Facing Financial Pressures, Mars Hill Steps Up Solicitations, Lays Off Staff

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.

Mars Hill Fundraising Solicitation: Signs of Struggle or Just a Normal Emergency?

This tweet was directed my way this morning:


Many organizations issue urgent sounding end of the year appeals. It is hard to know if Mr. Lee is correct about Mars Hill or if this is just one of those formula letters sent at a strategic time to get people to give when they otherwise wouldn’t think to do so. However, if former community coach Dalton Roraback is correct and attendance is way down, then this email could be the sign of cutbacks at the Seattle megachurch.

Sutton Turner and the Tale of Two Mars Hill Globals

With each new publication about Mars Hill Global, it seems that church leaders verify my suspicion that much of the money donated for international outreach over the past couple of years has been spent on expanding Mars Hill United States franchises.
In a new video, executive pastor Sutton Turner defines Mars Hill Global as a family connected to Mars Hill Church through Mark Driscoll. In this video, Turner reveals that Mars Hill Global is helping Spokane get off the ground, and in the past helped the Phoenix franchise launch. In a prior post, I noted that Mars Hill Everett’s pastor Ryan Williams thanked Mars Hill Global for helping buy their building. He was almost two years late with his thanks but better late than never I guess.
In this new video, Turner makes sure we know that Mars Hill Global is a bunch of people who give to support church planting locally and internationally. Watch:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D88NBSgOb4I[/youtube]
Transcript:

Mars Hill Global is a family; a family that is connected to Mars Hill Church through Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Bible preaching. Each week there are almost 250,000 people from all over the world that download, watch, and listen to sermons and other content from Mars Hill Church.
In 2007, I began listening to Mars Hill podcasts while living in Texas and continued as a podcaster when I moved to the Middle East. My family and I were amazed at the work that Jesus was doing through Mars Hill and the number of people that were meeting Jesus and growing in Jesus each week. It was amazing. I wanted to be more than just a podcaster, I wanted to participate with prayers and financial support as part of the global family of Mars Hill Church so that more people would meet Jesus and more churches would be planted.
Together you and I are both a part the global family of Mars Hill Church. Mars Hill Global mission is the same as Mars Hill Church, making disciples and planting churches all over the world. Currently,your gifts support our 15 Mars Hill Church locations in the United States, evangelists in Ethiopia in church planters in India. It’s a blessing to have a global family who supports what Jesus is doing around the world.
As I mentioned, I’m here in Spokane Washington where we hope to plant our 16th Mars Hill Church location. It’s our prayer that this church building originally constructed in 1926 will be the new home of Mars Hill Spokane. I want to ask you to begin praying about this opportunity; an opportunity for a new Gospel work in an old vintage building, a building that will be home for a new family of believers to meet, worship, and fellowship in Jesus’s name. This new work doesn’t happen without your financial support. You help plant Mars Hill Phoenix earlier this year. Now we’re praying about this opportunity to plant Mars Hill Spokane.
I invite you to continue to pray and give, so more people can be saved by Jesus, more people can grow in Jesus, and more people can be on Jesus’s mission in Seattle, Albuquerque, Spokane, the United States, Ethiopia, India, and the ends of the Earth.

All of that is fine. If people who don’t go to Mars Hill want to donate money to Mars Hill’s General Fund, then, of course, that is up to them. However, what about the people who donated money to the Mars Hill Global Fund when it existed? Shouldn’t they know where their donation went? As some commenters on my blog have expressed, they are surprised that their money went to building in the U.S. One commenter who claimed to donate to the Global Fund wrote:

I have no words! So, we not so rich east europeans give money for poor Ethiopia and India, but surprise, they go for rich americans!!! This is some kind a joke!

