Friday, January 10, 2014

Mars Hill Church, comparing the FY2012 figures to the Fy2013 figures

For those who haven't already seen the FY2012 report go over here.

For those who haven't seen the FY2013 report, well, you may be sort of out of luck if you want to see it with your own eyes.
[UPDATE 1-12-2014, thanks to commenter Winston we've been directed to a page that presents the report for FY2013. It looks a bit different than the version WtH saw earlier but this appears to be mainly in color and other elements of layout rather than in statistics]

Let's just start with some basics.  Anyone who's read citations from the Fy2012 report may remember this number:

(go ahead click on this puppy to see how big it really is)
As in the stated number of the average weekly attendance at Mars Hill Church. 
Each dot represented one person and the blue dots represented newcomers, 2,796 in all.
Then there were the following figures for baptisms, total members, and kids each week.

Now in a pdf made available at some website affiliated with Mars Hill Church back in December 2013 a report was made available that features these numbers for FY2013.

(that 12,329 number isn't quite so big in real life, either, on the report)

Check out the average weekly attendance listed in what appears to be a FY2013 MHC annual report, that's 12,329 average.  While 1,337 members were added the grand total number of members of Mars HIll Church only increased by a total of a net total of 60 members between FY2012 and FY2013.  Curious.  If your organization has a net gain of formal members of a mere sixty after getting more than 1,200 newbies that's obviously not very awesome net growth.

Let's consider the giving trends as they break out by campus.  For FY2012 we got this:

The FY2012 web page was made not as a pdf but as a mass of constituent parts, which makes it hard to download the whole thing as a simple unified pdf-style whole but makes it hugely easy to consult constituent parts to compare the report to something else such as the corresponding data from the FY2013 report which says  ...

A little footnote here on the percentages before we proceed, check out the Fy2012 pie chart:

Compared to FY2012's listing the percentage of people who gave $0 went from 23.9% to 35.1%.  Interesting.  [WtH at 11:53pm---comparing this percentage of 0 donors to previous annual reports it also looks like possibly the highest ratio of non-givers at MHC in the last five fiscal years]

The number of people who gave between $1-$499 went from 42.9% to 29.5%.  It looks like they're losing the bottom of the pyramid in terms of lowest-level donors but that Mars Hill Church is gaining in the mid-tier and major donor categories.  But no organization can rely entirely on the top-tier for long.  You have to mobilize your base-level, low-end donors.  It's not safe to assume that some kind of Pareto principle means you can effectively ignore your base.  Let's not forgot if the numbers presented in the MHC FY2013 report hold up a whopping 64.6 percent of donors to Mars Hill in FY2013 either gave nothing at all or gave no more than $1-$499 for the fiscal year. Since the report doesn't quite clarify if this is a reference to cumulative giving (which it has been in reports past) or averages there's possible wiggle room for additional information.  Anyway, enough commentary on the aggregates.  Some campus shifts in giving are worth looking at.

Now here is where the numbers get interesting as a manifestation of shifts.  Certain shifts are so obvious they almost don't seem to be worth mentioning.  Let's mention them anyway.  Obviously moving live preaching from Mars Hill Ballard to Mars Hill Bellevue could explain a significant drop in the giving patterns at Ballard and this would be likely even if Bill Clem hadn't resigned from being a pastor at Mars Hill Church at the start of 2013.  Ballard, all told, looks like it had a nearly 2 million dollar drop in total giving per fiscal year to the general giving fund.  The actual difference is $1,972,010.00.  

Ballard wasn't the only campus to experience a drop in cumulative giving to the general fund.  Mars Hill Downtown's giving from FY2012 to FY2013 dropped by $94,687.00, and that could be explicable, perhaps, by the departure of not only the lead pastor Tim Gaydos but also of Tim Beltz and Will Little.  While A. J. Hamilton was the interim lead pastor for a time he became the lead pastor at Downtown until he was recently replaced as lead pastor by someone else Wenatchee's never heard of before.  

