In the face of financial concerns, Seattle mega church Mars Hill Church has laid off staff and stepped up efforts to collect donations as the end of the fiscal year passed yesterday. According to ex-staff and sources inside Mars Hill church, on June 20, nine staff were let go amid concern about a sudden “budget crunch” from the church’s executive elders.
Mars Hill wrote about the action yesterday in their weekly communication to members:
Last week we had to make the very tough decision to transition a number of people off of staff from our ministry support departments, as well as some staff at a few of our local churches. These are all faithful people who served and worked hard for the church, and we regret that we had to make these changes. If you know any of them, please reach out to offer your prayers and support during this transition, and please continue to pray for the church as we navigate through a tough season.
At this week’s Staff Chapel, we had the opportunity to invite these friends back so that we could honor them and pray over them. It was a meaningful time of worship and reflection as a church family. We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to show these staff members how deeply we care about them and appreciate the contribution they have made toward Jesus’ mission at Mars Hill. While they may no longer be on staff, we love them and they are still a part of our church family.
One staff who was laid off told me that the budget crunch caught the executive elders by surprise and was related to a dramatic decline in attendance and giving.
A current member told me that he received 5 solicitations within the space of three days requesting year end donations. Ex-members and those who have not attended in many years have also received multiple requests for gifts to assist the church raise giving levels. Internal documents supplied to me showed that per member giving was down at all but one of the 15 Mars Hill campus locations.
In one solicitation, executive pastor Sutton Turner said about the church’s situation, “We are ending our fiscal year at one of the most trying times for our church in recent memory.”
Meanwhile, Mars Hill leaders continue to be under pressure over their use of moneys designated the Global Fund over the last two years. A petition at change.org calling for Mars Hill to disclose how much of the Global Fund was spent on international missions has now reached 342 signatures.