Up to May, a donor could donate to something called the Global Fund. And as the next video shows, the source of the donations could be from Mars Hill members in the U.S. as well as from people who didn’t attend Mars Hill. According to this video published in January, Mars Hill Global was the arm of Mars Hill Church which developed resources for international efforts. Watch:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcseC6KpSBk[/youtube]
Transcript:

Howdy Mars Hill Church, pastor Sutton Turner here and I’m in Ethiopia, and I just want to thank Jesus for continuing to use Mars Hill Church to make disciples and plant churches. Mars Hill Global is the arm of Mars Hill Church that makes disciples and plant churches all over the world. We not only do church planting, but we help better equip church planters. Most recently, we shipped and now distributed a thousand Bibles into Amharic which is the language here in Ethiopia, and we launched a project to translate Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Doctrine book into Spanish. We have people from over 29 different countries that are giving on a monthly basis to Mars Hill Global.
So whether you’re a member of one of our Mars Hill Church locations in the United States or you’re one of 100,000 podcasters every single week, We encourage you to pray about giving above and beyond your tithe to Mars Hill Global. Thank you and let’s see more materials translated, more pastors sent out, more churches planted, and more people saved by Jesus Christ.

Turner’s January 2014 video sounds much more like the way Mars Hill Global was described in the 2013 Annual Report. Prior to May, as noted by Turner in the second video above, a donor, including a member of Mars Hill Church, could designate money separately from one’s tithe (General Fund giving) for international efforts. That was called the Global Fund. In all of the revising of Mars Hill Global’s history which has been going on lately, nothing has been said about where the Global Fund has gone or where that money was spent. Apparently, some of it was spent on Everett’s down payment, and now we learn that some of it was spent on Mars Hill Phoenix and is about to be spent on Mars Hill Spokane. But how much of it went to Ethiopia and India? If I had donated to Mars Hill Global Fund in FY 2013 and/or 2014, I would want to know.

Mars Hill Global Helped Pay For Mars Hill Everett's Building

Now we know one thing that the donations to Mars Hill Global purchased.
In a post on the Mars Hill Church website, Mars Hill Everett franchise lead pastor Ryan Williams thanked Mars Hill Global for financial help with the down payment and restoration costs for the old Washington National Guard Armory building now occupied by the Everett church. Williams said:

Our people work super hard and are amazingly generous to the church, but we just did not have the income to fully fund our own down payment and renovation expenses.

According to this note, Mars Hill Global helped fund church planting efforts in Everett, WA.
Did anyone who gave to the Global Fund* during 2012-2013 know they were doing that? I doubt it.
However, according to the Mars Hill 2013 Annual Report, Mars Hill Global was a fund designed to help spread the Gospel internationally:

I wonder why Rev. Williams waited until now to thank Mars Hill Global. He could have thanked the Global Fund in the 2013 Annual Report. On the page devoted to reporting the accomplishments of Mars Hill Global in the report, nothing is said about Mars Hill Global providing funds to help Mars Hill Everett with a down payment and renovations. Instead, accomplishments in Ethiopia and India are featured.
However, the introduction to the thank you note from Everett lead pastor Ryan Williams says Mars Hill Global is not a destination for funds but a source of them:

Mars Hill Global is made up of 250,000 people around the world who tune in to the Mars Hill Church podcast on a weekly basis. You, our global audience, are praying and giving to Mars Hill Church to see more people meet Jesus, grow in him, and join his mission. One example of what your participation has done over the last year is the planting of Mars Hill Everett in their new home. This letter, from Everett’s lead pastor, Ryan Williams, outlines the specifics of the direct impact you are having on the church.

So what was/is Mars Hill Global? Is it how Mars Hill Church participates in international outreach? Or is it a large group of non-Seattle people who consume the media and donate on the website? Given the various descriptions of Mars Hill Global and Mars Hill Extended Family, I think it is easy to get confused.
Specific to the act of donating money, prior to May of this year, donors (wherever they were) were able to give to a specific Global Fund described above as an international effort. Now, donors can’t give to this fund since the option as been removed.
Prior to this message from Ryan Williams, I can’t find anything that linked Global to Everett. In the promotional video for Mars Hill Everett in October 2012, Mark Driscoll lays out the financial need to the people of the church in Everett and asks them to give toward the goals. There is no mention in the video of help from Mars Hill Global.

