Darrin Patrick Who Founded The Journey in St. Louis, Missouri has Died of an Apparent Gunshot Wound. Considering the Issue of Suicide Among Evangelical Pastors

Darrin Patrick who has founded The Journey in St. Louis, Missouri has died of a gunshot wound. This post chronicles the story and also writes about evangelical pastors and suicide and states that the stigma against mental health treatment needs to end. 

“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 NIV

This blog has written about Acts 29 The Journey in the past. In April of 2016 this blog chronicled and looked at how Darrin Patrick was removed from The Journey. For historical background you can read about the situation in the following post, “Darrin Patrick is Removed from The Journey in St. Louis Amidst Questions; My Main Question…Will One of the Key Charges Also Be Applied to Matt Chandler?” In that post you can read a profile of Darrin Patrick that was current in April of 2016. After Patrick’s removal form The Journey he laid down low for several years. Patrick’s family resided in Webster Groves, Missouri. Webster Groves is a suburb of St. Louis. In 2017 he joined the staff of Seacoast Church which is outside of Charleston, South Carolina. According to my research despite being on staff with Seacoast Patrick resided in the St. Louis area. In 2019 Darrin Patrick co-founded the Pastor’s Collective with Greg Surratt. Patrick was taken in by the Association of Related Churches where he coached and guided pastors in that organization. Patrick spoke frequently about his restoration as a pastor and published it and then his wife also discussed it. He was open about getting his life back together after being fired from The Journey.

 

Darrin Patrick has Died

Darin Patrick is an avid hunter. In St. Louis on May 7, 2020  he went with a friend shooting. His friend was not paying attention but saw Patrick loading a weapon. No one knows what happened next. The two possibilities is either a firearm accident or that he committed suicide. What is known is that Patrick’s death did not involve foul play. The police are most likely investigating the situation. On May 8, Seacoast Church released a statement which you can read below. 

“We are saddened to announce the sudden passing of Pastor Darrin Patrick. Darrin was a loved member of the Seacoast family, the teaching team, and pastoral staff and we are mourning his loss. Darrin had a gift for teaching the Word and a heart for encouraging other pastors. God allowed Seacoast to be a part of Darrin’s story in a time when he needed a family. He was a gift to us and we are thankful for the time the Lord gave him to us. His influence and impact cannot be measured. We are surrounding the Patrick family with our prayers and support during this time.”

Later that day Seacoast Church issued another statement that clarified the death and announced a support fund for the Patrick family. 

Darrin was target shooting with a friend at the time of his death. An official cause of death has not been released but it appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No foul play is suspected. On behalf of the family we would ask that their privacy be respected during this time, and that all media requests be directed to Margaret Little.

If you would like to support the Patrick family during this time you can do so herehttps://givesendgo.com/DarrinPatrick

 

Darrin Patrick’s wife through her husband’s Twitter account released a response during this time. You can read those tweets below. 

 

If you want to read more about Darrin Patrick’s death you can do so in the following sources.

  1. Charleston Post and Courier, “SC megachurch pastor dies of apparent self-inflicted gunshot while target shooting.” 
  2. Religion News Service, “Friends mourn Darrin Patrick, megachurch pastor and author, who died of apparent ‘self-inflicted gunshot wound‘”
  3. Baptist Press, “Former Southern Baptist pastor Darrin Patrick, 49, dies unexpectedly.” 
  4. Christian Post, “Former So. Baptist Pastor Darrin Patrick dies of ‘self-inflicted gunshot wound’ at 49.” 
  5. Julie Roys, “Restored Pastor & Former Acts 29 VP Darrin Patrick Dies Unexpectedly.” 
  6. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Darrin Patrick, who founded The Journey megachurch, dies at 49.” 

Ed Stetzer wrote a blog post at Christianity Today that should also be read. As of this writing I don’t see any discussion of a funeral or memorial service. That will probably be done in private. 

