Mars Hill Church thanks Rob Smith for partnering with them in the gospel in 2014

working together

Mars Hill Church just said “Thank You” for all that I had done for the kingdom of God during the year. This at the same time that they refuse to meet with me.

The letter thanking me was accompanied by my giving receipt for the year. I faithfully gave to Mars Hill Church every week that I attended between Mark Driscoll’s resignation and the decision to dissolve the church (two weeks).

In the letter, which suggests that we can “celebrate 2014 as an incredible year” and says that my gift has helped “sown a great harvest.”

The letter outlines some of what I and other donors paid for in 2014. Here are some of the items:

5 Mars Hill Churches were launched/planted in January of 2104.

5 sermon series were taught from the Bible.

67 evangelists were supported in Ethiopia.

33 church planters were supported in India.

11 independent churches planted in January 2015 (the remaining campuses).

Looking at that summary, the largest number is those who received the least amount of money: the Ethiopian evangelists and Indian church planters. The costs of supporting these 100 evangelists and church planters was about 5% of the deceptively promoted Global Fund, and far less than one half of 1% of the budget of the church.

Missing from the cheerfully worded letter was what happened to the $3 million raised for the Jesus Festival, and answers to questions that I and others have asked about the amount of our donations that paid for massive severance packages for the three Executive Elders, and, who now owns all the intellectual property paid for by my and other donors’ money.

Also glaringly missing was any attempt to take responsibility for the deep systemic abuse that led Paul Tripp to resign his position as Board Director and refer to Mars Hill Church as the most abusive that he had ever worked with.

Also missing was any attempt to reach out to those who were abused, including any comment regarding the still-in-effect shunning order against Paul Petry. To their shame, the leaders of Mars Hill Church want to shut down all operations while still leaving the Paul Petry shunning orders in place, and not retracting their official defamatory statements about him and Bent Meyer.

We may never get answers to our questions regarding the finances, and we may never see justice done for Paul Petry, but seeing that my questions throughout 2014 have been so warmly recognized as being a part of building Christ’s kingdom, I shall keep asking that we see full transparency and a redress of the grievances of so many of us donors and members.

Mars Hill Thanks Rob

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ECFA President Dan Busby warns bloggers that making comments angers God.

Angry God

After Mars Hill Church members turned to the internet having exhausted all other attempts to dialog with Mars Hill Church leadership, and after Paul Tripp characterized Mars Hill Church as the “most abusive and coercive church” he had every worked with, and after numerous elders filed charges against Mark Driscoll and called for financial transparency (all in vain), guess what the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability was doing?

ECFA was warning that those who criticize the church will anger God.

According to Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), blogging about your local church prevents people from getting to see God.

There is a new wild card today. Until recently, churches did not have to contend with hate websites, scathing blog posts, nasty comments on reader forums, online petitions, or spoof social media accounts. All such attacks on churches and their leaders may be based on scanty facts and occur using code names to hide true identities.

Churches are often left without any positive way to respond to incorrect perceptions—especially in the blogosphere. Attackers generally say they want more transparency, but the more information a church provides, the more it is attacked. This is as close to an unresolvable grievance in God’s work as I can imagine.

Those who make derogatory comments about churches and their leaders apparently haven’t learned what it means to anger God. Want to anger God? Get in the way of people who want to see Him. Want to anger God?”  Link

So while former elders of the church call for financial transparency, ECFA pulls out the “God will be angry at you bloggers” card. To the last day of the existence of Mars Hill Church, ECFA continued to certify the church for its integrity, accountability and transparency while former members, elders, and donors were crying out for answers that were not forthcoming because of the church’s determination to avoid transparency – the very thing that ECFA assured donors they would get.

Dan Busby seems to suggest that all internet bloggers and commenters are haters filled with nasty comments. This even though his own comments were from someone’s blog. Busby gives no indication that bloggers and commenters may have good motives and have been perhaps calling for the type of accountability that ECFA is supposed to certify.