 
On the page describing the need for Everett’s move into the Armory, members were invited to give to the effort in a fund designated for that purpose:

According to the Herald Business article, the building’s purchase price was $1.275 million.

The property was ultimately purchased for $1.275 million not long after Mars Hill Church purchased the 104-year-old First Congregational Church building in Tacoma for about $1.9 million. The organization is not shy about handling restorations of historic properties.

When the church first bought the building, the story was that the people attending were going to fund the purchase and renovations.  According to an October 27, 2012 Everett Herald article, the leaders wanted the people to “own” the move to the new building:

Church members will be asked to help pay for the extensive remodel. “We really want our people to own what Jesus is doing here in Everett,” Mitchell said. “About $300,000 moves us in. We could do services there. We’re hoping and praying to be in there by Easter.”

In July 2013, executive pastor Sutton Turner told the church in an email that Everett was raising funds for their building with a report on the progress.

Tacoma & Everett Fundraising
Tacoma and Everett continue to make progress raising money for their buildings. Tacoma has $132,000 left to raise, and Everett needs another $360,000. Both churches are praying to finish fundraising and full occupy their new buildings by January 1.

On September 11, 2013, Pastor Ryan Williams asked the congregation to give more:

  • A big fundraising push: I am asking that everyone who calls Mars Hill Everett home to go back and see if there is anywhere in your budget you could trim in this next season and increase your Armory giving until we’re holding services in the building.

In October 2013, Mark Driscoll told the congregation that the people of Everett had been generous but that more gifts were needed. Nothing was mentioned about people giving to the Global Fund were helping pay for Mars Hill Everett. Driscoll wrote:

The people of Mars Hill Everett have been very faithful. Over 90% of the members have given to the fund. Since September 2012, we have collected 50% above and beyond our annual budget. (Mars Hill Everett brings in about $900,000 a year, and we are close to bringing in an additional $450,000 in the past 13 months.)
We don’t have deep pockets, or big givers. What we have are a lot of faithful givers doing what they can every month.What we need now, Mars Hill, is some help from the rest of you in order to finish making this home for the Everett church ready. We’re almost there, but we’ve still got a little ways to go. Everett is trying to raise $750,000 to get the building ready, and we’ve got $316,000 left to complete this project. As the people of Mars Hill Everett have demonstrated, all it takes is enough people giving a little bit together to make things happen.
We have amazingly generous people in Everett. They are all in. Will you help them move into their new home?

So at the end of the day, who paid the costs for Mars Hill Everett’s relaunch in the Armory? Most likely both the Mars Hill Global Fund and donations from Everett members actually paid those big bills. Global Fund givers might or might not mind that the donations they thought were going to Ethiopia and India (according to the 2013 Annual Report) went at least in part to buy and renovate a building in Everett. This arrangement certainly seems to run afoul of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability’s guidelines; but maybe they don’t care now. It’s all water under the bridge now, right?
Even though the money is spent, it might be interesting to find out what else Mars Hill Global purchased. Perhaps more thank you notes are coming.
*Mars Hill’s use of the term Mars Hill Global is inconsistent. Sometimes they seem to refer to it as the source of funds, as in our “global audience” or “Mars Hill Extended Family.” Other times such as in the 2013 Annual Report, Mars Hill Global refers to the destination of the funds, as in funding international mission work to Ethiopia and India. Sometimes, it appears that they mean both at the same time as in the international audience is helping to fund mission efforts with local Mars Hill church planting and international efforts. The real issue according to the ECFA is donor intent. A key question is are the funds going where the receiver implied they are going and the donor intended. In this case, giving to a Global Fund would naturally create the impression that the funds were going to international use. These are the funds that I am interested in knowing more about. Were the funds given to the global funds used for international purposes? The source of the funds doesn’t matter that much. It is the intent of the donor that matters.
For all posts on Mars Hill Global, click the link.
 

