Mark Driscoll's Recycling Ministry

This came in the mail:
Driscoll Set Free Book
This is a recycled version of the Set Free to Live Free Campaign financed by Mars Hill Church in 2013. Naturally, Driscoll kept his intellectual property but apparently he got all of the other materials produced by the church (study guide written by church staff) and purchased by the church from Docent Research (the 75,000 word academic research brief) as well. Note that the beneficiary of these donations is Mark Driscoll Ministries and not The Trinity Church.
Hey, recycling does lead to more green.

Read the Plan of Dissolution for Mars Hill Church

At the end of 2014, Mars Hill Church closed down. Several ends were loose as MHC ceased to hold services. Mark Driscoll had left the church but there was much curiosity about the report prepared by his elders which called on him to step down and enter a plan of restoration. That report was never released.
The status of the assets of MHC was also of interest to many members and ex-members. The plan was to distribute the remaining funds and proceeds from sales to 11 MHC video locations that became free standing churches. Nothing was explained to the public by remaining administrators Kerry Dodds and Caleb Walters.
Recently, I have obtained the plans of dissolution for MHC and the MHC Foundation for Planting Churches as filed with the Attorney General’s office. The latter was a trust on behalf of MHC and had $154,732 remaining in an account. After expenses, the proceeds of those funds went to an Indian mission, Visions Nationals, and the mission to Ethiopia, New Covenant Foundation. After these groups had been used to solicit funds for Mars Hill Global, it is nice to see them benefit.
Read the Dissolution Plan for Mars Hill Church Foundation for Planting Churches
Although no figures are given, the distribution of remaining assets owned by Mars Hill Church were given to the 11 churches according to their attendance and offerings. See the distribution percentages below:
MHC dist plan churches
Although the plan doesn’t specify the amount of money involved, the assets were distributed according to financial and attendance numbers.
Read the Dissolution Plan for Mars Hill Church
The church’s official date of dissolution was June 30, 2016:

Plan of Distribution. The Board hereby approves, authorizes, and consents to the voluntary dissolution of the Corporation, such dissolution to be effected in a reasonably expeditious manner but in no event later than June 30, 2016, and in accordance with the Plan set forth in this Agreement.

For Those Interested in Mars Hill Church History, Wenatchee the Hatchet Has Organized Some Links. A Former Elder's Wife Speaks Out

marshilleverettaskfundsFor Mars Hill history buffs, Wenatchee the Hatchet has done a service for you. Go check out his post with links tagged and organized topically.
Also, wife of a former elder Jen Smidt has spoken out about her experiences at Mars Hill. According to Jen, she once said something Sutton Turner didn’t like and the next day Turner rebuked her husband for it.
WtH has a lengthy account and analysis which I won’t try to compete with.
It occurred to me recently that a final accounting of Mars Hill was never made public. I assume the assets were sold and divided up between the legacy churches but no final reporting ever became public. Secrecy persisted until the end.
For all of my posts on Mars Hill Church and The Trinity Church see below:
Mars Hill Church
The Trinity Church (the post-Mars Hill church Mark Driscoll started in Phoenix)

#GivingTuesday: Donor Illusions

Although dated, I have found this 2009 article on donor illusions to be helpful.  The article was published on the blog of the Give Well organization, a donor support group. Give Well publishes a recommended charity list each year. Here is 2016’s list.
The Give Well description of donor illusions focuses on international charities but illusions can be found in domestic charities as well (e.g., today’s post on coats for pledges at K-LOVE).

As a result, international charities tend to create “donor illusions” by implying that donations can be attributed more tangibly, reliably and specifically than they really are. Some charities are more purposefully misleading than others, and some have more prominent and clear disclosures than others, but we feel that all of the cases below end up misleading many donors.

