Saturday, February 08, 2014

Mark Driscoll in 2009, "I didn't start a side company ... for my book writing". 2011 starts On Mission to manage profits of book sales


Now as discussed earlier at Wenatchee The Hatchet, On Misson, LLC, is the entity that owns the copyright for Real Marriage.

Also noted were the changes made in the persons and locations of On Mission, LLC, which went from listing Mark Driscoll to listing two LLCs as the persons in the LLC.  Documented here:

That an LLC would have two more LLCs as persons when before the person had been Mark Driscoll is curious.  Now back in 2009 in the midst of the Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter series there was a sermon that, in a highly unusual case, was never transcribed.  Normally Mark Driscoll sermons get transcribed for any and all to read.  Well, not this one, and so one would have to listen to the sermon up to about 40:30 in to begin hearing this comment Mark Driscoll made about the danger of pastors being motivated by greed and, along the way, addressing a concern he'd gotten asked about by some people.

Prophets, Priests and Kings
 Trial: 8 witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter
May 3, 2009
1 Peter 5:1-5

... So in all of this, as well, I've had people ask, "So what about the book sales?"  Here's how it works, I didn't start a separate company. One of the ways that guys work this, they become a leader in a church and they have a company on the side and they use the church to funnel business into their side company and I didn't start a side company (like a lot of guys do) for my book writing. Instead I publish under Mars Hill.

So the way it works, I don't get all the money. Mars Hill gets a huge take. Mars Hill gets all the marketing dollars, they get paid by the publishers. Mars Hill gets half of all the royalties so the books that I publish, about 75% of the revenue goes to Mars Hill Church, not me. Not me.  Because I'm worried about this issue, greed, shameful gain. Just using Mars Hill as a platform so I can start a business to rake in massive dollars. I don't think it's a sin for a pastor to get a salary but we're now at the point where the books and the marketing, that a huge portion of my salary is covered by income that I generate.  And, I'll be honest with you, I hope one of my books pops or I get enough books on the shelf, titles in print , I'd love to see the day where I'm basically working for free and that the book sales and royalties and such let me generate enough money for Mars Hill that I can work free of charge. That's my hope and my goal. I don't know if we'll get there but that's what I'm trying to do.

But what's striking about this is that Mark Driscoll has, for years, made a point of working and writing from his residential address rather than in the church office or using church resources.  This might have the advantage of ensuring that Mark Driscoll can stake a legitimate claim to not doing any of his writing in a work-for-hire relationship to Mars Hill Church.  Mark Driscoll's works have been copyrighted to Mark Driscoll and not Mars Hill Church, so it's a bit difficult to see in what sense he published "under" Mars Hill even back in 2009.  As to what level of royalties MH got paid for the books, they can probably produce those documents at some point or Crossway and other publishers could explain that if they choose to.

Driscoll was explicit in his hope that over time he'd love to be able to make so much money off his books he could preach free of any remuneration from Mars Hill.  That sounds altruistic if you're a non-profit religious organization but that could be construed as a double-edged sword, the pastor who is financially independent of the organization he is legally president of could end up having zero internal or external accountability that means anything if he's able to live entirely off the royalties of book sales.

And the paradoxical problem with developing that situation is that that would only seem possible by ... setting up a company on the side for profit.  So when the NYT bestseller that Real Marriage turned out to be listed an LLC rather than Mark Driscoll as the copyright owner this would seem like a big 180 turnaround from the sort of thing Mark Driscoll was saying in 2009. 


When we look up On Mission in the Washington state corporation search we get this:
UBI Number                 603258287
Category                       LLC
Active/Inactive             Active
State Of Incorporation  CO
WA Filing Date            12/06/2012
Expiration Date            12/31/2014
Inactive Date 
Duration Perpetual

Registered Agent Information
Agent Name              C T CORPORATION SYSTEM
Address                     505 UNION AVE SE STE 120
City                           OLYMPIA 
State                          WA
ZIP                            98501 
Governing Persons
Title Name Address
23632 HWY 99 STE F441
EDMONDS, WA 98026 

23632 HWY 99 STE F441
EDMONDS, WA 98026 

The governing persons were formally Mark Driscoll but the state of incorporation was Colorado, with a registered agent of William Moritz back in 2011.
This was e-filed January 28, 2011 at 1:44pm
ID# 20111058965
doc# 2011058965

According to the articles of organization

Article I
The name of the Limited Liability Company is On Mission, LLC

Article II
The term for which this Limited Liability Company is to exist is 50 years

Article III
The Limited Liability Company is organized for profit and the nature of its business or purposes is:

A. To manage book royalties, printing and publishing and all related and derivative activities and
B. To engage in any lawful act or activities for which corporations may be organized under the Colorado Limited Liability Company Act.

Article IV mentions the registered agent in charge is V William Moritz

Article V. lists that the name and mailing address of the manager and organizer of the LLC is as follows:

Mark Driscoll
4570 Hilton Parkway Ste 203
Colorado Springs, CO 80907

Article XI states

Neither the members of the Limited Liability Company nor the manager or officers of the Limited Liability Company are liable under a judgment, decree or order of a court, or in any other manner, for debt, obligation or liability of the Limited Liability Company.