Some of the former members of Mars Hill Church have sought to have financial questions answered, but have been thwarted on every attempt. They have tried to meet in private, only to be rebuffed. They have appealed to ECFA via private letter and via petitions, only to be rebuffed. They have appealed using the internet, not only to be rebuffed, but now warned by Dan Busby that to do so will anger God. Watch out, you pesky bloggers, God will get you!

Sadly, the last resort is to appeal to the civil court. It appears that this is the only vehicle that is left hold the leaders of Mars Hill Church accountable – something that their ECFA certification assured its members and donors of.  Given the brazen lack of accountability that Mars Hill Church leaders have portrayed, one begins to wonder who ECFA is protecting, the donor, or the defiant leaders of Mars Hill Church?

It seems that Dan Busby has gone a long way toward holding bloggers accountable, putting a heavy burden on their backs while failing to hold churches that are not transparent and who abuse their members and donors accountable. Will ECFA slowly lose its credibility, accountability and transparency in the process?

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Marching in step with their abusive leadership, the pastors of the 11 Mars Hill Church campus replants remain silent.

marching in step

Jon Krombein, who was an elder at Mars Hill Church for almost eight years, made an impassioned appeal to the remaining lead pastors of the eleven campuses to speak out and call for the release of information that so many ex-members and donors want to see.

These pastors simply refuse to walk in the light.

We need mediation to get the truth. An anonymous donor will match your contribution to help pay for mediation.

Jon Krombein’s challenge went out to Pastors Dave Bruskas, David Fairchild, Ed Choi, Tim Smith, Ryan Williams, Matthias Heusel, Aaron Gray, Bubba Jennings, AJ Hamilton, Matt Rogers, Jason Skelton, Scott Harris, and Seth Winterhalter.

He said that these men know more than they are saying, and that they knew Mars Hill Church had “cooked the books,” yet they remained silent. He implored them to speak openly to avoid their culpability in these matters from hanging over their future ministries.

Jon Krombein’s call was simply ignored.

These pastors are telling their “new” churches, made up of the same members of Mars Hill Church, meeting in the same buildings with the same donor money “seeding” each location for the next three months, and the same leadership (except for Bellevue), that they will not reflect the same bad DNA that brought Mars Hill Church to its knees.

But sadly these men are behaving in the same way that the Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church have behaved. They simply will not answer the questions that us former members and donors have asked. They will not meet. They will not walk in the light.

This behavior was a part of what led to Mars Hill Church being recognized as the most abusive church in recent church history. Yet despite witnessing the results of such behavior, these pastors seem to acting the same way. They have disregarded Jon Krombein’s appeal, just as they refuse to speak to those of us seeking to have our grievances mitigated.

One of those pastors, while completely ignoring Jon Krombein’s appeal, said this last Sunday that he is struggling to see how he and his fellow elders have been complicit in the pattern of sin in the leadership at Mars Hill Church. He seems to not be able to connect the dots, or he is not being honest.

Former donors and members are calling Mars Hill Church executives to come to the table of mediation. This is the Matthew 18 mandate. I urge each reader to consider supporting the costs of such mediation.

If the executives will not come to the table, it would seem to serve the cause of justice and truth to pursue the matter in civil court. If indeed they have “cooked the books” the donors and members have a right to know.

Please support the effort to get these answers. After all, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with on another.” — 1 John 1:7

Mediation will cost us at least $20,000. If mediation is refused, a civil RICO lawsuit that will expose the “cooking of the books” will cost a lot more. Your help will enable these costs to be covered.

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So did Mars Hill Church resign from Mark Driscoll?

Who resigned

After Mark Driscoll resigned, we were all surprised that the church announced it was closing its doors, and that the surviving campuses would either close or continue as new independent churches. The one stipulation was that they could not be called “Mars Hill Church.”

It now appears that the brand “Mars Hill Church” and the intangible assets went with Mark Driscoll. After the rewriting of the bylaws, when the 22 elders voted away their ability to hold the senior leadership accountable, all the intangible assets of Mars Hill Church appear to have gradually ended up in Mark Driscoll’s hands.

So who resigned from what? We all thought that Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill Church. It now appears that the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability resigned from Mark Driscoll.

