Why Should The Church Ever Make Money?

kaandogan12 asked a question:

I have an honest question, why do you make money off of the gospel? If I had the talent to create such great books I would be handing them out in the hundreds.. No disrespect I just don’t understand why profit should be made from preaching something that people can read in Gods word.

Hey dear friend, I really appreciate and applaud your passionate heart to maintain integrity.  I absolutely agree with you: no one should ever, ever squeeze a profit out of sharing the Gospel.  Instead of defending myself though, please allow me to share some thoughts that you may feel free to agree with or disagree with.

– The Gospel, or the Good News of Jesus, is 100% free and the only true free gift in the world. But the methods to deliver the Gospel have a cost.

In an ideal perfect world, everything would be given away free.  Food, water, shelter, healthcare, education: all these things should be given to anyone who wants it.  But in a realistic world, the people who offer these services must work hard to procure them for you and me.  I could be mad that a plumber must charge me to fix my sewer, but then I’m not realistically assessing their needs for their living costs.  In our current world, it’s fair to pay someone so they can continue to provide their services, and this includes spiritual ministry.

I think there’s a huge difference in offering the Gospel for free (which is a mandatory necessity) and the means by which we offer the Gospel. Let’s consider where you heard about Jesus.  Maybe it was from your friend, who heard it at church or got it from the Bible.  The church has a building cost and regular bills to pay; the Bible requires a printing press with a maintenance cost and employees for hire. While you could logically say, “Pastors and ministry workers should never get paid for what they do,” the church offers an intangible provision of fellowship, counseling, community, and leadership, and I’m glad to support my local ministry so they may continue to keep on the lights and upkeep their building.  Biblically, you can make a case that ministry workers should be paid too.

After C.S. Lewis passed away, it was discovered that he lived near poverty status despite his books all being bestsellers.  He constantly gave away all he had.  If I could take a time machine and go back to Lewis, I would’ve gladly supported him financially for the rest of our lives.  Lewis has been the most influential thinker in my own faith and life; I could never repay him.

To buy a book from a pastor, a Christian author, or a local ministry (or even secular artists) is my way of both appreciating their work and supporting their living.  It’s my way of saying thank you to those who helped formulate my faith.  And by buying a ministry worker’s book or their materials, I’m trusting them to use that money wisely for their family or ministry or continued work in God’s Kingdom.  No one forces us to do this, and you never have to.

– There are certainly corrupt ministries that we must discern and not endorse.

I’ve been behind the scenes of certain ministries that did questionable things with their funds, and there have been a couple times when I withdrew my financial support from them permanently.  So I’m definitely not saying we just give money to any kind of ministry.  Please discern wisely where you invest your resources.  If a ministry is too comfortable with talking about money, the chances are that the ministry might have their priorities out of order.

– You don’t ever have to give a single cent to the church in your entire life, ever.  God is sovereign and the church will be fine.  The thing is, almost all churches offer their sermons and resources and the building for free; a good church will never beg you for money.  In fact, the local church is still one of the only gatherings in the world that do not charge an entrance fee.  But again, it would be fair for me to support the ministry I love so they can continue to love on others with the message of Christ.

I know the immense pressure that many good pastors have to keep their church buildings; many good churches shut down within the first year simply because of bills or lack of support.  They also feel too awkward or self-conscious of asking for money to keep it going.  I’m happy to support those pastors and churches that offer the free grace of God by both preaching and reaching out.  It’s exciting to be a part of what God wants to do on the earth.  You never have to give a cent, but I hope you’ll consider giving somehow to a worthy movement, since we spend so much on so many lesser things.

— J.S.

4 thoughts on “Why Should The Church Ever Make Money?

  1. Being a writer myself, I had to smile at the thought that “If I had the talent to create such great books I would be handing them out in the hundreds.” You can indeed, but you yourself will pay the cost of every book you hand out.

    Cost of publishing is something to be reckoned with, never mind the living costs Pastor Parks mentions above. When I wanted to publish my book, a contract with a print-your-own publisher plus graphics would have cost me upfront $2000 plus $7 per book for every book they print plus $4 at least in postage for every one mailed out. This doesn’t include all the time and expense of research, paper, ink, etc.

    I had a friend who paid $7000 for her 200-page paperback Aimee’s Story (an excellent non-fiction read) which meant a printing cost of $7 per book, then postage plus extra for advertising, copies given away, etc. Now she must sell most of those books just to get her investment back.

    If I were to go through CreateSpace and download a manuscript for an e-book or POD paperback the cost would be much lower, but I’d first need a US business license for which (because I live in Canada) I’d need to present a Canadian passport (cost: $120) and other ID. To date I’ve wimped out. Someday I will go through all this and get my book published, but I won’t make much money, if any.

    The only way to make big money as a writer is to first be famous enough that people will listen to you, (i.e., C S Lewis, Charles Colson) or write something that’s a really hot seller like fantasy, romance, contemporary fiction or bios of famous people. I applaud Pastor Parks for his courage in following his conviction and publishing his books anyway.

    You wondered why people write books about the Gospel when its all in the Word. If God sends someone an inspiration and the conviction to write it down and share it, that person will someday have to give account to God for the task they were given. You’ll have to ask Him why He asks Christian people to write.


    1. All you say is true. I’ve actually never asked for a single penny through this blog, and I’m amazed if even one person would want to buy any kind of book I would write. It’s something I never want to get over. Fortunately, I have a very wonderful friend who’s a graphic designer and does all my art for me. 🙂


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