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EDITOR:
Steve Van Nattan

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BUYING AND SELLING AT THE CHURCH HOUSE

A Letter From a Reader and Some Biblical Thoughts

 

Here is the letter I received from a reader of this journal:

"And Jesus...
cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple..."
..."Take these things hence; make not my Father's
house an house of merchandise."
John 2

Hello Brother Van Nattan!

The Blessed Quietness website continues to edify and instruct me. I have no idea how I first found the site, but certainly the Lord guided me here.

I've been reading the article 'Cleansing the Temple'. This is an excellent eye-opener and very instructive teaching on Biblical giving in the local church. I have a few question regarding other situations when money is involved in the church house. Here are some scenarios:

Is it Biblical when Missionaries come your local KJV church to share about their ministry, perhaps they are Nationals from another country, and are permitted to set up a table in the foyer not only show their missionary pictures etc, but also to sell handmade items and natural products made by the women believers in their misson/church? Is this based on Proverbs 31?

Is it Biblical when a guest Pastor/teacher comes to teach about the music ministry in local churches, perhaps discerning good vs bad music, and plays his instruments; then he sets up a table to sell his music recordings and literature & books written by him or others? These are made available to teach and warn about music ministries in the local KJV church.

Is it Biblical when a guest preacher comes to preach, perhaps on prayer, and he has set up a table at the back of the sanctuary, offering folks his formatted Prayer Journal/binder and CDs of his messages that he has already preached in other churches -- all with a price tag? The Journal is to encourage believers in their daily prayer by writing down prayer requests and keeping track of how God's answers their prayers over the years.

Is it Biblical to pay a few dollars to defray costs of cassette-taped preaching messages by the pastor of your local church? It's called a 'tape ministry'.

In the last few years I have begun to question if these practices should be going on in the church house. I understand and realize there is a cost involved in producing such items, and I'd like to believe that in most cases these items are offered with 'good intentions' rather than for profit-making... but is it Scriptural? Or do these types of scenarios come under the same heading "make not my Father's house an house of merchandise'?

Thank you for challenging me to 'examine' my walk with the Lord!

Sincerely In Christ Jesus,

Mrs. P____________

 

 

Here is my answer to this issue:

1. We call our meeting places "church" and "the house of God," and though these names are highly suspect, it is clear that the meeting place of the Lord's Church (people) is often a special large building with sacral overtones. Thus, on a practical basis, and in spite of our claims of being in a liberating new dispensation, we better keep all the package together. Jesus was indeed in the old dispensation and in the old meeting place, the temple of the Age of Law. But, we meet in our dispensation for worship and edification and the reading of the Word. Nothing in our "order of service" has changed. God is there, we are there, but HAS God changed his view of merchandising at the gathering house???????? I think not.

 

2. Biblically, and dispensationally, is there anything in the New Testament to indicate that the merchandising of the saints could be a problem? Yes!

2 Peter 2:1 (KJV) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

It is ONLY false prophets who make merchandise of the saints. Oh, how lofty our rage is when we consider the flakes in Charismania, like Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch, and Oily Roberts, who sell prayer cloths and wee bottles of healing oil. How we thrash the Pope for selling images and trinkets. But, when we turn the back of the auditorium into a Middle Eastern suk with several missionaries selling poorly done recordings of their kids singing Acapulco, well, selling that rubbish is a "ministry," right? I think not.

Admit it-- you have a CD at home of terrible music that you bought thinking you were helping the missionary pick up needed cash. Come on, admit it :-) You never play the thing. We have a couple. What do we do with them. Pitching them is an admission we did something stupid. It would have been much better if we had written the beggar a check so he could glean the whole wad of cash instead of having to make CDs. What do we do with these CDs? I suggest you lay them under the tomatoes next summer. They will reflect more light from below, and the tomatoes grow faster. But, you may have some flat salsa too. I know, dumb pun-- but the best I could do right now.

 

3. The laborer is worthy of his hire. Right! Let us not be too brutal. Some of these evangelists and missionaries are so used to dishing out "the sincere milk of the Word" that they themselves are not exercised with strong meat. They wrest it, and they end up justifying their stupid presuppositions-- to wit, "I gotta pay for da gas on this trip."

So, let us rebuke the pastors and deacons who stand by and condone this sacrilege, but let us come up with a solution. There is NO excuse for this marketing in the church house today. Why? The Web. For $ 9.95 a month these people could have a Web site, and they could post their CDs there, and even put one of the songs up to show what the buyer is getting. Then, put the URL on their prayer card, and the pastor could tell the people gathered at the end of the meeting to pick up a prayer card and visit the missionary's Web site, suggesting they have some good music CDs available. This would get the marketing back in the market place where it belongs. They ONLY complaint I can anticipate is that people will not pick up the prayer card and visit the Web site, and the money grubbing missionary will not make money. Then the bastard ought to get out of the missionary "business" and make a serious effort to earn a living selling insurance or Amway.

