Rethinking What We Sell

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Rethinking What We Sell

“Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it. . .”

That’s the way Martin Luther started his letter commonly referred to as the 95 Theses. Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in 1517, a practice that was like sending out a company-wide meeting invite today. On Luther’s mind was letters of indulgences. The practice of buying indulgences allowed people to buy their salvation. This was unacceptable to Luther. He strongly believed that one lived a life of humility in order to receive God’s grace. After 1507, sales of Indulgences took a steep climb because the Papal Court was in great financial trouble.

In the 1700s, selling pews in the church became a common practice. Where the pews were placed was based, of course, on the price of the purchase and the importance of the family.

Sad to say, in the 1900s it seems that all limits came off and you could then buy a denomination-specific bible or one with the name of your favorite televangelist on it. Today in the first decade of the 2000s, everything in the church is for sale. As if you need a list here we go.

You can buy oil necessary for anointing; this will cost you more if it’s fragrant. You can buy miracle water guaranteed to give you what you want. You can buy your way out of debt; just send that popular preacher $2008 before the end of the year and – poof! – your debts shall be, I say, shall be forgiven! Oh, I feel my strength coming on, probably because I bought my prayer shawl; you know it’s the only way to the threshing room.

Think we don’t sell pews anymore? If so, you’re wrong. Just let a popular preacher, celebrity or politician visit. I’ve never seen them on the back row or in the overflow room, have you? But wait there’s more. If you like what you just heard and want more, not a problem. You can buy the word of God, (you know you need it), for just $59.99 plus shipping and handling, mind you and still there’s more. Need a personal word form God? Just call the Master Prophet’s pay-per-minute phone line, and he or one of his students in the school of the prophets will be sure to send you a prophetic word just for you. Just one problem; one of my former pastors and I both sent in for a word, (a total experiment), and as we expected, we both got the same personal letter. Yes, we could get out of our negative situation, by paying him to release the word on us. It wasn’t cheap either. If you’re thinking, man I’m in the wrong business, you’re in luck. For just a couple thousand of dollars you too can pay to BECOME a PROPHET!

Marriage problems? We’ve got a conference. Church security needs? We’ve got a conference. Want to get out of debt? You guessed it, we’ve got a conference. Um, no, it’s not free. Any wonder why “Jamaica plans to tap into the thriving market for religious-oriented tourism to invigorate the island’s sagging economy?” After all, the global religious tourism market is an $18 billion-a-year industry.

Think all this money is for the advancement of the kingdom of God? Then how do we explain the lifestyles of televangelists and others who obviously profit greatly by selling God, the church, and the Gospel?

Do I sound angry? I am. Aren’t you? Do you think that preachers are called to prosperity? Do you think that prosperity is God’s priority for you? What does the bible mean when it says:

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Why do we pay for copies of sermons from preachers who are salaried to prepare and preach them? Please don’t tell me that it’s to cover the cost. Many pastors and preachers today are making their sermons available for download, podcast and webcast for free.

Just in case you are thinking, “but the laborer is worthy of his hire,” let’s look at that in context for a second. It’s Matthew 10:7-10

Tell them that the kingdom is here.

Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start.

You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.

As I think and re-think about the way we do church, I’ve come to believe that if we don’t stop selling everything, we’ll remain oblivious to the fact that we are selling out. Does anybody else feel like flipping tables with Jesus? Hoorah!

Want to agree, disagree, rebuke or admonish? All comments are welcome

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13 thoughts on “Rethinking What We Sell

  1. I’ve always felt that way about the church. No
    where in the New or Old Testaments do I see them
    raising money like they do today. I guess that’s one
    reason why those churches of old were richer than the
    ones of today. And experienced more miracles!! Even
    as a child I didn’t agree with the “Bake Sales” of the
    church.
    Well we tend to focus on the things when can do
    and not the things we can’t. So they focus on money
    making instead of the Spirit of God. They can’t seem
    to imitate or produce it. Mega churches with mega
    money but no manifestation. They are building all of
    these buildings for the wrong purpose.
    In 2 Chronicles they built the temple for GOD not
    the people. When the temple was finish GOD came. So
    if you build it for the people then only, ONLY the
    people will come. More of that ignorant teaching of
    fake til you make it. Well they have faked being TRUE
    voices and teaches of GOD and they have truly made it
    off of the peoples offerings. When will we wake up
    and see we are not getting our moneys worth. There
    pockets are getting fatter while our spirits are
    getting thinner.
    When you gage the time from the beginning when the
    disciples first met Jesus until after his
    resurrection, there is an extremely noticeable
    difference in there spiritual lifestyle. How long
    have we been going to the same church with the same
    pastor and the only thing that has changed is our
    knowledge of the bible and we donate more because they
    keep telling us we can’t out give GOD and give money
    for this or that problem.

