Preaching live in Bellevue, Downtown Seattle, and Ballard
From Pastor Mark Driscoll:
Jesus loves this church very much. His grace is on Mars Hill in a way that is very unusual.
Despite geographical, political, and spiritual obstacles along the way, we’re larger than any other church that has grown up in the northwest corner of the country. We’re not a wealthy church. [emphasis added] We’re not an experienced church. We’re not a convenient church. We are a blessed church.
The only reason why this thing called Mars Hill is working is because Jesus loves us. He loves our cities. He loves our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and other people who don’t even know him yet. We’re here for a reason, and it’s certainly not thanks to anything that we can take credit for.
Our multi-site strategy, which now includes 14 locations in four states, was never Plan A. Originally we wanted a nice, big building where we could all gather under one roof. But God had other ideas. He had people he wanted to save in Albuquerque, Orange County, Portland, and around the Puget Sound through our church. This has made our life a lot more complicated, but if it means more people get to meet Jesus, I’m all for it. Should God ever provide us with place where we can establish a Mars Hill hub someday, I won’t argue. In the meantime, however, we’re nothing but grateful for what we’ve got. God is using it in a big way.
Three of our Seattle-area churches are now up over 1,000 people in weekly attendance: Bellevue, Ballard, and Downtown Seattle. For the past year, I’ve been preaching almost exclusively from Mars Hill Bellevue. They’ve got a new building in a great spot and the potential for lots of new locations on Seattle’s Eastside, so I wanted to do everything I could to help make Bellevue strong. Today, it is without a doubt our healthiest church overall. Pastor Thomas Hurst is a great lead pastor, and the people of Mars Hill Bellevue are a huge blessing to the rest of our church in more ways than one.
In God’s providence, my season spent focusing on Bellevue coincided with Angela Hurst’s cancer battle. Since the other senior leaders and I were present on Sundays, this allowed Pastor Thomas to devote more attention to his wife and their boys during a very difficult time. Angela was diagnosed last year, and just recently received a clean bill of health. Praise God!
With Mars Hill Bellevue going strong, we now have a lot of other needs and opportunities throughout the church that could use some extra care. For example, Mars Hill Downtown Seattle is in the middle of a leadership transition and trying to get settled into a new location that’s already been picketed by protestors and picked at in the local press.[emphasis added] We’ve got a lot of seats to fill Downtown and a lot on the line for the reputation of Jesus and his work in Seattle. The stakes are high, and I want to make sure the church is well cared for during this critical season.
As of this month, I’m preaching live in Bellevue and Downtown Seattle. Ballard will join the live schedule this fall with the start of our Ten Commandments series. [emphasis original] Obviously, I can’t preach every single service in person; each location will get a combination of live and video sermons. Since none of our churches will be live 100% of the time, for those currently attending Bellevue, Downtown, or Ballard, I encourage you to pick a location and stick with it. Our churches need members committed to the local mission, and I would hate to see people leave their church and go to another Mars Hill just because they want to see me preach in person. Besides, the live schedule will probably take an air traffic controller to figure out, as we’ll be tinkering with the limits of space and time.
This is all rather complicated, but nobody ever said ministry would be easy. Please pray for me and my family. Since I will be spending my Sundays as a traveling minister preaching morning and evening, chances are Grace and the kids will have to attend church without me some of the time. This is hard for us, but we’ve talked about it a lot and we want what’s best for the Mars Hill family, even if it means a few sacrifices for the Driscoll family.
Thankfully, I’m surrounded by a team of gifted leaders who work hard and love Jesus. I praise God for Pastor Dave Bruskas and Pastor Sutton Turner, my fellow executive elders who help oversee the whole church. Our central operations team is also packed with humble servants who are hashing out the technical details as we speak.
God has given our church a hard job to do. It’s hard because Jesus loves us and he’s sent a lot of people our way. It’s hard because Satan hates us and will oppose every step. But there’s no place I’d rather be than right here serving the church and preaching the gospel. You are worth it, Mars Hill! I love you very much.
For those in Ballard, Downtown Seattle, and Bellevue, I’ll be seeing you soon. I look forward to visiting our other churches as time and schedule allows, and I can’t wait to see what God does on Easter when we get to enjoy live services together as one enormous family. Please join me in praying for 20,000 people to attend Mars Hill and for hundreds and hundreds to be baptized!
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.” Philippians 1:27–28
Driscoll mentions the Downtown campus facing picketers and getting picked at by the press. If you go and consult the actual critical coverage of Mars Hill in The Stranger ...
The Stranger spent more time fisking Justin Dean for misrepresenting the level (any) and nature of Mars Hill involvement with Liflong AIDS Alliance than making any sustained complaint about Mars Hill Downtown in particular (beyond the usual jokes about Tim Gaydos' name, I suppose). Justin Dean wrote a sorta long press release about the grand opening, after all. Mars Hill clearly wants the attention if they have a PR team. Let it be noted that though The Stranger dislikes Mars Hill intensely they've been known to show some courtesy to specific pastors. They didn't rip into Bill Clem when announcing that his wife Jeannie had cancer and even went so far as to suggest that if you're the praying type, to pray for them.
So take Driscoll's comment that Mars Hill Downtown has been nitpicked by critics with a grain of salt, or two. Some readers have the distinct impression The Stranger had it out for Justin Dean far more than Mars Hill Downtown.
The change in the schedule of live preaching is vaguely interesting. For a while the plan seemed to be moving live preaching to just Bellevue and that phase seems to have passed.
What's significantly more interesting is Driscoll's claim about Mars Hill "We're not a wealthy church."
Er, excuse me?
Wasn't it on March 28, 2012, no less that Mark Driscoll said this in "What's Next For Me"?
