They were so excited about the annual report for FY2011 (which apparently included the film on a DVD that is called God's Work, Our Witness that Are Women Human blogged about)
... And in that same spirit, we like to notify the church of how things are going. That includes monthly updates for all of Mars Hill. In one sense, we’re one church, in another sense, we’re fourteen local churches scattered across four different states, and pregnant with five more churches, hopefully to be birthed in about a year. And what we like to do is give a global update for how Mars Hill is doing, and then also allow the lead pastors of each local church to give a local update for how things are going at that particular location.
Our fiscal year, our budget year, runs from July through June, so we just finished our fiscal year, and those who are administratively gifted and allow us to steward the resources that God has given us, have put together a final year-end report, and I’m really excited to share it with you.
Before I get into the details, let me just say, we have just completed the greatest year in the history of Mars Hill Church, any single way you measure it: number of people, number of baptisms, number of Community Groups, number of people in Community Groups, number of Redemption Groups, number of people in Redemption Groups, number of weddings, number of children, number of services, number of locations. Whatever variable you would take a look at, it’s the highest it’s ever been.
In the fifteen years of Mars Hill Church, we’ve just completed the greatest year we’ve ever had, and I can say with full confidence, it’s firstfruits and there’s much, much more to come. So, I want to start by saying thank you, Lord Jesus, for loving Mars Hill Church. And I want to thank you who love Mars Hill Church, and some of Jesus’ love is coming through you as you give, as you serve, as you pray, as you care.
Just off the top of my head, I know that Pastor Sutton Turner, your executive pastor, is negotiating deals for Mars Hill Everett, as they’ve outgrown their kid’s space, Mars Hill Downtown, as they’re at five services having outgrown their facility as well, in negotiations for Mars Hill Orange County, also in negotiations for Mars Hill Federal Way, also hoping, trusting, praying that we’ll be able to open Mars Hill Tacoma, Mars Hill Renton, Mars Hill Kirkland/Bothell-ish, and so lots of real estate negotiations in play, in addition to others that I’m sure that I’ve forgotten. But, just be in prayer for that, that we would have the space to see more people come to church and come to Jesus.
The greatest year ever? So Mars Hill Orange County getting served an eviction notice didn't slow the roll? So news of Andrew's disciplinary case hitting the media wasn't a problem? The eruption of documents from former pastor Paul Petry documenting how the 2007 firings were handled didn't chill the vibe?
How many people got laid off at in the first half of 2012? Who got laid off and who quit? Who got fired? At least two if PR statements are to be believed. The two people on staff who got canned some time in 2011 for "overstepping spiritual authority"? What about Lance? How about the trademark/logo snafu? Anyone else notice Chris Pledger (who was involved in that situation) is no longer working at Mars Hill?
Now in all the buzz Driscoll drummed up about "best year ever" he mentioned a monthly uptick in average member giving. Did anyone else notice a conspicuous absence of financial statistics and figures in there? Monthly giving? So what? What about annual and monthly expenses? What about that big old grid and report from June 2012? What about those deficits mentioned in the June 2012 "Church update"? What about the concession that Mars Hill had a financial model that was not viable for the future? Was that part of this "greatest year ever" spiel? Congratulations, Mars Hill, your lead pastor admitted you've had leaders who pursued a financial model that was unsustainable but, guess what? It's still the greatest year ever?
Greatest years ever are not just measured by an uptick in monthly donations. What about that eviction notice? By now we don't just have Joyful Exiles, Chris Rosebrough at Fighting for the Faith broadcast Driscoll saying, with a chuckle, "There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus ... ." That stuff had to have come from someone who was at one point deep inside the organization. Andrew didn't come forward and somehow break his privacy as though Mars Hill were "protecting" his reputation. Something got posted to The City and then someone who was still inside the Mars Hill scene forwarded that document to Andrew. Mars Hill insiders ended up handing outsiders evidence of overboard church discipline on the one hand and of a Mark Driscoll from 2007 who chuckled about a pile of dead bodies. Mars Hill suspended its entire campus blog and blog archive network this year. If this is the greatest year ever what's with the unprecedented information suppression in the wake of significantly incriminating information hemmorhaging through the stories of former members of Mars Hill?
If FY2012 was the best year ever we can look forward to an amazing actual annual report instead of stories about teenagers at youth retreats. There's nothing wrong with that but there's nothing inherently special about it, either. Lots of churches have done some neat youth retreats. I went to a few myself when I was a teenager. It happens. How much did renting the city of Ephesus actually cost, since Driscoll made a point of talking about it? How much did it cost to make those "epic" films?
Last year's annual report came very late in the calendar year. This year's annual report for FY2012 may take a while though it's hard to see why that would be. The earlier reports popped up quickly after the end of the actual fiscal year. If this was the best year ever the numbers will tell us so, and not just the numbers showing an uptick between May and July in average giving. That will have been for not if expenses and liabilities outpaced congregational generosity. For the moment things are sort of like Mark Driscoll talking about his work as a journalist, he can say he did it but the by-lines weren't produced and editorial columns through being a local celebrity do not an actual journalist make. By analogy, saying that FY2012 was the best year ever has to get back up at some point. If a pastor like Chad Toulouse gets mentioned as being on a finance committee to keep executive elders and others accountable and then unaccountably vanishes that, too, is part of the story of FY2012. Same for the disappearance of James Noriega despite having been plugged by Driscoll a few times in sermons from 2006 and 2007 and then promoted to co-leading Redemption Groups with Mike Wilkerson. For the moment it looks like FY2012 was an explosive year and not just for the church growth metrics.
Keep your eyes open for that FY2012 annual report when it finally arrives.