Business in the House

I can’t quite connect the dots with Paul as a bi-vocational “pastor”/tentmaker with the accompanying shipwrecks, scourgings, near death experiences and jail, with PP’s “Your Best Life”, conference junkets and Splat Pens.

Teddy on a recent thread.

Of course we are not bound by law as to what we do in a church, so we can do all kinds of things. There is no law against selling merchandise in a church. Many churches now have some form of church shop set up for this purpose. These might range from a table at the back of a room, to a well designed shop interior with all the latest books and paraphalia.

We do on the other hand, have the example of Jesus cleansing the temple:

John 2:13-16 (New American Standard Bible)

13(A)The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus (B)went up to Jerusalem.
14(C)And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.
15And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables;
16and to those who were selling (D)the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making (E)My Father’s house a place of business.”

Church Shops?

If a church shop is a place designed to serve the needs of the congregation, supplying bibles, books or other items designed to help them in their walk, it doesn’t seem to be in the same category as a shop selling all kinds of irrelevant things. Most of these shops would raise only a small amount of money which would be contributed to the church organisation.

It’s fairly common in my experience to hear preachers refer to their church building as ‘The House of the Lord’ or the equivalent to ‘My Father’s House’. When does a shop become ‘a place of business’ in the Father’s house? At what point is the line crossed?

The right to earn a living

The second question involves the right of people to earn a living. We all have the right, and in fact are expected, to earn a living and support our family. We have liberty in how we choose to do this – we can do anything we like but would choose not to do things which aren’t in keeping with the Christian life. This involves dilemmas for all of us at some point. Ethical issues arise in our places of business where we sometimes have to choose between following Christ and loving our neighbour, doing the ‘right’ or ethical thing, and the best interest of our work place, or even the direct instruction of our superiors. Hopefully those dilemmas don’t arise too often.

Is there an ethical dilemma for leaders in churches, who sell books and CD’s or DVD’s of their preaching or teaching? Often these people may not have high salaries, and income from books and teaching recordings is welcome. If a teacher or preacher has no other form of regular income, the income from these things is even more necessary.

We know that Paul made tents to support himself at times, and at other times would have relied upon supporters to aid him in meeting his material needs. At all times he was keen not to do anything which would bring the church into disrepute.

Relevance Today

At what point does selling a preacher’s merchandise begin to bring the church into disrepute? Is this even relevant today? Where should a church or individual – or even a ‘Christian book shop’ – draw a line? Is the kind of merchandise an issue? There are those who believe that teaching should never be sold as merchandise, let alone Splat pens monogrammed with a preacher’s signature. Or is this just being legalistic and wowserish?

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RavingPente


74 thoughts on “Business in the House

  1. Matthew 10:7-8 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. FREELY you received, FREELY give.”

    Romans 3:24 ” Being justified FREELY by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…”

    Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him FREELY give us all things?

    1 Corinthians 2:12 “12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things FREELY given to us by God,..”

    2 Corinthians 11:7 “Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you WITHOUT CHARGE?

    We need to ask ourselves if merchandising is ever presented in a positive light in the bible?

    I don’t have a problem with books and tapes if they are of value biblically, but as each year go by the marketing and distribution of “product” has gone to a whole new level.

    The presentation of merchandise at the Asian Conference was a sight to behold.

    By the way, it’s riches stored in Heaven that the apostles looked forward to – they travelled a road we don’t see many/any “personality” preachers on today.

    A little off topic, aren’t we seeing megachurch plants today geared towards the wealthy communities and not the poor? What is behind the church demographic studies for those church plants?

  2. In fact the believer is the Temple of the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant, so I don’t see how any of it is relevant. Jesus was at the physical Temple at Jerusalem, which, he prophesied, would be torn down 70 years from thence.

    The local church is the people, not the building, although the building is useful for housing their ministries, including publishing the gospel by any means possible.

    We have a bookshop attached to our church on the grounds. It was placed there because we give free space to a Mission based bookstore chain, and it serves our city. Our Christian community are delighted that we took this on. It is run entirely by volunteers, but people pay for the resources. Would you call this evil merchandising? You’d have a few protests form local Christians if you did!

    The scriptures teddy gave on ‘freely’ are out of context with this also. Jesus gave us spiritual things freely, to freely give away, and this includes preaching, teaching, healing and deliverance.

    Producing music CD’s and DVD’s is a very expensive and risky business, so you need a market before even contemplating going into producing materials, including books. Marketing is essential to moving materials.

    Of course there is a demand from those who appreciate the ministry of larger to mega-churches, where the quality of music and teaching can be of a high standard, hence their popularity and crowd drawing tendencies. Publishing the gospel through a resource department is fine. It has no comparison the Temple Jesus cast out the moneychangers from.

  3. In the context that RP and FL paint I don’t think this is an issue.

    With the following exceptions:

    is profiteering happening? Church wouldn’t know if they didn’t have access to the books through an AGM or something like that.

    If people are just covering costs, and/or any money raised is going back into consolidated funds which is then put acknowledged and accountable good use I can’t see it as problem.

    I think to a certain extent living in a capitalist world all make value judgments about we spend or put our money to.

    Again if there is reasonable evidence and surety that the money is going to reasonable purposes within the context of what that church is fine. People can make reasonable decisions in such circumstances.

  4. How could you possible know where every cent goes when selling product in a bookstore, mn. The mark-up from the material, yes, perhaps, you would have an idea of where this went, but what about the royalties paid to an author, or the purchase of the book from the wholesaler?

    The reason we sell merchandise is to help edify Christians, ans spread our message, on the whole. Some goods are sold to raise finance for other projects.

    Again I think there is an overemphasis on finding something sinister behind a reasonable practice.

  5. I think it is generally a good thing that a church would a have a small bookstore linked to it/on the premises. The church should be careful what it does sell though.

    Regarding sermons and the like, my church does a free podcast/MP3 download thing.

    In the digital age, costs to individuals should go down and not up, as the costs of distribution decline sharply.

    Running a very large congregation/mega-church obviously costs money. That should really come from regular giving rather than marketing goods.

    That’s only my opinion though … 😉

    Shalom

  6. FL: How could you possible know where every cent goes when selling product in a bookstore, mn.

    Did I ask for that? Everything is so hard for you.

    FL: Again I think there is an overemphasis on finding something sinister behind a reasonable practice.

    Did anyone say there was anything sinister?

    You’re jumping at some pretty mild responses I would have thought.

    Ease up FL.

  7. I’m sorry, mn, but I do think there’s a suspicion of the intentions of churches or ministries when they are really just putting product out, mostly to spread their message, but also, yes, for some, to make money, usually to help enhance their ministry effectiveness.

    I was going to really apologise for my attitude to this, but then teddy put up the above ‘cultwatch’ link, and, now, I guess, I can say, I rest my case!

    C3 churches do have free podcasts, including Oxford Falls. Check out iTunes for this.

    Bull, how do you think that regular giving should be encouraged?

