Mars Hill Announces Staff Layoffs

From Mars Hill’s “The Weekly”:

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.

According to a report in the Seattle PI, nine staff members were let go in the transition.

This is kind of interesting… only because I received FOUR separate emails from Mars Hill in the past few weeks asking for donations and saying that they need my help to close out their fiscal year (that ended June 30).

In fact, I’m not sure how I initially got on the Mars Hill email list, but it looks like I’ve been on it since August of 2012.  Past emails have included an announcement about Mars Hill’s music label, Christmas plans, and other generic press release type emails.

But the financial emails didn’t start until June.  In fact, the first email arrived on June fifth with the simple subject line: “Thank you!” It was a short email from MH XP Sutton Turner thanking me (as part of the Mars Hill Family) for my support and show me some of the things that are happening because of my giving. (Note:  I’ve never given to MH).

Then on June 18, I received another email entitled “Fiscal Year End Approaching”: “Please consider making a gift”.

It seemed to get more serious as time when on: On June 26: “But I need to hear from you by midnight on Monday night.”

And finally on June 30: “Mars Hill’s fiscal year ends today at midnight. Will you please make a special gift to Mars Hill so that we can end the year in a strong financial position?… But I need to hear from you by midnight tonight.”

Obviously, there is a real financial need right now at MH. And let’s face it, it’s been a tough year.

It is interesting to me that the layoffs came a week BEFORE the fiscal year ended.  That’s not a good sign.

I’m a friend of Mars Hill; and have met Mark a couple times at events that we’ve been a part of together. I wish them no ill.

QUESTION: Has your church ever had to lay-off multiple employees?  Have you ever tried to lead through a major financial crisis? What did you learn? And how to you turn things around so that the bad situation doesn’t snowball out of control?




  • pietrosquared July 3, 2014 Reply

    Church layoffs I’ve seen have generally followed a period of heady “over-hiring”.

    Mars Hill’s situation is just bad all around right now

  • Rev. Robert Barnes July 3, 2014 Reply

    I’ve seen this go so badly in program driven churches. Mars Hill is so large they can shift things around so that the Minister of XXX demographic is more or less replaced. I imagine this is not going to be a big problem for them compared to the PR problem and MD problem.

    The challenge is, for larger churches, to build a model that doesn’t resemble a cruise ship, where if you lose staff/amenities, people flee for the better cruise ship. The enemy in this model is a lack of fuel–funds, personality, rocket-fuel marketing. The enemy is anything that attacks your resources.

    Instead, build a model that looks more like a battleship, where it’s all hands on deck, everyone has a role, there is no vacation mentality, and the enemy is the world, the flesh, the devil, and the weapons are preaching, prayer, sacrament, discipleship.

    Hey, I think the USS Discipleship might be a good name. I’ll trademark that and market it! I’ll need someone as my cruise director. Make sure I have your resume, Todd.

    • D July 3, 2014 Reply

      WELL said!

  • Steve Miller July 3, 2014 Reply

    Church layoffs are commonplace. They seem to follow a period of rapid growth, when hiring was going full steam ahead. Then the church hits a plateau level where they will fluctuate for a few years, minor increases and minor decreases in attendance and staff, but pretty stable. Then growth will start again but very slowly as old ministries drop off and new ministries are added.

    The layoffs are painful, but what can happen is cross-pollination where these former MH staffers can find employment at other churches in the area and revitalize them with insights learned from Mars Hill.

    Keep these laid off people in prayer! It is so confusing when your faith, career, and church life are all at the same place and then that rug is pulled out from under you.

    Keep all of Mars Hill and its ministries in prayer, they seem to be the current favorite pinata for both secular and Christian news/opinions websites.

  • D July 3, 2014 Reply

    I’m not any kind of teacher or preacher any more, but Mr Driscol’s antics and arrogant attitude (seen clearly by his many interview remarks and ‘sermon’ content) told me that his celebrity might eventually wane. His church seemed to celebrate Mark Driscol rather than Jesus.

    Why did Driscoll start Mars Hill Church?
    Here’s a great quote that tells us that this empire was started by a Biblical, God-fearing person with a Gospel based foundation hungry to save souls from hell (not):

    “So I decided to start a church, for three reasons. First, I hated going to church and wanted one I liked, so I thought I would just start my own. Second, God had spoken to me in one of those weird charismatic moments and told me to start a church. Third, I am scared of God and try to do what he says.” (Confessions, p.39) — the words of a solid, seasoned, wise, Christian leader, right??

