Tim Keller's work

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Andrew Mitchell | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 1:12 AM

Andrew Mackie:
Is it just me, or is anyone else disappointed / annoyed / frustrated / angered by the $200 price tag of Tim Keller's sermons?

I hear what you're saying, but for me I look at the price and make a decision based on if I think I see that as value for money. For me, in this instance I do. In other instances, for me, I don't and I don't purchase. If I don't like the price, I don't purchase. I don't get angry about it.

I was under the impression that the sermons will be transcribed from audio, which is the reason for incremental release as this will take a lot of time. This being the case I had also presumed that this process would be costly. I can't find where I read that though. Can anyone else confirm?

Having said that, maybe the price is the reason for the slow progress. 

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Tom Reynolds | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 3:05 AM

Andrew Mitchell:

Having said that, maybe the price is the reason for the slow progress. 

I've read a couple of his books and enjoyed him. We also listened to his The Prodigal God sermon series and got a lot out of it. I actually read the book after listening to the series and found it helpful to read instead of listen. That said...the price of this collection is definitely the reason I have no interest in purchasing it. I wouldn't get $200 worth out of reading his sermons.

Posts 1875
Paul-C | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 3:57 AM

Andrew Mitchell:

I was under the impression that the sermons will be transcribed from audio, which is the reason for incremental release as this will take a lot of time. This being the case I had also presumed that this process would be costly. I can't find where I read that though. Can anyone else confirm?

This was my impression too.  I think someone posted a copy of a typical Tim Keller sermon outline / notes in another thread and suggested this would be the case.

Posts 76
Ryan Burns | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 5:33 AM

Andrew Mackie:

Is it just me, or is anyone else disappointed / annoyed / frustrated / angered by the $200 price tag of Tim Keller's sermons?

I guess this is hijacking the original thread a bit, but I'm not any of the adjectives you mentioned.

For one, if you want to get the audio for Keller's sermons you have to pay $5 a pop. That's right, Keller chargers for his audio. Personally, I've got no problem with that since he happens to preach in on of the most expensive cities in the world, so I have no problem kicking in some cash to help support their efforts there. That said, at $5 a pop, you'd get 40 sermons for $200. WIth Logos, you're getting ALL his sermons. So, it is a good deal there. 

Next, sermon transcription is EXPENSIVE when it is done well. The company logos went with is the industry leader in sermon transcription (http://www.facebook.com/digitalsermontranscription/posts/420060431356015) The quantity of transcription that will take place will no doubt be costly, but it will be very high quality. Much higher than a crowdsourcing effort.

Finally, while I don't know the details of the Logos' deal with Keller, hopefully the transcripts will be available elsewhere. For example, after they transcribed Driscoll's sermons, you can now get transcripts on all his sermons from the Mars Hill website. However, the power is always hiving them searchable in Logos.

In the end, if you feel Keller's sermons are useful in your study of the scriptures, $200 seems like a reasonable price for sure.

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Posts 453
Dave Moser | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 10:49 AM

Andrew Mackie:
On Tim Keller's side of the equation, these sermons are his digital exhaust. He was paid by the church to prepare the sermons and he gave them. Why would he expect to be paid for them again?
As already stated, if you go to the Redeemer website most of the sermon downloads require a purchase. I'm pretty sure this goes to supporting the church, not Keller. I wouldn't be surprised if the proceeds of this product also go to the church and not Keller. Even if they did, Keller is a very generous steward of God's money - he's feeding hungry people, not buying yachts - so I'm not concenred about this issue.

Andrew Mackie:
On Logos' side of the equation, yes, there's a lot of work in preparing 1,223 sermons. But that's no reason for Logos to charge $200 in perpetuity as the sole vendor of Tim Keller's sermons.

You kind of made the argument for Logos. As an aspiring pastor I value this resource much higher than technical commentary sets for which I paid far more. Do I wish it was less expensive? Of course. But for a resource of this value and breadth I'd gladly pay this price or even more.

Posts 20
Andrew Mackie | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 4:13 PM

Thanks all for your thoughts.

I think I can sum up my main objection with an analogy - imagine if Wesley's or Edwards' sermons were locked into a proprietary format in perpetuity and the entry price was high enough for most pastors to say 'actually I won't'. Keller's sermons are too important for this outcome. The price changes our behaviour - we need to be certain that it's worth such a high amount and for many pastors (and lay people such as myself) they can't have that amount of certainty in this all-or-nothing deal.