    Why is not relevant for a local church of any size to advertise and sell product to increase their income?

  8. Churches with bookstores? Pastors “selling” their books?

    Come on guys, get with the program. RUN.

  9. p.s. regular giving should be encouraged by preaching the scriptures about it. Start in Malachi 3.

  10. Cultwatch is the blogsite name and coincidently Lance posted it? Yes that’s a red flag for you FL but they have hit the nail on the head about merchandising.

    “The first product is the leader’s book. Let’s be honest, many of these books are below par. Like bad business books they have one good idea, if that, and then are padded with motivational sayings and anecdotal stories of how the leader obeyed the dream and so God hosed him down with wealth. The theological content is basically non-existent. These books would tank on Amazon or in a real bookstore, but hyped to their captive market they sell like hot cakes.”

    Here’s something that Ed Young Jnr has been called on about……

    “Next comes the ever popular DVD. Most of which are videos of the leader preaching in his church on a certain topic. Let me ask you a question, is it ethical for a leader who has been paid by his church to prepare and deliver a sermon, to then take that performance and sell it back to his own church members for a healthy profit? I’m not talking here about paying for reproduction costs or the money going into church funds. I’m talking about DVDs being sold at the same cost as a movie DVD and the profit going into the leader’s own pocket.”

    T D Jakes, John Bevere, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn etc, these ministries come in, set up their product tables in the foyer and the people are tripping over themselves to buy the stuff! Even when it’s already in the bookshop allowing profit to go back to the church.

  11. There’s a lot in these responses so far.

    First: I agree with FL that “the believer is the Temple of the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant”. According to FL, this makes the comparison between the Temple marketplace and our churches irrelevant. According to others though, the comparison is very valid. Especially when we talk about raising money for building funds or church attendance. The old song ‘I will arise and build” was written and sung at C3 under PP to promote the building fund. It depicts us building ‘your house’ – the Lord’s house. Throughout the building fund, the significance of the project is emphasised by repeating this weekly over and over. So according to that teaching, we later do see merchandising in ‘Father’s house’. Just like at the temple. Not only that, through the campaign, comparisons with Solomon’s temple were repeatedly made. The church building definitely became the equivalent of the temple. Apparently you don’t even have access to the full anointing unless you gather in the House on Sunday.

    So who is right here? FL, or PP? I think FL is right. Now if this is a matter of conscience, then FL can sell books at his church because its not the Temple – if this is the only consideration. But those who consider their church building equivalent to the temple, are contradicting their own teaching if they then use it for merchandising.

    *********

    None of the above is my own view – just following some of the logic here.

    I actually agree with Bull:

    “I think it is generally a good thing that a church would a have a small bookstore linked to it/on the premises. The church should be careful what it does sell though.”

    There seems to be a point though where merchandising becomes a major event, and something about the way it is done, or what is sold, undermines the message of the church gathered. When a service becomes a marketing tool, more of an infomercial than something really meant to serve the congregation, a line is crossed in my mind.

    Also, I have no problem with teachers and preachers – whoever – writing books and selling them, or letting people know they are available. There are those who do this who are really entitled to far more support from the wider body of Christ than they receive. But then there are others who market their celebrity, and again somewhere a line seems to be crossed. At some level, it begins to look obscene to an outside observer. Teddy has this reaction looking at the Asia Conference. Where is the line? Is there one?

    I think Teddy’s argument about freely giving as we have freely received is not to be dismissed lightly. If God gives someone a message to share, why make others pay for it? Particularly these days where we have the internet. People can work another job and still write on evenings or weekends. A lot of secular authors have started off that way. Sell the books to cover marketing costs. But then there are other books which are just the author’s opinion, or stories. Basically, entertainment with Christian content. Maybe this should be paid for. It’s not necessarily a message freely given from God. Hmm. So the messages from God should be free, and the messages from men, we pay for. What would that kind of system say about all the books for sale? Would megapreachers start giving their stuff away so they could claim it was from God?

  12. Of course, teddy, you could always buy the ‘Cultwatch’ article writer, Mark Zrankowitz’s book, by purchasing it through his website, advertised on ‘cultwatch’, or donate to their ministry!

    http://www.kingdomlost.com

    LOL

    I don’t see how you can actually ‘secretly’ publicise a book or DVD, but there you are!

    We actually have been giving away teachings on DVD to ministries which request them, and have a growing mail-out Missions ministry. People are giving their lives to Jesus, and we have a group of churches which have started up, initially using the DVD ministry, which shows the potential effectiveness of resource ministries.

    Some of these ministries are crying out for written material to assist them. We have just been told of one area of Mission, where the people involved would literally clamour for the written word, and we are considering ways of reaching them. But the main thing which prevents us form reaching them is the financial requirement in setting up such ministries.

    Sometimes we are so clouded by our ability to afford a large number of ways of receiving the Word of God into our homes because we live in the rich West, and completely fail to understand or see that there are many places which do not have what we have, and do not have access to the materials we do. Some of them are actually in our very Western, very rich nation.

    Books and DVD’s, CD’s and any other kind of what is called product, can be very fertile means of reaching communities and people who are hungry for the Word of God, and not just for entertainment, as Western communities are.

    Writing a book is a labour intensive work. It all sounds so easy the way ‘Cultwatch’ puts it, but have you attempted it recently? Why shouldn’t a person receive the fruit of their labours when they produce a resource which can touch the loves of others. Why should everything have t be marketed on the cheap. That’s the same old poverty mentality thrust upon the Church over the ages, and which inhibits our potential in reaching a larger audience with the written, spoken and visual Word.

    Taking heed of mall-minded and short-sighted criticism can hinder the flow of ministry.

  13. I have to say that in the consumerist society we live in you would think and people should be savvy enough to make common sense decisions about what they spend their money on.

    We may be sheep, but can’t some simple common sense be applied here?

    Why do people have to be eternal victims?

  14. In an ordinary bookshop context, that happens to sell stuff with a Christian theme, there is no association with a particular church, doctrine or teaching. Things will be sold because they are popular and contribute to the profits of a business. This is OK, since no one is looking to the bookshop to be the arbiter of good faith or teaching.

    If a bookshop is attached to a church, there are likely to be associations. The church will be deemed by association to support most of what they sell, in particular if it is a church ministry, and not owned by an outside business. So the materials will be regarded by many as vetted and passed by the church leadership.

    I think in that context, a church does have some responsibilility, at least to ensure what is sold is not misleading, harmful, or damaging to the cause of Christ. People will trust that the teaching they buy books/CD’s of has the blessing of their church, in the same way they trust the preacher on stage.

    Another question is that if a church funds and provides volunteers for a shop service, should that ‘free’ service support sales of the pastor’s books where the proceeds go to the pastor of the church? If the church is providing the sales support for free, perhaps some of the profits should go back into the church. Otherwise, in extreme cases, the books author is effectively having the congregation fund their business expenses, with no contribution back in their direction. (Where the author earns their living from selling their books but without their church providing a platform, would be unable to do so.)

