Mars Hill | New Discussion Topic
From Pastor Mark Driscoll:
Mars Hill family,
On a recent Sunday, I presented a church-wide stewardship update to recap our 2012 year-end fundraiser and share what’s in store for 2013. In case you missed it, here is the video clip:
In addition, everyone who gave in 2012 should receive a summary statement in the mail in the next week, along with the following letter from me to summarize where we’re at as a church:
Thank you for giving in 2012. What a year. By God’s grace, our most challenging year was also our most fruitful year ever.
1,277 reasons to celebrate
Over the course of last year, 1,277 people got baptized at Mars Hill—about ten percent of our entire church! We planted four churches: Rainier Valley (WA), Sammamish (WA), Portland (OR), and Orange County (CA). We also launched Mars Hill Students, Mars Hill Music, and a brand new curriculum for Mars Hill Kids.
“Entire families are coming to church,” said Donovan Medina, lead pastor of Mars Hill Albuquerque. “Bothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins—they are taking up entire rows at the church as they sit together.”
In Sammamish, Michelle is a brand new Christian who invited a classmate to a Mars Hill Students event. The friend heard the gospel and was saved! “Michelle meets Jesus, becomes a Christian, gets baptized, immediately gets on Jesus’ mission, and Jesus makes her fruitful,” says lead pastor Alex Ghioni. “This is the way it’s supposed to happen!”
Mars Hill Students is off to a particularly strong start in 2013. Most of our Seattle area churches have already hosted kick-off events. In just two weeks we’ve already seen over 400 kids attend, including many who showed up and got saved.
Jesus is alive and at work in our church.
How we avoided our own fiscal cliff
As we grow in numbers, we’re also growing in maturity thanks to the Holy Spirit. In early 2012, we moved to a new financial model, a change we’ve communicated in person at most of our churches.
Previously, our budget was based on annual giving. The problem was, a lot of our giving came in during December, which means we were operating at a loss during most of the year. Under the leadership of Executive Pastor Sutton Turner and Deacon Kerry Dodd (our CFO), we made a hard course correction and moved the church to a budget that does not depend on big giving spikes. We now live within our means year round, and as it turns out we made the shift just in time.
For the first time in a long time, the big December giving spike did not come. In the past, we’ve had some generous donors contribute significant gifts that have really helped us float from year to year. That didn’t happen last year. Our large givers are still with us at Mars Hill, but the national fiscal climate is such that no major year-end gifts came in. We understand and we’re praying for our brothers and sisters in this situation.
As a result, we were unable to raise our above-and-beyond goal in December. We did, however, raise enough to cover our operating expenses for the year, in large part because we spent $670,000 less than what we had budgeted for during the last six months of 2012. Throughout the church we are doing everything we can to be good stewards of what God has given us, and so we have significantly cut our spending as another part of our budget reform.
So the good news is, we implemented our new budget model just in time—had we not made the changes when we did, we would have faced our own version of a fiscal cliff. The not-so-good news is that we have inadequate funds to complete some necessary renovations: in downtown Seattle, we have a row of frozen outdoor porta potties instead of indoor bathrooms; in Everett, we have $126,000 to complete $750,000-worth of work on the building; and we can’t move into Tacoma until we raise another $600,000. Budget is tight, and we simply don’t have a lot of margin to complete these and other projects.
One of the bright spots in all of this, however, is that more and more giving is now coming from our extended family. People around the world are not only listening to our sermons and praying for our ministry, they’re also giving to support what God is doing through our church. On a monthly basis, giving from Mars Hill Global now equals the giving at our largest churches. And over 2,000 people from outside of our church have created an account at MarsHill.com (by contrast, Bellevue has the most online accounts of all our churches). I hope you’re encouraged by this, Mars Hill. God is multiplying our efforts to reach more and more people with the hope we have in Jesus.
Good work to do
Of course, we have a lot of people to care for and reach right here at home, and that’s exactly what we plan on doing. Right now is the most important season of the year for our church. From January through Easter we see our highest attendance, the most baptisms, and the greatest influx of newcomers for the year.
Our overall plans for 2013 haven’t changed: the grand opening for Mars Hill Downtown Seattle’s new home was January 13 (frozen porta potties and all), we’re still hoping to open Mars Hill Tacoma later this year, we’re still trying to secure buildings in Everett and Orange County, and we’re still supporting 43 church planters in India and Ethiopia. The work is super complicated because God’s grace is with us (he’s given us a lot to do) and Satan hates us (he’s always doing something to dissuade and distract us).
For all who are with us in prayer, in giving, and in service, your church needs you now more than ever. Thank you for your faithfulness in 2012. I pray for more of the same in 2013, as we continue on Jesus’ mission together.
On behalf of the Mars Hill Church executive elders and our Senior Pastor Jesus Christ,
Pastor Mark Driscoll
It's not clear that Driscoll has thought through the implications and significance of even saying that Mars Hill could even have a "fiscal cliff". Or maybe he has and that's why MH has a history of Driscoll saying they suck at giving while not conceding that the executive leadership has, by its own admission, committed to a "grow even when it's a bad idea" policy. First, the guilt-trip side of things.
The last thing to get saved is someone’s wallet. It’s felt; giving at Mars Hill pretty much stinks. But Jesus is going to save people, and if you’re here and you believe this is true, then you need to be asking God how much he wants you to give and be involved. This is the best possible time to come, give, and serve, and you’re gonna tell your grandkids about it.
Now the other bit, where Mars Hill executive leadership has committed to growth ("even when it's not a good idea") Take this:
... In the face of a struggling economy, a divided leadership, a lack of generosity—whatever your church is going through—here are four reasons to pursue and pray for expansion anyway: ...
Remember that Driscoll said Munson was always above reproach so this means that the executive leadership may have committed to an economic model that wasn't viable for the long term future of Mars Hill ... but that can't for a moment indicate that a fiscally irresponsible model could reflect badly on the basic approach of leadership. If you're a member who signed a contract and didn't or couldn't make payments you might get a letter and a copy of the DVD God's Work, Our Witness in the mail. If Mars Hill avoided the fiscal cliff that its own executive leadership were heading toward, okay ... but in Driscoll's understanding of things the main thing seens to trust the pilot, even though the pilots have conceded they were flying the plane toward a fiscal cliff?
Well, don't bail out of the plane just because the pilots were flying the plane toward a fiscal cliff. :) Pilots with kingly gifts apparently get to fly planes toward fiscal cliffs that regular tithing peons should avoid. Maybe the Mars Hill bus qualifies as a triple-changer ... .