The illusions illustrated in the post include loans to third world entrepreneurs, child sponsorship, and giving livestock to needy families.
Livestock Gifts
I have written about these in previous years as being a good example of a compelling illusion. Donors can easily sell the idea of giving an animal to a third world family to Sunday school classes or church groups. The marketing certainly creates that illusion. Check out World Vision’s 2016 catalog.
WorldVision 2016 goat
Here is what World Vision says about the gifts in the new Christmas catalog.
world vision fine print 2016
In other words, your donation will be used where “it is needed most.”
Church Illusions
Other illusions I have covered include Mars Hill Church’s promotion of Ethiopian pastors via Mars Hill Global. In fact, most of the money donated to Mars Hill Global went to expand the Mars Hill Church video locations in the United States.
Gospel for Asia for years told donors that 100% of donations went to “the field.” The illusion was created that poor church planters and Asian children were getting most of the donations. However, we have since learned that Gospel for Asia’s Texas leadership sent millions to Believers’ Church in India, also controlled by GFA founder K.P. Yohannan to build state of the art for profit schools and medical centers. While a small percentage of the money went to evangelism and helping the poor, much of it went to projects designed to make Believers’ church self-sustaining and a large portion went to India and then back to Texas to help build GFA’s state of the art headquarters.
Today, I wrote about K-LOVE’s claim that a $40/month donation to K-LOVE provides a warm winter coat to a needy child. The only reason that claim might technically be true is because K-LOVE and Operation Warm set up an artificial scheme to tie coat distributions to pledges. K-LOVE holds captive coats from Operation Warm and tells prospective donors we will give a coat if you pledge. What K-LOVE doesn’t tell donors is that the coat will be given to a child anyway, pledge or no pledge.
Do Donors Want Illusions?
Tim Ogden at the Philanthropy Action blog says they do:

David Roodman pointed me to a typical reaction post to the Kiva story. In summary, the authors lament the lack of direct connection to a specific person they can give to and wonder why they can’t just dispense with the intermediaries.
I think the post is quite revelatory about why so many charities create the illusion of direct connection. They do so because donors demand it.
The demand for direct connection is baffling to me since most donors absolutely refuse direct connection to the people in need that are closest to them. Consider: how often do you or your friends take advantage of the opportunity to give directly and establish a connection by giving $20 to the guy standing at the corner with the cardboard sign saying, “Will Work for Food”?
I’ll bet the answer is “never.“ And there’s a very good reason for that. You believe that to actually help that person you should give the money to a knowledgeable intermediary like a homeless shelter that will do the research to understand this person’s situation, and ensure the money you give is actually used in a responsible way.
So if you would only give to an intermediary in order to help someone on the street outside your home, why do you want to do away with intermediaries between you and a person on the other side of the world whose circumstances you don’t understand at all?
I just don’t get it.
In the end I guess the donor demand really is for an illusion. They don’t just want connection—what they want is the illusion of connection where they can feel directly connected but not actually have to be directly connected—with all the messiness that such connections would entail—to people in need.

This somewhat cynical explanation for the persistence of illusions doesn’t quite fit for me. As I have learned that charities are using subterfuge to raise money, my reaction has been anger. I want the nuance. I want to know what they are doing with the money.
Guilt Illusions
I am sad and angry that K-LOVE artificially creates guilt in their listeners. I know people who agonize over how much to give to K-LOVE “to keep them on the air.” When K-LOVE’s well-paid on-air personalities top off their appeals with the promise that the $40/month will trigger a coat for a needy kid, that tips the scale toward a pledge, even though the family income really can’t absorb that level of giving. It should keep K-LOVE executives up at night that their Christian brothers and sisters are denying their children and themselves basics so that they can get a quarter of a million per year (the CEO made nearly $600,000 in FY 2015).
On this #GivingTuesday, give to those you have investigated. Give locally. By all means, give a needy person a coat, but do it yourself, or through a local group who is locally accountable.
 

Note to Mark Driscoll: Racism Doesn't Evolve from Evolution

See updates at the end…
Although he doesn’t believe in Malthusian eugenics now, Mark Driscoll told his The Trinity Church audience on Sunday that he once did. Watch:

Transcript:

