April 16, 2014

The uselessness of an ECFA accreditation

I recently wrote to the Evangelical Center for Financial Accountability.  I had learned recently that they gave accreditation to Mars Hill  church in Seattle in Sept 2012, despite the fact that they used $210K of church funds in 2011 and 2012 to buy Mark Driscoll a spot on the New York Times' Bestseller list.  How did this escape their notice at that time?  Did they not have access to Mars Hill's financial records then?

Here is what I sent them:

Message
Buying a place on the NYT bestseller list, and having supposed 'independent' people on the Board of Accountability who sell their books at Mars Hill Seattle and speak at their events? How is that not a conflict of interest? This violates your code of conduct for the organization. So having them accredited makes your accreditation look pretty hollow.


But I got a response from one Michael Martin who handles legal issues I guess.

The letter had a disclaimer at the end that said this:


I recently wrote to the Evangelical Center for Financial Accountability.  I had learned recently that they gave accreditation to Mars Hill  church in Seattle in Sept 2012, despite the fact that they used $210K of church funds in 2011 and 2012 to buy Mark Driscoll a spot on the New York Times' Bestseller list.  How did this escape their notice at that time?  Did they not have access to Mars Hill's financial records then?

Here is what I sent them:

Message
Buying a place on the NYT bestseller list, and having supposed 'independent' people on the Board of Accountability who sell their books at Mars Hill Seattle and speak at their events? How is that not a conflict of interest? This violates your code of conduct for the organization. So having them accredited makes your accreditation look pretty hollow.


But I got a response from one Michael Martin who handles legal issues I guess.

The letter had a disclaimer at the end that said this:
This text is provided as general educational information and with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional. This communication and any attachments may contain sensitive, confidential information for the use of the designated recipients named above. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

So, since I don't know if that means I can't share it,  I'll paraphrase.  They reassured me that Mars Hill has been a member in good standing, in compliance with their "committed to our high standards" since September 2012, and that their BOAA is also in compliance with their standards for board governance.

And then he went on to tell me that they also buy the whole non apology thing for the ResultSource/Mars Hill/New York Times bestseller fiasco.  They've apparently swallowed it hook line and sinker.   I guess it really is true that it's easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. If you just admit it was poor judgement (a la Bill Clinton) then everyone accepts it as OK.

To me, this says that everyone's accreditation at ECFA has just lost all value.  Good to know that pastors and churches and para church ministries who have worked hard to do everything above board are now just as trustworthy as Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill.  Inspiring.