Tim Keller's should become part of the public Christian infrastructure that we all benefit from. That God is glorified by. Not locked into Logos at $200 where 100 or even 1,000 people access them. If we did this to Wesley and Edwards they'd be turning in their graves.

Dave:

You kind of made the argument for Logos. As an aspiring pastor I value this resource much higher than technical commentary sets for which I paid far more. Do I wish it was less expensive? Of course. But for a resource of this value and breadth I'd gladly pay this price or even more.

Thanks for your comment, Dave. The problem here is that capitalism is about companies taking a risk and in return receiving a reward. And through the pre-pub and community pricing models, Logos avoids taking any significant risk (they don't start unless they have orders to cover costs) and yet they continue to seek a reward in perpetuity. This is understandable for works in the private domain where there is a publisher or author who expects to be paid (as this is part of their set of expectations - they wrote something and expect the patronage of those who consume it) and it's not unreasonable for Logos to take a cut (of value unknown ... ?) in return for this service.

But Logos still does this with resources that are public domain (Spurgeon, say) or made available freely online (John Piper, say). This is, in my mind, unconscionable - Logos should make these free resources part of all base packages. And so it is here with Tim Keller's work. He's already been paid for it. The high price will prevent a large number of people from using it. The answer is to drop the high price and see the work spread for God's glory.

This still raises the objection of cost and there are at least two ways to deal with that:

  1. crowdsource the transcriptions and Logos tagging (count me in), or
  2. run a Come&LIve!-style 'I give so others live' program. For resources that are public domain or the publisher offers electronically for free, Logos could invite a small number of people to make donations to cover the cost of production so that the resources could be made free for everyone in perpetuity. And for that I'd happily pay $200. Count me in.

I've also decided to send Tim Keller's office an email asking him to not lock his sermons into the Logos format. I'll also send an email to Bob Pritchett suggesting the 'I give so others live' model. And perhaps I should start a new thread on that to gauge public support. Thoughts?

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 4:22 PM

Andrew Mackie:
On Tim Keller's side of the equation, these sermons are his digital exhaust. He was paid by the church to prepare the sermons and he gave them. Why would he expect to be paid for them again?

Wow.

Two of my favorite ministries have different philosophies about this very subject. One gives away almost EVERYTHING free of cost. The other charges a reasonable, but not inexpensive, amount for everything. I wish both churches had the same philosophy the second church had the philosophy of the first, but I would never presume upon the one the values of the other. (The second ministry's material is superior in my opinion, but the first reaches a much wider audience). There is nothing immoral about Tim Keller (I don't even know who he is) selling his work. There is also nothing wrong with Logos making a profit. If you don't like it, start your own company and write your own sermons.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 5:27 PM

Andrew Mackie:
I think I can sum up my main objection with an analogy

Allow me to sum up my view with a comparison based on what came up first in a Logos search::

$ 23.50 for 19 sermons - Farm Sermons by Charles H. Spurgeon ($1.24 per sermon)
$ 10.99 for 13 sermons - Expository Sermons by Ian R. K. Paisley ($0.85 per sermon)
$ 27.27 for 19 sermons - Cambridge Sermons by Joseph Barber Lightfoot ($1.44 per sermon)
$ 99.95 for 300 sermons - Fresh Sermons by James L. Wilson ($ 0.33 per sermon)
$ 36.95 for 24 sermons -  Sermons on Gospel Themes by Charles G. Finney ($1.54 per sermon)
$ 9,95 for 12 sermons - Sermons Preached on Various Occasions by John Henry Newman ($ 0.83 per sermon)
$199.95 for  1,233 sermons - Timothy Keller Sermon Archive ($ 0.16 per sermon)

Seems to me that your best argument might be that they should be divided into multiple volumes that are purchasable individually.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Matt Hamrick | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 5:41 PM

Andrew Mackie:
If we did this to Wesley and Edwards they'd be turning in their graves.

Did I miss something? I think the pricetag for the Edwards collection I ordered is $900. Edwards isn't rolling over. You can get all those works free from Yale. But to get it into Logos Bible Software is going to cost. It's the same principle with Keller's sermons.

