Everyone has now seen the memo that Sutton Turner wrote to his fellow executive elders, whom we shall refer to as the big E’s on the org-chart. (link)
While Turner’s memo discloses many troubling issues, including a transparent look at what was actually happening behind the scenes versus what was reported to the church congregation and the public – which I am sure will be further analyzed in other and future blogs – the big E on the org-chart was missed.
Most noticeable is how Turner is very critical of employees who used church resources for their personal benefit. He is not critical, however, of the biggest E on the org-chart, Mark Driscoll, who used $220,000 of church monies to deceptively buy himself a spot on the New York Times bestseller list and used substantial church resources to promote his book, Real Marriage.
Turner repeatedly mentions the cash flow burden of promoting Real Marriage, but he mentions this because of the heavy cost to Mars Hill Church and not out of concern that the promotion of Driscoll’s book was wholesale use of church resources to personally benefit Mark Driscoll.
The Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) insisted that “all monies from the sale of Pastor Mark’s books at Mars Hill bookstores have always gone to the church and Pastor Mark did not profit from the Real Marriage books sold either at the church or through the Result Source marketing campaign.” (link)
Given the fact that the “Noble Nine” elders who called for Mark Driscoll to step down also accused the BOAA of being misleading (especially board chairman Michael van Skaik) (link) and of being non-transparent, one has to examine the BOAA’s statement very carefully.
The BOAA stated that “all monies from the sale of Pastor Marks’ books at Mars Hill Bookstores have always gone to the church…” The church bookstores? The bookstores are in each campus and of course the sale of those books would go to the campus. But the books bought by the Result Source contract were not sold through the Mars Hill bookstores. Furthermore, the books at the bookstore would have been purchased wholesale, and any royalties would be a part of the cost.
The royalties of the book actually go into various trusts. The BOAA did not say that trusts received the royalties from the sale of the books. What they said was that Mark Driscoll himself did not profit from books sold at the church or through the Real Marriage contract. According to the Noble Nine elders, the BOAA has proven to be less than transparent. The BOAA statement is technically correct because the trust, On Mission, LLC, got the royalties and not Mark Driscoll himself. (link)
Any Real Marriage book sales not through the Mars Hill bookstores or through the Real Marriage campaign would likely profit Mark Driscoll. Yet according to Sutton Turner’s memo, the church was bearing the heavy cost of promoting Driscoll’s book,Real Marriage, while the copyright is not in the church’s name and it is likely that Driscoll owns the intellectual property rights as well.
Mark Driscoll said “Mars Hill gets half of all the royalties…[of] the books that I publish.” (link)
So church resources being used for the personal benefit of the lead pastor – the big E on the org chart – is acceptable? But it is not acceptable for anyone else to use church resources for their personal benefit?