Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill church in Seattle have been getting attention again, this time for the choice to use a company called ResultSource to push one of Driscolls books onto the New York Times bestseller list.
The focus the past week has been on Driscoll, which begs the question, who is behind ResultSource?
It turns out, the company which for a fee helps authors make bestseller lists was started by a man named Kevin Small.
Small attended Liberty University from 1990 to 1993, and in 1995 went to work for a pastor/leadership guru named John C. Maxwell.
In 1996, Kevin Small was recruited by the leadership development author John C. Maxwell. Kevin was tasked with the creation of a platform that would be used to bring Maxwell’s leadership books to market. As the President of Maxwell’s company, Kevin launched a satellite event training series that would enroll over 1 million students while rolling out an integrated publishing platform that launched four New York Times bestselling leadership titles.
Maxwell’s annual book sales grew to over 1.2 million books. Under his leadership, the company grew dramatically over the next four years – from 10 to 125 people, and from $2 million to $25 million in revenue. Kevin managed the company’s sale in November 2004.
In March of 2005 Kevin founded The Marcus Buckingham Company around bestselling author and Gallup Researcher, Marcus Buckingham. For the next three years Kevin built a research and training company around Buckingham’s body of work developed after Buckingham left The Gallup Organization. Kevin served as the Executive Producer for Buckingham’s award winning film, Trombone Player Wanted, and launched the book, Go Put Your Strengths To Work, which was debuted with a dedicated Oprah show and a national book tour.
Meanwhile, the book business was changing quickly. Publishers were less and less able to commit the usual level of resources to authors’ launches. Kevin recognized that market conditions would soon require that authors have their own marketing representation in order to have impact — despite the strength of their ideas, or their platform. Kevin’s response was to form ResultSource, a boutique marketing firm that works with today’s thought leaders to build bestsellers.
Today Kevin Small serves as the Managing Partner to ResultSource as well as SmallBooks.com where he agents business, self help and Christian Living books.
INJOY is now part of The John Maxwell Company. John C. Maxwell claims to have published 71 books, and some since Small came on the scene made best seller lists. Maxwell is a teaching pastor at Christ Fellowship out of Florida.
Sure enough, if you head over to ResultSource, a couple of Maxwell’s books are front and centre. So, how expensive is it to buy your way onto a US bestseller list? According to the contract Mars Hill signed with ResultSource, it costs about 210 thousand dollars.
ResultSource is open about how they get evangelicals to pay up for one of Maxwell’s books, including bulk buying.
As well as pastoring and running his corporation, Maxwell started a non-profit leadership organization named above called EQUIP. The current CEO of Crossroads Christian Communications Inc., Dr. John Hull, took the helm of EQUIP in 2000.
In September 2013, John Hull became the Global Chief Executive Officer of Crossroads. He appears on 100 Huntley Street regularly. Right now, 100 Huntley is peddling Hull’s book, published by Thomas Nelson, the same publisher of the Driscoll Real Marriage book which is the focus of the current kerfuffle.
Pivotal Praying was published in 2002, back when Kevin Small still worked for John C. Maxwell. I need to be fair here, I see no evidence that Hull/Elmore used Small’s talents to push their book or paid him to peddle their product; after all Hull was running a non-profit. Like Mars Hill is. I see no evidence Hull used Small to develop his ‘brand’ like Maxwell and Driscoll, or flew around in a Lear jet on a whirlwind book tour. Ministry is big business in some sectors in the US with well cultivated fan bases and eager consumers.
Which brings us back to Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill and Real Marriage. I mentioned that hiring a firm like ResultSource is not illegal, but the case can be made it isn’t ethical. Oh wait, the IRS has a rule for non-profits called inurement. Some ministry leaders who can afford to buy their way to the top, seem to be doing so, rendering key best seller lists irrelevant, eroding trust and blurring so many lines, I can see why people question what is different about Christians. We Christian consumers have to take some blame, we’re so blinded by celebrity and marketed definitions of success, we can’t see and discern the values of the Kingdom.
Forbes: Here’s How You Buy Your Way Onto The New York Times Bestsellers List
Wall Street Journal: The Mystery of the Book Sales Spike
Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill, Real Marriage
World Magazine: Unreal sales for Driscoll’s Real Marriage
Dr. James Duncan: Mars Hill responds to the book marketing story and I respond to their response
Dr. Warren Throckmorton: One Way Mars Hill Might Have Helped Put Mark Driscoll on the NYT Best Seller List
Dr. James Duncan: See how the ResultSource Campaign made Mark Driscoll a half million dollars
Dr. James Duncan: Mark Driscoll prepared hundreds of leaders to “push,push,push” his book
Dr. Warren Throckmorton: Mars Hill Removes Reference to Real Marriage as NYT Best Seller from Mark Driscolls Bio
Christianity Today: Mars Hill Defends How Mark Driscoll’s ‘Real Marriage’ Became a Bestseller
Dr. James Duncan: On Driscoll, it’s called inurement and it’s probably illegal
Christian Post: Mark Driscoll Takes Apologetic Tone During Sermon; Mars Hill Church Board Addresses Latest Controversy
Phoenix Preacher: Christian Post Reporter Rips Driscoll Critics
The Atlantic: Can Megachurches Deal with Mega Money in a Christian Way?
Warren Throckmorton: Where Did ResultSource Go?