Just a bit ago, Mars Hill Church posted their financial audit and a blog post about various financial questions. Probably the most interesting post is the one which provides the church’s view of salaries and Global Fund. Here it is:
As questions have arisen this past year around executive compensation and what we have traditionally called ‘Global’ donations, we wanted to provide some additional financial clarity in these areas.
Ministry is done by people, and churches typically have the largest amount of their ministry expenses allocated to caring for staff. Mars Hill Church utilizes external salary surveys for large churches from two sources for determining it’s staff salaries, and an independent compensation study for our executives. Executive salaries also undergo a separate, additional independent third party review of appropriate salary setting procedures, accuracy and internal payroll controls.
As it says on our stewardship page, “the independent members of the Board of Advisors and Accountability set executive elders’ compensation. Additionally, an independent compensation study is done for our executive elders by an external accounting firm.”
Mars Hill Church has made many efforts over the years to provide accountability in the process of establishing salaries. There are also specific IRS and ECFA guidelines that have been in place and followed with regards to compensation for Pastor Mark Driscoll. These included an independent compensation study conducted on all three Executive Elders, updated every three years and reviewed by outside Board Members. None of the Executive Elders set their own salaries, and compensations were both informed and reviewed by outside entities. This effort was used to set compensation levels comparable to similar sized churches for congregational attendees and annual revenue of the church.
Mission at Mars Hill Church has always had both a local and global focus–believing that our mission is to serve our neighbors down the street as well as around the globe. This has equated to investments in local church plants across the U.S. and support for evangelists and churches in Ethiopia and India as well. Hundreds of thousands of people from over 230 different countries in the past year alone have participated in the ministry of Mars Hill Church through accessing content and listening to sermons online, and many of them have also provided financial support.
Initiation of “Global Fund” at Mars Hill. In 2009, Mars Hill Church began to use the term “Global Fund” to solicit gifts restricted for “capital development and expansion”. As communicated in the Global Newsletter on July 7, 2009, the Global Fund was used to raise resources for the following purposes: “start new Mars Hill campuses, plant new Acts 29 churches, and equip leaders at the Resurgence Training Center.” In the 2009-2011 time frame, over 80% of the funds given to the “Global Fund” went to Acts 29 church planting, with additional funds used for the Resurgence Training Center and church planting in India.
Mars Hill “Global Fund” 2012 and later. During this time period, Mars Hill Church changed its view of the Global Fund—not viewing the Global Fund as separate from the overall mission of the church of making disciples and planting churches. In the 2012 and later time frame, Mars Hill Church began reaching more givers through video bumpers before sermon podcasts, blog posts, and YouTube videos. Some of these ministry communications were totally about U.S. church planting, some were totally about Ethiopia, but most of these communications highlighted church planting in the U.S., Ethiopia, and India.
Communication sent by Mars Hill Church to donors to the “Global Fund.” To be abundantly clear about the use of gifts to the Global Fund subsequent to June 1, 2012, in early July 2014, Mars Hill Church sent approximately 6,000 letters and 3,765 emails to individuals who had made gifts as a global donor subsequent to June 1, 2012. In these communications, Mars Hill Church offered to redirect the donor’s gifts, made as a global donor during this time period, specifically for planting churches in Ethiopia or India. To date, 36 donors have responded to these communications, resulting in the redirection of approximately $40,000 of funds from Mars Hill Church’s charitable purpose to Ethiopia/India church planting.
We also created a new category for describing our international work under the title of Mars Hill Go. If you were a global donor who wished to redirect your gift please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can verify and allocate the appropriate amount of funds to our international church planting partners in Ethiopia and India.
Additionally, in 2015 we expect to make a final donation to Vision Nationals in India, and New Covenant Foundation in Ethiopia, prior to distributing net assets to the new independent churches, and some of the new local churches hope to continue the legacy of supporting these missions.
We are so thankful for everyone who has ever donated to Mars Hill Church and taken part in our mission to make disciples and plant churches in the name of Jesus Christ. Hundreds of thousands of people around the globe have been impacted by the message of the gospel because of your gifts and we pray the legacy continues as we move into the new year and see many new churches take root in their local communities.
The salary information is nothing new and they failed to actually address the issues often raised — how much money did you spend on Ethiopia and India? The verbiage about Global solicitations being about the U.S. and international expenses is just incredible. Remember BoAA, the videos have been preserved. Please in your next blog post, produce the videos that said the Global Fund was about giving money to churches in the U.S.
Churches can’t just change restricted funds to open funds without telling donors. Mars Hill continued to allow people to give to the Global Fund but without telling anyone that the money was just another gift to the general fund.