At Musings from Under the Bus this morning, Rob Smith asks, “Where is the credibility of ECFA?” Also, Smith wonders:
One has to wonder what type of financial scandal has to become public before ECFA decides that it will no longer give its once esteemed stamp of approval to Mars Hill Church.
I wonder the same thing and have written about the benefit of ECFA to donors. I don’t see how there is much benefit when organizations can shield their activities from member and public scrutiny and still be accredited.
Smith refers to the Real Marriage scandal, plagiarism and the Global Fund as indicators of deception which have drawn little action from the ECFA. The organization has commented helpfully on the use of Result Source to buy one’s way onto various bestseller lists. However, the organization has been mostly silent on the Global Fund. What we have learned about the ECFA is that they remain silent in the face of violations. Instead of alerting donors that an organization has been in violation or was once in violation (as they used to do), ECFA now works behind the scenes out of sight of donors. Mars Hill Church has made significant changes to their Mars Hill Global brand (most recently rebranding it to Mars Hill Go) since I started reporting on Mars Hill Global and the Global Fund, but the church’s explanations still do not represent what actually happened in the past. Due to the ongoing stealth at Mars Hill and silence from the ECFA, there is no certainty that Mars Hill is in compliance with the ECFA standards.
If Mars Hill Church has truly conformed to ECFA guidelines, then that would be a good step toward repairing the damage to Mars Hill’s credibility. However, how can anyone know if the ECFA and the church keep it all secret?
For the sake of potential donors and other organizations looking for guidance, the ECFA should be transparent about their investigations into potential violations of their standards. Who would benefit from such transparency? Donors, of course. Who would not benefit? The answer to that question should tell us something about the value of ECFA accreditation.