So way back in 2011 Mark Driscoll set up a limited liability company in Colorado explicitly for the purpose of managing the royalties and sales of books.

What about OMCRU Investments, LLC?
OMCRU Investments, LLC

This would be a document to consult
Filed 9-30-2011

Not dissimilar to On Mission, LLC but the articles are worth consulting.

The Limited Liability Company is organized for profit and the nature of its business or purposes to be conducted or promoted is:

A. To manage property and investments.
B. To engage in any lawful act or activities for which corporations may be organized under the Colorado Limited Liability Company Act

What property was this company going to be owning?  What investments?  Well, we'd have to see who the manager and organizer of the LLC is and what does Article V say?

Article V
... The name and mailing address of the manager and organizer of the Limited Liability Company is as follows:
Mark Driscoll
1722 North 122nd St
Seattle, WA 98122
[but obviously no longer]

Thus ...
On Mission, LLC
4570 Hilton Parkway, Ste 203
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Registered Agent Bill Moritz

None of this looks like Mark Driscoll publishing under Mars Hill Church and it looks a lot like Mark Driscoll set up a side company for a book to manage profits from a book that turned out to be a bestseller on the NYT bestseller list.  As to what property OMCRU Investments, LLC might have ended up owning, well, who knows?  But it was interesting to observe that by May 2012 Future Hope Revocable Living Trust had paid for a house in Woodway.  The only reason the Seattle address is getting mentioned here is because it ISN'T where the Driscoll family currently lives.  But what it does establish was that at one point in 2011 Mark Driscoll set up what could be construed as a side company.  Now setting up a side company to manage sales of books is just fine, actually, and it's only because Mark Driscoll rhetorically declared the custom as the sort of thing that greedy pastors do that makes any of this seem a bit puzzling.


And for that matter, it's worth noting that not all for-profit companies that have emerged in the Martian orbit were even helmed by Mark Driscoll.  Consider none other than Resurgence Publishing.
UBI Number                 603207560
Category                       REG
Profit/Nonprofit            Profit
Active/Inactive             Active
State Of Incorporation  WA
WA Filing Date            05/17/2012
Expiration Date            05/31/2014
Inactive Date 
Duration                       Perpetual

Registered Agent Information
Agent Name                 JOHN SUTTON TURNER 
Address                        1411 NW 50TH STREET
City                              SEATTLE
State                             WA
ZIP                               98107
Governing Persons
Title Name Address
1411 NW 50TH ST
SEATTLE, WA 98107 

1411 NW 50TH ST
SEATTLE, WA 98107 

1411 NW 50TH ST
SEATTLE, WA 98107 

All governing persons at the corporate headquarters of Mars Hill Church. 

[UPDATE 10.10pm 2-8-2014: Holcomb has not been at Mars Hill for a while now and this state listing as it appears is bound to be inaccurate.  The Washington Secretary of State listing has not yet updated is listings as of the date of this post but I expect this to get rectified soon and that Justin Holcomb's name will no longer be listed in the directors of Resurgence Publishing, LLC.  In other words:

While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of this information, portions may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity who relies on information obtained from the System does so at his or her own risk.  It happens that WtH knows that the Holcomb listing is no longer accurate.]

So back in 2012 Mars Hill Church had a sermon series through Mark and Grace Driscoll's book Real Marriage for the first few months of the year

Then in 2013 for the first months of the year there was the Ephesians study which featured Driscoll's book Who Do You Think You Are? If you'd like to purchase the study guide for the series on James here at the start of 2014 ...

Available at The Resurgence store. 

Along with Sutton Turner's book.  If in 2009 Mark Driscoll was of the opinion that setting up companies on the side was a bad thing then having not one but two for-profit companies that make it their business to manage the royalties of books published by Mars Hill staff might seem like an about face.  Or maybe it's not, because setting up separate companies alongside MH to turn a profit was the only way Mark Driscoll would be able to get to a point of not collecting a salary.  The idea that after all this time and a bestseller that Driscoll would not draw a salary from Mars Hill Church seems, to put it nicely, improbable.  And that Mark Driscoll's managed to sell books alongside sermon series at the start of each year is fascinating.

Let's close with a story, when Radical Reformission came out way back in 2004 (which was published with a copyright to Mars Hill Church and not Mark Driscoll) I asked a friend if I should pick up the book.  "Nah," my friend replied, "all it is is the sermons he's preached over the last eight years in a book format.  There's nothing new."  But if the books are sold before the preaching series starts then eager beavers can now buy the book and read ahead and then eagerly await what Pastor Mark might have to say that's not already in the book.  And depending on which book it is, On Mission, LLC is there to manage the royalties earned from the sale of books to people who could just download the sermons and listen to all this content for free. 

And for folks who want to invest in the mission of Mars Hill Church because they're on mission, Sutton Turner's book represents a new era in the history of Mars Hill publishing.  Precisely how Mars Hill, as a non-profit, can be identifiably separate from Resurgence Publishing, the explicitly for-proft company or On Mission, LLC, Mark Driscoll's for-profit company that has ownership in copyrights of Real Marriage and A Call to Resurgence, one wonders what people who may have attended Mars Hill Church since hearing Mark Driscoll's May 3, 2009 sermon where he talked about greed and about pastors setting up side companies to funnel business into the side company from the church might be thinking now.