The PryoMarketing Conspiracy

Pyromarketing-1-1The suspiciously-suppressed book “Pyro Marketing” seems to have been released from captivity and is available on Borders, according to Tim Bednar on his blog post about the cover-up everyone has read on Tim Challies post ‘Purposeful Interference

Well . . not everyone. For those that have not read it, Challies describes the influence of pryromarketing on Purpose Driven Life that may have helped it become the best selling hard back book in American history. Challies also outlines the pressure put on the publishers to withhold the book, in case it tarnished the story of The Purpose Driven Life. An earlier post was called “Pyromarketing and the Purpose Driven Life”

All this is interesting reading. Better, in fact, than many conspiracy novels. And for a bonus, Greg Stielstra, the author of “Pyro Marketing” appears in the comments to give his views as does Richard Abanes (worship pastor at Saddleback) who now blogs at Slice of Laodicea Church, which BTW looks remarkably similar to Ingrid’s old Slice of Laodicea blog which was in use until Challies designed her a really nice looking new one at

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Yes, Tim Challies not only has a Top500 blog but is also a blogmeister to many Reformed blogging stars. And I have to say . . Challies post “Purposeful Interference“, whether you support its conclusions or not, might get nominated for blog post of the year – an intriguing story, well researched, and one which attracted big names to come and play in the comments section. And watch how Challies guides the conversation and keeps it on track – really quite something. Well done, Mr Challies!

Anyway, back to pyromarketing.

I don’t really have a big problem with a marketing strategy being used for a book, and pryomarketing seems to have some good ideas. Adrian Warnock seems excited about it. However, the accusation of suppressing information is a big deal to bloggers who are all about freedom of speech and are highly suspect of people who wield the power to suppress it.

But what really makes me suspicious is that Greg’s book is now available for purchase, and I am talking about it on my blog – somehow seduced and sucked into this DaVinciCode-type-saga of the book’s suppression by the evil Darth Warren!

Dang . . I might even buy the book myself and that makes me ask the question – has Greg pulled a marketing stunt on ME that is more sneaky than pyro-marketing?

Ahhhh who cares! Greg should send me the book himself for me to review.

Thats my buying strategy.

[UPDATE: Challies has another post today on this subject where he quotes Rick Warren’s response. He also has a list of emerging church bloggers who have picked up this conversation.Its called Purposeful Interference: An Update]


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • I think you nailed it, Andrew. This seems to be a masterful martketing scheme. Then again, who can tell any more?

  • joeturner says:

    Well it seems to have worked to some extent in that some people are talking about it.
    Personally it makes me want to throw up – the triumph of marketing gimmick over substance.

  • Tim says:

    “And for a bonus, Greg Stielstra, the author of “Pyro Marketing” appears in the comments to give his views as does Richard Abanes (worship pastor at Saddleback) who now blogs at Slice of Laodicea Church, which BTW looks remarkably similar to Ingrid’s old Slice of Laodicea blog which was in use until Challies designed her a really nice looking new one at”
    Somewhere one of Andrew’s English teachers is quietly sobbing to herself, wondering what she did wrong so many years ago… 😉
    Where was I? Oh yes. I think Greg Steilstra has a lot to gain through this whole situation. His little-known book is rapidly picking-up steam because of the controversy. And he is, after all, a marketing genius (though now a marketing genius for Thomas Nelson rather than Zondervan). Hmm…

  • Tim says:

    I should have added…I would be willing to believe that this was nothing but a big marketing scheme had I not spoken to a lot of people who were involved. I know for a fact that all of this is true, even if it does help PyroMarketing to sell a few more copies.

  • andrew says:

    your research is not questioned, neither are your conclusions.
    The only thing questioned is my grammar and uber-long sentences . . .
    . . . and the amount of beige color you use in your web designs. Do you scan the walls of Reformed churches to get that “Calvin’s Creme” look? [ha ha]
    as for my long sentences . .. the Apostle Paul is with me on that one.

  • Hutch says:

    I will not speak to the quality of the book or the movie that it promoted, but how is it marketing gimmick. I definitely feel like it is somehow dirty because… well, I don’t even really know why, but how is it a gimmick? It seems to be just really simple marketing. Take the product, show it to a few folks that you think would be interested and then have them spread the word for you.

