Saturday, December 13, 2014

another wee hiatus (obviously)

the warfare session is only about halfway transcribed, though the gist of it as a political manifesto on the part of Mark Driscoll doesn't seem hugely difficult to establish given what Driscoll said about doubts about the love of the executive eldership for the church being a demonic lie directly said. 

Still, the demon trial section hasn't been transcribed yet and the shift from "ordinary demonic" to "extraordinary demonic" has yet to get discussed and it bears some discussion if only to show how the two categories can functionally collapse in application.

And that Driscoll states categorically he believed even Christians could be demonized to some degree warrants discussion for the record. 

However, there's such a thing as having a social life and writing about other things.  There will be posts here and there but if the trajectory of the corporation dissolution stays on course (regardless of any potential/pending suits) 2014 may wrap up the stage of documenting the history of MH at the pace that has been established at this blog.  The blog was never planned to be a "watchblog" and it technically isn't one.  Here's looking forward to boring nearly everyone who doesn't play classical guitar with discussions on the evolution of sonata forms in early 19th century solo guitar literature some time in 2015.  And there's intended to be a blog series on the guitar sonatas of Ferdinand Rebay. 

And it's not as though WtH has planned to stop writing about animation, either.

But as you've probably seen this year if you're a regular reader, a lot of ... stuff ... has happened this year. WtH isn't one to attempt predictions without some substantial amount of evidence and tends to be cautious.  The only outright prediction WtH can recall making with respect to MH this year was calling that campuses would be shut down and then proposing which campus closures were most likely in light of reported financials. 

But, anyway, there's such a thing as having a social life and the warfare series is remarkably long. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

a truly abbreviated annual report from Mars Hill omits any mention of campus by campus giving breakdowns.

Not much by itself to observe here.  The lack of a campus by campus breakdown of donors and donation averages is possibly due to the corporation being dissolved and some people assuming those numbers aren't interesting (or maybe they're too interesting).

But some things Bill Clem said in the Leadership Journal article might be worth unpacking with some numbers compiled from FY reports.

 For instance in FY2012 the stats listed for Ballard and Bellevue were
                   avg weekly att          % MH att.     Ttl Gn Fund giving   # givers
Ballard       2824                          23%              $5,396,139.00           2892
Bellevue    1628                          13%               $3,446,671.00          1737

Compare that to FY2013
                   avg weekly att          % MH att.     Ttl Gn Fund giving   # givers
Ballard       1742                          14%              $3,424,129.00           1676
Bellevue     2284                          19%              $4,520,496.00           1762

Between FY2012 and FY2013 Mars Hill Ballard lost about 1,200 givers while Bellevue may have only seen a net increase of 25 donors but an increase in giving (that mere six figure seems like it must be inaccurate, though).  In terms of total general fund giving for the Ballard campus the span between FY2012 and FY2013 looks like it saw a drop of nearly 2 million!  The loss of about 1,200 donors might not have been entirely to the shift of live preaching from Ballard to Bellevue but the numbers do seem to back up the gist of what Clem explained as the dynamic of Mars Hill Central dictating what decisions could or couldn't be made based on fixed metrics. 

If you'd like to peruse a compilation of the campus by campus vital stats compiled from earlier fiscal year reports... then minimize all the calendar-based stuff on the right hand and read on after the break

Note the weekly loss per campus was presented in a June 2012 sermon by Driscoll in a "Financial Update".  It may be useful as a benchmark for then-systemic deficits that were being run until a re-org. 