Who at Mars Hill Church Authorized Church Funds to Buy a Place for Mark Driscoll's Real Marriage on the NYT Best Seller List?

Before Warren Smith’s World Magazine article in March, the story about Mars Hill Church paying a consulting firm to boost Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book Real Marriage to the top of the New York Times best seller list was a carefully guarded secret at the Seattle megachurch. Almost three months later, members of the church are still asking their pastors about the deal. Last week, in a meeting of Mars Hill group leaders, members asked pastors Thomas Hurst and Jason Skelton to name who was responsible for the decision to spend church money on the promotion of the Driscolls’ book. According to sources in the meeting, Hurst and Skelton told those present that Driscoll said he was not involved because he had removed himself from the decision. Hurst added that Sutton Turner, who signed the contract (read it here), was new on the job and simply signed papers put in front of him. However, according to the sources, no person was singled out as being responsible for the RSI agreement.
This narrative raises questions about who at the church authorized the RSI contract. Turner’s name is on the contract, and the invoices (see below) were addressed to Driscoll. However, if Driscoll and Turner aren’t responsible, that leaves Jamie Munson and/or Dave Bruskas, who were the other two executive elders at the time.
Relevant to the Mars Hill members’ questions, I have obtained invoices dated five days after the RSI contract was signed. The invoices were sent to Mark Driscoll from RSI requesting payment of RSI’s $25,000 fee. While it is not clear who actually saw or paid these two invoices, they raise questions about the narrative presented in the recent group leader’s meeting and Driscoll’s involvement in the arrangement.

 

When the RSI-MHC story broke, Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll floated three different statements about the use of RSI to get Driscoll’s book on the New York Times list. As noted in a previous post, the initial position of Mars Hill Church was that the partnership between RSI and Mars Hill was an “opportunity” and an “investment.” Two days later, the Board of Advisors and Accountability of MHC said the arrangement was “common” but “unwise.” Then, several days later, Mark Driscoll said he first saw the arrangement as a way to market books but had come to see it as “manipulating a book sales reporting system” and thus “wrong.” In that statement, Driscoll seemed to indicate that he was aware of the situation.
I asked Mars Hill Church who was responsible for the Result Source agreement and church spokesman Justin Dean replied:

We have received your requests, and will not be responding with any comments now or in the future.

Adding another wrinkle is a note from executive pastor Sutton Turner in response to a member who recently left the church. In response to member concern over the Result Source arrangement, Turner wrote:

As I thought and prayed about your letter this morning, please know that we realize the Results Source decision was a wrong decision and poor stewardship. I am sorry as your Pastor that I failed you. Please accept my apology, I am very sorry.
I pray that I have learned from this and the godly authority that I am under has helped me and will help me in the future.
Please forgive me for my poor stewardship, I take that very seriously as a King.
God Bless you and I wish you all the very best.
Grace and Peace to you,
Sutton Turner
Executive Elder & Executive Pastor

So who is responsible for this expenditure of church funds? The invoices raise the possibility that Driscoll paid RSI’s fee while the church put up the money for the rest of the operation. Sutton Turner claims responsibility but others provide an out for him by saying he just signed the papers. An earlier church statement says Result Source was suggested by outside counsel. As of now, the situation is not clear and the church refuses to provide an official response.
In any case, this topic continues to be of interest to Mars Hill members and I suspect they will keep raising the matter. However, doing so may lead to negative consequences. Recently, one volunteer leader was removed from his position as a coach because he questioned leaders about this issue and executive salaries. More on that story to come.
Read the contract between Mars Hill Church and Result Source, Inc to promote Real Marriage.