The Shoreline campus seemed to experience a drop from FY2012 to FY2013 that looks about like $5,462, a relatively negligible drop as things go.  But it's important to bear in mind that when Driscoll did his financial updates on Mars Hill around May and June 2012 Shoreline was running the biggest systemic deficit.  Even a small drop in giving could be a huge problem for a campus if it has continued to run the largest systemic deficit in the entire organization on a campus-by-campus basis.

More significant as a formal drop are the $87,911 drop at Mars Hill University District, and the $31,037 drop at Mars Hill West Seattle took place between FY2012 and FY2013.  These sort of look like campuses where transitions of employment may have happened but that in itself couldn't explain anything.  Willie Wilson vanished from leadership at Rainier Valley and giving has gone up.  

Less easily spotted would be changes in which average giving declined.  For instance, Mars Hill Federal Way experienced a drop in average giving per donor but a pending church plant or two might possibly explain that. Bubba Jennings is still slated to plant Mars Hill Tacoma, right? That could explain everything right there. Even though giving in total has gone up the average might have gone down because of where the resources are going.  After all general giving fund wouldn't be the same as restricted giving or giving to expansion projects.

It's no surprise the biggest spike in growth has been Mars Hill Bellevue.  Where Mark is the money will obviously follow.  Plus anyone with any length of experience in observing fundraising in the Puget Sound area can tell you that if you want the bigger money you have to turn your attention to Bellevue and the east side anyway.  

Now for those who aren't completely bored already here's a compilation of figures from the FY2013 report that was available last month and the still available Financial Disclosure agreement on FY2012 that you may still be able to find.  Along the way some numbers from FY2011 have been consulted.

2011 2012 2013
cash & cash equivalents  $   5,165,170.00  $   3,369,472.00  $   5,341,040.00
accounts receivable  $                       -    $         30,302.00  $      192,323.00
inventory and other current assets  $       81,041.00  $      203,685.00  $      515,751.00
lease deposits and other assets  $      118,011.00  $      136,718.00  $      180,269.00
property and equipment   $ 27,099,676.00  $ 28,650,133.00  $ 28,663,705.00
deferred loan costs, net  $      41,642.00  $         37,273.00  $         34,531.00
current liabilities  $   3,070,910.00  $   1,931,392.00  $   2,097,035.00
long-term liabilities  $ 13,121,525.00  $ 13,285,248.00  $ 12,146,688.00
total liabilities  $ 16,192,435.00  $ 15,216,640.00  $ 14,243,723.00
unrestricted  $ 16,387,843.00  $ 17,364,950.00  $ 19,959,873.00
temporarily restricted  $      126,946.00  $      118,993.00  $      724,023.00
total net assets  $ 16,514,789.00  $ 17,483,943.00  $ 20,683,896.00

There are more things that could be written but for now these numbers will suffice.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has covered Mars Hill adapting to numeric decline in the past. If we compare the 13,173 to the 12,329 a cumulative drop in average attendance of 844 isn't even really all that bad.  Sure, the net growth of 60 members despite adding 1,337 members doesn't seem encouraging but as noted recently, Sutton Turner happily informed Mars Hill that giving is very high and above and beyond what was asked for.  While certain campuses had losses in numbers and revenue that was going to happen with the resignations that happened in 2013 and with live preaching moving to Bellevue.  As it stands Mars Hill would not have bothered looking for a Capital Development Manager if they didn't feel confident about giving.  Whether or not the capital campaign projects being planned for 2014 on out are smarter ideas than the capital campaign project of 2004-2005 is open for some debate once we find out what those things are.

