Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash. paid the marketing company Result Source Inc. at least $210,000 to make sure that Real Marriage, a book written by Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace, got on The New York Times bestseller list.
While it's not unusual for political groups to buy an author's position on a bestseller list, it's highly unusual for a church to do so.
According to WORLD Magazine, a contract shows that Result Source Inc. was hired by Mars Hill Church on Oct. 13, 2011 “to conduct a bestseller campaign for your book, Real Marriage on the week of January 2, 2012. The bestseller campaign is intended to place Real Marriage on The New York Times bestseller list for the Advice How-To list.”
Mars Hill church spokesman Justin Dean told WORLD Magazine in an email, “Mars Hill has made marketing investments" to "reach a large audience."
Dean added, "...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.”
However, it's not clear How Mars Hill Church buying its own pastor's book is telling "lots of people about Jesus."
College professor Warren Throckmorton has noted numerous times on Patheos.com about possible plagiarism by Pastor Driscoll in Real Marriage.
Throckmorton noted how passages from Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions published in 2009 were nearly identical to Real Marriage published in 2012.
In another article on Patheos.com, Throckmorton noted the lack of citation credit in Real Marriage was given to another "source" book, Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, which was published in 2011.
Real Marriage also used extensive content from the book The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender, but failed to give proper citation, reported Throckmorton on Patheos.com.
Most recently, Throckmorton noted in Patheos.com how Pastor Driscoll used content from Pastor Tim Keller in a 2009 speech.