When Bible Software Marketing Crosses a Theological Line

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 8:08 AM

I think that this thread is pointing out the tension that exists in our world between businesses marketing their product and people making purchases beyond their means. I don't think any of us would argue that we don't live is a world that is dominated by materialism and accumulation of goods that we don't need nor can afford.

On the other hand marketing is the tool that businesses use to connect to their customers to motivate them to make consider changing their priorities and choose to purchase their products. As people that live in this world we must weigh these choices in light of what God wants for us. Should we purchase a new large screen TV or give those funds to a missions project? Should we buy a new car or a used car or no car at all? Should we expand our Logos library or be content with what we have?

As far as Faithlife is concerned (or any business for that matter) their "business" responsibility is to offer the opportunity to choose. How they do that is the topic of this thread. Generally I'm comfortable with how they do this. I choose to receive most email offers by Faithlife and keep my eye out for items that may be helpful, ignoring most of them. That is my choice to receive these messages and my responsibility to decide what I will do with them.

All this being said I think this thread is a good reminder for us all to carefully prayerfully use all of our financial resources the way we believe God is directing us.

Using adventure and community to challenge young people to continually say "yes" to God

Posts 321
Rene Atchley | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 8:18 AM

Never really had another poster say that I was a pro Faithlife customer much less that I worked for them.  In the real world I work for a local psychiatrist.  I was merely pointing out that the most successful, and least buggy, part of Faithlife is their excellent marketing department that seems able to assure each of us that whatever we have bought isn't quite enough. 

Posts 808
Kevin Maples | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 8:24 AM

Hermann Fritz:
Many times I have read through controversies in the forum.
What I have seen here , has often left a sad impression. It reminds me of a Christian sports car driver I criticized
a few years ago because he was driving too fast in a residential area with kids.
I was friendly but clear in the matter, but he was aggressive
and did not accept the criticism.
Dear friends, we are all responsible to God, who is love.
I am convinced, HE wants to be the standard in every forum where Christians meet with their
discussants. I try to practice it in my daily life.
If we follow 1. Corithians 13, we all will have good guidelines for a controversial discussion.
So let us turn back. It would make me no pleasure to stay away from such debates entirely
because I would have to fear the sarcasm of brothers and sisters ...
Yes, we are adults. But are we also mature in Christ? After reading some of these posts,
I doubt it.

May our good God help and bless us.
Hermann
Well said Hermann. Yes

Posts 797
Lew Worthington | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 8:41 AM

Bruce Dunning:

As far as Faithlife is concerned (or any business for that matter) their "business" responsibility is to offer the opportunity to choose. How they do that is the topic of this thread. Generally I'm comfortable with how they do this. I choose to receive most email offers by Faithlife and keep my eye out for items that may be helpful, ignoring most of them. That is my choice to receive these messages and my responsibility to decide what I will do with them.

All this being said I think this thread is a good reminder for us all to carefully prayerfully use all of our financial resources the way we believe God is directing us.

Indeed.

It's ironic that this often heated discussion was initiated on the day where over a hundred million viewers participated in the pinnacle of American marketing (the Super Bowl), many of whom tune in merely to watch the commercials. I suspect some would condemn me for being in that latter number, or at least condemning me for not condemning those companies.

What is interesting and confusing to me in this discussion -- and in many like this that, along with Hermann as he stated earlier, sadden me -- is how vital it is to some that everyone else adopt their viewpoint. Why is it not good enough to express a viewpoint and admit that someone else, in their unique circumstance, might have a different viewpoint? It's easier to see our brothers and sisters as brothers and sisters (indeed, as blessings in our lives) in this way rather than as adversaries.

Posts 623
JAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 8:49 AM

Matthew 18:15a (REB):
If your brother does wrong, go and take the matter up with him, strictly between yourselves.

Does anyone admonishing Logos here really not find that to be problematic?

"The Christian mind is the prerequisite of Christian thinking. And Christian thinking is the prerequisite of Christian action." - Harry Blamires, 1963

Posts 787
James Hiddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 8:53 AM

Hermann Fritz:

Many times I have read through controversies in the forum. 
What I have seen here , has often left a sad impression. It reminds me of a Christian sports car driver I criticized
a few years ago because he was driving too fast in a residential area with kids.
I was friendly but clear in the matter, but he was aggressive
and did not accept the criticism.
Dear friends, we are all responsible to God, who is love.
I am convinced, HE wants to be the standard in every forum where Christians meet with their
discussants. I try to practice it in my daily life.
If we follow 1. Corithians 13, we all will have good guidelines for a controversial discussion.
So let us turn back. It would make me no pleasure to stay away from such debates entirely
because I would have to fear the sarcasm of brothers and sisters ...
Yes, we are adults. But are we also mature in Christ? After reading some of these posts,
I doubt it.