Will the Mars Hill Church donors, members, and ex-members ever get the transparent truth? Please support the Mediation Fund that has been set up to this end.

“I am Spartacus!” Let us stand together to end the Mars Hill Church abuse redemptively.

Sparticus 1

In a pivotal moment in the movie Spartacus, all the slaves stood up one by one, and each declared that they were Spartacus.  It is time for members, ex-members and donors of Mars Hill Church to rise and call for a just and righteous dissolution of the church.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8h_v_our_Q

We need to band together for one last time! Please support the legal fund effort to cover upcoming legal fees that will be incurred in an attempt to prevent Mars Hill Church in its determination to rush to dissolve and disburse its assets without justly addressing the many grievances expressed and the massive call for transparency.

A week after the leader of the “most abusive and coercive church” that former Board member Paul Tripp “had ever worked with,” declared that he could not reconcile with people who have been hurt because they “remain anonymous.” on a beautiful sunny August 3, 2014, former members of Mars Hill Church stood up to say,We are not anonymous!”

Had there been a single voice, the protest would have had no effect. Because of the many voices, the abuse Paul Tripp referenced has been exposed and Mark Driscoll has resigned in an apparent effort to avoid the proposed verdict of the Board of Elders.

The current Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) have decided to dissolve the corporation called Mars Hill Church, sell all of its assets (of which the net value is over $20million), and whatever is left after dissolution will be given to the campuses that will survive the crash and continue as “new” churches – none of which are allowed to be branded “Mars Hill Church” in any way.

The dissolution date is set for December 31, 2014.

In planning to end the church, the BOAA has shown no inclination to take action to correct many of the wrongs that members, ex-members, and donors have called to be addressed.

This includes

  • Disclosing to donors exactly how the Global Fund monies raised were spent.
  • Full disclosure of the compensation for Executive Elders.
  • Ending the shunning of Paul Petry and his family.
  • Acknowledging the shunning and the emotional and psychological mistreatment of hundreds of families.
  • Being transparent about the current liquidation of assets.
  • Expressing repentance and providing restitution to the many harmed members and ex-members of the church.
  • Fully investigating and being transparent about the use of church assets and money to inure its own lead pastor and possibly other executives.

Should the church dissolve without addressing these and other issues, the many who have been harmed will have unresolved wounding and harm for many years to come. It is repentance and restitution that brings healing, not burying the truth by dissolving and running.

The countless efforts to encourage the BOAA to respond to the grievances of its members, former members, and donors continue to be ignored. Even most of the current elders of the church have no idea what is happening, especially as millions of dollars is created  and dissipated through the selling of church assets.

Members of the BOAA who have stood by and have been accused by sitting elders of the church for being deceptive, are now dividing the spoils of the church that crumbled under their corrupt and incompetent watch. It is time for good and godly men and women to stand up and say with me with loud voice:

I AM SPARTACUS ! 

We will do this together as we go to the only venue that the BOAA cannot ignore, the civil court. Please consider standing up and supporting the legal costs that will be incurred. The GoFundMe fund has been created to cover these costs.

Our prayer and hope is that the leadership of Mars Hill Church will come to the table and settle matters as members of the body of Christ. Despite the overwhelming body of evidence supporting Paul Tripp’s claim of abuse, the loud call for redress of grievances, and constant plea for financial transparency, they have not allowed any form of reasonable discourse to occur.

Thank God that we live in a country where the civil courts create a just and civil environment where all the facts are laid out in the open through the discovery process, and an independent jury, made up of peers of the church, are able to see the truth and render a binding decision.

If this is the only way to obtain transparency and closure, then the process will be of great value and bring healing to many. If the BOAA remains defiant and non-repentant, the process will bring rebuke.

Please pray that the better path to reconciliation and repentance is chosen in the last days of the church. Please consider supporting the effort to see this happen.

Let us stand together.

Sparticus 2

By their leaders’ own words, Bellevue Church is simply Mars Hill Church continued…

Lipstick on a pig

In announcing the formation of Bellevue Church, Matt Rogers (who sat on the board that did not want Mark Driscoll to resign and deems him to be qualified for ministry) said the following:

“This Bellevue church is known around the world for the way you have served and loved one another and the broader church of Jesus Christ.”