Some would say, Pastor Mark, I disagree with you. Let me speak to you very personally. You’re wrong. You’re wrong. Now I know you’re not supposed to say it like that, but if you don’t say it like that, people are confused, so let me make it clear.
I started in a home, my parents were um, Irish Catholic, okay? So we were the O’Driscolls from County Cork, southern Ireland, and Catholics are pro-life. I somehow grew up, and I started studying in high school, and I was a debater, and a thinker, and a bit of a hack philosopher. And I came to actually take not only a pro-choice position, but a pro-abortion position. Forced population controls.
So when Gracie and I met, she came from a pastor’s home, she was strongly pro-life, and I was strongly pro-abortion. And we would have these debates. And we were friends in high school. And she was right, and I won the debates, because I’m a terrible person to debate. My mom said it was like raising a small attorney. That’s what it was like. So I can debate, I can think on my feet, I can articulate a position, and I can win a debate, even when I’m wrong. And so I would win these debates with Grace, and she would get very frustrated, because she was right and I was wrong.
And I came to believe in the position, for a while, end of high school, early college, called Malthusian eugenics. Now if you’ve done your homework, I’ve done mine, too. I probably know your arguments and I could probably argue your arguments. And it comes out of this evolutionary belief that certain people and races are more evolved and fit than others. And that other races are less fit and less evolved, and as a result, we should terminate the life of those who are less fit, so the race can excel.
This Malthusian eugenics position was held by Nazi Germany. This Malthusian eugenics position was held by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. She was a disciple of Malthus. I read all of their literature, I did my homework, I actually won a high school debate, and a college debate, on this position. I was so good at it, in college, in a large philosophy class, I won the debate, and my professor, who was an African Marxist, asked to mentor me as a student leader for abortion rights.
I did believe for a season, in a full evolutionary ideology, that certain people are more advanced and more valuable than others. We should keep those who are valuable, we should get rid of those who are not valuable, and like all arrogant people, I assumed that I was one of the more valuable evolved ones.
This is why Planned Parenthood puts its clinics historically in poorer neighborhoods to serve certain races, to eliminate certain people from having children and entering the world. You may not have known that, but you can trace the history. Just do your homework. Look at Malthusian eugenics, and look at the history of Margaret Sanger.

I asked a former insider at Mars Hill Church if Driscoll ever mentioned these views. The source had never heard about the debate victories but had heard in general terms about an interest in Malthus. Although he did mention the debates in this Mars Hill Church article, it is a little hard to place when his African Marxist professor wanted to recruit him based on the history he described in Real Marriage.
In any case, I post this because I want to address a misconception about those who accept the scientific foundations of human evolution. Driscoll implies that those who accept an evolutionary account of origins also believe in eugenics.  This, of course, is not true. I accept the evidence for evolution but I certainly don’t believe in eugenics. I work with numerous colleagues here at Grove City College who accept evolution and none of them believe in eugenics.
Holding to an evolutionary account does not require an individual to believe “certain people are more advanced and more valuable than others.” Also, believing God created in six days does not prevent such a belief. I grew up in small town Southern Ohio where many young Earth creationists believed whites were superior to all others.
UPDATE: Wenatchee the Hatchet wonders if Driscoll fully abandoned his Malthusian beliefs. I had forgotten about Driscoll’s quaint “shoot the dogs” strategy of handling underperforming church leaders and strategies. Furthermore, Driscoll’s teachings about demonically inspired “family lines” may reveal left over influence from those Malthusian days. Time will tell if Driscoll continues his Mars Hill mentality at the new church.
UPDATE: I updated the title since some concern was expressed by readers that I focused unnecessarily on Driscoll’s past views. As WtH points out in his post, those views may have infiltrated his current views, but even so, I think the new title (thanks to Ragan Ewing) better captures the reason I posted.
 

RICO Suit Dismissed Without Prejudice; Sutton Turner Reveals Mars Hill Church Global Fund Figures

The RICO lawsuit against Mars Hill Church was dismissed without prejudice.  The plaintiffs have not lost their rights to sue again. From the order (read it here):

The court finds that Plaintiffs have not acted in bad faith, recklessly, or with an improper purpose. Accordingly, in light of the court’s duty to carefully exercise its inherent powers, the court declines to impose the drastic sanctions Defendants seek. See Hearns, 530 F.3d at 1132 (noting drastic nature of sanction of dismissal with prejudice); Chambers, 501 U.S. at 44 (noting courts must exercise inherent powers with restraint). Mr. Turner’s allegations about Plaintiffs’ behavior in filing this case, apparently adopted by Mr. Driscoll (see Driscoll Mot. at 3), are conclusory at best and do not demonstrate that Plaintiffs have acted improperly. Merely filing a complaint alleging RICO violations for Defendants’ part in the alleged misuse of Plaintiffs’ donations to MHC does not constitute bad-faith conduct, even if the allegations case Defendants in an unfavorable light. (See Turner Mot. at 9-10.) In addition, Plaintiffs’ complaint is not frivolous on its face (see generally Compl.), and there is no evidence other than Defendants’ conclusory allegations that Plaintiffs filed this suit merely to harass and disparage Defendants (cf. Turner Mot. at 4 (arguing that Plaintiffs’ failure to serve “can lead to only one conclusion. . . . The Plaintiffs and their counsel sought to harass, disparage, and defame Mr. Turner through the public act of filing a lawsuit”)). Furthermore, Plaintiffs refute this allegation, stating that they “never had a desire for retribution nor to harass [Mr.] Turner or [Mr.] Driscoll.” (Resp. at 6.) Plaintiffs also did not act in bad faith by publicizing the case to garner support for their cause. Finally, Plaintiffs’ failure to raise the necessary funds to fully litigate their suit before filing it, Plaintiffs’ counsel’s failure to respond to Mr. Turner’s offer to accept service, and Plaintiffs’ failure to dismiss their claims of their own accord after the 90-day window for service had passed are not so far outside the bounds of acceptable litigation conduct that Plaintiffs should be sanctioned. Simply put, Plaintiffs have done nothing to “defile the very temple of justice.” Haeger, 813 F.3d at 1244 (internal quotations and alterations omitted) (quoting Chambers, 501 U.S. at 46). Plaintiffs have not committed any acts that indicate bad faith, recklessness, or an improper purpose.

