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Generous (Part 2b)

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God has given you everything you have—your body, mind, breath, and all good things. In this sermon Pastor Mark talks about how to be a generous steward of these gifts. This is part 2 of week 2.

2 Corinthians 9

9:1 Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Introduction: You’re listening to Generous, the 2008 Mars Hill Church Christmas sermon series. Pastor Mark Driscoll will be examining II Corinthians 8 and 9, which gives us an example to model our own giving by, and helps us remember that Jesus is the most generous giver of all. For more audio and video content, please visit

Pastor Driscoll: Along that line, what I wanted to do is bring out Pastor Jamie Munson (your lead pastor), Pastor Tim Beltz (your executive pastor), and I wanted them to describe to you kind of where we’re at, where we’re going, what we’re doing. A little bit of business, and then we’ll sing some Christmas songs.

Hey guys, you want to take it, buddy? Maybe introduce Tim. You guys all know who Jamie is, right? Lead pastor – was up last week? Yes? No? You guys know Jamie? Cool.


I don’t oversee the money. You don’t want me counting stuff, that’s for sure. I’m not a systems, policies, and procedures guy. These men have great skills, gifts, and abilities. And they run the administrative and stewardship load of Mars Hill. And so, rather than me making mistakes, I thought it’d just be best for them to let you know what’s going on.

Pastor Munson: Appreciate you guys making the hike in the snow. So, this is Pastor Tim Beltz. He’s the executive pastor of Mars Hill, a dear friend. He runs all of the operation side of what we do as a church. So, we’re a church, we’re about ministry, but we have to have budgets, we have to have buildings, we have to have staff, we have to have policies, procedures. Tim oversees all of that.

He has a lot of experience in nonprofit management. He was the chief operating officer at Crista Ministries, and the interim CEO up there for a number of years. He has an MBA. He’s overseen a $200 million budget in the nonprofit world. Lots of experience.

And so we brought him in about a year-and-a-half ago, to come on and oversee this area for us. He does a great job. I love working with him. A good man. So, I’m gonna turn it over to him to give you guys an inside look at some of the not-so-sexy part of Mars Hill, but the important part.

He keeps us out of jail. He does the good work, the hard work, to make sure we’re above reproach in a lot of those systems. So, I’ll let you kind of give us an overview of what does some of the financial accountability look like at Mars Hill?

Pastor Beltz: That’s a tough act to follow. Thank you. Just a couple of real quick points. We take this really seriously, the financial controls of the church. Our generosity as a – I’m a members of Mars Hill Church, obviously, and so it’s our generosity that really gives us an opportunity to be great stewards here at Mars Hill Church.

And so, just walking through this, the financial controls piece, it’s as simple as the two people that count the money and then deposit it. We have a chain of custody for that money, to make sure that there’s no opportunity for making errors or mistakes or having any problems.

It’s as complicated as having budget and expense reports that are reviewed at multiple levels of management. It’s also a system where Pastor Mark and Pastor Jamie, they don’t sign any checks. Their names aren’t on any of the accounts so that we can keep them above reproach, and that we can allow those who really enjoy doing those kind of things, and who are good at it, that we can.

It also means that we periodically, quarterly and annually, we talk to outside professionals, independent of our church, and we show them our financial records so that they can provide oversight, and that provides accountability for me and the financial team.

The second, on salary determinations. We have – we had about a hundred staff. We’ve had to lay off some folks at Ballard, and there may be some more. But from a salary standpoint, about 18 months ago we came up with a very comprehensive and integrated system for compensation and for performance management.

Our performance counts as staff members, and we use a lot of extensive research – national and local data – to be able to identify what’s the right salary for a particular job. We have an audit committee of the board of directors. And this audit committee does a couple things, but primarily they’re the ones who take that research data and they build the compensation tables for our staff.

It’s pretty complicated, and I won’t go into it. It’s more detail than you’re probably interested, but it’s something that other churches are really interested in getting from us. But that’s approved annually.

