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The Perfect Fundraising Letter

A reader sent me this photo via Twitter. It’s a fundraising letter for Mars Hill Audio Journal. The reader described it as perfection; given the nature of MHAJ, I agree. This tells you a lot about the character of MHAJ, which, if you haven’t listened to it, what on earth are you waiting for? [1]:

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15 Comments To "The Perfect Fundraising Letter"

#1 Comment By AeroEngineer On May 31, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

This is very good. But to close the deal with me they would need to add: “And the tentative answers we come up with may very well be quite different than what we thought they would be when we started our investigations, and you and we may need to adjust our beliefs based on our findings.”

#2 Comment By Ken Myers On May 31, 2014 @ 4:33 pm


Your proposed extension of my letter is exactly right! In the course of over two decades of this work, I have been forced to make major adjustments in my understanding of the nature of our cultural problems. And I have definitely discovered that the theological assumptions with which I began my explorations were incomplete, ill-defined, and in some instances entangled with the very problems I was trying to confront. This is yet another way to alienate a donor base.

#3 Comment By Bernie On May 31, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

Call me pedestrian, but I’d rather give my money to the local food bank, the St. Vincent DePaul Society, or some other reputable organization to help the poor.

[nfr: maybe we misunderstand each other, bernie, but mars hill audio journal is not a charity. It is a media apostolate that focuses on exploring culture in the modern era from a traditional Christian perspective. It’s not trying to take the place of ministries to the poor. — rd]

#4 Comment By nan On May 31, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

Rod, A friend gave us a subscription for Christmas. We so enjoy these discussions–interesting and scholarly. The most recent version was a “biography” of the BCP (Book of Common Prayer)–totally marvelous to someone that grew up with the magnificent liturgy of The Episcopal Church, and by it, learned a lot about faith in Christ. (thank goodness, as Sunday school was not much help in that department 🙂 Mother sent us to the Baptist Church summer Bible study in compensation).

#5 Comment By Bernie On May 31, 2014 @ 7:16 pm

Rod, sorry for my misunderstanding!

#6 Comment By stillaninterestedobserver On May 31, 2014 @ 7:55 pm

Rod, can you clarify something I keep wondering about? Is there any direct affiliation between the audio journal and the Mars Hill ministry based in Seattle? I ask because while I have no doubt about the audio journal’s quality based on what you’ve shared over the years, the Mark Driscoll-led Mars Hill ministry itself has gained an extremely unpleasant taste due to consistent reports of his insular leadership, arrogance and cult of personality — the kind of warning signals you’ve been plenty sensitive about in the past in other churches — combined with what frankly have been derogatory and insulting statements, not to mention that whole book purchasing scandal from earlier this year. Just the other day I read a lengthy statement — one of a number I’ve seen over time — from a former member decrying what Mars Hill is like. So whenever I see mention of the audio journal here I admit to a record-scratch feeling and moment of pause going ‘oh, right, THIS Mars Hill’ — but I admit, I’d like to know more about the exact relationship at work here.

[NFR: No, no connection at all. “Mars Hill” is in Acts, a place where St. Paul preached. — RD]

#7 Comment By rahab On May 31, 2014 @ 8:43 pm

I like this. Mars Hill Audio Journal has long been a favorite of mine.

In contrast, I somehow got added to a fundraising list for another Ken, this time Ham, and Answers In Genesis. They’re building a life-sized ark. Not kidding, for realsies. I get a key chain if I make a $35 contribution. I am nonplussed. And not donating to that.

#8 Comment By Eric K. On May 31, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

Ken Myers writes the best fundraising letters I’ve received (which, I’ll admit, is a pretty low bar, but still).

We have a small, monthly reading group in D.C. One of us picks an article to read and discuss, usually from places like the Atlantic, First Things, etc. One month last year, we actually read and discussed one of Myers’ fundraising letters (it discussed how a Christian should think about the common good); there was that much thought put into it.

nan – I recommend Alan Jacobs’ book on the Book of Common Prayer that is discussed on Mars Hill. It’s an easy, enjoyable read. I learned much about its history I did not know.

#9 Comment By Soup Ajoy On June 1, 2014 @ 12:03 am

Til reading these comments, I had no idea that MHAJ was unaffiliated with the Driscoll cult. I’m quite embarrassed by that, and sad for how much damage Driscoll’s sect must be doing to this publication.

#10 Comment By naturalmom On June 1, 2014 @ 9:24 am

Huh. I too, assumed that it was affiliated with Driscoll, even though I know “Mars Hill” is a reference to the hill mentioned in Acts. I guess that’s a risk you run when you use a (somewhat obscure) Biblical reference that is up for grabs by anyone. :/

I love the letter. If I had a longer commute, I’m sure I would have checked them out by now, but I don’t get a chance to listen to stuff like that very often. My loss, I’m sure. Maybe one day…

#11 Comment By SkipR On June 1, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

If you are at all interested in the intersection of our culture and Christianity (which is one reason I read Rod’s blog), don’t miss Mars Hill Audio. I’ve been subscribing for 20 years (anyone want some cassette tapes?). You won’t find better topics, guests, and interviews anywhere. Ken Myers does it better than anyone else I know.

#12 Comment By Philip On June 1, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

Acts 17 is a great model of how Christians can engage a pluralistic, skeptical, curious culture such as those many of us live in. It’s very unfortunate that Mars Hill Church in Seattle has poisoned the name for generations. The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology changed their name from Mars Hill Graduate School to avoid the obvious confusion. Another eponymous church to be aware of is Mars Hill Bible Church, pastored by Rob Bell, in Grandville, MI.

#13 Comment By Peter On June 2, 2014 @ 3:32 am

I also love the MHAJ. Thanks for the great and inspiring work, Dr. Myers!

I, too, just fought against the MHAJ vs. Mars Hill megachurch confusion when I posted my own plug for MHAJ on my Facebook page. I instantly got a response attacking Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill for his anti-yoga stance. I tried to remain patient as I explained the difference to friends who clearly didn’t look at the link.

Have you ever been tempted to change the name because of this, Dr. Myers?

#14 Comment By naturalmom On June 2, 2014 @ 7:23 am

Yeah, I live in Michigan and it took me a bit of investigating to figure out that Mars Hill Church was not affiliated with Driscoll or the Mars Hill Audio. Rob Bell is the founder of that church, but he is no longer the active pastor. He is listed as “Pastor emeritus” on the website which states that he lives in CA now.

#15 Comment By Mark Perkins On June 2, 2014 @ 8:55 am

Just for the record, Myers’ Mars Hill Audio predates the megachurches of both Driscoll and Bell. It’s unfortunate that Driscoll in particular has done such harm to the name.