How Mark Driscoll Gamed the Publishing Game

Years ago, Rick Warren finagled his way onto the bestseller lists. Before Purpose-Driven Life came out, Warren had hundreds of churches lined up to buy thousands of copies, all of which he bought through Pastors.com and resold to said churches. It was so effective that Warren’s marketing rep and Zondervan left his job there and wrote a book about the process. Warren vehemently disavowed that he’d done anything unethical. Instead, the 35 million copies he’d sold was not marketing but “God’s supernatural and sovereign plan.”

Rick Warren

Nevertheless, as a result of PDL, bestseller lists changed their rules — some removed any book that showed large, bulk sales, while other lists put an asterisk by those titles. Also, they pulled books like PDL off of non-fiction and put them in their own category of “Self-Help and Advice,” since those are often the books with bulk sales.

Authors know that “non-royalty sales” don’t count toward bestseller lists. Those include, for instance, books that authors or their organizations buy at the author discount, usually 40 or 50% off the cover price.

Bestseller lists are important, even today. I once had a book contract that had a $10,000 incentive if my book made the NY Times or Publsihers Weekly list. (It didn’t.) Those lists are meant to gauge how many real, individual readers are buying books.

Now comes word that Mark Driscoll and his church hired a firm that used a thousand different credit cards and thousands of individual names — the names were supplied by the church — to drive Driscoll’s marriage book onto the bestseller lists. As a reward, the firm was paid $210,000 by Mars Hill Church:

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Evangelical Pastor Turns Pro-Gay

Ken Wilson, pastor of Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has just published a book entitled, A Letter to My Congregation, in which he explains his change of mind and heart on the issue of homosexuality. He may be the first active pastor of a large evangelical congregation to make such a switch. David Crumm at Read the Spirit has an interview with him:

DAVID: Since David P. Gushee is also putting his name on the line with this book, the two of you were invited to speak at the California LGBT film festival, called Level Ground, last week. The festival was covered in the Los Angeles Times and other news media. Do you feel the eyes of the world are upon you?

Pastor Ken Wilson

KEN: No, I don’t feel that way and I don’t want to focus on the psychological pressure. My first responsibility is to lead my church through this transition successfully. Yes, I know there is a lot at stake here. There are many evangelical pastors out there whose hearts are inclined to go in this direction, but they can’t even begin to talk about this. I think once we can demonstrate that, yes, it can be done—then I think there are going to be many evangelical congregations that will follow. Before long, there is going to be a strong and growing expression of evangelicalism in America that is making space for gay people.

DAVID: How do they start? I can imagine a lot of readers of this interview—and readers of your book—wanting to know: How did Ken do it? How can I start this process?

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This Is Normal Now

The above landed on our doorstep yesterday morning. At breakfast, I held it up and asked the kids what they thought. They thought nothing. There was no change on their face, there was no “yuck factor,” there was no reaction of any kind. There was, instead, a sense from a 9-year-old and a 13-year-old that this gay kiss was normative.

Some will argue that even though this is now culturally normative, that doesn’t make it biblically normative. To those I say, we were also eating bacon at breakfast.

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Why Is Moorohler Nervous? Because Evangelicals Are Embracing Gay Marriage

The evangelical intelligentsia is very, very nervous. That’s because opposition to same sex marriage is crumbling among the generations that will be running evangelicalism in coming years. Yesterday, we saw Moorholer attacking a couple younger evangelicals who had the gall to question Arizona’s anti-gay, pro-discrimination legislation. But as the new survey out this week from PRRI shows conclusively, evangelical opinions about gay marriage are shifting very quickly among those under 40.

Here are some other findings of the survey:

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