    I might not have expressed that dilemma very well. Also, in the case of occasional authors, I don’t think it matters.

    Years ago, I was one of the volunteers who helped behind the scenes at a C3 in-church shop. At that time, it was fairly amateur, and I very much doubt there was much profit in it at all.

    Music publishing was an issue back then. Whether the profits should go to the author of the music, or to the church that publicised their songs. If the songs had not been sung in church, no one would have known about them, so the argument was that the church should receive the profits/income from the royalties. On the other hand, authors were producing stuff that the church was benefitting from, with little recompense. I am not sure how that issue was sorted out, but at the time, the leadership (PP etc) seemed to believe the profits belonged to the church. People fell out over it. I think some song writers moved on partly as a result.

  15. RP: “There seems to be a point though where merchandising becomes a major event, and something about the way it is done, or what is sold, undermines the message of the church gathered.”

    This really is the issue isn’t and potentially it can happen anywhere. That old issue of balance – where is it?

    I can’t see an issue with churches running coffee shops, book shops, and (gasp) even gyms…if they have the resources to do so, it contributes to broader community, and the profits (if there are any) are put to good use within the church.

  16. Faithlift, I like a lot of what you say and respect the way you defend fellow Pastors and churches in your stream. But, saying that the selling of splatpens is like Paul and his tentmaking is sad. You know the scriptures really well. There is no comparison. In fact, the more one compares the life of Paul to the life of TV evangelists and megachurch pastors, the more ridiculous it gets.

    I think everyone should read that article that Teddy quoted from Lance’s website.

    Can I say that I know many full-time Christian workers- ministers, missionaries, evangelists. The majority of them I hope get more money. Most of them are doing it tough.
    I believe in prosperity, I am not against Christian bookstores and I am not against those involved.in preaching the gospel supporting themselves through catching fish, making tents, cutting hair or running a company. And I think if a person runs a business and gets rich, that it’s okay to have a big house and a nice car/cars etc.
    What I object to (and I don’t call it sin- just extremely disappointing) is the ridiculous amounts of money that some megachurch pastors are making THROUGH their churches and by the sacrificial donations, sweat and time of faithful people.
    Maybe I unfortunately started this thread. I honestly thought the splat pens and bandanas were a joke.

    I think most people looking at churches from the outside think the same way- that people running organizations which exist FOR God or charity and primarily on donations should not benefit excessively financially. Benny Hinn and Pastor Mike Miraculous are NOT CEO’s running businesses. If they are…. then are the people giving them money employees or customers??
    If employees, then there millions in withheld wages that the CEO should pay back. If customers, then we should be able to critique the products, write blogs, and demand a lit better service. If you Faithlift are an average Pastor, you are probably underpaid. There is no reason for you to be defending the lavish lifestyles supported by dubious practices of some if these guys. The article quoted about how Pastors get rich needs to be read and addressed. This disease is sweeping through Africa and no doubt it will start in China too. Already people in Africa are becoming pastors to get rich. These things should not be so.

  17. No one really doubts FL’s integrity or his heart.

    I think people get angry and upset with some of his comments, which come from wanting to see the best in people like Phil Pringle and Brian Houston and Benny Hinn and so on.

    The issues are really doctrinal, but become personal to thse who get burned in that particular stream. I say again, we don’t doubt FL’s heart, but we doubt some of those he supports with his comments, and this leads to conflict rather than understanding.

    This anger then leads to destructive criticism between two sides rather than cool debate.

    I am just as guilty as everyone else when it comes to this, but I think we are learning to ‘live’ with each other on this blog and I am hugely encouraged.

    Shalom

  18. The ‘Cultwatch’ article is cynical and negative. I would not recommend it at all. It paints a biased picture of person who purports to be against merchandising books and then merchandises their own book on the same pages. Go figure!

    teddy,
    ‘I can’t quite connect the dots with Paul as a bi-vocational “pastor”/tentmaker with the accompanying shipwrecks, scourgings, near death experiences and jail, with PP’s “Your Best Life”, conference junkets and Splat Pens.’

    Well, this is a strawman. I actually attempted to ignore it, since it has no bearing on what is what I was hinting at. There was no comparison made. It’s just taking the extremes of two positions and making them into an argument which was never there.

    I never mentioned Splat pens. You did! Someone searched for an extreme and found it. There many other less controversial products for sale at C3 bookstores. Why are they not highlighted? No controversy level, that’s why. Find the extreme and condemn.

    I was talking about working for a living by being paid for making things. PP, amongst other things, was trained as an artist, and could have reasonably expected to have been able to make a living out of his artistic ability had he not been called into ministry.

    He, like others, has probably laid down many things to be able to achieve the level of ministry he has, and maybe even made huge sacrifices, giving up a more financially viable career, and many Pastors do.

    He could now be in a position to enjoy putting out his artistic talents and make some money doing it. I see nothing wrong with it. It also encourages others to be fearless about producing artworks and music for the Kingdom, and taking back some of the ground lost to nihilism and chaos.

    How do you know, anyway, what kind of trials someone like PP might have faced on their journey?

    What I was saying is that there is no problem with Pastors, or Missionaries, or any believer, for that matter, subsidising their income by whatever legal means they see fit. Why should we judge them for it? Paul chose to arrange his ministry the way he did, but was not against other minsters receiving offerings, or donations for their work amongst the flocks.

    And what makes you, or ‘Cultwatch’ claim that PP is extremely wealthy? Is he? I think he may be comfortably off, but not from stealing the tithe money, as ‘Cultwatch’ erroneously claims. What a travesty that piece is. Armchair journalism from someone without a clue what it takes to run a local church. Fault-finding computer keyboard bashing angry young men. I thought they’d died out with the sixties, but they’re making a post-modern comeback.

    One a person gets into their fifties, as Phil has, along with those his very loyal and long serving main team (which is an achievement in itself), it could be reasonably expected, if they’ve invested wisely, and worked hard all their lives, that they could enjoy a modicum of prosperity, er, sorry, well being, especially in the wonderfully wealthy nation of ours, where even a postman can be quite well off (not like that in UK, eh, Bull). But don’t forget that to get there they would have had to make some decent choices, roll up their sleeves, and pay the price sacrificially, especially if they have a family.

    Being an artist and an author, like being a tentmaker, is no crime. His books are successful because he does have something to say, and people find his grasp of leadership and other spiritual matters useful. They’re not all critics. Far fewer critics than disciples, I would say.

    I think, if PP’s achieved this in his life, then he is a blessed man, and we should thank God, not find ways to pull him down, just on case he might make tall poppy status.

  19. FL, most of us haven’t really got stuck into PP, and are talking about the overall issues. I haven’t even read that article yet.

    I wonder though, if Paul would have sold a monogrammed tent for vastly more than its practical value, due to his celebrity status in the early church? Don’t think so.

