Chip MacGregor

December 5, 2014

So… what's up with the Christian Writers Guild?


Recently the Christian Writers Guild has been much in the news. I’ve heard rumors about problems and threats; there have been questions about new leadership and new directions; and then we got news that the whole thing was being shut down. It seemed odd, since the Guild was purchased and funded by mega-selling author Jerry Jenkins, who wrote the Left Behind series and sold more than seventy million books — at the time it was the best-selling fiction series in history, later eclipsed by Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and, um, Fifty Shades of Grey (proving that H.L. Mencken was right).

Jerry is not a friend, but he’s certainly a friendly acquaintance (I worked at the agency that represented the Left Behind books), and I knew he had invested his own money into the CWG, and had really built it up. Their annual conference was very good, they were moving into publishing, and for a long time I couldn’t go to speak anywhere without running into writers who had been mentored through their excellent writer training system. So I asked Dr. Dennis Hensley, who is Chairman of the Professional Writing Program at Taylor University, and a longtime insider at CWG, if he could tell me what was happening with them closing up shop. His response follows…

I have been a close friend and business associate of Jerry B. Jenkins for more than 30 years. During that time I have observed how he and his wife Dianna have anonymously, humbly, and graciously used their personal funds to provide major support for worthy efforts. They have bought automobiles for missionaries, funded college scholarships for needy students, underwritten building projects in third world countries, and provided jobs for writers, editors, and teachers.

A mission close to Jerry’s heart for many years has been to develop a new generation of competent writers who can share the Christian worldview by way of journalism, fiction, social platform outreach, and multi-media communication. To that end Jerry has opened doors on numerous fronts. He bought the Christian Writers Guild from Norm Rohrer 15 years ago and modernized all the correspondence courses for training by way of computerized distance learning. He authorized the creation of new courses, organized a staff of experienced teachers and mentors to work with the online students, and even made arrangements for certain of these courses to qualify for college credits. Additionally, he initiated the annual Writing for the Soul Conference in Colorado Springs, which welcomed participants to hear leading authors and editors give keynote addresses, conduct seminars and workshops, and provide one-on-one manuscript assessment sessions. Furthermore, Jerry took over ownership and management of the annual Christian Writers Market Guide, making sure that freelance writers would have a volume of current marketing information related to magazines, newspapers, online periodicals, and book publishers. And, on top of all this, Jerry himself frequently accepted invitations to speak at writer’s conferences, colleges, universities, retreats, and conventions nationwide, where he would share his knowledge and experience about aspects of professional writing.

In all this, Jerry never made one penny of profit. For a fact, he expended more than three million dollars of personal money just to provide all these various services and opportunities to developing writers. And that does not take into account the hundreds of hours he spent managing CWG and its off-shoot operations, all of which were unpaid ventures for Jerry.

At the start of 2014, Jerry shared with several of his close friends and business associates that he was ready to return to his primary occupation and calling, that of full-time writing. However, it was his hope that the work and mission of Christian Writers Guild would continue. He took on a partner and was indemnified against financial responsibility for new endeavors by CWG, but he granted permission for his name to be used as the new partner segued into total ownership and management.

It is no secret that a host of inquiries and complaints have arisen related to CWG’s management since Jerry stepped out of his leadership role. I am not privy to those specific matters, only to say that I am absolutely confident that Jerry B. Jenkins, himself, has never – never!—shortchanged or cheated anyone. He is honest, fair, and trustworthy in all he does. If anything, he and Dianna are overly generous in their business dealings. Thus, my personal opinion is that any complaints that have arisen regarding problems at CWG in 2014 cannot be laid at Jerry’s feet. Being the exemplary man he is, Jerry has reinserted himself into the business side of the Guild to insure that it is closed with fidelity and honor. He has pledged that all students will be able to complete their courses and all members will get the full benefits of their memberships. To say that this is a magnanimous gesture would be an understatement. Integrity and Jerry B. Jenkins are synonymous in my dictionary.

Dr. Dennis E. Hensley

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  • Elizabeth says:

    I have nothing but words of gratitude towards Jerry Jenkins and his enterprise. I admire him as a writer and as a Christian. I think of him as a model for Christian writers.

    People like to talk, that is the nature of the ‘tongue’ and for some it is harder to tame it.

    Jerry is a good person with a great heart, and an excellent writer and mentor.

    Learn at his feet and your opinion will be one of praise. Get to know his work before defamating people.

  • Bethany Macmanus says:

    My question is, will ACFW be able to come in and gently fill in some of the holes? Maybe adopt part of CWG’s business model? Or is there even room to expand, budget-wise? (not a fan of my membership fee going up, lol) I’ve only been a member since 2011, so I don’t know much…HAH

  • Brandt Dodson says:

    I haven’t met Jerry, but I know Doc well and I have met and spoken with Tim LaHaye on several occasions. Both of these men speak well of Jerry and that’s good enough for me. I am sorry for him personally, but his honesty and reputation are intact.

  • jillkemerer says:

    Thank you for this affirmation about Jerry B. Jenkins and all the good the Christian Writers Guild has done over the years.

  • Amanda Luedeke says:

    Hmmm…I don’t know all the facts, but I disagree with painting the “partner” in this situation in a poor light. I really like those folks, and I know they had only good intentions when they came on board with CWG. I mean, who would buy an organization only to have it close soon after? Their role in bringing about this decision isn’t so clear cut, if you ask me. I wonder if a greater issue was the fact that CWG wasn’t having the impact in recent years that it once did. Maybe due to a changing industry? An industry in which writers can more easily access information, attend webinars, and form online critique groups? Just hypothesizing at this point…because again, I don’t have all the info.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Nobody buys an organization to try and close it, of course. That said, did they “buy” it? Or contract to run it? But you’re right in saying the changing industry doubtless contributed, Amanda. If you’re friends with some of the folks involved, tell them they are invited to participate in the discussion, or offer their side. Part of what we’re all trying to figure out is what’s happening, how is the industry changing, and what will work as we move forward. (And for the few who don’t know, Amanda and I work together, and she does the wonderful Thursday marketing posts on this blog.)

