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Is it okay for churches to sell things (books, tapes, Bibles, baked goods, garage sale items,

candy, etc.) or to charge for services (school tuition, college tuition, rehab programs,

computer/website services, etc.)?

q.gif (1639 bytes)    Does Deuteronomy chapter 14 refer to selling things for church (fund raising)?


a.gif (1659 bytes)   Deuteronomy 14:22-26 says, “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. And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.”

This passage is referring to when the Tabernacle and/or Temple was some distance away from a person’s home. In such instances, it might not be possible to take the firstlings of the flock to tithe to the Lord, such a great distance without the animal dying. Or even to take the firstfruits of the harvest that far, because it would be too difficult to carry it all that distance. In such cases, the person could sell for money what he was going to tithe to the Lord, and then go to the place where the Tabernacle or Temple was. When he arrived there, he could then take that money and buy the things which he wanted to tithe to the Lord.

Jesus rebukes the people of His day for misusing this principle, and making money off from people who lived far away, and for making His house an auction barn or place of merchandise. 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.”

The church is not a place to make or exchange money. The church is to be a place to praise God in song; in prayer; in preaching and teaching God’s Word; in free will offerings and tithes, etc.

NOTHING SHOULD EVER BE SOLD IN GOD’S HOUSE — not food; not tapes; not gospel literature; not Bibles; not garage sale items; and not services rendered for people. If a church cannot support a ministry off of the tithes and free will offerings of God’s people, then that local church needs to stay out of that matter. When Jesus came along to the Temple, and people were buying and selling in it, He drove them all out of there. If He came along to many churches today, He would have to do the same thing.

Some people justify their selling of things in God’s house by saying that Jesus did not drive them out for selling things, but for robbing or cheating the people (Jesus referred to them as thieves). “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of THIEVES.” That is a faulty interpretation (that Jesus only drove them out because they were cheating people), because notice who Jesus drove out of the Temple. “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that SOLD and BOUGHT in the temple.” Why would Jesus drive out the poor people who were being cheated? That was not the point. The point was selling and buying merchandise in God’s house. John 2:16 says, “Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of MERCHANDISE.”

The same holds true for a church selling services to its people. Like the service of educating its children through Christian Schools and Christian Colleges. If a local church is charging for those services (tuition), then those are not ministries of that local church. That local church is involved in a business — not a Scriptural ministry.

Sunday School is a ministry. Have you ever heard of a church that charges tuition for students to come to Sunday School? Have you ever heard of a church that charges children for their Sunday School manuals or take home papers (when they use them—it is hard to find decent material any more)? From where does the money come to buy those Sunday School materials? From the tithes and offerings of God’s people.

If a Christian School or College cannot be supported from the tithes and free-will offerings of God’s people, then a local church has no Scriptural business being involved in it. It is distressing to hear of churches starting Bible Institutes, and then charging the students to come to it. Does a Pastor charge his own people to hold their funerals or weddings? Does a Pastor charge his own people to baptize them? Does a Pastor charge his own people to pray with them or to help them work out problems in their lives? Is it not one of the duties of a pastor to TEACH his people? Ephesians 4:11-14 says, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

We were having trouble with our web site recently. We had been using a free submission service to handle our orders (yes, everything is produced and shipped free of charge to people, and is done so through the tithes and offerings of the local church). The free submission service started advertising things of which we could not approve, so we sought other means to handle the submission of orders (and we are still working on it as of this writing). We received a local church newspaper in the mail, and on the back page they were advertising a service to help churches on their web sites. We emailed that local church, and got their price for their help. Here was part of the reply, “Our _______ website is a full service solution for churches... The COST is $29.95/mo… We can build an order form directly into _________ for your orders. This would COST $100 to program.”

That is not a ministry — that is a business being run out of that local church. The prices are about the same that we could hire local internet companies to do the same thing. A local church has no Scriptural authority to start a business (anything where a fee is charged). That should be left to the men of that local church to start businesses on their own, by which they can support their families, and then tithe and give offerings from that income.

Sometimes churches are small, and Pastors have to take on outside work to survive. In Paul’s missionary travels, he had to sometimes do outside work to support himself. Acts 18:1-3 says, “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.”

You will notice that Paul did NOT start the “CORINTH TENT SERVICES” through that local church. He did not advertise that the local church there would help other local churches in their needs for tents (for tent meetings, revivals, and temporary meeting places during building construction, etc.), and then when other churches called, he could let them know the price for helping them. No, that is not what Paul did at all. Business is to be kept apart from the local church. That is something that honest, hard-working men of the church can do to support their own families.

There is nothing wrong with writing good BOOKS and selling them, if that is your personal business. Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” That is a legitimate business — but that business has no place in the local church (if it is a Bible study book of great value, local churches should print it through the offerings of God's people, and distribute it free of charge).

Churches have no business selling TAPES or CD's or DVD's (video or audio).  If it is a good message by the Pastor or visiting speaker, then give it away freely as the Lord provides to do so.  Many tapes can simply be loaned out, and when people think it to be a good tape to keep, they just make a copy of it on their own.  If it is important material that will help people in their Christian lives, or will reach the lost, then what are we doing selling it to people?  We should give it to them.

Many months ago, we were approached about a Christian-based alcohol abuse program. It seemed like a good program, and has quickly spread, since that time, through Independent Baptist Churches. We chose to have no part in it. Why? Because they tell local churches to charge the people for the materials (charge the people that are having alcohol problems). That is not a ministry — that is a business.

When we asked the man about the selling of the manuals to the people having problems, he simply said that headquarters said the people were more likely to attend the meetings if they had to invest money in the materials. Is that so? We heard the same excuse given by a nationally known seminar that teaches much about character. They said, “We have found that people are more prone to attend all of the seminars if they have to pay to attend them for the whole week.”

Such teaching is totally foreign to the Scriptures. Did Jesus charge people to come and hear Him teach truths from the Bible? No. Did He not realize the truth that these alcoholic-helpers and seminar leaders seem to know, that if you charge people to come, then you will get more people and they will listen more attentively, and will come more often to hear your messages? No, I guess Jesus was not as smart as these leaders that we have today. If only Jesus would have realized these truths, think how many more people He could have reached! Do you get the point?

Did Jesus charge the 12 disciples for their Bible College training (walking with Him for 3 1/2 years)? No. If a man is fit to pastor a local church, then he is fit to train others for the ministry, and he should not charge a penny for doing so.

We are seeing a similar thing to the DOCTRINE of BALAAM coming into Independent Baptist Churches now (money, wages, or compensation that is obtained in unscriptural ways), and the sad part is that people seem to be accepting it without a question, because it seems to work (the old philosophy, the end justifies the means, which is not a Scriptural philosophy at all). Indeed, it does seem to be the last times.

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