On Wednesday, when Warren Cole Smith disclosed the arrangement between Mars Hill Church and ResultSource to place Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage on the New York Times list of best selling books, Mars Hill defended the scheme. Then, Justin Dean, MHC communication director said:
Mars Hill has made marketing investments for book releases and sermon series, along with album releases, events, and church plants, much like many other churches, authors, and publishers who want to reach a large audience. We will explore any opportunity that helps us to get that message out, while striving to remain above reproach in the process. Whether we’re talking about technology, music, marketing, or whatever, we want to tell lots of people about Jesus by every means available. That’s what we’re all about and have been since 1996.
On Wednesday, the ResultSource scheme was a “marketing investment,” and “an opportunity that helps us get that message out.” At that time, it was a means “to tell lots of people about Jesus.” That would make it a good thing, right?
By Friday, however, representatives of the church had a change of message:
In 2011, outside counsel advised our marketing team to use Result Source to market the Real Marriage book and attain placement on the New York Times Bestseller list. While not uncommon or illegal, this unwise strategy is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again. The true cost of this endeavor was much less than what has been reported, and to be clear, all of the books purchased through this campaign have been given away or sold through normal channels. All monies from the sale of Pastor Mark’s books at Mars Hill bookstores have always gone to 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.
Perhaps Mars Hill’s leadership believes they have been transparent with their statement, but at least on this point, they have increased the confusion and left important questions unanswered. The contract I posted on Thursday gives specific financial parameters which add up to over 200k in costs and yet in this statement the leadership says the true cost was much less. Without a more detailed account, questions will remain about those “true costs.”
Furthermore, I would like to know what happened between Wednesday and late afternoon Friday to change the message. While I doubt they will speak about the matter, I think this is a significant problem for MHC to address going forward. If there really was a change of mind between Wednesday and Friday, how did it come about?
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