  • Phil says:

    Consider that the Gospel spread like wildfire along the paved roads of Rome and that the apostle Paul made use of shipping routes and sea travel. Marketing, per se, is no “dirtier” than any of that.
    Having some experience in Christian Publishing it’s clear that Purpose Driven Life was conceived as a market-driven strategy from the outset. The concept of “five purposes” is straight out of self-help selling rather than any theological insight. Jesus never put the five purposes together in a package the way Waren does.
    Consider how 40 Days of Purpose works to distribute copies of the Purpose Driven Life. It’s a very elaborate multi-tiered marketing effort.

  • Tim says:

    “the amount of beige color you use”
    I’m color blind. You have to blame my wife for the colors since she ultimately gives them the thumbs up or the thumbs down.

  • andrew says:

    just giving you a hard time . . . the colors are fine. I just find it amusing how Christians in USA gravitate to beige walls and khaki pants. The churches are full of that color.
    it must be some kind of marketing scheme to get them into church.

  • joeturner says:

    Well, I consider something that has a name and people write books about as if it is important a ‘gimmick’. Presumably Zonderman thought it was something different otherwise they wouldn’t have bothered employing this guy (in whatever capacity they did initially – I don’t really understand the ins and outs of it).
    It is a gimmick in that we are all swept up in this ‘amazing’ new thinking of doing church, the christian bookshops are awash with ‘Purpose driven’ stuff, Rick Warren appears at the UN (why?) and we are all supposed to stare with open mouths at this wonderful stuff and wait for the Holy Rick to come close by so that some of God’s glory will rub off on us.
    The truth is that the book is 90% self evident and 10% garbage. The truth is that rules that apply on one area cannot be wholesale transported elsewhere. The truth is that numbers are not an indication of spiritual success. The truth is that the majority of the church do not need the flat-packed, gift-wrapped, MacDonaldisation of church proposed by the ‘Purpose-driven’ model.
    And the triumph of the marketing is that so many churches have taken this model onboard and use it in their teaching.

  • Why do we keep buying in to this rubbish? I met Rick Warren once, whilst on tour with a gospel artist well-known for her well-marketed sexual purity. He even gave me a signed copy of his book. Of course, i had no idea who he was at the time but I figured he was on the money with his marketing- fly out to meet the tours of the top artists in the industry and get them all in a lather over his book? Too easy. candy from a baby.
    The sad part is that i have since toured in less-well-off nations and watched as Pastors gifted copies of the book to every church member and “entered they together the 40 days of Purpose”. For the life of me I can’t give witness to any significant impact, in fact any impact, on the missional outlook of these same congregations while they struggle to resource the “purpose” materials and to send their impressionable pastors to Saddleback conferences where they lap up any “sacred”(American), “new”(rehashed drivel), “Gospel strategy”(marketing strategy) where they would return with a version of evangelism that spoke more to our desire to own a plasma screen tv than a call to repentance and discipleship. We would listen as congregants were goaded into joining a range of inwardly focussed ministries as a means to finding “purpose” and after we would walk outside, literally step over the poor and fatherless on our way to the local mall foodcourt for a blessed lunch with the pastor.
    22 Million copies? Nice work church.

  • Are you saying there are pants other than khaki? All I own is khaki…

  • andrew says:

    roger, i bet the walls of your house are beige also – maybe when i get to california next month i will go and check them myself.
    and RiverTribeMike – is it really your birthday tomorrow?
    i know it is not easy being an aussie and saying exactly what you think about pryomarketing . .. so . . what do you REALLY think about pyromarketing and the purpose driven life?
    go on . . be honest . . .

  • What can I say…it’s all that angst that comes from living on a small island off the coast of New Zealand.
    Yes…40 years young this week…bring on the midlife crisis, the body piercings and the tats.

  • I’ve got to stop commenting on this blog. All you fine folks who read this keep clicking on my blog and there’s absolutely nothing interesting on there right now…apart from a funny photo of george buush which doesn’t exactly improve the intellectual quality of the online debate. It’s really quite embarrassing. Apologies to those who have made the trip over to RT Village. My advice is stay here at TSK. It’s much more insightful…

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