May our good God help and bless us.
Hermann

Amen my friend!

Posts 80
Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 8:53 AM

But Jesus continues...

Matthew 18:16-27

16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ d 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Should I treat Logos as a brother or a tax collector?

Posts 1838
LogosEmployee
Phil Gons (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 9:01 AM

Abram K-J:

I want to lodge a complaint (and suggestion) with Logos/Faithlife as a company:

The post 6 Reasons That Shouldn’t Stop You from Getting Logos 6 (however unintentionally) undermines important values of sufficiency and wise financial stewardship and promotes instead harmful values of materialism and overspending--especially in its reasons #2 and #4.

I really think Logos needs to reconsider these sorts of approaches in marketing--i.e., stop advertising how it enables overspending and quit encouraging the continuous accumulation of more and more and more and more books. I see this kind of angle from Logos over and over--this particular post came to me in an email yesterday, but it's just one of many.

Whatever happened to sufficiency mentality and only spending what you have?

Of course users are free to act on those instincts--but Logos should not be encouraging its users to do otherwise.

I hope Logos weighs its messaging more carefully in the future. Or if they already are weighing it carefully, I hope they just flat out stop this kind of messaging.

So as to not make this forum post any longer, I elaborate here.

Thanks, all, for the discussion. It's good feedback. We need you to hold us accountable, and we appreciate that you do.

Marketing and selling Bible software is a challenging thing. There's a wide spectrum of views on what's acceptable and what isn't, and we try very hard to be careful. We love the products we sell, and we truly believe that nearly everyone would benefit from owning and using them. Sometimes that passion and excitement leads us to push too hard.

But I'm not sure we did, or at least intended to, in this case.

The point we were trying to make in #2 is a really important one: you will benefit from Logos books that you didn't intend to use or even know that you had. Many people think about their Logos library like they think about their print library: you benefit from a book in your print library when you remember you own it, locate it on your shelf, thumb through it to find a relevant discussion, and then read it and receive helpful information—or when you simply read it cover to cover.

You can benefit from your Logos books in the same way, but there's a second benefit to your Logos books that many people look over. If you have the right books that are richly tagged, interconnected, and deeply integrated into the tools of the software, the software will go and fetch you relevant discussions to your study without your even knowing you have the book.

We make this point in response to people who say that have enough books, but are thinking only of the first benefit of their Logos library. Our intent is not to get people to buy more books than they should or be poor stewards of their limited resources. We just want to make sure everyone fully understands both benefits of books in our format when evaluating whether they should buy more or not.

Keep in mind that the bulk of #2 is focused on selling people crossgrades, which are built for the people who are convinced they don't need more books. They just want the features of the software. I don't think we were pushing too hard. A quick point was made about the value of Logos books, and then the focus shifted to options that aren't about growing your library with new books.

In #4, the goal is simply to make people aware of their options. Some people might not realize that we offer a payment plan. We understand that some people are opposed to payment plans, and our intent isn't to try to get those people to sin against their consciences. Many people find the payment plan useful. Pastors with book budgets are the primary audience for payment plans. Our job in marketing is to help people know about and understand their options, and that's all this brief statement intended to do.

I'm sorry you felt it was overbearing and pushy. That wasn't our intent. I'll talk to the team about how we can be more careful in the future.

Posts 10248
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 9:06 AM

Well, Phil.  Being a marketer, you have to admit the theological thunderbolts from Mount Olympus has certainly done wonders for the blog article.


Posts 623
JAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 9:10 AM

JAL:

If your brother does wrong, go and take the matter up with him, strictly between yourselves.

Does anyone admonishing Logos here really not find that to be problematic?

Paul Lee:

But Jesus continues...

Matthew 18:16-27

16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ d 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Should I treat Logos as a brother or a tax collector?

My question is have you treated the individuals who work in marketing and management at Faithlife as brothers?

Have you made any attempt to address your concerns to these brothers in private before this public lambast?