So even though the Fy2013 report was given and then taken away in terms of internet accessiblity Wenatchee The Hatchet did get ahold of it, or so it seems.  And the numbers are interesting.  Driscoll shared in the summer of 2012 that Mars Hill had hit a rough season financially.  In early 2013 he shared how Mars Hill avoided its own fiscal cliff and how Mars Hill was not a wealthy church.  But this does not keep nearly every fiscal year from seeming to be the best year ever when it comes time for annual reports, which have seemed to come later and later after the end of each fiscal year and most recently seems to have taken shape in the form of a report you probably can't even find and download any longer.  Well, maybe there's going to be a FY2013 financial dislosure statement that will be available some time in 2014.  We'll see.  

UPDATE 1-12-2014
Thanks (again) to Winston for pointing out where the FY2013 report is available.  Wenatchee's not going to claim to have the best eyes around. :)


Anonymous said...

When Driscoll told the church that for the first time Mars Hill Church would not submit numbers to Outreach Magazine in 2013, he listed all kind of spiritual reasons explaining the decision.

I laughed when I read it. It was so obvious that what Driscoll was saying was that the numbers were down.

Spin. Spin.

Anonymous said...

The most interesting number to me is the net gain of only 60 members while still reporting 1300+ new members. That means that in 2013, 20% of their members left. I'm not sure what is considered 'normal' membership turnover for a mega-church, but the loss of 20% of your members in one year is concerning from a pastoral point of view.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Yeah, that net gain of 60 meant they had to lose at least 1277 members along the way for the growth of 1337 to have so little effect. The other detail to notice from this link ...

Is that by Sutton Turner's account the attendance for July 2013 was that average weekly attendance was 11,151. But the break-out is striking, 8,959 adults and 2,191 kids. This detail opens up the possibility that even a count of average weekly attendance like 12,329 may fudge on the detail of whether all of those people are, so to speak, consenting adults and how many of them were children in tow.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I'm not sure what a normal turnover rate in membership at a mega would be, either but this wouldn't even have been the first time in the history of MH where they've lost 1,000 members inside of a fiscal year.

Here's where Driscoll claimed MH lost 1,000 members or so because they raised the stakes in the Doctrine series (where Driscoll grossly misrepresented the dating and content of the rabbinical commentary on Genesis known as the Targum Neofiti by claiming wrongly that 1) it predated Jesus and 2) articulated a defense of trinitarianism before Jesus was even born).

But here's the interview with Justin Taylor where Driscoll refers to MH losing a lot of members:—and-whether-or-not-the-new-calvinist-coalition-will-hold-together/

Btw if anyone can find where the FY2013 annual report pdf is still publicly available feel free to link away.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

What's striking that isn't a number is who's trumpeting the successes of FY2013 online and via video, Sutton Turner and not Mark Driscoll. Driscoll took time to do a top 10 most read posts for 2013

But someone let us know when Mark publicly broaches the topic of how wonderful FY2013 was for MHC.

Anonymous said...

"Blessed Subtraction."

Winston said...

Here you go:

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...


Anonymous said...

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

thanks for that one, too.
Now readers have all the primary source materials to do their own comparative number crunching.

Anonymous said...

I have come to believe that Mark Driscoll uses Jesus fame to obtain his own gain. That is simply unsustainable and useless. Many people including myself have been hurt. Many are being hurt right now. When it ends (which will likely be badly) many more people will be hurt. I hope they find their way away from him before that happens.

I hope some good people come into the scene who are true disciples of Jesus and represent Him well. Those we need.

Andrew O'Brien said...


Just perused the transcript of the first sermon on James and noticed this: "Here’s the good news: we are in the strongest, healthiest financial fiscal position that we have ever been in the history of Mars Hill Church."

Andrew O'Brien said...

He also said this:

"I’m not just in authority; I’m under authority. I have pastors do my performance review, can rebuke me, can terminate me, whatever the case may be. It’s important to know that everyone needs to be under spiritual authority, including those who are in spiritual authority."

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

They stopped expansion long enough to cultivate their donor base is my own hunch, for what little it's worth. They had a long habit of expanding and planting faster than they were cultivating their donor base in the past. While a higher proportion of people are giving nothing now than in the last five years the high-end giving has stepped up noticeably. So that is good news for them in terms of financial health. Whether that's good enough news to make Mars Hill seminary education attempt 2.0 or 3.0 something to start right now remains to be seen.