    • Dave Fessenden says:

      Amanda, that was the very thing I was thinking, that the changing industry created an unstable business. Even if we were to say that the “partners” were bad at business (and I am not saying that, because I don’t know), being bad at business is not a cardinal sin — or a sin at all, for that matter. I’m no businessman, for sure, but I’ve seen talented people “crash and burn” when they encounter a set of business problems that seem to feed on themselves. God doesn’t call us to be successful, just to be faithful.

    • evamarieeverson says:

      I’m with Amanda. I know and love everyone involved in this. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we cannot make something work. Sometimes that’s God moving us to where He wants us to be. No matter how hard we try!!! … it just doesn’t work. Then, we flow where God pushes us along to and … voila! It works! Yep, this industry is a-changin’! And we have to change with it … dabnabit!

      Jerry and Dianna are the best of the best. Dave has a heart as big as those Colorado Rockies. And Doc is one of the finest men on the planet. I actually groveled at his feet… LOL

      Sometimes, folks, there’s nothing evil afoot. Sometimes doors close and windows open.

  • Jenny Gentry says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Chip. So many things have been said. I was upset to know the Guild was closing. But glad to know the back story. Jerry Jenkins, I am glad to know that you will continue to work with writers. That made my day. God Bless.

  • Mary Kay says:

    Thank you, Chip and Doc Hensley. Had’t heard rumors (thankfully) but was saddened and more at hearing the sudden news of closing. The suddenness did not seem in keeping with the quality and compassion of all the interactions I had with the Guild over the years of Jerry’s leadership. His stepping in to assist in closing it with honor and fidelity–that sounds like the Jerry B. Jenkins I’ve had the privilege of experiencing through the Guild. And learning this info. helps. Thanks, again. Mary Kay

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks for writing, Mary Kay. I agree — a lot of us were saddened to see it all fall apart so quickly.

  • Jerry B. Jenkins says:

    I will continue to teach and train via my own website,, will continue The Christian Writer’s Market Guide in print and on line, and will offer blogs, webinars, podcasts, self-study courses, etc.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Hey — thanks for this, Jerry. Nice to hear it from the horse’s mouth! Good of you to come on and comment. Feel free to correct any errors we’ve made.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      And would love to know what’s going to happen to the mentoring/training materials that were available through CWG.

    • Lynn Donovan says:

      Jerry, I am one of your very thankful students. I worked with an amazing mentor during my two years of training. I have published two books and counting, numerous articles and have a full-time online ministry. THANK YOU is inadequate for the training, mentoring and love I received through the Guild. I pray for great favor from our Lord upon all that you do. Thank you, with deep love and respect. Lynn Donovan

    • Tom Pawlik says:

      Jerry, Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for aspiring Christian authors. Your work and integrity continue to inspire me! I pray God’s blessings in your future endeavors.

    • annee says:

      I am so sad about all of this. I was a member of the Christian Writer’s Guild when we lived in San Diego and was hoping there would be a chapter close to us since now that we’ve moved to Colorado. I took a couple years off writing because of health issues and was out of touch with the writing community. I didn’t know about the change of hands and closing of the organization. Truly a disappointment. What you did was amazing! I pray there will be something soon for Christian writer’s who are still trying to get our work into print. Bless you for all you’ve done, Jerry. Please pray for us 🙂

  • Nancy Lohr says:

    I exchanged email with Jerry and asked him, “Do you know whether Christian
    Writer’s Market Guide will still be available?” He responded, “That’s my goal, though it may be late or even skip a year. Stay tuned.”
    Thanks, Doc Hensley, for your post, and thanks, Chip, for helping set the record clear.

  • Rick Barry says:

    Thanks, Chip and Doc, for shedding a bit of light. Although Jerry’s business is his own business, I suppose it’s natural that people would wonder about the closing of an organization that has benefited so many. Sounds like there have been rumors that I have successfully avoided, but whatever inaccuracies may have been repeated, I hope this lays them to rest. The only question I might have is whether the Market Guide will continue?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Just a guess on this question, Rick… I wonder if the market has moved away from the printed guide. Seems like that would be a great resource to post online, maybe even for a fee-based project.

    • Guest says:

      The last we heard Believers Press was looking to sell the Market Guide to someone else.

    • Guest says:

      I didn’t see Jerry’s response below, so I suppose he has it back.

  • PeterLeavell says:

    As a winner of Jerry B. Jenkins’ Operation First Novel, I was able to sit at his table and have a few private conversations with him as I panicked on how to proceed with my career. I must second Doc Hensley’s comments. Jerry is a professional giver of not only his earnings, but his time as well. From my encounters, he held nothing but my best interest and fervently desires each person to reach their potential. Thanks, Chip for this…

  • I’ve heard rumors and innuendos, but I prefer to get information from someone with knowledge of the situation. Thanks to Doc Hensley for sharing this, and to Chip for providing the platform.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Yeah, there’s clearly more to the story, Richard. Jerry turned this over to a couple people, and suddenly it went from making money to losing money. That probably says something about the people who took it over.

      I noticed in the PW article, it noted that the principles “remain friends.” But, um, from the look of that article, I doubt they’ll be exchanging Christmas cards. If Jerry has really invested millions of dollars, and within a year of handing it over to someone else it’s fallen apart, I can understand there might be some hard feelings. Would love to know how somebody could screw up something this successful in a manner of months.

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