Monday, March 07, 2016

revisiting the Mars Hill BoAA statement about Result Source in light of Mark Driscoll's recent "false and malicious allegations continue to be made against me" statement. ResultSource was attested to by Driscoll himself multiple times
“Unfortunately, false and malicious allegations continue to be made against me,” Driscoll said in an email to RNS Thursday (March 3). “I’m certain that the most recent examples are without any merit.”

What's curious about the statement Driscoll made was that he stated in the most general terms that false and malicious allegations continue to be made against him.  Then he expressed certainty that the most recent examples were without any merit.  One of the notable entries in the recent complaint deals with Real Marriage and its promotion.  That Real Marriage was promoted with help from Result Source was confirmed two years ago.
As if the public availability of the contract Sutton Turner signed weren't enough, the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability made a statement, two years ago. On March 7, 2014 the entire Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability confirmed that Mars Hill Church used ResultSource to secure a #1 spot for Real Marriage on the New York Times bestseller list.  Keep in mind that at that time Mark Driscoll himself was on the Board of Advisors and Accountability, wasn't he?


Dr. Tripp joins the current Board members: Michael Van Skaik, Dr. James MacDonald, Dr. Larry Osborne, Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas, and Sutton Turner. This Board of Advisors and Accountability was voted upon and installed by an overwhelmingly supportive vote from the entire eldership, with every single elder who voted doing so in approval.

Yup. So when this announcement came along two years ago Driscoll was part of the board that made the announcement.
By Board of Advisors & Accountability
March 7, 2014


Result Source
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. [emphasis added] 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. ...

If the books were open that'd be even easier to prove as a claim goes, but even so, couldn't it be said that landing the New York Times bestseller list was, for as long as it lasted, a prestigious benefit to Mark Driscoll even if it was not technically a monetary profit? The question of how far back Mark Driscoll had any awareness of Result Source is a question we'll get to at length but it's necessary to take a brief detour.
It might be worth noting something mentioned within that statement that could be easy to overlook a couple of years on.

Changes to Governance

For many years Mars Hill Church was led by a board of Elders, most of whom were in a vocational relationship with the church and thus not able to provide optimal objectivity. To eliminate conflicts of interest and set the church’s future on the best possible model of governance [emphasis added], a Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) was established to set compensation, conduct performance reviews, approve the annual budget, and hold the newly formed Executive Elders accountable in all areas of local church leadership. This model is consistent with the best practices for governance established in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability standards. Mars Hill Church joined and has been a member in good standing with the ECFA since September of 2012.

Easy though it could be to overlook, what the BoAA as a whole said about earlier governance of Mars Hill was that it was characterized by enough conflicts of interest in the leadership culture that a substantial revision of Mars Hill governance was considered necessary. 

Let's revisit a message Driscoll sent to Mars Hill later in March 2014, as related by Warren Throckmorton:
First, a marketing company called ResultSource was used in conjunction with the book Real Marriage, which was released in January 2012. My understanding of the ResultSource marketing strategy was to maximize book sales, so that we could reach more people with the message and help grow our church. In retrospect, I no longer see it that way. Instead, I now see it as manipulating a book sales reporting system, which is wrong. I am sorry that I used this strategy, and will never use it again. I have also asked my publisher to not use the “#1 New York Times bestseller” status in future publications, and am working to remove this from past publications as well.
So there's that, but when 21 elders made formal charges against Mark Driscoll in 2014 they wrote the following:

By: Former Mars Hill Pastors Dave Kraft, Jeff Bettger, Phil Poirier, Jon Krombein, Jesse Winkler, Mike Wilkerson, Lief Moi, Adam Sinnett, Matt Johnson, Zack Hubert, Andrew Lisi, Kyle Firstenberg, Phil Smidt, Mark Bergin, Will Little, Matt Jensen, James Noriega, Aaron Mead, Tim Gaydos, Zach Bolen, Wesley Oaks
25. May 2014—Mark told elders that he was not aware of the ResultSource agreement but had chosen to admit knowledge of it for the sake of the team in his letter to the church, and that others had made the decision to work with ResultSource. He claimed that another elder and Mark’s publishers made the decision to work with ResultSource without his knowledge. He insinuated that he had learned about the ResultSource agreement only after the story broke on World magazine. In fact, Mark agreed to work with ResultSource on the Best Seller Campaign for Real Marriage as early as July 2011.

On the outside counsel from 2011 looks like it could have been Kevin Small.

In June 2011, Kevin Small wrote to then Mars Hill Church executive elder Jamie Munson to provide details about how ResultSource could get Mark Driscoll on the New York Times best-seller list.
So whoever that other elder was was never specified in the summary in charge 25 from the 21 elders but Sutton Turner's 2015 account may be instructive:
Sutton Turner April 20, 2015

In July 2011, a new marketing proposal was already in the works at Mars Hill: ResultSource. I learned of the project from the manager who was overseeing it. ResultSource was a marketing practice that purchased books through small individual bookstores that would qualify the book for the New York Times Best Seller List. Then, these books would be shipped to Mars Hill and sold in our nine church bookstores. It was proposed that being listed on the New York Times Best Seller List would increase the awareness of the church, support the upcoming sermon series, and increase church size.