Posts 80
Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 7:09 PM

$69.99 for 1174 sermons-  The John Piper Sermon Manuscript Library (1980–2009)  ($0.06 per sermon).

$200 for a collection of sermon is too expensive for most people.  

"Price elasticity measures consumer responsiveness in relationship to quantity demanded and price per unit purchased. If producers can increase total revenue by lowering price, demand is considered elastic. If producers can increase total revenue by increasing price, demand is considered inelastic. Businesses receive maximum total revenue at the point when the greatest number of units can be sold for the highest possible price. "

I think they will be able to sell more if they lower the price: many more people would be interested.  They should set its price comparable to Piper's collection.

Posts 20
Andrew Mackie | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2012 8:50 PM

Matthew Hamrick:

Andrew Mackie:
If we did this to Wesley and Edwards they'd be turning in their graves.

Did I miss something? I think the pricetag for the Edwards collection I ordered is $900. Edwards isn't rolling over. You can get all those works free from Yale. But to get it into Logos Bible Software is going to cost. It's the same principle with Keller's sermons.

Thanks Matthew. There are two points here:

  • You can get Edwards free from Yale. If I've understood the Tim Keller / Logos deal correctly, you won't be able to get Tim Keller sermons anywhere else at any price. And that means that Tim Keller's sermons will be limited to Logos users who elect to pay $200. If Edwards sermons were only available to Logos users who paid $900, then Edward's thinking would not have influenced a generation of preachers. And that, I think, would have him turn in his grave. I'm saying that Tim Keller's sermons are too important to locked down and be unused in this way.
  • Yes, getting content into Logos Bible Software is going to cost. But it costs Logos users, not Logos - they don't proceed unless they have orders that cover the cost. I am suggesting a different approach - that users continue to cover the cost of turning free content into Logos content but do so as a form of generosity - to allow everyone - Logos user and not - to have access to a highly valuable free resource to be freely available to the world. I will happily be one of those people who contribute to the cost.

There are some things - air, water, the right to send an email, etc. - that are too important to charge their full 'value' for, because charging full value for them limits their use. It's like offering bibles to non-believers for $200 - the bible is definitely worth it but that doesn't mean they'll buy it. Tim Keller, Edwards, Spurgeon and the rest are Christian air - let the world breathe it for the glory of God, not the collection of $200 x a handful of Logos users. It's far too important for that.

Posts 20
Andrew Mackie | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 20 2012 8:06 PM

As discussed above, I have now emailed both Tim Keller's office and sales@logos.com to propose that:

  • the transcriptions of Tim Keller's sermons are made available in other formats (not just Logos),
  • Logos adopt a new model for public domain content that allows users to volunteer to cover the costs so that all other Logos users may freely access them, and
  • Tim Keller's sermons be made available freely under this model.
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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 20 2012 8:20 PM

Andrew Mackie:
Logos adopt a new model for public domain content that allows users to volunteer to cover the costs so that all other Logos users may freely access them,

Based on experience as a volunteer editor at CCEL and in making PBB's in L3, I would not be willing to pay much for crowd-sourced documents. I also would want to explore if the coordination and quality assurance for crowd-sourced documents actually cost more than their current contractors.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 20
Andrew Mackie | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 20 2012 8:24 PM

Thanks MJ. I did not mention crowdsourcing in my email - I suggested that people volunteer to pay production costs so that all other users can have the finished resource for free. (i.e. that Logos does the work).

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 20 2012 11:33 PM

Thanks, Andrew. - that is a much more viable option.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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fgh | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 21 2012 6:38 AM

Andrew Mackie:
I think I can sum up my main objection with an analogy - imagine if Wesley's or Edwards' sermons were locked into a proprietary format in perpetuity

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Wesley and Edwards are dead, and this guy Keller seems very much alive.

Andrew Mackie:
Tim Keller's should become part of the public Christian infrastructure that we all benefit from.

They will be. 70 years after his death, when the copyright expires.

Andrew Mackie:
This is understandable for works in the private domain where there is a publisher or author who expects to be paid

You mean like with Keller's works...?

It seems to me that you're arguing that for some reason Tim Keller doesn't have the same right to his own work as every other author has. And it sounds a lot like you want Logos to just steal it. I presume that wasn't your intention?

