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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mars Hill Financial Woes

posted by on December 11 at 7:52 AM

West Seattle Blog spotted this under “Pastor Prayers” on a Mars Hill blog…

Multiple pastors request prayers for our financial state. With the deep deficit, it is a test for all the staff to choose Jesus over anxiety when ministry funds are cut short and the possibility of lay-offs and additional budget cuts is on the horizon. Please pray for repentance by those who are disobeying God in their giving …

Yes, let’s pray for all of those that are “disobeying God in their giving.” Christ, that sounds dark, huh? It makes it sound like Mark “Go Old Testament On Their Asses” Driscoll is going to start kneecapping people. West Seattle Blog points out that the “disobeying God” line was later dropped from the post and new language substituted, but WSB found it again through the miracle of Google caching. Here’s the new, slightly less mobbed-up language…

Please pray for those who are struggling with their financial stewardship, and pray for Jesus to make generous and thankful hearts of our body. Please join us in thanking Jesus for our faithful members who continually give and serve with their time, talent and treasure.

Yeah, that’s nicer. The original language was more revealing, however. More here.

UPDATE: There’s a call for prayers for the Mars Hill’s new downtown location.

Pastor Tim Gaydos requests prayers for the leaders, families and servants who will be part of the launch team for the Downtown Campus—that Jesus would bind all their hearts together in unity for the sake of the Gospel and that they would be protected from attacks of the evil one as they march into the heart of the city.

On behalf of the evil one, Mars Hill, welcome to the neighborhood. Please, no marching about after 9 PM. Folks live in Belltown for the peace and quiet and wide selection of houses of worship. Those interested in worshipping Mark Driscoll will quickly find their way to your video arcade.

And, finally, there’s a call for prayers for one of the family of one of the Mars Hill pastors. His wife is dying of cancer. If you’re the praying kind, pray for ‘em.

RSS icon Comments


Hopefully praying for money works just as well as praying for rain.

Posted by Sarah | December 11, 2007 8:06 AM

Wow. Where did this cross the line into extortion?

Posted by Greg | December 11, 2007 8:12 AM

lol. I pray to Santa that this whole thing turns into an epic clusterfuck.

Posted by giffy | December 11, 2007 8:13 AM

So, how many MH members actually saw the original language? If this was one bullet on one post of one of MH's blogs, sounds like it wasn't really getting a huge amount of press.

Still, highly amusing, and disturbing.

Posted by James | December 11, 2007 8:17 AM

An apple sauce and kool aid dinner will be rewarded to the highest contributers.

Posted by David | December 11, 2007 8:20 AM

So, let me get this straight... which I try to stay clear of.... but because I don't use my talents, give my time, and waste my money on a religion I don't believe in, I'm going to be smited and considered a dark person? Well, that begins my crusade to build a HUGE wall right next to their church... I can justify spending the money, if my wall will cast a huge shadow on their church. Now that's a shadow I can believe in!

Posted by Homo Will | December 11, 2007 8:20 AM

"Hey, anybody thirsty around here?"

Posted by Jim Jones | December 11, 2007 8:23 AM

I’ll admit I was a bit freaked out by the whole Mars Hill Real Estate Pyramid Scheme, especially when they opened a brainwashing gulag and wallet cleanser just down the street from my home.

But then I remembered that I grew up in the South with the Southern Baptists and the Ku Klux Klan—the kind of charming people who are dead serious when they say they want to start a race war and also exterminate all of the gays—and I realized that Mars Hill is barely the pathetic margarine of evil in comparison (“I can’t believe it’s not evil!”). Now I’m all “meh, whatever. Suck it, American Taliban.”

Posted by Original Andrew | December 11, 2007 8:35 AM

This rhetoric is utterly par for the course for all of Mark "Have You Fucked Me?" Driscoll's MH Jesus missives.

Much of the MH lit flirts with borderline extortion or blackmail of one sort or the other. The rest of it seems primarily concerned seeing how many crimes of historical inaccuracy can be shoved into a single sentence.

"Go Old Testament?" Mark "HYFM?" Driscoll wouldn't know the Torah if it... well, I'm pretty sure you shouldn't do that with a Torah. Suffice it to say Mark "HYFM?" Driscoll needs to learn better the texts and languages he intends to discuss in his MH lit.

The best news of all is that this lit is free for the taking!

