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Subject: Churches Selling Services & Goods
Why do many churches sell things (like books and DVD's, etc.) and charge fees (like for seminars, conferences, Christian Schools, Institutes, and College courses, etc.)?
Some churches sell “services” or charge fees for seminars, conferences, Christian Schools, Bible Institutes, or Bible Colleges. Some churches sell books, Bibles, DVD's, etc. Some churches raise money by holding bake sales, candy sales, calendar sales, card sales, or yard sales, etc.
The above things are common today, even in professing “fundamental” churches. That all of these things are commonly accepted in the church, shows the pathetic state of Christianity today. Acts 17:11 says, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Are you searching the Scriptures daily? If you are, you will find out this:
#1—Jesus only physically stopped people from doing one sin
—selling things in God’s House.
Jesus did this, not once, but twice. The first occasion was at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, right after He had performed His first miracle. John 2:13-16 says, “Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, HE DROVE THEM ALL OUT OF THE TEMPLE, and the sheep, and the oxen; and POURED OUT THE CHANGERS’ MONEY, and OVERTHREW THE TABLES; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; MAKE NOT MY FATHER’S HOUSE AN HOUSE OF MERCHANDISE.”
This was not a “little matter” to Jesus—it was very important to Him. John 2:17 says, “And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” The word “zeal” means “fervor, passion” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary). Jesus had great fervor and passion to keep His house a place of MINISTRY—not a place of MERCHANDISE.
The second occasion when Jesus forcefully stopped things from being sold in God’s House, was at the end of His earthly ministry. It was right after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem—and less than a week before He would be crucified. Matthew 21:12-13 says, “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and CAST OUT all them that SOLD and BOUGHT in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Some people say that Jesus only drove them out, because the people were charging too high of prices, thus robbing people. But please notice that Jesus drove out BOTH the SELLERS and the BUYERS. It was not just the “price” that was the problem, but the “principle”—DO NOT SELL THINGS IN GOD’S HOUSE.
#2—Church or Business—Ministry or Merchandizing?
The word “merchandise” means, “goods that are bought and sold in business” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary). Jesus thus declared that when people are SELLING THINGS, it is MERCHANDIZING—NOT MINISTRY.
This point is extremely important, because the people in Jesus’ day were justifying their selling in God’s house under the label of “ministry,” based upon Deuteronomy 14:22-25, where the Bible instructed people that lived a long distance away from the tabernacle, to sell their animals that they were going to offer up to the Lord, and then purchase other animals when they arrived there. (“Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose.”) Based upon this passage, those people in Jesus’ day justified their actions. By selling animals right at the Temple, people from out-of-town would not have to search all over for a farmer; and then search all of his animals for a perfect one to sacrifice. They provided choice animals already there at the Temple for sale. But Jesus came along and physically stopped them, and rebuked this FALSE LABEL of “MINISTRY,” telling them not to make His Father’s house a place of MERCHANDISE (business).
1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Are you doing that?
#3—Test: Should the Church be selling books, music, videos, or Bibles, etc.?
The local church is called “GOD’S HOUSE.” 1 Timothy 3:15 says, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the HOUSE of GOD, which is THE CHURCH of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” So we know that what Jesus said applies to the local church, “MAKE NOT MY FATHER’S HOUSE AN HOUSE OF MERCHANDISE.”
Nothing should be sold in the local church. If Jesus came into the average fundamental church today, He would shock those people as much as He shocked the Jews when He overturned their tables of merchandise—because He would do the same thing to their “Church Bookstores.”
Is it not strange that the people who are pushing churches to sell books so that their church members will better understand the Bible—are the very ones that are actually getting churches to disobey the Bible by selling things in God’s house? They are enticing churches to do the very sin, and the only sin, that Jesus physically made people stop doing.
#4—Test: Should the Church be charging fees for seminars, conferences, Christian Schools, Bible Institutes, or Bible Colleges?
I have on my desk before me a glossy-stock, professionally produced invitation to something called the “Christ-Walk Conference.” Below that caption is a subtitle that says, “From the Bended Knee to the Bountiful Life.” They want me to sent in a $95.00 registration fee. If I send it in before a certain date, they will knock $10.00 off the price.
What is wrong with the church today, to allow such things? This is a conference called the “Christ-Walk?” Did Christ walk that way? Did Christ charge people to come to His “Conference on the Mount” in Matthew chapters 5 through 7? No.
I cannot understand today’s mentality in churches. I am a pastor, and when I get excited about something that I read in the Bible, I long to share it with my congregation, and whoever else may come to the services or read the web site. I would never think of charging people to teach them the exciting truths of God’s Word. Shame on this generation of preachers! If you would charge people to hear you preach and teach the Word of God, then you are what the Bible calls a “hireling.”
Churches that charge for Christian Schools, Bible Institutes, and Bible Colleges are not running a “ministry” operation—but a “merchandizing” operation. Did Jesus charge the 12 apostles to train them for the ministry? No. Did Jesus charge the 70 to train them to also go out before Him? No. If you are charging people money, then you are not involved in “ministry”—you are involved in “merchandizing”—and Christ drove all of that out of His Father’s House.
Do you charge for people to come to Sunday School and be taught? No? Then that is “ministry.”
Do you charge people to come to your services and hear the preaching and the teaching? No? Then that is “ministry.”
Do you charge people to come to your Christian School, Bible Institute, or Bible College? Yes? Then you are “merchandizing”—you are running a business out of God’s house, and the Lord would drive you out of there. You do not understand the basic principles of the local church.
#5—Jesus started the Church—not a business.
Jesus did not start the “Heavenly Carpenter Shop,” and sell franchises. Jesus started the Church, and it is to be financed off of the tithes and free-will offerings of God’s people.
Yes, Jesus reaffirmed that tithing is for the Church. Luke 11:42 says, “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Jesus told them that they needed to practice the judgment and love of God, and not to leave the other undone, as well—the tithing.
The tithes and offerings are to sustain the work and ministry of the local church. 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 says, Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”
The Lord has given to us a Printing Ministry. We have never sold one gospel tract, Bible Study booklet, Bible-reading Schedule, DVD, or Bible—nor have we ever charged anyone for postage to ship these things to them. We have never bought a printing machine, folder, stapler, cutter, or cases of paper on a payment plan. If we do not have the money, then we wait until the Lord brings it in. We have never solicited funds from other churches to finance this printing ministry. We have seen the Lord do the miraculous through the tithes and free-will offerings of God’s people. When a new gospel tract comes out, or a new Bible Study booklet, we are excited to get it into the hands of hungry souls. We would never think of trying to sell the truth of God.
Years ago, I sat in a seminar (which someone else paid the fee so I would go), and heard the man try and justify why he charged people to come to his seminar. He said, “I learned that people were more faithful in coming the whole week, if they had invested good money to attend the seminar.” I thought, “Wow, Sir, you are so wise! It is too bad that Jesus did not know these ‘truths’ that you have so wisely discerned! Why, just think of how many more people Jesus could have reached, if He had only charged people to come to hear Him!”
Fundamental churches think that the liberal churches are very “Laodicean” today. I think that it is time to look in the mirror (the Word of God), and you might be surprised at what you see. Revelation 3:17-20 says, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Cleanse God’s House of all this buying and selling and charging fees—the Lord is nigh at hand! Malachi 3:1-2 says, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap.”
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