A member of 48Days.net recently asked this question:
“Is it really okay to make money from a ministry or Christian based website? For some reason I feel I need confirmation that it’s okay to profit from the things of God.”
Shawn – you raise a question that has been an elephant in the room for Christians all through history. I think the issue is not whether or not you can make money from a Christian website as much as it is: “Am I serving people or taking advantage of them?” If you are truly serving people then the transfer of money is a wonderful spiritual exchange. Money is created and everyone is better off. If someone buys a copy of 48 Days to the Work You Love I now have $20 to feed my family. If that person is simply $20 poorer there is nothing “Christian” about that exchange and I should hang my head in shame. But my hope is that the information will add a new richness and sense of purpose to their life and maybe another $50,000 to their income next year.
When Jesus drove the merchants out of the temple, he knew they were taking advantage of the people coming in. They were out to rob and cheat the people who were coming to worship who didn’t know the rates of exchange in that community. They were charging unreasonable prices to purchase animals and exchange the foreign currency of those who came with pure hearts to worship God at the temple and fulfill the laws as given through Moses.
So the question is always the attitude of our heart – whether we’re selling Mercedes or Bibles.
I don’t think we have to call a website or business “Christian” if we’re providing products and services at reasonable prices. Our spoiritual witness will find a receptive heart if we’ve treated someone with respect and fairness. Unfortunately, it seems many people call their businesses “Christian” in the hope that customers will overlook poor quality and unreliable service.
If I have a landscape business or sell from an organic garden or teach at the local university I am positioning myself to “profit from the things of God.” We are all part of the same marvelous world – providing religious information is not more Christian than selling fresh brown eggs. I trust we are all concerned about how we are making money.
I highly recommend my friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s book – Thou Shall Prosper. It is the best handling of this issue I’ve ever seen.