Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sutton Turner discusses Mars Hill Global allocations in recent post, a small fraction of the money raised went overseas and a lot went to US church planting, revisiting how some money went to the now defunct Resurgence Training Center in light of a 2009 Driscoll sermon

emphases in red and/or bold are added
Posted by Sutton Turner on August 25, 2016
Mars Hill Global

Mars Hill Global began in 2009 to raise money from the global audience (those who listened via podcast) to help fund the mission of Mars Hill Church: “Making Disciples and Planting Churches.” Until late 2011, Mars Hill had not significantly funded international church planting but was heavily invested in US church planting. From 2009 to 2012, Mars Hill spent $8.6M in U.S. church planting and $170k outside of the U.S. [WtH, slightly less than 2% of expenditures went to church planting outside the US] but we'll get to a 2009 sermon that explains why this wouldn't be a surprise to potentially impatient readers]

When I joined Mars Hill in 2011, I built relationships with the Kale Hewyott Church in Ethiopia to train church planters there. My passion for Ethiopia (which existed before I arrived at Mars Hill) began to dominate the message of Mars Hill Global. In hindsight, I see how many believed that the only reason Mars Hill Global existed was to fund Ethiopian church planting.

When people started to question the distribution of funds given to Mars Hill Global, the church brought in ECFA and independent auditors, Clark Nuber. Both groups gave Mars Hill a clear opinion that the church had done nothing wrong. In spite of these findings, we felt led to send 3765 emails and 6000 letters to 100% of donors to Mars Hill Global from 2011 to 2014 to clarify their gift intent. Less than 40 families responded; Mars Hill Church sent an additional $40,000 to Ethiopia because donors requested their donations to Mars Hill Global be for Ethiopian church planting.

A full and total timeline from 2009 to 2014 with videos, blogs and other information is stored here.
From 2012 to 2014, Mars Hill Church spent $13.7M in church planting in the US and sent $545k to Ethiopia and India. [WtH--spent from an amount of ... ?] During its existence, Mars Hill Church invested over $23M in church planting in the US and around the world. [WtH--not necessarily the same thing as having done it through Mars Hill Global, given that Mars Hill began in 1996 and Global started in 2009] This amount is over and above the general and administrative costs of Mars Hill Church’s central operations and staffing. (47% of the funds given to Mars Hill Global from 2012-2014 were large donations from a small number of donors who specifically asked prior to giving for their donations to be counted in Global.  Many of these donors did not attend one specific Mars Hill location and wanted their donations supporting all Mars Hill operations including U.S. and international church planting.)

[ WtH--so it reads like that 47% of the funds given to Global from 2012 were from a small number of donors who wanted their giving to be counted in/toward global. Though these donors did not attend one specific location they wanted their gifts supporting all operations, but this raises a question of whether or not that was unusual because the donors requested this or because under normal circumstances donors might have expected or requested their gifts to be restricted to the campus they were giving to Mars Hill through/from]

Many have asked for these numbers. There was I time when I was restricted from providing these numbers. Now, everyone has the Mars Hill Global information that I had when I resigned in September 2014 (Eph. 5:13).

Actual financials reports with line items would have been nice.

Back in the pre-Turner era of Mars Hill Driscoll described the aims of Mars Hill Global as follows:
[it's mistitled "Humble Pastor", it was originally listed as Prophets, Priests and Kings" and discussed earlier at Wenatchee The Hatchet.  The 5-17-2009 sermon is a different sermon even though in the media library at the site it will appear to be "Humble Pastors", too.]

Prophets, Priests and Kings
Trial: 8 witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter
May 3, 2009
1 Peter 5:1-5
starting about 0:47
... I have announcements for you.

First of all, kinda let you know what's going on at Mars Hill, Pastor Scott Thomas runs our Acts 29 church planting network along with Pastor Tar, Pastor Tyler Powell and that's going great. We give ten percent of our dollars [to] church planting. Acts 29 has 250 churches in the US, many, many, many more overseas. Our goal is to see over 1,000 churches planted within ten years. We're well on the way to that goal and that includes sending Pastor Jesse, who has been our campus pastor at Bellevue, to go plant in California. He's sensing that call on his life.

