Sordid Gain Rampant in the Church Today?
This article seeks to expose sordid gain in all its ugly forms today and start a discussion leading to broad change. Consider all the things sold by Christians to Christians.
♦ Bibles for Sale
♦ Christian Books for Sale
♦ Christian Videos for Sale
♦ Christian College Degrees for Sale
♦ Seminary Degrees for Sale
♦ Pay Walls on Christian Websites
♦ Christian Speakers for Sale
What Have Christians Charged You Lately?
Christianity has become big business.
How many Christian books and videos have you purchased? How much in tuition have you paid to receive a Christian education? In other words, how many Christians have charged you money to disciple you in Christ? How much does it cost now to be equipped by other Christians to use our spiritual gifts? Christians do not even recognize sordid gain all around them today.
What Is the Difference between Sordid Gain and Accepting Donations?
God hates sordid gain in all its forms, but loves a cheerful giver.
Sordid gain arises from Christians charging Christians fixed fees for helping Christians grow up in Christ. Sordid gain takes many forms, but always involves charging fixed fees in order to obtain something that will help: (1) people to come to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior; or (2) Christians grow in Christ Jesus; or (3) equip Christians for the work of ministry in using their spiritual gifts. Although churches generally do not charge for walking into the church service, they often have display racks full of books and videos you can purchase for a fixed fee. Sordid gain runs rampant in the church today and has become common practice among multitudes of Christians. The New Testament has extensive teaching on donations. God told the Corinthian Christians to put aside money on the first day of the week for the collection for the saints (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). God did not levy fixed fees. While some people may say that God required tithes imposed under the Law of Moses, they overlook the fact that the Law of Moses no longer binds anyone after the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in the flesh. The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses which aimed people toward Christ coming to earth. When Christ came and fulfilled the requirements of the Law of Moses and provided justification by faith in His death and resurrection, our faith in Christ for salvation ended the requirements of the Law of Moses concerning righteousness (Romans 10:1-5; Acts 15:1-35; Galatians 2:15-16; 3:1-29). If anyone claims we must keep the law of tithing, Paul said then they must keep the whole Law of Moses (Galatians 5:3). Old Testament tithing has been replaced by New Testament principles of giving, which do not include fixed fees in any form (for examples see 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-2; 9:1-15).
How Many Fixed Fees Have You Paid Christians?
Lack of money should never impede the spiritual growth and development of all Christians.
When Christians demand that you pay them a fixed fee before they will help you grow up in Christ, are they not engaging in sordid gain? God described sordid gain (“αἰσχροῦ κέρδους”–Titus 1:7). Christians should be content with food and covering, avoiding the temptations associated with the love of money (1 Timothy 6:5-10). Jesus taught that what we have received for free, we should pass on for free (Matthew 10:8). Are not Christians charging a fixed fee to own and read Christian materials, such as Bibles, videos, tapes, or other media, seeking sordid gain? Likewise, are not all Christians associated with charging saints fixed fees to attend class or earn a degree at a Christian Bible College or Christian Seminary practicing sordid gain? Are not Christians establishing pay walls on the internet requiring that you pay a fixed fee before you gain access to their Christian materials also practicing sordid gain? Why would Christians charge other Christians for their help in equipping the saints for the work of service? All the people supporting efforts directed toward sordid gain should rethink the Scriptures. By charging fixed fees for spiritual growth and development, are not many Christians impeding the growth and development of the Christian poor?
How Much Have Christians Charged Poor People?
How many poor people, whom Jesus loves, cannot afford those books, degrees, or other materials?
Of course many people will argue that without fixed fees, those things would cease to exist. Such an argument opposes Scripture. The issue is sordid gain, not whether something should exist or not. Nothing here suggests that Christian schools, Christian books, Christian videos, and the like should not exist. The issue concerns avoiding sordid gain. God prohibited all forms of sordid gain. When Christians charge Christians fixed fees for their Christian services and Christian materials, are they not seeking sordid gain? Consider Paul making tents at Corinth. Paul worked with Priscilla and Aquila making tents to support his ministry (Acts 18:1-4). Paul apparently charged for the tents. Yet, Paul charged nothing to the churches for his ministry so that he would not be a burden to any of them. Paul said he robbed some churches by taking wages from them to serve the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:8; compare 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Paul meant that they paid donations to support the missionary team at Corinth. Paul worked night and day not to be a burden to churches (1 Thessalonians 2:9). Yet, Christian workers are always worthy of their hire (1 Corinthians 9:11-15). Paul was talking about donations, not charging fixed fees for his Christian services or Christian materials. For their labor in helping people come to saving faith in Christ and helping Christians grow up in Christ, Paul received payment (1) in the form of voluntary donations, not fixed fees; (2) by working with his own hands to make tents. This same principal of voluntary donations and working with your hands should replace sordid gain in the lives of so many Christians.
What about Not-For-Profit Organizations?
Consider Christian not-for-profit organizations.
Many Christians claim they do not make profits, but use non-for-profit organizations and only charge fixed fees to defray the costs of publication, distribution, advertising, salaries, and other matters. Such claims about not-for-profits miss the point if they still charge fixed fees for Christians to access their Christian materials. Likewise, are not Christians being paid for their books, videos, or other materials that are then sold to other Christians for fixed fees also participating in sordid gain? Are not all Christians working in Christian Colleges and Seminaries charging fixed fees to attend the school also participating in sordid gain? Does not this well-established practice of charging fixed fees to access the grace of God amount to sordid gain? God did not establish not-for-profit organizations so that Christians could be charged fixed fees (1) to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ; or (2) to grow up in Christ; or (3) to be equipped to serve believers using their spiritual gifts. How many times have you read that attending some school will equip you for ministry? Do they charge fixed fees to equip you for ministry? How many video and book series claim that they will help you with some particular area of your Christian life and then charge a fixed fee before you can access that material? While schools may say they have financial aid, they still charge fixed fees for their Christian services.
What Is the Solution?
The solution to sordid gain rests in following the Scriptures, not well-established practices or traditions.
Schools should be funded by donations alone with admission not tied to financial ability to pay fixed fees. Books, videos, etc. should be funded with voluntary donations, because God loves a cheerful giver. Christians, like Paul, may have to work at regular jobs to earn money to do teaching, preaching, or other ministries until donations support the work. Even then, some ministers may never accept donations so that they are not a burden to anyone.
Search the Scriptures
Please search the Scriptures for yourself and see what constitutes sordid gain for Christians.
Examine everything carefully. Hold on to the good. Please send your thoughts by email below and provide links to opposing views. The time has come to start this discussion in earnest.