Mars Hill responds to the book marketing story, and I respond to their response 8

This evening Mars Hill released the following statement on the book marketing story, which I’ll copy here with a few interjections and comments.

In 2011, outside counsel advised our marketing team

They begin weakly by blaming an anonymous third party. Whatever the advice, the marketing team accepted the advice, as did Mark Driscoll, who solicited donations to God’s work so that he could build the huge mailing list that Result Source needed.

to use Result Source to market the Real Marriage book and attain placement on the New York Times Bestseller list. While not uncommon

That others do it isn’t a defense that a pastor ought be using.

or illegal,

I’m not so sure. Tax-exempt donations to a charity were repurposed to purchase a commercial product for the benefit of the charity’s leader. I’m reserving judgment on this for now, but I’m leaning towards doubt on its legality. [Update: I'm now sure that it is illegal.]

this unwise strategy

Why do they think it unwise? It achieved the results they wanted, and they’ve promoted Driscoll since then as a #1 bestselling author. The problem is that it’s deceptive and immoral. Not just unwise.

is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again.

No kidding. I’ll bet we’ll never see any reference to the New York Times on any future Driscoll books.

The true cost of this endeavor was much less than what has been reported,

OK, but why not share details? The reports have been around $210,000. Is “much less” $100,000 or $10,000?

and to be clear, all of the books purchased through this campaign have been given away

This doesn’t really solve the stewardship problem. The church purchased Driscoll’s books with tithed money. To whom were the books given, and was that the wisest use of God’s treasure?

or sold through normal channels.

For a profit or a loss? What is a normal channel, assuming these are the bulk books that weren’t distributed through Amazon?

All monies from the sale of Pastor Mark’s books at Mars Hill bookstores have always gone to the church

OK, but does it come close to matching the money that went out from the church?

and Pastor Mark did not profit from the Real Marriage books sold either at the church or through the Result Source marketing campaign.

Sure he did, in two ways. If Driscoll was paid an advance for the book, which he surely was, he wouldn’t be banking royalty checks on these sales, anyway. The question is whether Driscoll gave his advance money back to the church in proportion to the artificial sales from this campaign.

Driscoll has also profited from the speaking fees he has earned by marketing himself as a #1 bestselling author. That’s probably more profitable than the book anyway, and is the reason that the $200,000 was considered an “investment.”

To correct a statement in a recent article, Pastor Sutton Turner was the General Manager, not the Executive Pastor or Executive Elder as reported, at the time he signed with the referenced agreement with Result Source. In the time since this campaign we have established a new Executive Elder team, new Board of Advisors and Accountability, as well as a new marketing team.

At the very end of the statement comes this humdinger:

We are confident that God is preparing Pastor Mark and the ministry of Mars Hill Church for a great harvest of souls in the days ahead.

So what does this mean? Has this story just been a preemptive attack of the Devil because he knows Driscoll’s gearing up for great things?

Whatever repentance would look like from Mars Hill, this isn’t it.

(This post has been updated to reflect that the Result Source campaign cost $210,000, not $220,000.)

8 thoughts on “Mars Hill responds to the book marketing story, and I respond to their response

  1. Serving Kids in Japan Mar 8, 2014 7:11 am

    Thank you, Dr. Duncan, for your insights and analysis. I respect you very much for your incisive commentary on issues like these, and all the more for everything you’ve suffered in recent years.

    I thought that the statement from Mars Hill rang false, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. You sniffed out all the deflections, justifications and blame-shifting like a bloodhound.

    I did snort at Mars Hill’s last paragraph. How arrogant. And if they’re so sure of a “great harvest of souls”, why use firms like Result Source in the first place?

    This line, too:

    “Pastor Mark did not profit from the Real Marriage books sold either at the church or through the Result Source marketing campaign.”

    Even if these activities never put a penny in Driscoll’s pocket (highly unlikely, as you point out), he’s profited otherwise. Ever since the book’s week in the sun, he’s been calling himself a best-selling author. That boast gives him credibility in the eyes of many consumers. Something he really seems to crave.

    *sigh*

    Well, did anyone really expect Driscoll to just roll over and say ‘uncle’ so soon?

  2. Victorious Mar 8, 2014 8:22 am

    Thank you for accurately cutting through the Mars Hill smoke screen obviously, purposefully vague in an effort to calm the storms and protect the ship’s captain from the sinking ship.

    Your analysis is greatly appreciated.

  3. Paula Mar 8, 2014 2:45 pm

    You know what word they didn’t mention in their defense: “unethical”

    “this unwise strategy is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again.”

    Why not? And that doesn’t answer the question of whether they would have if no one had blown the lid off this putrefaction.

    >”and to be clear, all of the books purchased through this campaign have been given away

    “This doesn’t really solve the stewardship problem.”

    It also doesn’t solve the problem of deception.

    They signed a contract. They cannot plead ignorance. Anyone with a conscience looks at that contract and KNOWS they are deceiving the public and the New York Times. Particularly because they had to provide addresses to send the books to in order to DECEIVE the NYT into putting him on the list.

    And we are supposed to take this kind of spin as an admission of guilt of some sorts by the Driscodolaters. Amazing. They must REALLY be unfamiliar with repentance and forgiveness if they fall so easily for the counterfeit.

  4. Diana Mar 8, 2014 4:45 pm

    The marketing of the Gospel these days makes me want to turn over the tables of the moneychangers too. At the large church I attend, our Pastor has been recommending Driscoll’s books. I keep wondering if I’m the only one who thinks this is wrong. What is wrong with Christians anymore, they seem to have lost all discernment. Seems like so many are so eager to latch onto the newest, coolest thing. I’ve just started reading your blog and I appreciate that you aren’t afraid to call out what is going on in so many so called churches today. So many preachers are either preaching on their own book they’ve just published or preaching on someone elses bestseller. They need to preach Gods word. Period.

  5. Todd Wilhelm Mar 9, 2014 9:35 am

    Sounds like maybe it’s time for a mutiny on the Mars Hill bus. Driscoll should be thrown from his bus before he takes everyone on it over the cliff.

  6. Brenda Mar 11, 2014 6:57 am

    “What is wrong with Christians anymore, they seem to have lost all discernment.”

    Amen (unfortunately), Diana!! ): Christians are not reading their Bibles ~~ nor studying, to show themselves approved (2 Tim 2:15). No God’s Truth = no discernment.

    And we should ALL be fulfilling our mission ~~ to preach Christ, and Him crucified (1 Cor 1:18, 21, 23 and 1 Cor 2:2). Then people might hear and believe that Christ died for our sins & rose again, and by believing they would be born again & saved (Eph 1:13)

    Shine forth, PreciousSaints, and God Bless. ~Brenda

  7. John Helbling Mar 18, 2014 4:32 pm

    As of today, the Result Source website is down and Kevin Small has pulled his Twitter account…interesting.

    • James Duncan Mar 18, 2014 4:45 pm

      Thanks for the alert, John. I wonder if Result Source only just discovered that they actually manipulate bestseller lists, thinking all along that they were really just in the business of boosting authors’ sales. In response to this shocking news, they’ve decided to punish themselves by taking an Internet timeout.

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