Saturday, January 31, 2009

Selling the Gospel -- Revisited

As of late there have been several comments on an older post, on the topic of selling the Gospel. I would like to address some of the issues that they have brought up, as well as do an overview on the topic of Selling the Gospel.

Many people look at both Church and Para-Church ministries and scoff at there selling of products such as, books, CD's, Dvd's, ect. However, I think that these Scoffers are somewhat misguided in there understanding of how these ministries work and perhaps how the real world works.

Let me Start of with Scripture - Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." (1 Timothy 5:17-18 ESV) - This is the basis for paid ministry within the Church, however, I think that it also tells us a bit more than just, paid ministry should exist. It also tells us that Elders (pastors) who rule well should receive double honor, many believe this refers to wage. So I would ask, How many of us Give more when we see a Hard Working Pastor? I would say not many people that I know do this. I think that Most Churches scrimp and save, just to make it now days, there are pastors who cut there pay, some who go without pay, simply because Members do not give enough.

That said I would like to address the selling of Hard Media - I would say that anything that you can put your hands on, ala books, CD's and Dvd's can and should be sold, these materials do cost money, and there was a lot of hard work put into them. There is also normally a cost to produce them, and while may people expect the church to absorb that cost, their giving does not allow the church/ministry to do that. This is really simple, Churches when they sell these types of materials are not selling the gospel, they are selling teaching materials.

Soft Media - I would define this as anything that is digital. This is something that is downloaded ie essays, sermons, ect.. These are materials that can be put on Hard Media, but as soft media, they should be given away. I believe that most ministries do give this type of media away for free.

Selling the Gospel -- I would say that selling media is far different then selling the Gospel. The Gospel is the message found in Scripture about Jesus' death, Burial and resurrection. Selling the Gospel, would be things like monetary requirements for coming to Church, Mormons do this with their members. I believe that selling the gospel is not something that your average Christian Church does. I don't believe that it is a very common thing in American churches. That said, I welcome examples of where people believe this is happening.


Anonymous said...

I can see where you are coming from but I am still not satisfied. You have brought up some scriptures but there are also other scriptures in the Bible which lead me to believe that "selling the gospel" is wrong. Take this scripture for example (Luke 19:45 KJV) And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; 46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Now I know that you have brought up a point that what we consider "the gospel" is actually just teachings. Doesn't the "teachings" involve scripture and ultimately "the gospel"? I know that these material mainly gives the authors thoughts on the subject but whether or not you and I call it the gospel it is thoughts on God, Jesus, Christianity..... the gospel. This whole subject confuses me and I see both sides of the picture yet wonder if I really want to take a chance and say that it isnt wrong.

Anonymous said...

How do you feel about seeling non-teaching related items in church...such as coffee, t-shirts, girl scout cookies, etc. Should the church be in the market of profiting from such goods? If so, what is your basis? If not, why is it acceptable for churches to profit from selling teaching material but not other items?

Ken Cook said...

I would say the Following:

Teachings are not the Gospel. If they were, then how could we for the most part all be coming from different places? Calvinist, Lutheran, Arminian, Baptist, Unitarian, Methodist, ect... all different perspectives, but one Gospel, well except for maybe the Unitarian.

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages."
(1 Timothy 5:17-18 ESV)

People who are working in teaching should be paid, and if it is easier to have the books available on Sunday when people are at church, then I do not see a biblical case for taking issue with it. People are not forced to buy anything to partake in the Worship Service, Communion, Baptism, ect... It is simply an easy way of encouraging people, and lets face it, paper and ink costs money.

The issue with Luke 19 is this: Thievery. It is the central point, Thievery.

Ken Cook said...

The Second post here is so far off topic, that it is nothing more then a Red Herring, and not worth a response.

Anonymous said...

Please address the second post. Surely you have some insight.

Ken Cook said...

1. I think that the second post is written in a False Dichotomy.

2. I think that each Church has the authority to choose on this issue for themselves, and I don't believe that there is a dogmatically correct answer.

3. I believe that it is acceptable to sell coffee, books, shirts, at a Church, in a bookstore, which is open on a sunday morning, for several reasons and with several requirements. First, I believe that a church must not be guilty of Theft. Meaning, the Church must charge a reasonable price, and any profit must be put into the church's general fund. I see no issue with the church making money from a service, that people would use anyway, like coffee, especially in light of the fact that on average let then 50% of members give to the church. Yet at the same time, these same people do buy coffee. The only Prohibition I see to selling something like Coffee or books in scripture is Luke 19 which condemns Theft. This is marking up the price for personal gain, but when I look at how most churches sell books or coffee, it is normally very discounted. Currently, Mars Hill Seattle, is selling Mark Driscoll's new book "Vintage Church" at the price of 1 for $10 and 2 for $15. In a Christian bookstore or Boarders it will cost you $22. The church is offering a steep discount. This seems right to me.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the Luke 19 more regarding defiling God's temple? Yes, they were robbing people, but they were doing it in the temple. Does this even apply to church, since God no longer dwells in a building, but in His people? I say if the church can get away with selling things at a high price, be honest about it, sell away! Encourage people to buy from the church for $5 more than the bookstore because, afterall, it is the church. That way it can make up for the lack of giving. I also think it could be irresponsible to give away "soft" media, there is a cost involved here as well, and only if a church is able should it give away this media.