And then the salaries of the executive elders are something that’s recommended and approved by the audit committee of the board, so that we can provide, again, that extra objectivity.

The chairman of the audit committee is an unpaid elder – not a staff member here at Mars Hill Church. And again, that helps provide some oversight and objectivity to the process.

The third point, the annual external audit. We contract with an independent external auditor. And each year, we have our financial records – it’s about a four-month-long process, but they audit our books. And I have to tell ya, we just finished it, and again, we got a sterling report. It’s like bringing home an A year after year after year. And it’s a pretty hard, extensive process.

The annual report. We really like to be, and we are, open and want to shed light on everything that we do. And part of that is our philosophy. We have an open books policy to our members. If any of our members want to see financial details, it’s there for them.

And so, we provide information weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. And in the annual report, it’s a great opportunity for us to be able to do what Pastor Mark just preached about, and that is, is it’s all about what Jesus is doing in that transformation process of taking us as sinners and being able to, through various ministries, to be able to bring them to Jesus Christ and to grow.

And it takes resources to do that, and that’s what the annual report shows.

Lastly, the staff attendance ratio. You can see on the screen that the national church average is about one staff member to 45 people that attend church. Here at Mars Hill Church, and we did this before the layoffs, we have one staff member to about 75 attendees. It’s probably closer to 1 in 90 today.

Pastor Driscoll: Real quick, what is it now at Ballard? I know that’s Mars Hill – what? I was just thinking about it. It’s 1 for every 200?

Pastor Beltz: About.

Pastor Driscoll: So at the Ballard campus, we’re down to 1 staff for every 200 people. So that means, the average employee here does four times the work of the average employee nationally. So, again, just pray for your staff at Ballard. It’s a rough time.

Pastor Beltz: Yeah, and we do really rely heavily on volunteers. But yeah, the staff work as hard here as I’ve ever seen in my 35 years of working. You want to take it from there, Jamie?

Pastor Munson: Yeah, absolutely. We appreciate what Tim does. In addition to that, we also – we’re always seeking good counsel from other people in the world – in the business world and the Mars Hill members. So, we’ll find Microsoft guys and Starbucks guys and just different professionals out in the world that can give us advice, give us another layer of accountability.

If we’re thinking about a big project, we’ll bring specialists in, in those areas. So, a lot of what Tim does is work with those teams as well, just to have an extra level of covering for the church.

So, a couple things I want to hit. You guys are all familiar with The City. Anyone not familiar with The City? That’s our custom, social, online network that Pastor Zack Hubert developed. This is real exciting. We were able to build this in-house. It’s a custom network for Mars Hill. It allows us to communicate. To interact as a community. To reinforce the community that is Mars Hill Church – the daily life of the church.

We set out to build this, ‘cause some of our old systems were just not working for us. And never set out to sell the thing, but in God’s grace, a couple months ago, as we’ve been using this, a bunch of people have taken interest. Zondervan, a big company, a big Christian media company, came to us and said, “Hey, we’d like to buy that.”

So, we started working with them, negotiating with them, figuring out, “Okay, what would this look like? How do we make this work?” Tons of details. We wanted to make sure that the church is protected in it. That it’s not something where we’re selling our data, or anything like that, but that they want to take the tool and leverage it for other churches to go use.

This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in terms of a church developing a piece of technology that a for-profit company is then coming in and purchasing.

We get to continue to use it free as a church. It’ll continue to be private. Our data is not being sold, nothing like that. We’re not gonna have banner ads.

It’ll exist how it is, plus they’re putting a lot more staff into it than we were able to. We had Zack and another part-time – or a couple employees that were working very part-time on The City.

They’re gonna build a staff in Seattle of about 15 people that Zack’ll go and oversee and work with. And they’ll make the tool even better. So, we get to use it. In that, we’ve been given $4 million to steward. It’s a gift that’s come to Mars Hill Church, and we want to share with you what we’re going to do with those funds.