The downside is that you have to go in there of a Sunday (or any of the other twelve days a week they hold services) and actually take it yourself. This felt a bit creepy. But they are nice people, and smile a lot, and really really big eyes and they smell like soap and something slightly acrid. You can hardly see the horns. Anyway, you have to ask them for the stuff, and then they just start handing it over! It was like the loaves and freaking fishes. The fundy lit poured forth like ... fish.

The very best pamphlet, and the one that gave Abs her brilliant idea for her Mark "HYFM?" Driscoll campaign, is the one on straight male sexuality, all beautifully illustrated with nude shots of Greek male statues.

This veers a bit, I am afraid, from the original plot of the Slog: Mark "HYFM?" Driscoll's extortion of the flock. But I have a cool $50 sitting right here waiting for anyone to present solid evidence that Mark "HYMF?" Driscoll has been having an extramarital homosexual affair (within or without a relationship of prostitution; hopefully—for the minor's sake—not with a minor; I will entertain proof of an extramarital het affair, but will be disappointed; any drug involvement, however, is a plus), and this seemed as good a place as any to remind folks.

Fundy extortion is a good topic too. But it's not as good as when Mark "HYFM?" Driscoll gets busted for a meth-laced gay dalliance.

Posted by Abulafia | December 11, 2007 8:35 AM
And, finally, there’s a call for prayers for one of the family of one of the Mars Hill pastors. His wife is dying of cancer. If you’re the praying kind, pray for ‘em.

Wow, that comes off as disingenuous, smarmy and opportunistic.

Fight fire with fire, huh Dan?

Posted by Judah | December 11, 2007 8:38 AM

Well, what we need, Susan, is we need money to build an interstellar cruiser, mmkay.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 11, 2007 8:42 AM

Sincere, Judah. Don't know how to prove it to your satisfaction, but there it is.

Posted by Dan Savage | December 11, 2007 8:50 AM

Is it your goal to inspire enough Mars Hill hatred that you could incite a Colorado-style church killing spree here, too?

If so, you're doing a good job.

Posted by shadesofcolumbine | December 11, 2007 8:55 AM

I think maybe Mars Hill may be having some teeny mortgage troubles with some of its real estate empire. Tee hee!

Posted by tomasyalba | December 11, 2007 8:57 AM

Wishes for the survival of the wife with cancer: best. Wishes for the survival of Mars Hill: not so much.

Posted by K | December 11, 2007 9:00 AM

The Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting article about tithing last month. I was struck by the arrogance in quotes like this:

Steve Sorensen, director of pastoral ministries at Cornerstone, says the church requires its paid and volunteer leaders to tithe, and teaches new members to do so, although it doesn't make them show proof of income. "When you tithe, God makes promises to us, that he ... is not going to let anything bad or destructive come about," says Mr. Sorensen. For those who don't tithe, he says the Lord "is not obligated to do those things for you."

Jesus is magic indeed...and he now takes plastic!

Some Baptist churches are trying to encourage tithing by accepting credit-card payments and automatic deductions from checking accounts. Two years ago, the Rev. Marty Baker, pastor of Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Ga., created the "giving kiosk" machine that allows congregants to donate at the church from their bank cards. He and his wife launched SecureGive, a for-profit company, which has placed 50 kiosks in churches. He says the machines can help track which families are giving the most.
Posted by PA Native | December 11, 2007 9:03 AM

Has anyone thought to forward a copy of this to the bank that just loaned MH a shit-load of money to purchase the Belltown property?

For some reason, I think they'd be verrrrry interested...

Posted by COMTE | December 11, 2007 9:04 AM
Don't know how to prove it to your satisfaction,

There's a mean joke here somewhere, I just can't quite nail it down.

Posted by Judah | December 11, 2007 9:17 AM

Oo, Comte, our dear friends at Bank of America seem to have been the suckers here. There's a public doc online, the Oct. 22 Deed of Trust that shows BofA on the hook for a total of $17M fronted to Mars Hill. Notices under the agreement are to go to Steve Maloney, Bank of America Commercial Banking, 800 Fifth Avenue, 36th Floor, Mail Stop WA1-501-36-02.

If someone can find Mr. Maloney's email and send along the news, that would help protect the interests of the bank's depositors and investors. Or find out who Maloney's boss is and send it there.

Posted by tomasyalba | December 11, 2007 9:21 AM

I demand a city with no Churches, crosses or Judah's.

Posted by Heaven. | December 11, 2007 9:24 AM
I demand a city with no Churches, crosses or Judah's.

And I demand a Slog with commenters who know when to use upper case letters and apostrophes. Looks like we're both shit out of luck.