 

Looking at the Issue of Suicide Among Evangelical Pastors

Mental health issues inside evangelicalism can help explain why much of the movement can be toxic. At the blog SGM Survivors former members of C.J. Mahnaey’s Sovereign Grace Ministries discussed the culture of that prominent and celebrated evangelical ministry. Wayne Grudem once told the Washington Times that many churches thought Sovereing Grace was how church should be done. Within Sovereign Grace science was dismissed and attacked. And issues like psychology and psychiatry were dismissed. If you just had Jesus you would be fine and that is what one needed. At SGM Survivors from time to time there were stories or mentions about how people who were inside that culture who had mental illness like depression ended up committing suicide. And that was among members. But the question needs to be asked, what about pastors? 

In the last few years there have been a number of stories of evangelical pastors committing suicide.:

  • In August of 2018  there was the sad story of Andrew Stoecklein of Inland Hills Church of Southern California.  Andrew preached about his own battle with depression and then a few days later took his own life. His wife wrote a moving tribute about how much he loved her. It was a shock not just for the church but also Southern California. If you want to read more about that situation you can do so here, here,  here and here
  • In January of 2019 you had the tragic story of Jim Howard the pastor at Real Life Church in Santa Clarita, California. Jim who was public about his mental health comments committed suicide in what was a shocking situation. You can read the Facebook statement here and news of the situation here and here
  • Then in September of 2019 you had another pastor’s suicide with Jarrid Wilson also based in Southern California. Jarrid discussed the issue of mental health and stressed the need to be open about such issues. His death reported in such news outlets as USA Today and BBC opened up a national discussion on pastors and suicide. You can read more about that here, here and here

Suicide has been an issue among evangelical pastors and has even been written about at The Gospel Coalition. Issues like depression and other mental health concerns are becoming tipping points sadly for some pastors to commit suicide. Evangelical culture is resistant to change. Beat the Bible hard enough and it becomes impossible to change. That is part of the reason why suicide keeps occurring. A warped view of scripture, toxic masculinity, and people afraid to change views less they be called “heretic” or “liberal” is only contributing to the problem. 

 

Recalling a Post that Predicted an Uptick of Suicide in the COVID-19 Pandemic

But in addition to mental health concerns there is another factor to ask as well. Darrin Patrick’s death comes in the COVID-19 pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic was growing in size and scope and affecting business, culture, sports, and government this blog made some predictions in the context of evangelicalism. In April of 2020 I wrote the following post, “How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Going to Reveal the Dark Flaws and Systemic Issues of Evangelical Christianity.” In that post I sadly stated that one of the issues that would happen is a likely uptick of suicide among mega church pastors. Why? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing an incredible amount of stress on the system. As people lose their jobs and will be unable to give that is going to affect the finances of churches. Layoffs and downsizing is going to be a reality in many cases. Some pastors lack the training or ability to transition into the private or public sector. What do you do if you just have a theological degree and nothing more? How can you easily get another job? In addition consider what is happening in the private and public sector. The private sector is experiencing layoffs and massive job loss as well. And coming down the pike many municipal and state governments are also going to experiencing cut backs. Out of despair this blog fears that more pastors will commit suicide. Honestly I hope I am wrong but just in analyzing the situation that is what is feared. 

 

Did Darrin Patrick Commit Suicide?  

So this brings us back to the question did Darrin Patrick commit suicide? The official cause of death of this writing has not been released. And this blog wants to be careful about jumping and declaring something boldly. When I study Darrin Patrick’s social media I have noticed that he talked about pastors being lonely and needing friends. And that leaves me to wonder was Patrick writing from personal experience. Was he dealing with depression and was he lonely? Many press outlets and Seacoast Church have confirmed that he died from his own hand. And that raises he following question did Darrin Patrick die through suicide? For me the evidence seems to point in that direction. And if it is officially called a suicide this is what I am going to ask evangelicalism to do. 

Its time for evangelicals to face the stigma of getting mental health treatment. The  mega church model is toxic and flawed and this blog has written a large number of stories about the problems of mega churches. But what is even a bigger problem  that one can encounter inside evangelicalism in many different theological camps is the stigma towards mental health issues within evangelicalism culture. This blog sees similarity between evangelical culture and the United States military culture which also is having problems with suicide. And while this blog extends its condolences toward the Patrick family it is also hoping that people use this situation to discuss, tackle and finally face the issue of suicide and other mental health issues within evangelicalism.