So, world, this is the same church.

Other than the fact that Mark Driscoll has resigned, what has changed?

We will know what will change by what has been confessed and corrected. Other than an “unhealthy culture” there has been almost nothing confessed and no transparency forthcoming.

The dissolution of Mars Hill Church means that Bellevue Church has no need to answer questions that its own members and donors have. As Matt Rogers said, “We are establishing a new 501c3 corporate entity, creating new bylaws, selecting a new name, establishing a new structure and setting up new financial accounts.”

Bellevue Church is moving forward with the only two active members of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability (Matt Rogers and Dave Bruskas) and the only remaining Executive Elder (Dave Bruskas). These men are the only elders who have the answers to the many questions being asked by us donors or members.

Rather than answer the demand for transparency, their choice is to dissolve Mars Hill Church in an apparent attempt to permanently bury the truth, and then merely continue the same church with a different name.

So the many questions that still trouble donors or members are not likely to come from these leaders of Mars Hill Church/Bellevue Church. These questions are well articulated by the best source of telling the truth emerging from the dark bowels of the Mars Hill Church inner leadership sanctum, Dr. Warren Throckmorton. He has outlined the questions that hound Mars Hill Church and will hound Bellevue Church and its leadership as they continue to fail to provide transparent answers.

  • Question: How exactly was the Global Fund money spent? Over $10 million was raised. Where is that money?
  • Question: What were the salaries, compensation and severance package deals made for Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner?
  • Request for transparency: Release the Driscoll Investigation Report.
  • Request for transparency: Release the many ex-elders and ex-employees that signed onerous NDAs.
  • Questions about Paul Petry and Bent Meyer: Now that 18 witnesses to the firings and trial of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry, and the removal of eldership and shunning of Paul Petry, have profoundly born testimony and established the violent sins of the church against these men:
    —–        When will they be exonerated and restitution be made?
    —–        How will this testimony impact the sinful actions of A.J. Hamilton, Tim Smith and Bubba Jennings, all elders in good standing at Mars Hill Church?
  • Question: How will either Mars Hill Church or Bellevue Church process the charges of deception leveled by Mars Hill Church elders against Michael van Skaik and the other members of the Board of Advisors and Accountability?
  • Question: What charges will be brought against Dave Bruskas for his role in the various scandals that have humiliated Mars Hill Church?
  • Question: Matt Rogers has said that those who have accused Mark Driscoll (such as those that participated in the August 3rd protest) were slanderers. Will Mars Hill Church or Bellevue Church call for Matt Rogers to clearly explain his accusation of slander? Who were the slanderers, and what was the nature of their slander?

Or are the new leaders of Bellevue Church, who are the current leaders of Mars Hill Church, hope that all these questions disappear with the so-called dissolution of Mars Hill Church?

Mars Hill Church leadership – giving members the finger to the very end.

giving members the finger

In a telling move, the final acts of the leaders left at the now defunct church have echoed Mark Driscoll’s words to his own elders and basically told members and donors that they simply “do not give a sh-t.”

After watching a lack of accountability and transparency bring Mars Hill Church to its knees, the leaders have decided to dissolve the church.  This decision was done without any consultation or input from the thousands of members and donors who have been implored to continue giving to keep Mars Hill Church going.

As was the case with Mark Driscoll and the way he and his executive elders ran the church, the members and donors have no say whatsoever.

Members and donors have been calling for an exoneration of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, whose firings and the subsequent bylaws change in 2007 led to the current debacle at Mars Hill Church.

Members and donors have been calling for accountability and answers regarding several financial scandals, including full disclosure of where the Global Fund money went, and exactly how much personal inurement did Mark Driscoll get from the his activities at the church, and what were the salaries of the executive elders of the church.

In its place, the pleas of members and donors are disregarded and the decision to dissolve the church that many thousands of us gave years of our money and effort to build is made without any attempt to reach out to us.

Even more stunning, is that despite totally disregarding the input of members and donors in the decision to dissolve Mars Hill Church, and in the face of a willful stubbornness to continue to operate in the dark, Dave Bruskas asks members to continue to give to Mars Hill Church.