I had a couple of meetings with the manager who was working on this project and at the time he stated his concern with the marketing proposal. I was not invited to any meetings to discuss ResultSource in my role as General Manager overseeing finance. However, I wrote several memos to my supervisor sharing my concern and lack of support for this marketing practice. I was relatively new to the staff and obviously not on the Board of Directors, nor was I asked to be a part of this particular decision. But due to my adamant disagreement and desire to best serve the staff and church, I wrote a memo on August 26, 2011 to my supervisor saying the following:
  • The plan was poor stewardship.
  • If the plan were to be revealed, it would look poorly on the stewardship of Mars Hill Church.
  • If the plan were to be revealed, it would look poorly on Pastor Mark Driscoll.
A week later, I was notified that my advice was not taken and the plan to use ResultSource was approved. I don’t know who approved the plan. I don’t know what process was conducted concerning the decision. I do know that it showed that the process of making big decisions was broken and it needed to be fixed.

During this "season", if you will, it would appear Jamie Munson, Mark Driscoll, and possibly also Dave Bruskas were still the executive pastors in charge of things.

For whatever reason, Sutton Turner signed the ResultSource contract anyway in spite of his objections.  If the reasoning was that if he didn't sign it someone else would the question arises, why not let that other person sign it?  After all, we know that ResultSource sent invoices to Mark Driscoll c/o Mars Hill Church.

Whether the invoice was to Mark Driscoll as an individual or as an officer of Mars Hill Church seems like a pertinent question.  Technically the copyright for Real Marriage was to On Mission, LLC, with Driscoll as a party to the company.  So the invoices heading to Driscoll could be taken as a case where it raises a question of why Sutton Turner, as a representative of Mars Hill Church, signed a contract on behalf of Mars Hill Church to promote a book that wasn't even in any corporate/legal sense intellectual property owned by the church.  On Misson, LLC wasn't even initially incorporated in Washington state  

Turner continued to describe his role with ResultSource:

Shortly after the decision to execute the ResultSource marketing plan was made, my supervisor resigned. After him, I was the highest-ranking employee in administration. The decision had been made but the contract hadn’t yet been signed. On October 13, 2011, I signed the ResultSource contract as General Manager a full month before being installed as an Executive Elder. After signing the contract, I emailed an elder, stating my frustration with having to be the one to sign the contract when I had voiced my disagreement with it. But few in the organization (or in the media since then) knew of my disagreement. When you stay in an organization and you do not agree with a decision, you have to own that decision as your own. Unfortunately, I will always be linked to ResultSource since my name was on the contract even though I thought it was a bad idea. If given the same opportunity again, I would not sign the ResultSource contract, but honestly, my missing signature would not have stopped it. Someone else would have signed it anyway since the decision had already been made.

So ... Sutton Turner's supervisor was Jamie Munson?  The only resignation at the executive elder level in Mars Hill in 2011 that was of any note was Jamie Munson's resignation, of whom Mark Driscoll said Munson was always above reproach.  There's never been an explanation as to why Turner "had" to be the one to sign the contract.  We know the invoices were sent to Mars Hill and addressed to Mark Driscoll.  It's not entirely a given, is it, that had Turner refused to sign that someone else would, is it? Who else would have signed it?  Why not let them do it?

Well, the 21 elder charge document mentioned that Driscoll said in May 2014 that it was some other elder's idea.

May 2014—Mark told elders that he was not aware of the ResultSource agreement but had chosen to admit knowledge of it for the sake of the team in his letter to the church, and that others had made the decision to work with ResultSource. He claimed that another elder and Mark’s publishers made the decision to work with ResultSource without his knowledge.

Well, whether or not that was true remains to be seen, if possible.  But what this statement jogs a person's memory for is another thing Sutton Turner said about how Mars Hill leadership reacted to the headlines about ResultSource:
Posted by Sutton Turner on April 24, 2015
When the criticism of Mars Hill Global began in the Spring of 2014, I wanted to communicate about what happened with Global, its history, the financials, and my mistakes. Unfortunately, I was not permitted to discuss these things just as I was not permitted to discuss the ResultSource situation in the detail that I felt it deserved. There was actually a division on the Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) as some men wanted to put all the blame for both Global and ResultSource on me, but I am thankful for men who did not allow that. [emphasis added]

