Monday, October 13, 2014

Throckmorton interacts with Justin Dean who clarifies and then retracts clarification about Mars Hill Global

Throckmorton has a full conversation available to read but Wenatchee The Hatchet wants to zero in for a moment on one part of the exchange.
Justin Dean replied still on October 8:
I agree that's disappointing. It's disappointing to learn people would think that we, as a church, would deliberately plan to mislead or deceive people.

Despite what you may have read on blogs, we never had a separate fund for Global so we don't have separate accounting for Global. We have used some confusing communications in the past, and have done much to correct that, but Global has never been a designated fund. We do spend money on church planters in Ethiopia and India (as indicated in the FAQ), but we don't provide specific accounting of our different expenses. Just like we don't provide how much we specifically spent on pens and tape, we don't break out other expenses. I hope that makes sense.

As an auditor I'm sure you'll appreciate that we submit to outside CPA firms to review our financials, as well as submit to the ECFA who has reviewed our financials and in particular has reviewed in detail our donations from our Global audience and all communications and efforts around Global.
I appreciate you reaching out to look at both sides. And I appreciate your support of Mars Hill.

For the record Wenatchee The Hatchet has no recollection of implying or directly stating there has been an intent on the part of Mars Hill to deceive with respect to Mars Hill Global or finances in general.  Wenatchee The Hatchet holds to the axiom that it is wiser to avoid presuming a conspiracy of malice when blundering incompetence is a simpler and more workable explanation.  Since the dawn of Justin Dean's explanations of and defenses for actions taken by Mars Hill leaned on "unclear communication" since early 2012 it is easier for Wenatchee The Hatchet to suggest that Mars Hill is fiscally incompetent rather than willfully deceptive in how it raises and then spends monies.

Of course that still becomes a compelling reason to not give them any money, but Justin Dean would be generally mistaken in implying that bloggers that have published criticism of Mars Hill are uniform in thoughts and sentiments regarding the fiscal honesty and competency of Mars Hill.

It may now be the case that even Justin Dean has had to go correct himself.  Observe:
Dean wrote to both Alex and me later in the day (Oct. 9):

Alex and Warren,
I was incorrect to say we never had a separate fund setup for Global. The details of this issue can be confusing, I was confused as well and I gave you a wrong answer, and I apologize. I have done some checking and prior to 2012 we did have a separate fund. However, since 2012 we have not had a designated fund for missions work or international church planting. Beginning in 2012 the term "Global Fund" was used on our website to distinguish between global donors and local church donors. We realized the terminology used was confusing so we changed it to "General Fund (Local & Global). This is explained on our Global F.A.Q. page.

For those that may have been confused by our terminology we contacted them earlier this year in an effort to make it right. We mailed 6,000 letters and sent 3,765 emails to anyone who had given as a global donor since 2012. We received 33 total responses; 7 people let us know that there was no need to change their gifts, and 26 indicated that they would like their previous gifts applied to ministry work in Ethiopia and India. We were happy to make these changes, totaling $39,399.

Hope that helps. Thanks.
Looks like Justin Dean couldn't keep the story straight and provided inaccurate statements he later had to correct.  Popular though it may be to assume Dean was and is lying (and The Stranger's coverage of Mars Hill's possibly still non-existent relationship to Lifelong AIDS Alliance taken in consideration) another possibility is that Justin Dean has no idea what's he's talking about and harms the cause of Mars Hill any time he opens his mouth in public, or at least that is the conclusion Wenatchee The Hatchet has started to come to. 

Wenatchee The Hatchet is coming to the opinion that during Munson's tenure there were none of the confusions or ambiguities that seem to have plagued Mars Hill Global since Sutton Turner took over the chief "kingly" role in executive eldership.  Driscoll's 2009 sermon, quoted extensively by WtH at an earlier post:

seemed pretty straightforward.  Global was meant to raise money for projects that involved expansion and growth that were not necessarily connected to local campuses and that included the Resurgence Training Center and other larger, high-profile development work.  The target donor was a podcaster or an on-line consumer of Mars Hill products who could be urged to give to the cause.  It wasn't until later 2011 and earlier 2012, it seems, when Munson was well out of the picture, that the focus and branding of Global changed.  It increasingly seems that the changes to Global that have since caused so much controversy had virtually nothing to do with Munson and more to do with Turner or staff who may have been associated with Turner.  It is doubtful at this stage whether Mars Hill can or will address the matter in more detail but it increasingly seems to Wenatchee The Hatchet that the last person they should have saying anything at all on the record would be Justin Dean.


Anonymous said...


I agree with most of what you write, and I read your posts on a regular basis. I decided to post because I disagree with your comment that the financial problems at MHC have been the result of incompetence rather than willful deceit. The Mars Hill Global memo that Warren Throckmorton posted on his blog indicates that Mars Hill leadership's plan was to fund a few highly visible missions projects in order to convince sermon watchers abroad to give money for local building projects. The memo also stated that financial spending details would not be communicated to the church. The lengths that Mars Hill has gone to cover up this mess has involved 1. trying to convince people that "Global fund" actually referred to Global donors, even though local church members were also encouraged to donate to the fund, 2. rebranding of Mars Hill Global to Mars Hill Go, 3. vague and misleading statements from Justin Dean about how funds to Ethiopian missionaries have consistently increased, with the preponderance of funds given to local church plants, and 4. thank-you letters from MH Tacoma and MH Everett after the fund had already closed. Why did so many church members (myself included) think that the Global Fund money was going towards overseas missions? Because this is how the fund was intentionally marketed. It seems that there is overwhelming evidence that MH leadership intentionally deceived the church in marketing the Global fund. Despite what MH leadership wants us to think now, this can't simply be the result of incompetence.


Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

The evidence of deceit is fairly straightforward in most cases but amidst all of that it's also possible to consider that some people at Mars Hill, in addition to apparently being liars, are also morons as well.

If MH PR can't even keep its own story straight it's more of what they've been doing since 2012. MH leadership may have intentionally deceived people but they were also so stupid they couldn't figure out that people would begin to notice the continuing changes in the story.

If Driscoll can't even recall that there were kids at the start of Mars Hill he may be lying or he may be a forgetful fool or he could even be both, but his own preaching and writing has come to testify against what he has become.