    By the way, I like PP’s artwork. I also think its been good that he at least at one time, attempted to give the arts a place within the modern church context. At the same time, I am not sure this is where the Christian artist is meant to stay. Surely we are to go into all the world, and put whatever we do to good use in all of creation, not just our church cloister. That is a topic for another thread, probably.

    PP’s artwork sells within a church environment for vast sums, because of his celebrity. In places where he does not have such celebrity, would it sell for those sums? Only a handful of artists achieve large sums for their work in the secular world. It takes years to get a reputation. I am not sure PP has one outside the Pentecostal church. If not, then much of the value probably comes from his celebrity rather than his recognition as a valued artist. As I said, I like his art – I’m not putting it down. But that is how it looks to me. I also know extremely talented artists who do not make much, despite the quality of their work. They do not have celebrity, and it is a very, very competitive field.

    I am uncomfortable with ‘Christian’ material that emphasises the celebrity of a person, rather than the value of the teaching or the work itself. For a Christian, there is a dilemma since we are to glorify God, not man. But perhaps people just want to contribute to his ministry, and by buying these things they get a token in acknowledgement of their donation?

  20. Faithlift, Is there ANYTHING that a megachurch pastor could do that would be worthy of criticism? Or is everything okay?

    Private jets are okay right? Selling $550 splat pens is okay?
    What about husband and wife having his and hers private jets? $2000 splat pens advertised during a sermon?
    Here is the problem. In the pentecostal world, nobody can say anything contrary anymore because it is negative, of due to jealousy.
    So it doesn’t matter how ridiculous and absurd Todd Bentley was – if I said anything, there were always people to say “But God is moving”, “Look at the good”, “Don’t be Jealous”, “No personal attacks”. Etc The world thinks preachers, esp tv evangelists and mega church pastors are after money . And is hard to argue. The only people who defend them are the people who aren’t objective.

    “I can’t quite connect the dots with Paul as a bi-vocational “pastor”/tentmaker with the accompanying shipwrecks, scourgings, near death experiences and jail, with PP’s “Your Best Life”, conference junkets and Splat Pens.”

    There are no dots to connect. Or if there are, there on different pages.

    Faithlift, if Paul were alive today do you think he would be the subject of TV shows and IRS investigations because of his lavish lifestyle? Really?

  21. By the way, there are list of different religious cults (Buddhist etc) with lots of followers with a guy at the top who is rich.

  22. Well, it was PP who was connected to the Splat pen, RP, and that was the subjected controversy.

    The analogy with Paul’s tentmaking was poor, I’ll admit, but only in terms of the Splat pen, which I didn’t bring into it, and became a distraction to the point I was making.

    I don’t know any Australian ministries with their own aircraft, churchman, except perhaps Bible Society and a couple of Missions organisations. I’d love one, actually, since it would enable us to be far more effective in what we’re called to do. If anyone has a spare aircraft we’ll take it.

    I think you’ve shifted your focus over to the US where some ministries have stepped into excess. I have been critical of many of them, including the Todd bentley saga.

    There have been no IRS investigations, however, to my knowledge, just a private Senator’s investigations, Sn Grassley, which was shown to be a political ploy to attract attention during an election year, and got absolutely nowhere. You notice he has been quiet for about two years, since he was voted back in. Many of the ministries actually complied. Others told him to mind his own business, probably seeing through his ploy.

    There are very, very few Pentecostal ministries in the financial league you’re talking about, however, and, on the whole they do a great job.

  23. Regardless of FL’s overreactive objection to the article, take the time to read it and not only will you see that it’s well-written, the writer gives clear commonsense and biblical advice to people who find themselves under these ministries.

    And Faithlift, of course PP has few critics – he seldom steps outside a very particular pentecostal circuit.

  24. I’m not overreacting at all, teddy. That was a very objective assessment. It is not at all reflective of what actually happens. I would put it in the Groupsects league of dishonest reporting.

    There are several areas I object to, but I won’t waste space or time on it. I’ll stick with my generalisation, and the original point I made to mn that there is an overemphasis on finding something sinister behind a reasonable practice.

    Until you produced the ‘Cultwatch’ article, I was prepared to tone down as mn suggested, but you put that piece up and confirmed my claim.

    In fact, it was your header here, and that article which was an overreaction to an otherwise reasonable discussion.

  25. And I don’t think being on TV in several nations is a limited exposure, teddy! You seem to have it in for Phil.

  26. I’ve just read it, and it was worthwhile.From what FL said, it sounded like it was all about PP. But it wasn’t. It was about all the extremes that we protest here.

    Yes, they are extremes and not all churches carry on that way, thank goodness. But we’ve seen a lot of things in that vein, and it is right to protest them. People caught up in it can’t see it, a lot of the time. It just seems normal to them. Worth a read. As Lionfish said on Lance’s blog, it does cover much of the ground that we have over time, very succintly. I liked the advice on what to do.

    He expressed what I was trying to say earlier in this thread, but more clearly – essentially, leaders using the church to set up their business, then getting the congregation to patronise it.

    The problem is that while we can see some extremes, there are other legitimate cases where a pastor is selling worthwhile teaching as a service to the congregation, and making a mild income from it to cover expenses or augment a fairly ordinary or low wage. The article was clear that it was talking about the extremes, not the cases where publishing costs etc are being covered.

    The legitimate examples do not justify the excesses elsewhere. If anything, the excesses of the celebrity megapreachers make it harder for those who lack celebrity and are serving rather than exploiting their congregations.

  27. My wife has published three books, each one taking over a year to write, and then several months per book to be printed and then marketed. If we were to calculate her time at an hourly rate she more than deserves every single penny that she earns from sales and royalties. If a preacher writes a book or spends thousands of hours creating a product then he or she is well within their rights to expect recompense from them. So what if they’re just releasing a DVD of a weekly preach in his or her church. Jesus commanded us to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. It’s incredible where a preach on tape or DVD can end up. We get letters from the strangest places after someone has read my wife’s books or heard her messages. Just last week we got an email from someone in Siberia! If a preacher’s message is unpalatable to you, don’t listen. But don’t criticise something until you’ve done it. I can guarantee you that if any of you here ever wrote a book or had a message to share you would change your tune pretty quickly

  28. “People caught up in it, can’t see it, a lot of the time”

    I would suggest this is where FL (the old “me”) is coming from, and I understand that. His passion and zeal is not to be ignored, they are valuable qualities – we would just like to harness them to our side of the discussion/argument. 🙂

    FL and I both bring our biases – mine as an ex C3 and his as a pastor who has aligned his church to the C3 movement.

  29. TVdude, the issue is to do with marketing in churches, rather than the right of an author to be paid for their work. When a conference or regular service becomes a marketing platform to a pre-screened audience for the promotion of a business, rather than a gathering of the people for the purpose of edification. In a secular setting, its not such an issue. At the same time, personally I don’t mind knowing that the books by the speaker are available after the service if I want to hear more. What we don’t like is when the purpose of selling product becomes the main agenda, when the pastor begins to use the church and congregation as a part of his business operation, when the purpose of church becomes promoting human celebrity, and when the original purpose of church that we see in scripture is overwhelmed or distorted by these things.