Posted by Judah | December 11, 2007 9:46 AM

Dan, as someone who lives only two blocks from Mars Hill's new downtown location, I don't mind the new neighbors.

Posted by Will/HA | December 11, 2007 9:47 AM

Well, that's because you're eeeeeeevil, Will.

Posted by Dan Savage | December 11, 2007 9:52 AM

Ugh. Just ugh. These people are Christians in the same way that Osama bin Laden is a Muslim.

Posted by Greg | December 11, 2007 9:52 AM

God is my co-signor.

Posted by JimmyOlsen | December 11, 2007 10:03 AM

Don't get me wrong, Dan. I miss Tabella, what with the muzzle flashes at closing time. THAT'S the part of downtown life I savor.

Posted by Will/HA | December 11, 2007 10:05 AM

dan, it's nice to see your sincerity from time to time. thank you.

Posted by infrequent | December 11, 2007 10:29 AM

Did it ever occur to the MH people that all of this is just God's way of telling them that he's pissed at them for all of their bigotry?

Posted by Mike of Renton | December 11, 2007 10:41 AM

You know, SOME churches use their money to help the poor and needy, not to purchase expensive properties in downtown city centers and stage extravagant "look at me" public baptism theatre.

Miscogynist Hill Church and Pastor ("I'm not gay" Driscoll can take a flying fuck, and I hope it happens soon.

And casually dropping in the cancer victim mention to soften the religio-extortionism?

What a fucking tool.

Posted by Ralph | December 11, 2007 11:06 AM


No, no. You see, when something good happens to Christians, they're being rewarded by God. When something bad happens, it's God's will and has nothing to do with the behavior of said Christians. Note: this does not apply to faceless hurricane, earthquake, or tsunami victims. They all deserved to die.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 11, 2007 11:21 AM

The other night, I overheard a conversation on the bus that I would have been better off not hearing.

A woman was talking to someone on a cellphone, telling him or her the importance of tithing. The summary of her thesis: if you tithe to the church, God will directly reward you, commensurate to the percentage of your earnings that you give. So, if you hand over your entire paycheck, you'll magically win the lottery or some such shit. (Please note that I'm not exaggerating, she actually used that example.)

For people like that, there is literally no difference between old-style superstition and monotheistic religion, whether she's slaughtering a chicken and pouring its blood over an altar or donating money to a church.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 11, 2007 11:26 AM

Driscoll doesn’t post the prayer requests and doesn’t give input on the West Seattle church blog. This was a simple attempt at 2 things: 1) letting the church know the financial state of things. 2) keeping the church posted on the needs of a well-loved church family. The argument over the church’s handling of finances is reasonable. Linking that discussion to the cancer post in this blog is not.

Posted by Agnes | December 11, 2007 11:31 AM

Gotta love Google. I couldn't find the Deed of Trust but I did find Mars Hills financial summary showing the figures for their weekly/monthly budgets along with the weekly/monthly amount people "tithe":
PDF's here -

Go to Page 22:

Date	 	Budget	 	Giving	   # of Givers	Attendance
12/10/2006	$130,000 	$159,922 	705	4728
12/17/2006	$130,000 	$168,925 	543	4239
12/24/2006	$130,000 	$168,585 	584	4073
12/31/2006	$130,000 	$336,532 	621	3672
1/7/2007	$150,000 	$168,248 	618	5421
1/14/2007	$150,000 	$139,666 	513	4704
Posted by apres_moi | December 11, 2007 12:47 PM

@2 It turned into extortion in 1987, when God told Oral Roberts that he would "call [him] home" if Roberts didn't raise $8 million. Fundies have been paying into this protection scheme ever since.

Posted by Gitai | December 11, 2007 1:22 PM

So, um, if God Needs Money (sounds like a bad '50's sci-fi flick) can't he just print up as much as he wants?

Posted by COMTE | December 11, 2007 1:48 PM

So, the "Lord's Prayer," prayed by every Christian on the globe (which, apparently, is about 2 billion people) says, "Deliver us from the evil one." I guess it was just in ignorance that you mocked someone for saying the same thing. Or maybe you meant to mock Jesus. But, hey, I guess that's "cool" too.

Posted by Joshua | December 11, 2007 2:26 PM

You mean the Good Lord may be calling some of the MH pastorprix home if they don't raise enough bucks?

Ooh. I can hardly wait to wave as they go flying off into the ionosphere.

Posted by TLjr | December 11, 2007 6:47 PM

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