Is he serious?

Why any member or donor would give another cent to Mars Hill Church after such a mule-headed display of utter disregard of both its members and donors is beyond me.

The Mars Hill Global Fund. Surely it would be easier just to tell the truth?

Whiplash 2

Wow, it seems that every explanation that we get from Mars Hill Church to clarify the Global Fund just raises more questions.

Perhaps the current members of Mars Hill Church as well as the ECFA have got the story figured out in their heads, but for the rest of us who no longer have an emotional stake in keeping up the façade, the stories are getting more and more confusing and contradictory. The spin is almost laughable.

At least Mars Hill Church admitted that New York Times Bestseller List deception was wrong. Yes it took three attempts to say so, and yes, we still do not have sufficient transparency to believe that Mark Driscoll did not personally profit from the infamous misuse of $210,000 of church funds to purchase his book at retail price in a way that deceived the New York Times bestsellers list into believing that the book was a best seller.

But at least in the third attempt to explain it to the church Mark Drsicoll admitted that it was wrong.  Once Driscoll came out and stated that it was wrong the matter settled down and we found it in our heart to accept the painful truth.

He was sorry, and the church no longer had to spin various stories to make the actions acceptable or excusable. The moral wrongness of what was done certainly has long-term consequences, but at least the story from Mars Hill Church finally matched the obvious facts, and true confession was heard and accepted by all.

It was simply wrong, and everyone was relieved when Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church finally, after two attempts to say otherwise, admitted the sin.

But with the Global Fund, it seems that Mars Hill Church is determined to keep re-spinning and explaining the truth in an endless volume of contradictory statements.

The more they say, the more obvious it is that they are trying as hard as they can to run from what seemes like an elaborate and obvious deception of donors. The facts seem to point to a deliberate attempt to deceive both members and non-members into believing that they were donating to supporting missionaries and church planters in Ethiopia, India and other foreign missions.

The deceptive strategy is clearly laid out in the leaked memo that appears to have set the ground rules for the “sleeping giant” of income sources – Mars Hill Global (link).

The strategy was simple. Attract people who want to support foreign missions, and lead them to believe that their money was supporting foreign missions by funding a few missionaries and benevolence projects. The token amount was to be kept from the public and would be about $10k per month.

“of the money that comes into the Global Fund, designate a fixed percentage for highly visible, marketable projects such as mission trips, orphan care, support for pastors and missionaries in the third world, etc… This percentage should be flexible (not a tithe), and not communicated to the public.

The Global Fund could be beneficial in a number of ways, besides the obvious gain of increased funding:
For a relatively low cost (e,g, $10K/month), supporting a few missionaries and benevolence projects would serve to deflect criticism , increase goodwill….”

We know that this was followed through and the Global Fund was pitched by Mark Driscoll to church members (link) and to potential online listeners. We also know that 6,000 donors gave to the fund (link) .

We also know that over $10m was raised, and that a preponderance of the money was put into the general fund for local church use and not international or benevolence projects. The 2013 audited financial statements show the amount in that year was $233,000, which included Mars Hill Church’s reduced commitment to Acts 29 (link). That number represents a mere pittance of the over $3m raised in the same fiscal year for the Global Fund.

Then comes Mars Hill Church telling us that the Global Fund, into which they admit 6,000 members and no-members gave money, is not and never was a “fund”, but was in fact merely non-member global donors. This despite the fact that local members were repeatedly urged by Mark Driscoll to support the fund (Mars Hill Church tried to remove the videos of Mark Driscoll asking the congregation to give to the Global Fund in addition to their tithes to the church) and that one could give to the fund online in a designated area (link).

Lets say that again. Mars Hill Church admitted that over 6,000 people gave over $10m to the Global Fund, which they then say never was a fund (link). It was just global donors giving to the general fund (link) despite repeated appeals to members to give to the fund, which is is not and never was a fund.

Huh?

