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When Does Ministry Become a Business?

When Does Ministry Become a Business?

“Julia is a well-known Christian YouTuber and blogger. Her mission is to leverage the reach of the internet to edify believers with God-centered, Christ-exalting content. When her subscriber count hit 100,000 she was advised by her cousin to monetize the channel and start earning ad revenue and seek out sponsors.

Now Julia has nearly half a million followers and several revenue streams besides ads and sponsors. First, she has a special subscription option that enables people to access some of her content early, as well as suggest ideas for future videos and blogs. People who pay for an even more premium subscription also get some kind of free merch once a year, along with an opportunity to ask her questions in a livestream she does every couple months.

When her sister admonished her to think more carefully about whether it’s biblical to force people to watch ads before receiving spiritual guidance from her, she got offended. ‘How dare you judge me, when the Bible clearly says that you shouldn’t muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain! Besides, people don’t have to sign up for the premium stuff, and they can get an ad blocker if they don’t wanna watch the ads. Or if they don’t like it, they can go listen to someone else! It’s a free country.’

Julia has bought into the lie that, as long as you don’t maintain an extravagant lifestyle, you’re incapable of mismanaging the relationship between money and ministry.” — Adapted from SellingJesus.org

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Money

New Testament Examples of The Dorean Principle in Action

Dorean Principle in Action

“Tom follows in the footsteps of many seminary leaders who have gone before him since the seminary was founded in 1892. He has inherited a system and structure that is typical of nearly all seminaries around the world: students must pay tuition if they want to receive spiritual guidance and biblical teaching. Sometimes at night he thinks about how nice it would be if professors could simply be like missionaries and raise support, freeing themselves to teach without charging students money. Or why couldn’t there be more bi-vocational professors who support themselves with another job like Paul did and offer their services to the seminary for free? But then he shakes his head and laughs at how impossible his idealistic musings are. The seminary has been operating the same way for too long. Tradition can’t be broken.

Tom, like most, is well-meaning and wants to do the right thing. But he’s also still largely ignorant of the biblical teaching on money and ministry. He has believed the lie that obeying God is an ideal fantasy, especially when it involves breaking with tradition. While Tom is impressed by the size, age, and influence of his seminary, God is not impressed. Nor is God impressed by its lack of fundamental obedience to the command to freely give what they have freely received. Tom is also a coward, fearing man more than his Creator. And if he’s willing to admit it, he doesn’t have faith that God would provide enough support for the seminary professors. He doesn’t even believe that the professors themselves would have enough faith to even attempt to raise support. In the end, Tom’s God is too small to overcome these obstacles to true obedience.” — Adapted from SellingJesus.org

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Money

Navigating Paul’s Support Paradox

Support Paradox

“Steve is a biblical counselor. He believes that God has called him to minister to the broken in spirit, and he sincerely wants to help people be healed and whole, walking in victory over sin through the power of the gospel. But he’s concerned that if he charges the same rates for counseling sessions as other prominent biblical counselors in his area, he’ll end up alienating the poor. During times of prayer he believes that God has placed a desire within him to simply give counsel for free, but older, more experienced counselors have talked him out of it.

Although Steve believes that the Bible is sufficient for godly wisdom, he has failed to turn to it for answers to the simple question as to whether he should require payment for “speaking truth in love” to broken people. He has failed to heed Jesus’ command to give freely (Matt 10:8), and allowed the conventional, worldly wisdom of his superiors to eclipse the sincere desire God has placed on his heart. 

Steve is a tragic example of someone with an honest desire to honor God, but who was derailed by the blindness, complacency, and carnal pragmatism around him. He’s trapped in a fog of confusion. In the end, biblical counselors are offering to lead people to Jesus through the Scriptures, with wisdom, truth, and sincere friendship–things that cannot and should never be sold. But Steve is unable to see this fact.” –Adapted from SellingJesus.org

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Money

Why Did Paul Refuse Support from Corinth?

Mandy is an Old Testament scholar and the author of some of the best commentaries on Job and Amos. Both are published by Zondervan and don’t cost more than other commentaries. She’s also employed by a legacy Bible institute and teaches several courses, including biblical Hebrew.

Unfortunately and unwittingly, Mandy is selling Jesus. The problem for her, like many others, is the fact that she has simply never thought about copyright or the status quo of selling Christian teaching. Even though she is a deep, critical thinker and has a PhD, she hasn’t taken the time to think biblically about whether it’s right to sell her commentaries on God’s Word or require students to pay tuition before being able to learn about the Bible from her.

She has accepted an old, widespread system without a second thought, assuming that the system is biblical because so many other people have bought into it. If you were to challenge her to think differently and reconsider how biblical the system is, she would dismiss any contrary ideas as ‘fringe’ and not worthy of her time.” –Adapted from SellingJesus.org

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Money

A Clash of Cultures and the Dorean Principle

Clash of Cultures

Jordan pastors Beverly Hills Baptist Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in California. Although his church and nonprofit organization take in millions of dollars/year in donations, most of his sermons are not free to download online. Instead, each of his sermons is listed on the church webstore for 99 cents. When people ask him why he doesn’t make his sermons available for free, he typically answers with several reasons.

We are just covering the costs of the servers and people who maintain the website. There is a cost involved in making my sermons available on the Internet. Also, don’t forget that the sermons I preach are considered ‘works for hire,’ so they legally belong to my church, which is my employer. I don’t own them; the church owns them. So when you pay for them, the money doesn’t go into my pocket; it goes into the church’s ministry account. Why wouldn’t my church want to charge for access to my sermons? We don’t think it strange that pastors charge for the books they write. And just like books, these sermons are expensive to produce. 

Jordan means well, and genuinely thinks he’s doing what’s right in the sight of God, but the culture around him has squeezed him into its mold. He has believed the lie that it is impossible to cover the cost of a website by donations. And he fails to realize that the sincerity of his preaching is compromised by selling it, no matter what the price may be. His God is not big enough to provide money to pay the bills.” –Adapted from SellingJesus.org

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Money