Texas Megachurch Pastor who Stepped Back From Pulpit over Sin of ‘Pride’ has Resigned

A Dallas-based megachurch pastor that temporarily stepped down from the 11,000 member church he pastored for 20 years, taking a leave of absence due to his elders calling out the sin of pride in his life and telling him he needs a break and time to deal with it so he can better serve his flock in the future, has resigned from his Church.

8 months ago, Todd Wagner, senior pastor and co-founder of Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas, told his congregants on Sunday:

I’ve heard too many times lately that I’m burning up leadership capital, due to more numerous and I would say noticeable expressions of my flesh, and the bible has a word for that: it’s called sin.

It’s with a good conscience, and by God’s grace that I can tell you there is no hidden or disqualifying sin. There’s no sexual immorality. There’s no financial issues that are going on. There’s no physical altercation, there’s no foul language, there’s no holes in the wall. My marriage is as good as it’s ever been…but..and this is a big but… this sin of pride is enough for me to say it’s enough.

I have not been asked to step down. I am not by God’s grace needing to step down but I have been asked and I agree I need to step back, step away and I’m glad. We all agree this is what’s best for me and for you and I think for us.

In a statement to the congregation, the elders explain that longtime elder and staff member David Leventhal resigned his position due to an inability to support Wagner continuing as senior pastor. Leventhal described it as “a loss of trust in Todd’s ability to lead in the role of pastoral elder/senior pastor, which was the direction the elders were wanting to move to.”

Three weeks later, Wagner himself would come to that same conclusion, saying:

We are fully convinced that today, in the interest of Christ, for me and for my family, and for Watermark in this next season, it would be best served by me ending my season in serving as pastoral elder of Watermark Community Church.

In an unusual set of circumstances, however, Levanethal explains that he is still friends with Wagner, and that “Todd and I are good. There is no anger, no wrath.” This is confirmed by Wagner, who even rubbed his back while they delivered the news to their congregation.

Both Levanthal and Wagner, while resigning, aren’t abandoning the church. They still plan on attending and serving the church as members of the body and elders emeritus.

[Editor’s note: there is a reason that pastors leave a church when they resign or retire, and it has to do with letting the new guy actually take charge of the church without the inevitable backbiting that will occur because they can go to the old guys…this is a bad idea…]


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4 thoughts on “Texas Megachurch Pastor who Stepped Back From Pulpit over Sin of ‘Pride’ has Resigned

  1. I give this guy credit for seeing his sin of pride as a biblical impairment to leading his congregation. I do agree that he would better serve the new head pastor by leaving altogether.

  2. While staying in the church often causes problems for a resigned pastor, it doesn’t have to. I commend him for not getting a gig down the street. It’s okay to leave the spotlight and go back to the pew (but if you take your hand off the plow, please stay there).

  3. I first visited Watermark in 2005. After hearing Todd’s sermon, I left the building thinking “pride comes before the fall will be evidenced in that man some day.” So recent events are unsurprising to me. I’m only surprised it took 15 years. Also, he favors that EIC “pastor” habit to speak to the “audience” about what “message God gave him to share.” In other words, he sets himself up as being a special recipient of God’s communiques on behalf of his people instead of simply teaching the Bible, which is God’s message to people. In this, Wagner is not much different than other charismatics, he just uses more palatable language so its harder to distinguish between what he says is Biblical v. man-made.

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