So, we’ll walk through this quickly. The escrow and potential taxes – 1.6 million. There’s a chance the proceeds will be taxed. Our accountant doesn’t think so, but we want to be sure. We want to be safe. We want to put some money in the bank that can just earn interest, that can protect us. In case it is, we’ll have that money set aside.

So, we’ll know that in the next few months. But for – in the meantime, we’re just gonna safeguard and put that in the bank. In addition, we’re gonna bolster up our cash reserves. We always have a cash reserve to float us in times of lean giving. To float us in times of seasonal giving, when the summer’s down or the winter’s up. It allows us just to continue to operate.

This year’s a little different, where we’re cutting back the budget altogether. But by putting this $800,000.00 into that account, it puts us up over a million dollars, allows us to make it through some of the times that are a little bit tougher, when we need to, on the seasonal giving. So, that’s an important piece.

In addition, we’re gonna give $500,000.00 to our Shoreline campus, to help them find a permanent home. We launched that campus in January 2006, so this will be it’s third year. It really paved the way for the multisite movement of Mars Hill and allowed us to add other campuses. They were the guinea pigs in a lot of ways.

We’re gonna give them half-a-million dollars and then raise some more money to then be able to go find a permanent home for them. They’re meeting right now on the campus of Crista Ministries, King Schools, up in the North End. We’d like to get them a permanent home.

So, we wanted to bless them, get that fund started by giving them a half million.

We’re also gonna pay for some immediate needs, some things that have gone unfunded over the last six months or so. As we’ve cut our budget back already, we wanted to take care of some needs that we’ve been putting off.

Some of that is capital maintenance. It’s technology. It’s improvements to our warehouse building a block north, where we can get just some minor improvements to make it a little more accommodating for a few more staff. We have staff kind of spread out. We’re gonna consolidate them a little bit. So, a few of those dollars will be going to that and then some other ministry needs.

So, this allows us to fund some things that we’ve needed to fund, we just haven’t been able to.

And then, we’re gonna give 400,000 to church and campus planting, where you plant churches through Acts 29 Network. We plant campuses through Mars Hill. We need to really strengthen and build up our leadership development, so that we can train a bunch of leaders that then can be sent out to plant churches and plant campuses.

So, part of that money will go to that. Part of it will be to furthering the movement of Acts 29. And we’re just figuring out, how do we invest in church planting and campus planting and leadership development, so we can continue to reach more people.

And then lastly, Pastor Mark spoke on this one, the Generous Campaign. This is the money we’re gonna be putting aside for community groups to take that money, to think through ways for them to tangibly bless their community, their neighborhood, single moms, people that need help in the neighborhood.

And we’re really excited about this, because it allows you guys to get involved in how we’re gonna steward this. So, you can be thinking through, praying through with your community group, “How could we use a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars to go out and bless our neighborhood? To take care of a need that really needs to be met?”

And this is a way that we show the city that we’re gonna continue to be generous. Times are tough, but we’re gonna put some money aside to bless and encourage people. It’s fun. I’m excited. God gives us this gift, and we have the extra responsibility of stewarding it.

We’re not gonna just make up all of our budget deficit with it, because this is an extra thing, and we believe the church should continue to carry the base budget of our operating needs. But this is an extra bonus that we then get to spend and spend wisely for the Gospel.

Next piece – what is our economic plan for 2009? We want to finish 2008 as close to being on budget as possible. We had a $200,000.00 deficit going into December. We’d like to make that up if possible. Given the weather, given the economy, we’re not sure that we will, but we’d like to. That’s what we’re praying for.

If we don’t, and regardless of we’re reducing our budget and scaling back for 2009, just running as lean, as tight, as nimble as we possibly can, Ballard is going to take the biggest hit on that. And so, you guys are gonna have to step up more than ever to serve, to get involved, to give, to just be a part of what’s going on.

Our base budget will be about $210,000.00 a week. And in that, we’ll continue to give 10 percent of the money away to church planting and Vision Nationals, which is the orphanage ministry and church planting ministry in India.

