Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Warren Throckmorton publishes March 2012 memo on Mars Hill in financial trouble: part 4 "What are SOME of the areas we should focus on?" projects declared unsustainable at or even before formal launch

The date of March 17, 2012 is important for an excerpted list

1. OC Church is not sustainable in its current form.
And since Mars Hill Orange County got evicted in May 2012, that turned out to be true.  It does raise some questions about what the executive elders did and didn't know about the launch site and is sustainability not just on financial grounds but on city land-use grounds.  Go here and here for some background as reported by Warren Throckmorton.

2. UWD is not sustainable in its current form.
That was two years ago, this last Sunday it was announced the campus was closing.

3. #of Blogs on Resurgence, MHC, and is not sustainable.

Why this presented a problem is slightly less easy to understand.  It might be that, as the memo later explains, this sort of activity was not mission-critical and distracted from main goals.  This was an interesting concern to express relatively soon after the launch of, which was a platform through which Driscoll at one point said he could broach social issues in a way that wasn't available to him before (the pulpit, the Midrash (versions 1 and 2, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all apparently notwithstanding ... .

4. Mars Hill Music is not sustainable as currently operating.

Now this one is particularly interesting because eventually ...

Did Mars Hill Music somehow become sustainable between March 17, 2012 and May 2, 2012?  Since less than a year after May 2, 2012 the label turned out to be a partnership with BEC Recordings/Tooth & Nail it might be that Mars Hill Music was ultimately no more successful as its own thing than Tim Smith's project Re:Sound was.

So if Mars Hill Music was considered a bit precarious in March 2012 why did Driscoll go to the trouble to pump the idea in a film a couple of months later?  What changed?  Anything?

5. ReLit is not sustainable as currently operating.

Re:Lit was described thusly in a number of books published under its imprint circa 2011 ...

Resurgence Literature (Re:Lit) is a ministry of the Resurgence.  At you will find free theological resources in blog, audio, video, and print forms, alogn with information on forthcoming conferences, to help Christians contend for and contextualize Jesus' gospel. At you will also find the full lineup of Resrugence books for sale. The elders of Mars Hill Church have generously agreed to support Resurgence and the Acts 29 Church Planting Network in an effort to serve the entire church.

Resurgence became a for-profit publishing company.  Whatever wasn't sustainable about Re:Lit might have been fixed.

6. Central Ministries are not sustainable (currently being disbanded to local church).
If Central had been working on God's Work, Our Witness and architecting launching about half ad ozen campus launches or relaunches and also putting everything in place for the Real Marriage multimedia campaign then, yeah, most of that probably wasn't sustainable, per the list statement.

7. Printing and Branding of sermon series as currently practiced is not sustainable. ($100,000
for banners, signage, popups per sermon)

One can only speculate as to what this was referring to, though a guess could be the sheer number of promotional materials that were out on the town plugging for Real Marriage as at least one possibility. 

8. Producing movie sermons like God's Work Our Witness is not sustainable.

It was a fascinating if in some ways revisionist history of Mars Hill Church while it lasted.  Yet if the film was an example of something that was not sustainable there's a triple irony afoot. 

The first irony is that the film culminates in Driscoll chiding Mars Hill for how bad they were at giving.

The second irony was that the film was presented as part of a sermon series in the aftermath of Turner signing the Result Source Inc. contract and this takes fuller significance if you remember that during this period Mars Hill got itself embroiled in a snafu in which Stokes & Lawrence issued a cease-and-desist letter to a church over a trademark/logo concern. A subset of this second irony is that it would turn out that Real Marriage, in its first edition, would make use of ideas published by Dan Allender without giving Allender any credit. In spite of the fact that Grace Driscoll had publicly shared with the whole internet Allender was one of her favorite authors, no less, which made the omission of any credit to his ideas in the first edition all the more baffling.

The third irony is that in the film Mark Driscoll mentioned how he had a vision of starting a music label and a Bible college from the earliest period of Mars Hill even though in 2014 he would write a statement to  members claiming that what Mars Hill has become is "not even close" to what he envisioned at the start of the church.

If Driscoll these days can't remember that he'd been saying for years that the vision to start a church/Christian movement that would yield a seminary and a music label from the start then that's of a piece with not remembering that there were in fact children at the dawn of Mars Hill, even if he claimed from the pulpit otherwise in late 2013.

So if it was proposed that God's Work, Our Witness was the sort of thing Mars Hill couldn't afford to keep doing, well, no argument from Wenatchee the Hatchet on that point, either.  The question now would be what donations were reaped by the fundraising film in which Driscoll chastised the flock for their lack of faithful giving verses the amount of money it cost to make the film.

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