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Then comes Mars Hill Everett in June of 2014 thanking the Global Fund for helping them buy their building (link).  Wait a minute, we are being told the Fund does not exist, but for some reason, a year after the the building was acquired, the Fund is being thanked right after the Global Fund scandal broke? Yet the Fund, we are led to believe, does not exist.

And we are told that over $10m dollars was donated to the Fund that doesn’t exist, and a preponderance of the non-existent Fund was spent locally through the General Fund.

Along comes Mars Hill Tacoma in August 2014, also hastening to the quieten the criticism of where the Global Fund monies went. They do not thank the General Fund into which Justin Dean, spokesman for Mars Hill Church, says all the Global Fund donors’ money went, but the Global Fund, which supposedly does not exist (link).

These campuses are thanking a Fund that Justin Dean says does not exist.

This is getting exhausting.   SURELY IT WOULD BE SIMPLER TO JUST TELL THE TRUTH?

Can the Mars Hill Church senior leadership not learn from Mark Driscoll’s eventual confession of sinfully misusing church funds to deceive the New York Times bestseller lists? He finally said he was sorry and that it would not happen again. He asked that the designation “NYT Bestselling Author” not be used in reference to himself, and he demonstrated a contrite heart.

Justin Dean, please end the agonizing spin and contradicting statements, and admit that the strategy to raise millions of dollars exploiting poor Africans and Indians while only directing thousands of millions of dollars raised was wrong. It was sinful. It needs to be repented of.

Only then can the story begin to go away and forgiveness and a redemptive way forward be found.

A change.org appeal to the ECFA to remove its approval of Mars Hill Church.

GlobaL Fund 3

Join this Change.org petition to ECFA.

WE APPEAL TO THE ECFA to suspend its approval of the Financial Accountability and Transparency of Mars Hill Church.

Despite scandal after scandal, and repeated calls from Mars Hill elders, ex-elders, members and ex-members for transparency, Mars Hill Church refuses to open its books to answer questions raised by both members and donors.

Recently it seems that every month more evidence of financial deception is revealed, yet the ECFA continues to certify to donors that Mars Hill Church has met the ECFA requirements of transparency and accountability.

IN THE LIGHT OF of the calculated deception revealed in the appeal for donors to give to the Mars Hill Global Fund, renamed Mars Hill Global, and more recently Mars Hill Go, the fact that donors gave over $10 million for purposes that were deceptively pitched, leading donors to believe that the monies would be spent on oversees missions, especially in Ethiopia and India,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF the admission by Mars Hill Church that the preponderance of the money raised was simply added to the General Fund and used in the US,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF the memo where Mars Hill Church senior leadership laid out the intent and methodology to deceive donors, a memo with clear instruction to be vague about the exact amount of monies that were going to foreign missions, and clearly laying out that the amount needed to be merely a token amount not to exceed a relatively small amount in relation to the total monies projected to be raised (less than 5%) so as to deceive donors and potential member churches or placate critics,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF over 50 former elders calling for the leadership of Mars Hill Church to repent of failing to be transparent in its financial dealings,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF the dishonest and changing statements of Mars Hill Church regarding the Global Fund, impacting 6,000 donors, and regarding use of $210,000 of donor money to purchase 11,000 copies of Mark Driscoll’s book “Real Marriage” at retail price to deceptively manipulate the New York Times Bestseller list into believing that the book was in fact a bestseller,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF many other scandals, including the rumored exorbitant salaries of the senior leadership of Mars Hill Church, a million-dollar home being paid for in cash, substantial remodeling of the home being paid for in cash, and other scandals that keep circulating due to the lack of financial transparency and accountability,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF the massive turnover of elders, including over 60 in the last 24 months, as well as the resignation of Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) member Paul Tripp, who called Mars Hill Church “the most abusive and coercive church” he has “ever worked with”, along with the resignation of James MacDonald from the BOAA,

AND IN THE LIGHT OF 30 elders filing formal charges against Mark Driscoll along with an additional 21 elders willing to testify to corroborate those charges,

WE THEREFORE APPEAL TO THE ECFA to suspend its approval of the Financial Accountability and Transparency of Mars Hill Church.

Where is the credibility of ECFA?