In that case it seems to me that your argument is either that Tim Keller should voluntarily give up his copyright, or that international copyright law should be changed. Neither of which is in Logos' power to do anything about. So why attack them?

Andrew Mackie:

  • Logos adopt a new model for public domain content (...) and
  • Tim Keller's sermons be made available freely under this model.
  • Again, Logos can't do that, as the sermons aren't public domain. That would be stealing. 

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    Posts 20
    Andrew Mackie | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 21 2012 3:26 PM

    fgh:

    It seems to me that you're arguing that for some reason Tim Keller doesn't have the same right to his own work as every other author has. And it sounds a lot like you want Logos to just steal it. I presume that wasn't your intention?

    In that case it seems to me that your argument is either that Tim Keller should voluntarily give up his copyright, or that international copyright law should be changed. Neither of which is in Logos' power to do anything about. So why attack them?

    Thanks for your thoughts, fgh. It would appear that my attempt to speak concisely in this forum has done me a disservice.

    This was my email to Tim Keller's office:


    I'm writing to express concern that the transcriptions of Pastor Keller's sermons will be locked into the proprietary Logos format and offered at such a high price ($200). I'd like to propose an alternative approach.

    In short, my concern is that Pastor Keller's sermons are too valuable to have their use limited in this way. If, for instance, Edwards', Spurgeon's or Wesley's sermons were only available via Logos for a significant fee, generations of pastors would not have been influenced by them. And I want to suggest that over time Pastor Keller's sermons will be as important to the Christian world if they are made widely available. This is Christian air - everyone should be able to breathe it freely for the glory of God.

    I would therefore like to suggest that:

    • the transcription effort and the 'formatting for Logos' effort are separated so that the transcribed sermons to be available by any format - web, PDF, etc., and
    • the cost recovery for this work is done in a different way to Logos normal practice. What Logos currently does is invite Logos users to pre-order the sermons and the work commences when costs are covered. From that point on, however, Logos will charge all future users the same - or higher - price to access the resource. What I propose instead is that Logos users be invited to make a donation to cover the transcription and formatting work so that the sermons can be made freely available as a gift - and part of all base Logos packages.

    I would also like to suggest the same approach for the Redeemer sermon store - that a smaller number of people make significant donations to allow the world to have unrestricted access to them rather than limit their use by charging for each sermon - the application of a fee changes the behaviour of those would otherwise consume them.

    On a personal note I'd like to thank you for the books and free sermons - over the last two years they have played a significant part in the Lord's transforming work in my life.

    They have replied to say:

    Regarding the sermon transcripts on Logos, they are only proprietary in that they are first being formatted for use within Logos Bible Software, but they are not going to remain exclusive. Having the transcripts made is a large and costly undertaking which Logos has been licensed by Redeemer to administer. The Logos pre-pub offer, which you've cited, is actually in our opinion, a brilliant model for getting the project underway. Once the transcriptions are created however, they will be given to Redeemer for the discretionary use of the church. Redeemer simply does not have the staffing to create the transcripts on our own. As Dr. Keller and many of our staff are users of Logos software, we are thrilled about the application of the sermons in their format. Their functionality is not something we could reproduce. We are also excited to have the entire library at our disposal once the work is complete. There really is no limitation here, only what we see as a great opportunity. I apologize, however that you've had insufficient information at your disposal to see the full picture. We are still ironing out some details and so we haven't made a comprehensive announcement. More will follow in the near future.

    As to the larger question of whether Redeemer should charge for sermon recordings, the basic reason we do relates to the costs associated with creating, maintaining and distributing the library (personnel, equipment, office rental space, web-hosting, etc). The elders of Redeemer decided from the outset that the Sermon Ministry should pay for itself and not require funding from Redeemer's operating budget that would hinder the church's ministry work in the city.

    Related to that, you indicated that you are aware that we have made over 200 sermons of Dr. Keller's, both old and new, available on our Free Sermon Resource. We were careful to include sermons that would cover the breadth of Dr. Keller's teaching. Listening to all of them would give you the equivalent of what a Redeemer member would receive over the period of five years.

    We truly appreciate that your concern comes from an appreciation of the ministry of Dr. Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church. I hope this brief response will put things in a better light.

    Thank you for your support.

    I am considering whether to reply and if so what to say.

    My email to Logos said:

    Hello,

    I'm writing to suggest an alternative model for producing public content - content that is public domain (e.g. Spurgeon's sermons) or the author makes freely available online (e.g. John Piper).