    He hated church. He literally hated church. He wanted to start one HE liked. Idolatry. In my few years of life, I’ve never heard a more selfish and arrogant reason for starting a local church. Nearly everything I heard of his antics speaks of his passion for attracting members rather than souls. In as much as I’m a spoiled brat myself in some ways, much of his behavior on STAGE reminds me of a person who didn’t get his way when he was a young boy, so he’s making up for it now that he has the power to make his own decisions. This kind of razzle-dazzle ministry can only last so long in the life of people who want to get serious & go deep with their relationship with the Lord and His Word.

    Many huge churches rise and fall like the tide when it comes to their staff needs, but I agree with Rev Robert Barnes about the program-driven church. When your church resembles a political party, trying to attract (think “chase”) as many demographic groups as possible, you WILL have this rise and fall often. This man and those under him has been in my thoughts & prayers for quite a while and will continue to be.

    • D July 3, 2014 Reply

      Just as I hit “enter,” I realized I didn’t spell his name correctly. Sorry about that.

      • Steve Miller July 7, 2014 Reply

        Well D you want to be careful you understand Mark’s original meaning of “hated going to church.” Mark loves the universal Christian church, he loves what Jesus created, but he hated what man had done by failing to create a relevant Bible based example. Mark hated he could not find a church which lived up to what he believed Jesus wanted it to be. God often makes someone uncomfortable with the status quo as a first step in bringing about godly change. God raises up men who are agents of change who see the difference between God’s design and man’s execution of the plan.

        • D July 7, 2014 Reply

          I’m so tired of hearing people’s rephrasing, re-explanation, and in some cases, just changing what a person said in their original quotes. In other words, your explanation means, he was unhappy with every church he went to because none of them met HIS desires. If he meant all you said, he SHOULD have said that. By now, he’s should be a seasoned celebrity pastor who knows that his words and phraseology are important. Instead he’s constantly blurting out embarrassing remarks (at time, including vulgarities & profanity) that have to be rephrased and explained by his apologists.

  • Leonard Lee July 8, 2014 Reply

    I struggle to receive input on the web from people who are adamant and critical but do not use their name. Stand behind your words.

    We are all unmade beds. A principle I am continually reminded of is this: I cannot truly know grace nor can I truly dispense grace until I learn to hate my own sinfulness.

    This is a painful journey to take and one which is easily aborted, however, I must not quit in the journey.

    • D July 8, 2014 Reply

      Changing the subject will get you nowhere, Leonard Lee. Please use your real name and stand behind your posts. Don’t struggle. Just ignore it. Life is too short to struggle with a stranger’s remarks whom you think is a coward. If using a full name means you’re standing behind your posts, how about REALLY standing behind your posts & making sure you post your real address, phone number and email address? Your other remarks do not address the subject at hand. We are called to name heretics and reprove those we love who are in the fold….because we DO love them. If what a “leader” says or does is not in line with the Word (especially if it’s blatant and clear), the Bible commands us to address it.

      • Leonard Lee July 10, 2014 Reply

        D – Just so you know, my real name is Leonard Lee. You request I stay on the subject: The subject here is staff layoff and financial difficulties in a church. This is made clear by the article and by Todd’s questions at the end of the article. So please stay on the subject, which is NOT Mark Driscoll and his struggles.

        You say it is because we DO Love them… Please tell me where you have communicated that love here. You did not say it, you did not do as love does in 1 Corinthians 13, so I am curious of this LOVE you speak of. Please help me understand how a slew of accusations is love.

        So, on the subject of the post. Yes I have had to lay off staff due to financial crisis. IT was very painful to the staff and several people in the church we pained. Those who gave faithfully were pained because it was still not enough. Those who did not give were pained because it was in some very real ways, their lack of participation in faithful giving that impacted the church.

        • D July 10, 2014 Reply

          The answer is, “send more money…we’ve got to have more money.” Ok, I can respect your opinion. Giving is a problem in nearly EVERY church/fellowship. It was estimated once that less than 12% give a simple tithe. So, if people would just give, we’d have more members because we’d have bigger programs. I understand that perspective, I just merely disagree. I argue that most assemblies have less than 20% actually participating in anything but Sunday school and services on Sunday morning…..with the subject of money not being touched.

          Again, no need to struggle. Just ignore me.

          Adamant: one who does not change his mind…staunch….confident…firm-standing. Wow, such an evil thing, that adamant thing. 🙂

          So we should pay attention to I Corinthians 13 and ignore all of the other actions and instructions of Jesus, Paul, and other Apostles regarding sound doctrine and theology. What other theological doctrines do you build based on only one passage in scripture?

          Again, when churches’ size (financial or population) grow and shrink, there may be good causes or bad causes, or neutral causes. When the cause might be a “cruise-ship” mentality, it may give staff pause to reflect to ask, “are we in line with the Bible and the Gospel?”

          This is my last post on this subject.

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