Mars Hill Military Mission and Mars Hill Global: When Two Became One

When the two became one account, that is.
As Mars Hill Church winds down, I am looking back through my notes and materials to see what other information might be relevant to the big picture. One part of the Mars Hill story that I haven’t spent much time looking at is the Mars Hill Military Mission. I did some research on it months ago but didn’t write about it. However, writing about Global earlier today reminded me of a connection between Mars Hill Global and the Military Mission. The Military Mission was folded into Mars Hill Global in early 2012. Up to that time, people were giving specifically so Mars Hill books and resources could be shipped to service members. Mark Driscoll A Mars Hill staffer* discussed the combination of the Military Mission into what was called “Global Ministries” in a now deleted update on the Mars Hill website.
However, the amazing Wenatchee the Hatchet has a snippet of that deleted update where Mark Driscoll a Mars Hill staffer* talks about the combination of the Military Mission with Global ministries. Here it is:

… Because of the enormous growth of this ministry, we are needing to make some changes that will allow us to keep up with the great number of orders that are flowing in. The Military Mission will now become part of our new Global Ministries department. Because distribution is a large part of what Mars Hill Military Mission does, this strategic move will allow us to send out more resources at a quicker, less expensive, and more efficient rate. We have also combined Global Ministries and Military Mission’s financial contributions to one account. This will not only simplify our accounting processes but it will enable our ministries to have more of a global impact. Those of you who are currently giving specifically to the Military Mission might ask “Will my donations still be funding the Military Mission?” Our answer would be, “Yes—and then some.”

The date on this update is April 14, 2012. The church revealed that donors at one time gave specifically to the Military Mission. It was then disclosed that the donations would go to the new department with a “global impact.” Would the donations to the reconfigured Global Fund fund military missions? “Yes–and then some,” the update said. However, the Military Mission eventually went away in favor of an emphasis on branding Mars Hill Global as international missions work.
While this action was taken before Mars Hill Church became accredited by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, the decision by the church to mix donations designation for military and missions use may not have been proper or in keeping with ECFA guidelines. Donor intent is supposed to guide non-profit spending. If donations were made to provide resources to the military but were then combined into a fund that the church is now saying went mostly to funding U.S. expansion of video locations, then those donations may not have been spent as intended.
Another take away from the Mars Hill update is that the Global ministries had its own account. Earlier today, I presented evidence which seems to confirm that. However, the official position of the church is that the Global Fund wasn’t considered a fund beginning in 2012. Clearly, Driscoll the staffer* said the two mission activities would be combined to one account.
Demise of the Military Mission
The Military Mission was the subject of some negative attention from Sutton Turner in his March 2012 middle of the night memo to Driscoll and Dave Bruskas were he told his fellow executive elders that the church was in a “big mess.” In a long list of financially unsustainable activities, Turner said:

16. Having ministries like Film and Theology and Military Missions is not sustainable.

Eventually, as the Mars Hill update said, the Military mission was folded into Global.
In a Spring 2012 memo about combining the Military Mission into the Global brand, the value of the military work was questioned:
Without the photos and stories, apparently the return on investment (ROI) just wasn’t enough for Mars Hill leaders. In time, they agreed with Turner that the Military Mission was not sustainable. The focus on the military waned once Mars Hill Global went into full swing.
As it turned out making a church into a business was not sustainable.
*The post originally said that Mark Driscoll authored the update about the Military Mission. However, Wenatchee the Hatchet informed me that a Mars Hill staffer authored the post. At the request of the staffer, the name is being withheld. However, the information was on the Mars Hill website as the position of the church.