Leadership Journal: The Painful Lessons of Mars Hill, with a few asides from Wenatchee The Hatchet--it looks like Bill Clem has finally said stuff for the record

The most notable points about this recent article would be who finally says anything at all for the record.  Of particular interest is Bill Clem, whose resignation was mentioned by Wenatchee The Hatchet almost two years ago.  Clem's role in the transition of Doxa to Mars Hill would be hard to overstate. Without Clem and James Noriega agreeing that giving Mars Hill the Doxa real estate was best for Jesus there wouldn't have been a West Seattle campus.  Clem was dealing with the inevitable death of his wife to ovarian cancer and Noriega was brought on as an elder at Doxa.  Doxa either did or did not just so happen to be sitting on a piece of real estate Mark Driscoll had wanted to launch Mars Hill at in 1996.  That didn't pan out but in 2006 when Driscoll approached Clem and Noriega about use of the real estate things got worked out.  One of the key events in the history of Mars Hill relative to its co-founders was that Bill Clem's star rose during a period when Lief Moi's star was on a steady decline. There's a tagged series of posts examining the last year or so of what could be ascertained about Moi's role in the church he co-founded.

Now, with all those things in mind ... there's a few things of interest from Clem in this article.

The principle held true when that corporate drive took hold of Mars Hill. Clem had planted a small church called "Doxa" in West Seattle, and shortly after receiving a large building as a gift, they merged with Mars Hill, becoming its first expansion campus.

"At the time, when they got me and my building, the concept of multi-site church structure was fairly infantile in its movement and structure," Clem says, "and we chose to start out heavily centralized.

"'How do we get more money coming into Central?' became the main question," says Clem. He describes the basic Mars Hill budget strategy like this:
 A campus pastor sets his own budget for the year.

 He bases the number on a "per head" estimate for weekly giving.

 The goal is to keep increasing the per-head income.

"So, looking at my 'per-head' of $31, they wanted me to say, 'This year I think I can get this up to $35' and then set my budget accordingly," says Clem. "Then, if I didn't make that by the first quarter, Central would adjust.

"But look. If I make a budget based on just $4 more per person, with a congregation of more than 3,000 people, I'm talking about $12,000 per week [$624,000 annual]! And that number equals staff. So if I don't make it to the next level, I have to fire those people. And this is where some of the staffing volatility came from."

Before we get to something that is probably still available let's move a little further along in the piece.

"Here's an example of what happens, then: When Driscoll quit preaching at my Ballard campus and went to Bellevue, I immediately lost 1,000 people. At $10 per head, that's $10,000 per Sunday that went out the door. And yet my people who stayed continued to give to the same budget; they actually started to give more.

"But because my attendance dropped, Central says my budget needs to drop, and that means that I have to fire a youth pastor.

"People don't want to lose the youth pastor and start asking, 'How much more will it take to keep Mitch?' And I'm saying, 'No matter how much more you give, we can't use a penny. It just goes to Central.' And they start going, 'This is communism!'"

So why would a pastor—or congregant—keep playing this game?

This looks like an explanation of what was going on in the moment at which Clem decided to resign in early 2013.  But it also looks like a possible case study of a dynamic laid out over here.
How is compensation set at Mars Hill?

Compensation is connected and linked to increased responsibilities that are directly related to the mission and vision of Mars Hill, which are given by supervisors and communicated between leadership and employees. Each position is assigned a staff level (staff, supervisor, manager, director, etc.) based on level of responsibility. The staff level determines the compensation range and vacation eligibility.

Compensation for being a staff member at one of our churches is based on the responsibility and number of people in weekend attendance. Three different independent studies are used to determine market rates for all staff positions. [emphasis added]

The independent members of the Board of Advisors and Accountability set executive elders’ compensation. Additionally, an independent compensation study is done for our executive elders by an external accounting firm.

In other words, regardless of how impregnable job security was at the very top, for pretty much everyone else everything hinged on how many butts you got in the seats at your campus on a Sunday basis.  Given how far back Mark Driscoll extolled reverse-engineering your life in five year plans Wenatchee The Hatchet was not the only person to have joked that this must have been modeled on the economic plans of the Politburo in the Soviet Union ... but it's begun to seem more and more as though analogies to Soviet financial and governmental theories seem less funny the more comes to light.

There's relatively little that seems necessary to comment on in the article for the moment except for ...
Gerry Breshears let himself get described as a "past friend" of Mark Driscoll's?  That's an interesting detail.