US megapastor Mark Driscoll has been criticised for using underhand tactics to ensure his book 'Real Marriage', co-written with his wife Grace, made it onto bestsellers lists.
Published in December 2011, the book was ranked #1 on the New York Times hardcover advice bestseller list on 22 January, 2012.
It emerged recently, however, that the church worked with ResultSource Inc, paying them over $200,000 to buy the book in bulk.
His church, Mars Hill in Seattle, has now responded to these claims – first made in World Magazine.
"In 2011, outside counsel advised our marketing team to use ResultSource to market the Real Marriage book and attain placement on the New York Times Bestseller list," a statement issued by the church's Board of Advisors and Accountability reads.
"While not uncommon or illegal, this unwise strategy is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again."
Mars Hill's statement goes on to assert, however, that the "true cost" of the strategy was less than the original quote of $200,000, although it does not clarify the real figure.
The statement reiterates that "Mars Hill Church and Pastor Mark Driscoll have always been passionate about teaching the Bible and spreading the Gospel...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 ResultSource marketing campaign.
"All of the books purchased through this campaign have been given away or sold through normal channels."
This latest controversy comes not long after the Mars Hill pastor was cleared of plagiarism allegations over his latest book 'A call to resurgence: will Christianity have a funeral or a future?' last December.