For these reasons, the judge dismissed the suit without prejudice:

Based on the foregoing analysis, the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants’ motions to dismiss (Dkt. ## 4, 7). The court DISMISSES Plaintiffs’ claims without prejudice.
Dated this 25th day of August, 2016.
JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge

According to Brian Jacobsen, the plaintiffs would consider moving forward again if funds were available.
Even after he left Mars Hill Church, Sutton Turner was told by Mars Hill lawyers that he shouldn’t reveal how much Mars Hill spent from their Global Fund on missions. Now he has done so.

Mars Hill Global

Mars Hill Global began in 2009 to raise money from the global audience (those who listened via podcast) to help fund the mission of Mars Hill Church: “Making Disciples and Planting Churches.” Until late 2011, Mars Hill had not significantly funded international church planting but was heavily invested in US church planting. From 2009 to 2012, Mars Hill spent $8.6M in U.S. church planting and $170k outside of the U.S.
When I joined Mars Hill in 2011, I built relationships with the Kale Hewyott Church in Ethiopia to train church planters there. My passion for Ethiopia (which existed before I arrived at Mars Hill) began to dominate the message of Mars Hill Global. In hindsight, I see how many believed that the only reason Mars Hill Global existed was to fund Ethiopian church planting.
When people started to question the distribution of funds given to Mars Hill Global, the church brought in ECFA and independent auditors, Clark Nuber. Both groups gave Mars Hill a clear opinion that the church had done nothing wrong. In spite of these findings, we felt led to send 3765 emails and 6000 letters to 100% of donors to Mars Hill Global from 2011 to 2014 to clarify their gift intent. Less than 40 families responded; Mars Hill Church sent an additional $40,000 to Ethiopia because donors requested their donations to Mars Hill Global be for Ethiopian church planting.
A full and total timeline from 2009 to 2014 with videos, blogs and other information is stored here.
From 2012 to 2014, Mars Hill Church spent $13.7M in church planting in the US and sent $545k to Ethiopia and India. During its existence, Mars Hill Church invested over $23M in church planting in the US and around the world. This amount is over and above the general and administrative costs of Mars Hill Church’s central operations and staffing. (47% of the funds given to Mars Hill Global from 2012-2014 were large donations from a small number of donors who specifically asked prior to giving for their donations to be counted in Global.  Many of these donors did not attend one specific Mars Hill location and wanted their donations supporting all Mars Hill operations including U.S. and international church planting.)
Many have asked for these numbers. There was I time when I was restricted from providing these numbers. Now, everyone has the Mars Hill Global information that I had when I resigned in September 2014 (Eph. 5:13).

I knew it wasn’t much in comparison to what was spent on the US locations, and as it turns out, it wasn’t. This still doesn’t tell us how much came earmarked for international missions and how much was spent on international missions. And by earmarked for missions, I mean how much was given to the Global Fund from 2012-2014?
The rest of the post provides additional information on executive compensation, the governing board and Result Source.
 