    What I would like to see for this content is a model that allows Logos users to 'give so others live' - to *donate* towards the cost of producing the content in Logos format so that all future Logos users can freely receive the content as part of the base package.

    The alternative - the status quo - is quite troubling to me, as it would appear that Logos makes money from public content without bearing any risk (as users to bear the cost of producing the works through community pricing or pre-orders). And this means that valuable public content is underutilised (as not everyone who would benefit from the content can/will pay for it) for the sake of making 'free' profit for Logos. I would suggest that it should instead be spread widely for the glory of God. This is Christian air - let us all breathe it.

    As I believe Tim Keller's sermons to be important enough to be widely used by Christians around the globe, I have also contacted Tim Keller's office asking him not to lock his sermons into the Logos proprietary format - to separate the transcription work from the Logos formatting work so that the transcriptions can be made available in other formats - PDF, web, etc. I have also put forward this model of users volunteering to cover production costs so that his sermons might be made freely available to all Logos users.

    Thanks for your time - if you have comments or questions I would be pleased to discuss this further with you.

    Yours in Christ,
    Andrew

    They have replied with:

    Thank you for your email!

    I have forwarded your suggestion to suggest@logos.com.

    If you have any further suggestions we would love to hear them, you can email suggest@logos.com
     
    Blessings!

    fgh, if you still have concerns about my motive or approach I would be pleased to discuss it with you.

    Posts 20
    Andrew Mackie | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 21 2012 3:53 PM

    As an addendum to the above, a wise old Christian once said to me:

    "In the world we buy and sell, but in the kingdom we give and receive."

    My focus is not on rights nor on undermining them - my focus is on growing the kingdom. In this case I believe that if Tim Keller voluntarily relinquishes the right to be paid for his work the kingdom will be better served.

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    JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 21 2012 5:05 PM

    Andrew Mackie:
    "In the world we buy and sell, but in the kingdom we give and receive."

    Andrew - I think that I have come to see and appreciate your heart in this matter. I do not, however, believe that I need to impose this view on others. I think it clearly falls within the realm of Christian liberty. As I mentioned above, there are two ministries that I like to follow regularly. One gives away almost everything for free. I really respect the pastor and his ministry for such a "kingdom" mindset. Honestly, though, the materials that they offer are often very good, but my "go to" material comes from another church, which I believe puts out excellent material. Even though I can get free stuff from the one church, I will often purchase material from the second because it is better. Each church has a different calling, and I am glad to support both ministries. I believe that both ministries are good stewards of the things God has given them, and they are accountable to God for how they manage those things. 

    I once remember sitting in a deacons meeting, when one deacon was furious that the church was going to spend nearly $20,000 for a projector. (Projectors were much more expensive in those days). What he couldn't understand is that 400+ people every week were going to benefit because the sight line in the balcony wasn't very good. In his mind, such things shouldn't distract people. In the real world, however, we know that they do. No one would gripe about paying a pastor $20,000 a year (except the pastor!), but the purchase of this projector was a major cause of conflict for 6 months!

    No one, that I am aware of, is accusing Tim Keller of anything immoral or unethical. You have written your letter and received a very thoughtful reply (in my opinion). The stewardship of this issue should now be left up to him and his team.

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    Posts 80
    Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 21 2012 5:19 PM

    Redeemer put a lot of Tim Keller's sermons (including the apologetics series for non-believers) free on iTunes podcast.  Additional sermons and some of the transcripts are available here: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/bio/timkeller.html and http://djchuang.com/keller/

    For his preparation method: see http://www.scribd.com/doc/13385894/Preaching-in-a-PostModern-City  and http://adrianwarnock.com/2009/03/preach-to-change-them-in-their-seats/ and http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/documents/reading_Keller_notes.pdf

    I don't think it is fair to pressure Redeemer to give all their sermons free online.  It costs a lot to maintain a church in Manhattan.  They have been very generous in putting the sermons as free podcasts already.  

    Tim Keller is an amazing preacher:  he is able to engage a very sophisticated audience, interacting with contemporary thoughts and cultures, through the use of intense biblical exposition, taking the audience into the love and grace of God--  his Christ-centered sermons are sprinkled with the power of the Holy Spirit. 

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