"The Christian mind is the prerequisite of Christian thinking. And Christian thinking is the prerequisite of Christian action." - Harry Blamires, 1963

Posts 183
Bryan S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 9:30 AM

Wow... And I thought my thread on needing a user manual went south...Zip it!

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it's been found difficult and not tried.

Posts 3691
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 9:31 AM

Nah. Delete. Sorry.

Posts 623
JAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 9:31 AM

Phil Gons:
I'll talk to the team about how we can be more careful in the future.
Thank you for the response.

"The Christian mind is the prerequisite of Christian thinking. And Christian thinking is the prerequisite of Christian action." - Harry Blamires, 1963

Posts 623
JAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 10:03 AM

Francis:

Nah. Delete. Sorry.

Francis,

Thanks for your recent efforts to draw attention to areas in need of considerable improvement.

I read the post you deleted. I thought it was respectful but also think I understand why you removed it.

"The Christian mind is the prerequisite of Christian thinking. And Christian thinking is the prerequisite of Christian action." - Harry Blamires, 1963

Posts 571
Randall Cue | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 10:04 AM

Denise:

Well, Phil.  Being a marketer, you have to admit the theological thunderbolts from Mount Olympus has certainly done wonders for the blog article.

Mount Olympus?

Soli Deo Gloria

Randy

Posts 341
Abram K-J | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 10:40 AM

Francis: well said. I read your reply via email before you deleted it from the forums. I thought you addressed the Matthew passage well.

It's not at all clear to me that it applies to this instance in the way JAL suggests--the original Logos blog post was in a public forum, and my suggestion/complaint was with the company as a whole, not an individual person. I can't very well visit, call, or email everyone in the marketing department or company, so I posted here.

And, bizarre legal definitions notwithstanding, I don't believe that "corporations are people," so I don't see that passage as applying here. Like I said--I had an issue with the post, but it was much larger than just one post, since I've seen similar statements companywide before. I can appreciate JAL's bringing it up, though.

Phil: Thank you for your reply and taking it under consideration. I appreciate it. In fact, even though we may agree to disagree in the end, I would think putting the sort of openness and nuance of your reply here into marketing copy would be a good step forward.

Abram K-J: Pastor, Writer, Freelance Editor, Youth Ministry Consultant
Blog: Words on the Word

Posts 5251
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 10:47 AM

What we have to remember is that Faithlife, despite the name is a business. I would agree with Abram in Spirit. I do not think FL is being evil in their marking (more so than feeding the idol of Consumerism that is at the heart of a business needing to make money). FL does a service offing interest free loans (yes if your purchase is very small $5 a month administrative fee is perhaps seem a high interest rate, but in a larger amount it seems very much what is claims to be an administrative fee. I owe FL a whole lot of money and am glad for my Library and the chance to actually get it at an affordable monthly rate of payment. I do not think FL can be blamed for encouraging sales, but I am thankful for Abram's post to remind us of of stewardship of resources God has given us and remind us ultimately we must decide when enough is enough for the corporation will always say, "just a little more". 

-Dan

Posts 3938
abondservant | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 10:53 AM

arg.

Op and name caller have been scolded enough, my addition wouldn't have been helpful.

Also - helpful post Phil, thanks!

L2 lvl4, L3 Scholars, L4 Scholars, L5 Platinum,  L6 Collectors. L7 Baptist Portfolio. L8 Baptist Platinum.

Posts 2289
mab | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 11:42 AM

I spent a good portion of my working career in advertising and public relations, something also reflected in my work as a writer and editor frequently dealing with marketing folks.

So my take on this is really very simple. Assume that stewardship is my personal responsibility. The largest factor of that is learning to say yes to some things and that means saying no to other things. And that God be glorified above all. 

Enjoy what you can say yes to and rejoice in God's abundance.

The mind of man is the mill of God, not to grind chaff, but wheat. Thomas Manton | Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow. Richard Baxter

Posts 8967
RIP
Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 2 2015 3:58 PM

Schumitinu:
It does undermine important Christian values. Depending on one's personality it might even further greed, wanting to have more and more books.
"..one's personality"? 

This shifts responsibility from the individual to the big, bad corporation.   I know of a certain Bible school that has banned females from wearing open-toed shoes because one male among their midst has a moral problem that is expressed as a foot fetish. (I kid you not.) When are Christian men going to accept responsibility for their character flaws (greed, pride and book envy)?

It is time for confession rather than accusation.

Logos 7 Collectors Edition

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