George C. Hale once worked for David Jeremiah at Shadow Mountain Community Church and Turning Point Ministry. Hale resigned in 2009 because he had misgivings about the way Jeremiah handled his book marketing and sales. From Hale, I have obtained an open letter to David Jeremiah and Turning Point Ministry. As he discloses in the letter below, Hale has approached David Jeremiah and Jeremiah’s agent, Sealy Yates, about the best-seller methodology. For several weeks, I have periodically reached out to Turning Point and Sealy Yates with no acknowledgement of my contacts. Hale believes that Turning Point employees who speak to the press about the book selling scheme will be fired.
From what has been previously disclosed, there is reason to believe Hale when he discusses the methods Jeremiah has used to attempt to secure a spot on the New York Times best-seller list. In a recent Christianity Today story, a link to an archived webpage belonging to San Diego based ResultSource indicated that Jeremiah was a client of the company for his book Captured by Grace. Captured by Grace did indeed make it onto various best-seller lists. Jeremiah has had at least six books reached the New York Times best seller list since 2007, including the 2014 book Agents of the Apocalypse: A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times.
From my conversations with Hale, it appears that Kevin Small at ResultSource provided tips on how to make the New York Times list. However, it is not clear whether or not Jeremiah formerly used Small’s services for more than Captured by Grace. In contrast to the Mars Hill Church/Mark Driscoll contract, the Turning Point method does not appear to rely on church money to buy books, but rather solicits donations for a book in advance of the publication date. Turning Point’s Paul Joiner was touted by Kevin Small to Mars Hill Church as having special expertise in setting up such websites. ResultSource or a Turning Point team then buys the books at retail price from sources used by the New York Times in the count to form the best seller list. When donations were strong, Turning Point bought more books than necessary to cover the “orders” and gave them away.
According to Hale, the purchases did not benefit Turning Point. Hale believes that the ministry would have benefited by first purchasing the books at a vastly reduced price (which according to Hale, Turning Point did before 2007), and then offering them to listeners for a larger donation. When books are purchased at the author’s discount price, the author does not receive royalties. However, by purchasing the books at retail price, the ministry missed out on the markup but David Jeremiah obtained royalties and obtained a place on the best-seller lists. Hale told me that he doesn’t see how being on the best-seller list benefited the ministry.
Below is the letter from George Hale:
I worked for David Jeremiah for seven years. Five years as the CFO and the COO of Shadow Mountain Ministries and two years as the CFO and acting Chief Development Officer of Turning Point Ministries. David and I had a rocky beginning but ultimately a great working relationship. I tell people that David fired me three times and I quit two times, and that was within the first month. This is not far from the truth. I am a no nonsense business person who believes that confronting issues is positive and productive. I have very little gray area in my life. Things are mostly black or white for me. This comes in part from being a CPA and a successful Bank President during the rough and tumble years of the “80’s and “90’s. Having been a Navy Seal probably adds to my approach to issues and people. David is not comfortable with my manner and he is no doubt right, most of the time. I have learned much from him. One important thing is that people are more important than solving problems.
I began my employment at Turning Point during July 2007. During August of 2007 Turning Point began promoting David Jeremiah’s Book “Captured by Grace” for pre-publication purchase for a donation of $25 or more. I believe that approximately 100,000 books were pre-purchased (I could be wrong on this number but I think it is close) for an average donation of $25 during the months of August and September 2007. When the book was released in October, Turning Point used the money donated for the book to purchase copies of the book from retail booksellers such as Amazon and Borders. Turning Point then sent the book to those who had donated and requested the book. These purchases where timed to get the book listed as a “best-seller.” It worked.
After this occurred I voiced my concern as to the ethics of such action to David Jeremiah. I was also concerned because Turning Point could have purchased the same books directly from the publisher for approximately $10 each instead of the $25 each paid to the book retailers. David assured me that his agent and attorney, Sealy Yates had opined that the transactions were honest and ethical.
This same action was repeated during August, September and October 2008 with the same results. I again requested that Turning Point not repeat such transactions as I could not discern any benefit to Turning Point for purchasing the books at retail verses purchasing the books wholesale from the publisher. I thought the transaction to be unethical. David told me that he would take my advice under consideration.
During August 2009 David Jeremiah said that he wanted to promote his new book for pre-publication purchase but for a donation of any amount. He had not yet made a decision as to the method that Turning Point would use to purchase the books to be sent to those who would request them.
During September 2009 David Jeremiah told me that he had decided to use the money received by Turning Point from those requesting his book to purchase the books at retail from booksellers and not purchase the books from the publisher at a lower amount. He acknowledged that he was aware that this was disappointing to me.
Turning Point had received an average donation of $35 per book instead of $25 dollars during this 2009 campaign. Therefore, if my memory is correct, Turning Point had received approximately $3.5 million dollars for the approximately 100,000 books pre-sold. I thought that the added donation over and above the $25 purchase price of the book was meant to benefit Turning Point and was not to be used to purchase additional books at retail. This did not happen. This thought, together with my prior opinion that the entire method was unethical and did not benefit Turning Point, led me to immediately resign my position with Turning Point which I did September 15, 2009.
I have only spoken about these events in a very limited way since that date. Primarily talking with David Jeremiah and Sealy Yates to encourage them to cease such activity which they tell me has continued since I left Turning Point. They do not agree with my position and have stated that they see nothing unethical, immoral or illegal about how Turning Point promotes David’s books and gets them identified as “best-selling” books by the various listing agents such as the New York Times. We have agreed to disagree on this topic and have otherwise remained friends.
Let me add that I very much admire David Jeremiah and believe him to be one of the best Bible teachers in the world today. I helped craft the vision for Turning Point of delivering “the unchanging Word to an ever-changing world”. I believe and support this vision. I believe that David is blessed and chosen by God for this purpose.
That said, when Mark Driscoll was exposed in early 2014 for attempting in a small way to do what David had successfully done for the past seven years and it was also exposed that Sealy, ResultSource and possibly others associated with David Jeremiah may have assisted Mark Driscoll, I became very concerned that this cancer was spreading. I thought that it may have gained acceptability in part based upon the success of David Jeremiah.
When David Jeremiah spoke openly with World Magazine during June 2014 about his method of promoting his books I felt that he had placed this subject into the public domain for discussion.
The final events which led to my now talking were when LifeWay removed Mark Driscoll’s books from its book stores while prominently promoting David Jeremiah as a “best-selling” author, and when Mars Hills Church failed partly because of this book publication deceptive practice. I feel that now is the time for the public to voice its opinion. Is this practice OK as Sealy Yates and David Jeremiah proclaim or is it deceptive and unethical as I believe?;
I have taken my stand.
What do you believe?
In His service,
I have placed links in Hale’s letter where important to help readers get more information. In this scenario, it appears that some deception could be involved if donations in amounts higher than the retail price of a single book are used to buy other books as if they were the subject of an individual purchase. More importantly, the ministry’s resources and staff serve to promote the book and run the fulfillment of the sales at ministry expense. By paying retail price, the book royalties go to the author and the sales count toward the best-seller lists.
As noted, I have contacted Turning Point numerous times and await their comment about Hale’s claims.