  30. Please, don’t patronise me, teddy. Or attempt to reason my values away in such a subordinating, diminishing way.

    I am not ‘the old you’, with the implication that I am as unaware as you were to reality. Or blind, and therefore, by implication, ignorant of the higher truths you purport to aspire to. In ancient blindness, speak for yourself. 🙂

    I am a rational, Bible-believing, fundamental, Christian man with a love for God and for His Beautiful, Glorious Church. I simply hate the constant barrage of animosity towards brothers and sisters in God, whoever they are, Phil, Brian, Rick, C3, Hillsong, Saddleback, or any group which is out there doing what it can to bring about God’s delegated Kingdom commission.

    I would stand for you in the same way if a person were to excessively abuse you, despite the fact that you clearly have little respect for the mode of Christianity I adhere to, and have vast differences of opinion in regard to how the Church functions, or the basic doctrine God has given us in his Word.

    You have a right to argue against what I see as a basically excellent, but, in some ways, frustratingly flawed Pentecostal church, but it would be better not to compare me to you, or the old you. I am what God has made me, albeit with some way to go to where he wants me.

    I hate some of the things which are happening in isolated camps of the vast Pentecostal movements, of course. But, if I have to adhere to any ‘clan’ within the Clan, then this is my beloved, imperfect, funny, exciting, inspirational, frustrating, loving, often dysfunctional, sometimes intelligent, direct family within the universal family called the Church.

  31. I’m exposed to the inner workings of C3 on a regular basis. I don’t seek it, it’s just there. There is a lot I keep to myself and the things discussed here are quite public anyway from different areas.

    That said, I can continue to say you are the “old me” FL, I recognise it, it’s an observation.

    RP’s comment is spot on. When you are in it, you just don’t see it. You can love it, support it, defend it. I did just that. It’s in the leaving and allowing God to be God that changes things.

  32. TVDude makes a good point. “Cultwatch’ dismisses the time, effort and expense given to writing books, and calls megachurch leaders’ books a waste of time. I found this to be the attitude of a cynic, not a critic.

    In the local church setting, promoting resources is as much a part of the meeting as any, really. Presumably, books, audio and video materials are teaching and training opportunities for adherents, and, therefore, relevant to the purposes of the body.

    Where the cynic sees this as blatant salesmanship, the hungry recipient sees it as an opportunity to receive added training. Some people really enjoy reading books, listening to CD’s, or watching DVD’s, and don;t mind paying for them.

    Investment in further teaching is not unwise. All teaching and training outlets encourage further education. A local church must surely be a training centre. Not everyone is able to attend an official Bible School. Purchasing teaching materials is a viable alternative.

    We see announcements as promoting opportunities to further extend understanding of the Word, build community, or meet with other believers to mutually exhort and encourage one another outside of the regular weekly meeting times.

    No one can thrive on a single 40 minute message once a week. We need more than this. We also need to be able to discuss the message, ask questions, receive input from other believers, so the time spent talking about future, weekly or regular events, or what materials are available, or what training opportunities are at hand is as valuable as any other part of a meeting.

    Again, these things are relative to one’s personal perspective. One man’s inspirational, essential opportunity is another man’s boring, irrelevant announcement!

  33. You can continue claiming I’m the ‘old you’ all you want, teddy. I will continue to call you patronising and subordinating for making that assertion.

    I am not as ‘deep’ into C3 as you claim, by the way. I am of the Body of Christ, not a subsection of it. I relate to C3, yes, but I also relate to a number of other movements and organisations, and have a wide selection of influences.

    Please refrain from attempting to typecast me so that you can become lazy in the way you argue your points by dismissing mine as blindness. You’ll have to do better than that.

    What? You want me to turn to Reformed Theology? That is your claim, is it not?

    Imagine if Whitfield had had the same attitude towards Wesley!

    What am I to think, teddy – that you are potentially the ‘new me’?

  34. You are a master at the art of distraction FL.

    How many questions directed at you go unanswered by this very clever tactic?

  35. You caused the distraction, teddy, not I. I have stuck to the thread. You could let it go, but you won’t. I’ve asked you not to typecast me.

    I was taught early on by a very wise man of God not to put God in a box by adhering to one stream of Christian thought, such as a single denomination, be it Pentecostal, Evangelical, a single movement or a single local church.

    God is far bigger than this. We need a wide stream of influences from within the Body to have any kind of spiritual balance.

    God’s Way is the Narrow Way, but we don’t have to be narrow-minded to walk on it.

  36. “A little off topic, aren’t we seeing megachurch plants today geared towards the wealthy communities and not the poor? What is behind the church demographic studies for those church plants?”

    Well. For C3 it their target was densely populated areas of Caucasians. I have somewhere in my room C3 papers looking at the demographics to ‘church plant’.

    Even a local minister on the Northern Beaches said that C3 left other ministries to deal with the poorer communities while they targeted the rich cats.

  37. Faicelift: “Writing a book is a labour intensive work. It all sounds so easy the way ‘Cultwatch’ puts it, but have you attempted it recently?”

    Why should everything have t be marketed on the cheap. That’s the same old poverty mentality thrust upon the Church over the ages, and which inhibits our potential in reaching a larger audience with the written, spoken and visual Word.”

    If pastors are up to date with technology, you can buy software that can allow you to speak and the program converts what you say to type.

    Faithlift: “Why shouldn’t a person receive the fruit of their labours when they produce a resource which can touch the loves of others.”

    Well seeing that some pastors do plagiarize material, why don’t pastors recommend good material to their congregations rather then get the glory?

  38. Facelift: “I am a rational, Bible-believing, fundamental, Christian man with a love for God and for His Beautiful, Glorious Church.”

    That’s nice. I hear a lot of pastors say that.

  39. FL, you continue to argue more moderate examples to justify the extreme ones. No one here is suggesting that good, supportive material not be available to purchase. I would also say that if an author has put thousands of hours of their own time (not church paid time) into producing those materials, as TVDude said, then financial compensation is quite reasonable.

    Its the issue of church being used as a springboard for celebrity and a marketing venue, where selling the product becomes the purpose, and the congregation volunteers the unpaid support for the business that is the issue. What does an unsaved person think, when walking into a church meeting, and seeing regular bursts of advertising for books, CD’s and DVD’s by the speaker? What if it is a conference, and this pattern goes on all week? It is only going to increase their cynicism. On the other hand, if someone gives a good message, and mentions at the end that books are available down the back, its lower key and not the main focus. Its the way its done, and where the focus is that can be the problem, rather than the legalistic issue of to sell or not to sell.

  40. BTW, FL, this may surprise you, but in the case of certain church ministries, I could see how a plane could be justified, not that I’m talking corporate jets, and I don’t think you would be either. (Looking back at your earlier comment.) It’s a matter of what is suited to the context.