 

4. Is there any historic standard in this? Yes! King James (who commissioned the King James Bible) made a decree that church property could no longer be used for military musters and for merchandising and fairs. Here is the spirit and origin of his law later:

"One of the features of Paul's Walk to which many objected was its use for the sale of merchandise; but this was not peculiar to that cathedral. Anglican visitation articles again provide evidence of a widespread attempt to stamp out this practice from all ecclesiastical buildings. As early as 1549 in a Draft for Visitation Articles the churchwardens were bidden to suffer no buying or selling in church or churchyards, especially during common prayer."
Old St Paul's in London, described by John Earle in 1628

Charlotte M. Yonge (1823�1901), British teacher and Victorian era author who wrote in the context of the Oxford Movement and revival in the Anglican Church-- writing about the sanctity of the church house compared with hukstering:

"That merry orchard was about three miles from Friarswood. It belonged to a man who kept a small public-house, and had a little farm, and a large garden, with several cherry trees, which in May were perfect gardens of blossoms, white as snow, and in August with small black fruit of the sort known as merries; and unhappily the fertile produce of these trees became a great temptation to the owner and to all the villagers around. As Sunday was the only day when people could be at leisure, he chose three Sundays when the cherries were ripe for throwing open his orchard to all who chose to come and buy and eat the fruit, and of course cakes and drink of various kinds were also sold.

It was a solitary spot, out of the way of the police, or the selling in church-time would have been stopped; but as there may be cases of real distress, the law does not shut up all houses for selling food and drink on a Sunday, so others, where there is no necessity, take advantage of it; and so for miles round all the idle young people and children would call it a holiday to go away from their churches to eat cherries at Briar Alley, buying and selling on a Sunday, noisy and clamorous, and forgetting utterly that it was the Lord's Day, not their day of idle pleasure."

To the Jacobean and Victorian mind, the church house and merchandising were mutually alien. Why do WE think anything should change? Ah, yes, I forgot-- we have LIBERTY, right?

 

5. I thought of the things I have bought off of itinerant hucksters after alleged revivals and missions meetings. What is MY role if I buy these things?

"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and over threw the tables of the money changers, 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." Matthew 21:12-13

Jesus didn't single out the sellers only. The customers were rebuked also. As I wrote this, I realized I must raise my own standard for myself and not just find evil in the merchant / missionary / evangelist. Here is one man's comment:

He regarded both merchants and customers guilty of desecrating the temple. Items being bought and sold included "doves" and other animals for sacrifice (John 2:14). Currency-exchange agents, present in droves, were needed because Roman coins and other forms of currency were deemed unacceptable for temple offerings. Evidently, both merchants and money changers were charging such excessive rates that the temple marketplace took on the atmosphere of a thieves den (vs..13).

And, so it is today-- the product is often rubbish and over priced terribly. If a local church wants to supply its people with Bibles and books, the price should NOT reflect a profit, and the selling system must be away from the worship area, by itself, and identified as a shop. Of course, though this logic seems reasonable, this then brings us a picture alien to the New Testament. Paul did not sell books or scrolls, nor did anyone else in the New Testament. You may mock, but in that beginning of the Church Age, what was more important than having the Bible to read? Paul would seem to be entitled to do a little book selling, right? But, Paul sent letters to the saints, and no one ever paid him for them.

 

 

So, we end with the Word:

Matthew 10:7 (KJV) And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.
13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

The disciples were to go with no prospect of cash flow. They were to stay with the people they ministered to and be dependent on them totally. The only admonition Jesus gave them was to keep moving if they were not sustained in some place. Can you see Peter selling fish to the crowd after he preached? He sure did know how to sell fish. The only fish Peter gave the masses was free, as in the feeding of the 5000.

To you evangelists and missionaries who sell your ecclesiastical rubbish, how are you different from the Pope's boys who sell images and cheap crosses made by Buddhists in Taiwan? If you need to sell CDs after every meeting to make ends meet, you are in the wrong "business." Or, maybe you are making the wrong friends. Or, maybe, like Paul, you should simply mend tents in the marketplace to make ends meet. Are you too proud (or lazy) to merchandise on the street like the rest of us? If so, you are a lazy Cretian, nothing else but a slow belly.

To pastors and others in the local church, if we see something the church needs, collect the cash informally, buy the stuff, and deliver it to them at home or personally. But, no money making from outside people, and no peddling in the church house, no matter how sanctified it may seem.

I once pastored a church where a lady was a Tupperware seller. She made deals between Sundays, and then she delivered the bread boxes and salt shakers and cheese squeezers on Sunday morning and collected payments in the church parking lot. Her family then attended services and seemed to be part of our fellowship. A couple deacons told me about this because I had not noticed it, and I politely asked the lady to deliver the Tupperware another time or place than Sunday at the church house. She was greatly offended and her whole family, wimpy husband and all, withdrew their memberships. What a relief that was.

 

Last Thought:

You may think you understand the buying and selling in your church house, but, I can assure you, the unsaved DO NOT understand it. I have heard them mock many times, when I was visiting with sinners, because some local preacher has a merchandising program going full bore on Sunday morning. The fact that the preacher breaks even is not believed. It all looks, to those sinners, just like something going on at the circus or a flea market. They will even mock at the commercials given from the pulpit. You see, sinners know their Bibles better than YOU do, preacher.

2 Corinthians 8:21 (KJV) Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

 

LINKS:

These people KNOW what they are doing merchandising
in the assembly and scheme accordingly

Here are the guidelines for violating the Word given by Larry Burkett

Kallie __________, 10, and her sister sold more than 70 boxes at a family
gathering last week and will be selling in church Sunday.

Another 200 books of tickets were quickly printed for our casual sales and together with the few returns that I had these went to Pauline for selling in Church over the Festival weekend. I don't know how she did it but Pauline and her team of ladies sold them all. So raising an additional $1200 for the organ fund which hopefully will be doubled by Barclays.

 

VIDEO:

Here is a preacher who is death on buying and selling in church:

 

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