So, we want to continue to give. We want to continue to set a good example there. But 2009 is going to be tight. It’s going to be tight for a lot of people personally. It’s going to be tight for us as a church. And it’s gonna take all of us really stepping up and doing our part and getting this generosity piece. That God has blessed us and we’re to be involved in and bless others.

I mentioned this last week, but we have this financial coaching ministry. We had a bunch of people this last week step up and e‑mail to get help. It’s basically free, confidential budget help, budget coaching, resourcing you to manage your money, to steward your money better. Nine out of ten people in their 30s are in debt. That’s our demographic. We want to help you guys get out of debt, so do take advantage of that.

It’s simple. Just e‑mail On the other side, too, if you’re someone who’s good with your money, you have good experience and good management in that area, and you’re a good steward and you’re a member of the church and you want to help be a financial coach, you could e‑mail them as well and they could run you through the training, and hopefully get you installed as a financial coach. We’re gonna need a lot of help in this ministry throughout 2009.

The last piece, then, is just, “How do we give?” Again, we don’t pass the plate. We like to just share. How does this happen? It happens on Sunday in our communion, in the giving baskets, or in the giving boxes that are located in each of the foyer.

You can mail a check in throughout the week as you’re doing your bills. We have envelopes you can take home. Take as many as you need. You can give online. Again, about half of our giving comes online. A lot of people like it. It’s easy. It’s convenient. It’s simple. And it fits in well with their daily rhythm, or their weekly rhythm, or monthly – however you tithe.

We also have automatic giving through ACH. I posted the form on the blog or The City. You can download that. You can also give through stocks, property donations, different things. If you have any questions on that, just e‑mail giving at

Again, a lot of information, a lot of details. We think it’s important, though, that you guys just know that we’re doing everything we can to be above reproach, to be trustworthy, to earn your trust, to do what’s right in the sight of God and you guys, so that more people can meet Jesus.

Ultimately, that’s how every financial decision at Mars Hill is evaluated. Will this money, if we invest it here, will it lead to more people worshipping Jesus? And that’s the goal. That’s the heart. And the elders are going first in that and asking you guys to join us in living that lifestyle, being generous in that way.

Pastor Driscoll: I’ll let you close it in prayer. We’ll bring Pastor Tim out. He’s got a choir. We’re gonna sing Christmas songs, have a little fun. Love you guys. Thank you again for coming out, and just would encourage you to be in prayer for your campus and staff and Pastor Bubba here. And do want to thank you guys. You guys are doing a great job. And without it, I think we’re in real serious trouble. But there’s a lot of wisdom to help us navigate through.

So, why don’t you close us in prayer, Jamie, and we’ll let Tim come out and transition.

Pastor Munson: Will do.

Pastor Driscoll: Thanks, bro.

Pastor Munson: Father God, we do praise you, because we are blessed richly. Thank you for the words that Pastor Mark taught this morning, that we give you thanks for the inexpressible gift that comes through Jesus. Through his sacrifice on our behalf. Through the forgiveness of our sins. Through his triumphal reign in Heaven now.

God, we look forward to more people in our city meeting him, knowing him, bending their knee to him, and worshipping him. And we know that our stuff is not just our private life, but our money and our time and our resources and what we do with them reveals our God, reveals you and has the opportunity to bear much fruit for the Gospel.

And I pray that we would get that. That we would continue to grow as a people, in our maturity, in our faithfulness, in our worship of you with our stuff. And that as we do, that you would continue to change lives through us, as we love, as we serve, as we reach out.

I thank you for this campus, God. I thank you for the sacrifices that many are making, coming here on snowy days. They’re giving, they’re serving, they’re carrying the load for others. I pray that you would encourage them. I pray that you would also work in the hearts of those that aren’t yet engaged, that aren’t doing their part, that need to grow in their faithfulness.

So, God, wherever people are at, I pray that you would just speak to them through your words. Thank you that Scripture doesn’t leave us alone here, and that you do speak to this very clearly.

God, I pray that we would just walk faithfully, that we’d walk righteously, and that you would bear much fruit through us for the Gospel. In your name we pray, amen.

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