 

no credibility

Will the ECFA* have any credibility left after staunchly standing by Mars Hill Church?

What are open and transparent ministries that pay the ECFA for its stamp of approval thinking as they see the ECFA continue to declare to donors that Mars Hill Church meets the transparency and accountability standards that ECFA supposedly requires?

What sort of financial scandal has to become public before the ECFA decides that it will no longer give its once esteemed stamp of approval to Mars Hill Church?

How is it possible that the Mars Hill Global Fund deception has been clear and obvious to many church members, ex-members, news reporters and bloggers, yet not to the ECFA? This includes the hasty repackaging of the Global Fund by MH leadership stating that the Global Fund was never a fund that was intended to fund overseas mission work in places like Ethiopia and India, but rather a fund that could be used for any purpose that the top leadership at Mars Hill Church desires, including the general fund.

The recently leaked memo about the Global Fund confirms the intent to deceive and withhold information from donors. Subsequent supportive figures and statements from the church demonstrate that church leaders intended to raise monies using the sympathetic African backdrop implying where the money would go – yet spent it locally, not on overseas missions as implied. It begs the question: is this sort of blatant deception and “cooking of books” enough for the ECFA to realize that its stamp of approval should be removed?

The 2012 and 2013 financial statements and the open admission by church leadership confirm that a preponderance of the money raised was spent in the US for local expenditures. The memo confirms the blatant intent to deceive donors. The memo reveals a calculated scheme by church leadership to “pull the wool over the eyes” of donors, as well as other churches considering joining the Mars Hill franchise, by using a trifling percentage of funds raised to be spent on the appearance of supporting overseas mission work.

The memo proposed limiting the amount earmarked for overseas missions to about $10k per month to buy the silence of critics (which is a pittance, a mere five percent or less of what was raised), and then using the lion’s share of the funds for whatever domestic spending church leadership desires – in effect co-mingling the Global Fund with the general fund to pay for salaries, real estate acquisition, etc. Yet the ECFA stands by its approval of Mars Hill Church.

In the light of this latest revelation of financial shenanigans at Mars Hill Church, will the ECFA choose to keep its stamp of blessing on the church, like it did despite knowing of the deception by church leadership using $210,000 of church funds to hire a company to “game” the system and buy books in a manner intended to deceive the New York Times bestseller list?  And, as that deception worked, deceive the public that Mark Driscoll was in fact an author that deserved to be listed among that elite number?

Add to that the plagiarism found in several of Mark Driscoll’s books, which of course is deceiving readers that the uncited work was the work of the author. And add to that the refusal to open up the books of the church to members, thus keeping hidden the allegedly exorbitant compensation packages of the Executive Elders or the exact amount of the overseas mission expenditures of the Global Fund.

The so-called Global Fund raised over $10million. Repeated pleas to donors were made via 20 or more videos utilizing backdrops of impoverished Ethiopian villages.  Church members were repeatedly solicited both online and from the pulpit to give over and above their tithes to help build churches globally. When it was discovered that hardly any of the money actually was spent on overseas missions, Mars Hill leaders came back saying the fund was actually “international givers” as opposed to an international fund.  

Then came the hasty removal of the Global Fund videos showing Mark Driscoll asking members in Seattle to give to the fund in addition to their normal giving, as well as videos showing executive elder, Sutton Turner, standing in front of a thatched hut in Ethiopia soliciting viewers for donations to the Global Fund.

Such blatant deception.

Such calculated exploitation of poor Africans.

Such intentional suckering of donors.

Yet the ECFA still creates the deceptive illusion that there is transparency and accountability of the finances at Mars Hill Church by putting the ECFA stamp of approval on the organization. If Mars Hill Church qualifies for ECFA approval, then ECFA approval is meaningless. Every church which bears the ECFA stamp of approval becomes suspect of financial shenanigans.

What does the ECFA stand for these days? Surely their approval is losing its value. Every organization that pays its annual dues to the ECFA should start wondering if those days are numbered. If Mars Hill Church is still being approved by the ECFA, what does this tell donors who have been trusting the ECFA as they ponder where and how to be good stewards of their giving?

* Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)