidst controversy and more problems is foolish. 

The Acts 29 network is not healthy Ryan. Plus it will never improve, it will plug along with scandal after scandal and issues after issue. That is how it would be. You guys claim you want to honor God. If you really want to honor God do the following. Close down all Acts 29 churches so that other people do not get hurt. Let the people out of slavery and spend time cleaning up the messes from the Acts 29 network. The flowery language about faith and more just won’t work Ryan. Me and others will see through the bullshit every time That is my closing advice to you. Spend time with some of the refugees from the churches above I have listed. Better yet watch the stories about them spill out on this blog. Mourn, cry and resolve to do something different than speak about numbers. That is it Ryan, if you ever find yourself in the Washington, D.C. area and want to meet I would be happy to do so. Please have a good day. 

Very Respectfully, 

David Bonner