Mars Hill Church Methods: During a Difficult Season, Raise Funds

I think I know what the “big announcement” is going to be tomorrow.
Check out the letter below that was sent to prospective donors to the Mars Hill Church Ministry Center. This looks like the silent phase of a fund raising campaign. During the initial phase you go to big donors privately, let them in on the vision, ask their advice on marketing, and make a pitch for a gift. During this phase, organizations often hope to raise about half of what they want.
The executive elders announced the Northrup Way project to staff and elders in February as a $40 million project. The building has been leased by Mars Hill and it is being used now.
Could it be that tomorrow Mark Driscoll will announce the beginning of a campaign to buy 10700 Northrup Way in Bellevue?
According to Mars Hill Bellevue’s Facebook page, the atmosphere tomorrow will be festive with a bouncy house and food trucks. The party is billed as the launch of a series on I John with sermons by Driscoll planned until November. The atmosphere doesn’t seem like it will be conducive to a resignation or similar announcement. The letter below indicates that meetings with donors have been taking place during a pretty bleak time for Mars Hill. Apparently, the leaders are pressing ahead no matter what’s going on in the rest of the world.
The letter:
Obviously, I’m guessing on the announcement but, based on the letter above, the raising money during a difficult season strategy seems more certain. Even if Driscoll takes a break from ministry, I suspect he will provide an emergency plan for his executive elders to implement in his absence, this letter being part of that plan.
Stay tuned…

Mars Hill Church Leases Bellevue College Building; Does the Congregation Know?

On May 9, I posted a memo from Mars Hill executive pastor Sutton Turner about a plan to buy a former Bellevue College building at 10700 Northrup Way in Bellevue, WA.  Mars Hill central offices will need to move by 2015 to make way for development in Seattle and so they need a new home. Originally, the leadership of Mars Hill told their congregation that God wanted them to have a property which had been purchased by Sound Transit. The church even mounted a campaign to convince the owner that the church should be there. However, something went wrong somewhere because now the church has focused on the Bellevue Community College building in Bellevue.
Recently, I learned that the planned collaboration between Mars Hill Church and two Christian colleges is slated to begin this fall in the 10700 Northrup Way property. Sources tell me that the church did not raise the $40 million requested but instead has signed a lease to use the space needed for the educational partnership. In the Spring, 2014 issue of the Corban University alumni magazine the plan to partner with Mars Hill is presented.  On page 11, the picture below shows the Northrup Way property with a caption saying that Mars Hill purchased the building.

The statement that Mars Hill purchased the building is at odds with the information I am getting from inside the church. According to an analysis of rents in the Seattle area, my sources are correct. A Colliers International source says that Mars Hill leased the space.

A Mars Hill member recently told me that leadership is telling members that the church purchased the building. However, the information provided by other church sources is more consistent with the Colliers International analysis. One way or another, it appears that Mars Hill’s leadership was determined to get into the Northrup Way property. The bylaws allow the executive elders to make these moves without congregational approval. However, it is hard to understand the wisdom of making such significant move with tithes and offerings without at least informing the congregation. To be fair to MHC, perhaps the leadership has informed the people but my sources have not heard about it. I am certainly open to correction here.