Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sutton Turner's recent blog post on the subject of executive compensation at Mars Hill--discusses how some were critical of executive compensation. Criticism was not necessarily of "how" much prior to 2014 because people didn't know and couldn't find out what the numbers were
Posted by Sutton Turner on August 25, 2016
Executive Compensation

Some have criticized the executive elder compensation I received for my position insinuating that I unfairly enriched myself. Once again, this criticism is painful and unmerited. When I accepted the call to Mars Hill as General Manager, I left the private sector as a CEO with a significantly higher pay. When I accepted the position of Executive Elder, I was given the same salary as the person I replaced. These salaries were approved by the board and were supported by by-laws and church governance.

In 2012, the board commissioned independent compensation studies to determine the salaries of all three executive elders. The Compensation Committee (made up of board members) then used these studies to determine the compensation of each executive elder. These studies were done by the independent firm of Capin Crouse. Many have an issue with the compensations of megachurch pastors today, and I respect their opinion. The process that the Board of Mars Hill went through to determine compensation for executive elders was 100% by IRS process and following National Council of NonProfits guidelines, completed by an independent accounting firm, and audited by another independent audit firm. My compensation was based on what others in similar positions in similarly sized churches were compensated.

The first thing to note is that the timeframe in which the criticism Turner describes may have been made would be useful to know.  Prior to possibly 2014 the subject of how much executive leaders made didn't seem to be a burning question in coverage of Mars Hill for two fairly simple reasons:  1) nobody seemed able to figure out how much Mark Driscoll made and 2) nobody could figure out how he was even paid whatever it was he was paid who wasn't at the highest levels of the Mars Hill leadership culture.  Turner's recent explanation of things presents his account in terms of criticism that may not have been possible until after numbers began to be disclosed for consideration

In fact it's tough to remember whether anyone even cared what Turner was paid enough to raise the issue in the press or at blogs for the majority of the history of Mars Hill.  There were questions circulating about how much Mark Driscoll made, though.  Over the course of a few years sources indicated to Wenatchee The Hatchet that the question of how much Driscoll was compensated, and how anyone could even verify what it was, was a question people had considered. 

So it was not hugely surprising that the most looked-at post in the history of Wenatchee The Hatchet was ...
Sutton Turner memo recommended raise for Driscoll for FY2013 to 650k salary, retain 200k housing allowance for CY2013

Housing Allowance: I recommend maintaining Pastor Mark's housing allowance of $200,000 for calendar year 2013, as was approved and provided in 2012

Executive Payroll:  As of this summer, I have personally taken over entering the executive payroll. Outside of the Compensation Committee, there is no one with access to any of this information (including my assistant) for all three Mars Hill Church executive elders. I am the only person, besides the Compensation Committee, that needs to know about Pastor Mark's compensation. [emphasis added]
So one of the complaints was that how much Driscoll made was kept secret and to this day the question of precisely how Driscoll was paid has never been answered for the record.  Was Driscoll paid directly by Mars Hill or was that pay mediated by a third party company the way payroll companies handle things for many an employer? 

The housing allowance number was worth nothing because for those who recall Pastor Mark TV era blogging by Driscoll he noted that there were some concerns about whether the parish housing allowance might have been at risk because of a court decision.  But, more saliently to the history of Mars Hill, by the middle of 2012 the Driscoll family had moved out of King County altogether into a home in Woodway.  While Driscoll had blogged about how he wasn't going anywhere over the years and how some people didn't appreciate the risks of urban ministry. Back on October 25, 2013 (which is republished over here)
October 25, 2013

... Those ministering in more family-friendly suburban communities that welcome megachurches and gated neighborhoods may not understand the complexities of a ministry that is more urban and the dangers it can pose. ...
is that by then Driscoll had been living in Woodway for a bit more than a year.  His post was worded as if he were still living in Seattle when he had not been living in Seattle since May 2012. 

So when he wrote :

... I love Jesus--so does my family. I love our church--and so does my family. And I love our city--and so does my family. On average, we have seen 100 people get baptized every month for about the last five years. We are seeing lives change, and we find great joy in that. That said, I do all I can to care for my family and protect them, without being paranoid, and the truth is if I were not called to this line of work, I would quit.

Keep in mind that the tacit assumption was that he wrote as someone a normal reader would have assumed meant to say he was living in Seattle. The assumption at the time was not that he would have been living in Woodway given that a majority of coverage in media outlets talked about Driscoll being based in Seattle. 

An average Mars Hill attending reader reading Mark Driscoll's 2013 blog post might well have worked under a surmise that he was blogging as someone who still lived in King County.  It's really, really tough to sound like you can be taken seriously opining about the perils of urban ministry if you live in a gated house with a big dog in Woodway, Washington in Snohomish County. 

So while Turner can certainly feel that there were those who unfairly criticized his compensation during his time at Mars Hill, at least from the Wenatchee The Hatchet side of things, it didn't seem all that common for people to worry about Turner's compensation.  People were more concerned about how much money Mark Driscoll might be making and how secretive the leadership culture was about how much Driscoll was making and how anyone could even go about finding out that information.


Joshua said...

Also the result source controversy was clearly in part about the role Mars Hill played in funding something that just benefitted Mark. They spend time/funds to make him a best-selling author. Some people were under the impression all his royalties went to the church (not just the copies in the church bookstore). It's not Scientology having people work on Tom Cruise's motorcycle, but it did reveal the ways Mark didn't work for the church, the church worked for him.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

up until Real Marriage Driscoll preached topical series from time to time (Christ on the Cross in 2005, on all historical aspects of atonement, recycled later as Vintage Jesus) but he'd largely stuck to his claim that he just preached through books of the Bible. That changed with Real Marriage because by preaching through HIS book about stuff in the Bible he made Mars Hill a kind of captive audience for his reputation building. There are plenty of marriage books out there and the only real sales pitch for Real Marriage was the Driscoll name.

He cribbed material from some actually pretty good sources for some stuff, to be fair. Had the book been competently sourced and cited in the first print edition there might never have even been a controversy about Result Source. So, yeah, at about every level Mars Hill was made to work for Mark Driscoll rather than the other way around. The memo about Mark's proposed compensation highlighted that rather than "all" the royalties going to Mars Hill from his books it was looking more like a "tithe". His advocates had tried to say on line over at some web debates that Driscoll gave his book royalties to MH. Even if that had been the case the easiest way to have done that would have been to register the copyright for the books to Mars Hill rather than to himself or to an LLC proxy for himself.

Thing is, plenty of Christian celebrities and authors used Result Source and didn't have their reputations suffer for it. Mark managed to completely alienate his own base in ways that don't seem to have happened for a person like David Jeremiah.