Pastor Mark (it's a different Pastor Mark), Pastor Mark up at the Shoreline campus, is going to go plant in Chicago, a new church, and Andrew Pack is planting in Seattle out of the Lake City campus. Some have asked, "Why start another church in Seattle?" Cuz we need a zillion and this will make two of them. We're well on our way to a zillion. We need lots of churches in Seattle and we praise God that Andrew and others want to plant churches. We're all for it.  

Additionally, is an initiative led by your Lead Pastor Jamie Munson and here's where we're going: from seven campuses of Mars Hill to a hundred; from upwards of 10,000 people on any given Sunday to 50,000 in the next ten years. Leading this is Pastor Rick Melson, one of our executive elders and he's a great guy. We stole him from John Piper in Minneapolis. I'll rephrase that, we borrowed him for a long time to the glory of God from John Piper in Minneapolis, and he [Melson] is also running the Resurgence Training Center--it's a school that will open in the fall so that we can have a leadership engine to train more campus pastors, church planters and potential elders. We're seeking fifty students for the fall term. [emphasis added]

For all of this we will need to raise four million dollars above and beyond budget and Pastor Jamie has a really smart idea to take microgifts from a lot of our fans online. There's upwards of 20 million downloads of our sermons and content every year. [We're] asking those people who enjoy all that we give away to give some small gifts to help fund this global expansion and initiative. Many have asked--it's cool, we've recently had checks as large as ten thousand dollars--saying, "We love you. We listen to a lot of things. Here, how can we help?" So we're going to open that opportunity up. We're going to invite you to give as well, above and beyond your general tithes and offerings. And, amazingly enough, a generous donor stepped forward and said "I'll do a million-dollar matching fund. For everyone who gives any amount I'll match that up to the first million dollars." So that's the great kick-off. We praise God for that., you can check in there to get updates on where we're going, what we're doing and how we are expanding. That includes our newest campus, Mars Hill Albuquerque. We officially announce it today. We're going to New Mexico.  ...

Turner mentioned that more than $23 million was spent in church planting.  That's telling us what it was more than.  What we don't necessarily get is a number that would tell us how much went into The Resurgence Training Center (for anyone who even remembers what that was these days).  So some of the money given into Mars Hill Global would have gone to the Resurgence Training Center.  There are folks who are willing to say they went there and graduated from there but let's not forget the big E on the eye chart.  Mark Driscoll had had a personal ambition to start a movement that started a Bible college.  No matter how great the education was at Re:Train there's a hindsight we can have today through which we observe that this was part of the legacy Driscoll wanted to be able to look back on. It's also something to keep in mind as part of the basis for Global in its early stages.  We don't need to be so focused on how much went to overseas that we forget that at its inception Global was never explicitly designed for overseas missions but for the global expansion of what we can now regard as the Mars Hill brand.

The amount of money given/designated to The Resurgence Training Center could get some clarification, since it, too, was part of the Mars Hill expansion included within the fundraising activities of Mars Hill Global. 

And the thing to keep in mind, that commenter Nathan priddis mentioned recently at Phoenix Preacher, is that we should ask ourselves--even if "all" the money raised by Mars Hill Global went to overseas activity, who's to say that would have made the conditions in those regions in Africa or India better?

In other words, let's not forget that even if all the monies that people gave that they thought were going to go from Mars Hill Global to Africa went there, what in the end would this have been except for the global expansion of the Mars Hill brand?  Why would anyone in Africa need that?  This is not to say people don't have any right or reason to be upset about all sorts of things Mars Hill Global.  Turner gets that these things were worrisome to people, too.  But Nathan priddis raised a point that doesn't seem to have come up among those who have been close to the Mars Hill side of things in online discussions (that I know of)--that we can't assume that all that Global money going to the missionary work Mars Hill had in mind would have been any good for people in Africa in the end.

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