While ECFA looks away, Mars Hill’s deceptively marketed “Global Fund” is certainly getting attention.


Ethiopian children

23 out of 25  Mars Hill videos promoting the Global Fund are about Ethiopia and India. This was a designated fund when started, but now, Executive Elder, Sutton Turner, has redefined the Global Fund. It has been redefined to mean “Global Donor” as opposed to Global Fund.

Sutton Turner is now saying that the way Mars Hill has been soliciting support for the fund (as a designated fund for what appears to be missions to the third world) is not what the “fund” ever was, and that it is simply the money given from the rest of the globe to the General Fund of Mars Hill Church.

However, as mentioned, if you go to the Mars Hill Church website and look at their own video selections that draw the donor to the “fund” you will find 25 videos. 23 of these videos are of either Ethiopia or India.

Sutton Turner pitching from Ethiopia

The clear message seems to be that your money will go to Ethiopia or India.  It is not clear that the purpose of the solicitation is to get the global Mars Hill community to give to the General Fund of the church. The strong pitch, with all the photos of Ethiopian children and huts in the background, is that the gift is for international missions, and most likely missions efforts to Ethiopia and India.

Donors have no clear idea that the money they donate will go into the same fund that pays for the three Executive Elders’ large salaries (rumored to be a combined seven figures – no member knows), or the same pool of funds that paid Result Source to deceptively purchase books in a way that ensured a spot on the NYT Bestseller list. The exception is the new June 7th video where Turner is giving donors the new pitch where Global Fund means “Global donor” and not a specific fund at all. The money goes into the General Fund, period!

This new video appears to be the only one that does not have an African or Indian setting. Once again, we are seeing Mars Hill leadership remaking the story. Your money that you thought was going to support Ethiopia or India, is going to the General Fund of Mars Hill Church.

This video is taken with Spokane in the background, and Mars Hill Global is now the larger family of Mars Hill participants. It is no longer the “Global Fund”.  “Currently your gift supports our 15 Mars Hill Church locations…,” says Sutton Turner. Yet the rest of the videos soliciting money were shot in Ethiopia or India as you can see.

Youtube VIdeos Mars Hill GLobal


Why the need to redefine the fund? Surely it is because, as happened when members found out about the church spending $210,000 to deceptively purchase a way onto the NYT bestseller list, this way of raising money appears as deceptive and has raised new questions about transparency at Mars Hill Church.

It is clear that at one time the fund was a designated fund. This appears to be before Sutton Turner arrived at Mars Hill Church. See note #5 on the income statement below.

Report Showing Global Fund restricted in 2010


Mark Driscoll, in a video dated 2012, after talking about local (US) church plants and new Mars Hill campuses, continued… “In addition, I want to tell you about Mars Hill Global. We’ve been working in partnership with churches in India…… in Ethiopia….”. He adds “Our goal is to continue, through Mars Hill Global, to take the resources and to get the news of Jesus to the nations, cause He said ‘We should be His witnesses where? The ends of the earth.’ ”

So the clear emphasis was a fund that was intended to support church planting internationally… to the ends of the earth. This hardly sounds like you are contributing to the general fund that pays for local salaries and buildings. Here is a video that clearly delineates a separate fund.

So the question is this. How much of  the millions raised from donors who thought their gifts went to missions efforts in Ethiopia and India actually went to these places?  If most of the money (by far) is spent buying buildings and paying U.S. salaries then is this not simple exploitation by any measure?

Surely transparency is reasonable and fair for a church with respect to its donors and friends?

As one that spends a lot of time in Africa, I have witnessed exploitative practices where money is raised showing poor African children being supported when in fact it was all staged. People are moved and give to the shenanigans of tricksters all over Africa. I have personally intervened when donors have realized that they were giving to orphanages that simply didn’t exist. This is exploitation of both the African children and of the donor.

So this raises some tough questions.

Is it true that very little, perhaps as little as two or three percent or less, actually went to serve pastors and church plants in these countries? Is it true that more money has been spent sending Mars Hill elders along with media teams (air flights, hotel, and food) to Ethiopia and India than has been sent to actually support pastors and church plants in these communities?

As one who travels frequently to Africa, I know the general cost to Mars Hill to send 12 pastors and a media team to Ethiopia. Tickets would cost about $54,000 (economy class) plus another $7,200 or so for hotels. Drivers, cars, and food would all cost more. Perhaps as much as $90,000 to $100,000 was likely spent on this trip. Has the “Global Fund” spent that much supporting the Ethiopian pastors themselves?

Did not Mars Hill Church raise over $2.3 million via the Global Fund in one year alone?

Surely rather than come up with a revised definition of what Mars Hill Global and the no longer referenced “Global Fund” actually are, why not be open and transparent with donors and members?

Until Mars Hill Church comes clean, this just appears to be yet another deceptive use of marketing. From plagiarism, to rewriting the history of the founding of the church, to evading questions and removing members who question from the church, to the blatant misuse of funds to buy a spot on the NYT best seller list, it seems that the current Executive Elders have a clear problem with truth-telling.

Not to mention the dishonest way that the bylaws were changed in 2007 and two elders’ lives and reputations smeared. The Petry family are still being shunned by Mars Hill leadership which is having a difficult time just telling us the truth.

“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we will have fellowship with one another”. Until then, we just see more and more darkness as time goes on.


6 thoughts on “While ECFA looks away, Mars Hill’s deceptively marketed “Global Fund” is certainly getting attention.

  1. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

    “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?

    “And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

    “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

    “You cannot serve both God and money.”

    The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.

    He said to them, ”You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts.

    “What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:10-15)

  2. God’s formula: use money to gain many relationships so you will be well-liked in heaven.

    Man’s formula: use relationships to gain much money so your earthly life will feel like heaven.

    Jesus: “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9)

    The other guy: “I tell you, make as many followers as you possibly can, and try to get as much money out of them as you possibly can. Never speak without passing the plate. Tell them the money is for Jesus; that when they give to you, they’re really giving to him. Tell them if they don’t give to you, they’re robbing God. Tell them to give to you sacrificially! Tell them it takes big money to reach the ends of the earth. And just how will the gospel reach the ends of the earth if your wife doesn’t have the house of her dreams? How will the lost unreached masses come to know the Lord if your children are not made heirs to a fortune first? Ask, ask, and keep asking! Ask in season and out of season! Use the money to build wealth for yourself and your household. Build a legacy! Heaven on earth! If God is a rich King in heaven, why can’t you be a rich king on earth? Above all, remember this: a king does not answer to his subjects.”

  3. he could have chosen
    to ask people
    for money
    at the end
    of each sermon
    he could have
    raked it in
    he could have
    sold tickets
    money for miracles
    a hundred denarius
    to say something
    a purse overflowing
    but he chose
    to tell people
    to give it all
    to the poor

  4. How very sad for the members of Mars Hill Church not to know where their tithing is going, not to know their pastors salary. I could not give money to a church that is not willing to be transparent with their finances. Feel very discouraged that a church that says it is all about Jesus is not honest with its members. How is that all about Jesus?

  5. Pingback: We promise to tell the truth, some of the truth, but not the whole truth… | Musings from under the bus.

  6. Pingback: Mars Hill Church disses both the 99% and the 1% and points to the fund that they claim does not exist! | Musings from under the bus.

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