  2. @ Marcus,

    good to see you here. It’s interesting to observe the way Jesus did ministry and the way we do ministry today, it doesn’t always add up, does it?

    @ Michelle,

    Thanks for stopping by, If you are thinking about ways to make church better then I am encouraged to continue. That’s what this is all about, serving God with all our minds! I’m loving it right along with you sis.

  3. Finally – I’ve been waiting to read this post since you teased it a few weeks ago!

    Another thought provoking post. On one hand I do believe that money is need to further the Gospel. The question becomes “what Gospel are we spreading”?

    Generally we fund the marketing campaign of the “next big pulpit pimp” instead of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a hungry world.

    When you look at what Eddie Long (et al) are doing here in the ATL, you wonder if God is even taking us seriously anymore.

    Bottom line – should we fund the TRUE spreading of the Gospel? Absolutely. Should we continue to sanction the foolishness that we’ve seen in this age coming from the church? Absolutely not.

    Only through seeking God in prayer can we truly discern which is which…

  4. You said it all and I agree.
    Why should we have to pay for that which God through His awesome sacrifice has already given to us, it is by our faith, it is released to us, substance hoped for evidence not seen.
    He did say it is finished up on the cross, to me it means the work is complete, it is already done, we must reach out and claim it, if we have to pay our way out, then the Word is a lie, and we know this could never be true, for God is not a man that He could lie. He promised to supply all our needs and grant the desires of our heart. If I have to buy my way out then His promises are not yeh and amen.
    So many things we do are wrong, but thanks be to God for granting us the knowledge, that we may all begin to change, one by one.
    It is up to me, to continue in mess or to move on to freedom in Him! I choose to move.

  5. I started reading this blog a few days ago, and I got so upset, that I wanted to post some choice words, but decided against it, for fear of being banned from this site. lol. The mistake I made, was that I went to read the lifestyles of Televangelists. After reading that I thought there should be no needy people in any of their churches, and they better not ask me for a dime again, because I need it, and they don’t…..
    I loved the sign on the church, I do believe that everything is for sale in the church today, such a shame, Jesus would really have a field day whipping these modern day money changers out of His temple.
    We really have to start re thinking what we sell. Oh by the way, I do own one of those bibles.. lol. Sad to say, I think everything you said here were so true, I hope that lots of people would come to the realization, that we could Think for ourselves, and not be tricked into doing things that we don’t want to. Thanks so much for this thought.

  6. It’s embarassing, the things I see offered for sell by religious people on television. Even more embarassing that people are actually buying these things in exchange for false hopes.

    Martin Luther rocks!

  7. This is a disgrace and I’m glad that you have so aptly pointed out that the church has had this as a fatal flaw for centuries! It’s not new. It is an unfortunate legacy and kudos to those who are in the trenches and willing to voice the inconsistency of this reality with the message of Christ and his Church.

    Yay for you!

  8. Once again, right on my brother! I’m a little late with this one, just catching up on my email. Here’s the problem – Church has become a business, like a corporate america business although the Chruch is suppose to be non profit.

    Christians that know God’s word concerning this issue must stop supporting this madness and encourage others to do the same…this is the only way it’s going to stop.

    As long as there are Pastors, Ministers, etc., that believe people (church folk) will buy what they’re selling, guess what? They are going to sell, sell and sell – and keep on asking for mo’ money, mo’ money, mo money!

    As I “step” into the role of Pastor, spiritual warfare is going on daily concerning the issue of money. It can become a temptation and stronghold to leaders who feel they have a right to certain amounts of money because of what they do – and don’t hate, some will trickle down to you – just be patient.

    The Lord told me to stop watching certain TV Evangelist because of this very issues and the fact that they do not preach or teach about Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

    God is turning His church around – and just remember, the Church is not a building made of bricks and wood, the church is you and I – we are God’s temple and if we need to invest in anything (money wise) we need to invest in each other so that none will be in lack – Read Acts 2:42-47.

    Nuff said.

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