  41. FL you would do better to keep your powder dry for something worth responding to.

    I see the cult watch article as a good generalised article for the sorts of things that people might look for if they are not aware of these things.

    But it is a generalised article that by extensions also carries the faults of generalising too much – a lot of churches might exhibit some of these characteristics to an extent but not enough to be a fully or even half fledged version.

    So? Acknowledge it and move on without getting in a tizzy.

    Most responses I have read have not had a go at getting due and reasonable recompense.

    My wife has written a book and getting it published is probably going to be harder than writing from what I’ve seen so far.

    If she actually makes anything out of it I will be amazed.

    At the end of the day it is pretty easy to tell whether a church setup is a Tony Robbins clone or not.

    I think most are not, but there are a few exceptions and they ask for they get. Despite your cries of ‘foul’, I see no biblical reason to go easy on such like – they give the rest of us a bad name; Christianity generally has given broader society enough ammo for generations without the large profiteering types selling gilt edged bibles for exhorbitant prices over the TV – I’ve sat, watched and turned it off, thrown up or both.

    You don’t need that and neither do the rest of us.

    My own church is trying to build business’s that run alongside it – child minding with plans to open other things as well. I don’t have an issue with this because it is providing the community genuine services which it needs, that generates revenue which can be put back into ministry, and local and other missional work. Facilities are being built up but they are not lavish by any means and in any case shared with a local school. The staff remuneration packages are standardised for the denomination like any industrial agreement with no surprises, and deliberate limits set around the use of exempt benefits through salary packaging. The financials are presented to the membership every year with two or three additional budget briefings a year. The revenue basically goes into ministry and not peoples pockets and with no fuss transparency. Messages are available on the church website via MP3. We have he very odd speaker who sometimes brings some books or CDs along with moderate prices. No-one is going get rich out of this sort of stuff, and I imagine most churches are pretty similar or have an even lesser ‘marketing’ profile.

    But if churches really want to milk the congregational cash cow without real transparency then they are going to cop it from the likes of the bloggers on this forum and others.

    There is a very simple solution to this which seems to fought tooth and nail. I can only wonder why?

  42. The Cultwatch article, sadly, could be said to be misleading, mn, because it asks how Pastors get rich, which is rather more of a generalisation than the rest of the article suggests. I don’t mind a qualified attack or advice on avoiding excessive ministries, but, unfortunately, the distinction isn’t clear enough, and this was posted in connection with C3.

    If there is no accusation of C3 impropriety then I’ll save my powder, as you ask, in this regard, but I may be tempted to fire a round of lead at s&p for his rudeness.

    s&p,
    ‘If pastors are up to date with technology, you can buy software that can allow you to speak and the program converts what you say to type.’

    That’s not for me to say, but, as I have watched the careful, disciplined labour of my wife as she writes, it is clear the process is as important as the product. I daresay others woud take your advice. I would have to ask if you’ve written a book, and have experience of the mode of writing.

    s&p,
    ‘Well seeing that some pastors do plagiarize material, why don’t pastors recommend good material to their congregations rather then get the glory?’

    That’s simply provocative. Which pastors did you have in mind? Who is seeking glory?

    Why do you have to find the negatives, when there are so many positives, s&p?

  43. FL I have reviewed the posts and no real direct association was made to C3 in terms of the core issues raised by RP’s lead post.

    The article that Teddy put the link to wasn’t mentioned in regard to anyone and on groupsects the header mentioned Hillsong not C3.

    Bit like fishing really.

  44. Although to be fair my personal philosophy on the fishing scenario is if the bait is put out, pull the fisherman in.

    But there are occasions when I should leave it.

  45. FL: “Why do you have to find the negatives, when there are so many positives, s&p?”

    FL posed this question which is a fair one.

    My experience is that three things happen here:

    1. A reasonable conversation takes place – just fair to rare

    2. Holden v Commodore – tribal parochialism – totally riduculous with no chance of a reasonable conversation.

    3. The other’s view – whoever that is – does not get acknowledged in the frantic scrabble of the other other to get their view out which angers the other setting in motion that never ending tortuous circle – sigh!

    Guilty as charged your honour!

  46. I point your attention to the first paragraph in the post, mn,

    ‘I can’t quite connect the dots with Paul as a bi-vocational “pastor”/tentmaker with the accompanying shipwrecks, scourgings, near death experiences and jail, with PP’s “Your Best Life”, conference junkets and Splat Pens.’

    Which is what started the post, and references C3 and PP.

  47. FL: “Why do you have to find the negatives, when there are so many positives, s&p?”

    It is a fair question. And an answer I can’t really respond too. All I can say is that with what I’ve seen and been through at C3 – it has been so shocking that I guarantee you Facelift, even you wouldn’t want to be treated the way I’ve been treated by leadership here. Too many negatives are present to even consider the positives – especially when you here what’s going on a global scale… More on that soon.

    I don’t dig up their dirt. They make it themselves.

    Let’s not talk about C3 on this thread. Give them a break for a while. We need it.

  48. It is quite possible to discuss this topic without discussing C3. There is one main person whose defensiveness keeps pulling it back to that, and away from generalities. Teddy’s comment was a springboard, and the splat pen an extreme but real example, to a more general, wide ranging topic, that at some level, affects all churches.

    The question was – where is the line between a shop that serves a congregation’s needs, and a shop that becomes a free service for a business motivated more by profit than service? When does it become ‘merchandising in the temple’. (FL’s neat response says ‘never’.) Are there boundaries on what should be sold, or no boundaries? (Monogrammed condoms for example would probably be out of bounds by anyone’s measure, but who knows, given some of the books on sex written by church pastors and the nature of celebrity these days? Not to mention varying doctrinal approaches to contraception.)

    Does it bring the church at large into disrepute at some level, obscuring the gospel or causing people to reject it without even hearing it?

    Re MN’s earlier comment – I don’t mind the idea of a church having a gym, childminding centre or bookshop – its all a matter of how it’s done and how it affects the rest of the way the services are run. Who wants to sit through an hour of infomercials on a Sunday? But on the other hand, great to have the convenience of local facilities, and to provide a wider service to the community that shows the gospel in a positive light in some fashion.

    I would try a gym out if my local church had a good one. I find the videos at my gym annoying when the images are one stop short of porn. Many are OK, but I wouldn’t mind if some of them didn’t cross the screen. Maybe a church gym might have higher standards in that area. Or, maybe we’d be watching Christian music videos? Not sure about that. Raises other dilemmas!

  49. I was reading an article this morning by Ed Stetzer “The Problem With Pastor As Rock Star”

    He had a quote ““The Gospel came to the Greeks and the Greeks turned it into a philosophy. The Gospel came to the Romans and the Romans turned it into a system. The Gospel came to the Europeans and the Europeans turned it into a culture. The Gospel came to America and the Americans turned it into a business.” And business is booming……

    Thinking about the marketing of rock star paraphernalia of e.g. Kiss (Gene Simmons has made a fortune just out of merchandising alone) and Ozzy Osbourne (his wife a brilliant manager and marketer) reminded me of the two Youtube clips of Ed Young Jnr “rapping” – appealing to the culture.

