Friday, October 18, 2013

The speed of change at Mars Hill. Steve Fogg published an interview with Jake Johnson from MHC and discovers Johnson was gone by the time he published the interview

Due to the somewhat inexplicable but relatively great popularity of this older post about the BAJI group Wenatchee The Hatchet is going to shine a bit more light on the people formerly associated with the entity formerly known as the BAJI Group.  And in an observation of how fast things have changed at Mars Hill we'll highlight an interview Steve Fogg published with Jake Johnson,
who was a founding partner of BAJI, and who was formerly Chief Copywriter and Content Strategist at Mars Hill Church from, well, you'll se here.

Chief Copywriter and Content Strategist

Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
June 2011August 2012 (1 year 3 months) Greater Seattle Area
Directed the content strategy, copywriting, and messaging for Mars Hill Church, a 15,000-member church in 14 locations and 4 states; Resurgence, a church leadership website with over 6 million visitors annually; and Pastor Mark Driscoll, a New York Times best-selling author and international speaker.

Steve Fogg's interview is published here and he notes that he took so long to publish the interview with Johnson that Johnson was no longer even working at Mars Hill in October 2012 at the date of publication.  The speed of change at Mars Hill Church ... .

A few excerpts:

How did you start working in church communications and content strategy?
I was working as a freelance writer and editor while running point on acquisitions for a commercial real estate firm in Phoenix, Arizona. We were attending an Acts 29 church, which was called Praxis at the time. It was a fast-growing church that needed help and was looking for elders. I nominated myself for eldership, and part of the process was prayerfully discovering how I could best serve the church. I gave the elders a presentation on where I thought we could improve as a church in communications. At the end, they said, “Congrats, you just created a job for yourself.”

I worked as a volunteer Director of Communications and then later as the Pastor over communications as a lay elder. A couple of years later, the opportunity for a merger happened and I was brought on staff to oversee the efforts on the branding, design, copywriting, and communications side. The new church was Redemption Church and went from 1,200 to about 6,000. I was retained as the Communications Pastor for that church. From there the opportunity at Mars Hill opened up and I came to serve here about a year ago.

 What kind of work do you do at Mars Hill Church? 
I oversee the teams that run,, and, which include content strategy planning, writing, editing, design, and distribution, our social media strategy and the teams that run those accounts, and the content side of our publishing efforts. Additionally, I work with our excellent creative department on planning and branding for our sermon series, conferences, and more.

Each month, my team processes around 120 blog posts and 600 to 700 social media posts through our three channels. We put a lot of effort into building a great writing network and structuring content plans around our sermon series and various topics on Resurgence.

What does a typical day look like for you Jake?
I’m in a lot of meetings! My primary role is one of planning and management, so I have the opportunity to be in decision and planning meetings with our senior leadership and then help execute our decisions through my team.

I also spend some time touching base with my four team members to get updates on the status of their projects.

In between that, I squeeze in some copywriting for the various materials we’re producing to promote events, ministries, etc., as well as some writing for our blogs.

Most importantly, I try to stay on top of trends, plan out initiatives for the next couple months, and do audits of the content that’s going out, including analytics analysis.

Then of particular note is the question about particular achievements:

What is the best piece/favourite work you’ve been involved in?
Couple projects standout. We completely redid the site this year. It’s well designed and responsive. I was involved in planning for UI/UX and wrote the copy for the site. That was fun.
I also loved our God’s Work, Our Witness series, and was blessed to be a part of the team that worked on it. Jesse Bryan, our Creative Director, spearheaded that effort and did a fabulous job with it.

Some of you may remember the fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness and the associated series of sermons connected to it.  The film is notable for being a fundraising film, whether or not anyone else but Wenatchee The Hatchet would be comfortable calling it that is moot since the film was distributed along with an annual report by the same title and the film culminates in Driscoll talking about people giving money.  There's no alternate universe in which any of that adds up to a film that isn't a fundraising tool. 

The complete overhaul of the web presence was noted and seemed to be part of a massive rebranding/refocusing project.  That along the way it permitted a massive information overhaul that purged Mars Hill of most references to departed former pastor James Noriega in the wake of Andrew Lamb's story becoming a news item was coincidental but a convenient coincidence, it seems.  If a team was already overhauling the entire MH web presence then scrubbing away any evidence that could let the press identify who Andrew was connected to at Ballard inside of twenty seconds would simply be a fringe benefit. 

The ghost-writing company Johnson owns is an interesting detail.  There have been a few guys over the years who have listed that they did ghostwriting while serving in various capacities with elders at Mars Hill.  Not all of them STILL list ghostwriting as among their responsibilities but at one point a couple of them did say they were ghostwriting in LinkedIn profiles. 

Since reader activity seems to keep highlighting the now formerly BAJI group people then Wenatchee The Hatchet can oblige that curiosity.  It's not difficult to go look up what the people are doing now but for the sake of the history of Mars Hill it wouldn't hurt to go back and look up what they did.  After all, Mars Hill has such a strong and energetic web presence and so saturates the internet with its brand it makes finding things relatively easy.   And, as mentioned, some writing about the film God's Work, Our Witness is eventually in order.


Anonymous said...

"it permitted a massive information overhaul that purged Mars Hill of most references to departed former pastor James Noriega"

as well as Founding Pastor Lief Moi, apparently.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Actually, not at all.

Gunn and Moi were scrubbed from the MH web presence way back in 2008. Blotting out any by-name references to Gunn and Moi was already standard years before anyone at BAJI played any role in the web revamp of MH in late 2011.

Anonymous said...

"Blotting out"

Like those old Stalinist-era photgraphs where they blotted out Trotsky and others who fell out of favor with the "king"?