After Easter, We’ll launch a new sermon series called the Seven, looking at Revelation 1–3 and the seven churches to which John writes in those chapters. Most of the series was filmed live on location in Turkey—and it’s epic. We even rented the city of Ephesus for a day.
He did say that, in fact.
If Mars Hill isn't a wealthy church what happened to the church that could rent the city of Ephesus for a day?
Or that still uses Red cameras in its production. Like this old job listing for Assistant Video Editor. The job listing was posted 11.16.2012
If you were working for us, here are some of the things you would have done for us last week:
Captured, edited, and finalized a promotional video.
An old feature on Mars Hill production and their use of Red cameras can be found here.
And over here back on September 21, 2009 Driscoll mentioned the following:
... So, I’ll explain to you what is next from Mars Hill and me:
1.We have upgraded our video cameras to the RED cameras used for major films like District 9. This means that the video experience at a Mars Hill Campus or online is better than live – for free.
2.We have upgraded our media player by creating our own technology to handle the high-definition video content we are now capturing and are giving it all away online – for free.
The high end major film level gear was important enough that it was brought up, at all. That was 2009 and now in 2013 Mars Hill is not a wealthy church?
Anyone remember back in 2011 when the Salvation Army food pantry in Port Angeles had a ton of food stolen? Mark Driscoll made an appeal to Mars Hill members to donate food to the Port Angeles food pantry/ How much food was donated? Eleven tons. As Mars Hill put it on the MH blog on October 26, 2011:
Yesterday, a crew went to the Port Angeles Salvation Army to drop off the 21,500 pounds of food people at our Seattle-area churches brought in.
That's not exactly a small amount of food. But now, Driscoll says of Mars Hill "We're not a wealthy church". Last year for annual reporting stuff Driscoll said last year was their best year ever. Well, maybe every years is Mars Hill's best year ever but this year Mars Hill isn't a wealthy church even though within the last, say 18 months, Mars Hill has shown that it can throw together eleven tons of food for the Salvation Army Port Angeles food pantry (good for them about that, by the way). Driscoll could casually mention how epic it was that they were filming in Ephesus, which they rented for a day just about a year ago. And now this year, somehow, Mars Hill isn't a wealthy church.
Annual reports, anyone?
|tithes and offerings||$ 24,054,755.00||$ 18,153,776.00|
|Misc. income and other||$ 609,771.00||$ 1,332,983.00|
|gains and losses|
|TOTAL INCOME||$ 24,664,526.00||$ 19,486,759.00|
|personnel costs||$ 12,047,038.00||$ 8,408,764.00|
|operations||$ 2,938,080.00||$ 3,534,901.00|
|tech & equipment||$ 836,602.00||$ 859,581.00|
|administration||$ 1,418,622.00||$ 676,412.00|
|facilities||$ 3,391,113.00||$ 1,898,844.00|
|Church planting partnerships||$ 821,182.00||$ 1,764,973.00|
|interest||$ 562,135.00||$ 647,424.00|
|depreciation & amortization||$ 1,680,600.00||$ 1,542,266.00|
|TOTAL EXPENSES||$ 23,695,372.00||$ 19,333,165.00|
|EXCESS REVENUE OVER EXPENSES||$ 969,154.00||$ 153,594.00|
|cash & cash equivalents||$ 3,369,472.00||$ 5,165,170.00|
|accounts receivable, inventory & other assets||$ 506,987.00||$ 81,041.00|
|property, equip, net||$ 28,650,133.00||$ 27,099,676.00|
|lease & other long term assets||$ 173,991.00||$ 361,337.00|
|TOTAL ASSETS||$ 32,700,583.00||$ 32,707,224.00|
|current liabilities||$ 1,931,392.00||$ 3,070,910.00|
|long-term liabilities||$ 13,285,248.00||$ 13,121,525.00|
|TOTAL LIABILITES||$ 15,216,640.00||$ 16,192,435.00|
|unrestricted assets||$ 17,364,950.00||$ 16,387,843.00|
|temporarily restricted assets||$ 118,993.00||$ 126,946.00|
|TOTAL NET ASSETS||$ 17,483,943.00||$ 16,514,789.00|
|TOTAL LIABILITY AND NET ASSETS||$ 32,700,583.00||$ 32,707,224.00|
So half the total expenses are personnel expenses. Where's that money going? Who's getting how much? What are the housing allowances for staff, particularly lead pastors at campuses and executive elders? Now, to take a trip down memory lane, let's consider that in Lief Moi's letter from 2007 he mentioned that he stopped being lead pastor at Ballard and as part of the 2007 re-org he received a nearly 40% salary cut. It's on page 7 of the big 145 page pdf for those who haven't read Moi's letter already. The nearly 40 percent salary cut was part of the 2007 re-org and what happened to co-founding pastor of Mars Hill Lief Moi during that re-org was he was told he lacked the kingly gifts to run a campus the size of Ballard and he was no longer campus pastor/lead pastor there. And that would seem like the reason he got the nearly 40% salary cut. That raises a fairly natural question of what the pay grades are lead pastors, executive pastors of campus, and executive pastors for the entire organization that is Mars Hill (i.e. the officers of the church as a corporation).
Compare the audited financials of Mars Hill Church for their FY2012 and FY2011 to, say, Seattle's Union Gospel Mission or the Salvation Army Northwest Division, both charities Mars Hill has donated money or food to in the last few years. Some churches don't even own their own buildings, for instance. Mars Hill managed to put the old Tabella on the market and someone bought that real estate. Mars Hill also sold the old Lake City campus (some say at a loss). Mars Hill has a decent amount of real estate holdings within the city where some churches still have to use the space made available in other churches ... kinda like Mars Hill did a very long time ago. If Mars Hill isn't a wealthy church what is it? Poor? That seems a bit hard to believe. :)