So when the controversy first erupted, or shortly thereafter, Turner's recollection is that at that point there was a split on the BoAA because some men wanted to scapegoat Turner for both ResultSource and a controversy to do with Mars Hill Global.  There were men who did not allow that to happen.  By May 2014, however, the 21 elder charges document indicates that when the topic of Result Source came up Mark Driscoll was described as passing the buck to some other elder and claiming he didn't know about RSI.  In the previously quoted charge 25. the 21 elders state that Mark Driscoll was aware of the ResultSource project at least as far back as July 2011.
from "Mark and Grace Driscoll Marriage Book Marketing Plan", published at the above link:

... After speaking with Sealy Yates we would like to push pre-sales through the Acts 29, Mars Hill, and Resurgence web sites and networks. We would like to build an incentive for those ministries to push presales in a way that allowed us to channel them through outlets that count for the NY Times bestseller list. ... [emphasis added]

... The campaign will begin at Mars Hill Church with invitations to the more than 400 Acts 29 churches Pastor Mark leads in the US alone plus those churches he leads in 12 other nations through Acts 29 as well as an open invitation for any church/ministry in the world to join us. In short, the goal is to sell books around preaching campaigns in a way that has never been done with multiple levels of resourcing and state of the art media technology.

June 20-23, 2011 we have our annual Acts 29 retreat in Vail Colorado. [emphases added] Each of the 400+ churches there will have me speak to them selling them to join us for the campaigns. When the book goes on presale I will need the following to send to each of the Acts 29 churches: ...

A couple things ...

First, note that this document from the Driscolls was anticipating a June 2011 Acts 29 event  that had apparently not happened yet as of the date the document was prepared.

Bruskas disclosed to friends that he was going to take the #2 position at Mars Hill in July 2011. That was about a month after Mark and Grace Driscoll and their agent Sealy Yates met at Thomas Nelson to discuss the ResultSource approach to scamming the best-seller list.  This June 27, 2011 note from Sealy Yates to Kevin Small was included in a Mars Hill memo on the ResultSource-Real Marriage campaign.

Kevin: The Driscolls and I were at Thomas Nelson all day Friday in meetings with the Nelson team.  Rick Sprull at Nelson has told us that they will cooperate with Mars Hill and Result Source to make the program work. I also wanted to let you knwo that the suggested retail price of the book will be $22.99 and not $25.00. I know that Jamie Munson is working with his elder board to determine if they can and will make the decision to hire Result Source. We will be back to you as soon as that decision is made. Sealy

Second, and more important, why even try to push pre-sales through channels that would count toward the NYT bestseller list unless you explicitly had that as part of your goals in promoting and marketing the book to get it on that list?

Cumulative, documentary evidence available so far suggests that perhaps Mark Driscoll know about Result Source AT LEAST as far back as June 2011.

So there's pretty much no way the essential facts about Result Source contracting with Mars Hill to promote a book with Mark Driscoll's name on it is in dispute. It's by now one of the most meticulously documented facts about the history of Mars Hill.  Now if someone were to say that everything that was done to transform Mars Hill into a marketing apparatus for Real Marriage constituted an abuse of the mission of those organizations that could be construed as bad.  It could look to some as though the leadership of Mars Hill set out to use its resources to promote a book with Mark's name on it that the church itself had no ownership of. 

There's no debate whether Result Source was taken up as a project.  There doesn't even seem to be much room to doubt that Mark Driscoll seemed aware that channeling pre-sales into Acts 29, Mars Hill and Resurgence could have had some benefit by having those pre-sales count toward Real Marriage getting on to the NYT best seller list. Why go to the trouble of favoring channels that can count toward such a list if it isn't a foregone conclusion that is a significant goal in the promotion of the book?

That the 21-elder formal charges mention that by May 2014 Mark Driscoll was claiming the RSI thing was some other elder's idea, working with the publisher, suggests Driscoll thought it was a bad enough of a thing to be discovered that it might be worth it to say that some other elder of Mars Hill and Thomas Nelson agreed to use Result Source.  But which elder?  Munson?  Turner's made it clear he objected to the idea but it's not impossible that Mark Driscoll knew about Result Source as far back as June 2011. 

And whether or not everyone feels like taking Turner's word for it about the BoAA, his account that the BoAA was divided over whether or not to scapegoat him for both Mars Hill Global and Result Source opens up the possibility that in March 2014 Result Source was considered scandalous enough that some of the BoAA thought that scapegoating Sutton Turner might be a way out. That is evidently not what they opted to do.  What they opted to do was to, as a group, admit that Result Source was contracted to promote Real Marriage into the NYT bestseller list. 

There's no room to doubt that Mars Hill leadership used Result Source to promote a book for which it had no corporate investment in terms of copyright.  The church was deployed as part of a marketing campaign to promote a bok it didn't even own. This is beyond dispute even by Mark Driscoll's accounts.  Two years from the BoAA announcement there isn't even a Mars Hill Church anymore.  It ultimately could not survive the controversies that swirled around Driscoll, let alone withstand his abrupt resignation in October 2014. 

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