Yesterday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and World magazine posted articles about Mars Hill Church. To me, the articles do not seem to be about the same church.
The Seattle PI piece addressed the newest development among former Mars Hill Church members and leaders: the Facebook group which alerts the public that many ex-Mars Hill members are not and have not been anonymous in their complaints about the church. Mark Driscoll claimed in a speech to the church just over a week ago that leaders at the church could not reconcile with ex-members because they were anonymous. The Facebook group now has over 260 member and features many very visible ex-members and their stories.
The World article painted a much nicer picture of the church, failing to include voices of ex-members or evidence to counter the favorable comments of Mars Hill Public Relation deacon, Justin Dean, or the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability which apparently is not going to require adherence to the organization’s guidelines. Surprising to me was the lack of challenge from World to this explanation of Mars Hill Global from the church:
However, it is difficult to determine where the money went, though it is now clear some of the money went not to international efforts but to domestic church plants, including some in the Seattle area. When WORLD asked via email for an itemized accounting of those funds, Dean wrote, “Since donations given by the Mars Hill Global family were never intended to be designated solely for international efforts, we don’t provide an itemized accounting of those funds.”
“Some of the money”? The church has already admitted that the preponderance of donations when to domestic church plants. Justin Dean’s statement is a dodge of World’s question which went unchallenged. There is plenty of evidence that Mars Hill created a Global Fund in 2012. Members and pastors of the church alike were under the impression those donations were being solicited for international missions. In spite of all the evidence that after 2012 the Global Fund was pitched as a ministry of Mars Hill Church to support international missions (not a group of non-members), Mars Hill spun the situation with no challenge from World. There was no mention of the fact that Mars Hill has issued two takedown orders to You Tube to keep video evidence about Mars Hill Global out of the public view.
At last, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability speaks. However, even this group ignores the clear evidence. Worse yet, apparently ECFA will not require the church to reveal how much they spent on international missions and how much was spent on domestic efforts.
Finally, I have no problem with the interviews of current pastors at Mars Hill, but to then give ex-pastor Dave Kraft only a brief blurb at the end was not nearly enough to report on the level of distress and conflict there is currently among former members (Mars Hill in exile). Usually World is more balanced and demonstrates a better ability to investigate the crux of a matter. I hope World will revisit this issue and report on the extraordinary distress that is taking place daily among those who want to see reform at the Seattle megachurch.