Mars Hill Church to Hold Vision Breakfast on June 10

I have obtained a memo inviting Mars Hill Church members to attend a “vision breakfast.” In a report on the last vision breakfast, it was reported by Sutton Turner that at least one member had questions about the 2012 legal situation for the church in Orange County CA. Turner said he wouldn’t answer because he wanted to talk to Kyle Firstenberg first.

Vision Breakfast | 6.10.14
From Pastor Sutton Turner:
Mars Hill Bellevue, My deepest prayer for our church family these past several weeks has come from Hebrews 12:1–2: that we would lay aside every weight and sin, and that we would run with endurance the race that is set before us. I’ve been praying that we would look to Jesus! I ask you to pray as well for our continued health and maturity as individuals and as the body of Christ at Mars Hill.
HEAR THE VISION
I can’t wait to gather together for our upcoming Vision Breakfast on June 10. Vision Breakfasts are our regular opportunity throughout the year for the leadership to share a united vision with all of our local churches. Vision Breakfasts allow us to communicate on a more intimate level. Think of them as family meetings: they allow us the chance to personally engage with you, Mars Hill, regarding what we believe Jesus has next for us as a body of believers.
JOIN US
Pastor Mark, Pastor Dave, and I will address all Mars Hill churches via live video. Then, Pastor Thomas will address your church family with a personal word about your local mission. So, please mark your calendars for June 10 and plan to join us for future Tuesday-morning Vision Breakfasts, held from 7:00 to 8:30 a.m. (PST), on the following days:
• June 10 (RSVP here)
• September 9
• November 11
Breakfast is served at 7:00 a.m. and is generously funded, organized, and served by members of Mars Hill Bellevue. They continue to treat us so well—and yes, the food is always great! We are thankful to the Lord for their gift of hospitality and the good they do for the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). RSVP If you are interested in attending the Vision Breakfast on June 10, please RSVP in order to help us plan accordingly.
Gratefully, Pastor Sutton Turner Executive Pastor and Executive Elder

There is something surreal an intimate conversation with a video feed. In any case, perhaps there will be some mechanism for questions to get to the executive elders. There is much that could come up. Perhaps the elders will tell the congregation what is happening with the 10700 Northtup Way property; and where the Mars Hill Global money is being spent. Maybe there will be an update about the mediation efforts with the 20 former pastors, or an explanation for the editing of a recent sermon or why so many popular leaders are leaving.

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.
 

Megachurch Methods: Apparently Mars Hill Global Money Can Be Spent Anywhere

Those in charge of Mars Hill Global seem to agree with me that Mars Hill Global is really Mars Hill Church.
Last week, I posted a 2011 document about the rebranding of Mars Hill Global (among other things, “cultivate an international audience and giving base”) and a slide showing the dramatic rise in giving on behalf of the MH Global brand. After those posts appeared, a sentence was added to the website description of MH Global:

Mars Hill Global has the same mission as Mars Hill Church – evangelizing, making disciples, equipping leaders, and planting churches all over the world, including but not exclusive to Ethiopia, India and the US.

The May 15 Google snapshot of the page looks like this:

The current page adds a sentence at the beginning:

My guess is that the sentence is designed to slightly better inform potential donors (remember the purpose of MH Global – “cultivate an international audience and giving base”) that the money they give to Mars Hill Global may not go to Ethiopia or India but to the general fund of Mars Hill Church.
Given the pictures of Ethiopian churches and children, some donors might think that their money was going to Ethiopia. However, according to current and former Mars Hill sources, that is not necessarily the case. This new disclosure hints that my sources are on target.
In the Mars Hill 2013 Public Disclosure package, there is no mention of Mars Hill Global, Ethiopia, India, etc., and only one mention of a mission fund:

In October 2012 alone, nearly $150,000 came in to the Mars Hill Global brand. From July, 2012 to June, 2013, nearly $2.3 million was given to Mars Hill Global. However, in available reports (the 2013 Annual Report and Public Disclosure package), where the Mars Hill Global money was disbursed is not reported.
What would be nice is Mars Hill leadership would simply indicate on the website how much money is given on behalf of Mars Hill Global and then where that money goes.  In fact it would be more than nice, it would satisfy the guidelines of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.  The guidance is clear that reporting should make it clear where money is spent. According to the ECFA:

Historical practices of faith missions and other charities has conditioned donors to give for specific purposes and to expect their funds to be used for those stated purposes and not for the organization’s general use. Such practices include raising funds to support specific projects or programs as well as the ministry of specific workers. Fundraisers acknowledge that specific use appeals are more effective than general appeals.

Currently, I cannot find such an accounting. Last Thursday, I wrote giving@marshill.com and asked if donations to Mars Hill Global go to missions or the Mars Hill general fund. Perhaps some accounting exists and the folks at giving@marshill.com will let me know this week, although it is possible that the sentence added above indirectly addresses the matter.

Megachurch Methods: And By Mars Hill Global We Mean Mars Hill Local

Yesterday, I posted a Mars Hill Church document about the rebranding of Mars Hill Global as a revenue source. The document was sent out by MH Pastor Sutton Turner in 2011 to the Media and Communications Teams and began:

When it comes to giving potential, Mars Hill Church’s global audience is a sleeping giant.

Since 2011, the giant has indeed ceased from slumber. At a recent Mars Hill vision breakfast meeting, this slide was presented to the congregation:

These numbers are increasing rapidly while overall giving has been flat, and according to sources in Mars Hill, declining in recent months.  In fact, the situation is troubling enough that sources tell me that the church will be approaching an entity known internally as “The Lucas Group” to help raise money. In addition, I have heard from several former staff members that the amount of Mars Hill Global money disbursed on behalf of missions outside of the United States is very low, less than 5%.
According to these sources, the rest of the funds are pooled in the general fund which is used to support administration of the  Mars Hill franchises. Consistent with that claim is the fact that MHG website lists the United States as a target of Mars Hill Global. All the franchises are listed, including the churches surrounding Seattle. Reviewing the April Mars Hill Global newsletter, it looks like global is local with most of the material being about the U.S. churches.
In 2011, Sutton Turner asked if there was a better name than Mars Hill Global for the cultivation of the international giving base. I think the better name would be Mars Hill Church.
 
 

Megachurch Methods: Mars Hill Global Wakes the Sleeping Giant

Subtitle: “Mars Hill Global Cultivates the Giving Base.”
Like businesses and other organizations, megachurches like to brand things. They brand pastors (Mark Driscoll: “I am the brand!”), and brand ministries. Probably nothing really wrong with that if the brand accurately represents what is being done and offered. For Mars Hill Church, Mars Hill Global is a phrase that describes the Christian market outside of Seattle. According to the MHG web presence, Mars Hill has things going on in Ethiopia, India, and online which is everywhere else.
In addition to whatever else it is, MHG appears to be a source of funding for Mars Hill Church. In November 2011, Mars Hill Executive Pastor Sutton Turner sent a document to the Media and Communications Team touting Mars Hill Global as a way to cultivate the international “giving base.” The document is here:

Note the prime purpose for MHG is to cultivate donations to Mars Hill. The strategy involves what appears to be a lot of good things, but it is hard to escape the impression that the end game is an increase in revenue.
Mars Hill Global existed prior to this memo. However, this memo promoted a new strategy. As a part of that strategy, the Media and Communications team is urged to “Craft the Origin Story.” Everybody likes a good origin story. Perhaps Mark Driscoll really did receive letters requesting resources. But maybe he didn’t. It is hard to tell. I can’t tell from the current website what story was originally crafted.
Currently, MHG takes in about $300,000 monthly. This is a dramatic increase from when this memo was sent. Apparently, the sleeping giant is awake.