    They know their market and they target it. Is what we are seeing in the church the same glorification of a personality with it’s attendant marketed products? Who’s to blame? Are we victims of a cultural mindset that loves to “market” their heroes, whoever they are?

  50. Look, I hate to harp on this, but, in fact, these early comments show that it would have been easy to think that this was about C3 & PP. The only thing I mentioned between the following comments was that C3 had a free podcast available on iTunes. Otherwise I generalised.

    teddy, in first comment on thread:
    ‘The presentation of merchandise at the Asian Conference was a sight to behold.’

    That would be the C3 Asia Conference.

    RP,
    ‘The old song ‘I will arise and build” was written and sung at C3 under PP to promote the building fund. It depicts us building ‘your house’ – the Lord’s house.’

    ‘So who is right here? FL, or PP?’ (referencing my comment that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit within).

    ‘At some level, it begins to look obscene to an outside observer. Teddy has this reaction looking at the Asia Conference.’

    I agree it doesn’t to be about C3 or PP, but please don’t say I brought them into this.
    •••••••••••••••••••••

    s&p,
    ‘Too many negatives are present to even consider the positives – especially when you here [sic] what’s going on a global scale… More on that soon.’

    So after the agreement that it doesn’t have to be about C3, the dismissive disclaimer, followed by the threat of more, and on a grander scale.

    Unbelievable!

  51. Whatever. The purpose was not to discuss C3. The purpose of posts that I personally write these days, is never to specifically attack C3 or any other specific person or ministry. Some of the doctrines they teaches, or things they practices – at times, yes. Usually, my mode is to discuss and raise issues, not attack. Unfortunately, C3 provides examples to those of us who spent some years there. When we use personal examples here, we can only talk from our own experience. Every time we do, you see this as an attack on C3, whether or not its intended that way, because you do not like the content or our interpretation of our experience. My reference above was to an example in my own experience, of the ‘house of the Lord’ being used to depict the church building. This was necessary after you implied this was not taught, because you personally don’t teach it. However, the topic was still not aimed specifically at C3. C3 is just an example of a megachurch environment that many of us are familiar with, where things we discuss here happen. We see ministries coming out of the US that are much more extreme. These ministries are influencing our churches here, and are worth discussion.

    If you don’t like it, I suggest you ignore it, rather than jump into defence mode, and make a bigger issue of it, drawing attention away from the broader context.

    Look at where this has gone now – no discussion, just arguments about who said what and what is meant by it, trying to soothe ruffled feathers. What a waste of time.

    I did put another post up before this one, regarding preaching styles – didn’t strike any chords there, obviously, with the topic, but it is an example that is completely unrelated to any specific church. This is what I am interested in – the bigger picture, the practices and doctrines, and where it is all going; how it is affecting people and their lives in Christ. I don’t have the angst to specifically bother going out to attack or ‘expose’ anybody.

  52. Good article Teddy.

    While Stetzer focuses on so-called super pastors, it is applicable to smaller churches too.

    I remember one of my pastors in a sermon many years ago touching on how obtaining people’s approval could very easily capture him and many pastors he knew to the detriment of genuine ministry.

    Closer to the topic at hand but still a bit removed, the core with this one as most others is purpose and control.

    What is the real and practical outcome/purpose of what’s happening in any church? Cast a wide net for a real answer.

    Who is in control – this will sound trite, but I don’t mean it to – the leadership, the congregation or God?

    If the former two are in submission with prayer and supplication to the Holy Spirit, hopefully it it is God’s plan that is being lived out by us in partnership and submission to Him.

    In my own church when significant decisions come up – usually where the leadership have been thinking and praying about things for sometime – it goes to the membership.

    Through a number of churches I have been in there are variations on a theme here about the language employed.

    Somethings are a straight vote. Others are put out there for a while for consideration. The leadership might say “This is our vision, what do you think?”

    If they are really on the ball they will forcefully put this out:

    “We believe this is where God wants us to go (honesty – with an explanation of reasons), but we don’t want to go there if this is not what God wants for us. We are bringing this to you as God’s church and we encourage you to pray asking our Father to show us, confirm to us a church whether this is the path we should go down or not. It is very important that we as a church seek God’s leading on whether this is what He wants for us, because if it is not we don’t want to do this.”

    Mutual and godly submission to each other and a genuine seeking of God’s face on these issues gives us the best opportunity to be part of the work that God has for us where we are.

    This applies to things like “are there other ways we can raise revenue so that we are not totally reliant on individual giving when things are tight, and also have a greater presence within our broader community?”

    It applies to a lot of things including the structure of the church leadership itself – notably in the past to the pastorate.

    Is this perfect? No we have had our share of problems over the years, and will continue to do so.

    But it does help keep a check on the extremes that are often near to the hearts of the regulars on this blog.

    For me this approach is as close to an NT approach on church leadership that I have found. The leadership have clear responsibilities which the congregation respects, but their are limits. Both leadership and congregation have ownership – I don’t mean that in proprietorial sense – but there is a conscious effort as leadership and membership to recognise that our church is His church (proprietorial), and that seeking out and doing our best to live out His plan in our church is the best place to be.

    When we have strayed away from that – often evidenced by a split between elements of the leadership, and/or congregation – is where most of the problems have come from so far.

    Ignoring those problems does nothing to repair them – in fact they only ever get worse. And an implosion has often been necessary to clear the decks with the effect of forcing us to give God an opportunity to try and get us back on track. The implosion/explosion has often been because people (both in leadership and membership) weren’t listening, and if they did listen were still unwilling to move. In the years gone by good pastors and quite a few longstanding members over what were mostly differences in leadership.

    The whole thing about merchandising – where it is becoming the point rather than the Gospel – is that it is symptomatic about where the leadership is and where they are taking (or what they are taking from) the congregation. I would think it can also be symptomatic of where the congregation is too, and what they are prepared to accept – sadly.

    I’m not looking a for a Tony Robbins experience where the first seminar is free but then I end up paying a motza for all the add ons (never been – the promos put me off).

    I’m looking for the Gospel, and I’m looking for a community minded church who lives it out, and who genuinely seek God’s face. I’m looking for a place where I can take my family and they will get solid bible teaching couched in humility as opposed to (“You know I was driving down the road the other day and….(fill in the rest for yourself), and where the emphasis on money is in the background somewhere (if I look hard to find it), not shouting at me everywhere I turn or look.

  53. Sorry Teddy – my ‘whatever’ was not aimed at your article! It was pretty interesting actually.

  54. The balance in your church sounds good, MN. I think most people would be comfortable with that, the majority of the time. I very much like the leadership bringing plans to the congregation in humility, rather than insisting their vision is correct without any congregational involvement prior to fund raising. It could save them from misdirection on the one hand, and assist them in finding genuine unity on the other. Rather than a unity that is due because people were guilted or pressured into it, or are united because they do what their leaders say and don’t think for themselves. I like what you said about what happens when problems are ignored as well. It doesn’t help to ignore them, and if everyone is patient and humble, perhaps solutions can be found which are better than the original situation or idea.

