Former Mars Hill elder gives inside story of controversial plan to boost Mark Driscoll's book sales

Former Mars Hill general manager Sutton Turner.

The former executive elder and general manager of Mars Hill Church has defended his role in the controversial plan to boost the sales of a book by former pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace.

In a series of blog posts, Sutton Turner critiques the church's financial reporting and governance systems when he joined it in 2011. He says that he was not responsible for the ResultSource marketing proposal, which saw copies of the Driscolls' book Real Marriage bought by the church from small independent bookstores and resold in Mars Hill bookstores. The ResultSource campaign was designed to get Real Marriage on to the New York Times best-seller list, but was widely denounced as unethical when news of the contract broke and caused a major scandal.

Turner said that he wrote to his supervisor on August 26, 2011, saying that the plan was poor stewardship and would reflect badly on Mars Hill and Driscoll. However, his advice was not taken and Turner himself signed the contract in October as his supervisor had by then resigned.

"When you stay in an organization and you do not agree with a decision, you have to own that decision as your own," he said. "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."

Turner said that he tried to change the decision-making process and governance structure at Mars Hill, helping set up a new Board of Accountability and Advisors (BOAA) which agreed that the ResultSource programme would never be used again. However, he said that Mars Hill reached a point where "the internal cultural struggle over governance collided with mistakes made years prior" and could "no longer operated in a loving, God-honouring way, practising good stewardship".

He said he was "deeply sorry" for those who were "directly or indirectly disillusioned" by the controversy, adding: "To the people of Mars Hill Church, I grieve over what you have been through. I pray Jesus will continue to heal you and provide peace to your heart and mind."