Mark Driscoll Launches The Trinity Church (VIDEO)

Our roving reporter Deana Holmes tells me that 162 cars were in the parking lot for today’s launch of The Trinity Church in Scottsdale AZ (170 for the second service). Security was on hand along with a television crew from Seattle’s King 5 (Scroll to the bottom for the video segment).  Apparently, they still remember the former Mars Hill Church pastor.
The worship team was provided courtesy of Amarillo, TX church Trinity Fellowship. Kind of a theme.
Driscoll was pastor of Mars Hill Church until he resigned in October 2014.  He and the church had been kicked out of the Acts 29 Network and suffered a severe decline of attendance after several questionable financial details were revealed. He had committed to a plan of restoration developed by his elders but said God told him a trap had been set for him and that he was released from Mars Hill.  Long interested in Phoenix, Driscoll moved the family with plans to plant a church not long after he resigned from Mars Hill.
The Trinity Church twitter feed provides a look inside the first service.


The King 5 reporter Josh Green tweeted some pics, including one of Deana.


Trinity church bouncy
trinity church sign
trinity church close

The King 5 report is here.

Plaintiffs Respond to Mark Driscoll's and Sutton Turner's Motions to Dismiss the RICO Suit: Not Enough Funds to Continue

Today, attorney Brian Fahling filed responses to the motions to dismiss the RICO lawsuit accusing Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner of misuse of funds in their positions as pastors at the now defunct Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
Bottom line: Because sufficient funds have not been raised to pursue the case, the suit was not served to Driscoll and Turner. Thus the plaintiffs do not object to dismissal without prejudice (the case could be tried later). Turner had requested the suit be dismissed with prejudice (permanently) and asked for sanctions. From the plaintiffs filing today (linked below):

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs and their counsel respectfully request that this Court deny Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss with prejudice and Turner’s Motion for sanctions, including attorney’s fees. Plaintiff does not object to dismissal without prejudice of the claims against Defendants.
DATED: July 5, 2016

The opposition document revisits the legal case against Turner and Driscoll with much concerning Mars Hill Global, Result Source and the Campus Fund. You can get up to speed on the plaintiffs arguments about those matters by reading the opposition document.
Click the links below to read the documents.
Plaintiffs opposition to the Driscoll and Turner motions
A. Kildea declaration
R. Kildea declaration
B. Jacobsen declaration
C. Jacobsen declaration
B. Fahling declaration
Commentary to come…

Mark Driscoll's The Trinity Church Buys a Million Dollar Mid-Century Modern Home

If Driscoll and Co. paid the building’s appraised value, they are one rich start up church.
Here’s the purchase announcement:
trinity church announcement

Hey everyone! I have a really exciting announcement. We have officially purchased our historic church home in Scottsdale, Arizona!
Every family needs a home, and this one is a wonderful fit for our church family.
I am so thankful for all the hard work from the many volunteers that has already gone into getting this 50-year-old mid-century modern church home ready for our public launch on August 7th at 9am and 10:45am. We still have a lot of work to do. Just this week we had the exterior painted back to the period correct colors that originally adorned the building. It looks amazing!
I’m also very grateful for the generous donations from not only from The Trinity Church family but also from friends of The Trinity Church that just want to help support this new Church plant. It’s your generosity that has helped to make this happen, and to each one of you, I’m very humbled and grateful. Thank You!
We are nearing the public launch and still have some work to do and some money to raise (you can give HERE), but God has proven faithful every step of the way, so we trust in His continued provision.
Your Rejoicing and Grateful Pastor,​
Pastor Mark Driscoll

According to The Trinity Church website, the governing board would have made the decision. That board consists of Driscoll, Randal Taylor, Jimmie Evans, and Robert Morris. As with Mars Hill, things just happen with no explanation. Money just shows up.
The appraised value in tax year 2017 is $21-million. I wonder how much came from The Trinity Church and how much came from rich benefactors.
driscollchurchassessment
Thanks to Deana Holmes for the tip.

Mark Driscoll Files Motion to Dismiss Racketeering Lawsuit

DriscollBuildingClaiming he has not been served, Mark Driscoll filed a motion to dismiss the racketeering lawsuit against him and former Mars Hill executive pastor Sutton Turner brought by former members of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Two couples from the church allege misuse of funds.
Like Turner’s motion to dismiss, Driscoll appeals to rules of procedure requiring service of a lawsuit in 90 days. The essential claim of the motion is that the Jacobsens and Kildeas have abandoned the suit.
Driscoll claims his whereabouts are well known.
After Turner filed his motion, I asked attorney Brian Fahling for a comment with no reply.
Driscoll plans to launch his new church The Trinity Church in Scottsdale on August 7.