  55. Browsing Kooring, the titles of books and products are enough for anyone think they are not worthy of salvation.

    I have found Christian marketing quite damning and anti-gospel. Just like in the world – we make Christian’s feel like they are missing out or lacking something if they don’t go to an event or buy something.

    I’ve noted that I even went through depression when I couldn’t make a church event because it was marketed as a move of God. The back-lash of that church marketing campaign that those who missed out – missed out God.

    Even the classic title of Brian’s book ‘Why You Need More Money’, provokes our subconscious to maybe not be satisfied with what we have, doubt our circumstances, give a desire for wealth and buy his book.

    I don’t think many pastors know the devastating consequences marketing can have on Christians. Title’s that can cause damage to people’s relationships with God or degrade their spiritual health could be title’s like:

    “Stepping into Your potential” (because you’re not even close yet until you read this book)
    “Praying in Power” (because you don’t so read this book)
    “Keys To Financial Excellence” (because you are not financially excellent until you read this book)
    “Advancing The Kingdom” (because you’re struggling to even get your best friend saved)
    “Learn to Rise & Shine” (because you aint a shining somebody, learn from this book)

    You get the idea.

    I’ve wondered, because of the Christian market, that it’s actually made Christian’s more insecure about their faith and spiritual identity. Which is why quite a few don’t know the basic foundations of the gospel. More consideration should be with what Christian products could be ‘speaking’ into other Christian’s lives.

  56. RP: “I very much like the leadership bringing plans to the congregation in humility, rather than insisting their vision is correct without any congregational involvement prior to fund raising.”

    The interesting thing RP is that in my view when there has been less of that and a little more of the grand vision things have stalled.

    The grand vision has been fine as long as we weren’t wedded to it, but wedded to try and find out what if God’s plan was in that etc etc.

  57. S&P I think part of where this comes from is trying to find formulae which if we follow them will give predictable and in our minds desirable outcomes.

    I don’t know because I don’t tend to read a lot that stuff, but by instinct is that these things bypass the Gospel even though cloaked in the lingua franca of the church.

    Someone mentioned something about the garden earlier and the temptation.

    Different day, same….

  58. My basic point is I think is be careful of formula which make grand promises – trying not to overgeneralise here. Some things may be of benefit, but others not.

  59. mn – “Someone mentioned something about the garden earlier and the temptation.”

    Very interesting mn. Serpent marketing.
    Knowledge is being sold to us because we have been convinced we can be greater. I wonder if there is a connection?

    My point was that it is the titles that sometimes can be enough to affect us spiritually, even if we haven’t read the materials. We saw the titles for two seconds and odd thoughts come into our heads.

    “Maybe I’m not praying enough.”
    “My prayers don’t seem powerful.”
    “Maybe I should some time with God cos I know I don’t live in his financial blessing enough.”
    “I’ll buy that book another time so I can find out how I can live more unlike this week.”

    When has marketing ever satisfied people? The cure is always the product not the message they speak over you to buy the answer. Too often we only receive the marketing message that we are never good enough.

    I believe pastors need to be wary of this. This does effect our spiritual health.

  60. And here is an article asking, “Has our ability to think reached the point of negative or even diminishing returns?” https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/90/do-abstract-systems-work.html

    Perhaps the problem is we all spend so much time thinking and theorising about how to be Christian, that we miss out on the being part of it. Perhaps all these books – and sermons, twitter, conferences – and blogs – have diminishing returns after a point? Perhaps its all a big, organised distraction from the real life we should have with one another. Even our ‘one anothering’ is organised. Where do we go to mature and be able to stand on our own feet in this?

    The megachurches are just a reflection of our society. We protest the bits that we think should be held to a higher standard, because the churches claim to represent Christ, who really does have a vastly higher standard. In our society, can we expect anything different to a reflection of all the consumerism that we see around us every day, if it is part of something done on a large scale? We feel like we are normal when we are a part of it. To be different and to reject it in our own lives, not just our churches, is a huge challenge. No wonder the big churches that conform to the reflection of our society gather more members.

  61. RP “We protest the bits that we think should be held to a higher standard, because the churches claim to represent Christ, who really does have a vastly higher standard. ”

    You made me consider an interesting question RP.
    Does this blog represent Christ in today’s media?

  62. RP,
    ‘The purpose of posts that I personally write these days, is never to specifically attack C3 or any other specific person or ministry.’

    I’ll accept that, and remember that you did say that some time ago. I was coming of the C3 ‘Vision Builders’ Pamphlet for ‘Rise & Build’ thread, which very much did target C3 & PP, calling C3 a gnostic cult, on more than one occasion, and from whence came the inspiration for this post and thread. It’s hard to flip from one poster’s position to another’s, but I will try to remember that you are not targeting a specific ministry, but teddy may be and s&p almost certainly is.
    •••••••••••••••

    s&p,
    ‘My point was that it is the titles that sometimes can be enough to affect us spiritually, even if we haven’t read the materials. We saw the titles for two seconds and odd thoughts come into our heads.’

    Have you ever heard of the saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’?

    ‘When has marketing ever satisfied people?’

    It depends on your definition of marketing. The market is where the people go. It is in the market place that our target group is, not in the meeting hall where they end up once a week. Once they become ensconced in the meeting hall and never again venture into the market place they become useless to the kingdom.

    The meeting hall is the place of change preparing the marketers for the marketplace, where they demonstrate the benefits and power of the change, and introduce the people in the marketplace to a new kingdom, with new possibilities, and a new way of living.

  63. Always a good question. No, I don’t think this blog represents Christ. It represents a group of people who desire to represent Christ, and struggle with the way He is represented in the world today. It will only reflect Christ as much as our interactions with one another reflect Christ. Does that make sense?

    In a way, no institution, blog or construct, represents Christ. It is our own actions and relationships which hopefully reflect him, as outworkings of his body.

  64. I’d agree with you on that. I used to have the ‘we need to represent HIM at all cost’ attitude when I was younger. How good is human imitation? We’re pretty lousy at imitation.

  65. Virtual preaching good business for the house?……

    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/innovation/07/14/virtual.preaching/index.html?fbid=ngQGk4WaQEj

    A pointed comment attached to this article says..

    “Maybe these Video Churches would be content to receive pictures of “Tithes and offerings” instead of the real thing. According to their logic, it doesn’t make it any less authentic. They seem to forget than in Paul’s letters, he often mentioned that he had been with each of them in person, thinks about them and prays for them constantly, and longs to return to them….”

  66. “Maybe these Video Churches would be content to receive pictures of “Tithes and offerings” instead of the real thing. According to their logic, it doesn’t make it any less authentic”

    I really love this!

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