Look at what temporarily choosing to not grow did for them. :) They managed to beat budget instead of having to beg people to give more just so they could avoid their own fiscal cliff. The nascent denomination (which is precisely what Mark wants it to be whether he'll admit it or not) will need to slow down the growth enough to stabilize its fiscal situation. Starting a seminary/Bible college is not necessarily a first-generation movement plan as much as a second generation one. If Mark wants to see all of the legacy he's making for himself within his lifetime it's probably going to fail. Part of what a legacy means is that it outlives you, if you have one.

Anonymous said...

"I’m not just in authority; I’m under authority. I have pastors do my performance review, can rebuke me, can terminate me, whatever the case may be. It’s important to know that everyone needs to be under spiritual authority, including those who are in spiritual authority."


Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

So are these guys the people in authority over Driscoll?

Paul Tripp
Michael Van Skaik
Dr. James MacDonald
Dr. Larry Osborne
Mark Driscoll
Dave Bruskas
Sutton Turner

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

As a supplement to Warren Smith's article at WORLD

There's this, Jamie Munson mentioning Van Skaik's volunteer pastor role at MHC from 2010:

By Jamie Munson Feb 03, 2010

" ...
Pastor Michael Van Skaik
Michael Van Skaik is a volunteer pastor who serves at our Bellevue campus and on the Mars Hill Board of Directors. On Friday he was buried (along with two friends) in an avalanche while snowmobiling near Jackson, WY. Everyone survived, but Pastor Michael is now dealing with a shattered left shoulder blade. We’re glad God spared his life, and we pray for a full recovery."

Van Skaik's history as a volunteer pastor at Mars HIll in the past may be an additional variable to keep in mind.

ExGe said...

This may partially explain the loss of 1,000 members.
In August we received this email from Mars Hill.
I don't know if this email was just sent to Mars Hill downtown or if it extended to the rest of the campuses.

Basically, there was a culling of City users/members via this email.
I don't know if people who didn't respond were automatically removed or not. The membership is probably now more accurate than it was last year.


Dear Mars Hill Members, August 6th, 2013

We are in the process of updating our files in order to best serve your needs here at our downtown campus. Please take a moment and reply to the following items…

1. Are you still a member of Mars Hill?
2. Are you currently attending services in the Downtown Campus?
3. Please indicate the Community Group you are attending.
4. What Service Team are you currently serving on?

We would greatly appreciate it if you could log into The City as soon as possible and update your phone number, email address and physical address. Please set your email setting to receive “All New Notifications” as this is our primary way of connecting with you. Hope to hear from you soon.


Mars Hill Downtown

Anonymous said...

How many members left after Downtown MH "Lead Pastor" Tim Gaydos suddenly left last year with no explanation? Do you suppose there is a connection?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

If we add a couple of months before and after the FY2013 period we'd get roughly April 2012 to September 2013. It looked like a lot of leaders left in that window.

Chad Toulouse
Kyle Firstenberg
James Harleman
Chris Pledger
Dave Kraft seemed to disappear in this large window but it's not as certain

Bill Clem left in early 2013
Tim Gaydos
Tim Beltz
Will Little

then Alex Early left after barely having taken over Clem's role and Early got replaced by Scott Harris.

Jon Krombein, Nathan Burke, and Jeff Bettger left in early fall in the month or so after FY2013 came to a close.

There may be others but that's a veritable who's who of people who actually mattered inside MH leadership over the last 14 years. Not every absence indicates a formal departure as Munson has been listed as a pastor internally despite the public removal of his name--remember that Driscoll stated himself the plan was to keep Munson as a pastor indefinitely.

So, yes, there were enough long-term leaders who left during or at the temporal borders of FY2013 that could explain the exodus of at least 1277 members.