A petition entitled “Mars Hill Church — Walk in the Light” is asking that the Seattle mega-church be suspended from a group called the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, alleging that it has been “misleading donors” in a money appeal.
The petition, filed at Change.org, references a November 2011 internal memo that described the objectives of Mars Hill Global Fund, a campaign that spotlighted church “planting” activities in Ethiopia and India.
The memo was leaked last month to Warren Throckmorton on the Patheos website. It appears to show the church creating the appearance of raising money for foreign missions while using the money for church planting in the United States.
Revealing words outlined the church’s marketing strategy, and its purposes:
“As a person sits in front of his computer in Qatar, London, Cape Town, or Sydney, he does not care about Mars Hill plants in Everett. As an international citizen, he cares greatly about global evangelism, global missions, global causes for Jesus, global church planting, etc.”
The memo went on to lay out how to build up a few high-profile projects while not disclosing proceeds. It said:
“Of the money that comes into the Global Fund, designate a fixed percentage internally for highly visible, marketable projects such as missionary trips, orphan care, support for pastors and missionaries in the Third World. This percentage should be flexible (not a tithe) and not communicated to the public.”
The memo provides evidence to a “lack of transparency” problem in the church, cited in an internal letter written by nine Mars Hill pastors this past August. All nine have since resigned or been laid off as the church downsized after a drop in donations.
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